Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kona... Ironman Day...

Anyone who was in Kona most likely heard the phrase and/or saw stickers: "I love cake." It's a total inside joke that not too many know the real meaning behind (hee hee), but on race day there were funny signs posted all around alluding to the cake thing :)

Anyways, I personally think writing about Kona is starting to get a little outdated at this point, but I want to at least talk about race day. Maybe just a picture recap for everything after that. Hm. What do you guys think? Over it?

Pre-race evening
Friday after bike check-in Kona turns into a ghost town. No more compression and SpiderTech in every direction, no more sounds of shifting bike gears, no neon-clad tri geeks roaming around.

I hung out at the condo with the girls as they prepared pre-race meals; I had dinner plans out in town later on so wasn't eating with them. It was interesting to observe how they were handling the reality that Ironman was only hours away. Maggs, as I mentioned, was a chill as can be. Not cocky, but clearly able to handle the stress/pressure very well. I was taking mental notes because I need to be more like her before a race. Laura was a little more high-strung, understandably considering is was her first IM, but her dad and BF were taking good care of her food prep and anything she needed so that helped. D was, well, D. I was still around by the time they ate so my appetizer was a beer a la Maggs (actually, she offered me a beer because she was having one too... awesome).

I left shortly after with a couple people, keeping my curfew in mind. That night I met photographer Larry Rosa who quickly became my new BFF :) What a guy. We had a lot of good laughs at what's probably the best Thai restaurant in Kona... can't recall the name, sorry. After Thai, I requested Orange Tree fro-yo on Palani. I'd heard about this place, and it lived up to its reputation. Self-serve meant lots of test tastes before committing to final flavors.

Race Day
Before I knew it, it was race morning and I was in town seeing this... (3 or 4 a.m. ish)...

I found D, who'd be my partner in crime for the day. That media shirt I'm wearing didn't last for long, for various reasons ;) We headed down to transition and took it all in. My breakfast was PowerBar Oatmeal Ball things and media-room coffee :/ I watched body-marking a bit. I love seeing the intense, focused faces of the athletes. It's sort of "oh shit" combined with "let's get 'er done!"

When they announced Chrissie wasn't racing, I thought it was a joke. It obviously wasn't. I thought of Mirinda and Julie and how their hearts probably skipped 20 beats with that news, perhaps some of the guys felt the same way -- less chance of getting chicked. I know a guy two who's been called out on that issue, rough ;)

For the swim start we were on the sea wall. Wtf media pass?! Definitely not as cool as being on the pier last year. Speaking of that, the whole media credential thing was very different than it was even just last year, but that's a whole other story.
(No need for swim start picture because you've seen it... that goes for a lot of my race pictures, which are very blah...)

After the swim, D and I visited "headquarters" for a while for work-related things. Then to Palani with Starbucks to watch everyone pass on the bikes, then to the condo for re-fueling, etc. Not gonna lie, I did a load of laundry at the condo! Ha! Give me a break, I packed light with only carry on :)

We beach-cruisered back to town and posted up at the Hot Corner foreva. Hint: That's a good spot to catch lots of action. I was lucky enough to hang out with my friend Roman Mica, of I've written for Roman's website for a couple years, but Kona was the first time we met in person.
Btw, when we were cruisin over, we rode with Bree Wee's supprt crew/family... D & I recognized her sister right away thanks to blog world. This is hubs and the new kiddo...

I also got to see superstar commentator Matt Lieto doing his IronmanLive gig as his bro was still in the lead. That was fun. It's a good thing Matt sported the compression for all the working out he was doing, looks tough ;) But in all seriousness, I really wish things had worked out differently for Chris Lieto.

D & I witnessed this little girl get a big hug and kiss from her daddy, who was headed out on the run. I've never seen such a precious smile as this...Also ran into some hot ladies from San Diego during the day... talk about great sherpas!

So race continued on... I was dehydrated as can be despite chugging giant water bottles. I headed down to catch the pro finish. D stuck back because she is the ultimate sherpa and was watching out for all our peeps. The finish was fabulous to see live, unlike anything in the world; although, this year didn't evoke tears as last year's did... Mirinda's 1st/sub-9 was the biggest highlight for me, and I'm happy for Caroline Steffan but was hopin Julie Dibens would snag 2nd. Of course, before the women, Macca and Raelert's run at the end was pretty damn good too, and watching the top guys trickle in is rad. I ran into Luke McKenzie and we chatted a bit. I super felt bad for him because you could tell he wanted to be racing, but he still had such a great attitude about his situation.
Some of my fav pics from the finish...

