Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kona... From The Sidelines

Sunday night we're back from Kona and mostly all unpacked already. I can walk up and down the stairs just fine and don't have to hold onto the railing or anything! I guess that's another bonus about not racing. ;)

So I was asked quite often yesterday by friends I saw throughout the day "Are you bummed you're not racing??" In all honesty, I thought I was going to be way more bummed than I actually was. Of course when I was watching the swimmers get in the water, of course I had this thought that I wanted to get in there too, but it was brief. Then it passed and I sincerely enjoyed watching and cheering the rest of the day!

If you followed along on Twitter yesterday you prob have a good sense of how the day went from my perspective... started with a 5ish mile run in the dark down Ali'i Dr... then we stopped here prior to finding our spot for viewing the swim start.

Swim start was exciting and full of energy as always. Though maybe I was seeing things wrong, but it just didn't look as crowded/brutal as it has in years past? Maybe it just looked weird b/c the floating Ford car was missing.

The cooler part of the morning was viewing from the hot corner. So that's where you get to see cyclists ripping down Palani, left on to Kuakini for a bit of a climb, then screaming back down Kuakini, right turn up Palani Dr prior to heading out on the Queen K for the rest of the ride. We had a super spot in the median of the road right on that corner so we could see riders coming and going and holy cow just about everyone was HAMMERING through the turns and up that hill. Yikes. I mean seriously. I think I heard a report from Training Peaks about a power file that had been sent in where one of the pros hit a max of 824W at that point?!? I mean seriously, it was like watching a sprint triathlon. They were just RIPPING. Some of the interviews I heard later said that McKenzie and Crowie were the ones pushing the pace and maybe that was b/c they realized Macca was like 50" back out of the water so they were trying to gap him? It worked if that's what they were trying to do. The women were a little more spread out when they came through and didn't look like they were hammering quite as hard, but no one looked like he/she was easing into their bike ride. That's for sure!

Then hoards of age groupers came through and most of them apparently thought that what's good for the pros must be good for them too b/c many of them were standing up and sprinting up Palani like there was some sort of prime at the top of the hill. It's so early in the race at that point and there are spectators with cowbells everywhere and you're in The World Championships and the energy and mood surrounding you is simply frantic and well, most everyone gets caught up in it and goes super hard. Maybe some of them are fit enough to handle a burst like that but I would surmise that reality set in for most of them somewhere around mile 90, at which point sprinting up Palani might not have seemed like such a good idea after all. Interestingly, I saw some of the top amateur girls who looked very controlled at that point. Smart!

Anyway, it was super fun cheering for everyone yet dizzying looking for specific friends b/c it was all so crowded and so fast. I hung around and waited until I saw most all of the folks I knew ride up the hill and then I ran back to our condo to chill out and recharge my phone. Apparently when you tweet every minute or so for ~two hours, it kills the battery on your old iPhone 3. At home I was able to follow the action on Twitter so we knew when the boys were going to start running...

Our condo was just maybe 1/2 mile past the 5 mile turn-around on Ali'i Dr so we figured that would be a good place to start watching the marathon. It also gave us a few extra minutes to drink more beer before we headed out there. Of course, we brought a bunch with us on our fancy cruisers. This pic is especially awesome b/c I snapped the shot while I was riding after already having had 2 beers... THEN, while still riding, I posted it to Twitter! I have skillz.

So we were right by mile 5 for the next few hours where we continued to drink and cheer like mad... I took pictures of most of the pros who raced by and we yelled mostly what we thought was inspiring stuff at them... though as the beer bottles emptied further our comments (to each other at least) got more and more honest.

In case you missed my live tweets... Lol...

So ya, we had fun out there!! When it was time for Jacobs to finish we started making our way back into town but then, well, that's a long way on heavy cruiser bikes when you're buzzin' and of course we ran into like 100 people we knew so we stopped to chat a lot and well, we didn't see the men finish. I think by the time I got back to Palani the top 15 men had all already come in. BUT the women hadn't come in yet and this is where it gets good! Everyone I was hanging with by that point had a dead phone battery so last we heard, Rinny was still ~3' back and had stopped gaining but Leanda was gaining on Steffen who was still out front. I think that was like mile 22 update. After that we knew nothing! So we were hanging around making our guesses as to who we were going to see running down Hualalai first... my bet was Steffen... primarily b/c when we saw Leanda at mile 5 she was huffing and puffing already and honestly did not look good. Here's what I tweeted at that point (mile 5):
So honestly, hearing that she was still ahead of Rinny at mile 22 was shocking to me! Anyway, eventually we heard helicopters up ahead so we knew the women must be getting close then we saw the lead motorbike coming down the hill and sure enough, Leanda Cave was pushing hard for the final turn onto Ali'i Dr! The crowd was thick where I was and it was all just so cool to see her running her way to the win.

