Saturday October 3rd
The day had finally arrived. When you qualify 54 weeks before the race, it can seem very far off at times. But we had an 8:45 am flight so Friday night was spent getting ready, and there was no waiting around the day of the flight
So you gotta fly to Hawaii (much to the chagrin of my wife). Our first leg was Charlotte to Denver. The same one we flew this summer. This time (obviously) we had to make another flight. We only had an hour and fifteen minutes to make the next flight. Our plane and crew were ready to go in Charlotte, but something with the plane was not. They did not have enough fuel for the flight. Really? You had ONE job! We sat on the tarmac for almost an hour. Fortunately with the schedules and flying faster than they had planned we had about 45 minutes to make the next flight.
|Open Air Style Airport|
So we finally land, and get my checked bag (which had all non-essential race items or items I didn't think would get past TSA). We take the shuttle to Dollar, and wait. It takes about an hour to get the car . . . from Hertz.
Yeah they had no cars left. I felt lucky to get the car we did. The dude next to me got nothing. They were telling him that they were waiting on people to return cars so he could have one. They've only had this race for like more than 30 years in Kona, how would Dollar know they needed so many cars? Reservations? pfft.
|Not a bad view from the Condo.|
|My niece. Every day.|
I ran out to the airport to get the last contingent to join us for the week (other sister and parents). So now we had 10 people in the condo. When I got back, it was past 2am eastern and we were all exhausted. Fell asleep pretty easily that night.
Sunrise from the condo
Sunday October 4th
We slept in til about 5am local time. EST body just couldn't sleep anymore. My wife and I headed down to Dig Me beach to take a few pics and I went for a swim. The water was pretty rough that day. Not like whitecaps or anything, but constant swells. I got thrown up and down. It was hard to sight because you couldn't see over the waves.
|Dig Me Beach|
|Reppin' Mecklenburg Swim Association Masters|
|Ironman Expo Location|
Tri Bike wasn't quite ready yet and there were 6 or 7 people waiting already. Soon they brought her out. I gave them my pedals to put on, and I pumped the tires up just to walk her back out to the car.
|A note from my Bike Shop|
Back at the condo I immediately went to work on her to get her ready to ride. Hydration, flat kit, CO2, Garmin. I was anxious to get out on the Queen K. I drove over to the shopping center at the corner of Makala and the Queen K and parked there to head out.
Once out on the Queen K, the wind wasn't too bad. Being in the later afternoon, it was actually blowing north, the opposite that it typically is on race day. I saw a few other riders out there, not a lot. Although I did see Daniela Ryf (google her kids). I felt good. I cranked right about 200 watts and that gave me a 23.7 mph average, so I felt good about that. I just did 15 miles out and then headed back. I did a quick transition at the car and headed back out to the Queen K for a run.
|Lava, Lava, Lava|
I felt pretty good there too, as I averaged just under a 7 min pace. It was hot, but really didn't feel too much hotter than back home. I got back to the car and I was sweating profusely (I like that word, profusely). I dried off a little bit and then headed back to the condo for a shower before we went to the Luau.
The whole gang walked over to the Luau at the KBH hotel. I sprung for the hanohano seats, which is basically the VIP seating. You get to sit upfront and get in line first for the food. It's just one thing on a very long list of things that you do when you are only going to be someplace one time.
So they had cooked a pig and turkeys in the ground all day. They had poke (which I really liked) and poi and lomi lomi salmon mix thing (that I did't much care for).
The show was pretty good, but pretty long as well (3 hours). The fire twirling guy was pretty good, although he seemed to feel the need to constantly coerce applause and praise out of the crowd. A little bit needy for my tastes, but talented nonetheless.
So halfway through my mom passes out from the heat. She laid on the ground for a while until the hotel staff could get a golf cart to take her up to the air conditioned lobby. Afterwards we found them in the lobby and then some of us walked back to the condo. My sister went to go pick people up, and I went to Walmart to get some fans for the house. Went to bed pretty tired still trying to get used to Hawaiian time.
