Ironman Eve

Today is Ironman Eve.  The day started with a mini triathlon for both of the Ironman.  The plan: a small swim (barely to the coffee barge–I went “all the way” to the barge), followed by a 45 minute ride with some “openers,” and then a brisk run that contained more “openers.”  I played “ironmate” and tagged along for all but the run (shocking I know).  The swim was pretty awesome, as always, but what made it even awesomer was that we ran into THE Caveman aka Conrad Stoltz doing a little swim to ride transition.  Super cool!

After riding 45 minutes withe guys, I headed out for another hour of riding solo.  I rode down to the burial grounds and back.  Along my ride I noticed how welcoming the local beaches looked today, since the “vog” had finally lifted.  It’s been very “voggy” since we have been here.  Vog might be my new favorite Hawaiian term, and one I can pronounce, it means a smog/fog produced from volcanic activity.  Cool.  The local beaches were so awesomeful looking, Rae and I decided to let the Ironmen be on their Ironman eve to stew together about their transition bags on their own and we headed with our goggles to float around as if snorkeling and take some sweet pics with cool fishes.  Unfortunately, we both had polarized lenses on our swim goggles, so lots of pics of tops of our heads and half fishes here are some of the best:

After our trip to the beach, we came back and helped the two Ironmen prepare for lift off aka bike check in.  Di’s were charged, transition bags were packed and at 4 on the dot we rolled (well, we walked along side two rolling bikes) down to transition (aka the place where they change from sport to sport).

Leaving the condo….

In the elevator

On the road to transition

Did I mention I might have a secret calling as a papparazzi?

Rae and I taking pics of each other when they got tired of our ridiculous picture taking….

Ironman Danish heading in….

Mission accomplished!  Bikes have been dropped, Ironmen fed, and now we are off to bed.

Dinner!

The only difference from Ironman eve and Christmas eve is that instead of Santa and lots of gifts awaiting you in the morning, you have to wake up, swim 2.4 miles, bike 112miles, then run 26.2miles for free….yeah, that doesn’t make it sound that cool….but it does prompt me to create this hashtag (or at least point one out that may already exist):  #TGINR (Thank God I’m Not Racing).

Red sky at night!  Good news for these two sailor Ironmen!!!!

Race reporting to follow tomorrow! 1606!!!! Track that!

Poppa’s been smooth since days of Underroos….

Yesterday marked the running of the tri geeks in tighty whiteys aka The Underpants Run.  Little do most triathletes know, but this run began as a means for locals to make fun of all the triathletes who like to walk around in teeeny tiny speedos with horrific tan lines in town.  Ironman Danish, BDubbs, Rae, and I participated in this ritual last year along with Nelson (Ironman Danish BFF who didn’t make the trip this year) and were all geared up to participate again this year, even shopping for the coolest underroos before leaving MIA.

They woulda been cool….

You’re welcome….

However, Ironman Danish has been really nursing a calf muscle strain and battled back from a bad spot with the help of Beyond Wellness doctor Katie Kreis, so, needless to say he is wary to do even the smallest run in undies without proper warm up and cool down/stretch session.  As a result, we skipped it.  You can thank us now for no pics of us in our underroos.  Also, Nelson was not here, really taking a little bit of the ridiculousness out of this event.

2011 With Nelson (with him this event is at least 19% more ridiculous….)

Where is Nelson this year one may wonder….lets just say he needs to put his training wheels back on the bike….

The rest of the day, well, was pretty mellow.  Historically, two days before ANY race, both Ironman Danish and I like to take as a rest day.  The Ironman World Champs is no different, and, BDubbs is on that same rest program.  Thus the day was spent lounging around the condo–which, I should mention, isn’t a terrible place to spend the day.  We even were able to catch a pod of dolphins frolicking–it was AWESOME.

I did venture out into the world to take some glamor shots of Fergie with her lei beachside and also to check out the expo.

Damn straight

Then we went to church

There was nothing much happening at the expo, in fact, I feel as though last year’s expo had more things I really liked for sale–this is a good thing, for my wallet.  One item, and it was not at the expo, spoke to me this year and it was a super sweet set of arm sleeves from Planet Sun Hawaii.

