Friday, October 18, 2013

My Week of Kona: The Pre-Race Extravaganza From a 'Media' Perspective

Kona. Another trip in the books. Warning: Tons of pictures in this post! Every time I've gone to the Big Island it's been for the same purpose -- the Ironman World Championships -- but every time my experience has been so incredibly different. It's hard to even compare each year. Even on race day I've done very different things, which is cool because I've been able to see the race from many perspectives. I've also learned that when you're in Kona on race week a large amount of things just randomly happen. You can't plan it. Whether it's who you run into walking along Ali'i or an invite for a new adventure that comes up last-minute -- those usually make for the best memories.
Sunset at Huggo's. Spent a lot of time here this year, and made some great memories with good people.

This was a large part of my week: WORKING! Behind the scenes from our bedroom... hehe, don't get any ideas here
folks, clearly this is all business! ;)

We also worked out and about around town, including this gem of a place: Daylight Mind Coffee, which had
amazing food (healthy and delicious), amazing views (full panoramic oceanfront view; see below), great coffee, and
The view from one end of Daylight Mind Coffee, which served as a pseudo office all week.
This year the random things certainly did happen, but I also went to Hawaii with more of a schedule than I've ever had before, which definitely made for one busy, but fun, week. I had a chat with Mike Rouse one afternoon and we agreed that we could easily extend that week into a full month; although, it would be tough and not for the faint of heart haha. You are burning the candle at both ends and always on the go. Not that I see that as a bad thing, heck no, it's just a grind! It also makes for a lot to talk about on here! I'm going with the three-part series again: pre-race, race day, post race. The pre-race part alone could be 20 blogs with all the fun stories, but I'll try to keep it to the daily highlights as best I can (with lots of pictures).

First though...

John's first Kona. I threw him into the mix with no mercy.
He wasn't shy ;)
There were a few new things this year that I've never experienced in Kona. First and foremost having my boyfriend with me. I don't think John enjoyed me being away on a Hawaiian "vacation" for so long last year, so this year I had no doubt he'd find a way to pull off the trip with me. It was a blessing that he could take the time off. I loved having him there and it really enhanced the experience. But don't get the idea for one second that this was a "two lovers in Hawaii" kinda trip. No way. It was business, and I put him to work for me baby! For three years I've been 100% on my own (mostly), and this time I had him to help, and it was amazing. He did all the video stuff we posted on EP, which you can see here, he was also super helpful in keeping our schedule organized, and, most importantly, he made sure to live it up and have fun at every event or meeting or whatever.... we loved it.

Doing the deed. Heeeeyyyy!
Having John as my partner in crime meant I was willing to take more risks. Namely this meant hitch-hiking. I would never do this alone, and in past years I always was able to borrow a bike (whether it had brakes or not) or a car, but not this year (we waited until post-race to rent a car). Our condo, the same one I stayed at last year, was just over 2 miles from the pier which doesn't sound that far, but it is when you need to multiple places fast. Solution? Hitch hike. It was, in theory, scary to me at first, but turned out to be a highlight of the trip! We couldn't help but laugh about how fun and interesting it was, not to mention how reliable it turned out to be. In nearly all cases we were picked up within 3 minutes, and every single time it was someone awesome who picked us up, local or otherwise -- including even Jay Prashun of LAVA Magazine, Crowie's wife Neri (and his adorable new baby girl, Lani, along with Crowie's mom), as well as many locals who were a blast to chat with. We even had one local dude pick us up twice. The stories from those experiences alone merit their own blog at some point.
Some locals picked us up one time, and this guy sang
to us and played ukulele. Only in hawaii.
Speaking of that, this year I took more time to chat with the locals and ask them some questions. Mainly: "What do you think of Ironman week and all the people here?" The normal response was something like, "It's cool and brings good business BUT the athletes take over the roads and do scary things on their bikes or when running -- as in, they are totally oblivious to cars and act like they're exempt from the rules of the road." That made me sad to hear. I want us triathletes to leave a good impression on the towns we visit, especially Kona of all places, and not like we are an elitist group that's above the law. Respect... (and helmets, which I sadly do NOT see enough of....)

