Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2012 Ironman World Championship - Kailua-Kona, Hawaiʻi

Since I already broke the news on Facebook and Twitter, this blog entry won't be such a surprise to most. [Drum roll]..I landed a entry to Kona in the general lottery!!! (as opposed to the new legacy lottery).

I want to rewind for a few minutes and bring us back to January, 2012. I'm sitting on the sofa with my wife and we are having a conversation about the financial impact of Ironman racing. We did some quick math to estimate how much we spent in 2011 for 70.3 Phuket, Singapore and Taiwan and Ironman France. Flights, hotels, meals, entry fees, equipment purchases, bike maintenance****sigh******$$$$$$$. We agreed on a plan to bring our budget back to health that, conceptually, is similar to the way antibiotics are taken: start with a high dose to kick-start recovery and then maintain a reasonable dosage over time. We agreed that with the exception of 70.3 Singapore that I had already entered, I would not do any other international triathlon in 2012, UNLESS, by some random crazy strike of luck my name was drawn in the Kona lottery. We both figured that my chances of winning were like those of throwing a quarter in a vending machine coin-slot from 100m away. No-brainer, deal done: time to focus on work and family and let triathlon take a back seat for the year. I still planned on training but nothing more than an hour a day.

Fast forward to April 15. The lottery results were announced at midnight while I was sound asleep. I knew the drawing was taking place but didn't bother to stay awake since I didn't have any real faith that my name would be drawn. I woke up in the morning and stumbled toward the coffee machine as usual. On the way down the dark hallway, I hit the power button on my iPhone and was semi-blinded by the light but saw a Facebook update on my lock screen. I saw the words "congrats" and "Kona" in the middle of blah blah blah blah and I thought to myself, "yeah..right." I decided to put the phone down because it was killing my eyes and focused on getting a cup of coffee.  As the machine grinded the beans I started to wake up and think more about Kona. My first thought was, "if I'm in, my wife will be pissed!" and then I thought, "In? Kona? Me?, Crowie, Stadler, Dave, Mark, Chrissie, Carfrae, Cave, Steffen, LANCE, Macca, Steph, Ellis, Lieto, Marino, Granger, Raelert, Jacobs, Dirk, Timo, Tissink, Faris, Henning, Potts, Joyce, Catriona, Amanda, ...the Mecca of Triathlon...and me?!". Third thought, "Where the hell is my laptop?"  The beans finish grinding and the coffee starts to dribble into my cup. 

I grabbed my coffee and flipped open the computer.  I browsed through a few congratulatory messages I received on Facebook and then when to to confirm myself that I was in fact a lottery winner.  I scrolled up and down the list of names several times but in my general state of anxiety failed to recognize my own name.  Finally I ran a text search and voila!--found my name.  So much for our savings plan.  The Ironman mantra "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE" is sooooooo true!

A couple of days later I received the confirmation email from the WTC that included instructions on registering for the race.  I immediately signed up, paid the $750 entry fee and emailed my recent 70.3 results to validate my entry. Done, done and done.  Next stop Kona.

I know that there are mixed views in the triathlon community regarding the Kona lottery.  The lottery was created in 1983 with the intention of opening up a window of opportunity for a lucky few to experience the championship event.  While there are many that support this program and believe that it is good for the promotion of the sport, others feel that Kona should be exclusively limited to athletes that have qualified through competition thereby creating a pure championship event with only the world's best Iron distance triathletes.  Professional triathletes also have an interest in keeping the size of the field as small as possible so that they can race more effectively over an uncrowded course.  I have been on the fence with this issue for quite some time but I think I am leaning more toward the idea that the World Championship race should be among the best that qualified to be there through competition.  Does this mean I would consider abandoning my lottery slot? Oh hell no.  I have the utmost respect and admiration for the professionals that race to feed themselves and the age-groupers that qualified through blood, sweat and tears.  As such I have every intention of redeeming my "backdoor entry" into this Championship by finishing in a time competitive with the real qualifiers in the 35-39 age group.  Enough said on that.  It is time to talk with my feet.

I added Kona to my schedule at and generated my training plan specifically periodized to have me in top form by October 13th.  Training for this race will not be so simple as I will moving from Hong Kong to London in late May or early June.  International moves are a pain in the butt and I will need to carefully fit in my training around a gazillion other important priorities.  Again, anything is possible, provided one is sufficiently determined and focused.  The question I have yet to answer is, which flag or combination of flags should I carry across the finish?

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