They match perfectly….

Luckily there was even more free stuff being given away.  Turns out, most of the SRAM guys mountain bike and were really happy when we asked to see the new XX derailleuer and they loaded us up with schwag.  I, in turn, loaded them up with some sweet Rose Bandit koozies!

Ironman Danish seems to be in a good spot and, has an AWESOME race number: 1606!  His pretty hate machine (aka his TT bike) is all charged (Di and all) and ready to rock!!!

The Ironman and I after a long day of lounging….

Spacemen and Kona Hills

So, now, let me back track a little bit to recount yesterday’s activities.  The day started with a somewhat, ok, no, totally weird request from Mike’s coach (who, I should mention, is also a friend of ours) to take a picture of Mike’s backside in a speedo….yeah…..I decided the best place for this rear end photo shoot was probably at the beach and perhaps underwater for that matter.  So we headed to the beach for our morning swim/photoshoot.

Euro photo shoot pic #1

Euro photo shoot pic #2

After our risque photo shoot (I should mention, I did not play a part it–rather it was an awesomely European bonding moment between BDubbs and Ironman Danish offshore a ways….I am not even jealous) we headed back to the condo for some eats and some down time before heading out on our respecitve bike rides for the day.  Rae and I decided to snap some sweet shots of the space men before heading out.

Spacemen prepare for flight

BDubbs putting out the vibe

Ironman Danish….yeah

Ironman Danish and BDubbs had some specific workouts to do, luckily Rae and I did not.  So we headed out on a three hour ride in the Kona hills.  We rode up to 2000ft in pretty much 2 miles (the road, which had a name that sounds like someone saying aloha like 20 times, kicked up to 20% at the end).  The final 20% kick at the top almost killed me as I was rocking a sweet time trailing cassette on Fergie’s loaner wheel–an 11 x 23.  Yeah–that sucked and I almost died of an asthma attack.  Luckily, crisis averted by the trusty inhaler.

We then were in some beautiful rolling hills that overlooked miles and miles of lava fields that run all the way down to the Ocean.

Goats chillin in the lava fields

Regina and Fergie taking in the views

We turned around on our out and back course and had an awesome cruise back towards the Alohaalohaalohamahalo Road for a fun filled descent that began with negative 20% (we were going about 45 mph–way more than 30).  The only thing that made it not that awesome was the shakey front wheel I had going down it.  Turns out Ironman Danish was trying to kill me, when we built our bikes at 2am East Coast time the night we arrived apparently my front break cable got a little frisky and decided to get closed into the stem….yeah, turns out my wobble wasn’t a speed wobble but rather a “your break cable is attached to your stem” wobble.

My “yay I didn’t die” photo op….

After not dying, we headed away from home a little longer on the Queen K to get in some extra time to make our ride a full three hours.  On the way home we collected some serious giveaways and had two opportunities to refill our bottles at a Gu roadside stop and a Island Bike Works roadside stop.  Not bad.  We swung into the Energy Lab for some shots before heading home.

Fergie loading up on some energy at the lab

Rae posing at the Energy Lab next to a sign that we are clearly past that commands no cyclists beyond that sign….oops…

Upon returning home, we stopped in and thanked Planet Sun for their amazing sun protection they provided us with on our ride (and everyday of the year).  I then headed out on my mission to get Fergie leid….she shall have more glam lei shots today.

Fergie leid on lava beach

M Dots….the M is for Marketing the Dot is for the “O” in Opportunity….

One thing that there is no shortage of here in Kona at the Ironman World Champs is shameless marketing.  Triathletes eat that shit up, so why not try every possible marketing scheme to get people to like your product?

M Dot

Here are my top three favorite marketing schemes so far:

1.  Underwater billboards.  Yup.  On the Ironman Swim Course, which pretty much every tri geek and their “ironmate” (sorry, I almost puked in my mouth a little just typing that) swims each morning (except for the Pros–who swim at the local pool), some serious marketing geniuses put together the thought of underwater signage to direct you towards the expresso barge.  There are also signs to tell you about a newest greatest energy product that you can probably get for free on the beach, and other signs.  GENIUS!  I mean, this might be better than highway billboards.  You are already looking down, why not have something other than the beautiful nature under you to peak your interest in swimming in these beautiful waters?

