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  • Kona Moments – October 6-8, 2007

    Tue, 9 Oct 2007 00:41:32 -0700

    Another day in Paradise. The Jouster is born, Me-fest is in full swing down at Dig Me Beach and Roch is starting to show the signs of an imminent nervous breakdown as October 13th quickly approaches.
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    Why would we take a picture of the broken bamboo exit gate at the Four Seasons at Hualalai? That’s a question for none other than “Jonnyo” a.k.a. Jonathon Carron of Slowtwitch fame. Jonnyo’s been with us for a couple of days and the ’07 Ironman Canada runner-up puts the final touches on his Kona preparation but we had to hear through the local grapevine that on his way out the other day, he took out the gate. What? That’s right, in a classic story of cycling embarrassment he said something like, “I look as I ride and it is up so I look down and try to fix my bike and then it is all of the sudden there so I grab with both hands and look like these guys on horse with long pole…” And so it was, Jonnyo the Jouster was born. He didn’t even fall - nice effort Frenchy.

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    Why is this woman smiling? Martha Long knows that she’s in good hands (arms?) with the coaching of the Australian wombat, Greg Welch. Welchy was at the pier in his multifaceted role of coach, Oakley representative, Ironman.com webcast anchor, and WTC pro-liaison…oh yeah, and he’s also the anchor for the Ironman.com webcast. Phew, that makes having won the ’94 Hawaii Ironman seem easy by comparison.

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    Will the adoration ever end. After his full page ad in Triathlete Magazine, Roch is getting accustomed to women swooning over him. Ever the heart-throb of the triathlon coaching world, five random women spot their dream boat at the pier – not. Five of Roch’s athletes gaze upon their hero in an effort to keep his fragile pre-race ego fluffed. Rhae Shaw, Michellie (filling in for Jackie Nagy), Gaylia Osterland, Sierra Snyder (obscured) and Lisa Preeg do their best to look admiringly upon their coach.

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    That’s more like it. It might not be as reassuring for Coach Roach but it sure brings things back to reality – and we can see Sierra.

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    Roch’s daily pre-race routine includes a multitude of appointments aimed and keeping him loose and calm. It starts with yoga and meditation with his personal guru, and moves through a breakfast of quiche and lilikoi juice, aroma therapy, an hour of positive affirmations, a nap, lunch usually consisting of an arugula & pear salad and cottage cheese, a nap, a lomi-lomi hot rock massage, an aura fluffing, avocado & aloe skin therapy, a nap, dinner (more quiche, a Perrier, and then a night cap of warm milk with cookies) and then it’s bed time. Here, Roch is seen getting a niggly calf issue worked out by ART genius, Dan Selstad. The pressure, oh the pressure.

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    Huddle’s body double, Andy Baldwin, was spotted at the pier putting women into a trance. Yes, it’s the same Andy Baldwin of ABC’s Bachelor fame. He’s not just a U.S. Navy Lieutenant, doctor, and all around great guy but Andy’s also a serious triathlete having gone 9:45 at the 2006 Ford Hawaii Ironman – definitely not just a pretty face. The question, ladies, is he still available?

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    Jackie’s here! Hawaii rookie, Jackie Nagy hit town and was devastated to hear she’d missed the Roch Frey adoration photo. Ok, she didn’t really care but she’s happy to be here anyway.

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    This is how it all starts. You’ve been holding down a job in Buffalo, NY raising three kids and a dog when, while vacationing in Hawaii, you stumble on something called “the Ironman”. You know you’ve got the Speedo for this thing but are not quite sure about covering the distance…but then…a year later…

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    …you’ve MADE IT! You took up the challenge, trained like a professional, lost your job, got divorced, have no friends anymore and are riding a pink softride in your speedo with green zinc cream on your nose. Sweet.

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    6-time men’s champion, Mark Allen was at the pier with his long time partner in coaching, Luis Vargas. Mark may not be swimming and riding his bike anymore but he still surfs big waves and looks like he could still run most of the field into the ground.

    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.