Triathlon Training on Hawaii Island

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.


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 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.



Waikiki Roughwater Swim 2013: Hard.

A tagged monk seal woke up to a few thousand people on the beach for the Waikiki Roughwater Swim.

A tagged monk seal woke up to a crowd on the beach for the Waikiki Roughwater Swim.

Labor Day 2013 at Kaimana Beach was calm. The ocean appeared gentle, no waves barrelled up against the shore, no white caps popped on the horizon. It was deceptive. I should have taken a cue from the monk seal we discovered snoozing above the shoreline at about 7:30 a.m. When it realized there were about 2,000 people on the beach, half of whom were getting ready to swim 2.34 miles, the seal slid into the drink and away from the cameras and commotion. Pretty sure I saw the seal again as I was swimming from the sixth to the seventh buoy on what felt like an amazing swim to nowhere. Heh.

Smooth as glass. How hard could it be? It was hard.

Smooth as glass. How hard could it be? It was hard.

Swimming the Waikiki Roughwater Swim is like giving birth. You train for months for this marathon ocean swim, it’s a huge pain in the ass, and when you finish you swear you are through. The End. Finis. But while you might take a few months to warm up to having another kid, the very next day you’re telling your loved ones how NEXT YEAR I’M GOING TO DO IT BETTER. Loved ones roll their eyes knowingly, because they knew already. I’m that swimmer. Find me again, probably in wave D, trying to bust my ass to surface at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in under two hours. A year older, 20 minutes faster? Could it happen? I have to believe it will.

Here’s my results via Garmin:

Me and the sign.

Me and the sign.

Looks like I went wide around the first buoy, wove in and out of buoys 2-9, and turned this 2.34-mile plan into a 2.75-mile swim. My husband calls me an overachiever. LOL. Like I said, it seemed flat, the trade winds blew briskly from east to west, and
it felt at first as though it would be a quick swim, much like the last North Shore Swim Series 2.4-mile swim from Pipeline to Waimea Bay, which I did in 01:32:52. I mean, why couldn’t I expect to finish this in less than two hours?!

But let’s talk about the differences between this swim and last year’s. This year I was always within sight of other swimmers. Last year I was alone a lot, surrounded by blue and wondering if I was being watched by big sharks. This year, I wondered the same thing, but most of the time I didn’t worry about it because I was amazed at all the fish I was seeing! It was amazing! Black, blue, yellow, parrot fish, humuhumunukunukuapuaa, brainy coral heads, turtles! Some swimmers saw a hammerhead, but I didn’t. We have plenty of those in Maunalua Bay here in Hawaii Kai, they’re harmless and pretty cool to look at. I got a really bad charlie horse cramp in my right leg as I was approaching the finish. It was so bad I had to stop and stick my foot up and out to give it a stretch. It was horrible! I was worried I wouldn’t be able to walk, let alone run, up the beach across the timing mat. But I did and it was AOK. I worked so hard in this swim. My arms felt like jelly for hours afterward.

While I was out there swimming my little 2.75-mile marathon, I thought of Diana Nyad, who was swimming from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage and with a University of Hawaii scientist in her crew who is an expert on jellyfish. I’ve encountered my share of box jellyfish and manowar jellies, and I can appreciate that.

I also thought about small-kid time on swim team at Riverdel Swim Club in Riverside, N.J. Every summer, we’d be at the pool by 7:30 in the morning for swim team practice that went until 9 a.m. Then we’d stay all day until afternoon swim team practice at 4 p.m. After the big Tri-County meet, we’d spend a few weeks on Long Beach Island, working on our tans, riding the waves, beach combing, our hair bleached by the sun, our noses peeling.

Now I wear sunscreen. But I still have fun being an ocean girl. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother.

Whipsy Weather for the Obama Ohana


This gallery contains 3 photos.

I’ve talked myself out of apologizing for Hawai‘i’s weather of late, which is windy, gusty, chilly, and my favorite adjective, whipsy. If I were on vacation I’d want a refund because the skies are not sunny and bright, the weather … Continue reading

Try Fitness Hawaii’s Annual Na Wahine Festival


This gallery contains 13 photos.

Girls just wanna have fun when they’re kicking their own butts. Yesterday, from the two sisters under 10 years old to the senior women in their 70s, nearly 300 women participated in the annual Na Wahine Festival, a combination of … Continue reading

Who exactly is a bicyclist?


Riding a bicycle is not the same as being a bicyclist. A new tragedy involving a 52-year-old man on the Big Island of Hawaii is reported here. When I was through reading the article, I wanted to know: Was this … Continue reading

Swimming Waimea Bay


This gallery contains 10 photos.

In the 31 years I’ve lived in Hawaii, the only thing I’ve ever done at Waimea Bay is watch surfers, take pictures, and get my ankles wet in the foamy beach break. Yesterday I swam 1.2 miles there. You cannot … Continue reading