Billboards!!!

2.  Chocolate milk.  With the help of some elite triathletes, a milk company has decided to reinvent the wheel but rebranding chocolate milk as THE BEST way to recover EVER.  They have taken it so far that they have a tent set up with free chocolate milk giveaways for your post swim recovery and information on the benefits of their chocolate milk.  I was so blown away by the new round wheel they were selling I actually had to commend them for their marketing genius–as I took my free chocolate milk, of course.

Not gonna lie here, I stocked up on some of the goodness….

3.  Priceless giveaways.  It makes you wonder what it costs to make some of these products that just get thrown at anyone sporting an Mdot wristband or at those who look like maybe they are racing (for instance, me).  There are several aggressive attempts to gain market share by an INSANE amount of free-shit handouts.  I mean, I have already racked up the following: a rather nice running shirt (would be really nice but it is red and a size large), a water bottle, a swim cap, new Louis Garneau branded gels, and, of course, enough chocolate milk for the next two years.   Ironman Danish has racked up the same AND THEN SOME including TYR “Special Ops” goggles and the other free stuff that came in the race packet (granted, this stuff is not really free, in fact, each race really paid $650 dollars for the “free” stuff in their registration bags). In fact, had Ironman Danish read the “official program” earlier, he would have seen the full page ad on the back of it in which Rudy Project offered FREE Wingspan helmets to anyone who afreed to wear their neon aero helmets in all races for a year (including the IMWC.  Of course, he still wouldnt have gone to get the helmet as Ironman Danish is practically allergic to aero helmets, and, if you may recall last year, the penalty tents were overwhelmingly populated by triathetes in the neon dome pieces.

Free!!!!!!

Now, I do love getting free shit as much as the next person, but even I have to say it is a little out of hand.  You know what should have been free–a lei for me/Fergie.  My race bike, Fergie, made by a Rose Bandit Team Sponsor Boom Bikes, needed to get her taste of Hawaii and get laid today, but her lei cost $7!!!  I mean, could it be that the wingspan cost less to make than the lei?  Urgh….

But damn that lei looks good on her….

Sorry for the venting, my real post about the days events are coming soon…..

Big Ben….Parliament

Made it back to Kona for a second year for Ironman Danish to strut his Ironman-ness at the World Championships.  Growing up a sailor and having raced many a regattas on small islands that get taken over by racers, I found myself landing in Kona and getting that Block Island Race Week/Key West Race Week feeling–which, for you sailors out there, you know the feeling of which I speak.  It is a feeling mixed with pre-exhaustion, excitement, nervous energy, and an “I am cooler than you are” vibe.  In the World of triathletes, actually achieving the “I am cooler than you are” is SUPER easy as long as you are not a tri-geek, of course.  Sailors are definitely stiffer competition in the cool department.

Your typical regatta tent fashion….Yeah, and sailors are cooler….can you imagine?

Of course, part of the “Big Ben, Parliament” feeling could have to do with the fact that we are on the same island, same time of year, same event, same people (friend BDubbs qualified again and his lady friend, and our friend as well, Rae, is race support for him, again), same condo…well, you catch my drift…

I digress.

Anyway, let me assure you, that if Ironman Danish woke me up any morning on any of the other 355 days in the year and told me we had to get going for our open water swim, I would punch him in the face.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I was ready to swim….cant you tell….

For certain.  Not sure I would even open my eyes to line up the punch.  However, here in Kona, the open water swimming is so amazing I actually drag my ass out of bed, put on my sweet bathing suit, and head down to swim.

Ok, Rae and I BOTH have super cool suits….

Now, granted, there is also a coffee barge involved.  In fact, I would say a solid 30% of the reason I get up to ride every morning is because I can have a cortadito or a slurpee mid ride.  Now, I like cycling mucho mas than swimming, so that means that about 70% of my waking up to swim in Kona is because of the Coffees of Hawaii barge.

