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  • Tough place to spent a week prior to a race.

    Quality bonding is the best way to keep race nerves at bay.

    'Deer in the headlights' look for Mike on race morning.

    The best part - being done!


    Is It The Osbournes in Keauhou?

    I admit it, it was all MY idea. I thought how cool would it be to do one more long-distance event in my favorite place on Earth with three of my best tri-buddies. So last June we did it. We all signed up for the Keauhou Half Ironman in Kona. For Mike, Karen, and Sean this would be no big deal— afterall, they had been racing long-distance triathlons for the past 2 seasons while I had been doing sprint races, got pregnant, and had a baby in March 2002. What better way to get motivated to get back in shape than to sign up for a half-ironman, right?

    We spared no expense. I searched and searched online for the perfect house to rent on Alii Drive. I found it. About a mile from Dig Me Beach, this place had it all. It looked good on the Web, but when we arrived, we were blown away. It was incredible! 3 bedrooms, 4 baths, our own saltwater pool, barbeque, Jacuzzi, and all the amenities of home. This was going to be quite a vacation. The race was just to be icing on the cake.

    Mike and his “new” girlfriend, Angela joined us on our flight the Saturday before the race. Karen & Sean were to arrive on Tuesday so we had a couple of days to get settled and stock the fridge with food. “Stock” was an understatement—we could barely fit all the food just the 5 of us needed to get us through the first few days. It’s amazing how much food triathletes can consume even when tapering.

    The first couple of days were spent getting into the “Kona groove”—rising early to go for a dip in the ocean, short runs and rides to keep us loose and meal after meal, snack after snack to keep us well fueled. And let’s not forget the supplements. Mike had lined up an entire counter top in the kitchen with more vitamins, homeopathic remedies, and supplements than GNC could put in their first aisle. And there was quite a method to his madness. I think he must have swallowed at least 50 pills a day.

    My hubby, Dan, who is quite handy with bike tools, had our bikes assembled in no time while our son, Gavyn, supervised. We took turns chasing him around the house and on the deck. Our biggest challenge all week was making sure he didn’t pull one of the bikes over on himself. He loves to spin the pedals around and take water bottles in and out of the cages.

    Before we knew it Tuesday had rolled around and the Oppenheimers arrived. We all anticipated their arrival as Karen makes quite a presence wherever she goes. Immediately she had Sean on the task of putting together their bikes while we went to the grocery store for MORE food. It was at this point that we started to lose touch with Mike and Angela. They began making themselves more scarce. Was it too crowded? Too loud? Was Mike getting nervous about the race? Or were they just having lots “new” sex? Who knew? We certainly didn’t.

    I couldn’t be too concerned as it was all I could to do balance what little training I had with playtime for Gavyn and making sure that Dan got to enjoy some personal time as well. I was green with envy at Mike how each afternoon he would just go upstairs to take a nap and rest. “Nap and rest”—what the heck is that like? I wondered. Mike took on the existence of what (I assume) a Pro might do. Wake, eat, train, eat, nap, eat, sleep, repeat. I, on the other hand, was fortunate to get any “down time” when I took a shower every afternoon. So much for my legs. Why change anything now, I chase Gavyn around all day at home so what’s the difference? Karen couldn’t be bothered with down time. It about killed her to cut her workouts back and any amount of swim, bike, or run Mike or I did, she had to just add on a little bit more and go a little bit harder. On top of that, she had to go for long walks every day to keep her sanity. I don’t know where she finds all that energy.

    Dan carved out some personal time for sunbathing. I put Gavyn down for a nap and went out for a bike ride. Upon my return about 2 hours later I found Dan still laying by the pool, but his skin had taken on a dark red color. Hmmm…..he had fallen asleep. For those of you who don’t know my hubby, he a roadie and has some serious tan lines from years of riding. Needless to say they were now gone, and soon to be replace by blisters—ouch!

    As the week rolled on, not only did the pre-race tension build in the house, but Gavyn decided to cut all four of his molars and get a head cold to boot. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much from Wednesday up until the night before the race. Sleep IS overrated, right? Gavyn’s job all week was to perform “belly button checks”. I have no idea what this is all about, possibly one of those toddler stages, but he is fascinated by lifting up your shirt to look at your belly button. Maybe he was concerned that they were full of lint and that might weigh us down on race day?

    We all had our individual race plans. On paper, the Kona course looks fairly straight forward, but for those of you who have raced in Kona, you know better. The Island always rises to the occasion on race day and you never know what the day will bring. I was getting really excited and nervous. I knew I had done the best preparation possible thanks to Roch—he’s the man! Mike was fired up because he had just come off two strong performances at Half Cali & Wildflower. Karen was ready to “kick some serious butt” as she has gotten progressively stronger over the past couple of years and is always out to kick all of her friends (and husband’s) asses. Sean was his usual mellow-self and had resigned himself to the fact that his wife would beat him and he would probably cramp on the run. Mike and I had a friendly wager going and he was generous enough to give me a 20 minute handicap. Being a female with skinny calves and over a year of sleep deprivation coupled with low mileage training he figured why not. As I saw it, either way I win because the loser buys the winner a dinner at the restaurant of their choice. Either way I’m going to have a great meal.

    The night before the race we cooked a great pasta meal and all ate together outside on the deck and watch the sunset over Kailua Bay. Race morning arrived too quickly. The 4 of us gathered in the kitchen around 4:30 a.m. and tried to force down breakfast. I was both extremely nervous and a bit scared. I was ready to relinquish myself to Madam Pele and try to enjoy the day.

    Race day was HOT, but that’s what I expected. I gained an extra boost on the bike and run segments knowing I would get to see my boys out there cheering. We all had good days out there. Aside from the flat on the bike, Mike had a solid performance. Karen rode with the boys all morning with a phenomenal bike split. Sean never cramped and finished strong. I exceeded my own expectations by running my fastest half-marathon off the bike. Angela was awesome moral support as she rode her bike up and down Alii Drive during the run to cheer us on.

    There IS something very special about Kona and I highly recommend you race there at some point in your triathlon career. I’ve now “officially” retired from long-distance racing and plan to focus on local, sprint races to stay in shape, quench my desire for a little competition, and so I can spend more time with Gavyn. Maybe I’ll go back for Lavaman in 2005. Right now I’m hungry (again) and need to pick out a restaurant where Mike can buy me dinner.