Kawela Endurance Triathlon

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Elated at my finish, pouring water over my head.

Elated at my Kawela Endurance Triathlon finish, pouring water over my head.

Hit refresh; I made some edits.

Yesterday I completed Boca Hawaii’s inaugural Kawela Endurance Triathlon. This was my third 70.3 mile event, and my best time so far. Everybody gets a personal record, “PR,” the first time they do an event. That was all of us yesterday. Yay!

My Garmin results were better than the official results, but that’s OK with me. I finished in less than eight hours, which was my goal. My swim was fast for me, my bike ride was strong, and I left myself plenty of time to endure the heat during my run. In Hawaiian, Ka Wela means ” the heat,” a point founder Raul Torres wanted to emphasize in this event he plans on hosting each August. While the swim was cool in the early morning, and the bike was wet until we cleared Oahu’s east side, the run was spectacularly hot.

I must give a shout out to Raul and my coaches Alika Chee, Ryan Leong, Stefan Reinke, Tanya Florin, Felipe Rael and Chris Moore. The training of my body, mind and spirit came together yesterday and I feel positive about improving for future races. By no means am I a superstar when it comes to triathlons. Instead I am just a regular mom who wants to stay in shape, have fun, be healthy, and inspire her family and friends. And if I can do triathlons, what else could I do?

Third 70.3, best finish so far!

Third 70.3 triathlon, third place. My best finish so far at 07:44!

Yesterday, it was still dark when John dropped me off at Kailua Beach Park with my bike and swim gear. The plan was for him to meet me at 2 p.m. at Camp Erdman for my finish. John usually sticks around through my entire races, shooting lots of pictures and witnessing the victories of the top finishers, all the way until I get across the finish line. He is so dang positive when I get over that line, I don’t know what I’d do without him. I finish so far back in the pack that it’s easy to slip into despair.

Yesterday’s swim started in Kailua just as the sun rose over the horizon. The waves sparkled in the darkness, the stars gleamed between the dense clouds that moved with the brisk breeze. It rained while we set up our bikes at transition one (T1). Shades of Lanikai Triathlon. Seems to always rain just as we start our swim. I was very pleased with my swim. It was with the current, so I bet everybody’s results were fantastic. We got out half way and ran back to the start and got back in the water for one more lap. That way no one had to swim against the current. Smart.

Running to swim lap two as the sun rises in the east. Mahalo for the photo by Kim Burnett.

Running to swim lap two as the sun rises in the east. Mahalo for the photo by Kim Burnett.

By the time I got to T1 after my swim, the corral looked deserted, there were a few bikes left. I was calm. I didn’t have any jitters for this race at all. The day before I took The Great White to the back of Hawaii Kai and spent an hour getting in and out of my bicycle shoes that were attached to my pedals so I could mount and dismount quicker. Success! That was a big deal for me. I rode the last few miles on my bike with my feet cooling on top of my shoes. It was heaven. Credit Coach Alika Chee for my newfound skill.

The bike ride felt good, even though it was wet through the first 18 to 20 miles. But it was early enough that traffic was minimal so we could ride in the road and out of the puddles. Quite a few triathletes had to stop to fix punctures. Police throughout the race were on task and very cordial. I absolutely love it when each officer holds up their intersection for me to race through. Each time I sent up a shakka wave of mahalo and aloha to the drivers who patiently waited! Those officers were so great! I think every one of them cheered me through! Priceless.

The Great White needs a good cleanup.

The Great White needs a good cleanup.

It was a fine ride through the North Shore of Oahu, with just a couple of bottlenecks. At one point I got stuck in sand and did a big wobbly fishtail. Somehow I recovered. I swear this bike and I are an awesome team. I love my Cervelo P2!!! I ride with care and I have never had a puncture in a race. I know it’s more a matter of when and not if. It will happen. Sometimes I change out my tubes just so I remember how to do it under pressure!

When I got to Mokuleia, I was secretly bummed that so many participants were already running. The winners finished hours before me. But I am a triathlete who has to focus on completing and not competing. I came in third yesterday because one of my friends in my age group got too dehydrated to finish. I am sure she would have beaten me.

