Kona has come and gone, and the day was one that I would rather forget (except that forgetting would preclude learning from it, and there was so much to learn from the experience). I'm not going to get into details yet because I want to finish this post that I started before I left. Even though my race wasn't what I expected it would be, the people who helped me to get there are just as amazing as they were 2 weeks ago when my hopes were high.
From Monday, September 29:
Che giornata! I love Mondays. Typically it is my day off of training and rarely do I have to work. Aside from the obligatory class time and homework, today was a beautiful, sunny blank slate of a day. Last minute Kona preparations were in order, as was a giant pile of soaking laundry (I've been overdressing in an attempt to heat acclimate). My first order of business was to address a wee issue with my bike, so I called Robin, my boss at Fitness Fanatics, for a consult, and she immediately got to work and on the phone with Scott. Lo and behold, I have a new Scott Plasma frame headed my way on Wednesday. It doesn't leave a lot of time to get all of my components switched over and then packed up for Kona, but I am so lucky for the opportunity to head into this competition with a brand new frame and the peace of mind that my machine will be in perfect working order. I spent the entire walk home from the bus stop (all 10 blocks of it) thinking about all of the people who have stepped up to help me get to Kona happy, well trained, nourished, and just shy of broke. Now that no one reads this blog anymore on account of my delinquent posting, I figured I would take the opportunity to thank my supporters. This isn't an insincere sponsor-pushing segment - it's a thank you to the people responsible for the services and products upon which I depend.
The goodwill of others today wasn't expended in the morning's bike lobbying. I abandoned the Cataldo Cougars (the elementary xc team that I help to coach) in the middle 0f their time trials this afternoon for a last minute PT appointment with Mike Lauffer at B&B Physical Therapy. I went to several physical therapists last summer in a desperate attempt to heal my unwieldy knee, and finally found a gem in Bill Codd at B&B. Ever since I started going there, I've found the entire staff to be helpful, interesting, and best of all, healing. I'm remarkably fortunate to have their support. The best part is that is was fun. Not a modifier traditionally associated with PT, I know. Even as Mike had his elbow lodged squarely in my burning piriformis, I chatted about racing, training, ice baths and Moms in Motion with Mike, Bill (runner extraordinnaire and enthusiast), Lanaia (Bill's protege and also a stellar runner), and Kirsten (all around triathlete stud who runs the local Moms in Motion chapter). Sometime Bill has me close to tears with his crazy core strengthening workouts, but I still chalk it up as good, clean fun.
After PT it was off to the Spokane Club for a sauna session. This was not so fun, but I'm still trying to get my body used to heat. The Spokane Club is the nicest gym in town and I get to go there! The only downside is that I spend way too much time lingering in the locker rooms because they are so nice. Given that my old gym was closed for reconstruction all summer and that the public pools were only available when I was at work, being able to swim anytime at the Spokane Club has been a lifesaver (triathlon saver?). The athletic director Jerrod Crowley lined up some great triathlon training clinics throughout the summer where I was able to "earn" my membership and meet a lot of the members. It was really fun to see more people get involved in triathlon and to get them really enthusiastic about the sport. My thanks go to Jerry O'Neill who lobbied for my membership and sponsored me as a new member.
The two other local businesses who have offered endless support and encouragement are the Metabolic Institute and Runners Soul. The Metabolic Institute offers all kinds of metabolic testing (VO2 max, lactate threshold, resting metabolic rate, etc), and nutritional analysis and counseling. They have make themselves endlessly available to me and never cease to send good luck wishes before big competitions.
Curt, the owner of Runners Soul, was probably my first ever "sponsor," and I'm sure I'm not the only local athlete who can make that claim. He is perhaps the most involved small business owner in the area. Most of the things he does for the community I only learn about in roundabout ways. Curt donates shoes to underprivileged children and teens for high school cross country, track, and Bloomsday. He has a microphone in hand at most local road races and triathlons announcing the finishers as they cross the line. I've seen him out hoofing the streets setting up the BRRC race courses. He has a fleet of Spokane Chiefs and Spokane Indians tickets that he donates to local schools and charities. He sponsors our local NPR stations and heavens knows how many schools and individual athletes he supports. He's even helping our women's xc team (the Spokane Swifts) as we prepare for the national xc team championships in December.
