Kona Diary - Week 1

As I have done the last two years, I’ll be blogging regularly whilst here in Hawaii, keeping you up to date with all that’s going on in Kona town!  For those who may be interested in reading about my time in 2010 and 2011, you can click the Kona tabs on the right side of the page to scroll through past blog posts.

Manoeuvring a bike case, a suitcase, extra bike wheels and a rucksack around an airport is no fun.  When I finally made it to the check-in desk, the staff at Hawaiian Airlines were more than helpful, especially compared to United who I’ve flown with in the past.  After double checking that we didn’t get the dud seat in the back row, Scott and I went through security and got ready to board.

After the 6 hour flight from Las Vegas we arrived at Honolulu, where we had a 2 hour wait before getting a flight to the Big Island.  After some lunch we headed to the waiting room, where I stumbled across none other than the winner in Las Vegas and Ironman 70.3 World Champion, Sebastian Kienle, who was on the same flight.  It was really cool to sit and chat with him about the race and the tactics involved, as well as discuss the strategy for Kona.

In less than hour we touched down in Kona for my third trip to the island.  I now have quite a sense of familiarity with the place and I was really, really happy to be back.  After unpacking and checking out the condo, we headed down to Huggo’s to toast the start of the trip and see one of Kona's brilliant sunsets.

The next morning we walked all of 3 minutes down to the pier for an open water swim, going to the 750m turn buoy and back.  Unfortunately there weren’t any dolphins or turtles out, but I’m sure we’ll see some soon.  With it being Scott’s first trip here, we had to have our first breakfast at Lava Java, and the island pancakes with coconut syrup were even better than I remembered!  Later in the morning we met up with some friends and went to Kua Bay, around 10 miles north of Kona.  It was great to be on the beach again, kicking back and enjoying the sun.

Thursday seemed to fly by without a whole lot being accomplished, although we did manage to stock up our cupboards with food and spend a good deal of time and money at the farmers market, buying tons of fresh fruit and vegetables.  In the evening we caught up with Laura Trimble and Sonja Wieck, who are also here training for the race next month.  We went out to the Kona Brewing Company for pizzas, which were really, really good! 

Scott struggling before hittting the halfway mark!

On Friday I had my first run out along Ali’I Drive, and I remember thinking that there was no place I’d rather be.  There’s something special about running up and down that stretch of road, knowing what you’ve been through there in the past, and knowing what you’ll be up against in the future.  It was good to ride on the Queen K highway too, although in the past year I’d forgotten just how windy it is around here!  The mundane task of shopping continued with a BIG spend at Costco, stocking up on long life products, meat, chicken and fish for the next month.  We ended out the day with Kope Lani ice creams, sitting by the pier.

The main session for Saturday was a 2.5 hour ride with a solid tempo effort in the middle, although I started the day with my staple 7 mile run along Ali’I drive.  The ride later in the day went really well, with the winds being relatively light by Kona standards.  I started Sunday with an early run as well, followed by a 4h45’ ride, which took me just a few miles shy of Hawi and back.  The ride turned out to be a bit of a wake-up call.  I had flown past Waikoloa and Kawaihae, getting close to Hawi with a very healthy average speed, but once I turned around I realised it would be a long ride back to town.  The headwinds and crosswinds were relentless for over 30 miles, which made the return leg mentally challenging.  Still, it was great to get a long ride logged and on the whole I’m feeling very pleased with my post Vegas recovery.

My treat after the ride was a trip to Basik - one of my favourite places on the island – for one of their famous acai bowls.  We walked along Ali’I Drive where there was a street fair on, seeing all kinds of stalls selling different things from food to jewellery.  After sitting by the pier for a while, we decided to jump in for a quick splash. 

I don’t think we’ll be receiving an invitation to diving trials!

It’s been a great first week here, settling back into the normal training routine and acclimatising to the local conditions.  It’s been surprisingly cool and cloudy, although there’s plenty of time for that to change before race day.