Run Boys!!

Winner winner chicken dinner
Crowie gets love from Lucy

Yea Chris

Ben Hoffman... in case anyone was wondering, he is such an awesome dude!

The women's CHAMP

Probably my favorite thing at the finish line was rocking out on the ledge I was standing on -- so much energy, I couldn't help it! What made that even better was looking over and seeing Larry Rosa also rocking out. We made eye contact and had a good laugh...
I'm not gonna lie. I didn't stick around for the midnight finish. A couple things came up, and I hung out with an interesting crowd that evening instead. At my little dealio, we all were sharing stories on the race, and it hit me that Kona 2010 was over. Already.

Time was FLYING by... at that point I didn't want my Hawaiian vacation to end. There were plenty of post-race events to make a flight change well worth the cost. Executive decision: Extend the trip! Smart move....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kona... the beginning...

I've sat down like 18 times to start this blog, but it's not easy. There's just so much good stuff to talk about when it comes to Hawaii + Ironman. I'm not gonna lie, it's been pretty cool NOT qualifying for and racing Kona yet; I think I have more fun just floating around the scene stress-free for the week+. What will I do if I ever qualify... No Lulu's before the race? No pre-race adventures and craziness? Ah! I think I could handle it if it came down to that ;)

So I guess my plan for these next few blogs is to not write too too much; although, that probably won't happen. If you want more of my story, let me know... maybe I'll let you buy me fro-yo and we can talk. This first blog is more about my experience and less about the Ironman itself; i.e. what do you do in Kona as a non-participant/reporter/roommate to racers?

I got picked up by D at the airport Tuesday afternoon (Maggs was napping) and within minutes it felt like D was a sister... no not because we were fighting! We got along just fine :) It seems the rest of that day revolved around food somehow... taco stop for D, Thai food for dinner with the girls (Maggs, D, and Laura), Costco run, grocery shopping and snacking later on in the condo. By the way, D got the same veggie/chicken dish as me at Thai -- she does eat healthy despite what she says.

I was pretty stoked on my roommates for the week, not to mention our condo... I'd stay there again in a heartbeat (Wyndham something at mile marker 1.5 on Ali'i). Did I mention the spa has a sandy bottom and is enclosed by rocks, waterfalls & plants... very nice. And there are barbecues scattered all over.
Unloading the groceries. Their Costco and Thai restaurants have really good things we don't get in California, no fair.
Great sweet potato/almond butter snack a la Maggs... a new fav of mine now. Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. I began work with This was completely new territory for me, and I was frankly a little nervous. I didn't know any of the crew except via email, I've never done real on-camera work, plus I really had no idea what my job was even going to be. Turns out my job was to walk around Dig Me Beach with the microphone interviewing everyone from pros and "legends of the sport" to age groupers, sherpas, etc. That was the gig for several days. It was fun and definitely something I'd like to do more of, but in the meantime I need to work on my comfort level behind the camera. I felt very awkward at times.

On the beach doin my thing (photo by Brian Hayes Patterson).One of my many interviewees. I was asking if his handlebar mustache was aero (photo by Brian Hayes Patterson).

My favorite part of the camera work I did was at the expo -- interviewing all the reps of the major bike companies and talking about their top bikes. We had more fun talking off-camera than doing the interviews. I learned a lot of good stuff and I'm now debating what tri bike I want next; thought I knew but now I'm not so sure. They're all so rad.

Talking with Murray from Cannondale about Mirinda's bike; the change to 650s was key to her success in my opinion from talking to her about it, and Murray!

While out and about, I was told by my Zoot friends to stop by Bike Works and check out a couple things in the store. Uh, embarrassing!!...Btw, nice compression socks Zoot... can I get some?! :)

Moving on. I got in my first run on Wednesday... I love running down Ali'i, south and away from town because I hate being that person who goes by Lava Java 85 times a day -- oh, they're out there. They just do LJ laps, I swear. Within 5 minutes of my run I felt that crazy ass pain caused by Hawaii's heat & humidity, passed Chrissie on the bike and she looked solid. Like a machine. I ran 6 miles and was done. D was smart for doing her runs at 5:30 a.m., but then again I do like to torture myself so it's all good.