My T2 was long because I had to use the bathroom before I started my run. But, getting T2 and bathroom business done in less than nine minutes is nothing to be ashamed of, right? We ran from Camp Erdman to Kaena Point to Mokuleia Beach Park to Kaena Point to Mokuleia Beach Park to Kaena Point and finished at the camp. For the first lap I was trying to get my legs back. I didn’t feel horribly spent. I drank Coke and Mountain Dew, used my Power Gels, used their Power Gels, was fed an apple banana and pretzels by friends, and always had my hands full with ice and ice water. My coaches Ryan and Felipe kept me in ice cubes the whole way, and I poured a lot of it on me and in me! I was waterlogged by the final third of my run, which is a far better condition than being dehydrated.

When I turned onto the dirt road and made my way to the finish the first person I saw was John and it was the best thing ever!!! He ran ahead of me to shoot a few pix of my finish. I was so happy to be finishing that I cheered and poured more ice water onto myself and crossed with such joy at 07:44:31. I’ll take it! There were times yesterday during the run when I wanted a shortcut. But in my heart I knew I had to complete the whole race. Following my Ironman 2013 and 2014 finishes of 8:12 and 8:23, I am pleased with this result. I’m improving.

Race with Passion is the motto of Boca Hawaii. While it is a simple and sweeping statement, it also emphasizes how each one of us has personal dreams and goals. If you don’t have passion, then what do you have? I have really come to love the Boca Hawaii ohana.

 

Share the Road with Us!

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Big shoulders on the Big Island made doing the Ironman 70.3 a relaxing ride. Headed north to Hawi from the Mauna Lani turnaround, 50 miles to go.

Big shoulders on the Big Island made doing the Ironman 70.3 a relaxing ride. Wish we had bigger shoulders on Oahu’s roads! 

Yesterday during our Boca Hawaii Summer Triathlon Training workout three of my teammates were in accidents with motor vehicles while we were riding our bicycles. No one was fatally injured, all are on the mend, and to the best of my knowledge, each was a victim of hit-and-run rudeness. It is illegal and morally wrong to leave the scene of an accident or to not assist people who are hurt.

In 2012 Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the Vulnerable Users Law, designed to protect bicyclists, pedestrians and people who work on crews such as those who groom road landscaping, etc. It isn’t a snare net to capture and punish drivers. It’s to make drivers aware that they have to look out for everyone who isn’t in a steel capsule hurtling down the highway.

I live in East Oahu, and that’s where these accidents involving my teammates occurred yesterday. This part of the Island is chock full of Type-A captains of industry and their high-maintenance Rogue- or Cayenne- or Lexus SUV-driving wives in their yoga pants, phones illegally at their ears, kids set to ignore in the backseat. One woman in her Mercedes coupe got very close and then told me to get out of the way because she was in a hurry to get to her tennis match at Koko Head District Park. I was completely unaware of her importance.

The point is, people out here need a refresher course on sharing the road with bicyclists. We get the lane. We get the whole ENTIRE lane. Do we take the entire lane? Not unless the shoulder is junk. Most of us ride on the shoulder and we’re OK with that. Sometimes I see riders doubled up to shoot the breeze while we are out there on Kalanianaole Highway and I am not OK with that. I have a little mirror clipped to my sunglasses so I can see what’s coming up from behind me, so I can see that a city bus is about to pull up to the bus stop, or a car or delivery truck wants to turn right. The mirror is very helpful to me, but not everyone uses them or needs to.

East Oahu gets its share of tourist drivers, and I suspect it was a tourist who caused my two women teammates to crash by Hanauma Bay yesterday. I do not know how this person is enjoying their Hawaii vacation. One woman has a dislocated shoulder and the other one has a broken collar bone. Needless to say their bicycles are totalled.

Those of us who ride road bikes and triathlon bicycles have a healthy respect for the road and for the vehicles with which we share it. Most of us obey the laws to the letter. Some of us will roll through a red light if there is nothing going on. Most of us will help each other out if we’re on the side of the road changing out a punctured tube.

