Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kona Chronicles: Part 5

And they're off!
Ironman is not a spectator sport. I know I am stating the obvious, but, wow, it just isn't. Like many sports events, it is the palpable excitement of being there that draws people in, even when such an event is better watched on TV. The most action was in the first 90 minutes where we saw three separate swim starts (pro men, pro women, age groupers), the swim itself, and then the droves of people precariously rounding the Hot Corner (the junction of Palani Rd and Kuakini Hwy) and back again. The riders zoomed by so quickly it was somewhat of a game to pick out who they were.

And, then, that's it. The athletes were gone into the abyss and there was nothing to do but wait for some information to trickle in. Even though we were right there, we could've been anywhere.

Beautiful morning to spectate

After a run to the Energy Lab and back we had nothing but time. The wireless networks were bogged down with everyone trying to get updates, rendering us ignorant of what was transpiring just a few miles away. I had to text other people located elsewhere for information about how my athletes were doing and to find out how the pro race was unfolding. The Athlete Tracker was almost impossible to bring up due to the overwhelming overload. Every now and again, one of us could pull it up and that person would whoop like a lottery winner.
Damn funny!

All of that internet searching caused my phone to bleed battery life. It would drop 10% in the blink of an eye. All around me, people were cursing at their phones and iPads. As my battery was about to breathe its last breath, I stopped into a shop, gave my sad face, and asked if I could plug my phone in. It was a common sight at the restaurants to see people with their phones charging. Next time, I will have an alternative battery plan.

The crowd on Alii Drive

We stood along Alii Drive waiting for the athletes to come through. Among both the pros and the age groupers, the pattern was similar, some people looked so smooth and happy while others wore the pain of the day on their faces. Some people ran tall, other were stooped over. It was easy to pick out whose quads were trashed, whose hamstrings were cramping, and who managed their ride well enough to run with relative ease.

Of all the runners that ran past, none looked better than Mirinda Carfrae. She makes running look effortless; she is strong and solid and runs with confidence. It was a sight to behold.

My athletes fared well. Two had Ironman PR's, one said "I raced to my level of fitness" and another had to face the Ironman demons. Overall, it was a successful day.

Lessons of the day:
1. Spectating an Ironman is hard. I always knew that, but now I really know.
2. Reapply sunscreen on a regular basis.
3. It is easy to forget to eat and drink.
4. The photographers are really good at what they do. I missed just about every photo op; the athletes go by too fast.
This is the only action photo I managed to capture.
5. Pick your spot on the course wisely and stay there.
6. Bring phone battery back ups and sell them for large sums of money to desperate spectators.

All in all, a fun and successful day. I hope to do it again next year!