My fourth trip to Kona and the island proves to challenge me more than any other venue which is probably why I keep coming back. No wait. I keep coming back because this place is way cool and where else would you want to be on the day of the Ironman World Championship. ;)



Prior to heading out to the island, I went to the good Dr. Isaac for my annual tradition...

A few days later, I'm on the island and after running various errands, I got back to the room just in time for the sunset...

An hour or so after arriving at the condo, I started to get hungry but first I needed to unpack my bag in order to retrieve this...

In my experience, the condos we normally book are well stocked but never are the knives as good as what I use back home.

With my trusty knife and whatever was available in the kitchen, I was able to make these tasty BBQ turkey meatloaves...

Content with a full belly, I decided to open the bike box to see what the TSA had done. As always, they fail to appreciate the value of other people's sh*t and I discovered they decided to clip the zip ties holding my bars to the frame.

Minor damage really but their carelessness sent me in search of parts and a bike stand. I normally travel with a decent set of tools but what I needed was a stand which is where my buddy Nick, aka "The SAG Monkey" comes into the picture.  Nick is working with RaceQuest in Kona and he's brought along everything he needs for his mobile bike shop. A quick call locates Nick and next thing I know, I'm partying with the RaceQuest gang...

Later that day, Nick grants me access to his stand and I'm fixing my bike on their lanai (which is Hawaiian for patio but it sounds so much more elegant)...

I got the bike fixed just in time to catch another sunset...

The next day I get up and I see a cruise ship parked off the water...

When I booked the condo, I was told there would be no athletic equipment allowed in the condo, including bicycles, but I was also told there would be a bike rack outside where I could, I'm assuming 'safely', lock up my bike. It looks safe...

Finally starting to settle in after a brief run around with my bicycle parts adventure, I started to relax into the routine and no visit to the island would be complete without a stop at the...

On my way down to registration, I couldn't help but admire the view at Dig Me Beach...





With registration complete, I was officially branded with my bracelet...



...and given this handy backpack to store all of the goodies...

Pre race is fairly boring, it involves a lot of shuffling around and usually some minor catastrophe such as my bike issue. Last year it was running around the island looking for my specific race nutrition which I 'assumed' would be available but to my surprise, it was the only brand of nutrition NOT available.

At the end of each day though, I end up back in the condo watching another sunset...

The BBQ turkey meatloaves lasted me through several meals but it was time to cook up another meal with plenty of leftovers, a tasty chili...

Thursday morning, time to get ready for the UnderPants Run. First thing, gotta make sure my hair looks good...

Then, gotta get the UnderPants Run bracelet because "I'm a Really Big Deal"...

Throw on some PowerTap undies...

And let the fun begin...





I worked up an appetite during the UnderPants Run, came back to the room and made some eggs with the leftover chili, NOM NOM...

Other than the UnderPants Run, Thursday was all about kicking back and relaxing. I nearly went stir crazy but I managed to get through the day and watch another sunset...

On Friday, I went through the check in process and then drove out to the airport to pickup the Mrs. We were both starving so we stopped off for lunch. For an appetizer, we ordered roasted garlic and bread...

The clove was massive, the garlic was strong but man was it tasty. I kind of wondered whether or not I would sweat garlic on race day but I never got a hint of it.

Later that day, the Mrs. wanted to show her support...

Race morning. Nothing really eventful about pre race other than getting separated from the Mrs. due to the new rules which basically don't allow non-racers into certain areas. I'm running latex tubes which leak air quickly and the Mrs. had the pump. Fortunately we found each other before I blew a gasket.

I got my bike settled, my potty breaks done and I heard the pros go off. I don my P3TX and start making my way into the line. Moments later, I'm on the shore and moments after that, I'm treading water while waiting for loud bang from the cannon. Boom...

While we're on our way out, the pros, in a much smaller formation, are coming back in...

If life were perfect, the photographer at the swim exit would not have setup behind a woman with a big head. But life isn't perfect and apparently he doesn't take pride in his work or else there would be a great picture of me coming out of the water right here. Instead, here's a picture of a cute puppy...

Through transition quick enough, I was out on the bike where all of these elite level age groupers were adhering to the no drafting rule. Oh no wait, that was a different race...

In all fairness, there are sections of this course where you are unable to find free space.  Personally, I just bide my time until I get on the Queen K. and I use it as an opportunity to fuel and hydrate.

Out on the Queen K., life wasn't much different but I did see quite a few slashed numbers so at least the refs were doing their part.

Every year I get a bunch of photos but this one is always my favorite.  It is the epitome of Kona -- black lava fields, ocean back drop and at least for me, it leads me to believe it's hotter than hell. It is...

Off the bike and out on the run, I'm feeling pretty good and I settle into a pace that leads me to believe I can get in under 10 hours. Sub10 in Kona, that would be pretty cool but it was a fast day and anything is possible.

Ali'i Drive was a little stale, meaning the air wasn't moving all that much, but my heart rate looked good and I felt good. In fact, I felt so good that I put the environment first...

Nearly ten miles in, I'm still feeling good and I decide to clown around in this somewhat blurry photo...

Heading up Palani, I could tell the day was catching up to me but once out on the Queen K., the air was moving and I began feeling comfortable.

Moving along, heading towards the Energy Lab, I could feel the weight of the day. As I made the turn into the Energy Lab, I could see the time slipping a little but I just kept my eye on heart rate and focused on getting in and out as quickly as I could.

Back out on the Queen K., I'm still moving, I'm losing seconds here and there but life is still pretty ok...

With less than 10k to go, I could start to feel my muscles firing warning shots until I got a full on cramp in my inner thigh. I tried to walk it off but had to stop for a second. I massaged it, started running and was able to keep moving without much time loss.

At this point, knowing I wouldn't get in under 10 hours, my goal turned to NOT destroying my legs chasing 10:xx. I would be willing to endure some serious pain and be in need of extended recovery for 9:xx but not for 10:xx so I just dealt with the cramps as they came and left.  I finally arrived to the top of Palani. 

In the previous years, I would freefall down Palani, nearly face plant at the bottom and end up cramping somewhere due to the drastic change in force. This time, I decided to keep it smooth in an attempt to avoid cramping as much as possible. I'd rather go slow and keep running the seize up which is something that has happened more than once. In fact, this is the approach I took for the remaining mile.

On my way into the chute...

... I kept it smooth, high fived spectators, including my wife, and I focused on getting a good finish photo. There were lots of bodies around so it made it tough but as I crossed the finish, I threw my arms into the air...

I also paused for a moment with my arms in the air but I just look like a crazed lunatic...

It definitely wasn't the photo I was seeking but I guess that's the expression of pain and happiness combined.

I crossed the line, was given my medal...





... and then escorted through the maze.

I stopped off at the post race photo area, got my photo...

... and then went looking for the Mrs.

That makes it four trips to Kona and I finally break my string of 10:30 finishes with a 10:15. Not 9:59 but I'll take baby steps, I guess.

With a few days remaining on the island, now it's time to kick back and relax...