Poke bowl, no rice, extra sides.
Alright, enough mini ranting. By this point, I'm sure you're wondering by now, what did I actually do all week? And why did I need to be "so many places" so fast? The priority was Endurance Planet work (creating content -- podcastsvideos and this year even fun Instagram stuff -- then editing and uploading content); after that it was part personal business/sponsor stuff and part having fun and networking. I truly am blessed to be part of, what I consider, the coolest industry in the world. So, yea, all that will keep a girl busy 24/7 in a place like Kona on race week. Literally the only down time we had until Sunday was bedtime, which was usually only about 5-6hrs of sleep a night. Ouch. But that's what you do. Which leads me to this post. I debated even talking about each day in detail (i.e. do you guys really even care?) but I want to give some insight on what it's like to work media and "be everywhere" on race week. Keep in mind, below are just the highlights and not even everything, not to mention I didn't even get close to do everything I wanted to do! That said, I did make sure to hit up the farmer's market and Da Poke Shack a lot. I'm obsessed with that place....
How could you not want this 24/7 while on the island?!
Perfect on-the-go snacks from the Farmer's Market, which is open all week!


The scene from Humpy's at night. Pouring.
Sunday: Arrived just before noon, settled in, caught up with roomie Dr. John Post, introduced John to Kona town, then had dinner and drinks at Kona Brewing with the Rouses, Corbins, etc. Sunday was the only semi-mellow day (i.e. no work plans), but it was an extra long day with the time change and by dinner my eyes were heavy as bricks. It poured that night, and I got cold. Really? After Kona Brewing, a big crew headed over to Humpy's because word was that there was going to be another sausage-eating contest featuring the one and only Wattie going at it, which last year was quite the spectacle apparently (I missed it). This year, no sausages (probably a good thing) but plenty of good times with good people. Finally met more of my Skratch peeps, like Jon R., talked beer with Wattie and Heather. Standard. Oh yea, and more rain!

Only in Kona do you run into your
friends mid-swim on the way to
the Coffees of Hawaii boat!
Monday: Early-morning swim at Dig Me Beach; first one since last year, ahhh. Steve from Triathlete found me in the water and slapped my image on their website's main page -- glad I was wearing Betty that day ;) After that a leisurely podcast and chatting with Ian Mikelson at Huggo's, followed by supporting Rousey on his birthday run. Afternoon: prepped for a Mark Allen interview, which got canceled due to double-booking, bummer, but you could tell he genuinely felt bad. That night we watched Rousey finish his birthday run (see his Blazeman roll in photos below) then we all celebrated at Huggo's; a good crowd came out that night. We snuck away a little early that night because my friend Pedro Gomez told me about a party hosted by Endurance Conspiracy at the Hulihe'e Palace. I love Pedro (my roomie from last year) and wanted to catch up with him, but sadly he left before we got there. Thanks to him, though, we scored on a great party that was mellow, fun, had nice live Hawaiian music and, the best part, FREE catered dinner from the Da Poke Shack! Really?! If Tim DeBoom planned that menu, then I love him even more. It was legit.
Podcasting with Ian Mikelson, giving a more in-depth preview of the men's race.
Good view; no wonder Bob Babbitt uses this for Breakfast with Bob!

