Friday, June 22, 2007

My mechanic, my lover

Let's get something out in the open right now: I love my husband. Not only does he bring home the bacon, he also wields a mighty bike wrench. I was at a wedding recently and the officiator gave the following advice to the couple: "Bring her a treat every now and again to show her you're thinking about her, but don't do it too often that she comes to expect it." I have probably come to expect that if my bike is not working properly, Kulani will have it fixed by my Saturday morning rides. My Lemond wasn't riding as comfortably as I wanted it to recently, so he ordered a new stem that's less than in inch shorter than my old stem, but it has made all the difference in riding comfortably. I don't tell him often enough how much I appreciate his help in keeping my bikes in tip-top shape. So baby, thank you. And also, my shifter thing seems to be stiff again. Could you do something about that? Thanks again. 'Preciatch ya!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Shout out to Dr. Watabe

My doctor's nurse called me on behalf of Dr. Watabe to congratulate me on finishing the Hawaii Half-Ironman. Dr. Watabe has to be the best doctor in Utah. He saw me during my pregnancy with my youngest daughter, and he's only in his early 30s. I know this because in triathlon, they write your age on the back of your leg, and Dr. Watabe is a triathlete. I see him around at local races with his wife and child. He encouraged me that I could be healthy enough after delivering my baby to compete in the race.

It's interesting listening to people who have never competed in the sport. They can't believe people would pay money to torture themselves that way or wear skin-tight clothes when their bodies don't exactly look flattering in the attire. Where as a triathlete, for the most part, doesn't really even see the body size; you see the sweat and determination and you respect each other. Dr. Watabe looks good in a triathlon suit; I, on the other hand ... Triathlon is a bonder of people, not a hater. There's a great ad on the back of my triathlon magazine with a woman sitting after a swim and the look on her face says contemplation. The ad sums up nicely why I do this sport: "We all have to do it. Explain our actions. Make sense of it to somebody that doesn't quite get it. You may even question yourself sometimes, but not for long. No matter how tired you are, how much your muscles ache and joints hurt, you feel better training and nobody can take that from you. It's just you and your body. The pleasure and pain is only yours. It's personal."

For me and Dr. Watabe, we get it. Dr. Watabe will be doing the Vineman in July. Good luck, Doctor. And thanks.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

First Half Ironman

"I am half-Ironman, dododododododo-do-do." Or however that song goes. So I completed my first half-Ironman. In Hawaii. In the heat. If there is a word for that event, besides grueling, it is hot. I'm not sure I'd ever like to do that race again. Next year I think I'll do the Vikingman instead, a nice, flat cooler course with a down-current swim. But Hawaii's ocean swim was probably the most enjoyable part of the race. I saw an eal and a sea snake while I was swimming. Helped keep my mind off the monotany of the swim. I finished the swim in a not-too-disappointing 50 minutes. That was about the time I was swimming in the pool, so I wasn't too far off my mark. But then came the bike. Hawaii's course is hilly. There were a series of big rollers topped off by a 7-mile climb to Hawi. We gained 1,000 feet of elevation during the course of the ride. When I finally pushed my bike to the transition area, I had to hobble off the bike. It took me 3 hours 40 minutes to ride 56 miles. That's abismall, but the bike has never been my strong point. Someone yelled out, "Don't worry. Your legs will return." And that person was right. By mile three of the run, I felt pretty strong. I caught up to a girl who flew over from the mainland to also do this race with us. She came with my brother and sister-in-law. I tried to encourage her to keep up with me, but she'd had it. I kept running, feeling somewhat guilty about leaving her behind. But I was on a good pace, despite the heat of the lava fields. I was averaging 10 minute miles, which if I was able to keep up for the full 13 miles, I'd come in before 7 hours. An older Japanese man ran with me for a few miles. He said his wife was waiting for him at the finish line with "cold beer." Even though I don't drink, that still sounded nice. The Hawaii race organizers have cold sponges, ice water, Gatorade, fruit, gels, and cola at every mile. That kept me going. Occasionally I'd run through the aid stations, and other times I would walk. I caught up to my husband by mile 7. He had told me earlier that if he wasn't having a great race day, he would wait for me and we could finish together. So the last five + miles were a lot of fun. We walked and ran and talked and just enjoyed being together. We encouraged other runners, guffawed at the Hooters girls at mile 11 cheering everyone on, and thanked the volunteers bringing us cold sponges. We ran the last mile across to the finish line. Our girls waved at us from the side. We held hands across the finish. We finished in 7 hours 27 minutes. It was glorious. I choked up at the accomplishment. My oldest daughter, who is 4, approached me after the finish and said, "I'm proud of you and Dad. You did great." That was very sweet, but then she followed that with, "Don't do anymore long races, just short ones." I agreed with her.

My brother B.J. did really well at that race, finishing 15th overall. He was second in his age group, which got him a slot to the half-Ironman championships in Florida. My brother-in-law was faster last year, but I think he still did pretty well finishing at 5 hours 46 minutes. His wife had bike problems, and didn't finish the run.

Now we're training for the Burley Spudman, after I recover from my post-Island blahs. There's always Monday.