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A quick technical note: For those of you who received yesterday’s post entitled “Starstruck” by email, you may have experienced not seeing the photos in that email. The email has a link that takes you to the web page. “If there are problems with how this message is displayed, click here to view it in a web browser.” By all means, if you did not get the photos, click the link. The photos with Chrissie Wellington and Mark Allen were the neatest part of that post. You can also go to wordpress.com and search for my blog, scottross34, and view the photos there.

Yesterday at the expo, Margy and I were registering for a chance to win an entry into an Ironman Asia-Pacific event. A man walked up to the booth and looked familiar. He had dark hair, stood about 5’9″ tall, wore plastic-rimmed glasses that made him appear studious and featured a trim, athletic build. Suddenly, I remembered where we had met. He and I had qualified for Kona last year at Madison in the same age group. I reached out to shake his hand. He offered his left hand instead and we shook. He spoke with a German accent. Then I noticed his shoulders. He was bound in a tight, bracing wrap that is used to set collarbones.

“I was riding along and just not paying that much attention when suddenly I rode off the road and crashed on the rocks,” he said. “I am very lucky, though, not to be dead or a quadriplegic. It could have been much worse than it was.”

I thought that was a pretty philosophical response to an extremely disappointing turn of events. He had flown all the way from Germany to compete for his first time at the Ironman World Championship and crashed out a week before the race even began. I told him that I would not be so philosophical as he was about this. He assured me that for the first two days after the accident, he was not philosophical either.

His name is Volker Weisbach and he is a doctor who specializes in transfusion medicine and anaesthesiology. I couldn’t have felt worse for him. We parted with him wishing me the best of luck. Now I had met both the fourth and second finishers in my age group at Madison last year.

This morning, I woke up for the first time around 2:30 again and woke for good at around 4:30. I knew that the practice swim in Kailua Bay would start around 5:45. It was a long time to wait, which of course, allowed me plenty of time to fret.

At a little after 6:00, Margy and I went down to the practice swim area. I checked in my gear. I would be the eighth person into the Bay. It was my first chance to swim in the spot that I had dreamed about. I went down the steps and waded in. The water was cool. The sun had not yet peeked over the eastern horizon. The water’s surface was calm, the sky light gray. My first strokes felt smooth and long. With each succeeding stroke, my worries faded and I felt very much at home. My breathing slowed a bit and I established a rhythm.

Swimming in the ocean is different and not all that easy. Sometimes I would swim and see the ocean bottom stand still. Then a wave would push me from behind and I would race ahead, only to slow again a moment later.

Once out of the water, I got a quick adjustment from the ART (active release therapy) people before heading over to the Underpants Run. The Underpants Run began as a satirical response to the European Ironman athletes who felt perfectly comfortable in Kona wearing their Speedos everywhere – to the convenience store, gas station, restaurants, etc. So some prominent pros started the Underpants Run to make fun of the banana hammock (not my term) crowd.

At 8:00 a.m. a huge thong throng showed up in downtown Kona in their underpants, tighty-whiteys preferred. Margy will post here later to give her unique perspective as a spouse watching her husband re-enact that horrifying dream of showing up on the first day of school in nothing but my underwear. (Actually, in the dream, I don’t wear neon yellow running shoes or have so much company.)

Here is what I looked like before the 1.2 mile run:

Mind you, this picture was taken by my wife. I can hear Katie all the way from Maine saying, “Oh Dad, no!”

It gets worse.

See, I told you.

Margy left to find a spot to take more photos on the run course. I was a bit concerned that she was booking the next flight for the Mainland.

Then I saw Volker again. He was in his underwear and his collarbone brace. He had a big bruise on his chest. (That’s not a shadow in the photo; that’s the bruise.) He couldn’t run but he could walk. It felt right to walk with him rather than run. We walked and talked and I was once again reassured about how nice most Ironman competitors are – at least by the time they reach our age.

Margy plans to post to my blog to give you her current impressions and to keep people updated on Saturday. What she will be unable to do, however, is to let you know just how completely impossible our trip to Kona would be without her support in ways that I can’t even begin to enumerate. Whether it is my non-negotiable early morning workouts, dietary peculiarities, travel arrangements for all triathlons, world class navigational support at Ironman Wisconsin (38 separate sitings last year during the race thanks to Margy) or her steadfast support as my wife, I simply cannot thank her enough. I have gotten support from many people, all of which I value more than I can say but some people have chipped in more than others and nobody more than Margy. All my love.

Stay tuned for Margy’s post later today. Enough of me bare-chested and in underwear for now, probably forever.

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3 Comments

    • An upset daughter
    • Posted October 11, 2012 at 7:45 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Oh no no no no no!!

  1. Well played Scott!

  2. You are very brave indeed. (I washed my eyes out with a strong detergent and am now hoping they stop burning soon.) I will be thinking about you and your awesome Ironman Championship endeavor tomorrow. Best of luck, my friend! Bob Boisvert


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