Monday, December 31, 2012

A Boring Recap of 2012...As if Racing Was All That Mattered

As I sit here gagging on a glass of bourbon, attempting to regale you with the highlights of my 2012 race season, I can't help but picture you nodding off already.  I don't mind.  My exploits are petty at best.  But on the off chance that you haven't been privy to my constant attempts at sneaking in a zinger in about how awesome this race day was or how earth-shattering my time was there, allow me to catch you you can get back to teaching your son a valuable life-lesson, or plugging in that last part of the formula to solve world hunger, or making the perfect hot dog.

This will just take a sec, and then you can utter that very deep sigh and wish you had these 5 minutes of your life back.....

2012 Triathlete Highlight #1:

Hey, look at me, I PR'd my 5k and snuck one in under 18 minutes!  When you consider I can pop a zit, eat a pop tart and have sex in the same amount of time I squeezed in under the 18 minute barrier, 3 seconds is almost.......if you squint.....impressive!  It happened at the Habitat for Humanity 5K in Greenville if you wish to make a pilgrimage.

2012 Triathlete Highlight #2:

I repeated victory at the Lake Kristi Triathlon!  Truth be told, a lot of the guys I normally struggle to stay ahead of bowed out of this race for some reason or another.  Still, it was an amazing achievement to hold off the masses, and more than twice I was followed around town by paparazzi trying to get a picture of me climbing out of my car without my panties on.  At least, the expression on my face as I exited the finishing chute was exactly the kind it takes to show how fun this triathlon stuff is:


2012 Triathlete Highlight #3:

I conquered my St Croix Half Ironman demons from 2007.  What the hell izzat?  I dunno, how about being the guy that Outdoor Life Network (now NBC Sports Network) pegged as a shoe-in to wuss out on a hill in front of a camera on the run course and then zoomed in as my fat ass gave up and walked up it?  Anyway, I went back this year to redeem myself......and totally sucked again.  But I ran that damn hill.

 I don't have any impressive race photos from St Croix, so instead here's me crashing the volunteer party after the race.

2012 Triathlete Highlight #4:

I won my first Half Iron distance race!  I totally figured out this distance and the key to winning one and executed my plan to perfection.  What you do is.......find a half iron in the most obscure location you can.  Make sure there are plenty of much bigger races out there that all the fast guys will go to.  Then sneak in and take home all the spoils.  In this case, a plastic molded thing that hangs around my neck.  Rags to riches baby! 

 Coming out of the swim at OBX Half Iron.  The zipper instructions were above my reading level.

2012 Triathlete Highlight #5:

And this one is the Big Kahuna.....cuz I had the breakthrough race of my life at Ironman Florida and surpassed every goal I could possibly have put on myself.  I broke 10 hours and went 9:20, PR'd every leg of the race, and came in 5th in my age group and qualified for the World Championship in Kona in 2013.  I am so thankful, so excited, and eager to get to the Big Island and enjoy this amazing experience.

I can't imagine a mo' betta' year in 2013, but I'm all in baby!  I wish all my toenails could join me next season but sadly 7 passed away during the process of the above achievements.  Cheers to everyone, and I hope you have the breakthrough season you're looking for as well.  Let's go drop some balls on things and impress the world with our Chinese fireworks!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Kona Intentions

Now that the thought of going to Kona this year has sunk in, the reality of how I’m going to approach the event is starting to take shape.  The revelation: my race day intentions aren’t anything like I figured they’d be when I first pondered the notion of getting to the World Championships.  When the idea was hatched a few years ago, I intended to dilly-dally through the 140.6 miles tip-toeing and twirling across the island to stop and smell every hibiscus and pirouetting to turn over every lava rock.  Taking it all in and enjoying the day, so to speak.

Back then, though, well, that was right about when I tackled my first Ironman (Coeur d’Alene, 2008).  And I didn’t exactly lollygag the whole race, but I did dial the competitiveness way, way down.  I had an enormous amount of respect for the distance, and my blood-brother pact with that course only involved the goal of finishing.  In fact, a couple miles into the marathon that day I remember jogging up a long hill where all the signs were that families had made for the racers, and I was reading every one of them to see if I could find the ones made for me.  There was no real grit in me at all.  A friend and competitor was coming the other way – miles ahead of me, and not at all used to that – and threw his hands out and said, “Bruce, what the hell are you doing back here?”  “Hey there, man!  Just reading the signs!”  I was goofing off.

A thought on Kona at the time was purely inconceivable to me. 

I couldn’t imagine racing that kind of distance!  Over the next 3 Ironmans though, I began to believe.  And as the idea began to take shape in my head, I favored the notion of going full-on medieval to qualify, and then showing up at Kona to rest on my laurels and soak in all the hype.

But somewhere along the way when it began to really look like I might actually have a shot at this, three things changed my mind:
1.      A friend of mine did it that way.  His first time in Kona, when the race started and everyone else went in to swarm mode and began swimming over each other, he dove down to look at the pretty little fishies.  He told me the next time he goes there he’ll race it hard.  I took that to mean that he regretted his choice from the first time around.
2.      My buddy Carl has done Kona twice.  The first time he got in through the lottery.  I didn’t want to take that route but I was curious, so I asked him how he handled someone in Kona asking him where he qualified.  His response to them was pure Carl Bonner: “I lotto’d in and I’m gonna kick your ass.”  I don’t want someone that lotto’d in to kick my ass.
3.      It’s a World Championship, and I believe it should be raced like one no matter how you get to the start line.

So, that’s the mindset I’m taking to Kona.  All the craziness I did to prepare for Florida - my strange eating habits, early nights in bed, getting super skinny, the cottage cheese fetish, another season without tailgating - all that will happen again (and maybe some new tricks).  I promise to embrace the hype of race week and soak all of that in.  But when the cannon fires, I’ll treat it like a World Championship and I’ll draw on a ton of hours of hard work to make it as epic of a race as possible.  I want there to be lots of suffering.  I’ll take in the landmarks that make this race such a storied legend, and I might even notice a sign on the side of the road or a hibiscus or two.   I’ll most certainly ham it up at the finish line for what is sure to be one of the most memorable and emotional moments of my life.  But after the fun is over with, I intend for every one of those 140.6 miles to be about how I left nothing out there but the best I could give it.  Some time later I'll figure out the details and the goals for the day, but for now......I just want to wrap my mind around how this kid will play the game.