Monday: We headed down to the pier to have an open water swim. The water was calm and the weather really nice. Ali, Gabe and I had the chance to meet Annee Deering, I befriended her via-Instagram and follow our trainings for Kona. She’s one of the Kona Inspired contest winners and her story will be featured in the NBC ‘s broadcast of Ironman.
After a great swim, it was time to explore the island a bit and we headed down to the Volcanoes National Park in the other side of the island. It was a 3 hour drive. During the drive was amazing to see how the scenery will change so drastically within that distance. From the lava fields, to a prairie, to a rainforest. We got to the park and went to the observatory. In front of us stand a huge crater sized volcano that it is the biggest active volcano in the planet. The Big Island not only have 1 but 4 volcanoes! Quite impressive! We hiked a bit thru lava tunnels, stopped by natural heat exhausts and visited the Punalu’u Beach where the sand is completely black.
Tuesday: We took over the Queen K for a bike ride. The Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway or Queen K is a highway on the island that connects the town of Kona to the airport and half way thru the town of Hawi. This is where the famous lava fields are, which are sharp edged black rocks made from lava flowing centuries ago. Thanks to this the temperatures rises even higher while riding on the Queen K. Needless to say the Queen K was full of cyclist and runners training for the race, and you will see signs that warned motorists “Ironman Athletes in Training”.
Around 5pm the Parade of Nations started. So many countries represented. I choose to represent my home country, since I was the only one there. They gave me the flag and a sign that said “Ecuador”. It was kind of tricky to carry both of them at the same time. The parade started from the Marriot King K hotel along Ali’I Drive until the vendors expo. As I passed thru, people will get nuts since I was going solo and they saw me sweating heavily while carrying the flag and the sign by myself LOL. The parade stopped where the vendor expo park was. I waited for Ali and Gabe, to walked the expo. Headed to the Newton tent where Craig Alexander was making an appearance and selling his new book “As the Crow flies”, we had some pictures with super cyclist Chris Lieto, did more walking thru the expo and gave some love to my sponsors Yurbuds, 2XU and Compressport.
Later in the evening we meet with Mickey and Ryan that just got into Kona. Finally the whole “Kona Team” was assembled!
Wednesday: We try to imitate the track run in the parking lot of the hotel. It was tough ‘cuase the parking lot is uneven and hilly. Back at the room, Mickey, Ryan and Allison stopped at the room to visit. Allison got there on a late flight Tuesday, she was doing her first Ironman… in KONA (I know! Insane!)!!! Needless to say she’s a superhuman athlete! Mickey gave me an awesome Seemeinthedark.com shirt which I wore proudly that day! (I was all shiny and stuff!). Headed back to town to finally register for the race. Registration went smoothly and people were very polite. Got my athlete wristband (ahem! Which I’m still wearin it!) and the greatest swag bag ever! Made me feel like a PRO! The bag is a transition bag sporting the Ironman World Championship logo (sweet! I never had a transition bag before), with a cool pair of custom TYR goggles, some keychains, some granola and gels, and the race stuff (program, bib numbers, swim cap, etc)
After registration we headed out to meet Chrissie Wellington at the Oakley booth and Chris "Macca" McCormack at the Cliff Bar House, were they were doing signings and chatting with fans! I got the chance to meet a fellow Lottery Winner which I meet thru Dailymile.com Pablo!, we followed our trainings together via Twitter until the race day. The power of social media meeting all these incredible people from all over the world!
Later that evening we headed out for a traditional Hawaiian Luau Party. They explained us the culture of Hawai’I with some dances and a traditional feast that involved a pig cooked in the ground. Very cool!
Thursday: Are we having fun yet?! If it’s Thursday in Ironman Week in Kona, It’s the UNDERPANTS RUN! This run was conceived in 1998 as a protest by the locals against triathletes wearing Speedos in inappropriate places. Now the event is integral part of Ironman Week in Kona, and all proceeds go for a good cause, and with all clean fun! For this event I meet with Allison and we had a blast! (We even appeared on triathlete.com LOL)
Back in the hotel I start prepping up my gear bags for the race and finishing touching up Lightning to get her ready to hit the lava fields. Later in the evening, the Kona Team, tag all along to the the “E Komo Mai” aka “Welcome Party” in the King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel (host hotel). They had a big concert style stage for the ceremony, a delicious buffet food and great entertainment full of traditional dances and fire dances! The voice of Ironman, Mike Reilly, hosted the event. After the Party finished we got down to business and did the Mandatory Pre-Race Meeting, where they explained the rules of the race, how the aid stations where going to be arranged and answered athletes questions.
Friday: Started piggin out like there’s no tomorrow! Had an enormous breakfast and prepared my stuff to head out to bike check-in. You have to take your bike and run bag, the bike and have the helmet out. Because I’m riding a Cervelo I got a cool t-shirt from the Cervelo guys. You pass down a lane where all the representatives of the brands are sitting and checking your bike and taking notes of all the components and brands that your bike is carrying. Is like walking thru a catwalk. Some volunteers check you that you have everything and put a sticker on the bike. You give your run and bike bags to some volunteers and another volunteer stays with you and tours you around the transition area. They put your bike against a bike wall and they take a photo of your bike. After that the volunteers helps you place your bike on the bike rack and explains where you should go and move around transition in race morning.
After finishing the craziness of Bike Check-In, the “Kona Team” and some new friends Kelly and Kim, meet again and had an early dinner in the Kona Brewing Company. A big Hawaiian Pizza for me of course and had a great time with the peeps before heading back to the hotel and finally shutting down!
Saturday: Race Day! This will have a post on it’s own!
Sunday: Post Race. Sore, so sore. I received some calls and messages from friends and family but I didn’t have any spirits to talk to anyone. It certainly was the toughest thing I have ever done in my life which took everything from me. Ryan called me and ask if I wanted to grab breakfast at the More than Sport brunch event they had in town. Sure! Why not! We headed over there with Mickey, Ryan and Kelly and had a good breakfast and a presentation by Chris Lieto explaining about his initiative “More Than Sport” and some Pros that joined his cause, first at the mike was Tim O’Donnell who finished 8th yesterday, then was Lindsey Corbin who finished 8th yesterday too and last was Craig Alexander who (to my sadness) finished 11th yesterday. After the event we got to chat a little with Chris about the awesome job he’s doing. He didn’t’ race this year due to an injury and was commentating during the live broadcast of the race.
Afterwards the peeps drop me at the hotel since I still needed some rest. Later at night we gathered again for the “Banquet of Champions” which is the closing ceremony of the Ironman World Championship Week, where we had another feast, we saw the highlights of the race and the awards ceremony. We were really excited because one of our own, Allison, destroy her age group and won the World Championship (HEAR THIS!!!, SHE BECAME THE IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPION 18-24 AGE GROUP IN HER FIRST IRONMAN RACE EVER!!! I know! She’s not human!!!). We were so happy for her and got a pretty close look to all the goodies they gave her, including that bowl that can be used as a helmet in emergency cases and a super cool jacket that says “Ironman Champion”. I think I have a chance to winning that in 50 years when I will be in the age group of 80+. After the age group awards ceremony, came the moment for the Pros to be awarded. They will award the Top 10 pros. This year the 2012 World Champions are Leanda Cave and Pete Jacobs! Each one gave a speech of their own, which demonstrated great sportsmanship and what really nice down to earth people they are.
After the closing ceremony, there were some after parties, but I was so sore and tired that just decided to go back to the hotel and die :)