The Ironman distance consists of a 2.6 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile (marathon) run. The reason I provide this brief history is because you would not believe the amount of people who don't know this stuff. A common question from those unfamiliar with triathlon is "Did you do a full triathlon?" The term "full" triathlon means nothing. Each triathlon is "full" in its given distance. What those people usually mean is, "Have you done a full Ironman distance?" Even a sprint distance (400 meter swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run) can be pretty taxing. I admire anyone who does any distance triathlon. But people who have no clue about triathlon get this glossed look over their eyes when you tell them you've "only" done a sprint or Olympic or even a Half-Ironman. The look says, "Oh, so you haven't done an Ironman ... pansy!" Kulani no longer has to endure that look. Because from here on out when someone asks him whether he's done a "full" triathlon, the answer will be "yes" no matter what they mean by that question.
Kulani really has to answer why he did the Ironman for himself. But I don't regret encouraging him to go for it. It was great fun being there together as a family cheering him on. Watching the athletes come out of the water, off the bike, and into the finish line was so inspiring. The look on the athletes' faces made it so worth it. The great thing about triathlon is that the very serious athletes are in the same race as the 76-year-old man recovering from open-heart surgery. It's like being in a basketball game with Michael Jordan. The big-wigs are still approachable and encouraging fellow competitors to the finish line.
I watched one 50-year-old lady cross the finish line with a smile so big I thought it was going to stretch to her ears. After she crossed the line she brought her hands to her face and wept with joy. Another old guy crossed the finish line with his granddaughter. His shirt read "Irongeezer." Bleachers line the finishing stretch and even 16 hours after the race has started, spectators are cheering their loved ones on to the finish line: giving high fives and cheering loudly. Ironman even sets up a big jumbotron to watch the finishers. You don't really care how or when your loved one finishes, you're just so proud to see them finish at all. I honestly don't think I could finish in the designated time. (You have to finish within 17 hours or you aren't officially a finisher.) I was just in awe of everyone, especially Kulani.
You see, I nudged Kulani away from his precious cycling into the pain world of triathlon. After watching me train and compete, he decided he'd join me. I watched him on his first day of swimming in the gym as he flopped his arms in a somewhat circular motion that propelled his body slowly and awkwardly down the swimming pool lane. He was done after about two laps. He improved rather swiftly, actually teaching himself how to swim better by reading books on the subject. And now he regularly laps me in the pool. He had his fastest swim finish ever at Ironman Arizona. He also hates running. Running isn't very easy on the heftier guys. But the Perseverating Pineapple persevered to this finish:
It was awesome to behold.