Monday October 5th
We headed out around 8am. One benefit of the time change is that everyone is up early. We piled into both cars and headed south towards Volcano National Park. We drove out of town to some beautiful views. We stopped at the Punalu'u Bake Shop and got some malasadas. We then stopped at the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Park. That was pretty cool.
We then headed to Volcano NP. By the time we got there and figured out what we were gonna do, it was lunch time. So we walked over to the Volcano House from the visitor center and had lunch. It was a pretty good view overlooking the Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of Kilauea. We did a little hike to Sulphur Springs and drove the Crater Rim road. It was a little disappointing that you cannot see lava. The ranger told us that you could only see lava via an air tour.
So we left and headed north towards Hilo. We just wanted to drive back a different way and see more of the island. We hung a left in Hilo and drove back across the island between Mauna Loa and Maune Kea. There is a lot of nothing in Hawaii. Some the areas of lava rock on that stretch were really cool. We finally got back to the house and most of the family was pretty tired.
Some of the family had gotten burgers and dogs to grill out. My wife, sister, oldest son and myself decided we wanted to go out. So we went down to the Fish Hopper there on Ali'i. It was pretty good. The placed was pretty packed and we checked out a couple of the local shops while we waited. We started adjusting to Hawaiian time by then.
Tuesday October 6th
It was back to Kailua Bay for a swim. This time I rode the sweet ride provided at the house down to the pier and parked it there.
I had to get out to the coffee boat right? This time I felt more comfortable in the water. I wasn't any faster, mind you. There weren't as many swells, so that helped.
|A Little more crowded today|
|The Famous Coffee Boat|
Back at home I got some more 100% Kona coffee (yeah!) and soon headed back down to KBH to check in. I got in line in at the lobby and waited about 20 minutes to get into the next room. People were talking about how many Ironman's that had done. I'm like ummm, one. Yeah, never been to Kona before. I did run into Anton from South Carolina. I finished ahead of him at Chattanooga, but he punched his Kona ticket at Texas earlier in the year.
They finally let me in. I signed the initial forms and waivers, and verified who I was. Then I headed over to get the packet, then to get the backpack.
While waiting in line for the backpack, I saw Caitlin Snow and Jeff Symonds registering. Then we were herded out the side of the hotel into the mechandise tent. I checked out what they had and wanted to get a few things, but the line was crazy long all the way across the tent. I decided to wait until the next day to check it out.
We were supposed to do our snorkeling cruise to Kealakekua Bay that afternoon, but high winds postponed it until Thursday. High winds. Yes. High enough to blow over a tree right next to the Kona brewing company onto Kuakini and take out a power poll.
So for dinner we had to head over to the other side of Palani because all the restaurants around Kona Brewing had no power. I had forgotten about the Parade of Nations. I hadn't planned on doing it because we were gonna be on the snorkel cruise. So the traffic was crazy backed up.
It took us 30 minutes to get to Big Island Grill about a mile away. But it was worth it. I had the loco moco with hamburger and 2 fried eggs atop a bed of rice and then covered with brown gravy. Trust me when I say it was good.
Wednesday October 7th
My throat felt better, but my nose was still running. But now I was a banded "Kona Athlete". I headed back down to meet up with several teammates for a swim.
We met up on the pier and got some good pics. I saw Sean Astin getting interviewed by a Japanese media outlet. Pretty sure I could take him, like in a Fight Club type situation. We swam out to the coffee boat again. and then back. It was great to see all my BSR mates. I wore my swimskin that day and actually swam a little faster than the past couple of times.
That morning we headed down to Greenwell Farms to check out a Kona Coffee plantation. Along the way we stopped at a farmers market to check out the Hawaii Fruits.
The coffee plantation was pretty interesting and I learned a lot of things. We tasted many different types of the coffees and got some to bring home and some for friends.
On our way back we hit Annie's Island Fresh Burgers. It was really good. You can't go wrong with Bacon and Avacado. Then we hit the Original Donkey Balls Factory and Store. Basically chocolate covered macademia nuts. They had chicken balls (peanuts) and other assorted chocolate items.