The view of the barge from the beach….

We had a beautiful swim, as expected.  This was my first swim since my rather hard crash at ITU Cross World Champs (I still have shoulder pain, urgh!).  Shoulder hurt, but luckily on this swim there are like a million Nemos, Dories, and friends to look at while you take your time to swim to the barge.

The view from the barge….

Our friend Rae checking out a Ray (a Manta Ray!)

After our lovely swim, we went to the Safeway and stocked up on food.  This was definitely a highlight for the day  (yup, definitely easily tops swimming, no matter how beautiful) since, while at the Kona Safeway, I turned the corner, looked up, and was standing face to face with Chrissie Wellington.  I played it pretty cool.  Or not.  I immediately recognized her, stopped in my tracks, and said “oh, so cool!!!! you are in the supermarket!!!!!”  Yeah there is probably at least 20 things cooler I could have said to her.  She looked at me like I was pretty much crazy or talking to myself, or perhaps on one of those super geeky bluetooth earpieces (sorry to those who wear it they are practical but not cool).  Luckily, I redeemed myself when she was in line next to me (omg! omg! Chrissie Wellington is in line next to me–I saw her groceries!!!).  I first apologized for interupting her grocery shopping time, and then said what I truly felt which is that she is a badass on the bike and I can say on behalf of all my Rose Bandit Team Teammates we ALL think she is and that I had a Rose Bandit Team koozie for her!!

umm…who wouldn’t be stoked to get one of these?

She said that I was so nice, said thank you for the cool koozie, and then gave me a hug (I let this slide, as it was, Chrissie Wellington and maybe she would rub some speed off on me–otherwise, in any other situation, could yield terrible consequences for the hugger, as I am NOT a hugger, in fact, I think that the Women’s Lacrosse sphere checking rule should be employed on personal interations as a general rule of thumb).

I finally calmed down from this exciting trip to the Safeway.  I must admit, it did take a 45 minute spin on Fergie (Fergie is on her maiden voyage to Kona–I thought it was only fair as Rizzo went last year) to really calm me back down.

Fergie this summer on Long Island, she will most likely get “leid” tomorrow….

Successful day #1 in the books.  Ironman Danish is still head on straight and not tweaking (yet), so all is good here!  How can it not be with this view from our condo?

Not even Instagrammed!

Team Danish- Mud, Mechanicals, and Rain, oh my!!

Ironman Danish and I were looking for a fun something to do for Labor Day weekend….well, more accurately, we were looking for races we wanted to do on the horizon and couldnt come up with any as we were not committed to racing the full FSC.  We ended up really hmming and hawing and finally settling on racing the 8 Hours of Labor race on Labor Day weekend–but rather than our usual individual races, we would combine our power into “Team Danish” and race the two person team “coed” division.  We scoped out the race results from years prior to see that this was a very popular option at this race and were excited to race against some great coed teams.

And–in the 8hr solo–Tinker Juarez: the man, the myth, the legend!

I was pretty convinced that the race would look a little something like this:

Ironman Danish takes first two laps, including the Lemans start to kick off the race, and would hand the race over to me with an already very comfortable lead.  I would simply get to ride out the rest of the race at a nice little tempo.

Ironman Danish in the pink (obvi) at the Lemans start….

However, this is how the race actually went down:

Ironman Danish and I set up a nice little camp/invited ourselves into a nice little camp with pro Bob McCarty and his long time go-to two person team partner Grant.

Grant and me chillin’ at the tent

These guys are pretty much the bomb.  When I first started riding the ol’ MTB a long, long, long–oh wait, no, about a year and half ago–I would see Bob riding the trails “running from ghosts” (aka fast) and would yell to him as he floated out of site that “someday I am going to ride like you Bob.”  And, that is still my plan–someday I will, but with a slightly more pink flair.  Anyway, we set up camp with these guys.  Ironman Danish headed out and by the time I saw him he was already in the top three with a solid lead on the rest of the field.  Peeerrrrfect.  I rode back to the tent and was ready to hand up bottles in about 30 or so minutes after the first lap.  Grant and I shot the breeze and all was mellow until riders started pouring in for the end of the first lap.  I saw the leaders coming in, including Bob, and saw no signs of Ironman Danish which was strange.  I clearly had a very bewildered look on my face as every racer that went by or handed off the baton came over to me and relayed a tale of what had happened to Ironman Danish.  These are some of the things I heard:

“Hey Duffy–he got a flat”

“Hey D, he broke his chain”

“I think Mike crashed after he got a flat, I saw him on the side of the trail”

“I think that Danish’s deraileur fell off”

“Duffy–he got a flat after his chain broke”

and

“I dont know what happened to him, but I saw him running next to his bike at mile 5 or so–he was passing people though!”

Here is a vid of the race with evidence of Ironman Danish on the side of the road (for the second time) trying to repair his machine:

Oh boy, this was like a bad game of telephone.  The only one person I could take one thing from was Bob who was on Ironman Danish’s wheel when his chain snapped–the first time.     And, Bob, knowing our plan of two laps for the ol’ Ironman, said “I think you should probably be ready to head out for lap two, he broke it at mile 2 (of 9.6).”  Dang it!!

So, since I was already suited up, I mentally prepared myself to work a miracle comeback since I sat and sat and waited and waited and no signs of him anywhere.  In fact, the top solo riders, lead by Tinker Juarez, were now coming in for lap two of the race!  Crap!!  We were a lap down….this was going to suck.  And then, Ironman Danish came running in–no chain, no rear derailuer, and pretty tired from running 6 unplanned miles (at least he is training for an Ironman I suppose).

Ironman Danish giving me a push on my lap 1

I headed out like a bat outta hell–running from ghosts–and threw down a pretty solid lap time.  In fact, I dont think that Ironman Danish expected me in so soon.  Luckily, we had all the parts required to fix the multiple mechanicals on his bike so he could take the torch and continue on with our race.  I had already passed multiple teams and we went from last to 8th team after my lap.  Sweet! Maybe we could even claw back to the podium??….

Trying to catch some extra oxygen and maybe some flies….

And then it started to rain, and not a little rain, a major soaking torrents of rain.  This actually turned out to favor us a bit.  I didn’t loose as much time on the wet laps and, well, Ironman Danish didn’t loose anything in time.  We were gaining and were now in 4th!

Did I mention it rained?

Unfortunately, 4th is where we would stay.  If I had my thinking cap on instead of my helmet, I would have told Ironman Danish to double up and take my lap (which turned out to be the last lap for the Team) in an effort to make the cut off to get another lap.  But, as luck had it, I left my thinking cap at home and we ended 4th and one lap down on the podium!  We definitely fought hard and had a ton of fun doing it.  Riding in the mud is always a good time cause it makes you feel like a kid (except when you realize that there isn’t a mom or dad to wash your bike for you or deal with your muddy laundry).  We will definitely look to redeem ourselves soon!

World Championships are hard…

So, it is rare to have someone lodge a complaint that the World Championship they just competed in was “too easy.”  This past weekend marked my second time competing in a World Championship.  My first World Championship was in the 470 with good friend and teammate Amanda Clark during her first and my first and only 470 Olympic Campaign.  The regatta was held in Koper, Slovenia and when the “Bora” blew in (aka wind from the mountains) the race was on!  The racing was hard, after all, it was the World Championships.

Not at the Worlds, but a cool shot of Amanda and me (front of the boat) in the 470

Fast forward 11 years and I found myself lining up for my second World Championships (not including the “Miami World Championship Races”) the ITU Cross World Championships this past weekend in Pelham, Alabama.  I had done the prerequisite amount of internet googling/stalking to “know” my competition and had prepared as methodically as I could for the race since qualifying out of Xterra Miami in March.  In a field that was to see 18 women in my 30-34 age group, I was hoping to place 10th and, in fact, even had a dream about it a few nights prior.  I knew my swim was not the fastest, but average.  I knew I had a strong bike (pretty much that’s all I ever have going for me in a triathlon) but would have to deal with traffic.  I also knew (and have well documented) that I am not the fastest runner out there but was confident I could at a minimum run 8:30 min miles on the trail for the 6 miles required.  This, of course, was barring any major incidents and all other items going as planned (does that ever happen?).

