Even though we have been home from Hawaii for well over a week, the posts about our trip do not seem complete without sharing the experience of our last day.  Tom woke feeling much better than I would have guessed.  Of course just about anything would have been better than I'd guessed since I expected him to feel like he'd been run over by an 18-wheeler, twice after being sent through a woodchipper.  So, the fact that he woke, was able to get upright and had a smile on his face seemed a bit like a miracle.  And because I'm one to seize the moment, we were out on kayaks well before lunch.  

Kayaking on the ocean gives me that shiver of excitement/fear that I feel just before I do something that has a smidgen of risk associated with it.  You know the feeling, just before you jump off the high dive or as you start a steep descent on your bike. It's not adrenalin - that comes as you do the thing.  No, this is the feeling or thought hat tickles your mind with what could happen - the very real consequences of the risk: drowning, falling and breaking bones, failing. The other side of coin is the exhilaration that you will feel if you do the thing well. Even though being on a kayak doesn't have a ton of risk associated with, looking out over the broad expanse of the ocean to one side and the craggy lava rock coastline on the other side gave me a thrill of fear and excitement as we paddled southward.  We had been tipped off about a cave within a cove about a mile down.  As we pulled into the cove, we watched the water frothing and crashing, filling the cave and draining out again and well, we chickened out.  We're not experienced enough kayakers to navigate a small cave opening with double kayaks.  Hey, I know my limits. 

After our ocean paddle, we returned to town for Tom to drop off his bike to be shipped back home and enjoyed a leisurely and delicious lunch at the Kona Brewing Company and then a little souvenir shopping.  All the while, we debated on whether or not to go to the Awards Banquet.  Tom and I have attended our share of banquet dinners and neither of us was interested in spending the last night in Hawaii in a stuffy hotel conference room eating bad food and hearing boring speeches.  

We could not have been more wrong.  I should have known from attending the Ironman that it would have been anything but a stuffy, boring event.  First of all, I hadn't considered the fact that all 1800 athletes were invited to this banquet and most of said athletes were in Hawaii with guests.  There isn't a hotel on the Big Island that could have held all those people but like I said, I hadn't thought of it.  This banquet was not in some stuffy room, no, they set up this banquet in the parking lot of the King Kam.  There was a stage complete with an incredible amp system and three big screens and once the hula dancers came on stage, I knew that this was a banquet like no other.  

Since those of you who are probably reading this already saw Tom's YouTube video, suffice it to say that the speakers were engaging, inspiring and funny.  And while it was thrilling to see the champions on stage, there was only one champion that I was there to see.  Sure enough, the representative from Janus took the mic and after a brief speech, invited the top five fundraisers to join her on the stage.  I could barely hold the video camera steady as she spoke about Tom's hard work and the money he raised which had moved him at the last minute from 5th place to 4th place.  There he was, my husband, the father of my children, standing on the same stage that the world champions stand upon and he was a champion, too, for raising money for Alzheimer's, for putting himself out there, for finishing the Hawaii Ironman.  Here, you can see for yourself but since I can't seem to embed the link here, you'll have to just click on it: