Saturday, October 14, 2006

Creating Experiences

I obviously didn’t get a chance to post yesterday. Between work, some easy training, packing, spending time playing with the kids, more packing, … I ran out of time.

I was out yesterday on an easy 1 hour 45 minute ride on a great course. The day was one of my absolute favorite type of days; crisp upper 50’s temperature, very sunny, and nice foliage (although not nearly as good as last year) – just a great New England fall day. I was thinking about the fact that I’m heading over to the Big Island the next day for my seventh time, and reflecting back on my previous experiences there.

The Ironman is a great part of this trip, but it’s just that, a part. Lisa and I love the island and we’ve had just great experiences every time. Each time you take a trip somewhere, you have an opportunity to create a new and cool experience, even if returning to the same destination. This is what separates memories. What keeps memories from blurring together? I remember each of the trips we’ve taken to Hawaii quite well, and while I won’t bore those reading with the full details, I’ll list some highlights from my previous six encounters.

96’ – My first time traveling to Hawaii and first Ironman race ever. I went into this one sort of clueless, coming off a training plan developed by a combination of my exercise physiology studies, what I had learned in my own training and also what I had read about endurance training. I remember having a conversation at the urinals in the Chart House men’s room with none other than Dave Scott. My parents came out to watch the race, and Lisa and I had a blast, exploring the volcano, going snorkeling, and finding beautiful beaches.

97’ – I came back to the race in better condition, went 8 minutes slower, yet moved up 35 places. Very tough conditions and I learned that this race is a different race every year and you can’t set up a time goal strategy for Hawaii. My sister and brother-in-law came to watch and we did a great sea raft snorkeling excursion with a crazy guide, and swam with the big turtles. Lisa and I found a private, hidden away beach that was unbelievable. A half moon cove with palm trees and white sand and bluish green water - it’s still one of our favorite beaches. We spent a whole day there and saw maybe two other people.

98’ – tough year for me. I was burning the candle a bit too much and got sick with bronchitis the day before the race.

99’ – my fastest race there in tough conditions. I ran really well this year. My parents came back out to watch again, and my good friend Darren Delmonico from California also came out and surprised me. He was staying at a friend’s house up in the hills on a coffee plantation. The place was a shack – literally! It had a makeshift plywood front door and the lock was a pad lock. The views were unbelievable though. My father was dropping Darren back off there after dinner one night. The rental car agency stuck him with a Crown Victoria that was so big it took up two parking spots. I would make a beeping noise whenever he backed up which would piss him off. Darren was giving directions and at one point, it was so dark and it looked as though my dad was about to drive off a 200 foot cliff. Lisa and I went to Maui for a few days after the race and had a blast.

02’ – it was good to be back! In 2000, my son was born so I skipped Hawaii and raced LP that year instead. In 01’ I cancelled the trip in late September. 9/11 just happened, and I couldn’t see going. The race organization kept the whole entrance fee though, including the carbo dinner tickets I purchased ahead of time! Since then, I’ve boycotted the carbo dinner. That’ll teach em’. This was an interesting year. I flatted 3 times before the 56 mile mark of the bike. I still remember sitting on the side of the highway, waiting for tech support. Turns out that water was getting between the tubular and the rim and pushing the tire into the brake pad, causing the tire to tear. I rebounded though, and finished ok. Our flight out of Hawaii was in the evening and we were killing time by walking around Waikoloa. Lisa felt lousy, and we purchased one of those home-pregnancy tests, to find out that she was pregnant with Kate.

04’ – Conditions this year were brutal, to say the least! I was representing my good friend Rick Moisan who was in a severe battle with lung cancer. He was supposed to make the trip with his family but had to cancel at the last minute due to his condition.

At the moment, I’m somewhere over the Midwest on my first flight to LA, before connecting to Kona. After a very hectic week, and few months for that matter, it actually feels good to sit for awhile and relax. I find myself wondering quite a bit about what experiences will be created on this trip. It should be fun!

Download this: (this song came up on my Ipod during yesterdays ride, and although it’s an old one, it was great to ride to) The Alarm, The Walls Came Down



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