IM Kona '16 - day 3 and 4

Friday couldn't come fast enough as it was our first ocean swim since last year, when we both participated in the 2015 IM World Championship.
If you have never been to Kona, it's hard to describe what it's like to swim here but my best description is that it's like swimming in a fish tank.

The water is crystal clear. 

You can see the bottom of the ocean floor. 

And there are no shortage of colors fishes.

I encourage anyone who is afraid to swim in open water to come to Kona as the perfect way to get comfortable swimming in open water. It's SO fun to swim here!

Staying at the Kona Plaza Condos (for the 3rd time) makes it so easy to get around. Since we don't have a car for this trip, we can easily walk everywhere. 

Just a few minutes later from leaving our condo, we made our way to the pier (aka "dig me beach").
Because of our very late night (and not getting to bed until around 11:30pm Kona time), we slept in until 7am and didn't make it to the pier until around 8:30am. 

However, there were no shortage of swimmers in the ocean.
Every day there are more athletes on the island and the energy builds every hour. I am so excited to connect with my Clif Bar family next week and see lots of familiar athlete/friend faces. 

Loving my Splish custom Trimarni two piece swim suit (thanks Trimarni Kona bound athlete Justine for designing them!) 

After the swim, Karel walked back to the condo and I hung out at the beach for another 30 minutes....just relaxing. 

It's funny because I often find myself resorting to athlete-mode and wanting to stay inside with Karel but then I remind myself that I am not racing and I am allowed to be outside and I can be as active as I want here. 

I brought a pop of color to Kona with my Forehand Oakley sunglasses. 

After a productive afternoon on the computer (yep, there's no vacation from being a small business owner), I walked up to the Sack N Save grocery store to fill in some empty spots in our refrigerator.

After paying for all my groceries, it dawned on me that I would be carrying home 4 heavy bags of food items 0.7 miles back to our condo.

I guess you could say that was my 2nd workout of the day.
I then spent some time chopping fruit (see bottom shelf of fridge) for easy snacking. 

Karel made himself a great dinner of chicken, white rice, stir fry veggies and fresh bread (from Daylight Mind Cafe) while I went out for my typical Friday night (clear the mind) evening run. 

I ran up Kuakini hwy (which is the "in town" section of the start of the IM bike course) just so that I could catch an uphill view of the sunset.
I'm sure if you are following anyone on social media, you have seen no shortage of sunset pictures from Kona :) 

After a 40 minute run (+ an additional 30 minutes of chatting with Elyse on Ali'i drive for her first workout in Kona after landing just a short time prior to when I spotted her in our condo parking lot), she is first time IM Kona athlete, wahoo!), it was time to eat.

After my run, I had a similar dinner to Karel, except hard boiled eggs instead of chicken and then we relaxed for a little bit before an early 8:30pm bedtime. 

With my main event happening on Saturday October 1st (just one week out from the IM World Championship), I was super excited to be an athlete for a morning race.
I made sure to fuel smart the night prior and race day morning and my Trimarni pre-workout pancakes are really hitting the spot before my workouts. Then again, when do pancakes not hit the spot???

Karel and I participated in the Ho'ala Ironman Training swim last year and found it extremely valuable to be in a mass start, in the ocean and to swim 2.4 miles on the IM swim course. We couldn't pass up the opportunity again this year. We registered a few weeks ago as there were no sign-ups on race day. 

We walked over to the pier with Elyse to get our packet for the race around 6am, for the 7am (which turned into 7:15am) swim start. 

The swim was just like any other open water race swim - anticipation for when the gun would go off, treading water for what felt like forever, the chaos of swimming with a bunch of fast/strong swimmers and then trying to navigate through the ocean to sight just a few buoys which made up a 2.4 mile swim course.

I swam really strong from start to finish, saving nothing and leaving it all out in the water. I found myself getting off course a few times but then also, swimming alone on purpose as I was trying to swim in the straightest line possible. Swimming in open water, in the ocean, certainly has it's challenges as you have to be very strong to fight whatever conditions come your way.

Surprisingly, I felt good and never felt tired. I managed to pick up the effort on the way back and passed a lot of people. I was really proud of myself and I felt determined to get as close to an hour as possible (my fastest IM Kona swim time has been 1:06 - I think) as the water was semi-calm so it made for a fast swim day. 

Karel and I both had great swims and we were both really happy with how the morning turned out in the deep blue sea. Karel has come very far with his swimming in the past year and I'm always so proud of him when he knocks of time as it's not necessarily a sign that he is getting faster but that he is able to swim more efficient in open water with better form, without getting too fatigued. 

There was a nice showing of age group athletes, mixed in with some professionals (results here) and a few familiar faces like the one and only, Bob Babbitt

No, Karel did not get that off course on the swim. His Garmin always shows a longer distance in open water. 

After our swim, we went back to the condo to check on our athletes at IM Maryland (who both finished after a very challenging day of racing - emotionally and physically) and then headed out for a 50-60 minute easy run.
As I mentioned prior, I have been doing all of Karel's workouts this week, which is great because I am able to maintain great fitness but I can also spend some quality time with Karel as he gears up for his 2nd IM World Championship (and 3rd IM since June). 

We headed up Palani, from our condo on Kuakini, and then turned on to the Queen K hwy. The heat was mighty strong at 9:30am! 

Running back on the Queen K hwy up the never ending looooongg incline before making a right on to Palani drive. 

It's not that often that you have the opportunity to train on every mile of an IM race course before race day but in Kona, you certainly have that opportunity.
Karel and I finished our run just as if he was finishing the IM but we stopped just shy of the "finish line" to head back to our condo after 55 minutes of easy running (well, for one of us :) 

After our run, I made Karel an awesome breakfast of French toast, scrambled eggs and fresh fruit.

Karel rested for a little bit before we headed out on Ali'i drive for a croissant run. As you know, Karel loves croissants and he likes to eat one on race day morning so we ventured out to find some...and luckily, Lava Java had some in stock. Of course, Karel needs to "test" the croissants ahead of time :)

Around 3pm, Karel and I sat down with Stephen Black of Rocky Mountain Human Performance outside our condo at the Kope Lani coffee, as we had recently connected via social media. We, at Trimarni, are always looking for great resources for our athletes and for us, and we were really excited to learn about Stephen and his many years of triathlon experience, working with challenged athletes and his extensive career in working with injured athletes.

Around 4pm, Karel and I made our way down to Tri Bike Transport (behind the IM Expo - which will open on Monday) to meet up with Trimarni athletes Justine and Leigh Ann who just arrived to Kona...for the first time.

We are so excited to share this IM World Championship experience with these two hard working Trimarni athletes who earned their spot on the IM Kona start line.

After sending Leigh Ann and Justine off for a 20-30 minute shake-out run after a long day of traveling, Karel went back to the condo and I made another trip to the grocery for a few more items (and coffee) to last us the next few days.

I'm excited to be back on my bike tomorrow as we make our way north on the island to see what the Hawi winds have in store for us as we ride the back half of the IM Kona race course.