I make a point of making eye contact with drivers while riding. I always say thank you with a big smile and an Island-style shakka wave to convey my gratitude to those of you who are getting a chance to pass me because finally I have a shoulder to ride on. Believe me, if it were up to me all of our roads would have broad, clean shoulders for those of us who ride bike or who like to run along the highways.

I have a theory: Bicyclists make excellent drivers because we have the perspective of being both the vulnerable and the infallible user. We ride in the heat, the rain and the wind. These elements add to the challenge of navigating along the shoulder and sometimes in the path of traffic. We know we’re not as fast as you in your big truck or little sports car or your tourist bus or your delivery truck or mom mobile. But do you know that as a driver on Oahu’s roads, you must protect the rest of us who are considered by law vulnerable users? Awareness. We just ask that you have AWARENESS.

 

2014 Honu Ironman 70.3: Racing Against My Own Demons

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Finisher. For the record: 08:23:56, 12 minutes slower than last year.

Finisher. Official medal and Cookies by Design edible medal from Bonnie Leong. For the record: 08:23:56, 12 minutes slower than last year. Swim, bike and transitions were minutes slower. But my run, despite my walking quite a bit, was faster. Amazing.

No matter how well you train, if your body doesn’t respond, react or deliver as expected on race day there really isn’t much you can do about it.

It was perplexing for me. Throughout the race my body was not responding to my directions. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, except that I worked so much the weeks before and didn’t get in enough rest. And believe it or not, it is possible for ME (YES ME) to not eat enough before and during a race.

I had the best training! I was part of a great (and large) group for Endurance Triathlon Training with Boca Hawaii. The fast kids were gracious, the well-established kids were welcoming, and the coaches were supportive. It was so incredible, that I signed up for Summer Triathlon Training, which begins Saturday, June 6, in preparation for the inaugural Boca Hawaii Kawela Triathlon later this summer. After my Honu results, and after a sort of decent night’s sleep (despite the high-maintenance cat), I’m feeling it.

I’m feeling that triathlon thing again and it’s all good.

Pros in white caps, men in blue caps, women in pink caps. Officials. Spectators. Photographers. Kids. It's crazy. We're all nuts.

Pros in white caps, men in blue caps, women in pink caps. Officials. Spectators. Photographers. Kids. It’s crazy. We’re all nuts.

Here’s my blow by blow.

When we arrived on Friday morning in Kailua-Kona and were driving north in our rental car to the Fairmont Orchid hotel, I was giddy. I was loving the hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven baked brownies look of the lava fields, I was admiring the beautiful deep blue ocean, I loved the dark and ominous clouds that clung to the volcano summits.

“I have to find a way to live here,” I said to my husband. “I feel like this is where I belong.”

We would need a few million dollars, that’s all.

We didn’t have much time to shop for a new home or to make a land purchase, so we went straight to the Fairmont so I could check in to the Ironman 70.3 event. I needed to get my race packet, sign several releases, get my race chip, pack and leave my run bag, check into the hotel, attend a mandatory race briefing, pick up my bike, sweet talk the TriBike Transport guys to put the new tires on my wheels so I’d have fresh rubber on the road the next day, and get dressed to ride my bike to Hapuna Beach Park to set it up at the bike start. After that we went to Foodland up the street to pick up some sandwiches and bottles of water. I slept well until 3:30 a.m. and had coffee and breakfast with John. We met our friends Rick and Lori in the elevator and they graciously gave us a ride to the start, so we didn’t have to take the shuttle bus. That was so great!

First swimmer on the beach. So eager! So ready! No idea how the day would go, but that's really how it is for anyone.

First swimmer on the beach. So eager! So ready! No idea how the day would go, but that’s really how it is for anyone.

I was the first athlete down the chute and to the beach. I heard the little beep as it read my race chip when I walked under the giant inflatable that hovered over the checkpoint for transition one from swim to bike. I was in my new Aquasphere skinsuit, I was at the most beautiful beach in th world, and I was eager to achieve a personal record on my second Ironman 70.3. My day didn’t go as planned. Before the horn blew at 7 a.m. for the women to start swimming, the wind picked up and the sun was hot on our backs. The weather had announced itself: hot and windy.

