Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ski training in Kona?!

So.... I booked tickets to Hawaii during Alaska's 35 day-long summer rain spell.  While "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger" has some truth to it, the weather was a bit brutal. When I saw sale tickets to Hawaii plus a chance to use my companion fare ticket, I jumped at the opportunity.  We've done some hard training blocks and this week is a perfect week to mix everything up... my training, my location, the weather, the food, the roads for roller skiing, the trails for running, not to mention the clothes I wear for training!  This is my week to basically disappear and do my own thing before the season hits.  

 In 100% Kona Coffee Land... not bad!

The funny thing is, when I made reservations to come to the island I had NO IDEA that our trip would correspond with a super famous athletic event.  I should have known something was going on when I couldn't find a rental car online. After finally getting through to a person on the phone they told me, it's IRONMAN week!  Sweet!  This little fact has changed our vacation quite a bit. Rather than doodling around amongst a bunch of average tourists I've found myself amongst the fittest group of people I've potentially ever seen.  If you think Birkie Fever is serious then you obviously haven't been exposed to Ironman. If you want to argue the point ask yourself this, does ever other Birkie skier have a Birkie Tattoo proudly displayed on their body? I don't think so!  

Really? Yes, REALLY... everyone has them.

While roller skiing I met up with a French Bike team. It's sweet to be around Euro endurance athletes who are used to xc skiing being a legit sport! 

Since our immersion, Rob and I have been borderline obsessed over everything triathlon and ironman. I can't say that I want to do it myself (you'd understand if you saw me swim) but I can't help but become seriously inspired by another big athletic event like this.  Considering Ironman is relatively new (think 34 years) it has a huge following and from what I can tell, it's only getting bigger.  Anyways, at night we're studying up, being total tourists at the gear expo, learning the big names, making references to past results, Rob's neck probably needs chiropractic work after rubber-necking at bike after bike worth more than your standard car. Every other person walks around with one of those aerodynamic helmets that makes them look space age... it's really no big deal.  

It's fun to be an outsider to Ironman but in other ways, an insider to professional athletics.  Last night I was reading an interview with Great Brittain's Chrissie Wellington and she said that with all the pressure surround Kona, you just have to pretend that it's another race.  That is EXACTLY the tactic I took into the Olympics and it's really fun when you see parallels between what I do and what they do, or think!  The athletes have lots of sponsor engagements and I'm sure the requests and the pressure is building everyday leading up to the race.  After all, someone told me that if you win Kona Ironman, which is the World Championships, you win a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS. (The payday sounds a big heftier than ski racing huh?)

How has this effected my training? Well, it's been awesome. Yesterday I went roller skiing on the "Queen Ka" road which is the bike course for the race.  I skied on the smoothest road with the BIGGEST shoulder I have ever seen.  (For those who don't roller ski, Hawaiian Pavement is the equivalent of Utah Powder...) Bikers everywhere and signs labeled, "Caution, Athletes Training" line the road. PERFECT.  This morning during my run on the run course, there were product stations offered drinks, gels, chews, anything, every two miles. GU, Power Bar, Cliff, Muscle Milk, etc. etc.  This was perfect for an Alaskan trying to stay hydrated.  (I already have a horrible sunburn of course.)  Alii drive was full of bikers, runners, and convertibles with 10,000 bikes thrown in the back seat like a beauty queen in a small town parade.  I think I was the only one seeking out the rocky shoulder of the road in my trail runners, surrounded by pavement pounders!!!

Pull out on the Queen K... 

Luckily Rob and I are staying through Saturday morning so we'll get to see the first half of the race and the big names duking it out.  From a training and season preparation standpoint, this short week in the tropics is just what I needed. I'm focused, getting in good training, resting well, eating healthy, and am 100% confident that I will return to Alaska ready to put the final touches on my training for the upcoming 2010-2011 season. 

Thanks for reading and Mahalo! 
Holly :)