So here begins a few of the Kona recaps. What I found to be the coolest thing about the Ironman race series is that many of the pros had corporate lives before they began competing.
If you still dream about becoming an athlete, this sport proves you’re never too old! Throughout my series of posts, I’m going to be sharing how ordinary people go from the casual, biker, swimmer or runner into a sponsored athlete despite only starting the sport in adulthood!
Wednesday night, the Timex Ambassadors were invited to a VIP cocktail reception held at a Hawaiian palace. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. The entire race was very centered around the local culture and history. Each banquet and big event had cultural dancing and music which was crazy cool.
At the swim start, athletes and spectators were allowed to use the course for leisure swimming and or training. I bought a one piece but decided against it after day 1. I did bring my pink goggles and ear plug. Yes, I have to wear an ear plug thanks to a tube I once had in my ear. I haven’t done “laps” in years and I was eager to try it in the open water for the first time.
Ryan, the editor for Stride Nation, brought along his GoPro for the swim. Ryan has competed in a few triathlons and was a strong swimmer. I took swimming lessons from 6-13 years old, but having been away from the calisthenic for so long I struggled to keep up with the gang. My slower pace didn’t help the fact that I kept stopping to take pictures of the fish. Literally, when you swim the course at Kona, this is what you are looking down at. You can see the bottom the entire time.
At the third buoy (about 1/2 mile), we stopped for some photos. What else is an underwater camera good for?
Jackie, below, is a professional triathlete who is amazing at the Ironman distance. She was injured part of this year and wasn’t competing at Kona but was still training for a race in Florida in two more weeks. She shared with me one of her favorite water workouts that I’ll be uploading to YouTube tomorrow! It was simple but seriously hard.
When Jackie graduated college she was offered a job as a fitness director on a cruise ship. She sometimes wonders what her life would be like had she taken that job. A collegiate swimmer and cross country swimmer, she casually competed in triathlons while working as a pharmaceutical scientist and at 23 years old, she attempted her first Ironman as means to stay in shape during Wisconsin winters. She came in first in her age group and set the record to boot!
After a few more successful finishes, she applied to become a Timex sponsored amateur. As an amateur, you don’t get paid to train but you do get connected with other sponsors who help provide equipment, training guidance, and teammates. Regularly racing and coming in on top for the next 3 years, she finally went pro in 2011 and is now a full time sponsored triathlete. She has competed twice in Kona, coming in 2nd in her age group her first year! When you go pro, you don’t compete in your age group as an fyi. Due to a flat tire, she was the 22nd female pro to cross the finish line her second year.
We swam a few days out in Kona reminding me of how much I love to be in the water. I will admit the lack of flip turns, warm water and colorful fish made the experience a little bit easier but it gave me the confidence that I can swim in the ocean freestyle if I were to attempt a triathlon.
Another social ambassador on our trip, Ken Chin, competed in his first Ironman this past winter in Wisconsin. He learned how to swim just a year before competing. Triathlons are not about being the best in every portion of the race but holding your own in your weakest. Biking is probably my weakest leg.
Have you competed in a triathlon before? If not what is holding you back?
Mine is the bike portion. I don’t have one and I hate spinning. I love to swim and run though.