Honu 2014 women's start.

Honu 2014 women’s start.

I hovered in the back of the pack at the start of the swim, and I felt good as I worked my way up and through the other women. Before I got to the first buoy, I was already passing some of the men who launched seven minutes before us. In fact, I passed quite a few by the time I got to the finish. I felt like my swim was going well, I didn’t lose sight of the yellow buoys that I needed to swim around. I spotted underwater photographers taking our pictures from the sandy floor. I thought how so cool those photos would be.

Swim to bike transition. See how happy everyone is around me? I just realized my time was slower than last year.

Swim to bike transition. See how happy everyone is around me? I just realized my time was slower than last year.

I got out of the water and saw that my time was seven minutes longer than last year’s. I was so defeated. The evil self talk began and stayed with me most of the day. After all this training, how could I be so slow?

My transition from swim to bike was about two minutes longer, but I was changing out of a skinsuit, putting on sunguard sleeves and getting into a bicycle jersey while soaking wet. My coaches told us to slow down and be deliberate during transition because haste makes waste. So I didn’t worry.

Headed north to Hawi from the Mauna Lani turnaround, 50 miles to go.

Headed north to Hawi from the Mauna Lani turnaround, 50 miles to go.

The bike is my thing, most of the time. But it would not be the case during Honu. Last year I finished the bike segment in 03:38. This year it took me 03:57, 19 minutes longer, on a spiffier and lighter new Cervelo P2 bike, too. I have a very difficult time eating on the bike. I can’t stand it. I also don’t like to drink, but I force myself to use my aerobottle. By the time I got to Hawi, I thought to myself how I was so DONE with this race. It took me nearly two hours to get up there. How in the world would I beat last year’s time of 03:38? I was defeated. I used the bathroom, drank two Power Gel lime drinks and ate a Bonk Breaker bar. It was wonderful. I felt better and I got back on the bike feeling refreshed. I bet I spent 12 minutes up there, but I needed it. I couldn’t believe that it was taking me so long to get up to Hawi. I was worried it would take me another two hours to get back, and it just about did.

Honu 2014 finishing the bike and telling John how I'm worried I won't finish in time.

Honu 2014 finishing the bike and telling John how I’m worried I won’t finish in time.

I saw my husband John as I was rolling back toward bike-to-run transition and I said, “At this rate, I don’t see how I’ll finish on time.” He smiled, encouraged me, and clicked off a few pictures. Later he told me that he felt I might be right.

I worked on the self talk. And fortunately, I had lots of teammates and friends on the course whose encouraging words put some steam in my steps. I am one of those people who needs the attagirls. You can look at my Garmin stats and see the points of encouragement. My pace picks up, my heart rate bumps up a little bit, and I get a little more positive. If it weren’t for my friends Janet, Kristin, Miriam, KC, Marcy, Karen, Lisa and Eric, I might have finished well outside the cutoff. Especially Janet and Miriam. Such compassion!

At the start of my run I realized I had a water bottle in my back pocket so I tossed it aside as I went by John. I also had a tire tube but I didn't realize it until miles later.

This year’s run was 03:23:59 compared to last year’s run of 03:32. I am amazed I was faster this year because I was truly struggling. But I was determined to finish in time and I had to get my act together. The running training paid off. I still have a lot of room for improvement.

Last year’s run was 03:32. I don’t think I did any walking except for at the aid stations and only until I was finished eating or drinking. I cannot eat, drink, and walk or run at the same time. Such a dork. I’d throw up. This year I did a lot of walking. The Honu run course weaves in and out of the hotel grounds, the hotel’s golf course, through lava fields, behind the shopping center, and back onto the golf course lined with beautiful homes where we run along the fairways. Yesterday it was so steamy hot that I dreaded walking on the grassy parts of the route. It seemed to radiate with so much heat. Finally the course dumps you on to what many of us refer to as Death March Road, which is hotter than heck possibly because it is through more lava. It isn’t smoldering, it is just black and very, very, hot. It was on this road, from miles nine through 11, that I saw a herd of wild goats. Now my friends think I was hallucinating. I wasn’t. They were there!

