And So IM Here
This is a major event here on the Island of Lanzarote. As I was standing at the airport waiting for my bike, along with forty other triathletes, I heard someone ask what is going on. The couple to speak up and answer this silly question was the least expecting of the people around. An old Irish couple quickly chimed in, “it’s the Ironman! It is here every year this time and next weekend it the race. We come here every year to watch.” The one in question looked a little confused by this elder couple who seemed as excited as the ones who were eagerly awaiting their bike, as they continued, “it is the most amazing thing you will ever see.”
So this couple comes to Lanzarote every year on holiday to watch me and a couple thousand crazy people put themselves through hell and back and think it is amazing? I think I might be more impressed with them than with myself who is doing the challenge. But I became even more excited.
It is different here; triathletes everywhere mixed with obvious holiday seekers. Swimming, biking and running at all hours of the day. My view of it is spectacular – booking only ten weeks out from the event, I was lucky enough to find a apartment-hotel sitting right on the finish line for $300 USD total for 7 nights. My apartment is clean, where I have a full kitchen, living room, and bedroom with two beds, with the only catch of there being no air conditioning. Oh, but did I forget to say, that as I write this I am sitting on my balcony that overlooks the ocean and the Ironman finish line. The cross breeze is good enough to keep my apartment cool, so I don’t worry much about the heat. I slept in the living room last night, not only because that is where my exhaustion left me, but also I could hear the crashing of the waves throughout the night.
For those who kept up with my adventures in the Arab Emirates; the bidet is not present here; however my new task to master is…the European Television and couldn’t figure it out how to turn it on last night. But really, who needs a TV when you have the black sand beaches at the tips of your toes?
My flight getting here was next to a man who wore too much cologne and had bad gas; while connecting fight was next to a man who snored the entire time. They didn’t have my vegetarian meal, so the Ironman went without food for way too long. The Madrid Airport, while stunning in architecture and holds store giving you an amazing shopping opportunity, it is terrible for catching a quick layover nap and doesn’t have a currency exchange in their main terminal. If you ask, the information will tell you just to get it in Lanzarote; there aren’t any their either. There is also no American Express in Lanzarote to cash in traveler’s checks, as well as no Citibank, Chase Bank, etc. I am only happy I have an account at Banco Popular out of the convenience it is next to my house, but has been the best way to get currency (since I forgot to get it before I left).
The roads are everything like the narrow twisting turning streets like any old European town that are now one way streets because they didn’t expand with the size of the forever widening cars of today. They are unmarked and unassuming; as long as you know what town you are in and where you need to be – park and walk. I would like to take this moment to now thank my Dad. Dad, thank you for my first car being a manual and making me learn how to drive a manual transition; who knew 15 years later I would be left with only one option of a transportation…the manual. I have killed it a couple times, lurched it forward a few and rolled it backwards on a few hills. But bit by bit it is coming back to me like riding a bike.
With my first twenty-four hours over there are a few things I have got to enjoy so far.
My first swim in the East Atlantic Ocean – clear and crisp with fish everywhere; I even got to see a wild sea urchin swimming underneath me during my evening practice last night. Hills like San Francisco throughout the towns. Villages are painted in stark white with trim in black, green or blue depending on the town you are in; but no matter what, they all match. There is nothing like a European Red Speedo worn on the body of a 250 lb, 60 something, pasty white man…I am left with no words for this.
The volcanos are larger than what I imagined. I drove through one of the National Parks today and got to see this vast plain of lava rock everywhere. When you hear people describing this place looking something like the planet Mars; I would have to say it looks something like what you vision the planet of Mars. Mystic, desolate, quiet, destructive, yet you cannot help but finding yourself searching for some source of life, one flower, one bird…anyone…anything…alive. Then you find yourself thinking about the race a few days ahead when you will be riding your bike through this desert of rock and hardened lava that stretches for miles and miles around and you wonder if you will survive.
The food is what you can expect being a vegetarian. I am lucky to be one block away from channa masala,dal makani and chappati so I am happy. Not to mention I brought an entire suitcase full of food to appease my needs.
Now as I slip away from my computer, I will be heading out for a nice little run along the race course.
And So IM Here