Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Town Filled with People “Who Can.”

Kona – Day two

Aloha! Another beautiful day in paradise. We woke up early this morning for our swim in Kona Bay. What a great way to start the day. The coral was teaming with fish and the water was packed with triathletes. The real surprise was that the Kona Coffee Company had set up a swim up coffee bar ½ mile out on a catamaran. A Starbucks of the Sea. And to the group in Kona this week, a ½ swim out to a free coffee bar would barely be considered a short work out. I don’t even drink coffee, but this stop was too good to pass up. And when you are drinking hot Kona coffee in the middle of the Kona Bay, life is good.

After our swim, we headed over to TriBike Transport to pick up our bikes. TriBike has developed a great business of picking up bikes in major cities across the United States and shipping them in large containers to the Ironman events. After checking out the bikes, we hop on for a 20 mile ride down the famous Queen K highway. This is the 50 mile road from Kona to Havi that seems to get a lot of attention on NBC sports for its cruelty. Triathletes must ride through the mid-day sun across lava fields to complete the bike course. I remember my first time in Kona and how intimidated I was by everything I had heard. But on this return visit, it was time to enjoy and to make friends with the grand lady. I had survived her perils four years ago and now it was time to say hello to old friends, like the airport and energy lab that were points along the way. It felt great to be back on my bike.
One of the things that becomes obvious after a couple days in Kona is that this town is filled with people “who can.” Everyone has a personal story of how they are chasing a dream. Each person is traveling with an entourage of friends and family members who all believe in them and are here to support them. People get to Kona two ways. They either finish an Ironman in the top 3 percent of their age group, or 10 percent of the field paid $50 for a chance at 200 slots in a lottery. The common denominator is that everyone believed it was possible. Since Ford is the title sponsor of this event, I think it is appropriate to quote Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.” It is inspiring to be around so many people chasing dreams, celebrating their journey and living life.
At 5 PM, all the competitors meet up for the Parade of Nations. We march by country down Ali’I Drive the “Main Street” of Kona. Friends, family and the community come out to cheer each country. It sounds pretty corny, but when you start walking with fellow athletes behind the American Flag, it suddenly becomes a big deal.

My personal highlight of the parade was seeing Rajesh Durbal. I met Rajesh in Atlanta in April when he was in Mike Lenhart’s Getting2Tri training camp for challenged athletes. Raj was born missing one hand and both feet. Raj will be competing in the Ironman World Championship on Saturday as a challenged athlete because he is a shining example of a person “who can.”

We returned to our mountain hide-away for a quiet dinner that Nannette and Joanne prepared.
Kona – Day Three

Wednesday was a repeat of Tuesday, without the Parade of Nations. Swim to the coffee bar, bike on the Queen K, run along Ali’I Drive, quiet dinner at home. Tapering at its best.


Jason said...

As a budding triathlete and fellow blogger it is great to read these stories.

It provides motivation and inspiration and truly pushes the theory of "I Can."

Thank you for sharing.


Martha said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to post a blog about your day to day experiences. It makes me almost feel like I'm there with you (except my morning coffee was no where nearly as enjoyable as yours). At 43 my son-in-law completed his first half Ironman last month. You are an inspiration to all of us, especially to me when I competed in the 2008 Aflac Iron Girl!


Ellen said...

Thanks for the day to day update of your IronMan journey. I look forward to receiving them. You are an inspiration to us all. Whether we are dreaming about doing a triathalon or dreaming about some other challenging goal, it is great to remember the quote..."Whether you think you CAN or you think you can't, you are right!" Keep up the good work and keep having fun! Ellen A.

Will said...

"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination." Tommy LaSorda Former LA Dodgers Baseball Coach

Coach Will

Chris - said...

Great pictures. Good luck and have a blast!!!

Jillandandrew said...

Mike- so fun to read! You do everything with a smile and such grace. Can't wait to speak!

Erica said...

Awesome, Mike! I love reading about your journey. Have a fabulous race - and have fun!

Ellen said...

Hi Mike,

Thinking of you and wishing you all the best. We are with you from Tucson. Ellen and the rest of the Schneiders