I ran the first three miles of the 13.1-mile course, then I started walking. First I saw Janet who checked on me from across the road. She was way ahead of me. Then my teammate Marian came up from behind me and cheered me on. We ran together a little bit and then I said to her, “You know, I might have to start walking again, so don’t worry about me.” She started walking at that point but I was still running. We had a good laugh about it. Eventually she passed me and finished before me.

I will be the first to tell anyone that running is hard for me. I cannot stand to run. But running has helped me dropped a little bit of weight, so I’m starting to see the value in doing it more often.

When I emerged from Death March Road, two course marshals told me I had 28 minutes to cover 1.5 miles. Even if I walked, I could finish on time. But I was in pretty bad shape. I was really sad. I thought I spent all this time and money training for my A Race and I was going to miss finishing it on time by minutes. My dream of coming in under eight hours was shot to hell.

Once again I wrestled with my demons. I started to run the best I could. It was more of a crappy jog, but it was faster than walking. I reached the last stretch of golf course and I saw two nene geese in the shade to my left. I love nature. I swear, I look around a lot when I do my triathlons. Maybe I should do less sightseeing?

First there was Lori and Rick and the TryFitness group to holler their support at me as I struggled to beat the clock. John ran alongside me for a little bit — barefoot in the hot grass — and told me that I had it, that I was going to make it, that I would finish on time and get that medal.

I turned the corner, made my final approach and finished the 2014 Honu Ironman 70.3  in 08:23:56, compared to last year’s 08:12: 25.

I wasn’t that upset because I finished before 08:30 the cutoff. And when I got through the finisher’s shoot, my Boca Hawaii coaches and teammates were cheering for me, which was the nicest thing ever — considering most of them had probably finished hours before me. What’s nicer than a group of friends lubed by beer and burgers anyway?

Triathlon is a mental game. Where the winners compete with each other, people like me compete with ourselves. But we don’t just compete against last year’s time or our personal records. We have to beat down the voices that diminish our effort. We have to tell our legs to shut up when they throb and feel too heavy to move. We have to protect ourselves from the flailing arms and legs in the swim and then, when we emerge from the ocean, beat the vertigo, get up on our feet without wobbling, and heave all the way up the sand to transition.

Each race is a transition in our lives. Finishing is an accomplishment that affirms we’ve got within ourselves something more powerful than we know. Part of my future training will have to include mental pushups that will keep me from slipping into the abyss of self loathing.

And (are you still here? still reading?) I also know that I have to not eat so much after a workout. That’s something else I can take care of right now.

I have some wonderful coaches in Boca Hawaii owner Raul Torres, and Ryan Leong, Filipe Rael, Stefan Reinke, Alika Chee, Ray Brust, Lee-Ann Watanabe and Todd Iacovelli. While I continue to improve physically, I want to also work on my mental fitness so that I can push the crap out of my mind faster and get on with my race.

 

 

The Young

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The school year is swiftly coming to close with the end in sight: May 29. What an education this has been for me!

I don’t regret signing on as a substitute teacher for the Hawaii Department of Education, although I do have moments when I feel the attention span of children is about as easy to grip as greased rope. At the moment, I’m in a prep period for a teacher for whom I’ve subbed four days now. The class is quiet. The windows open to a densely wooded area and I am now hearing a bird sing. I wonder what it is?

The seventh-grade students in my science classes have been working on a PowerPoint presentation, based on one of five chapters in their text. Essentially, they create the project to teach the chapter. It’s a good stay-busy project. I showed them how to piece out the work into separate slides and to follow the end-of-chapter review to be sure they included all they needed in their presentations.

But I’m not here to babysit or pontificate. I’m here because part of me is still that kid in school who didn’t quite get it all right. I think I’m looking for me. I think I’m looking to help a kid make the right decision about her future. I know now that doing homework means you will be equipped to meet future deadlines. That keeping up with the studies means that the future will deliver something wonderful. Something. Wonderful. Something. Wonderful.

