Karen Smyers and daughter, Jenna arriving at the pier. Karen is a definite favorite to win the women's overall title in '99 after a couple of years away from the Big Island. Experienced, down to earth, and can go beer for beer with any male pro in the sport!
If It's One Week 'til Kona, There Must Be One More Workout To DoEvery athlete has their own final week's schedule but for many of the top professionals, Saturday, one-week to go, means a final "reality check" run out on the Queen K Highway. Typically, the run is between 7 and 10 miles and is run from town out to the end of the Natural Energy Lab or from the end of the NEL back to town. This section represents the most desolate and difficult stretch of the marathon on race day. Most athletes will run this section between 10am and 2pm to give themselves a "reality check". This run reminds one of just how difficult running a fast marathon is and how much they'll need to drink in order to work maximally. All of the preconceived notions of sub-3 hour this and two forty something that, evaporate in the lava fields.
The pier this morning was a little busier with recent arrivals coming down for their initial Kona baptism. One of the best stories I heard this morning was from '95 women's champion and '99 favorite, Karen Smyers. As she arrived at the pier pushing her daughter, Jenna, in the stroller, Karen related a harrowing tale of just how hard it is to race at her level with kids. After a 5a.m. wake up on the East Coast, she, Jenna, and her husband, Mike King got on a flight in Boston. Changing planes in Dallas, Smyers remarked, "I didn't know the direct flight from Dallas to Honolulu was 8-hours!!! This is the first time Jenna's traveled and, as good as she was, it was something to keep her entertained that long. After arriving in Kona (6-hours of time change to the West), we collapsed at 8pm. Not bad, right? We'll get up at 6 or 7a.m. Wrong. Jenna decided to wake up at 3:30a.m. (hey, it's 9:30a.m. in Boston)! Poor Mike sacrificed himself for me and drove her around for two hours so that I could sleep. I woke up at 6a.m. when he got home and brought her down to the pier for a little swim." Yikes!!! You've got to take your hat off to all of the parents who are racing in the '99 Ironman!
More to come . . .