Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Kona Trip Report - USAT Coaching Clinic

First thing I see in Kona
I’ve just come back from my USAT Level One Coaching Clinic and the Ironman World Championship and I am so glad I went.

The coaching clinic was very helpful in several ways. Mostly it really built up my confidence that I actually do know what I’m doing when it comes to coaching. This is because most of what they went over is information I already knew.

This doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything. I learned a ton. But what was most helpful about it was to see everything in one place and condensed. It gave me a big picture of all the little tidbits that I had been picking up here and there.

Another plus is that there are many areas where I had kind of stumbled onto solutions that worked for me but didn't know why. Now I have some science to back up my instincts. Finally, I got some gaps in my knowledge filled in and that's always good.

In order to keep my credential current, I need to complete 15 CEUs in the next two years. There are a ton of ways I can do that including becoming a Total Immersion coach and getting my Lifeguarding certificate. I had planned to get certified at a Lifeguard anyway this Spring so that works out! I also want to be a TI coach some day but probably not this year and maybe not even next year.

That’s okay, because I also want to get some sort of certification in Nutrition. I’m not sure what the choices are but I want some sort of credential so that when people have a hissy fit when I tell them that they shouldn’t be taking this or that form of calcium or that the current lab ranges of Vitamin D and B12 don’t match the current research and they say “well my SURGEON says … and he’s a doctor, who are you?” I can say I am a certified blah-blah-blah in Nutrition and doctors get one nutrition class in med school, if they are lucky, so there!

And if I can get CEUs towards my coaching renewal for it, all the better.

But I digress.

The point is, the clinic was great. Very helpful. Lots of good materials that I can refer back to. Now I just have to take the written exam and upload my CPR certificate and I can say I’m a Level One coach. Whee!

I went to Kona with my mom. She’s fun to travel with and she likes to spectate at Ironmans so I figured it would be more fun to have her there than being on my own.

While I was at the clinic, she amused herself at the Fairmont Orchid by taking classes and hiking. She did yoga and pilates on the beach the first day but the second day she did yoga on a paddleboard, out on the ocean. And she didn’t fall in.

It's days later and I am still impressed.

We missed the Underpants run and a lot of the Kona madness due to being out in Waimea on Wed. and Thurs. I did get to experience some of the Expo on Tues. when I first got there.

In fact, just getting to Kona was an adventure in itself.

First, I was up until 2 am the night before getting my cell phone back the way it was before it died and I had to get a new one. Then I had to get up at 4:00 am to go the airport! At the airport, they took my bike box right away. I had to use the double wide because I couldn't get the pedals off my bike even though I bought a special pedal wrench on the way home from work.

Then, I'm sitting in the airport and I am looking at my boarding pass and it's just to Maui, not to Kona. I ask and I'm told when I get to Maui, I have to fetch my luggage and schlep it over to the commuter terminal. 

I look at the confirmation for my tickets and it says the commuter plane is a Cessna. I am not up on all the differences in the various kinds of planes but I am pretty sure that a Cessna is really, really small. My bike box is as big as I am! So I go to the company's website and it says luggage has to be less than 45". I don't know exactly how big my bike box is but I am pretty sure it's 50-something inches.

Oh well, I think. I'll be at an airport. How hard will it be to get my box to Kona? At worst, I can ship it air cargo or something.

Unpacking the bike at the first hotel
I get to Maui and there is luggage strewn all over the carousal which is not moving. Not my luggage. But some luggage. Lots of consultation back and forth on the radio and then luggage starts coming out on the carousal next to it. Not my luggage though. Then luggage comes out on the broken carousal but when it hits the part that goes around in a circle, it's still not moving, so they are manually throwing stuff from the top shoot to the ground. Not my luggage though.

Finally, I ask about it and I'm told my luggage was checked straight through and it's at the commuter terminal. So I rush over and go to check in and they say "oh, it's you." I look sheepish. "Your box is NOT going to fit on our plane." We start to talk about my options when another guy shows up all in a huff. His bike box (which is smaller than mine) also won't fit on the plane. 

This is ridiculous, he huffs. He's racing and all stressed, but I think it's hysterically funny. I also think that if I was racing in the World Championships, I would have researched the crap out of how to get my bike to the islands and not blamed it on the airlines. But I tell them to take care of that guy and then we can take care of me. I'm in no hurry and don't need to be in Kona until 7:30 pm when I have to pick up my mom.

That guy is able to get his stuff on the plane by taking the bike out of the box and putting it one of the pods and the box is a soft-sided one so he can squish it up and get it into another pod or in the back of the plane or something. He does that with the plane that is there and takes off early. I'm still laughing. At him, but also at the situation.

I am talking with the gals about my options. I can't take the box back to Alaska Airlines and say "you sold me these tickets, get my bike to Kona" because apparently I have to travel with it. I could travel standby on another airline with bigger planes but they think it will be "too expensive" and the same with using air cargo. I can take the bike out of the box and bring just it with me and leave the box there but I'm not coming back through Maui on the way home, so that means just abandoning it altogether and having to figure out how to get the back from Kona without a bike box.

Doesn't fit in the car
So they call another airline and do some sort of airline to airline magic transfer cargo thing. This means the gal has to walk the box over to Hawaiian airlines herself as it has to be an airline personnel and not me and they are super busy but she manages it.

I'm saved! I even make my original flight! (I was going to take a later one so I didn't leave them holding the bag, so to speak.)

I get to Kona, get my rental car and ... the box doesn't fit into the back seat like I'd planned for. Hmm. 

I think it actually does fit back there. The problem is that it doesn't fit through the back door. I think the single-wide might have. But maybe not. It wasn't clear as it might have been too tall. I end up shoving it into the trunk where the back half is hanging out. But it's wedged in pretty good and gravity is forcing it down not up. I simulate hitting bumps and stuff and it's not moving at all. I figure I'm not that far from my hotel so if I go really slow ... I take one of the straps that goes around the box and use that to tie the hood down so it's not flapping in the wind and take off.

So far so good... I can even kind of see out the back. I'm half way to my hotel and ... it starts raining!

I get to the hotel, check in, get to my room, start unpacking the box and I find... TSA had opened it and not put any of the latches back! The top was held on only with the straps -- one of which I'd taken off to hold down the trunk -- and 1 of the 4 latches! Oops.

Then I start putting the bike back together and I can't find the skewer that holds the handlebars in place. I look everywhere but it's just not there. Arrrrggghhhh! I call Mr. Mac -- who packed the box -- in a tizzy and mad as a hatter and he SWEARS he put it in there but he didn't wrap it up in anything so it was just rolling around loose and there is a big crack in the bottom of the box and a bigger hole at one end of the crack so ... maybe it fell out? Or maybe TSA took it out and forgot to put it back? Or maybe it's at home and he never put it in even though he swears he did.

However it happened, I have a bike in Kona that I can't ride. After all that!

Driving through Kona with the trunk ajar
But at this point, I am determined. I mean after all that I have to ride the Queen K, right?! So in my coaching class there is a gal from Kona and I ask her for a bike shop recommendation and it turns out there is a real bike shop just 2 miles from the hotel that's open late. So I go down there and they replace the whole stem and I pick up some other stuff I forgot to pack and it's all good.

Now we just need to get through the race...
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