Mindless Kona Moments
Tue, 7 Oct 2008 23:46:33 -0800
When you go to Hawaii the week of the race, you’re going to be flying with your extended Ironman family. Upon arriving in San Francisco, it’s like a reunion. We’ve had Bob Babbitt and Mike Reilly since San Diego and now pick up a boatload of other athletes, friends and family. As I go to sit in the aisle seat of the three seat middle row, there’s a 60 or 70-something woman in the middle seat and another triathlete on the other aisle seat. Babbitt is across the aisle from me and looks at the woman and says, “hey, great, a triathlete sandwich!” I’m horrified but the woman laughs and politely asks Babbitt if he’d like the middle seat she’s in so that he can be with his friends. I’m dying inside because I know there’s no way he’s going in the middle of the row for a 5-hour flight – chivalry or not. She tries the sweet old lady routine but babbitt stands his ground. I put my head phones on and pretend not to hear any of it…and we’re off.
This is the latest we’ve arrived for the Hawaii Ironman so, instead of spending a calm, quiet weekend of swimming and golf before the mayhem, it’s straight into shaved bodies, aero helmets and, of course, Speedos. The past couple of years have been impressive in that it’s taken over 24-hours before we’ve seen our first public banana hammock – proof that the Underpants Run is doing its job.
Upon arrival, our goals are simple. Go shopping for groceries, underpants, and some props for the Dos and Don’ts video. Understand that grocery shopping on the Big Island can be a bit of a shock when you get to the cash register. “That will be $490. Mahalo.” Mahalo? i just spent 500-bucks on a $250 cart of groceries and all I get is “mahalo”? I should get a massage and a toaster. It’s ok. We’re in Hawaii.
Next it off to WalMart to clean them out of tighty whities. We pull up to the cash register with a dozen 8-packs of briefs, a dry-erase white board, two pounds of coffee, and 17-dashboard hula girls (for our athletes who are racing). The local Hawaiian cashier gives us a wry, knowing look and we just blush, not quite knowing what to say. “Uh, we’re out of underwear…and coffee.” Great, another bunch of weird haoles on the Island.
Once it’s all done, we’re back, unpacked and off to the community pool for an afternoon swim to loosen up and cool off after a very long day. I’m fat, bald and pasty white. That’s ok though. No one I know could possibly be at the Kona Community pool at 5pm on a Monday before Ironman. I stroll in as coaches put the local age-group team through their paces. Thank God those days are over. I’m getting close to the bench where I can disrobe and expose my, well, let’s call it a body, to the public before quickly slithering into the pool. Suddenly a very fit looking red head appears. Luke Bell. Great. Luke points over a gaggle of Brett Sutton athletes including Belinda Granger, Bella Commerford, and an incredibly fit looking Chrissie Wellington. They all look incredibly fit. Bell is sporting the first ever compression socks / cycling shorts tan I’ve ever seen. I could kick myself for not bringing my camera. It’s the most bizarre tan I’ve ever seen on an athlete’s legs. The thighs are bright white, the calves are bright white, and the knees are perfectly tanned. Sweet.
Anyway, I delay it as long as possible but I’ll eventually have to take off my shirt. I came to the pool. It’s obvious I intend to swim because I have goggles in my hand. I’ve talked crap for at least 10-minutes with anyone who will listen and even bantered at Paula and Heather who are finishing their post flight swim but the moment of truth has arrived. I pull off my shirt and sheepishly head to an open lane. I don’t hear any women or children scream and/or run for the exit as I reach the edge though I can feel the collective shudder from my wife as I stand above her and display my hairy belly and muffin top. No matter. I jump in and push off in the soothing cool water.
We won’t make it to the Kona Inn before John Duke leaves but, who cares. How can anyone manage the schedule. Run at 3am, e-mail at 4:30am, swim at 6:30am, and then to work – whatever that might mean. By 5:30pm, you better be at the Kona Inn bar or you’re going to miss the best of it. By 6:30, he’s falling asleep. Who could manage it? We’ll have to suffer each other’s company without the Devil.