End daydream here.

They work on Apple laptops. I would imagine for about five minutes it was fun to take off computer keys and rearrange the letters into cuss words. But, since these students have never learned how to type QWERTY style, their hunt and peck is frustrating, and the joke is now on them. Brilliant. Will next year’s seventh graders know better? One would hope. I told the office about the computers. There’s a few weeks of school left and who knows if they’ll be refurbished or replaced?

Keys swapped and missing from laptops.

Keys swapped and missing from laptops.

I offered to edit the PowerPoints and fewer than half took me up on it, and each of them was glad they did. I talked to them about using bullets and art to break up big blocks of text. I told them about citing their work and creating a proper bibliography for their final slide. It’s important to me that their teacher feel as though I did more than babysit.

Early this week, three of the boys had “In School Suspension.” Apparently, when a duck flew into their math classroom, they let out their hoots and the substitute reported them. I think my perspective is much different. If there’s an uproar I usually separate the hooligans. If they persist, I give them an opportunity to come to the front of the classroom so everyone can pay attention to them. All of a sudden, no one’s a stand-up comic. It usually settles everyone down. It’s my favorite tactic.

Last night I attended the academic achievement awards ceremony at Kaiser High School, where my Kid1 is a sophomore. I am so pleased for her and proud of her. She was recognized for being a straight-A student, and for her achievements in math and social studies. She runs around with a cerebral crowd, plays viola in the orchestra, and explains youth vernacular to me. Our mailbox and emails are overflowing with queries from colleges and universities eager to enroll her. It is humbling and amazing to me. What’s it like to be her?

I relate more to students who don’t do well in school. When I was their age, I only succeeded in classes where I could write my way into good grades, so I took advantage of that. Math, science and foreign languages were difficult. So when I’m substituting these students, they have no idea how I can relate to their feeling disconnected to the subject. To them I’m an adult in front of the class. For me, it’s more than a babysitting gig. I want to help ignite eureka moments.

Triathlon Training on Hawaii Island

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Last month I joined my Boca Hawaii teammates on a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii to train for the Ironman 70.3 Honu triathlon, scheduled for May 31. We all stayed at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, a sprawling, multiple-towered beachfront resort that could accommodate more than 60 of us with family members, support crews and bicycles — while making sure the rest of their guests had a great time and didn’t have to dodge too many bikes in the elevators. The group rate made this trip reasonably affordable, and Boca Hawaii owner Raul Torres had us all pack and ship our bikes via Aloha Air Cargo. He picked them up at the airport and brought them to the hotel. When we were done, he and the coaches loaded them back into the truck, shipped them in reverse, and we paid the ransom the next morning to spring our bikes. Easy, peasy.

My husband and I had a fabulous ocean-view room with a king-sized bed and a giant flat-screen TV to match. I put snacks, coconut water and wine in the fridge. The bathroom was bigger than our bedroom! I could get used to resort living! He always tells me: “Get that novel published!” I didn’t get much of a chance to relax in the fancy robe and hang out on the lanai and take in the view because we were so busy!

Fortunately, we were able to enjoy dinner at Cafe Pesto, where a lot of us decided to eat on Friday. After our Saturday seminar and swim, we also had a nice dinner together on one of the lawns, and it was fun to get to know the other teammates better. We pried and found out how some couples met, including Raul and Hina. There are still some stories that need to be told!

This May 31 will be my second Honu. I am seeking to improve on my first effort of finishing in 08:12 last year. No, that’s not eight minutes and twelve seconds. It’s eight hours and twelve minutes! Thanks to my training with Boca Hawaii, I’m optimistic that I’ll be a bit faster despite being a year older.

My husband and I arrived Friday afternoon in time for me to join the scheduled run. That morning, those who had arrived on Thursday rode their bikes north to Hawi, as per the bicycle route of this event, and encountered winds that gusted beyond 50 mph. In fact, one of our stronger triathletes fell, busted up his bike and separated his shoulder (for the third time in his triathlon career). My teammates were humbled by the conditions, worried about our teammate, and were very tired from the effort, the first of eight or nine workouts schedule for the weekend. I wasn’t disappointed that I had missed the ride!

