Last week I traveled to Kona, Hawaii for the Ironman World Championships. I have heard so much about the island, the race and Ironman week that I wanted to check it out for myself. My only previous experience with the Big Island of Hawaii were the lucious pictures of the golf courses and the brutal descriptions of the race depicted in Chrissie Wellington's book and on the NBC race coverage. Both the beauty and the demanding course and conditions lived up their portrayals. I wanted to see this first hand because if I want to have any hope of doing well if and when I compete in Kona then I will know what to expect. (Bec has been to Kona before).
I was able to train on the course everyday. I did the 2.4 mile swim (fast but with a stop at a swim up coffee boat!), rode on the Queen K highway (but not the entire way) and ran several times up and down Ali'i drive (the "easy" part of the run). But more importantly, I was able to witness just how hard the athletes had to work to complete the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. It was inspiring and bordering on hard to watch. I think standing in the boiling hot sun was part of that, but mostly because I wanted to be out there racing!
Most triathletes know how the race turned out, but to see Leanda, Mary Beth and Caroline battle it out and Rinny almost run to the win was awe inspiring. NBC will have a lot to work with!
While I was in Hawaii, I stayed at the Cervelo "safe house". A lot of the companies rent houses along the course to display their brands, showcase products and provide a places for their athletes to relax. I wasn't able to visit any other houses, but what I witnessed from Cervelo was a first-class level of dedication to their athletes and brand. Building and tuning bikes, fixing last minute flats, building and packing more bikes all day and night- whatever an athlete needed, it was done without a complaint or hesitation. Also, they gave away tee shirts to everyone who was checking in their Cervelo at the expo. Since Cervelo won the annual bike count (the most popular bike in the race by far), that was a lot of people. Phil White was there with us handing out tees...people were grabbing them from him having NO IDEA the founder of the company was routing through piles to find their exact size. But everything was done without any pretention. I was really impressed. I feel really lucky I was able to get to know everyone better (lots of laughs) and see what goes on behind the scene. I'm grateful to be part of the team...and not just because the bikes are fast! (4 out of the top 11 girls were riding Cervelos). Thank you Les and boys!
So much more to report on from Hawaii, too be continued... (have to go for a run)...But, congrats to everyone who raced!!