Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Aloha V

I wish I could paint this scene with words but my ability to express the emotions and sights of the day could not possibly do justice to the experience…

It’s not really my fault…

I went to Clemson and most of the time people add at P to the spelling so not a degree that speaks for itself….and no…people don’t ask how to spell Harvard. :)

If I was to try to sum up my 1st time Kona experience in one sentence I would have to say,

“It was hard and it was awesome.”


For those of you who may want to know more…kick back, put your feet up, relax and read on…

it’s long and it’s probably boring so hit “window – M” when your boss walks by…

or Alt-F4 if your done before I am :)

Right now, we are on the plane flying home and I really have no idea what time it is supposed to be.

The lights are low in the cabin and traveling East brings a sunset that seems oddly backwards.

All vacations have to end but this one could have lasted a few more days.

I have never felt more at home in a town where I only spent a few days as I did in Kona. Maybe it’s the tri-geek in me, maybe it’s the people, maybe it was the event, the history or the “energy” of island but it is REALLY an incredible place and I definitely want to go back next year as an athlete or as a volunteer, it was really that cool.

Ironman finishes bring a sense of mellow that I very rarely experience in my type “A” personality.

For a few days my to-do list is empty and I actually relax. I think that might have a lot to do with why I do this but that’s probably another blog entirely or a least a 4 or 5 part Dr. Phil mini series. :)

For purposes of time, let’s just say, I am more than completely content and very happy.

The Hawaiian influenced rhythms of Jack Johnson are my iTunes sound track and all my shakra’s are in line and I am typing away at 38000 feet.

Surprisingly, I am not feeling too bad from the race with the exception of my left heal and arch and that is from today.

I tried to take C-Bone swimming again this morning at the pier and when his snorkel started to leak about 100 yards from shore and he got pretty excited. I knew he was fine but he wasn’t as sure and being that we were only in chest deep water I decided it was a good idea to stand up and try to fix the problem. I planted my left foot squarely on a black sea urchin and took about 20 spines into my heel.


I asked a number of locals what to do and they all say the same thing…pee on it…I thought…nice.

I think 5 out of 5 locals all said the same thing. I even asked an older woman working in a bike shop and she confirmed the same treatment. So, I did and it was not easy.

I went 140.6 miles and almost no issues…

1 leaky snorkel and I have been trying to ex-plant spines for like 3 hours. I now have it down to 7 left in there…more surgery tomorrow…by the way…these things HURT – A LOT !!!

So where do I start…

The entire “scene” of the race is bigger than anything I have been associated with in any venue. The 70.3 championship in Clearwater has the same scent but not nearly as strong a flavor. It tries but Kona is the “real deal”…kinda like Starbucks Kona Blend…it’s good but the real Kona Coffee – that is like rocket fuel and costs like $20-$50 a pound if you can believe that.

My race day started when I got up at 3:45am and started pounding coffee to clear my head from too many meds. 3 Advil PM and 2 Xanex and I still could only get to sleep at 11pm.

I am going to see if Matt Bargas can knock me out prior to Florida – I can’t keep racing like this – it is really not good.

Hercules drove me to Hualalai road which is the “hot corner” and dropped me off and I drunkenly stumbled to the King Kam.

Walking into the area I heard Mike Riley say – “Good morning…and it’s going to be a great day. For all of you walking in right now take a good look at the finish line. We’ll be here all day to make sure you make it back here.” Mike always says the coolest things but being superstitious I didn’t look at the finish line…


Body marking is in the back of the hotel and it is a lot like a NY fashion show with all of the photog’s snapping the pro’s.

Being SIGNIFICANTLY medicated, read as stoned, I hid from all of the press (not that anyone was looking for a comment from me) and tried as best I could to not talk with anyone as I was really that out of it and not sure what exactly I would say.

From there, I headed over to transition and found my bike.

The NBC crew was everywhere and filming everything so again I did my best Joey Buttafuko and hid from the camera’s…

After I checked my tires and filled up my bottles got the hell outta there.

I went and did the normal porto pottie dance with the other 1800 athletes as I figured nobody is gonna film a porto pot line :)

After 2 trips and 20 minutes in line I decided I could probably find a better spot and went back to the back area where the opening ceremony was and there was no line and a dozen very clean mean green latrines….

I felt a significant sense of accomplishment…hey – this is World Championship and I won the Porto Pottie line race :)

I went out front of the King Kam hotel to try and sleep off the rest of my sleep meds.

