Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Queen K

I was the first customer at Lava Java this morning. That'll be the first and last event I win this week. I have my swim critique session with Luke Bell, Belinda Granger and Chris Leigh in a bit. These folks are hilarious, so it should be a good time.

Yesterday, I got a bus tour of the whole bike course, narrated by Shane and Chris, and then rode the last 36 miles home from Kawaiihae.

It's like no where else I've ever been. As soon as you pass the airport on your way out of town (about 8 miles), it's the surface of the moon. No structures, no other roads visible besides the one you're on. I'll get pictures up later today. I had thought that the NBC guys might only shoot the few 'pretty parts' of the course, but it's just not like that. I'd say at least 75% of the course is a single ribbon of rollers through the lava. I rode the climb to Hawi in the bus, where it didn't make me sweat much at all. The bus was rocking from the wind, though, and Chris was talking about how he's seen lots of age groupers climbing back over the guardrail as he was on his way down. As a pure climb, it's really not legendary, but the wind has been steadily enough directly opposing the climb to stunt and bend the trees. Also, the wind farm is actually right on the road. That falls in the 'insult to injury' category for me.

Hawi is beautiful, in a tiny mountain town kind of way. One road, no waiting. I'm sure it'll look like Mecca to me on Saturday as I get my special needs bag there before heading back into the lava.

As for the bike ride home from Kawaiihae, it was both terrifying and comforting. The wind is something else. If you're standing, you'll naturally lean into it a little bit to keep your balance. I found myself naturally doing it on the bike as well. It's disconcerting mentally to be going down the road tilted to one side, but I was happy my reflexes naturally took care of it. As it shifted around I definitely wasn't riding a straight line, but I stayed pretty relaxed and adjusted. In the end, the winds on Saturday will have the biggest ability to impact whether I finish or not, so I did my best to make friends with them yesterday.

We did ride every hill besides the one to Hawi in one direction, so I'm at peace that there won't be a wall hiding out there.

I did get "Kenned" right as the ride home started. Ken was a guy who hit a fellow triathlete named Welshy's blog with a really nasty comment a week or two before he made ironman his bitch. The comment basically said there was no way he could finish an ironman with his training volume, so all he could do was hurt someone or ruin their day. It was brutal. Of course, as soon as he told the beginnertriathlete.com community about it, there was a long thread of support, but I decided it was a significant enough incident for a neologism. Welshy is one of my heroes for a picture from one of his swim starts. It's him, big and soft, in a red bathing suit, surrounded by much smaller and fitter guys in black wetsuits who really appear to be laughing at him. In actuality they're laughing with him at a joke he just made, but it's a great picture. I'll see if I can find it to show y'all.

So, I got Kenned by a woman on the bike ride yesterday. We started in packs, but I told my pack (obviously the slowest, mostly masters women) before we started that, although I loved them all, I was riding by heartrate, and would likely be dropped by them by the end of the parking lot. I said that I had everything I needed, and they should go ahead and enjoy their day. This one lady motions me over and says into my ear (I guess she didn't want to embarass me), "I wasn't going to say anything, but I think this is ridiculous. If you can't keep up with a bunch of old ladies on a training run or ride, there's no way you can do an ironman." I stammer out something about my training volume, and about the fact that I'll have four or five hours left after these 'old ladies' finish. She says something like, "I just think it's a waste, because there are a lot of people who have worked a lot harder, who could do it."

It didn't affect my confidence, but it did piss me off. I think that, in my small way, I represent an important part of the ironman tradition. Long before there was Faris, Normann, speedsuits and aerobars, there was John Collins. How long did IronMan take him? "About seventeen hours". Ironman is meant for friggin wierdos and idiots who may or may not make it just as much as it is for pros. I'm happy and proud to let my freak flag fly, and take anything up to 16:59 to make this thing my own.

Besides, I'm having more fun here than she is.