As my cramps had been so debilitating on race day, I hadn’t been able to give my full effort. While this was what particularly bummed me out about the race, it at least meant that I was able to ride without issue in the days following the race, to actually take the time to enjoy the views, and to confirm, if even only to myself, that I had speed on the bike coming into the race and, whatever the reasons, had just had one of the worst days I’ve ever had in an Ironman. Whether it was simply a change in wheels, a change in weather, or simply a change in pressure, I could roll up my speed at will on these rides and wished I had another shot at race day. I was hungry for a shot at redemption and, as she’d also had a disappointing race in Chicago, it just so happens that so was my mother. We had already been thinking about leaving Hawaii a day early to take part in the Detroit half-marathon (it had become something of a tradition for us to take part in either the full or half since the first year I ran it some five years ago), and now we both had even more reason to want to take part this year. We worked it out with the airlines, and even though I was sad to be leaving the island early and had had a great time in the days following the race both exploring the island and lounging on its beaches, ultimately, Detroit had a stronger draw for us both.

On our return, the weather could not have been better for a running race, a classic sunny but crisp fall day, the city was amped up for the race and the Lion’s game later in the afternoon. We were both excited to race and happy we’d made the decision to return early. My mother would have one of her best races ever, and only one week after my poor showing in the Hawaii IM, I’d also turn in my fastest time ever for a half-marathon and nearly crack the top 50 overall on the day. And there it was. Kupau.

Kupau is a Hawaiian word. It means “completion” and was used at the banquet to draw the Hawaii Ironman to a close. From my time on the island, in hearing this word used by the locals, I got the sense, however, that this word didn’t mean so much an end though, as it was fuzzier than that. The completion in kupau was more like a book where one chapter ends so another can begin. Not one to typically quote rock songs when making a point, especially not songs from such a marginal band as Semisonic, I’ll take some liberty here by offering the following line from the song Closing Time: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” LikeAloha is used both to welcome and say goodbye, kupau seemed to both contain an end and a beginning. As each day training for the Ironman was built on the days that came before it, so too did they make possible the ones that came after. Eventually these days would become part of a larger training cycle that would culminate in the race, which too would end, opening the door for the next training cycle, and the next race, and so on, until the races and training became part of a season, and one season too would close ushering in the next. Yesterday there was the Hawaii Ironman, today there was the Detroit half-marathon, in a few weeks time there would be the Clearwater 70.3 Championships. Ultimately, in sports, like life in general, if you play the game right there is no actual finish line, only kupau. Tomorrow brings another day, another opportunity. What’s important is not whether you succeed or fail, win or lose, but that you keep learning, keep pushing, keep challenging yourself, and most of all, keep trying.

Clearwater 70.3 Swim:

Clearwater 70.3 Bike:

Clearwater 70.3 Run:

Start from the beginning, Part One: The Race