I’m not sure how long I was out for but when I woke up I jumped up and C-bone and the crew were just walking up.


Perfect timing!!!


On a certain level Ironman is an emotional experience as much as it is an athletic event and to have those people who you love and respect around you makes it much easier to find the comfort you need in the harder moments.

So, to Hercules and Lisa, Andi and Bone, Mike and Debbie – thank you for being “the local crew”.


It was great having you there and it made me focus…I think I was the only one of the course who had people cheering for them saying, “You look great – now slow down!!!”


Paul, I wish you could have been there but your advice was in my head all day and it was PERFECT – really – I owe you for that one!!!

The start was “opened” by David Goggins and a fellow Seal jumping into the pier from a C130 and then going into body marking…pretty wild way to start an Ironman.


I had a chance to talk with both of them on the course and again after the race and both of these guys are really cool. David had the greatest line in the Energy lab…he was running in and I was running out and he says…”Where the F is the turn around…man…I thought it was right here – now that just sucks.” This is the guy who ran 135 miles through Death Valley in 120 degree weather and finished 5th…the dude is actually kind of scary as I seriously don’t think the guy feels pain.

John Blaze’s Mom and Dad stood on the pier next to Mike Reilly as they did the opening prayer and National Anthem. I have met both of them before and they are just incredible people and John really inspires me and so many other people – they got props on mile 25 – they are really special. I heard that Chrissy Wellington actually did a Blazeman roll in winning the Woman’s race – good for you Chrissy.

At 6:45am the pros went off and we moved into the water.

The seeding for the swim is something I have never experienced in ANY triathlon I have ever raced and I am sure I have done over 100 maybe 200.

I kept getting pushed back farther from the front after enough fighting, I decided the 3rd row was fine. I was WRONG!!!

The cannon went off and I ended up going 1 hour 04 minutes of a full contact MMA fight with Tito Ortiz’s sister except instead of a gee she was wearing a Blue Seventy speed suit and goggles. Kicked, scratched, hit, kicked again and then swam under, swam over, held down, elbowed – you name it. It was really scary and I am a pretty confident swimmer.

Apparently I was not the only one who thought the swim was over the top. I had a chance to yap with Bob Babbitt and his wife this morning at the pier after his morning swim. I told him how much I enjoyed his pod cast and the work he does with CAF. The guy is really cool and genuinely nice.

He asked me how my race went and I said I though the race was awesome but that I thought the swim was brutal.

He said that David Goggins was complaining about how rough the swim start was too and this dude went through Buds…I glad to know I wasn’t the only one who got the crap beat out of me.

Transition was uneventful and I did a complete Cher style wardrobe change into bike gear as I was not in to much of a hurry and I wanted to be comfortable.

The 1st 30 miles of the bike were really easy and then at 30 miles and exactly 1 hill later it was GAME ON!!! At the top of the hill near Waikoloa it started blowing like 20-30mph and speed went from 24 to 12 just like that.

The next 4:30 for me was almost all headwinds. When I did have a tailwind it was cross and it was close to impossible to ride aero as I was getting blown all over the road.

I think my meds were still in my system as I could not stop channeling Jack Black from Kung Fu Panda walking through the sacred shrine.

“Ah…the famous winds of Hawi…these have been known to blow riders from their bikes.”

Hey – it made me laugh.

Heading into Hawi I watched the Men’s pro race unfold and when they passed me Sindballe was in the lead and Chris Lieto was 30 seconds to a minute back.


Faris was chasing and then came the pace line. I kept looking for Macca but I couldn’t find him. Around 5-6 minutes later I saw a support van and I saw him in the back. I was really surprised as I would have bet a lot he would have won again.

The climb into Hawi was long and really hard. 1 hour with really strong head/cross winds and 200-220 watts got me only 10-12 MPH.

After the turn around and quick sip of Red Bull at special needs, we got the descent and a tailwind for 15-20 minutes.

I tried to take advantage of it but I was too nervous to ride it and just coasted at 32-34 and tried to stay on the road with the gusts.

After Kawaihae and the turn back on the Queen K, the headwinds were back but a lot lighter (10-15mph) and I was able to hold 18-19 at 200-210 watts.


I figured at that pace I had a good chance at finishing right at 6:00 but the headwinds picked up again and I made it to T2 after 6:06 on the bike…I have to check but I am hoping like hell I outsplit Saswata or I get the driving Miss Daisy award for slowest IM Bike split.

Getting off the bike I felt descent and my legs were heavy but not trashed at all.

