Monday, October 11, 2010

Ironman Spectating

Wow I'm tired. That week of working in Kona took a lot out of me. Don't get me wrong- it was a ton of fun- but exhausting at the same time. Part of that was the lack of sleep... and just being out of my routine... And now that I look back on it, I think part of it was the overwhelming social aspect of the week... being 'on' all the time talking to so many people. While I am certainly quite the social being (and I LOVE that part, don't get me wrong!) I need my down time too and I just didn't have much opportunity for that last week. I don't mean to complain about it or anything, just an observation.

Anyway, like I said, it was a fun week! So many athlete friends of mine were there... some of them racing, some of them watching and cheering... I was out in Keauhou most of the end of the week taking the USAT Level 1 Coaching Clinic. Much of that was very valuable. (Some of it notsomuch. As you can imagine, it really depended on who the presenter was.) But like I said, some of it was very valuable and I have some good stuff I plan to change/implement with my own training as well as that of my athletes. I think the big stuff, the basic training plans, most of us understand and do. It's the little things we do that will set us apart.

Race morning came and I won't lie. I was not happy to be on the sidelines. But there was nothing I could do about it except bottle up the feeling and tell myself to remember it next spring when I'm building for Coeur de Alene. And that's all I'll say about that.

It was an exceptional atmosphere at the start. I love that stuff. The drummers were drumming and the tension in the air was palpable. People were lined up all over the pier trying to get a glimpse of the athletes in the water. Then the cannon went off, the athletes started beating each other up in the water, and the spectators stormed over to the Coffees of Hawaii tent to grab another cup of joe.

The rest of the morning was pretty quiet. Our tent was right down the road from transition so we got to hear Mike Reilly calling out the names of the athletes as they got out of the water. We heard him call out the name of the COH owner early on so I checked the splits online and yep, Albert was out 1st in his age group at 54 minutes. Amazing. We were super proud!

Ironman spectating is pretty darn boring while everyone is out riding. I hung out at the tent, sold some coffee, sold all of our COH bathing suits- boy those Germans love their speedos! (final call on that by the way- we're placing one more order this week then we probably won't place another til next year so if you want one let me know ASAP) and then eventually jumped in the water for a little cool off swim. It was pretty hot, totally sunny, and there was no wind in Kona all morning. Luckily the clouds rolled in pretty thick just as the top age groupers were headed into T2.

I pretty much abandoned the coffee tent then for several hours while I watched the pros start their run... was still there watching when the top age group women came through mile 1... then checked in briefly at the tent but escaped again to watch the pros finish. That was seriously AMAZING to watch Macca round the corner onto Ali'i Dr surrounded by like 5 motorcycles, a hovering helicopter over head, and pumping his fists in the air with a look on his face that was just priceless. I didn't know who would be winning at that corner b/c I'd heard he was running stride for stride with Raelert for the last bit of the marathon... but he must have just completely dropped the hammer in that last mile because Raelert wasn't even close on Ali'i Dr. I was psyched for Macca. I know he can be a bit brash but I like the energy he brings in to the sport by putting himself out there instead of holding all his cards so close to his heart like some athletes do. Anyway, I started tearing up when I saw him, not because I'm in love with him or anything, but just because the feeling of watching someone have all his hard work pay off like that, well, it's just super cool and somewhat emotional.

It went on like that the rest of the day. Pros finishing that marathon looking like they were racing a 5K... seriously, some of them were running faster than my 5K pace all day long... then age groupers streaming in one after another... The marathon seemed to go by really quickly (opposite of the bike) and all of a sudden everyone was finishing. I know it didn't feel like that for the athletes, but for the spectators, especially those of us who knew a lot of people, it was just one after another of people to cheer for running by.

It probably would have been more interesting to be out in the energy lab cheering for people... Where I was (basically mile 1 and then the finish) everyone looked super happy. Of course everyone looks happy at mile 1... you finally got off that damn bike and you're surrounded by screaming fans and your stomach doesn't hurt yet. And at the end, well shoot, you're on Ali'i Dr and living the dream so even if you spent the last 10 miles wanting to puke your guts out you're going to be smiling and in all likelihood happier than you've ever been during your triathlon career. But out there in the middle of the marathon, well, that's where the real Ironman is taking place. That's where you have your mental and physical battle with yourself... that's where you pay the piper if you didn't train enough, or if you trained too much, or if you started the bike too fast, or if you started the run too fast, or if you didn't eat enough, or if you ate too much, or...

Anyway, super congrats to all my friends who finished out there on Saturday!! I am incredibly stoked for you. You earned your finishes. That is for sure.


Beth said...

Thanks again for all your cheers Michelle! So great to hear your voice out on the course. And you're right - I wasn't smiling too much in the energy lab. ;) Anyway, next year I'm sure you will be out there yourself once again - tearing it up as usual!! :)

Regina said...

That was an awesome race to watch. I teared up when Mirinda crossed the finish line...I am a wuss.

Glad you had fun!

Alicia Parr said...

I'm like you on the socializing. Totally fun, especially with other athletes, but I really need quiet time to re-energize.

I briefly met Macca at Silverman the year he won Kona the first time. He's a lot more down to earth in person than his media persona suggests. I too was happy for him to win this year. He did the work and executed a tough, tough race. Perfect tactics...everything. For someone who has consistently done so well over a long career, those two Kona wins didn't come easy so I imagine he values them most of all.

X-Country2 said...

Aww, I bet you're the best cheerleader evah!

Katie A. said...

I was watching online all day checking in and going crazy! I'm so impressed by all of them - so inspiring!
Glad you had fun out there! And COH was successful!

Ange said...

this was fun for me to read. :) You last paragraph cracked me up. Oh so true. I wish I could have been there too. Thanks for all the FB updates !

Ange said...

was there a lot of chit chat @ the Chrissie situation??

Velma said...

Thanks for posting all the comments on facebook - it was fun to follow along :)

Angela said...

I love this sport! Wish I could have been there.