It was a few more minutes before we saw Steffen and then a few more minutes still before we saw Rinny, so clearly those two had shut it down to some degree once the win seemed out of reach. Watching Rinny run down the hill to the finish I'd say she did not have the same look of grit and determination I saw on her face last year at that same point (last year I was on my way up Palani as she was ripping down to the finish for 2nd and I don't think I'll ever forget the look on her face?? It was incredibly intense like she had still not given up on winning!?!) This year the lookon her face said she'd been beaten and she knew it. I didn't actually see her on Ali'i Dr but Scott did and he said that when she had the finish line in sight, she looked behind her then started walking. Obviously I don't mean any disrespect by that (ha! Given how may times I've walked in Ironman marathons I've lost count!) but just interesting to note the difference between last year and this year.

I am in awe of Leanda Cave- primarily b/c of her tenacity and grit in holding it together when she looked like she might fall apart so early on in the marathon. I posted this on FB last night... Apparently I wasn't the only one who saw Cave early on and dismissed her as a potential winner. There is a good lesson in there for all of us about just how mental this Ironman game really is. How much did Leanda BELIEVE she was capable of catching Xena?? Her belief must have been steadfast to carry her though like that. Super cool.

Anyway, after that we hung around and watched a bunch of our friends finish which was also super cool- especially the first time Kona finishers who had some tears welling up in their eyes as they turned onto Ali'i. I think just about everyone was fairly significantly slower than they thought they were going to be (or might have been capable of on a day with more mild conditions) so on a day like that you throw out your finishing time and relish in the fact that you got to experience it all! The swells in the ocean, the legendary winds at Hawi, the blazing sun/heat on the run... Ironman Hawaii is indeed a very special (and very humbling) race experience.

Moana enjoyed it too! She got a lot of high 5's there on Ali'i Dr and was so stoked every time! Watch this short video, then next time you race, give that little kid a high 5 when they want one!
In other news, we all guessed wrong on our predictions of the top 3 winners of the race! BUT, I am still going to send out the box of Powergels... and I'm giving it to Monica- primarily* because Monica came up with the best story about how the race might play out and she was the only one who guessed that Macca would not even be a factor. I do wonder if he is going to be done with Kona now or if he'll be back?? Seems like he wouldn't come back unless he thought he could win (which seems highly unlikely at this point?) but how do you end your Kona legacy with a DNF? And it wasn't even like he kept pushing until he passed out or evenly clearly needed medical. He just gave up?!? That was disappointing for sure. I will note here that Crowie showed class hanging in there even when he was out of the top 10.

*The secondary reason I'm giving it to Monica is b/c I know she sucks at fueling herself for long training so I'm hoping this will spark her to eat something other than cake. ;) Send me your new address, Monica!


Steve said...

Now that is bringing Social Networking to a new level. What, no My Space picks???? ;)

Ange said...

LOVE Moana's joy there. :) Very cool. Interesting to read this. I was at soccer games all day long and out that night so missed so much. Interesing @ rinny... I was running by her last year very close to where yo saw her and that look of grit has stuck w/ me. Heck.I was on the TV show with rinny last year right when I saw her go by and that look!!! Anyway...what a day, as usual. Thanks for the stories!!! ( sounds like YOU had a blast.. perfect! ) :)

mmmonyka said...

I need to make the trip to this race one day. It seems like fun! (I mean watching it, not racing it seems like fun. Obviously.)

WOW, I won PowerGels! I guess now I do not have an excuse to eat cakes during my rides (by the way, I did eat one donut as fuel during my mtb biking race on Saturday. Yummy!).

Kim said...

Cave was a beast out there! Great blog! Thanks for the inside scoop! Amazing women, all of them..

mtanner said...

I love this from the sidelines and esp Love the drunken tweets :)