Kona Moments – October 6-8, 2007
Tue, 9 Oct 2007 00:41:32 -0700
Dig Me Beach. The little beach (er, patch of sand) that lies in the crotch of the sea wall and pier in downtown Kailua has been so named since this event moved to Kona. During the final weeks leading up to the Ford Hawaiian Ironman, what has been a community’s dock for fishing boats & cruise ships and swim entrance to Kailua Bay becomes a choke point for triathletes and wannabes from all over the world. Most will soon be racing and are simply going for a morning swim workout while others are seeing and being seen. The range of swimming attire and variations of tri-ensembles is astounding. Every size, cut, and color of swim suit (underpants), man-bra, support socks, speed suit (uh, wetsuit), is on display. The bodies are mostly tanned, muscular, and obviously fit but I’ve been down there too. Every morning between 6:30 and 9am the attention seekers descend on this sacred Hawaiian ground to join in Me Fest.
Ok, not everyone is down there to pose and strut in and out of the water but it’s difficult for anyone who simply wants to go for a swim to not feel like they’re on display in the amphitheater like set up that the sea wall and pier afford this arena. Who can blame the gawkers that show up with their cups of coffee and cameras to check out this annual congregation of tri-humanity? The seating and vantage points are better than Wrigley field. You may be innocent of any attempt to preen and swagger but if you want to enter the beautiful 80-degree waters of Kailua Bay you better be ready to be scrutinized. Going in is bad enough but you’re soon alone with the colorful fish and turtles. You lose yourself in whatever version of a swim or undersea sightseeing tour you happen to be on but, inevitably, you’re going to have to return. When you do arrive back on the sandy ramp to land, you’re greeted by a stadium of onlookers who look down on you from their perches above. What do you do with your hands? How do should you walk. Try to look normal. Suck in your gut. I know I’m not the only one who looks ridiculous down here among all these freaks. And so it goes.
Me Fest is perhaps the best people watching opportunity anywhere. When the cruise ships arrive, it even gets better. What could be better than experiencing the collision of cultures when the vacationing cruise passenger unwittingly steps on to the Kailua pier in October? The contrast in bodies and attire couldn’t be more drastic. Picture your mom and/or dad in their very best tropical vacation attire walking through a throng of really skinny bodybuilders in thongs. You get the idea.
Anyway, race contractions have started for the poor 1800 or so suckers who are walking around town with their yellow wrist bands that indicate they’ve been through registration and are now simply waiting to die. With one week to go the contractions are approximately 4 to 8-hours apart. One minute the athlete is calm, relaxed, and seems to be happy to be alive. The next minute they’re either weeping inconsolably or snapping the head off of their – pick one: spouse, waitress, family member, cashier, boy friend, cab driver, girl friend, etc. – as they go about their day-to-day business. It’s an interesting phenomenon and one that any athlete could attest to if you were brave enough to ask. The contractions become stronger and more frequent as the race gets closer and, by Friday before the event, will typically be 3 to 6-minutes apart.
Roch has been pretty good so far. I’ve only caught him weeping a couple of times and, I have to give it to him, one was while watching TV and it was really sad. It was that episode of Little House on the Prairie when Laura’s rabbit died. Anyway, he comes out of it pretty quickly and has generally been in a positive mood as he continually talks to himself using sentences like, “I’m happy to be here.” Or, “I’m so lucky to be doing the Ironman.” Phrases like this are common among athletes in the final stages of preparation for Ironman and can be translated to mean, “I can’t believe I signed up for this.” And, “What the hell was I thinking?!” That Deepak Chopra book he’s reading is really starting to pay off this week.
At the end of last week we had the pleasure of having Jonnyo (Jonathan Carron) with us for a couple of days. I first met this seemingly serious French Canadian professional triathlete at Ironman Canada a month and a half ago where he had a phenomenal race and ended up second to Kieren Doe. A full 36-hours after he’d arrived, I was down at the pool and informed by our host that someone in our house has taken out the gate at the entrance to Hualalai. What? She repeated the story. Someone staying in our house has ridden their bike through the gate and taken it out (it’s one of those bars – in this case bamboo pole – that the attendant raises & lowers to let guests in/out and keep the riffraff out. I instantly thought Roch was the guilty party and was holding out on me. I was then stunned to find out that it was Frenchy. “Did this just happen today?” I asked. Oh no, this happened yesterday morning. What?! He took out the gate at the entrance and then calmly conversed with us for a fully 36-hours before we had to find out second hand?! The excitement of bringing this up with him later that afternoon was rewarded with a hilarious description of his tangle with the gate in his trademark French Canadian accent. The tale ended with, “…then it is all of the sudden there so I grab with both hands and look like these guys on horse with long pole…” That’s right, he, somehow, was able to keep riding and stayed upright. Nice effort. Jonathan “The Jouster” Carron. Kind of has a nice ring to it.
Alright, that’s it for now – stay tuned for a full report on the pros and a picture or two from the Underpants Run…yeah, I know, you can’t wait.