Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To Sum Up The Kona Experience

Here was Beth's day:

with my amateur video capturing her finish

Here was my day:

Of course, if I left it at that, this would be a fairly boring entry. So.....

Where did I leave off?

Ah, yes, Seattle. I got in a nice 4 mile run in the morning and then trekked back across the street to SeaTac Airport. I was very impressed with the area and the organization of the airport (except the security lines). Of course, since I was in Seattle, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to purchase something at Starbucks. However, I'm not a coffee drinker, so I went for the smoothie option.

The flight across the Pacific went off without a hitch and I was in Kona around noon (Hawaiian). We stopped off at the most-popular Lava Java for some food and then went over to the expo. There, we swung by the MAO tent and I finally got to meet Mark Allen in person. Not being a big triathlon participant myself, it wasn't that lifetime memory or anything. However, the man is the Michael Jordan of his sport and you've got to respect that.

Back to the home for the rest of Thursday afternoon and I tried to take a nap to help adjust to the time. However, the Welcome dinner went on until almost 9pm (3am for me as of 24 hours previously) and, as you can see in the photo, I don't know how coherent I was for this.

Friday was pre-race day. I ran with Beth and ran a little further as she did a short bike workout. We then went over to the Kona pier and I had a chance to swim there. That was amazing seeing how clear the water was--seeing the coral, swimming among the fish. After a pasta dinner courtesy of Beth's mom, it was off to bed for the early wakeup call.

Race morning, I dropped off Beth and her mom near the pier on Palani and then drove back to park by Lava Java. I met up with them, we got our morning photos and then the pros went off and then the mass of age-groupers went off.

In addition to Beth's parents, I was joined by some other Pittsburgh area spectathletes--the significant others of Chad and Matt (and Kristen's sister). They came ready to represent the burgh with the shirts and the terrible towels.

After we saw everyone go past on the bike out to the Queen K, we went our separate ways. Beth's mom and I went over towards Lava Java. It was packed so we went next door to U Top It and set up information tracker headquarters (not to mention eat some food!)

As they came back from the bike we went out to Alii Drive outside of Lava Java (Mile 1 & 9-ish). Our setup can be summarized below with the spectathletes cheering and shooting photos.

Matty Mo was soaking it all in, stopping for some hi-fives and a kiss for his lovely wife.

Beth and the crew went back to the finish before midnight to cheer in the final competitors. I wanted to go, but my body started revolting. I slept almost as soon as we got Beth home from the race. She tried to get me to go, but I remember making my argument to her about how I just couldn't muster up the energy to go as my eyes were closing shut. I know--pretty weak. Something I'll have to improve upon if Beth makes it back.

The day after the race, we had a chance to swing by a beach, take our underwater camera, and do some fun swimming. Beth even snapped a shot of a turtle!

Then began the long trek home: Kona-San Jose-2 hour layover-overnight to Atlanta-1.5 hour layover-Pittsburgh. We made it home!

Some summary statistics:

6 days for this trip
6 cities stopped in (PIT-CHI-SEA-KOA-SJ-ATL-PIT)
4 beds slept in (if you include the airplane seat on the redeye back)
7 smoothies consumed
5 trips to Lava Java
1.75 books read
71 tests graded on the airplane (very cramped!)
1 turtle spotted
1 fellow teacher spotted impersonating an evil villian at the Chicago airport (see the Make-a-Wish foundation)

We traveled from the NLDS winner (San Francisco) to the loser (Atlanta)
On Wednesday, I was fortunate to hit my layover in Chicago out perfectly to witness innings 5-9 of Roy Halladay's no hitter (my first ever one I've seen live)
Hundreds of pictures taken

Great job to Beth, Chad, Matt, Jeremy, Jocelyn, and everybody else out there who can now call themselves an IRONMAN!

To sum it up, a marvelous time!


Beth said...

Man, I think you snuck in a few more smoothies than I did! ;) I know it was a whirlwind trip for you and you never got a chance to adjust to the time but on race day you showed up big and cheered/supported with the best of them! Thank you and love you! :)

Marit C-L said...

What a great (albeit VERY QUICK) trip! I just love how you and Beth support each other - totally fantastic! Sounds like a great time and I know that you guys will get to look forward to many future trips to the island!! Oh - and I just about spat out my coke about your Mark Allen comment. :) Hope that you're slowly adjusting to life on the east coast! :)

runningyankee said...

awesome spectathlete report. awesome.

m said...

Spectating is a tough job! I don't know how you did it for a whole ironman! I like the numbers report, that's a lot of tests graded and only 1 turtle!

GoBigGreen said...

Wow i will never complain of connecting or non direct flights again. I know one time i went to Hawaii it was MSP-Chicago-LA ( long A$$ layover) then onto HNL. I think on the way back it was denver in tehre somewhere.
Glad you ( and Beth!) made it!