Our flight for Hawaii was leaving early on Friday, so that meant an early morning for us. Luckily I had made hotel reservations next to the airport for Thursday so we didn’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn – just slightly after J I had been up late the night before, dying my hair – purple. It hadn’t turned out the way I wanted so I got up extra early to do another layer of purple before checking out, and moving out. For some reason my hair not turning out was really stressing me out, as if it was phofetic as to how the weekend would go.
There were a lot of firsts here, first Triathlon, first time in Hawaii, and because I didn’t know what to expect I had packed a LOT of stuff: one large suitcase with my clothes in it, one smaller case with a lot of ‘backup’ tri gear and a carry-on with all my race gear. Yes, three suitcases just for me, plus my laptop bag. (I can laugh now). Hubby also had two cases, one for his clothes and one for his camera gear. He was my ‘official photographer’ for the entire weekend and was bringing a LOT of stuff along.
Thanks to ParkSleepRide we got an easy shuttle to the airport in plenty of time. The wait in line, check in, only to wait in line, have your boarding pass checked , then wait in line to go through security was so annoying! Even though I wasn’t late for my plane I found my patients were wearing really thin. Looking back it was probably all race nerves and PMS.
We found our terminal, found the team and chilled ‘til it was time to board.
I haven’t had an experience like the trip to Hawaii since…High School Band… Heh. Yeah it was a big plane with a lot of people on it, but knowing 56 of the other passengers was really cool. We laughed and chatted between the isles, took pictures and tried not to be too annoying to the people on the plane. The best part was when we landed and the flight attendant read a statement from our team manager. There where hoots, hollers and cheers from everyone on the team as she read our team fundraising total, than a captain lead ‘GO TEAM!’
I have to say my first impression of Kona was a little – disappointed. The airport is basically situated in a desert, and everything was brown or black and very dreary and dry looking, not at ALL what I was expecting. The drive to the hotel on the bus was interesting because it was along the bike course. We were all pretty stunned to be driving down… HILLS! HUH!? I thought Lavaman was FLAT!? What was also very noticeable was the wind. You could see how hard it was blowing by looking at the short grass that was growing between the lava piles. I tried to ignore the rout and just stay in the moment. I was on a bus with a bunch of friends in Hawaii – the bike course is what it is, and I don’t have to think about it ‘til Sunday.
Check-in was smooth and the Hotel stunning. We actually managed to get our room even though we were early. We were amazed to find that we had to ride a TRAM to get to it. You could walk to the room but it was a good 10 minute trot… We chose the tram given the number of bags we were carrying. There would be plenty of time to discover the hotel on foot later (and boy was there).
After settling we walked to grab some food with a few team members, walked to the far end of the hotel to look it over, shopped in some of the shops and then walked back to our room to change and pick up my bike pedals and seat. Then a walk back to the center of the hotel to the bike pickup.
The bikes were a welcome site. We hadn’t seen them in weeks and it was good to get our hands back on them again. Most people were planning a short ride after pickup and had come dressed appropriately – I was just planning to get my ‘stuff’ back on it. I found my bike easy enough, pulled it away from the rack and suddenly had a sick feeling in my stomach… my back tire was flat! Probably the only thing I didn’t have in my suitcases back in the room was new rubber (I had tubes but not tires!) I got my seat and peddles put back on and then presented the disaster to my coach. I was livid; angry at the bike shop guy for telling me the tire was safe to put back on; angry at myself for listening to him instead of buying a new tire like I was planning and angry at the world for ‘Why is this happening to me!’ The one thing, baring a broken limb, that could keep me from finishing this race was a bike issue like this! Coach calmed me down, took a look at the tire, pulled a few more pieces of debris from it, and told me to come by his room later and he would take a closer look and fix everything up for me. “If it is your tire we’ll either get a new one at the expo tomorrow or someone will drive you into town to pick one up”
I tried to calm myself with those words but it wasn’t helping. My husband and I made quite the procession back to our room. He was carrying my bike, sans one back tire, and I was carrying rim, tire and deflated tube. I stopped counting how many times we heard “Hey, you lost your back tire!”
To top it all off, I was hurting – BAD. My foot felt like someone was shoving an icepick into the side with every step I took! My stress levels were at DEFCOM 1
Later in my room I checked the tube. Sure enough it had a slice in the side. I caught up with the coach later and he took a closer look at the tire, proclaimed it fit to ride on and we put the new tube in. He assured me that if there were any problems on tomorrow’s practice ride we would find a replacement tire.
I wasn’t very mollified.
Back in my room I sorted through my tri gear for the 100th time. I had to figure out what to wear for our training the next day that wouldn’t interfere with what I was planning to wear for race day. Basically I was fretting. Silly things seemed the end of the world. Do I wear my tri suit for practice – if I do will it dry in time for race day? And so forth.
Needless to say I was exhausted by the time I fell asleep at 8:00PM – Hawaii time.