Just got home from a week on the big island. While part of me really wished I was out there on the course, the tough conditions made me a teeny bit glad I was watching from the sidelines this year! It was great to just relax and be "on vacation" for an entire week (it's been ages since I've done that.)
My boyfriend flew out on Friday to meet me and we checked into the Prince Hotel at Hapuna Beach... right at the swim start.
Overall I'd give this hotel a thumbs up if you decide to stay here for a race. Location is fantastic, price is reasonable. It was $200 per night for a small first-floor room with no view, but they'll send you a follow-up email with an invitation to upgrade for only $11/night more. Occupancy this time of year was low (like, REALLY low) so we got the upgrade and ended up in a 7th floor room with a partial view of the ocean. Since occupancy is low it sorta felt like a ghost town -- if you're more social you'd be happier at the Fairmont -- but we ended up visiting the other hotels for dinners and it worked out fine. The only drawback would be getting back to the hotel after the race finish, as it's about 8 miles down the road; there are shuttles but I'm not a fan of waiting for shuttles. All that said, next year I'll likely do the condo rental again; I love being able to cook my own food.
My guy isn't a triathlete but he is a really good sport, so he was game to play tri geek with me for the race. I couldn't find my friends for the swim start, but it was so cool to watch everyone take off. Weather started out quite nice, although I heard that the swim got a bit rough...
Lance coming out of the water...
Lance running into the finish, crushing the course record...
While we were waiting for the pros to finish, we were literally getting blown off our feet. I almost fell over when one big gust hit. I felt so bad for the folks still out on the bike course and relieved about sitting this one out!
Then it was time to play. The next day we drove over to the other side of the island and went to the Botanical Gardens just north of Hilo. My favorite spot was just outside the gardens watching the waves crash on the rocks.
... and then watching them almost crash on me!
Highlight of the trip was kayaking with dolphins in Kealakekua Bay. My only regret was not getting in the water and taking underwater pics as 2 groups of them swam on either side of our kayak... it didn't occur to me until they'd gone by. We'd seen dozens by that time, and were on our way back in, so I didn't get another chance.
If you go, a few tips:
- Go in the morning. It's a bit more crowded, but that's when the dolphins and the sun are out. The sun will vanish behind clouds in the afternoon... alas, as soon as we reached the other side and pulled on our snorkeling gear, it had just clouded up so I missed the beauty of sunlight on coral.
- Rent your kayak and gear from Kona Boys... they were super nice and extremely helpful. Great service.
- Stop at the natural health food store (on the right just before Kona Boys) to get a sandwich and snacks for the kayak. I had the BEST gluten-free zucchini muffin there... seriously, you'd never know it was gluten free. Best. muffin. ever. I bought 2 more on my way home, and need to figure out a way to make them myself. So moist.
- Bring a waterproof camera. You will regret not having one.
The other highlight was getting in 3 open water swims in water with 200 foot visibility and no wetsuit needed. Ahhh. I swam here at Hapuna (and relaxed and read on the beach)....
... and here, off the private beach at the Mauna Lani. If you rent a condo in the complex (even on the Fairmont side) you should get a membership pass to the beach... it's definitely worth it. Not 20 yards off the beach you're looking at coral, fish, and we saw a honu!
Overall a great trip. I ate very well... right now I can only eat fish, cooked veggies and some fruit, so every night was some fabulous fish dish with grilled pineapple and rice and fruity non-alcoholic cocktails (since I can't drink booze right now.)
And now at home I truly feel great. My colon is still not happy but overall my energy is much higher thanks to getting my vitamin D levels back up, eating twice as much protein (and infinitely more nutritious food) and cutting out the gluten. Went for my first bike ride yesterday and actually felt better than before I got sick. So then after deciding I could jump right back into training, I attempted to run 4 miles today... um, bad idea. Landed in the bushes sans toilet paper at mile 3, then bonked and walked home. Ok Jen... baby steps... (I'm not good with baby steps!!)