UPDATED: Original post – Aug. 12
Tomorrow is 8 weeks to Kona. I know this because 1. people on Facebook keep saying it and 2. it’s a Saturday, so that sort of makes sense.
People ask me a lot of questions about Kona training. Am I ready? (No, duh, I have 8 weeks still.) What’s training with Hillary like? (Hard.) How much do I train? (A normal amount for someone going to Kona.) I must train so much. (Not really.) What is that like? (Hard. Normal.) Am I excited? (Sure. And tired.)
I was reading this amazingly hilarious running diary of the opening Olympics weekend in Rio by a Sports Illustrated writer, and I thought that’s perfect for capturing the flavor of it all. I should do that. I should just do a running diary of these last 8 weeks and it will answer all these questions, which really all come down to one question: No, really, what’s it like?
So, this post will just be a running post from here until Oct. 8. (Just had to look up that date; blissful ignorance is my secret sauce.) I’ll add short notes and thoughts to the top, below this intro, maybe every day, maybe every few days. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll be so tired, it’ll just be a weird jumble of words. Welcome to the journey.
Friday, Sept. 30
There are multiple photographers taking pictures out on the Queen K. That is how much of a scene it is. And everyone keeps saying, ‘Just wait until next week.’ Yeah, no thanks.
Thursday, Sept. 29
It is raining in Kona. I officially brought the rain with me.
It needs to be someone’s official job to keep me off social media. If you ever want to have a full-on panic attack about how everyone is doing cooler things than you and has amazing lives and is probably going to win, and you’re just sitting on your couch watching Law & Order: SVU and resting, then you should definitely browse the #roadtokona or #konamoments hashtags.
Wednesday, Sept. 28
There are at least three world champions at the pool. Just in case I wasn’t feeling like enough of an insane head case.
And I pass a guy in full race gear and kit, with a mirror attached to his aero helmet. That probably sums up how I’m going to feel about the next 10 days.
I have officially pulled in to Kona for good.
Monday, Sept. 36
Or maybe I’ve forgotten how to sleep.
I’m so hungry I can’t fall asleep. I just keep thinking about all the things I’m going to eat tomorrow.
I’m running down the side of the road at a tempo pace when a dreadlocked guy, walking barefoot towards me, calls me a “dyke.”
It’s likely that he’s mentally unstable. One could even make the argument that, by definition, yelling “dyke” at strangers isn’t a mentally stable thing to do. Still. It seems like an outdated attempt at an insult? Like 20 years out of date.
Sunday, Sept. 25
I’m getting a massage at this meditative retreat center. It’s one of those yoga + meditation + clothing-optional type of retreat places, with lots of acres of trails and gardens and hammocks and huts to stay in and enjoy nature. I think my mom would be into it. It also has a massage school, with 80-minute massages for $40.
It’s actually a pretty good massage, especially for $40, but it’s definitely, uh, different than your standard sports-focused, performance-oriented body work.
It occurs to me, as I’m laying in silence in the communal massage temple, that I doubt anyone has ever come here as part of their Kona prep before. I may be the first. My masseuse is very excited about this. He’s pretty good and cool and I think enthusiastic about Ironman — it’s hard to know for sure because everything has to be said in a silent whisper and I’m only catching 50% of what he whispers. He does announce, though, based on the muscles in my back, that I’m definitely going to win.
So, just fyi, you all don’t need to show up now. It’s been decided. I got this.
My Fitbit always thinks I’m amazing.
Saturday, Sept. 24
At the lava tube in the park, two different people said to me, as I ran, “Are you doing The Ironman?” And when I said, “Yeah,” they both said (separately), “I could tell.”
Literally, days in the rainforest go by where I don’t talk to anyone in real life. My mom is getting sick of me calling her whenever Happy the Dog or Mr. Willie the Rabbit start to talk back to me. And the only conversations I have with real live actual people in Pahoa always start with, “Are you doing The Ironman?” I suppose I could have struck up a conversation with the guy at the market who was super excited that vodka was on sale, but somehow it would have ended with me explaining how The Ironman works.
I know that once I’m over in Kona, I’m going to be sick of triathletes within 48 hours, and I know I still have to do the damn thing, but god, I’m so ready to be done it’s almost like I already feel done.
After I found the “trail” through the lava field, I was running hard and fast(ish) through the rain and wind in the crater. Everyone I passed was in raincoats and full hiking gear, and I was wearing tiny shorts and a tanktop, leaning in.
And I loved it.
Except, uh, do you see a trail here? I don’t see a trail. I was running down through the steam vents and then through the rainforest and all of a sudden I was on a lava field. Where do you go from here?
Some days you have to declare a ‘good for the soul’ day. I needed to do my last (please, I hope it’s my last) long run somewhere that wasn’t a boring mind-numbing hot road. I needed to do something fun. So I’m running around Volcanoes National Park. Volcanoes. As in more than one.