The last post was specifically about the race. But there was so much more than the race. I have never been to a destination before a race so early. Or had so much help. Or done so much. And it was incredible. There is a definite race experience to going to Kona before the race. Athletes take over the town. I have never been there without athletes, but you can tell. And you know. And….yeah. Everyone who goes has their own experience. But there is definitely an “athlete experience” to being in Kona as a participant at IMWC. I believe I had an “athlete experience”. At the same time I was far enough removed that I wasn’t overwhelmed, and got to experience many other things, for which I am grateful.
That being said, I’ll keep my non-linear report going here.
Things we did right:
- Have a daily plan, but it wasn’t so jam packed or rigid we felt rushed.
- After our ride Sunday Rebecca and I finished our t-run at the Starbucks near our hotel. I sat down outside to wait for Rebecca. A gentleman asked if I was racing next weekend. I said yes, and we started chatting. He offered to show me their “superbowl” for paddling. There was a competition going on and it was neck and neck between Red bull Wa’a of Kailua Kona and Tahiti. And Red Bull Wa’a won! Wasn’t on the schedule, but it was fun to sit and chat with him and learn about something new. And see quite the endurance competition.
As we drove in to town on Tuesday Rebecca and I had a plan. And then we saw Matthew and Haley running to the Energy Lab. And so with a quick U-turn we tossed the schedule out and went back to cheer them as they ran in to the Energy Lab. Really, it was fun to do something that spontaneous. And believe it or not…that was! And we still managed to get everything done. Of course! Because we kept a minimal schedule, right?
- While wandering for post cards I saw people at the sea wall rather excited. I wandered over and got to see my one and only Honu! And took pictures. Really – feeling good with side trips is amazing.
- I had a personal guide!
- So, Rebecca and I have been training together. She said if I made it to Kona, she’d go too. And she did! We traveled together. And having someone who knew what was going on, pointing things out to me, giving her experience, and…just basically setting me up to succeed was….wow! Perfect. And we had fun. I loved being there and putting the places with her stories and memories. If you ask Carlos, it was probably the most relaxed I’ve been the night before a race. Meanwhile, Rebecca didn’t sleep well after 1 am – worrying about the alarm! She and her husband Kris also helped us with reservations, plans for traveling out and back, and logistics. Seriously, I can’t say how much I appreciate and how much it meant for her to join me out there, and her and Kris’ support in getting things ready to go out. Her being there truly made the experience what it was. And it couldn’t have been easy as she knew places and things, and so had ideas, threw out the suggestions, etc. Pretty much all I had to do was do my workouts and eat. Not that there were a lot of other obligations. We kept to a regular schedule and were pretty relaxed. She took on a lot of things. She is not a big social media person, nor am I. But she posted daily updates and pictures to let people know what we were up to. And took pictures. And made sure I was ready for just about anything on race day – feeding me her experiences in her three visits to race. She shared her experience while letting me make this trip my experience. It was truly amazing. Really, I can’t say enough or thank Rebecca enough for all she did, and for joining Carlos and me on this adventure. And Kris for being so supportive and being left in Atlanta while we went out and played in Kona! As we got ready to go Kris was excited as we were in just giving us tidbits to enjoy where we were. Sadly we left the best guidebook he loaned us in Atlanta. But it was fun getting to talk about things to see, and what to expect and so much! And then to have Rebecca to give her insight while there. Yeah. Not enough said, but will stop with a most heartfelt “Thank you! You helped make this trip amazing”. And know it means so much more.
- We weren’t all about Ironman. Yes we trained as every other athlete out there did. We hit most of the same training spots. And yes we lived the lifestyle (eating most meals in our room, etc). But we also took breaks. Being at the resorts probably made this a touch easier.
We went to a coffee farm and tried Kona coffee. And learned what makes it SO good. My favorite was the first we visited: Mountain Thunder Coffee. It is amazing how quickly everything changed: from barren, dry lava fields to lush, green vegetation and rain daily. And the temperature dropped substantially. I got to learn about microclimate first hand! And the woman who gave the tour was terrific. I was impressed with their efforts to reuse everything (zero waste) and how they used those beans that aren’t good enough for coffee, and their process. And the coffee was SO good.