Above you see a man doing what he loves more than anything -- running a ton in support of a great cause. Rousey is a special guy :)

The scene at The Palace for the Endurance Conspiracy party. Fun, mellow and amazing food!
John was a fan of Kona from the start.
Had a great time interviewing Chris Legh tucked away in
Bike Works - you do what you can, right?! I love this
pic because it looks like I just asked Chris a horrendous
question and he's disgusted by me haha!
Tuesday: Great day starting with another swim, this time we filmed it and John put together this video, then media check in and mingling, followed by hanging out at the (epic) Zoot booth and filming a short video podcast being that it was a special year for them -- their 30th anniversary from the time they were founded in Kona. That day i also I recorded two great podcasts. First was with Chris Legh on his last Kona, then immediately after with Mark Allen, who graciously rescheduled. With Mark, we had a great chat about his new book, The Art of Competition, and much more -- that talk and experience was so special to me. Last year, I interviewed Dave Scott, and now Mark. The two are like night and day. With Mark, and in the setting we were in, I felt so calm and at peace. Pretty neat. That night was the Bonk Breaker Team dinner, and of course lots of fun :) I finally met Biju the chef (of Skratch) which was so cool for me -- cooler than meeting Gordon Ramsey, duh!

Chatting with Mark Allen. We definitely had a good time. I am going to get his new book!
I felt like my interview with Mark was party relaxation therapy - he's like that. I'd
really recommend checking out his new book and helping with the fundraising!
A sneak peak at a page in Mark's book...
Later Tuesday we had some fun with the guys in ORANGE. If you were in Kona, you saw the orange. They were
everywhere and did a killer job! Glad to be on the Bonk Breaker team. 
Finally met Angela Naeth in person, as well as her new husband. Just had Angela
on the podcast, and I predict she (and Heather Jackson) are the next big things in Ironman.
Wednesday: Started with an early morning run of about 6 miles on Ali'i (this would be my last real
Had some of my favorite Kona treats that I
really only ever get in Kona, including
Thai Papaya Salads. The best!

workout I'd have until getting back home to Calif). It was a star-studded run, I think I saw at least 5 pros and a bunch of other AG'ers I know -- it looked like the 5 freeway at rush hour. Then we worked at the Bonk Breaker booth in the expo from 9-1; gotta help my peeps! Plus, it's really fun working at a booth like theirs. The only problem is controlling your intake of BB samples ;) During our shift, I started recording clips for a podcast on sports nutrition. After that, had a podcast with Hillary Biscay previewing the women's pro race; she was super insightful and fun. We both sucked down coffee -- I survived on caffeine through the week! Then hitched a ride to the Clif House for their Happy Hour, then hitched another ride from Scott and Macca to the Slowtwitch Party, and I even snuck in a little interview with Macca. After that, Scott (Macca's manager) invited us on a night swim with the manta rays. That was pretty epic to say the least. Video here. I think I had avocado and eggs for dinner back at the condo -- one of those long days where eating real meals was of low priority haha.

Turns out one of Hillary's friends, Michelle, live near some of my clients on the East Coast
and teaches their pilates class! Small world!
Hitch-hiking, working, having fun... it all goes together. This is when I did a
short video with Macca during a drive with him and his crew.

It's not just LInsey Corbin who has fans; Chris (her husband on the left) has fans too, aka John!
And that's Linsey's dad in the middle who was an amazingly good guy!
The Linsey Corbin ale up close... a Chris Corbin special. Thanks, Clif, for throwing
yet another great get-together for your pros.

The annual Slowtwitch party at sunset.

Those would be the manta rays, in the dark water. Not scary at all, I am serious! I even got the courage to touch them!

The expo.
Thursday: It just kept getting better... UPR aka the Underpants Run (see our video here)!! This was extra fun for me -- normally I am filming it/taking pics and not really running it, but this year not only did I get to run the whole thing, I was on the Betty team which was a total blast! Kristin made us look good in her new suits (more pics on FB). It's funny, people always talk about "training" for the UPR (it is quite the scene of low body fat and lots of lean muscle!), but I did the opposite this year for my prep -- I am in full offseason mode, enjoying beer, and not training. If I was a few lbs "heavier" that morning (and all week), I did not care one iota. Thankfully, looking at the pics, it seems a glimpse of leftover abs still showed up for me that morning. After the UPR, I podcasted with Sam Mazer, athlete extraordinaire, followed by work at the condo before quickly heading back for the pro press conference -- all before noon. While standing in that conference room, I literally got tears in my eyes feeling so thankful to be engulfed in the world and the sport that I love so much. Listening and observing was, and always is, just truly special. You learn a lot in those things too -- not just from what's said, but from the demeanor of everyone. Afternoon was "my time" exploring the expo and talking to some important folks, as well as work work work. Have you seen the world's best triathlon expo? If not, click here. That evening was the Wattie party. Enough said.

