I guess I need to start with a little clarification. I had an amazing time in Kona that was not ruined by the actions of a few. What I was intending to highlight was that there was more of that sort of ‘ego’ at Kona than I had noticed at other races. Kona really was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I wish the course was a little more spectator friendly but apart from being allowed to follow along next to the pros all day, I was never really going to be happy with not watching it online.
There were some really special moments for me in Kona. I think the first was obviously having Dez arrive after not seeing her in a week. But I had a swim where I was doing a triangle course of different paces and after my 3rdset a woman waved me over and asked, “do you know you’re being followed?” 3 dolphins had been swimming along following me. I will admit this freaked me out and I swam back to shore but on my last swim in Kona a pod of about 20 of them were swimming all around me. It honestly brought tears to my eyes (not because I was scared!)
I also tried to squeeze in a run on race day and did a sneaky 5km out and back along Ali’i Drive. I genuinely messed up my timing because I did not want to be jogging along when the leaders came past but running along Ali’i with Frodo for the handful of metres I did was INSANELY cool! Then there were all the people I got to meet for the first time or catch up with again and seeing all of my friends who were racing crush their races was also inspiring and rewarding.
So, I know the question that has been hounding me for nearly two weeks is the ‘elephant’ in the room and it is only appropriate that I take the time to write it here, so it is on the internet forever.
Do I now want to race Kona?
I have been pestered about Iron Man for as long as I have been a triathlete. “Go on Tim, you’ve got to do one!”, “You’re not a real triathlete if you haven’t done an Iron Man” or my favourite of all “It’s only a half-ironman!” I have never even been tempted. I have swum 4km in the Open water (I know it is 3.8km). I have ridden well over 180km and yes, I have even run a marathon! The truth is, with the exception of the bike, I didn't really enjoy any of them and the thought of doing them back to back to back not only doesn't appeal to me. It scares the FUCK out of me.
Here’s the thing, I could never just do an Iron Man. Unless someone said, “hey Tim I have a slot for this Iron Man on Sunday, do you want it?” (I would actually love that because it is probably the only way, I could do one zero pressure). I am not that guy. I can never just go through the motions. Despite my best intentions, when that gun goes, I am possessed by the spirits of the great want to be athletes who came before me. I have to give it my all. I would feel that I have to go sub 10 hours on debut. I would feel I need to try and qualify for Kona at my first Iron Man and whether it is true or not, those expectations would mean that I would be so stressed and so highly strung about goals that are extremely unlikely, I would ultimately end up disappointed.
So, I kept getting told, once you see Kona you will want to do it. I have now trained on 95% of the Kona course. I have swum in the bay. I rode up to Hawi and back. I experienced the winds on the Queen K and ran along Ali’i and in and out of the Energy Lab. The truth is that the course sucks. It is a boring, shitty course. The real appeal of Kona is the history and the class of the field. I have now watched the 2010 highlights of Macca winning because I now understand where it all happened. I understand why some people walk up Palani and I understand why it is the longest finish chute in sport.
So back to the whole point of this post. Now that I have experienced Kona do, I want to do it? Can I say maybe? I still do not have a burning desire for it. I think the race would actually be horrific. I saw athletes I idolise in the absolute hurt locker on Saturday and I thought to myself “no fucking way” but then I also saw them at the finish line. One of my mates who I look up to a lot, Charles, was so pumped in the finish chute I couldn't help but think “yeah I want to do this.” So, where does this leave me? I think if I am 100% honest with you all and myself my opinion has changed. I now think I probably will do an Iron Man. I still don't particularly want to; I have not planned one and if I ever do, I will keep it bloody secret. I have gone from thinking I could never do one to thinking, yeah, I probably could.
STAY CALM! This does not mean I am rushing out to sign up for IMOZ or anything like that. It just means I have had a shift in my mindset from never to maybe.
At the end of the day, it isn’t how long the race is or how fast you do it that makes you a triathlete. That shit just matters to wankers like me. Triathletes are any person who does a swim, a bike and a run. If anyone ever tries to make you feel like you are less of an athlete because you haven’t done an Iron Man or a 70.3 tell them to fuck off and remind them that it isn’t the length that matters… It's how you race it ;-)
Maybe means maybe and remember to TRI!