Wednesday at sunset I had a mellow swim planned at Turtle Bay. The plan was, of course, to see some sea turtles. But it wasn't our day... all we saw was a squishy sea cucumber. Oh, and I got a nice gash on my toe from the coral. First of many wounds to come! After the swim I did a quick shower/change and headed to a Kswiss dinner. I was sort of the oddball out, but the food and wine was damn good, the group was beyond friendly and by the end of the night I was playing doubles pool with some of Kswiss' hot athletes and company peeps.

Later on we headed over to Lulu's. Ahhh Lulu's... where everyone who's NOT racing goes and parties every night before/during/after the race. Always a good crowd. I ran into lots of folks who I've met in the last year or so. Think I stayed until closing. The next day, Maggs said that would be the last time I was allowed to stumble in so late until after the race; curfew was set to 9 p.m. Oops. Totally understandable, and I actually felt really bad. I can't even imagine the stress they were under leading up to race day, and the last thing they needed was an annoying roommate. At least I wasn't belligerent. I swear :) As a side note, Maggs was the most chill person I've ever seen going into a huge race. I learned a lot from observing her and the dynamics in our condo.

Lulu's in the sunlight... not the same, but it works...

Thursday after Dig Me Beach, it was time for the Underpants Run!!! Funnn!!! I was managing the mic for and trying to be on camera, all while trying to run with friends I saw and take my own pictures. Stressful! At some point I lost my camera guy, John. Oh well. I found Bree Wee and she captured this precious moment....Can you guess who this is?

After that if was off to Huggo's with the Triathlete peeps again. I think that was the day I had a good convo with Matt Dixon, which was like talking to a celebrity in my world -- I'd like to say my coaching style is similar to his, so it was awesome to pick his brain. Super nice guy. Huggo's was where Triathlete did a lot of filming, and it was fun to hang/work their every day because someone cool was always stopping by for their shows, "Breakfast with Bob" (Bob Babbit) and "Tri Center." Plus there was good coffee and fresh fruit :)

Bob interviewing Yvonne...

Terenzo's helmet. It's official, we now live in a Twitter-obsessed world...

I don't remember what I did Thursday afternoon, probably hung out with the girls. D & Maggs were quickly becoming my favorite people in the world; unfortunately Laura wasn't around as much so I didn't get to know her as well. (She's in love, does the long-distance thing and BF was in town so totally acceptable, haha.) That night was another amazing dinner overlooking the beach at one of the nice resorts. At that point I could predict my future -- rich meals and daily desserts were the name of the game. No complaints! (Although, now that I'm home I can see the indulgence has caught up to me when I button my pants... ouch.)

Friday. Pre-race day. Got in a solid swim the race course that morning (not not a full 2.4, probably only half the course). I was just stoked I didn't get stung by a jellyfish -- this year, unfortunately, Maggs was the victim in that case.
At some point D & Maggs discovered we had access to beach cruisers via our condo, so that helped walking back and forth for miles each day. We had fun cruisin.
Around town, things were starting to get surreal, just as I remember from last year.... It's more quiet (or is it quieter?) and tension is in the air. Workers do the final touches on race course setup, athletes check in bikes/gear and way fewer people are out running/biking/swimming. By Friday I had run into nearly everyone I knew who'd be racing (Beth, Tatiana, Caroline, Jen Chalmers, etc, etc, etc), and everyone looked solid. I was slightly jealous of them, but not jealous at the same time. Hard to explain.

I hung out at bike check in for quite a while... found out my good buddy from GU, Tyler, is also doing IM Canada next year. Yay! I love that guy, and it will be fun to do our first Ironmans together.Maggs checkin in with the rest of them...

Ok... think that's enough Kona for now.

Next up race day, etc.......

