Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Leaving Aloha


It's almost time to stop living aloha in our little grass shack.

Chris seems to be recovering quite well. Ironman? What Ironman? Give that boy an IV, a piece of carrot cake, wash it down with a beer and he's 100 percent alive again. I'm sure, though, at this moment along the Queen K he wasn't feeling it.



This is the second, last and only time you will ever see this man on the Queen K with a race number. Believe you me he will never again do Ironman. And I don't blame him. It's not for everyone. He seems to excel at the shorter distances so by all means he should do what his body is designed to do! Go Chris!

Yesterday was a most enjoyable day. Thomas and I started early with a run south along Alii, past the Ironman turnaround, up the hill. As much as we got looked at by those supsicious we had actually done the race, we were also looking at them. Thank goodness we only observed one athlete out there running with a race bracelet. For cyring out loud, you just did Ironman. Give it a rest. For at least a day. Go eat a donut!

The run was perfect. Legs felt good, strong and I finally felt adapted to the heat. It only took a week but that also makes me think - race in a hot place and it takes about a week of sweating it out before you feel like you can breathe there.

Next we took the entire family to the pier for a swim. We swam back and forth to one of the buoys and enjoyed the ocean. It was rough out there but still beautiful. It is easy to see how you would become so strong in swimming if you had the ocean to overpower on a weekly basis. I wish I had an ocean.

A little shopping, a little coffee, then Chris, Thomas and I decided to go kayaking. Back to the pier to kayak along the Kona shore. When we rented the kayaks we were pretty much told we could take the kayak anywhere but couldn't land it. But then again, we could but they had to tell us we couldn't. So what you're saying is that we could paddle to Japan? Really? As long as the life jacket was strapped into the kayak - not even on my body - then yes. Hawaii is so laid back!


Here is Thomas trying to paddle towards Japan. A week's worth of training with me pretty much rendered him useless after a few paddles.

As we paddled away from the bay, it only took a few minutes before the sounds of Alii Drive drifted away and we were left only with the calm of the waves. The water rolling before clumsily crashing against the black lava rocks that lined the shore. We did more sitting in the kayak then paddling. It was one of the most quiet moments of my life.



As Chris learned on our honeymoon while paddling down the Wailua River in Kauai, if you want the kayak to actually GO somewhere, put Liz in the front with Chris steering in back.



Upon our return, I sweet talked the kayak renter into letting us try out the stand up paddle boards. I think I found my new sport. Years of balancing on an upside down bosu ball have finally counted for something. Impeccable balance while paddling myself with a giant oar. Here I am busting out a few lyrics of Tiny Bubbles while paddling.


It's more likely I was thinking holy crap how do I paddle this thing back to shore.

Each of us took a turn. I have no idea how my husband found the balance or muscle power to mount the board and stand still on it. His steering was a little shaky as he almost ended up on the Sacred Beach that we signed a waiver saying we would not go to.



Aftewards it was time to bid adieu to Sherpa Thomas. I offered to pull him on my 90 mile ride the next day. I've never seen a man pack so fast!

On Monday I woke up early for my last long ride. I was actually excited to do this one solo along the Queen K. The day quickly heated up and wind started to blow. I feel like in the past week I have gotten to know this land. The contrast of black lava, wheat-colored grass and the scattered pink flowers is beautiful. Though the land is harsh, it is still inspiring.

The course has become more familiar to me and I have gotten to know the rhythm of each segment, from the airport to Waikoloa, the Kohala Coast finally upwards to Hawi. There is a feel for the terrain, the wind, the heat and the landscape with each of these.

I made the turn at Kawaihae and rode towards Hawi. Before the climb began I turned to head back to get in 90 miles. The North Kohala Coast reveals views to me that are blue and beautiful. The haze of the past week is gone and I see nothing to my right now but ocean. I can see the different colors of blue in the ocean. Could you imagine seeing this on your ride every week?

The way back seems hillier at times and a waiting game of when will the wind start to blow. But I believe I have finally figured it out. From mile 81 to the mile before the airport you will find yourself in a fierce headwind. Best to just put your head down and ride. Don't look too far ahead or start doing the math. Just let it go.

One of the best feelings is when the line of palm trees leading to the airport finally comes within sight. It signals the beginning to the end of the ride. The wind returns in my favor and pushes me back towards the condo. By the ride's end, my arms are toasted red, my head is filled with heat and I have made my peace with the Queen K. She is harsh but I know her better now. One day I will use that knowledge.

Quickly we head to the beach where the others are surfing. I do some swimming/fish spotting in the cove. I swim with a funny and puffy looking fish just to see where he goes. No where very important. We float along.

Afterwards I suggest we head to Kealakua Bay for some more swimming. Chris, his dad and I take the twisty drive to descend on the road towards the ocean. We get there and the water looks deep but inviting. It is a color I can only describe a turquoise blue with bright yellow fish swimming near the coral. Chris and his dad bravely jump in to look around. At this point I am having some post long ride fatigue and take a rest instead.

Our last dinner on the lanai as one big family. I have not been on a family vacation since I was 14 with my mom, dad and brother. My actual family is small but this past week it was up to 9 strong. Megan, Chris, Meredith, Kevin, Thomas, Betty, Sherpa Thomas, Chris and myself. Make that 12 if you count the feral cats.

Leaving Hawaii is always hard. It is a week in a sort of paradise that makes you wonder why you would settle anywhere else. But then you remember the rest of your family, your home, your puppy all waiting. It is good to be away but better to be home.

8 comments:

rr said...

Hawaii will miss you waterstraats!

I'm sorry Chris had to fight so hard out there. Thanks for all the cheers.. I kept wondering if Ross is Boss meant I looked like a chihuahua.

Stand up paddling is the best workout ever! Let's start the SUP World Championships to be held the day after Kona each year at Dig Me. Spectate, then paddle like hell.

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Sounds like an amazing trip Liz! So happy that you learned the Queen K the way you did, did a lot of swimming, and adapted to the heat! Way to support Chris - love the picture of him running - he did it!!! Safe travels home to Boss!!

Wes said...

Yea, Dee Dee and I so feel in love with Kauai when we went there. We even have our eye on a little 3.2 million dollar house on the beach ;-)

My sister and I got some really strange looks when we went out for a 20 miler the day after IM Florida 07. LOL... With all the tri peeps that come to support the race, but not race, I don't see what is so surprising (unless you have an athlete's bracelet on).

OK!! You said it!!! I'm off to get a donut!!! LOL...

Cy said...

Safe Travels Home!

I'm sorry to hear Chris did not have fun out there on Saturday, but finishing in Kona is something not shared by the masses!!

You looked great in that Paddle board photo. That's on the Must Do list when I arrive in Maui today.

Pedergraham said...

You are like a pro on the paddle board! Safe travels back to Boss.

Anonymous said...

Have a good trip home. Miss you.
Mom

Jessi said...

Why is Chris still wearing his tri shorts? Time to change!!

Flatman said...

Jessi, those are Liz's shorts....! :)

I'm movng to Hawaii.