Monday, October 31, 2011

Picking a Favorite

This year I tried something different than I have done in the past. I made my race season 4 weeks long. I did all of my races within a one month period and the last one was in July. Since that time, I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do next year. I had a couple of different conflicting races that I want to participate in and kept waffling back and forth on which one I would do. All of August and part of September I would go back and forth. One race involved swimming, biking and running. The other race was just biking. Both required tons of focus and training. One event I had done before, the other was completely new territory with a huge learning curve involved. I was caught between pushing my limits and doing something new, and going back to the familiar. I wasn't sure that I would ever be able to make a choice but I had faith that at some point the right path for me would become clear. At some point in September I was asked a question that shed light onto my dilemma...

Cool chandeliers in San Fran

'which is your favorite, swimming, biking or running?' Now this isn't the first time that I have been asked this question but this is the first time I really thought about it. In the past I would just answer with whichever one I had been enjoying the most at the time, or more likely whichever one I had just done. This time my answer was different, I responded I really like swimming, I really like biking and I really like running. The interrogator (or person just making polite conversation) pressed on and said 'but if you had to pick one to do and could only do one which would it be?'. That is when the answer came to me, I would pick triathlon. And, when the next question came in the little room with the hot lights and the two way mirror 'what distance would you do if you could only do one distance?', I responded with no eye shift and no hesitation that I would do Ironman. So next year, 2012 if all goes well I will return to my favorite thing after a 6 year hiatus and line up at the start of my 13th Ironman.

Raw Tortilla Soup

When people find out that I follow a vegan diet they naturally tend to have many questions for me. Mostly, they want to know what I eat so I have decided to start sharing some of my favorite dishes and meals. I aim for a mostly raw diet, meaning that my food is not cooked or heated over 110 degrees F and it is all plant based. Recipes available on request.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


This summer I came upon a call for women to volunteer to mentor new triathletes participating in a women's only sprint triathlon, SheRox,  in the fall. Immediately, I signed up thinking how great it would be to be able to share everything that I have learned, most of it the hard way, and share my passion for the sport. I love to witness women becoming empowered when they accomplish something physical and was excited to be part of this process. Instead of being the teacher though, I feel like I was taught what living is all about.

My assigned mentee turned out to be an amazing woman who really embodied everything that this race represents. The race is partnered with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to raise money and awareness towards research on ovarian cancer. Turns out that the woman I was working with finished her chemotherapy treatment in February for this horrific disease and was ready to take back her body and her life. I was in awe of her and her determination and I saw first handed how strong she was. On our first session together at the swimming pool she swam 4 lengths and had to take a break (which was 3 more lengths than I was able to do when I started out in this sport!). She went back to the pool 3 days later and swam 8 lengths without taking a break and repeated that 6 times (swimming almost twice the distance she needed to cover in the race). Talk about tenacity. At that point I knew without a doubt that she would finish the race, and I saw a glimpse at how she must have tackled her illness and fought to survive. The most amazing thing wasn't that she trained and completed the race, to me the most telling and touching thing was that she didn't want to focus on being a survivor. She told me she just got lucky, somehow I know better, there is always luck involved, but she has a spirit that is fighter to the core.

I was able to answer questions and give tips on getting ready for the race and getting to the finish line but Liz mentored me more than I did her. Watching her 3 young kids, husband and friends who had all been with her throughout her 2 year battle cheer her on as she raced I saw that our sport is so much more than split times, fast equipment and beating others. It is about showing ourselves and others that our bodies and minds are strong. Seeing Liz cross the finish line with tears in her eyes was extremely moving and all I can say is SHEROX!

Thank you Liz for shining your light into my life!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Goodnight Sun, Goodmorning Moon

Sunset Swim

Followed by picnic dinner on beach

Moonset run

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Back to the Beginning

In 1993 we witnessed our first Ironman live and it happened to be the one in Hawaii. We were there to watch our friend Jason race. It was a day that changed my life forever because that is the day I decided that I wanted to be an athlete. I can't explain why a girl who had never undertaken any type of endurance event would stand on Alii drive and proclaim to her husband 'I'm going to do this' (meaning triathlon), maybe a rational sane girl wouldn't have said that, but I never claimed to be either of those things. Luckily for me, his reply was 'we had better get you a bike' and thus the journey began.

This year we returned 18 years later to once again watch our friend Jason race in the Ironman in Hawaii. This one was special in that it was on the 20th anniversary of his first trip to Kona and it was also his 20th Ironman. The first time he raced there he was 22 and he is still racing strong and fast!

waiting on the seawall for the start

swim course kayakers in place

Masses getting in the water

Jason is in there somewhere, not too chaotic:) He's in the blue cap

2/3 of Jason's cheering squad, waiting for the bikers

the other 1/3, waiting for the runners

We were really good at cheering and getting around to different spots throughout Jasons race, we weren't very good about taking pictures. I'm not sure what happened but I think we all thought the other was getting pictures. Our team shirts had Jasons race advice on the front 'Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn!'. They weren't quite as flashy as the purple team tanks from eighteen years ago but what can you do?

1993 Jaybo for Speed Squad

Monday, October 17, 2011

God of Thunder

The first time we went to Kona to spectate the Ironman was in the early 90's. Back then there wasn't the selection of triathlon apparel that there is today, so men raced in their speedos. They also went out to dinner, grocery shopped, went for runs, went to movies and pretty much wore nothing but speedos everywhere they went. Some would claim that they didn't want to get funky tan lines and thus burn on race day by wearing running shorts or bike shorts. Luckily, the golf courses have a dress code so that was one area where men weren't found in their speedo. I am grateful that today golf courses still have a dress code because at this years underpants run in Kona I learned that my golf pro would go around wearing nothing but his underwear or a speedo or -gasp - nothing if it was acceptable. He participated in the infamous run and he seemed a little too comfortable leaving the condo, driving to town and walking throughout town in his special undies and wife beater. I'm sorry ladies but he is all mine:0

Excuse me, does this effectively hide my THUNDER??

