Monday, October 8, 2007

The Kona Circus: Hawaii Ironman Day 3

This year for this little blog I would like to highlight some of the attractions in Kona during race week. I plan on mostly resting and relaxing in the condo conserving energy for the big day. So writing these gives me something to do while my wife Dana is out training.

I would like to start with my favorite place in Kona; The Kailua pier, other wise known as “Dig Me Beach” This is ground zero and there is a lot of athletic energy here. From the pier you see all the familiar sites you catch on the TV broadcast, the church steeple, Alii Drive and finish line, the banyan trees, The Royal Kona Hotel as it juts out in the distance and the waves as they crash into the sea wall. The atmosphere here is electric and it builds as race day gets closer.
So why do they call it “Dig Me Beach”? You quickly find out why when you show up for the morning swims. There is a multitude of athletes with physiques like Greek gods mingling in the swim area. There are photographers with cameras with telephoto lenses more expensive than my bike snapping photos everywhere. Speedos, foreign languages…. it is pretty intimidating, but this is the Ironman World Championships and these are the fittest and most talented triathletes in the world. You get the idea.

I have tried to capture the circus in a slide show which will be posted above. There are some shots of Dana and Lynne with Andy Baldwin, Normann Stadler, Natasha Badman, Fernanada Keller, Some Australian dude with a Speedo and a beam bike everyone was going gaga over.

I really enjoy swimming at the pier. The ocean is so clear. You are able to see 70 feet or so to the bottom and catch glimpses of all kinds of sea life. Every time I swim here I feel I am so lucky to be here and be racing in this great race. However, today, I was stung on the neck by a Portuguese Man O’War. Let me tell ya …it burns! Anyway, despite that, I have done a lot of triathlons and been to quite a few venues but nothing compares to Kona. It’s not surprising that it is so competitive to get here.

Another one of my favorite places is “Lava Java”. This is a coffee shop on Alii drive just up the road from the pier and a block or so down from the Royal Kona hotel. This is another favorite hang out spot for many athletes. You might be sitting next to Peter Reid or Sister Madonna while you sip on a cup of Kona Coffee at an outdoor table watching athletes ride by in their perfect aero positions. The sea wall and ocean view is the perfect backdrop. It is truly a nice environment. I captured a shot of my breakfast in the slide show. Mitch Thrower, from Triathlete Magazine, was there with his laptop as were many other athletes taking in the Kona experience.

So there are a few of my favorite places. Later in the day I went for a run in the humidity on Alii Drive. Last year I stashed a few of my CO2 cartridges in a stone wall just in case I might need them again; ) During my run went to the wall that I hid them and they were still there.

I got a massage by a guy from Boulder whose name is Jeff Jewel. He really worked out the kinks. Eddie Garrott gave me his contact number. It was a great massage. When I walked out I saw that pro Chris Lieto was up next.

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