Being in Kona, HI the week of the Ironman World Championships was an experience I will never forget. The venue was unbelievable, the sponsors were everywhere, and best of all, you saw a well known pro every corner you turned on. The clear hot spot for all the big named athletes was the Lava Java right on Ali'i Dr. This place definitely lived up to the hype, the food was Spectacular! The very first day I was there I went to get breakfast at Lava Java, and ran into Jan Frodeno and Javier Gomez, two of the top ITU olympic distance athletes in the world one of which won the gold medal in the last olympics. Some other guys I ran into there were Norman Stadler (2x ironman world champion), marino vanhoenacker (3rd place last year), and Jordan Rapp (multiple ironman winner). It was unbelievable to see how these guys were just normal every day guys out for breakfast, and it made me realize that even though you see them on tv, they are just like you and I, but much more athletic!
Throughout the week I ran into many other professionals both current and retired, and it was awesome to see just how fit they all still were! This was the motivation that I needed leading up to the big race.
My buddy Sev and I went out for a ride one day and decided to go check out the turn around point on the bike at Hawi. This was a big mistake, and eventually made me more scared to race this race then to go see paranormal activity at the movies. We got out of the car at a side street 5 or so miles from the true turnaround and we could barely keep our bikes upright. It must have been 50 mile gusts, with constant 25-30 mph winds. It was a straight head/head cross wind, and it was miserable. I had never worked so hard to go 12 mph and be so scared in my life. about 15 minutes in i looked down cause something didnt feel right, my buddy was pulling away from me hard, and I knew there was something wrong. I had a flat tire. I yelled up to him and told him to go get the car and to come back and get me, and i sort of threw my bike in the lava on the side of the road (similar to norman stadler the year after he won 2 years in a row)
and was very frustrated. The worst part about flatting pre race week is that you get it in your head that you are for sure going to flat in the race.
Sev and I ended up getting back to the car and were talking about how horrible that was and he told me that he nearly died descending with the wind at his back. He was going 50 mph and his handlebars just started to shake and rattle like crazy and he had to lay on the brakes and slow down or he would have been added to the casualty list in the lava fields. I am glad he was ok.
We ended up going to get a beer in frustration after that ride and vent to each other.
The rest of the week was very uneventful leading up to the race. Our one goal leading up to the race was to not get sunburnt, because if you are sunburnt for before the race, that gonna be a miserable day! So we were constantly lathering each other up. We went for a couple swims, and a run, and felt pretty good there. All we were wishing for was no winds and no flats out at hawi!
Race morning came very quickly and things became very real! We got up at 4, thankfully we were still on west coast time so getting up at 4 felt super easy. We got some breakfast in, and headed down to transition. Taking in the race morning scene was very overwhelming, but exciting. It was everything you see on tv and more! The other cool part for me was to get marked with the official stamped on numbers. I had never had the luxury of having such awesome numbers.
After the body marking tent we were hearded off to transition to do one final bike check before we got in the water at Kailua Kona Bay...