The wind on Saturday morning at Hapuna Beach. Training in windy conditions pays off. We all went in for the swim.

The wind on Saturday morning at Hapuna Beach. Training in windy conditions pays off. We all went in for the swim.

The winds didn’t die down, so Raul and the rest of our coaches decided to shelve Saturday’s ride up to Hawi and beyond. They swapped the Sunday and Saturday workouts, so we started Saturday morning, which was still quite windy, with a swim in Hapuna Bay. This bay is my absolute favorite to swim in. It is crystal clear, you can watch sand swish in the currents below, and there are lots of fish and turtles to watch. We had several swims scheduled, and I wish I could have just jumped in one more time on Sunday after our big bike ride and run.

Getting briefed by Raul Torres before our morning swim in Hapuna Bay.

Getting briefed by Raul Torres before our morning swim in Hapuna Bay.

Following the swim we had our long run. Hills and heat, beach sand and coral, through the woods and along the resorts, the conditions were varied and tested us. I nearly fell a few times, the toe of my running shoes got caught on a tree root or I’d misstep on coral or lava rocks. It was all an education on how to cope, how to overcome, how to do our best. I got to use my new Nathan hydration belt and I have to admit it was flawless. Snug enough not to slosh on me, I could forget I was wearing it. That’s a ringing endorsement!

The long run, still fresh during the first half.  Rick Keen photo.

The long run, still fresh during the first half. Rick Keen photo.

Running is my weakest triathlon leg, so I really need to get better at it. Last night we were running the hills at Kakaako Waterfront Park, and it’s such a test for me. But I know that each day I get better and stronger. During Honu, the run is at the hottest time of the day. I’ll need to hydrate and eat while on the bike to deter bonking during the run. I’ve got a month of practice to improve on this part, and my coaches have really been helpful about my form and pace.

Ready to ride to Hawi and beyond on Sunday morning. Wind wasn't as strong, thank goodness.

Ready to ride to Hawi and beyond on Sunday morning. Wind wasn’t as strong, thank goodness.

We did get to ride up to Hawi on Sunday. Some of the more seasoned and fit triathletes rode their bikes to the end of the road, which included a lot of hills and the reward of a gorgeous view. Knowing that I’d have to run, I turned around at Hawi after having a mocha and a hard boiled egg at the cafe. The wind did die down, but not completely. There are embankments into which the road is carved, and when we first exit their shelter the wind whipped us sideways. My new bike, a 2014 Cervelo P2, caught the wind more than my old Scattanti did. I was glad for the exercise in maintaining balance as the wind toyed with me on both my climb and descent. I was also glad I didn’t refamiliarize myself with the wind and hills on the new bike on wind-swept Friday!

Despite the busy Sunday schedule, we managed to check out on time and got to do a little bit more sightseeing. I am crazy about the Big Island. I’d love to live there if I could swim at Hapuna Beach everyday! I guess I should really finish that novel!

We had a little bit time before our flight back to go exploring.

We had a little bit time before our flight back to go exploring.

 

Back to School


Taking the substitute teacher course offered by the Hawaii Department of Education was one of the smartest moves I have ever made. It took more than a month before I started getting calls to work, but now I’m turning down assignments. It’s great to wake up and decide between hanging out with my husband, writing an article that’s due or going for a bike ride instead of heading to class. But most of the time I agree to substitute. Bills to pay and triathlons to train for. It all costs money!

Substitute teaching is not always smooth sailing. I mostly substitute at schools where my daughters attend so sometimes kids who are familiar with me think they can act up. There are few perfect days of perfect classes with all perfect children (there was one), and it is true that trouble makers comprise less than five percent of the whole room. What I love is when students come up to me to say hello, to reassure me, and to commiserate because of one or two high-maintenance classmates. Teachers are happy to pay attention to students, but positive behavior trumps punk every time.

