In 2006 I was in Kansas City for my first USAT Age Group Nationals. I had just found out the hard way that about 90% of the 1500 athletes who come to that event all think they should register within the first hour of an 8 hour registration period. The line was long, and I knew nobody in it. I’m not sure what started the conversation, but about half way through the line I was talking to the woman behind me about her son that lives in Honolulu, and how hard it is to be a Northern California person living in Santa Monica. That woman was Peggy McDowell-Cramer a masters athlete who boasts that most of her competition is dead, and therefor just finishing practically guarantees her a spot on the podium. Since we met 15 months ago, I have had the pleasure of seeing Peggy at plenty of USAT events. When she’s not focused on taking down her dying competitors, she organizes non-denominational services the night before races, and claims her “real job” is “preaching, at the Welsh Presby. church in L.A.”.
This week Peggy is in Kona getting ready for a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. She read my post about the ISM Adamo and wrote me let me know she was one of the crazies (I was shocked to learn that she’s actually done IM-Kona several times). Last year I was in Kona for the Ironman World Championships, but since I can’t be there this year, I’m letting Peggy do the reporting. This week is the pre-race report, and next week we’ll have part 2: post-race.
Peggy’s the one on my right.
It’s a quiet Sunday night here in Kona, and a good time to start a report. I arrived here Thursday afternoon along with my bike and suitcase, which seemed to be a good start, considering my Hamburg saga [baggage trouble… it happens – ben]
Getting settled was pretty quick and easy, as was putting my bike together. Thatâ€™s a happy report, as it doesn’t always go that way. A run up to the grocery store took care of food, I got the computer/phone plug thing arranged, and all was well.
I went for a long swim Friday morning and there were plenty of others out there, too, although nothing compared to what it’ll be, say, tomorrow and after. There are always fish underneath, but not too many colorful ones on this morning. I was nearly back in when, right underneath me, came 8 bottlenose dolphins, one a baby. They were big enough that it was plenty surprising. not overly alarming as they were swimming fairly swiftly in the opposite direction, but close enough for me to think that (1) a little farther away would be fine, and (2) ask myself: are you nuts? This is entirely wonderful, and furthermore, people pay lots to see something like this, this close.
Iâ€™d noticed a frayed brake cable when I was packing my bike, so I repaired to the bike repair shop to get that fixed. I needed to leave it until they opened Saturday, which took care of any bike ride I might have been doing. I ran a couple of miles in the afternoon, instead, and called it a day. I like taper time. Well, mostly.
Saturday was the day for the biggest bike ride Iâ€™ll do up to race day (13th). I drove up to a place 18 miles south of the turn-around at the top of the island, Hawi. I wanted to do that stretch to remind myself of the stair-step ascent, and of the wind up there—that’s the worst spot for wind. Iâ€™m here to report that I got my wish, in spades. It was about 88f, and crazy-windy. The first 8 miles of the 18 is so-so, and then it’s heavy duty. One is still primarily going up, so the wind is a little easier to handle, although I still had to get off the aerobars and hang onto the handlebars/brakes for several stretches. The actual little town of Hawi is a bit protected, so the beginning of the return trip served as a relief and memory eraser. As in: now this is real biking. Gee, I guess Iâ€™m better than I thought. In reality, it’s a tail wind and protection (for the moment) from the erratic side gusts. And then WHAM! And wobble. And fervent prayer life. That latter includes a request for humility. I know that pride comes before a fall, and realistic humility is the antidote. I preached on that last Sunday, as a matter of fact. And I did not want to fall. Iâ€™ve been out there when it was 46mph and 50. This was in the neighborhood of the former, I think. I kept thinking it was the best training I could get, so I needed to be alert, careful and thankful. I was likewise thankful to get back to the nice air conditioned car for the long drive back.
Iâ€™d cooled off by the time I got back to the condo, so decided to give the pool here a little try. It felt great, even if it doesn’t qualify as a real swim. I then spied a big hot tub here with jets—and it even had a set of neck massage jets, so I happily availed myself of that, with salutary effect. Maybe Iâ€™ll go do that tonight, too, when I finish this. Keeping up with the pool and patio theme, I then went back down and cooked my chicken on the wonderful BBQs they have here. It was a good day.
This morning I hotfooted it over to my home church here (7 minutes) and had a great time. This is the Mokuaikaua church with the steeple seen in almost all IM swim pictures, right on Alii drive/race central. Terrific ministry by the whole Boshard family, and it was really fun to reconnect with them.
In the afternoon I again drove north for an uplifting visit with very interesting and entertaining friends who live in a small enclave on the shore. Each drive, both days, I tried to watch the rises and falls on the highway. Both times I thought there was more downhill on the way north, and that each one I passed was going to be a real struggle coming back up, on the way back to town. But coming back, those rises looked less imposing. I hope it’s not so imposing Saturday when Iâ€™ve already pushed my trusty Yaqui (bike brand) about 80 miles.
So far I haven’t seen more than a few people I already know. That ought to change tomorrow. Iâ€™ll be down at the swim at 7, per usual, and then will be at a dinner for masterâ€™s athletes in the evening. Iâ€™ve gotten an invitation/notice of this before, but it seemed like one thing too many. This year, with a studio condo and minimal cooking possibilities, Iâ€™m not doing a dinner….hence, one less thing. So I decided to go. Itâ€™s called the Iron Gents dinner, which is probably to mark it as a geezer gathering. Thatâ€™s not too much an interest of mine, but a friend (female) has gone several times and gave it good marks, so Iâ€™ll give it a whirl.
Since Iâ€™ve been asked a few times already, Iâ€™ll put my race # here: 245. Both Cramer offspring are coming over for the race. Hillary goes to see her friends in Honolulu Tuesday, then comes to Kona Friday, to stay with one of their old housemates who now lives here. Chris flies over race morning.
Allâ€™s well here, so far. Iâ€™m grateful to be here.