Hawaii is a magical place. There is no better word I can think of to describe it. It is a feeling that tugs at your heart when it comes into sight, but overwhelms the senses as soon as you step right in it. That is what happened Monday afternoon. The second the clouds parted, and the gorgeous green, and brown ridges of the big island came into view from my window seat on the plane, my stomach dropped and my heart burst open, “Wow.”
I already knew had to come back.
The first day in Kona was FULL, and it wasn’t even a full day. By the time I was sitting it the driver’s seat of my Nissan mini-van rental, at 3:15PM, I was soaked through from an afternoon squall, (classic Hawaiian behavior), but was not surprised at all, and completely surrendered; this is Hawaii. The Big Island is beautiful, predictably unpredictable, humble, natural, and powerful. I know my place, I am a guest, and will mind my manners every second I am here.
It is also very challenging to find a coffee farm guest house in the pitch black darkness of the jungle above Kona. That was how I spent a solid hour last night after meeting up with my coach and the Queens of Smashfest Queen, picking up my bike, Simone, before Tri-Bike transport closed at 4PM, where I met an Ironman legend, Julie Moss, pictured above. Julie is the woman who changed Ironman forever by crawling across the finish line in front of cameras, thereby capturing the heartstrings of viewers and inspiring future generations at the Ironman in 1982. I introduced myself, we chatted for a few minutes, but then gave ME a hug when we parted, and said my name. I don’t know about any of you, but I believe there is significance when people say your name. That means you made an impression, they remember you, and the fact that Julie Moss knows my name, and wished me luck for the race, is mind blowing.
Everything from now on out is gravy.
Next, I met up with a fantastic friend, Jennifer McGill, that I have actually never seen in real-life. Jenn lives in London, Ontario, but we are Smashfest Queen teammates, and she is one of the first ladies who wanted to read my book when I first announced that I had written it on the team page a couple years ago. We have been direct messaging besties ever since. Therefore, I when she said she wanted to come to Kona minutes after I qualified in Arizona, I was ecstatic. Finally, meeting her in real-life was an absolute gift. It was quick, too, because I still needed to swim, run, shop for food, and find my 'home away from home" for the next eight days.
I know I have whined and stomped my feet incessantly when it comes to my minimal swimming prowess, but the funny part about my swim session at the Kona Aquatic Center, (circle swimming with three other athletes), is that I felt like I fit in. I belonged in that pool just as much as everyone else. I belong on this island, this week, just as much as everyone else, and I am not taking one second of it for granted.
I also walked past and high-fived Daniela Ryf, the current world Champ, on the pool deck on my way to the lane, which was a nice confidence boost. Just kidding, we might have made eye contact, or I just stared at her ripped biceps, but there was no high-five. Yet….
Next, I ran.
I have had many special runs on Kauai, and my first on the Big Island was exceptional. It wasn’t super-fast, but I found my rhythm quickly, and ran smoothly for five miles as the sun set, and raindrops drizzled down my face. It was the perfect way to end the day.
I cannot wait to run long on Saturday.
Unfortunately, my run outstretched the daylight, and my initial hope of finding my guest house before dark was dashed. I still needed provisions, at least for the night, so I stopped by Walmart, (Siri was having trouble leading me to Safeway), and I grabbed a few needful items and started my journey into the jungle.
Cut to forty-five minutes later after carving around Mamalahoa highway, driving down a narrow, craggy road to a dead-end on the supposed coffee farm my guest house was sitting on, feeling blessed by the rear-view camera in my mini-van so I could maneuver safely back up the steep hill in complete darkness, only discover a shanty-like house, and hostel, but no “paid in-full gorgeous guest house I had discovered last December.” Next, I pulled over and tried to book a hotel to crash at for the night. So, with the grace of the Ohana spirit, I am typing this morning from the lovely Kona Seaside Hotel. I have already contacted the coffee farm owner, and will set out to find my guest house later today in the daylight.
Bring on the adventure!!
I wouldn’t want this trip to be any other way, because guess what? Simone is safe and pleasantly within my eyesight, I have already hugged friends and my coach, my legs and lungs feel strong, I slept for a few hours last night, and I get to share all of this with you today.
Yes, Hawaii is a magical place.
Following is a timely tune from Rita Ora.