Of course no thank you list would be complete without including my amazing friends and family. Thanks to my dad who unwittingly paid for my first year's worth of triathlon entry fees with absolutely no idea what was to come from the innocent little pastime. If I'm thanking him for paying for things, I should probably also include his essentially paying for my entire life prior to my financial semi-independence. My dad also does lots of cool things like toting my gear to his house on Lake Coeur d'Alene so I can ride my bike there and sometimes he drops off his garden fresh potatoes, tomatoes, grapes, zucchini, raspberries, blueberries, snowpeas, and green beans on my doorstep. He also takes me out to dinner at Gordy's, which is so yummy. And he loves me, which is a good quality in a dad :)
I wouldn't know where to start thanking my mom. She bestowed upon me not only her mitochondrial DNA, but also a competitive spirit and is responsible for probably every ounce of me that is a good human being. She cried when I announced that I would like to compete as a professional triathlete someday (she thought it would be a waste of a brain), but I'm pretty sure that she would be proud. I'm definitely sure that every single day I wish she was still here. And I promise to use my brain.
My brother and sister have shaped me more than anyone else on earth. I am at my most primal state of goofiness with them, and am occasionally surprised at how similar our mannerisms and facial expressions are, even after long periods apart. Andy is one of the more enthusiastic people I have ever known and has driven to Coeur d'Alene for all of my ironmans. He's the exuberant guy with the video camera. Andy's wife Bri is now a triathlete as well and he still manages to be enthusiastic about sport. Cassy is a way cooler version of me + a bit of hippy. Among the many ways she enriches my life is her passion for and interest in music. If I'm ever in a new artist drought, I can count on Cass to introduce me to something worth listening to.
The friends. Phaedra and Shelby warrant special mention as my most ardent supporters (and believers). They deserve a post unto itself. Troy was a most excellent riding companion this summer, but his wife Eve is perhaps even cooler. Morgan, Jim, Holly, Robin and Manny at work are the best people I have ever worked with. I genuinely enjoy all of their company, and can't wait to see how Morgan and Manny do in IM next year. Katie and Conrad abandoned me for Colorado, but I forgive them so long as they come back some day. Roger Thompson and his wife Jessi are absolute staples in our local tri community, and I owe Roger a great deal in the moral support and model athlete department. Annie was the first pro triathlete I ever knew, and I still call on her regularly when I need to bounce ideas, frustrations, or excitement off on somebody. Annie knows the ropes and has a wicked sense of humor to boot. Aubre is my idol. She is the most contagiously friendly and good person that I know, and she also happens to be the most naturally athletic friend I have. The Sullivans are my second family and people that I know I can count on for anything. This includes one particularly frustrating ride through a scary electrical storm last spring. Aaron and my dad were working and there was lightening everywhere, so Julianne and Camrynne drove out to Spangle to collect my wet muddy self and bicycle from underneath a railroad overpass. The homestays. The Antonneaus in Racine and Dewain and Judy in Victoria. My "away" races were so enriched by having these families to stay with, and I think I've made longtime friends in doing so. Coach Dan proved himself a worthy friend as he listened repeatedly to my teary post-race digestion with endless calm and reassurance. Oh, he heard a bit of it during the race as well - when he passed me. The same goes for Coaches Paul and Mark and the rest of the Lifesport crew who let me hang out with them all week even as I transformed from excited, happy Haley to disappointed, teary Haley. I really appreciate the support.
Then of course, there is Aaron. In an attempt at IM redemption, or perhaps just an attempt to do some justice for the months of uninjured, quality training I spent leading up to Kona, I signed up to do Ironman Arizona on November 23. I felt it necessary to check with Aaron before I registered, because I understand that training for and competing in ultra-distance events is physically and emotionally taxing in addition to being seriously time-consuming. Aaron has never given me any indication that he begrudges any of that, but I wanted to make sure that he wasn't festering. To the contrary, he fully supported my decision to do the race, and he continues to be the best possible teammate I could have. He is my best friend, and I could get a lot sappier, but I don't want to embarrass him. All I'm going to say is that I realize more and more each day how lucky we are.
I'll try to post a race report soon, and I'll also try to keep the blog more up-to-date as Arizona approaches. Whoever is left reading at this point . . . thanks.