“Why don't we turn the clock to zero honey
I'll sell the stock we'll spend all the money
We're starting up a brand new day” - Sting
1999 was my fourth trip racing Kona. I have two very fine memories of that trip; One was that I set my pr that year on the old, harder course. The other was of Lisa and I laying out on a secret beach, one that you take a long lava road to and then follow a foot path which opens up to a sandy white beach with small waves of turquoise water rolling in, and no umbrella is necessary to escape the sun every now and again as there are palm tress for that. There, we listened to Stings Brand New Day album on my Sony Discman (1999!) over and over because a) I only brought that disc, and b) it’s a great album. This is one of my favorite memories of all my trips to Hawaii.
Monday was the long, uneventful day of travel to get to Kona. I went to sleep early Monday night as I was anxious to awake and swim at the pier, one of my favorite things to do. I didn’t sleep well though due to the time change and more so my kid like excitement to “play” in the water the next morning. I awoke at 3am Kona time and never really fell back asleep. I stay around 45 minutes away from the race hub of Kailua Kona as I Ike it a bit more relaxed and peaceful. I love triathlon but it can get a bit overwhelming staying at the heart of the race on Alii Drive - at least for me. I packed up my swim gear, grabbed a coffee and plugged my phone into the aux cord in the rental mini van and hit shuffle. The first song that came on, the first song to start this 2018 Kona experience, was Stings “Brand New Day”.
I met Mitch West at the pier at 6:30am. It was the same scene down there as usual during race week here; A lot of people with very little body fat wearing very little and very little English being spoken. I like to get my training swims in at the pier during race week around 6:30am as there are other swimmers going in, but it’s still not that crowded yet. Around 7am is when it get’s super busy. The water felt amazing and nostalgic right away, especially the saltiness. The visibility in the shallower water wasn’t as crystal clear today due to a lot of rain yesterday, but once you got out into the bay, the visibility was back to it’s incredible range. I felt a bit sluggish which was expected from the long travel day and little sleep, but I kept the effort easy and just enjoyed being out there. At some point, Mitch turned and headed back in, as I hit the buoy where I wanted to turn and I was all alone. I began the return trip, and maybe when I was 3/4 miles from the start/finish, I spotted eight spinner dolphins directly below me, and it gave me an indication of how great the visibility is in the bay because they were down below maybe 40 feet, based on how small they looked. As I’m enjoying the view below, all of sudden I sense something out of my peripheral vision. Mind you, I’m alone out there at this point. It was another seven spinner dolphins swimming right by me, around five feet directly in front of me! Not a bad way to begin this trip.
I gave my father a call to update him on my morning - he’s been out here to see me race a few times and has been to most of my races in general. He really enjoy the whole atmosphere and experience - in fact he feeds off it as his motivation is always higher than it’s usually high self following one of these trips. I certainly enjoy having him at my races, and even though he couldn’t be here this time, it feels right when I get to talk with him each day. Hearing his excitement about the minutia of my day is quite cool.
After the swim, I grabbed a Jamba Juice and another coffee, went through registration and then walked through the expo. The expo at this race is very cool as it’s huge, and all the vendors want to show their latest new gear. They also offer up some great deals if you happen to be racing. Many of the pros were around doing interviews or Q and A’s. Then it was the drive back to where I stay to put my bike together and get a ride in on the Queen K. I rode an easy 32 miles and my legs felt surprisingly good. My low back was tight which was definitely from sitting on a plane for 10 hours. My bike felt fast with the race wheels and new tires on!
Tomorrow will be another solo day for me but I’m excited as Lisa, Kate, and Kate’s friend Maddy arrive later in the evening. I’ll try to be better about taking pictures as well - Lisa was on my case about this today. Kate will be taking over my Instagram and Facebook page when she get’s here as she will be much better with content and keeping family and friends at home up to date.
Saturday will be here quickly. I feel ready. I’m relaxed for the most part. I know the pain that’s coming to me on Saturday all to well - I have nothing but respect for this race, and this Island and how it humbles you. In some bizarre way, I’m looking forward to it this tenth time...