Another COMPLETE Cher wardrobe change, yes Chrissy, I did hear you notice and thank you for noticing my fashion sense. :)

I have to give props to Zoot and their new line of compression gear – it ROCKS - www.zootsports.com !!!

I seriously think this is the “next thing” and I really would recommend it to anyone.

Off on the run I just tried to listed to my Midget Coach without a License (MCWOAL) and concentrated on form – forefoot strike, good turnover and relaxed shoulders and not making any decisions on pace until 15 minutes or 2 miles.

Mile 1 was 7:40 and I thought – wow – that felt really ok.

Mile 2 was around 8:00 and I said this feels perfect and I’ll just hold this effort and see what it gets.

Mile 4.5 was our house and I got a big high V from the bone.


From 5 to 10 it was absolutely perfect running weather and fans and then up Palani hill and on to the Queen K.

I chose not to run here all week so I would be excited to do it and it is an mind trick like no other. A highway with Lava and heat and no one cheering – that is EXACTLY what I wanted :)

With the hills and a pee break I more held 8:00-8:15’s til the end and really felt good the whole way to a 3:35 and change which I was really happy with.

The last 6 miles I did my usual thank you run and thought of all the people that were special in my life.

This idea came from Rob Johnson a few years ago and I have used it EVERYTIME since then. 1 mile to my friends, 1 mile to extended family, 1 for each of my sons and that last one for me and anyone that inspires me.

I know this is going to sound really strange but at mile 22 I really thought, “oh no…only 4 more miles and this is done, that sucks.” I wanted the feeling to continue as I was having a blast. At mile 24 that changed and I thought – “ok - that’s enough – I ready to be done” :)

Heading down Palani and then to Alii is really like everyone says, really incredible.

The finish line is 500-1000 yard chute of people cheering and giving you high fives.

I got busted by someone for fixing my hair…I was doing it and some guy yells, “Hey man – fix that hair – there are camera up ahead…” I just laughed and said – you caught me…


The only “negative” if there was one was the dancing Euro man in front of me in lime green who I now get to share my finish line photo with forever but I think Nung can fix that…


So…that’s it…

…and if you read this in one sitting I should have kept to the rule that that the race recap can’t be longer than the race itself and unless you too went to Clem-”P”-son or it took you longer than 10:59 to read this – we are all good :)

By the way, I did know where I was on time and yes I pressed it a little as 10 anything sounds MUCH better than 11 anything :)

I will close with this…

Congrats to Kevin Neal, Susan Wallis, JT (Jeff Tomaszewski) and Kevin Terranella on great races!!!

1st…I would like to thank my sponsors, KLS Martin and Karl – you guys allow me to pay my bills and give me the time and flexible schedule to train which is fantastic… Mike and Debbie – thanks for coming over and thanks for hanging with the Bone, he had a blast.


2nd …Jaggad triathlon suits – you guys always rock and my butt doesn’t hurt which is a good thing :)

3rd …yes I am a whore for free gear and I did pose for this…if anyone knows anyone at Zoot and can get me a hook up – they can use my photo :)


Last and definitely not least…to C-bone – you made the trip!!!



To Shane and Josh – congrats on the great swim and fantastic place in diving – sorry I missed the meet…to Andi and the rest of my family – thanks for the support, to Hercules and Lisa, the entire VMS crew, my MCWOAL, my friends who called, texted, emailed and tracked us online…thanks for all the well wishes…


To Alan Couzens, my coach, your are the man!!! I have never felt more ready to race and being two days out, I am better recovered than ever. I can't wait to smack the crap outta FL and bring home a really fast time for ya...then it's your turn in AZ...I will be cheering for you. Seriously, thanks for all the help and I really think you have "the formula".

I will definitely try to be back in 2009 and with some luck – I might just get there…

This was hard – this was awesome…


Now it’s time to bring on the pain – IM Florida baby – Nov 1st - 3 weeks and a 3:22 – medals or medical – I dig this :)


Cate said...

Congrats Sean! I read this in one sitting before my morning coffee - a testament to your prose! It was like being there - hopefully we'll see you there next year with Kellie (geesh - I almost wrote "Midget") Although I don't think I want her doing the swim :-)

Good luck in FL IM I have a feeling that Kona will still be with you for an extra lift.

Kellie's SM

Marni said...

congrats!!! You did awesome! I was tracking you all the way! It is an amazing experience you and brought back so many memories for me. No matter what level people are on for racing the Ironman world championship inspires everyone!