Not the greatest picture, but I at least had a good spot in the house ;) You could tell on Mary Beth Ellis' face that she
knew she was taking a big risk given her injury. On the other hand Rinny seemed confident as could be!

Pro press conference, the men. (L-R) Llanos, Raelert, Jacobs, Kienle and Alexander. Only one of these
guys ended up even having a "good day."
The Betty Designs ladies looking good. I am surrounded by fast ones! Hailey, far right, went sub-10!!!! Love it!!!
Photo credit: The one and only SHIGGYYYYYY! Like him here.

The men who make it happen! We got a picture with Paul and Roch after, which I heard got on the front page of a local newspaper, but in taking said photo I got Paul Huddle armpit sweat on my shoulder... ewww hehe.
Our own Abbey Road moment. Amazing idea, and worked out so well! I love The Beatles, so I was all about this shot!
I am super grateful that Shiggy was around this week, not only for these photos but just to hang with. Cool dude!
No UPR is complete without a Rousey sandwich!

Friday: The day before the race, always special. We had a meetup with Ben Greenfield and Co. in the King Kam at 9, where we recorded a podcast, which is just on BGF not EP. Then I hit the wall! I had to take an hour or so to shut down and rest a bit. I was feeling fried. Got it together and then spent time at bike check in, followed by a podcast with the Melanoma Research Foundation director, which went way better than I ever expected. Take a listen. Had another podcast that night with an AG'er. That night was the TGINR party at Huggo's (translation: the "Thank God I'm Not Racing" party). Always a good, classy, fun event. I ate a lot of ribs and drank very good but very weak mai tais (only because they had crappy beer on tap). Their "souvenir" this year was quite epic -- a medal that was a wine cork and beer tap all in one. It is hearty! Word is that it was even a red flag in security at the airport!
Meeting with podcast fans and recording a show on the spot in the King Kam! Fun (minus my hangover)!
This is where I took some time to re-charge when I was feeling like crud. It worked!

Bike check in. I was hoping to see big things from this Luke,
and Andreas to the right. Sadly not this year.

I swear, I've never seen so much Macca in my life, even after having done the double sprints with him. I've become an even bigger fan, not gonna lie. He's a rad dude.

Can't wait until we see Terenzo racing Kona again! Next year?
Not the best photo, but you get the idea: Huggo's has great views! Party time! But don't party too hard here
otherwise you will hate yourself Saturday hehe.
A couple of my favorite dudes, especially when we're all in Kona together! Rousey and Tyler (now with Blue Seventy).

Saturday (Race Day): We had two athletes in our condo and one volunteer so our house was up by 3:45 AM, baby! No big deal, right?! I was pumped from the get go and possibly a little too wound up that morning with excitement -- I had a mid-morning desire to crash, which I had to ignore. I managed to post a podcast before we even left the house at 5ish. Ha!
This was also a Kona first for me... as I posted a podcast at 4-something-AM, John made us breakfast! Normally I am downing bars and coffee when I can (no real meals), so a real breakfast?! Heaven!
So that's it for now... next up will be race day and all the cool things I observed. In the next post, I'll take a more serious look at the race and give you my commentary.


  1. hey nice post meh, You are one of the best writers I've seen of recent. I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: Guest Posting .
    keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.


  2. Loving the podcasts and blogs on Kona, next best thing to being there :)

  3. Fun to hang a bit in Kona and meet John!