The Kona Diaries – Days 1-4

We arrived on the big island of Hawaii on Thursday night after a draining 24 hours of travel. It was pleasantly warm, the sweating started the moment we stepped of the plane. But to be fair this year it hasn’t seemed as hot as two years ago. Much felt like coming home, we are even in the same apartment block as last time, about 2 miles down Alii Drive from the pier.

After a uncharacteristically good first night – I slept from half 11 at night till 9am, we just took it easy the next day to recover from the travel, collected our hire cruiser bikes, shopped for groceries, visited the farmer’s market for yummy local pineapple, passion fruit, papayas, avocados, apple bananas, and mangos. After lunch we put the bikes back together and I headed out for a first ride to check everything works and to spin out the legs. It was warm and windy. Not a surprise then. I didn’t feel particularly strong but that was to be expected, 24 hours of travel don’t pass you by without leaving some sort of mark.

Saturday morning we headed to the pier for our first swim and a bit of star spotting. I’m not really star struck but it is funny to see the who-is-who of triathlon strolling down the street right next to you. You could still tell that race week wasn’t here yet, it was decidedly un-busy. No mid-swim crashes to report yet. The water felt great, and so did my swimming, strong and powerful.

In the afternoon I ran for 30 min. It was a first test whether my feeling that Kona was much less hot and humid than 2 years ago was true. I’d lie if I said it wasn’t hot. It is a bit like running in a sauna, but hey I knew what I was letting myself in for before I signed up!

On Sunday we had motorised transport to the bike course turn-around in Hawi from where we could then ride back to Kona. Seeing the entire bike course without having to ride 180k. I had a 3 hour ride planned anyway, so it seemed perfect. It was also a good chance to test out the Strada wheels in the cross winds at Hawi, and I can report that they handle well. I had issues in riding at decent clip in the aerobars. The plan was to ride easy for a bit then insert some time at race pace, and then finish off with more easy riding. Thanks to the ‘Tobi express’ I was back in training camp mode (stay on back wheel no matter what) and easy on the stretch from Hawi on Tobi’s back wheel was equal to 39 kph! We split up after 30 k or so, and I tested out my race pace, i.e. I rode at perceived race pace with an eye on my heart rate to see whether my race targets are even realistic. Analysis of that will stay private for now. We re-grouped 45 min later and continued on our way back to Kona. I added a short transition run, to confirm whether my feeling about the pacing had indeed been correct. The day ended with a short trip to the beach and relaxed swim at sunset, got to love this place!

Today we only went for a longer swim with some fish spotting: Amongst other colourful and friendly looking varieties we saw one of these which I can tell you are quite scary up close, especially if they suddenly change direction and start swimming along underneath you! A leisurely breakfast later, we’ve had some beach time, and generally put our feet up – as one should in race week!

Aloha from the big island,

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