We made it back to Kailua and stationed ourselves at the 10/25 mile mark on the hill on Palini. A perfect place to catch the athletes heading up and out onto the Queen K and down and back to the finish.
The leaders came through and Chris McCormack looked great as did Alexander and Deboom. It's quite amazing how fast these guys are running here. I mean, when the sun is out in Kona, which it was in full blast, it is scorching hot and humid. These guys are knocking off six minute miles at the end of an IM. That's impressive. The pros all came through in a mix - some running very strong, and some really suffering and trying to survive. The amount of athletes that walked up Palani was staggering. Maybe 2/3rds of the field. Many could have walked as fast as they were running.
We held our positions here for the next three or four hours. I sucked down another Peanutbutter Moo'd Jamba Juice and an Iced Latte while spectating. I met the main man from Fuel belt, Vinu, who was a nice, laid back guy. He told me he knew my name and was suprised at how big I was considering the times I put out at the races. I get that a lot. I also met the editor for Xtri who was also very cool. She was attending her first Hawaii. She said she'd be excited to do a feature on MyAthlete on Xtri and I'm holding her to it.
I was very aware of my own emotions during the run and it keeps making me think. I have to admit that I was kind of glad to be a spectator that day. Usually I watch always wishing I had been competing but not on Saturday. Reflecting back now, I'm almost certain this is due to the fact that it was so hot and that I don't do well in the extreme heat (go figure why I'm so drawn to Hawaii?!) and that this heat and conditions brought back some painful memories of blood, sweat and tears lost on Palani and the Queen K at this painfully mean race. I also think that I mentally had not committed to racing an IM this year and therefore was mentally not into racing it. But on race day, I was wondering if this lack of motivation to race there that day meant that I was losing my drive to race IM's. I now know that it was more of what I stated previously, because I can't stop thinking about getting back there soon to race since being home.
When McCormick returned from the Queen K at the 25 mile mark, he knew he had it locked up and started to celebrate. I snapped the above shot of him with still a mile left to go. I thought his raw emotion and energy was fantastic.
It was very interesting to see a great number of athletes racing in compression socks - which work well, but in my opinion, not in Hawaii, and also many wearing long sleeves and even gloves that were supposed to cool. All that I know is that I always want to wear next to nothing here and it looked more hot than cool to see these knew trends. (not hot in a good way.)
We took a spectating break to grab some dinner at Lulu's on Alii and while eating we tracked Mike Kane. We knew the moment he'd be coming by and had the whole second tier of the restaurant cheering for him. I yelled "Run you bastard, run!" at him as he ran by. He smiled and chugged along in the dark.
After dinner, we made our way to the finish. There were three hours left in the race and I weaseled my way up against the barrier about 20 meters from the tape on the finishing carpet. Mike Reilly and his partner, who was very funny, entertained us as many continued to come across the line. In between the finishers, many of the event sponsors would come out and toss out swag. The crowd went nuts for these small, trivial pieces. We saw some amazing people finish in the late hours - many amazing stories, and I had the chicken skin on many occasions. The double amputee guy, who I snapped a blurry picture of above, was my hero.
It was really very cool being at the finish line right up until midnight, but man, if you don't make it in by then, the race is done. There were three athletes still out on the course and close by but at the stroke of 12, the race was done and they began clearing out the spectators and breaking it down.
I spectated this day with some non-triathletes and realized that this sport while spectating causes two emotions in people; either they are truly inspired, or they are truly insecure. Interesting to witness both cases and hear how those inspired were going to use their motivation to do something good or cool, and meanwhile, the insecure one's would either put down the race or boast about whatever they have going on in their life.
It was a long and busy day and I hit the hey at approximately 1pm only to get up at 4:30am unable to sleep. I went out for one last run in Kona, before packing up to head home. The sun and heat actually felt good and I did a ton of uphill running.
I'll post some afterthoughts tomorrow.