Plans derail, but determination prevails – Part one

It was a cold January afternoon when I made the commitment to a destination training week in Kona, Hawaii. I would eat, live, and breathe triathlon on a ruthless training schedule that would entail multiple six plus hour rides along the grueling lava fields while enduring fierce winds, open ocean water swims, pool speed sessions, and heat-searing-off the pavement runs. As an age-group triathlete, this kind of training schedule away from the demands of everyday life and work is an amazing opportunity, especially in a place like Kona – home of the Ironman World Championships. Unfortunately, one week before my trip, I wrecked my knee and all my plans came to a grinding halt. That’s the reality of life though, sometimes things don’t go as planned. At least I could swim, and maybe even perhaps I could attempt some light cycling. All was not lost. So, with Chrissie Wellington’s book, “A Life Without Limits” tucked under my arm, and suitcase in tow, I boarded the plane. The next morning, I awoke in Hawaii to the sounds of chirping birds, the damp warmth of tropical air, and the intoxicating scent of the ocean – this was exactly where I needed to be.
That morning I walked down to the official location of the Ironman swim start and run finish along Alli’i Drive. To walk the streets where legends of my sport were made, is a moment I’ll never forget. From Julie Moss’s gutsy finish line crawl, to the battle between Mark Allen and Dave Scott, Paula Newby-Fraser’s eight titles, to the unknown Chrissie Wellington’s first world champion win, and Mirinda Carfrae’s world record marathon finish, this place was where the impossible happened.
For the next couple hours, I simply walked up and down the strip soaking in the warm sun and the thinking of the dreams that had been realized right there on that pavement. I thought of my friend, Melissa, who had qualified to race here twice before. I thought of her and all the other thousands of athletes, who, through hard work, relentlessness determination, and sacrifice, did what so many of us can only dream of accomplishing; earning their spot to race in the Ironman world championships.
As I leaned out over the rock seawall, I stared off into the horizon of the Kailua-Kona bay, and with a deep sigh turned to walk back home. Tomorrow, I would do the one thing my knee still allowed me to, and swim in that bay of dreams.


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