Our first two evenings there we went down to the pool/beach area, read, and watched the sunset. Um…’nuf said!
- We didn’t go in to town every day. And were good with that choice. And when we did, it was for a reason. Yes, we missed some events (parade of nations, underpants run, and despite efforts never made it to the Expo), but we worked with what we had to keep things relaxed. And not rushed.
- We kept meals simple. At both resorts we requested a microwave. That, a coffee pot, plates (which both resorts obliged) made life easy. I believe I continue to impress Rebecca with my mad microwave cooking skills. For which I will simply say “Thanks, Mom!” 😊 We ate out typically at lunch, and carried snacks for the day. And had breakfast and dinner in. We kept to a schedule pretty well, and much to my relief I had enough veggies. It made for a relaxed atmosphere. Dinner out always takes a long time, and you always get back later than expected, and have more things to do. This – we were in bed by 8:30 each night. Which was great.
Most empowering moment(s)? Sunday morning at 6:30 both Rebecca and I were assembling our bikes. We were done and ready to ride (including breakfast) by 8:30. This included pumping our tires with an itty bitty travel pump that really was quite the workout! Seriously – I am forever grateful to Allen Heaton for teaching me how to disassemble, pack, and reassemble my bike. It’s a valuable skill. And the fact that we were two women traveling and knew how to do it on our own…really….it’s empowering. You learn to not fear your bike, and a few less “what if’s” with it. If you have a chance to learn how to take your bike apart and put it together, male or female, seize it! When we packed our bikes back up Carlos knew better than to help – he sat back and watched while watching football as well, and offered the necessary occasional extra hand when requested. I think he was impressed!
Most surprising happy place? Swimming in the ocean. Seriously. The Monday before the race was my first swim in Kailua Bay, and you can ask Rebecca…I dilly-dallied (i.e. delayed the inevitable). And finally started swimming. Outside of a point on my tongue that was REALLY sensitive to the salt, I did well, and enjoyed myself. And so on Tuesday when we swam again, after some chatting/fun with the HOTSHOT reps in the water and finally trying it, I jumped right in and swam. And had a delightful time. And I was surprised how much I loved the swim in the race. I mean really. I could have sworn I had a slow swim for me based on how good I felt throughout the swim, but it was 1:08 – a good swim for me. So…yea! And the two days after the race I actually voluntarily swam in the bay at
the Mauna Kea. It was relaxed and easy. I hopped right in and enjoyed the swim and the relaxation that washed over me! Even with the wind and waves. I love ocean swimming?! Maybe, Maria, your efforts will pay off some day in my race swim?
I have been trying to give call outs to two businesses in varying ways. And finally decided to just write it in, point blank. I couldn’t write in a specific experience, but can say I was impressed.
First – Rebecca and I found a restaurant for lunch that was….ideal: Laulima Food Patch. It was a little off the triathlete beaten path, which we gathered as they asked us how we found them, as we chatted with the employees while there. It’s in the same strip mall as the Safeway, so really – athletes are around. And they should go!
Second – the Mauna Kea. Matthew was excited we were staying there as he really likes the Mauna Kea, and couldn’t say enough good about this resort. I didn’t really have a clue, until we showed up to register on Wednesday after our ride to Hawi. Both Rebecca and I were sweaty. We had on clean clothes, but I had forgotten a shirt so I was in sports bra and shorts. And again…we were dirty and sweaty from our workout. We were sure that they wondered “Who let in the riff raff” throughout the week. But they always treated us with such grace and hospitality. I know it’s their business, but there they did it well enough that it impacted me positively. And I was grateful the entire time. Emmy, the woman who checked us in, was gracious. And remembered us each time we saw her for the rest of the week. And she did ask about my race. She, and the rest of the Mauna Kea staff, made our stay there amazing. And when we went out to ride, they would remember us (possibly because we were the only ones with TT bikes and crazy enough to go ride) and wished us safety and fun.
And really, that’s most of it. I think I have one more blog stirring – pictures. And the ones that I look at and they make me smile. A pictures worth a thousand words, right? So until next time….