"How was Kona?"
I'm back at the office now after my incredible two plus weeks in Hawaii. It felt like I was there for a journey quest, a vacation, a race of all races, time to connect to nature, my friends, my family, myself and to get that ever elusive tan on my pale freckly skin. I was there for so many things and the biggest reason was, of course, Ironman World Championships, affectionately called "Kona".
Naturally the first and most frequent question I'm asked by all the incredible people who supported me, listened to me talk about swimbikerun and celebrated with me is, "How was Kona?"
I love the question and I love to answer and I've said one of three things
- "So much fun!"
- "Just incredible!"
They're all true and if I answered the question honestly and truthfully, people would have to listen to me wander through a paradoxical answer for an hour.
- Ironman was great AND I got punched in the face during the swim and my goggles came off
- Ironman was so much fun AND with my last few strides during the marathon I could feel at least 5 toenails that were definitely saying "fuck this shit, we're outta here!"
- Ironman was and will always be just incredible. This particular race has so much history, spirit and honestly magic within.
One bit of magic that goes with any endeavour like ironman is the FULL range of feelings and states I'm in throughout the day. I struggle with sharing all that with the risk of sounding crazy because, some of it was fun and some of it was physically painful and I love both those sensations and everything in between. When asked, "How was Kona?" internally I flip through a slide show of memories:
- Getting punched: the multiple times in the swim I got punched, swallowed so much sea water and started to think that all the other women around me must be tougher than I am
- The chills: the time on the bike when I got to Hawi (the turnaround to bike 90km back to Kona) where I got goosebumps and watery-eyed because this was a place I had only seen on TV and now finally I was HERE
- Defeat: the moment right after that when I felt deflated because the head wind I had just been in for hours turned out to be a cross-wind and it'd be another few hours of headwind to get back to town
- Conversations with myself: the time I cheered for myself out loud when I finally tore apart a ziploc baggy (with a gluten free jam and salt sandwich inside) I had been struggling with for what seemed like years
- Muscle spasms: the time my back (from my fondo crash a few weeks ago) said "Screw you" with 70km to go and I couldn't use my aerobars (in the headwind) anymore and the whole world passed me and I went through the internal dialogue of “ok, this hurts a lot and I have at least 2 hours to go… ok so what are my options…. Stop? ...No? ...stop? Maybe, ...but no,…. Use aerobars anyway? Yes…. ouch, actually no…. Ride the hoods and watch people pass? ….Ok, fine….this sucks...this sucks the most ever….ok it doesn’t suck that much because I’m, in Kona….but it sucks a little….”
- S-club 7: the times I sang S-club 7 in my head. Ain't no party like an S-club party
- Inspiration: when a young girl yelled at me "ironman is a huge accomplishment and you are more than capable!" (who is this kid?!)
- Connection: the times I felt connected to the bigger why of why I do endurance sports
- Release: the times my muscles really started to hurt and I relished in the pain of doing something hard
- Perspective: the times I energetically hovered above the race and watched fit people shuffle marathons in neon unitards and laughed at us. Like really laughed at us
- The chaffe: Oh the chaffe.
- Gratitude: the part where a water soaked sponge was my salvation
- Barf: the times I threw up in my mouth a little
.....and then I say "great.....so much fun.....just incredible" because it's true and it was also "hard....long....hot....trying...exhilarating....character building" and something I'm still so hungry and foolish to do again.