Michael Wasserman's dream to race in KONA comes true!
Racing in the Ironman World Championship in Kona is like playing in the Super Bowl. Ever since I saw Julie Moss crawl across the finish line in 1982, this has been a dream of mine. It was everything I thought it would be, and more! Meeting Ironman legends, both professional and amateur, during the week prior to the race was just the beginning. Race day was an incredible experience. Since I started an hour after the pros, I actually had a front row seat to seeing the pros come out of the water! The water was a little choppier than normal, but the non-wetsuit swim in the clear waters of the Pacific Ocean was awesome! I actually found myself swimming with a pack of athletes for the first half of the swim. Coming out of the water was an awesome feeling by itself. The bike was hot and windy. I heard of at least a few people who were blown off the road. In the end, all I can say was, I was cycling in Kona!
The run was an awesome experience. The first several miles of the run are in town, with good spectator support. But Kona isn't about the spectators, it's about the iconic nature of the course and the experience. Once you get out on the Queen K, there really aren't many people around. It's hot, but it's Hawaii. I was incredibly neurotic all day to stay hydrated, and to be as cool as possible. From that perspective, this was one of my most successful races. I kept my nutrition and hydration despite the conditions. It was dark by the second half of my run, but I had enough in the tank to run the last mile. There's no finishing chute like Kona, and it was an awesome feeling to come to the finish line, knowing that I'd fulfilled a life long dream!
On a side note, my passion for Ironman is grounded in my desire to promote the importance of staying fit as we age. During the run, I was passed by three 75 year old men, and it was an honor to be out there with them. In fact, as I came to the finish line, there was a 75 year old just ahead of me. He told me to pass him, but that just didn't seem right. You can see him in front of me at the finish. Right after the finish, I made of point of patting him on the back. I think I was more proud of what he did, than what I did!