So we had now settled into a routine in Kona. Jeff and I woke every morning before 4am, and planned the day. Having brought the girls, it’s very important to give them the vacation they deserve after putting up with my racing drama since 2010.
On Sunday, Jeff and I drove to the end of the Queen K, so we could ride the 38 mile round trip ride to the turn around at Hawi. It’s my kind of ride!! CLIMBING!!! Whoot Whoot, but that also means descending, which I am never fond of. I’ve been working on that skill these past few months, and my ride at Mont Tremblant this year, proved I can handle it….or my new BMC is just God’s gift to cyclists. Either way, I think I smiled the entire time we rode. We even found a souvenir license plate on the road which now graces our garage race bib wall.
The ride to Hawi can be one of two things: relentless winds or dead quiet. Regardless of the ride to and from Hawi on race day, WIND will play some kind of role in the 112 mile ride. The roads are beautiful, smooth, and well maintained, mainly because they don’t have to plow (I have now officially seen plows on four trucks since I have been home)! But on the day we rode the winds were active but not scary, I got a good idea of the lay of the land and felt confident about this section of the course for race day.
In the afternoon, we started the exploring part of our trip and visited a beautiful beach called Manini’owali/Kua Bay (in between mile marker 89/88). It was awesome, the girls played in the water, body surfed and did some snorkeling. In the afternoon we headed back home, got our first taste of Da Poke Shack (to die for, we ended up visiting it four times), and the girls snorkeled with Jeff in front of the condo at Kahalu’u Beach (probably some of the best snorkeling on the island).
Monday and Tuesday were absolute treats! I got my first taste of the Kona Aquatic Center (amazing) and a day long trip to Hilo. We took tons of side trips and saw some amazing sights. My favorite thing we did was drive the Hamakua Coast and a side trip to Laupahoehoe Point, Onomea Bay, and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens (I have a thing for orchids, and I’ve never in my life seen more in one place). We also stopped at a great roadside place called What’s Shakin’ (great smoothies, food and funny take home gifts).
I think many athletes come to Kona and never see beyond Kona! Adventure out, life is short and this is a beautiful island with amazing people!
On Monday evening we connected with friends, Jennifer and Pat Dwyer and Steve Roulier for a fantastic dinner with delicious wine at The Kona Inn. It was a treat to havePat’s insight into the race and I must have asked him 100’s of questions! On the way home from dinner, Pat took Steve and I to the famous jewelry store to sign the infamous IM World Championship Poster. The store has all 35 posters, and each year’s poster is signed by as many athletes as they can gather. It was a surreal moment, and it finally hit home why I was there.
Tuesday evening was date night. Jeff and I headed over to the Four Seasons for a wonderful dinner and the most picturesque sunset we had ever seen. Again, get out and be adventurous and see the island.
Wednesday morning, Jeff and I got up early and headed to the Queen K for my last key session. I had a two-hour ride with a 20 minute set with 10 minutes at 10 watts below IM pacing, and 10 minutes at IM pacing, with a 15-minutebrick run. Jeff said I was like afilly let out to race! I felt fantastic, loved riding in the lava fields, and was feeling the Kona energy all around me.
Just as we were finishing our cool down, we heard a cyclist coming up from behind “HELLO DONATELLO’s!!” A quick hello and brief chat with the Cait Snow (who would catch Meredith Kessler in the finishchute on Saturday to claim 6th in the WORLD)!
Jeff didn’t have to run (and nor did he want to), so he headed inside the coffee shop where we were parked and had an ice-cold dark roast coffee for me as a treat for such a productive and great session. LIFE WAS GOOD! Mind you, we would stop as we did every day at Lava Java!
Another day at the beach exploring, this time to the KekahaKai State Park. Getting there was half the fun, as we had to drive thru the lava fields on lava roads for 1.5 bumpy miles. It’s an adventure of a beach, and I highly recommend it. Lot’s of shade, beautiful water, and the fresh water gurgles right out of the sand. We saw a huge turtlet here on the beach relaxing for the day too. Jeff and I chatted about my season and how this was such a wonderful place to come the close it out. It had been a season of a lifetime. I had been racing for something bigger than me, and it’s what has kept me going. I thank Mary and John for allowing me to race in their son’s honor. I hope I have done them proud.
After a long day, a good night sleep was is order because….THURSDAY,was the KONA UNDERPANTS RUN. Uh-oh.