Life After Kona

I’ve been on a bit of a blog hiatus these last few weeks, so you’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to.  Kona was the last race of my 2012 season, so under coach Brian's orders, I’ve enjoyed the last three weeks with very little focus on training.  I can’t deny it – it has been great!

My Aunt and I left Kona on Monday, just two days after the race.  We didn’t have far to go though, as it was just a short plane journey to Honolulu!  This was the third time I’d been to Hawaii, but in the past two years I hadn’t been to any of the other islands, so it was really nice to visit Oahu for the first time.  There are a few highlights of the stay, namely the breakfast buffet, lying poolside sipping exotic fruit drinks and the best sushi I’ve had in my life!  We also had a go at paddle boarding, which was really good fun, even though I fell off and had zero coordination when it came to steering!  In moments of weakness (read: most of the time) I was kneeling down as my quads started getting angry with me!

One thing required more energy than I would have liked, and that was hiking up Diamond Head, which - although less than a mile to the top and climbing only 560 feet – was tough with an Ironman still in my legs!  After summiting the climb in a sweaty mess, the panoramic views of Waikiki were worth it. 

Whilst two days felt like a flying visit, we really enjoyed Oahu, but were looking forward to a few days in LA.  Despite being told they were in the middle of a heat wave it actually felt quite cold and for the first time in nearly 4 months I found myself wearing a jumper!  We had a really relaxing few days in LA, as well as being treated to a mammoth pancake breakfast!

After 4 months away from my family, it was really great to spend some time with my Aunt.  On Saturday she left for the UK, while I was about to start the next leg of my journey.  Roll on Tuscon!  Why Arizona… well, there was no immediate rush to return to the UK and I wanted to spend some time with Brian (who lives in Tucson) discussing plans for next year.  As well as that, I’ll be able to catch up with my sponsor Extreme Endurance at Ironman Arizona on 18th November.  Everything seemed to fall into place.  After a one hour flight I landed in Tucson to be greeted with the warmth that was awol in LA. 

The last two weeks here have passed quickly – too quickly.  Training has been sporadic and very light, which is exactly the plan!  It’s nice to go out running just for the enjoyment of it, without having to worry about pace or interval sets.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that side of training, but in the off season, it’s nice to have a brief period with less structured training.  It’s been fun to get out on the local trails and there are some long shadows and great skies when the sun starts to go down.

Looooong shadows

Training here is a real drag!

We’ve also hit the pool, with Brian on deck analysing.  The good news is that when it comes to my swimming, there’s plenty of room for improvement!  A few days ago I was treated (note the pun) to my first American Halloween!  The effort that people go to here to decorate their houses and front yards is amazing.  At about 5pm there were zombie brides and Mario men walking the streets, so we escaped to go and spend the evening with some of Brian’s friends.

This morning we did one of the better known rides in town, which was the climb up Mount Lemmon.  It was a perfect morning to be out on the bike and the climb itself was great at a nice steady gradient. 

It's strange hearing people refer to it as 'winter' at the moment - if this is winter then sign me up!  I’ve got just a few more days here in Tucson before the final leg of my trip, which is a two week stay with a friend in Phoenix.  It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly 5 months since I arrived in the US to begin my summer adventure – how time flies.