So I ended up going for a run from the condo, just 3 miles to loosen the legs up. I had felt a little stiff and tired. I felt much better after the run. I saw Marino Vanhoenacker (2010 Kona Podium) and he gave me a little unprompted wave.
|View from the Slowtwitch House|
We decided to try and hit Kona Brewing. We were told and hour wait (and it was before 6pm). But we knew it would only get worse as the week went on. We ended up only waiting a half hour. Everyone really enjoyed their food. They had many beers on tap that are not available on the mainland.
Thursday October 8th
Thursday morning was the annual Underpants Run. A tradition unlike any other. It was especially fun as Big Sexy Racing had special "Kona Edition" suits made for us. I got a one for my sister and my brother in law.
We all met outside the KBH and got some pics (including one for Triathlete Magazine). There were about 1,000 people participating.
We started at the back parking lot where all the banquets were. So as it turns out, with us near the back we were went out the opposite way, so we were kinda near the front of the "race". It was an absolute blast. People were really into it.
When we cam onto Ali'i there were people lined up several rows deep on each side of the road. Phones or cameras in everyone's hands it seemed. I was great to see some of the costumes. I gotta hand it to the Japanese contingent in their little sumo front rags. It was great to be with all the Sexies and some of their families as well. It's only a 1.5 mile run, so it doesn't last too long. It's all for fun, and fun for all, as they say. We ended up making it into Lava's gallery in addition to Triathlete's
Later that morning I took a leisurely bike ride down to the expo to see if I could meet the CEO of Quintana Roo. Mission accomplished. We talked for a bit (he just completed Ironman Chattanooga). We of course talked about my bike.
|QR CEO Peter Hurley|
Then it was time for our rescheduled snorkel tour. It was about 15 minute drive down to the dock area for the cruise. It is just south of town off of Ali'i and the K III. Oddly though, you don't park on the dock. you kinda park on the other side of this bay and walk down the end of the street and then across a beach to the dock area. So we got checked in and had a little wait to get boarded.
It was a beautiful day and it was a scenic boat tour. It took us about an hour to get down to Kealakekua Bay. They gave us snorkeling gear on the way down, and went through some safety procedures. In the bay is also the memorial to Captain Cook. Remembered, but not too popular by the locals. The memorial is technically on Great Britain soil, so no one gets mad at the US government for having it.
|Capt. Cook Memorial|
My wife (much to her chagrin) even saw a small shark. My brother in law is a big time snorkeler and he got some great pics. My older son jumped off the top deck a few times, but I couldn't get my younger son to go down the slide. It was a really good trip. I had read that this bay was the best snorkeling in all of the Hawaiian islands.
We ventured out to Umekes for dinner that night. It's a good local place. Tons of seafood, poke bowls and the like. I stuck to the chicken. My son got a whole fried fish. Yeah, tail and head included. He ate some of it. Overall it was really good.
Friday October 9th
Time to get all the bags ready to go. Get GL washed and prepped.
I walked over to bike check about 2:30, which was the beginning of my check window.
Bib numbers under 1000 were supposed to be noon to 2:30, and the rest 2:30 to 5p. I get over there and there are a lot of people milling about. I wasn't really sure where to go at first because they have all these barricades up, but eventually I see. They were calling out age groupers' names over the PA system as they are coming through.
Of course when I get up there, is the same time that 2 time defending champion Mirinda Carfrae decides that she is gonna check her bike in. So I get passed over by the PA announcer. That's OK. So we get our bike checked out (not sure for what other than bar end plugs) and get shiny little 'M' sticker. Then you proceed down the red carpet. You kinda feel like a big deal. Everyone is checking out your rig and your helmet.
|Rudy made me an offer on a New Helmet I couldn't refuse|
|Even the Port-o-lets are better in Kona|
|Tunnel to the Changing Tents|
|Post Swim Washdown Area|
We had reservations at Jackie Reys for dinner that night. It was a nicer place (and they have parking). We enjoyed a little bit upscale place and again I went with the chicken. My dad got this huge dessert that about 4 people shared.
|Time to put the feet up and Rest|