In short, Joe Friel sets the pace the rest of us might aspire to, lives life with honor and hard work, is true to his athletes, true to his family, true his team.
So, to Joe Friel I dedicate this 500th blog.
|Super coach Joe Friel (L) encouraging course record holder Bob Scott in Kona|
"It's going to be a Hard Day's Night." The Beatles
We're 40 days till the cannon blast signals the start of the Ironman World Championship. The athletes who are racing this year are beginning to struggle with the upcoming need to think about tapering, opposing that intense internal drive to get every bit of training they can out of every day. It can be as much as 20, 25, even 30 or more hours per week. Age groupers too! For the first timers on the Hawaii course there are so many questions involving bike transportation, accommodations, training on the island, heat acclimation, and learning as absolutely much as possible about the race and it's conditions to ensure they're in the annually expected 93% who finish the event instead of the handful who don't.
I think the biggest mistake that newcomers make is that in spite of spending 7, 8, 10 or more days on the Big Island, they don't get it. They are so focused on the race that although they finish well on Saturday, it's "mission accomplished," so to speak, they've totally missed the Hawaiian feeling of Ohana (family) or the spirit of Aloha. And, for those who've brought family and friends, they've learned little to nothing about this wonderful place as they become consumed with Ironman.
To be fair, it's this goal oriented behavior that got them here, but with actual pre-race training at a minimum now, there are frequent opportunities to learn and entertain while in Kona. Having been there 20 times, here are ten suggestions to ensure both the best race and the best experience for racer and family alike. Some for you, some for the family...and some for the family to give them something to do other than watch you obsess over the race.
1. On Sunday, a week before the race, are the light hearted PATH 5K and 10K runs. They benefit the Peoples Advocacy For Trails Hawaii. It's a non-profit in West Hawaii that teaches elementary kids safe cycling. Could there be a better use of you tax deductible entry? And it gets the family in the Big Island mood.
2. Eat at some place different every day. Splashers, Kona Inn, Fish Hopper, Jackie Rey's, Lulu's, Lava Java, they all have something good to offer. If you really like raw fish, Da Poke Shack on Alii Drive gets rave reviews.
3. Most peoples training plans are in full taper mode with which I agree. But I'd suggest you start most days with a short swim on the race course. And I'd do it at 6:50 am if I were an age group male, 7 am if I were an age group female since that's when you'll start on Saturday given the time changes for 2014 and 2015. You can judge the position of the sun, estimate the surf, pick distant objects upon which to sight off, etc. You don't have to swim a lot but it's fun, it's social, and where else can you swim out to a floating coffee bar Tuesday through Friday?
4. Everyone, and I mean everyone, runs the Underpants Run on Thursday, 8am, King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. http://www.underpantsrun.org/ Register on line or at the Ironman Expo...and bring a camera. It's less than 2K at about a 10min/mile pace...when you can stop laughing. Bring a special hat or mask. One guy was Elvis a couple years ago and it worked.
6. Say hello to some one you don't know every day. And, if they're having a little trouble since English isn't their first language, take a breath and see if you can work it out. It just takes a little patience to be a good ambassador. And besides, it's fun.
7. Get with someone who has a rent-a-car and view every inch of the race course. You might have to omit the two mile out and back in the energy lab, NELH (Or if you're really compulsive you could take the tour and see parts of it.) I think you want no surprises on Saturday. And you can have lunch in Hawi. It's really nice.
8. Be patient and kind to the people of Kona - this is their home we're invading.
9. On Saturday, say THANK YOU to every race volunteer you encounter. And every policeman.
10. And finally, when you get to the post-race area, don't be in a hurry to leave. Lots to see and do from finisher's medals, food of many types, pictures, etc. Since many of you will leave Hawaii in the next 24 hours or so, and because of the stress your legs have endured and overall dehydration, understand that you are at risk for developing blood clots in your legs. The best thing is prevention where your efforts at hydration begin now and continue until you reach your destination by air. When on the plane, don't just sit or sleep please. Get up every couple hours, walk around, use those leg muscles - especially the calves - till you arrive home. It'll pay off.