We have arrived and the big island of Kona is no less beautiful than the first time I came here in 2007. However, this time around I am not injured, I am a stronger and smarter Ironman athlete, Karel is with me, my parents are volunteering 3x this week, I am no longer a "student" and I am really, truely, absolutely enjoying every single second and making sure I soak up every minute on this island. Although I am here to race this Ironman World Championships and put my training to the test, digging deeper than I have ever dug before, I will not push beyond what I have trained my body to do as the Ironman is not about the fastest athlete, but the smartest - the one who slows down the least.
Our trip went very smoothly. Continental was great with our bikes and followed up with us on the plane that our precious cargo was with us, heading to Houston. Pheww. Once we got to Houston, Karel and myself passed time by eating breakfast and stretching our legs. This trip is very special as it is Karel's first time to Hawaii and our longest trip together since we met in 2006. I absolutely love creating memories with him and I have a feeling this Ironman is going to be really special for the both of us.
Around 9:30am on Tues, it was time to board our 8 hour and 20 minute flight to Honolulu. I pre-packed a full bag of food including 2 bagel sandwiches (PB and J), a tofu and cheese w/ veggie sandwich for me, carrots, pears, kiwi, bananas, pears, apples, almonds and a carb "trail" mix of pretzel thins, triscuits, mini teddy grahams and cheerios. In order to acclimate as quick as possible, I napped (or rested my eyes) every few hours, ate small snacks/mini meals (ex. 1/2 sandwich or fruit and nuts) every 2-3 hours and tried to get my mind onto kona time. Thank goodness for my compression tights and stretching/standing every hour because I found myself getting more and more energy as the day went on.
Once we arrived to Honolulu, we had a 3 hour layover which made for a perfect time to have a great meal at Stinger Rays. I had a great fiesta salad and the waiter let me substitute fruit for the chicken that came on the salad. Hawaii has the nicest people and they have this amazing way of making you feel incredibly special.
About an hour before our 37 minute flight to Kona (which was filled with LOTS of bike cases under the plane), we met up with my parents who left an hour after us. It was GREAT to see them and they are super excited for their second time to Kona. My parents have never missed one of my Ironman events and I just love having them around. However, not sure how much I will see them 'cause they are volunteering on Wed (athlete registration), Fri (bike check-in), Sat (body marking). My parents just LOVE the Ironman and I just LOVE the volunteers that make this event so very possible for all of us athletes.
Once we touched down in Kona, Karel and myself were totally on Kona-time. A bit tired due to our long day but ready to stretch our legs. To make sure we had a good night of sleep and didn't wake up at 2am (or around 8am EST), we had a nice pizza dinner on Ali drive around 6:30 and my parents went to the grocery (wal-mart) to stock our fridge.
After Karel put together our bikes, we were ready for bed around 8:45am.
*Karel always suprises me with something new on my bike before an Ironman. One of my favorite surprises was a pink chain but this year I have awesome white handlebar tape, aerodynamic quick-release skewers and a new crank. Thank you Karel!!!
After a great night of sleeping, I woke up at 5:45 and was super glad that I was able to adjust to the new time zone so quickly. I had a WASA cracker w/ PB along with my coffee and around 7am, Karel and I headed to the Queen K for a LONG awaited bike ride.
The wind was already picking up and it was hot but nothing abnormal for this Florida girl. I welcome very similar conditions to my summer in Florida and I am about to explode with energy...which I am saving for race day.
It is very easy to do too much before an Ironman, especially in Kona. Therefore, I am sticking to my schedule, focusing on my electrolytes, calories and hydration and making sure that I am well-rested for race day.
Today I did 5 intervals on the Queen K (main hwy that we bike and run on) which included 3 x 3 min IM watt pace intervals and 2 x 5 min intervals. Karel rode behind me on my intervals and I drafted behind Karel during my 5 min recovery. Of course I had to stop a few times for pics but overall, I felt amazing.
After a 1 hr and 22 minute bike ride, I headed back to the condo (which is .5 miles from start/finish) and grabbed my fuelt belt and visor for a 20 min run. I warmed up a mile (which felt effortless despite it being really hot) and did 4 x .25 mile fast around 6:05 min/mile pace. I didn't realize I was flying as I will NOT be running that fast on race day but today was all about waking up the legs and just getting a feel of how my body is feeling. I have to say...body and mind are feeling rested and energized.
Karel finished his ride with another hour or so climbing the mountains. He said the climbs just went on and on and he is just loving it here.
Well, time to go check-in, get weighed and get my transition bags, wristband, chip and cap. Here's a few pics from our 22 hour day on Tuesday and our first morning in Kona. Thanks for all your support...I am smiling a lot here in Kona as I think of everyone who has supported, believed in and have inspired me to pursue my Ironman dreams.