(PS- more pics on my FB)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Kona 2010 --- Yea, That Just Happened

This is cliche to say, but WOW where do I even begin? This year's trip to Kona for the Ironman World Championships turned out to be so much more than I ever anticipated. All together I spent 1.5 weeks on the Big Island -- I extended my trip because it was just that good (plus it was D's b-day, etc). I just got into LAX at 5 a.m. today and am pretty much feeling like crap... tired from the red-eye flight, possibly sick or just suffering from vog and feeling a major post-vacation low. However, I can tell you one thing, no matter who I'm working with or whether I have a job at all during Ironman, I will be going to Kona for the race every year as long as I can swing it. It's truly magical.

There are so many stories to tell, as well as stories that will remain between the island and me. More often than not, I did not play the media role on this trip. Yea I did quite a bit of work with leading up to the race/race day (none of which I've even seen b/c I've been so busy!), but I made an effort to enjoy free time with some amazing people in the triathlon world. I could blog for weeks on all the dinners, events, parties, hang-out sessions and adventures I had, but sometimes not every story is meant to be told and sometimes it's better to just forget about the camera. This trip became more about developing real relationships with people I once just "knew of" and admired from afar -- whether pros, industry leaders, product peeps, photographer or whatever.

Besides my personal experience, there's the race itself. Saturday was unbelievably rad. I couldn't have been more thrilled to see so many of my friends out on the course, as well as the world's best pros killing it. Truly inspiring. No matter how each person's race ended up, I admire you all for toeing the line and giving it your best. You never hear stories of people giving up just because they were "over it." No. People fight to almost a deathly state if that's what it takes. How rad is that?! Watching it all go down live always brings tears to my eyes. So thanks for a great effort out there everyone. One day I want to be out there too... but I'm glad it hasn't happened yet because I've enjoyed the stress-free non-stop fun I get in Kona :)

I have to give a special thanks to D, Maggs and Laura for giving me an AMAZING place to stay and being great company. I didn't get to know Laura that well unfortunately (she is miss popular and always on the go! :) ) but I did get to spend a significant amount of time with D and Maggs, and bottom line: I love those girls. If we all lived close I'd want them as roommates, and I don't say that about many people. But those girls are special.

Alright, before I start sharing highlights from my Kona experience I have tons to do... but first I think I need nap #2 and more food. Speaking of food, oh man did we eat well in Kona! Not too often do I have dessert every single night. And D even ate/liked veggies, tried tofu and drank alcohol ;)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Triathlon-filled day

Even though I'm a triathlete on the mend and racing has been non-existent, I still immerse myself in the tri world. Yesterday was a good example of that, and it made me thankful for all the amazing relationships I've developed.

It started with an early wakeup and drive down to Balboa Park in San Diego for a daylong video shoot with Triathlete Magazine / There was a lot of biking, running and sports-med sort of stuff, including "muscle shots" and massage, haha. Sadly swimming got nixed because of freakishly random thunder & lightening storms, which pretty much guarantees pool closures; ocean swimming was an optional but the videographer had no waterproof equipment and it was raining a lot.

Our work will come together in a new video series called "Med Tent" featured online. Stay tuned.

I then sat in traffic forever and had to cancel the fitness class I teach because I'd be too late, bummer (you'd think two hours would be enough to travel ~70 miles, but not in SD with rain!). So straight home it was, where I found a few goodies waiting for me...

GU was awesome enough to send me their yummy new Watermelon Chomps. Are you allowed to eat chomps when not training? Well I did! They taste so darn good, like candy! You guys also HAVE to try out their new Nectars line. If anything, they come in the cutest packages I've ever seen! There's a free 6-pack available online. Click here for details!!!

Also, looks like SCAPE wants to keep me well-protected in Kona. As Maggs said, I might need sunscreen just to shield me from this bright visor! SCAPE sunscreen continues to amaze me. The bottle lasts forever and I never have issues with greasy/sticky/stinging-eyes feelings when I use it. Most recently, SCAPE got me through the Catalina Channel Crossing, last week's heat wave among other outdoor adventures. Gotta say, I think the face stick is my favorite! (Notice the cute Kona '10 logo on the visor!)

Then last but not least I got some love from Zoot. They take good care of me and I'm grateful to work with such a fun team that makes all-around quality tri gear. Just wait till you guys see their Spring '11 line, so awesome!!! I want one of everything haha. We have another shoot coming up later this October, I can't wait to see their new stuff.

Anyways, a good day in my little triathlon bubble.