Times have changed. Kids have smart phones, tablets and laptops. Today I introduced students to the My Fitness Pal app so they could get it on their phones to track their nutritional intake for a week. I told them that the free app also has a website that retains everything they input from their phones so they could easily copy repeat items and then print the log when ready. Those who wanted to were welcome to write in food journals instead. I also showed them http://hawaiifoods.hawaii.edu/ to find local food items such as chicken long rice, Spam musubi, beef teriyaki and pork lau lau.

Most of the students downloaded the app and got busy. A few played cross-platform video games with each other on their phones. Like that’s cute.

When it comes to substituting at high school my main goal is to keep students in the room. They can choose to do the work or not. If they misbehave I write it down. Pushing a friend in the teacher’s beat-up old leather wheeled chair at top speed across the classroom merits a mention.

More and more classes I encounter now have sofas in them. Students hurl themselves at the sofas or at each other on the sofas and have a blast. Maybe they do that at home, but I doubt it. Apparently, the teacher says it’s OK.

I know this because the students tell me. It usually goes like this: One giant boy does a full body slam onto the sofa. A second and third giant boy throws himself onto the first boy, ala tag-team-caged-fighting-squads. Then they look at me and say, “We’re allowed. The teacher says it’s OK.”

Of course I believe them. Wouldn’t you?

Alone Time


I’m a little disappointed that no school needed me to sub today. However, I can get to work on the next three story assignments I have, and that’s a good thing. But before I do, I thought I’d do some writer calisthenics here on lavagal.net. It’s been a while. Alone time.

My SIL1 is waiting for my blog about our trip to Volcano on the Big Island a few weeks ago. I looked back at my pictures and realized that I had not taken any photos of my four sisters-in-law and the lone fellow out-law husband of SIL4. Instead, I took photos of the volcano, the darling bungalow we stayed in, the flora, the fauna. There are a few photos of us on top of Mauna Kea, but the best ones are in my husband’s camera. I’ll ask. What I loved about our trip was how chilly the volcano area is. We spent very little time in Hilo, so most of the time we were bundled up in socks and sweaters. For those of us who live in Hawaii, that is always a joy. I cooked breakfast one morning, recruited by SIL1, and I made egg McBobs, named after her late husband. I brought along some hashbrowns and served those on the side. That night I made linguine with caramelized onions and yogurt sauce, a dish that is out of this world. I plan to cook the onions on our grill the next time I make this dish — that’s how many onions are in it.

While on the Big Island, a Costco Hawaii Kai manager called me with hours for the following week. I got 32 hours and Sunday, January 19, was my last day. I’m now waiting until February 19 to see if I get a permanent part-time gig. I had also been scheduled for a job interview for a full-time communications administration position, but I declined it. It felt too much like the soul-sucking experience I’m still recovering from. Stepping away from all that is a good idea. I’ll stick to the freelance writing, and, in the meantime, taking all the substitute teaching assignments I can.

Yesterday I taught 7th grade Social Studies, which focused on the Hawaiian Overthrow. How embarrassed I am at the behavior and arrogance of the men who dethroned Queen Liliuokalani. Many of these public school children are not white, many are of mixed race, and some are of Hawaiian descent. I’m not quite sure how much any of the students cared about the lesson, but they need to learn. Such lessons will hopefully create a better world. That’s why we need to learn our lessons.

Last Friday I taught kindergarten and it was the 100th day of school. So there was all kinds of 100 Day things to talk about. I felt a little bad for the teacher as 100 day is pretty special. The kids counted out 100 fruity o cereals and then strung them on red silk cords that I tied when they were done. I then put them in a plastic bag and ordered them to put them in their backpack (as instructed). Kindergartners are a trip. I was grateful that the school provided two helpers for the first hour (they spend the day taking turns in the K classes). I sometimes feel like I’m flying blind, but the day went well. I slept well that night!

Gearing up now for the start of triathlon training in about two weeks since I’m returning to Kona for the Ironman 70.3 on May 31. I’m actually resisting the urge to enter a lot of events this year. I think I might enter two or three before the 70.3. Staying low, invisible, unnoticed.

So this should do it for now.

BTW, I can’t figure out how to get photos off my MotoX with the WP app and onto the blog. Soon.