As Wednesdays are sometimes referred to as “hump day”, so Key Biscayne had emerged as the “hump race” prior to the Memorial Day weekend break. At week 8, it was the first time since week 2 that I was traveling alone, with no plan of friends to meet. Week 9 has all kinds of excitement associated with it – so I just needed to get over the hump.
I arrived late Friday night and had to wait 45 minutes at Hertz for a car. (So far both times I've rented from Hertz I've had long waits…just sayin’). That made for a pretty late arrival to the hotel, but since I didn’t have much scheduled for Saturday beyond buiding the bike and a pre-race workout, it wasn’t a huge deal.
Saturday morning, I met up with the race director, James, at the race venue. Previewing the course, I realized that this would be the first ocean swim I would do in an XTERRA event. That was pretty neat. Afterwards, I followed James over to his bike shop where I was able to build the bike. (an environment much more suitable to the task than a hotel room floor or parking lot). At the shop I had the opportunity to meet a bunch of the local guys and tried to get as much intel as possible. I knew I might be in for a little trouble when James asked me how good I am at Spanish (um…not good…at all.) Thankfully it turned out to be not much of a problem, and they gave me some great tips.
When the chores were done, I headed over to the hotel to check in and relax for the rest of the day. While there, I was able to coninue working on another project associated with my journey. After the great experience with Don Young and his family at XTERRA Renegade (Week 3 in southern California), Don had mentioned how cool it would be if he could win the lottery and travel to Hawaii for the World Championship race in October. Well, with the help of my mom and a lot of other great people, Don may not have to spend his dollars on lottery tickets.
My mom, Molly, is one of those people who knows everyone and whom everyone loves. She is very involved in both her church and the community and is always willing to go the extra mile to help someone out. So the timing of this story is very appropriate, since XTERRA Key Biscayne was on Mother's Day.
|Mom & Dad (Molly & Ken) |
with 4 of their amazing grandkids in '09
My mom has become good friends on Facebook with Don and knew of his desire to go to Hawaii. Since my parents have been going to Maui every winter for the last 15 years, they know a lot of people who own condos over there. Knowing that lodging is one of the biggest expenses of any trip, she set about figuring out how to take care of that little hurdle for the Youngs. In no time at all, she had talked to her friends, the Douglass, and they generously agreed to let the Young's use their condo for a week in October. So – just like that – we had accommodations (I love you Mom!). The next step is to work on airfare and a handicap accessible van for the week.
A few days prior, I had called Don to ask him if he would be willing and able to go, if we were able to put together all the pieces. He said, "I'd love to go but I don't want to get Deanna's hopes up until we know for sure we can make this happen.” Perfectly understandable. I then called Mike Copelan (he was also with the us at XTERRA Renegade) and asked him if he would be willing to contact a bunch of our old high school classmates to see if others would be willing to pitch in and make the trip happen. He agreed that it was a good idea and promised to work on it.
The next day, I got a text from Don saying that the cat was out of the bag and that Deanna had caught wind of the whole idea. He mentioned that three classmates were working on it. As I thought about it, I started to think that things just don't move that fast. Could it be possible that there were two fronts working on the same thing? The cat may be out of the bag, but I was beginning to realize that it might be a different cat. Sure enough, that is exactly what was happening. So Saturday afternoon I called Jeff Yamada, one of the three people that Don had mentioned. Jeff confirmed that a plan to get the Youngs to Hawaii had been in the works for about a month. How great is that? All we needed to do was unify the fronts. So as of Mother’s Day weekend, there is an official movement with the Villa Park HS Class of 1982 working together to help out one of our family.
Back to the race - Sunday morning, I arrived at the beach before sunrise and began to set up. While I was waiting for the start of the race I met Benjamin Dillion, who is serving in the Navy, stationed at Pensacola. (He told me what he did, but I forgot. It has something to do with flying. I should know this, since my son is in the military.) Key Biscayne was Ben’s third week in a row of racing at the same events I’ve done - and did both the epic and Gator Terra last week (so actually 4 races in 3 weeks). To top it off he will be doing the Southeast Championships next week in Alabama. He is trying to secure a slot for worlds (see, everyone wants to make it to Hawaii!). Last year, he qualified for Worlds while stationed in Guam, so he wants to go back. We talked for quite awhile and I gave him the standard invitation to come to Colorado and do a race with me. I think there might be a good chance he will take me up on my offer.
The race was a new experience in a couple of ways. First, swimming in the ocean is much different than swimming in a lake, but it was fun. Second, about halfway into the run portion of the triathlon we came to a lagoon. The only way to get to the other side was to swim. I’m familiar with water crossings where you have wade through, but have never had to actually get down and swim with running shoes, visor and glasses on. It was a pretty cool feature, but the combination of sand and wet shoes did a number on my feet. Oh well. I made it over the hump - 8 down and 16 to go. I have about three days to heal up before we’re off to Alabama. The Southeast Championship race promises to be memorable weekend as we will meet up with a bunch of new friends and all of the great people who run XTERRA.