From Right to Left is Me (ears), Beata, and Melissa–my FL MTB buds who were about to have great days!

That being said, race morning I was feeling ok.  Not awesome, but not terrible.  In all my years of being an athlete, typically when I feel that way I end up having a pretty solid performance.  I came out of the swim with a time almost to the second that I expected.  I had a less than terrible transition and hopped on my bike for my favorite part of the day.  I noticed coming out of the swim that friends and Florida mountain bike racers Beata Wronska (racing 35-39 and who was having a GREAT day it would turn out) and Melissa Scott (racing 40-44 and was also having a good day) were RIGHT behind me.  Onto the bike I immediately got down to business.  I knew if I wanted to do well on the bike split, I would have to take major risks on the descent to get up as much speed as possible.  I began the climb up the mountain and was feeling ever so slightly flat but figured with no one in sight behind me (after passing Beata and Melissa and about 20 other women shortly after transition) I was in a good place.  I figured also I was in a good place when I saw some familiar 30-34 age group names on kits as I passed them on the big climb (4 miles long with occasional 24% grade sections).  I was ready to rip down that hill and was pretty happy with how my race was developing.  That is, until, I heard friend and fellow MTB-er say “go Duffster go” and I realized that Beata was right behind me.  Clearly, I had not been pulling away from anyone like I felt I had been.  This was exciting and disappointing.  Exciting because I knew that my friend was having a GREAT day of performance and disappointing because I knew I was not–my RPE was WAYYYY OFF.  We summited the top of the climb together and I told her she was having a great day before taking off down the hill as I am a faster descender and knew I had to be even faster than usual if I wanted to stay ahead of all my fellow age group racers who I had passed early in the race as well.  I “turned off the breaks” (ala Maja Wloszczowska) and headed down the mountain.

I was hauling–20-25mph is what my computer had me at for almost the entire descent.  I pulled out of sight and hoped that was enough to keep me ahead.  I got to “Blood Rock” (which I had pre decided I would not be riding in its entirety–I rode the first three drops and then dismounted for the really technical section) and had many spectators lined up to watch potential Blood Rock carnage.

Yeah, this is Blood Rock–you ride down it…I walk…

I was not one they would be watching take on the obstacle and I hoped to run down it so fast that my rolling descent could continue with hardly any hesitation.  Back on the bike and I again turned off the breaks and let ‘er rip again and back up to 20 mph.  I was launching over obstacles and off drops and was getting more and more confident.  So confident, in fact, that when I came across a 3 foot drop off a rock ledge I had encountered before on pre-rides (slowly and methodically descended down or walked on all pre rides) I decided that I was feeling so fast and so good I would try and launch off of it.  Well….launch I did–over the handlebars.  Apparently, I didn’t lift my front end quite enough to get past the obstacle, loaded up my shock, and flew super man style over my handlebars tucking and rolling onto my right side.  My bike was one full level up from where I landed on the natural stairs after the drop.  I felt like Ricky Bobby flying through the air….

I stood up, shook it off (as best I could) and tried to get back after it.  I figure I lost at least a minute on my bike split from the crash.  The crash didn’t only affect me on the remainder of the bike, but it hurt on my run.  I came into transition still ahead of my friends Beata and Melissa and still ahead of the girls in my age group (somewhere in 8th place or so in my age group), but not far enough as I was caught by pretty much everyone when my body said “no” to running faster than 8:45 mm pace with a VERY bruised shoulder, hip, wrist, and knee. (my run also looked a little like Ricky Bobby’s after the crash–I was all over the place and, being in a tri suit was pretty much already in my underwear).

My run–resembling Ricky Bobby post crash….

Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.  I crossed the line 12th in my age group and last Florida mountain biker….disappointing for sure, but lesson re-learned:  World Championships are NOT easy.

Happy to be finished…

Happier to be drinking a beer on the cabin porch with Ironman Danish and buds post race (ice pack on shoulder)