View from the King Kam - notice the USS Lake Erie a USN guided missle cruiser in Kailua Bay. The US Navy had a huge presence in Kona. The race had a fly by from a C-130 plane and three people jumped out. Two did the race - US Navy Seals. Maybe we have our fourth event? ...and you thought port-a-let lines were bad now!
These are the pro men's bikes the night before. Craig Alexander (and Chrissie Wellington) were two of only a handful of athletes to use a regular vented helmet versus an aerohelmet. Personally, I would advise a better vented helmet in Kona over aero. My moto driver Ken's temp read out said 107 F on the Queen K. I know that the temp was measured at 120 F in the Energy Lab. At those temperatures, anything you can do to cool off a bit will make a difference. At 12 -15% body fat...an aero helmet is the least of my worries right now.
My .02 on Kona...
1) Arrive early - get to the islands early. For me, ideally I would need about 10 to 12 days pre-race to fully aclimatize to the heat. Some folks arrived later and did fine...that isn't me. In 2000, I arrived the Saturday pre-race and did fine. I do better with a bit more time.
2) Condo - cook for yourself.
3) Relax - so many athletes were freaking out over the race. If I've learned anything in 2008 it is to chill out and just go over my plan and skip the nerves which are a waste of energy. We saw so many folks who looked like they were going to a funeral instead of their hobby/passion. No wonder a lot of folks burn out.
4) How do you define yourself? So many of our fellow athletes (if you ask them) to define themselves they'd answer - "Triathlete". Oh...You and I are so much more than that.
5) Compression socks, tank top and running shorts is not a good look to walk around Kona in. If they orange "athlete" bracelet wasn't enough, we have to look at you in those goofy socks. Why not navy blue socks that go up to the knees? My grandfather used to wear them - they are compression socks too. There is a time and a place for everything. When it is 107 F I'm reasonably sure that compression socks aren't what you need.
6) Ego - Spare me the ego. Everyone here has a mom and dad and bleeds red. Don't take yourself too seriously. You may kick my butt in the race but there is so much more to life. We have a saying..."That's all right. That's OK. You'll be working for me one day."
Everyone is good at something. Good sportsmanship is a rare find these days.
Be more than a plate head/gym rat. Read a book. Learn a new language. What amazes me is how much I have learned while on a treadmill or bike trainer. I've read hundreds of books on CD and brushed up on my Spanish, French and Italian language skills. (I'm not saying every time...but how about on a recovery ride?) I am really only conversational in Spanish and English. My French needs to be scripted out as does my Italian. I conducted meetings in Spanish and French. My Spanish nickname is "El Libro" - the book; for how I speak. Grammatically correct an proper - like a book.
7) Appreciate the now - Enjoy the fact that you are racing in this race. Say thank you to those who supported you in the race and to help you get to the race.
8) Finish - The only reason to not finish is if you are in the back of an ambulance. I really don't feel bad for anyone who walks away from any race without a serious medical reason. Especially in Kona. Not gonna go under 11 hrs? Poor baby. There is honor in simply finishing what you started no matter what. In 2000, Bill Bell finished at 1:17 AM with nobody around. I saw him walking toward the line. No TV. No music. No finisher's medal and t-shirt. He finished and turned those down. THAT is an Ironman.
I was on pace for roughly a 10:53 in my first Ironman (which was also my first marathon). It was one of the worst days for weather in the races history; high surf, high winds, high heat.
I remember getting sick at mile 19 and pounding on the port-a-let wall in anger as my great time left me with a whole lot of diarrhea and vomit. I also remember looking at my watch and thinking, "I can finish in under 12. I have to get myself together and get moving." Well, that wasn't very realistic but I did make it under 12 - 12 and change as they say. When I finished I didn't even recognize my catchers and good friends Jill and Tammy as well as my brother who was walking with them. That happened about 5 minutes after finishing.
9) Know the rules - he said kicking a dead horse. There is such an advantage to know how to stick your competition with an extra 2 to 6 minutes or more. You bet I'll be doing that in 2009. The rules and your intelligence of them can be a weapon.