Wednesday, October 5, 2011
I am HERE!
But getting here sorta sucked, I admit.
Andy and the kids drove me and my friend Robin to Logan early early early early on Saturday morning.
This is Robin:
Anyway, we arrived at Logan very early to board our plan to Phoenix that was to leave at 6:20 a.m.
It did not leave at 6:20 a.m.
The left engine needed a new part, a part that wasn't at Logan and had to be sent for, and so after an hour and half we got off the plane and boarded another plane. We finally left at about 9:15 a.m. eastern time.
And, of course, we missed our connecting flight to Kona. We were re-routed to San Fransisco, where we waited a long long time, and then we arrived in Kona at 11:50 pm, Hawaii time--also known as 5:50 a.m. eastern time. By the time we arrived at the hotel we had been traveling for over 24 hours straight.
It was pretty special.
But we were in Kona!
And the next morning we got up and headed to Lava Java!
On the way I saw this huge snail:
We also stopped at a farmer's market:
We then drank quite a bit of really good Kona coffee. I saw Normann Stadler. I stared at him until he looked at me. That was the extent of our deep and meaningful interaction.
We then strolled around until noon, when I could pick up my bike at TriBike.
I tried not to buy every single knickknack and t-shirt I saw. But I wanted to!
We had a ride on the schedule, and so we took our bikes out to the Queen K to check out that scene. Everything was quite lovely--we zipping right along-- until we got past the airport. Then the wind! The wind! It blew at us from the side and I thought, this is bad, but I can handle it. I couldn't stop looking around. The black lava contrasting with the white grass reminded me of the Klondike section of climbing Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Occasionally we would see others people riding. Everyone was decked in colorful kits and sported sweet bikes with zipp wheels. I was mesmerized by it all.
And it was hot. I made it through both my bottles in an hour and a half. After 25 miles or so we turned around, and BAM! The crosswind was 50x as bad as it had been on the way out. We crawled along, and I must admit I was pretty darn concerned about race day by the time we rolled into Bike Works, a local bike shop located on the way back to our hotel. I was parched, hungry, and a salty sweaty mess, and we had only been riding a few hours! And, worst, I was not at all sure I could handle it. But I will handle it. I just may get blown to Kansas as I try.
Later that afternoon we went for our first swim from Dig Me beach. It was pretty quiet with just a few swimmers and a few kids playing in the waves. Most triathletes seem to swim in the early morning. Anyway, the water was warm and calm, and after swimming out maybe 25 yards we saw the coral and colorful fish. It was so incredible--like swimming in an aquarium. Robin and I swam for 10 minutes and then spent the next 10 just exclaiming over and over what we had seen... a turtle! a tiny black fish with white fins! a yellow and blue fish darting in a coral hole!
I'm not sure how to convey how I feel about being here. I know I am here to race, and I will race, and it will be hard, and horrible and amazing. But this is so much more than this race. I want to suck up every moment here--breathe it in--digest it--carry it.