Strangely, he wears many more clothes for his beach nap-being a god of thunder is tiring.

Secret secluded beach where batman could take a break from crime fighting.

After all the excitement of the day I went for a nice evening run in a rain shower (luckily the only thunder I encountered was back at the condo) followed by dinner on the lanai with a spectacular sunset. Another day of bliss, 2 bikinis for me and one for my god of thunder=3:)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

End of the World

Having experienced a 3 bikini day, forever to now be the standard which all days are measured, the expectations for this vacation were set very high. How was I going to achieve another 3 bikini day? It was going to be difficult but I was up for the challenge. As soon as I woke up I put on a bikini, grabbed some goggles and a cap and headed out for my date. I had been told that the spinner dolphins came by every morning between 6 and 7 and I did not want to be late so I was ready before 6 and waiting. Sadly, I was stood up, perhaps my supreme gracefulness upon entering the pacific the prior day kept them away? Instead of my much anticipated morning swim amongst dolphins we headed to the Kailua-Kona pier and swam with much less serene creatures. We found ourselves surrounded by the species known as Ironman triathletes. No worries, they didn't venture too far out, most of them probably weren't aware of how clear the water was and that they could still strut their stuff (after all, they work hard for this level of fitness) in the water.

so blue and so clear, I miss it!

Mid day I took a nice run along Alii Drive. The number of people out running confused me and for a moment I thought I was in a race, there was a steady stream of runners in both directions. I even ran for awhile with the eventual winner of the women's race (by awhile, I mean two steps, I didn't want to crush her confidence so close to her big event so I let her go). Unlike the other runners out there I was running to the End of the World to meet me hearty for some cliff jumping - or as I was referring to it, bikini #2. Sadly, the water was super choppy and as much as I wanted to show my fear of heights was long gone, my rational fear of a stupid death remains and I did not want to be smashed into Lava rocks. Does the fact that I ran in my sports bra and shorts count towards my bikini count??

probably not a good day for jumping

It ended up being only a 2.5 bikini day, but that is still a pretty amazing day. (I gave a point five for the sports bra running:))

Friday, October 14, 2011

Perfect Day

Last week I had a perfect day. It all began when I woke up in Kailua-Kona (okay, basically the story could end right here). From out living room ocean view we were treated to a spinner dolphin show. (once again the story could end here but it doesn't). After breakfast, during which we hatched some plans for the day, the adventures began. First on tap was a swim into town. Our condo happened to be right by the Kona Ironman swim turn around buoy, maybe a couple of hundred metres further, so the idea of swim commuting was hatched. The boys watched Alison and I launch ourselves off the rocks in front of the condo. Launch might be a bit glamorous of a word for how I got myself into the ocean but since it is my blog I can make myself sound graceful. If you really want to know how I got into the water picture dropping a big boulder, a big splash and absolutely no technique! As soon as I hit the water I was shocked by how warm it was. I am pretty sure I stopped no less than a dozen times during the swim to exclaim how 'awesome' it was. Everything from how clear and blue the water was, how beautiful the fish were, how amazing it was that we were 'swimming to town', on and on and on I gushed. Luckily, my companion was loving it as much as I was and we weren't too worried about crushing it, we were focused on loving it. Turns out we pretty much had the entire swim course to ourselves. For some reason those triathletes in town to race didn't venture out past the first couple of buoys. Can't imagine what they were saving their energy for?

Making way to launch, barefoot on lava rock-I'm so bad ass;)
Step one, we are both in the water, this was my first stop to gush on how awesome it was- yup, I didn't get very far- I may have made it a bit further before my next stop

The boys caught us finishing our swim, we both decided we would love to swim commute all the time

After our swim we stopped at a farmers market and picked up some fresh produce. Super yummy papaya, pineapple and veggies for my salads all week. How could this day get any better? How about a trip up the island to one of the bestest beaches in the whole world. When I think of great beaches that I have been to this one is always in the top three. The sand is amazing, the water so clear and blue and it is so peaceful. We spent several hours at Hapuna beach. Bobbing in the water- which required bikini number two for the day, sitting in our little sheltered cove, having our picnic lunch and one of us did some serious napping-Me Hearty really was taking this vacation thing seriously!

The view from my towel

another view from my towel
sun for one, shade for one- Me Hearty was in heaven with his orange passion Hawaiian sun drink all week

After a few hours of reading, bobbing and napping we headed back to town to get ready for our next adventure of the day. We got back to the condo, cleaned up our stuff a bit, had a quick dinner on the lanai and then I put on my third bikini of the day and we headed out for our evening adventure. We had a sunset kayak from Keauhou Bay out to the night feeding grounds for the Manta Rays. We weren't holding out a ton of hope at seeing Manta Rays since our friends had gone on a boat trip two nights earlier and gotten skunked. Once we got out to the viewing spot we were given our dive lights and we were into the water. We had lucked out and were the only two people on this nights trip so we could pretty much dictate where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. It was great and right at the 30 minute mark of being in the water we got to see one of these magnificent creatures swim right under us and around. She really liked our light and there was an abundance of plankton in the water so she was having a feast. Right after that Me Hearty got a little sea sick, maybe a little more than he let on as he was pretty green the rest of the night and into the next day. For me the day couldn't have been better. In my rating system, 3 bikinis equals the Perfect Day.