Wednesday, October 18, 2006:
After traveling for 12 hours straight the previous day, I wake up at 5 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep. I get up, organize some of my gear and head down to the pier in Kailua Bay. The first thing I notice: I am the only (and I mean only) athlete on this island that has a body fat percentage in the double digits. I have never in my life seen so many hard-core athletes in one place. Some of those guys had speedos smaller than the left half of my bikini top, for crying out loud.
I did a 20 minute swim in the ocean and absolutely loved it! My heart was beating faster just from being so excited to be there. Swimming in the ocean wasn’t nearly as bad as I had thought it would be…………until I got out. I don’t know if it was the waves, the jet lag, or being overwhelmed by all the half-naked male triathletes everywhere I looked , but I got nauseous and almost lost the small breakfast I had eaten an hour before. This made me a little worried that I would fall victim to the dreaded sea sickness that so many athletes before me had encountered, but I still wasn’t nervous about the race.
Thursday, October 19 through Friday, October 20th:
Swam a little, ran a little, rode a little. Went to the pre-race carb dinner with Bob and Matt Schloegel and Ken Welsh – all super nice guys, all very fast. The show during dinner was cool….lots of Hawaiian dancing, lots of fire-stick spinning. The usual. Still not nervous.
Saturday, October 21st: Race Day:
3:00 a.m.: I wake up and think I’m having a heart attack. Remember how I said up until this point I hadn’t been nervous? Yeah, I guess my body was saving all that nervousness for right this moment. I swear my heart rate was above 200 and all I could think about were things that could go wrong during the race. What if the forecast was wrong (it predicted clouds and light showers) and the weather ended up being 100 degrees and sunny? What if the water is really choppy? What if my saddle falls off my bike and I have to ride 100 miles standing up?
I had a really hard time getting breakfast down and only ate about ½ of what I should have. I grabbed my pre-swim bag and my friends dropped me off at body marking.
The cool thing about this race is you see all the triathletes in person that, until this point, you have only seen in magazines. I saw Lori Bowden and Natascha Badmann in the body marking area. Chris McCormack walked by me as I was heading to my bike. After I pumped up my tires and made sure everything was in order on my ride I had a lot of time left and needed to get away from all the people in the TA. I went behind this building that had restrooms in it to find some quiet and it was just me and Faris Al-Sultan. Oh, and the weird little guy whose sole purpose, evidently, is to put sunscreen on Faris, making sure to pay extra-close attention to his nether-regions. I felt like the whole ordeal should have been censored.
7:00 a.m.: I line up way in the back and off to the left, away from the buoys. The swim in Kona is just one big rectangle which I like…..you can just focus on the swim all the way and not worry about how far you are from being finished. In hindsight, I underestimated my swimming ability because I kept trying to pass people but it’s tough to do in a crowd that big. I ended up drafting off of some Japanese guy about 30 minutes into the swim and realized he wasn’t going very fast at all, but I had two options at this point: a) stay behind him and have a slower swim time than I wanted but save energy or b) go off on my own and risk trying to go too fast. I chose option A and that poor guy carried me all the way in. I tried to get his number as we got out of the water (race #, not phone #) but missed it. He holds a special place in my heart because I got out of the water feeling like I hadn’t done a thing yet.
8:30ish: I realize the advantage of