Ironman, Here I Come

Mirinda Carfrae, Women's Winner Kona Ironman 2010

Mirinda Carfrae, Women's Winner Kona Ironman 2010

The Ironman World Championship is held October in Kona, and I will be back! No, I won’t qualify as a participant. Heck, I wouldn’t even be eligible for the few lottery spots that are available to complete the field of 1800 athletes. Good grief, I am struggling to get back to walking regularly (no bitching this post, promise). Nope, we are coming back for 2 amazingly, exciting weeks next September/October to volunteer and be a part of this truly amazing race.

For years we have tried to celebrate our anniversary here in Kona, which just happens to fall the same week as Ironman. Reservations are held years in advance by athletes, sponsors, officials, property owners, etc. Our loyalty and repeat business to a prime little condo that hangs over crashing waves finally has paid off. The manager pulled out a corner unit with a wrap-around lanai that she keeps in reserve for returning race customers, and she is letting us rent it for a very reasonable price. We started talking to shop owners and bartenders along the water front about the Ironman experience, and everyone encouraged us to volunteer as a great way to participate and get close to the action. We were given the number of the local volunteer coordinator and are so stoked about doing this!

I watched many marathons when we lived in Houston and one half tri-athalon. The energy is intense. Plus, this is one way to give back to the island that we are so attached to. It takes thousands of volunteers before and during the race to support the event. The one thing we won’t do is play doctor and staff medical stations. Not sure about licensing, but more importantly, we don’t want to mix bidness with pleasure.

So, tonight it’s aloha to the Big Island as we head back to the green desert of Tucson. The week has been full of relaxation, glorious weather, even more glorious humidity on our lizard skin, lots of whales, fresh pineapple dripping down our chins (thanks to Shelley for the tips), time on the water, and the sound of soothing waves. As one local told me, “We live on the land; we draw life from the ocean.”

Kailua-Kona coast

Village of Kailua-Kona seen from swim portion of Ironman route, safely from a catamaran

 

Village of Kailua-Kona seen from swim portion of Ironman

The Big Island Beckons

Less than 48 hours and we will be flying to the Big Island of Hawaii. I ♥ Hawaii – so much that we seriously considered moving there in 2005, but the distance from our families was too great. It has been over 2 years since our last visit, and this Island Girl (now shriveled from desert dwelling) will return to the wondrous diversity and Aloha of the Big Island.

Waipo valley

Waipo Valley

Waipo Valley is amazing beautiful and  incredibly secluded.

cowboys in hawaii

Cowboys on the Parker Ranch

The wide open spaces remind me of Texas!

Pele's Crater in Kilauea Volcano

Kilauea has been spewing lava since 1983 and adding acreage to the Island. We have seen active lava from foot and via plane and helicopter. Spectacular!

After many visits, we always rent a condo on the Kona side, which is technically a desert receiving about 10 inches rain/year, as opposed to the Hilo side that gets > 130 inches/year. See what I mean about diversity!

Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world – when measured from the sea floor it is 33,000 feet about sea level, towering above Mount Everest by over 4,ooo feet. Seeing snow on this gorgeous shield volcano from the beautiful warm beaches in the winter is a staggering sight.

mauna kea viewed from hilo

Mauna Kea viewed from Hilo

My strongest connection to Hawaii is the ocean. I love snorkeling with turtles (honu) and go in quest of whale encounters with the amazing humpbacks.

Honu - protected green sea turtle

humpback mom and babe

Humpback mom and babe

Leaping humpback

I will be just short of my goal weight of 200 pounds for the trip. Who the heck cares! We will be in paradise drinking 100% Kona coffee, eating fresh fruit, savoring fruits of the sea, and connecting with some of the most wonderful people in the world.

Aloha!

Jan