Ironman Kona: Earning the Big Island

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OK, I get it, you’re in Kona.

Most of my internet right now is full of people’s pictures from the Big Island and tweets about panic training for the BIG race this weekend and Instagrams of the big sunsets. Your internet may not be that — Steve’s certainly isn’t — but, understandably, mine is. And I am not begrudging everyone their fun. Hawaii, as a place, is definitely fun. And, who doesn’t love watching a world championship.

But, (and, yes, there is a but) is it really as blessedly amazingly magical as we let the entire sport tell us? Is it really the only thing worthwhile in triathlon? Or, have you bought into the myth just a little bit?

Ironman may not be my thing. I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to do another before I decide. I’d like to qualify for Kona at some point, just so I can see what it’s like — kind of how I had to watch a bunch of “Girls” to make sure I was right that I didn’t like it, back before hating Lena Dunham had gotten passe and vaguely sexist. I may not ever be able to qualify, though. I need to get at least 45 minutes faster and not hurt; possibly, the woman’s amateur field needs to get less insanely competitive (and some people need to go ahead and upgrade out of the amateur field); and, still, Kona may always be out of reach. It is one of the most competitive amateur events out there, so I totally respect that. I do.

Except, or, I could just buy a lottery spot or a corporate spot or be given a celebrity spot or raise a bunch of money to get a spot. Or, I could just go and hang out.

When I was on the high school cross-country team, I was hurt at one point and had to sit out the meets. Instead, I got to just hang out, take splits, do the pre-race pep talk. I was part of the team, without having to actually be in the pain of running as part of the team. It was (in a lot of ways) so much better than actually racing. But, it wasn’t really the same. And, I wouldn’t have been on the inside at all if I hadn’t put out the pain before and earned the right to be there. The payoff just isn’t there if you don’t deserve it.

Of course, you can go to Hawaii whenever you want. You can do whatever you want. But, it seems like there are a lot more people hanging out this year. A lot more people coming up with reasons they need to be there, that they deserve to be part of the scene. I get that. If someone offered me a trip, I’d have taken it. I also eat brownies for dinner sometimes. It won’t be the same, though. It’ll be like sitting on the outside and trying to bask in the refracted joy.

You’ll say it was magical. It was amazing. You’ll say all that dessert you ate was filling. I hope it is.

 

5 thoughts on “Ironman Kona: Earning the Big Island

  1. Love this! As a solid middle to back of the packer, even WHEN I do Ironman… someday… i will most likely never qualify for Kona. But that is not my ultimate goal 🙂 racing against myself will always be number 1. Although, didn’t you do IM Canada this year? You may be able to shave off those minutes with a less challenging course. (Now whether that will mean as much, i don’t know!)

    1. True, another course would be faster, but I’d have had to have been 45 minutes faster at Canada to have had a shot. The 25-29 women are getting reallly competitive. Oh well!

  2. I still haven’t ever gone to the state of Hawaii. When I was a younger age grouper, it was my dream goal. Then I went pro before I was ready. Now I’m a little slower again. And anybody who hears I was a pro always asks if I’ve done Kona. ARGHHH! Definitely not feeling like doing an Ironman any time soon, and soon enough I’ll be in the 35-39 AG. Then 40-44. So maybe I’ll wait til everyone else slows down and go when I’m 60. Haaaa!

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