Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The week afterwards...

So, now that I was done with this great event, I strategically took off the next week from work to enjoy my first time in Hawai`i. After speaking with numerous people, it sounded like the best thing to do was to stay on the big island the entire time, rather than spend 3 days on one island, and 3 on another. I didn't care - it was Hawai`i, and I was bound to have a great time anyways!

Monday - I spent with Trevor, David and Christina and some other teammates, and we went on this seaquest tour. It basically was a boat tour of the south west coast, and Kealakekua Bay (K-Bay). The water here was unbelieveably clear. It could be up to 30 feet deep, and you could still see the bottom of the ocean. We spent the next 4 hours snorkeling at various spots, getting history lessons on ancient hawai`in kings, gods, and learning about what makes the big island so different than the other islands. (ex. Kaua`i is 6 million years old, whereas the big island is only 700,000 years old. It is also uncommericialized too, but unfortunately, it does have 2 wal marts and a costco on the island). We spent the rest of the afternoon in Kona, checking out some shops, and the ironman championship course. Later that night, I finally learned how to play Texas Hold 'em. I did win 2 out of 5 hands, which everyone attributed to beginner's luck, but I think otherwise.

Tuesday - Chill at the hotel under the sun, play volleyball, catch rays, and consume large amounts of food. Later that day, I was challenged to go for a 5 mile run, but not wanting to step down from a challenge, I upped it to a 4 mile run, 1/3 mile swim, and 2 mile run. Of course, the challenge was met.

Wednesday - Homa (the smartest person I have ever met) and I went up to Waipi`o valley to check out the natural beauty of the island. After 4 wheelin' through some rivers (to the point where we could hear the exhaust system fill up), we came across this beach that had a beautiful waterfall of a couple hundred feet. This was me at 2:30pm.

we decided we had enough of beaches, so we decided to check out something unexpected. This was me, 2 hours later.

Yes, that is me, in a bathing suit, in snow standing at apx 13,500ft (Mauna Kao), nearly the highest point in the US!

The big island enjoys 11 of the 13 climatic regions on earth (all except arctic and saharan). I even saw someone snowboarding on our way up! Unreal....

Thursday - Most of teammates were already off the island at this point, but I still had 3 full days. I grabbed a monster of a Dodge Neon rental car, picked up a big island guide book, and off I went. I basically gave myself a self guided tour of the west coast of the island, all the way until I reached south point, the most southern part of the island, and of the US. Even though the winds constantly blow at 20-30 mph, the place did have some serenity to it. Afterwards, it was onward to Hawai`i Volcano National Park to check out what it had to offer, and hopefully get a chance to see some lava. I got to HVNP just in time for a 45 minute drive down to the coast, and an hour hike across a lava field to get a good glimpse of lava flow going into the ocean. The best time to go is right before dusk. Even though we were a few miles away from it, it was a very cool experience watching land being formed right in front of you. There was about 20-30 people at the viewing area, and everyone kind of sat there in awe and enjoyed the experience. I wish I could have gotten closer, but that's ok, I had a plan for tomorrow. Afterwards, I drove up to Hilo, and crashed there for the night.

Friday - Based on multiple recommendations, I decided to eat at Ken's house of pancakes. If you are ever in Hilo, the nicest people, and best food is in this establishment! After a hearty meal, it was time to start the day.

as if DOING lavaman wasn't enough, I felt the need to BECOME a lavaman.

Taking a tip from my guidebook, I travelled down rt 130 (east side of island, south of hilo) to the other side of HVNP. Here, they said rt. 130 was cut off by recent lava flow, but you can drive some parts of it to an end, and go hike through the lava field, and get a really good glimpse of the new lava it going into the ocean. They also said it will give you a better view than on the HVNP side. I thought this was a cool idea, and having seen lava the day previous, I was pretty stoked.

So, when I parked the car, I figured it to be about a 30 minute hike to where I could get a closer look at mother nature in one its most powerful forms. I started on my journey, and 15 minutes into it, it started pouring. The winds on this side of the island are very strong (constantly 20-30mph), so my entire backside was soaked, but the front of me was completely dry. kinda weird, yeah? I looked back, and could see that it would eventually pass, and that I would be ok. after about 30 minutes or so, I evaluated where I was, and figured I was only half way. Slightly frustrated, I kept hoofin. After another 15 minutes, I really wondered what the point of this was. Being surrounded by all this black rock, it all looked the same after awhile (ya think?) It still seemed like it would take forever to get there, I was soaked, I was starting to get dehydrated (not bringing water wasn't smart, especially when I surrounded by black lava rock for miles under the equitorial sun). I realized that it wasn't worth it, and I didnt wanna be vulture food, so I turned around. "geez, another 45 minutes of this - ugh." So, I started on my way.

I got bored of walking, so I picked up the pace for a little while, and was doing a light jog. The physical activity was starting to make me a little bit more dehydrated. I came over a ridge, and slipped, but was able to catch my fall with my hands. I looked at them, brushed them off, and kept trucking. 5 minutes I looked at my shirt, and noticed red spots on it. I looked at my left hand, and my index finger was covered in blood. I looked at my right hand, and the lower portion of my hand was nearly covered. I didn't even feel getting cut by the lava - it was like a clean cut from glass. My hands felt normal - no pain. It felt strange. "holy crap" was my first thought, "stay calm" was my second. I am not a wimp when it comes to seeing blood, but it isn't my first choice either. Being a little bit more dehydrated, and bleeding now, I was becoming a little worried. IRONically, I read part of a book by Mark Allen (6x Ironman champ) a few days previous and remembered his bit about being "mentally tough" during the bike ride b/c you are surrounded by nothing but black rock for it seems like an eternity. I could totally see what he was saying. That's all I could see for seemed to be about forever. I literally had to tell myself to be strong at this point. So, I told my self another 20 minutes of this, and I should be all set. Well, that was a really long 20 minutes. I had visions of being a story on the discovery channel on what NOT to do in HVNP, or falling over from being spent, or just something that you wouldn't think of on vacation in Hawai`i.

I finally crossed another ridge, and saw my car, and was so excited that I actually took a picture of it from the distance. I rushed over, pounded a water bottle in under 20 seconds, and cleaned off my hands. Low and behold - there was quite a few lava chips embedded in me. I thought to myself "I am lavaman, and I need to get to a hospital". I looked in the guide book, and saw NO listing for hospital. Not good. So I booked it through some dirts roads in my nice dodge neon, and started flyin up rt 130. I started calling people I thought would be near a computer to help me locate the hilo hospital, but of course no one was around. So I used the internet on my phone (lifesaver), and found the number, and called. I spoke to a woman who TRIED to give me directions, but there was no way I could remember every hawaiin road to get there - they all sound the same (go up Kealikikai, take a right on Hale Manu, take a left on blah blah blah)! I ended up stopping by the pharmacy in a supermarket, showed the pharmicist my hands, and said I need a hospital - stat.

I got there, waited a few hours, got cleaned up, had some topical lidocaine, and when it was all cleaned up, I had a gnarly chasm of a cut in my hand, but still plenty of rocks in me. I could still feel some pain, so I was injected with lidocaine. This hurt. A lot. I almost screamed when she injected me. I couldn't even bear to watch her DIG rocks out of me with her pick. I reminded her of hawaiin folklore/myths that anyone who takes anything from island back home with them has really bad luck - to the point where people send it back to where they got it. I told her that even though I didnt take anything intentially, I dont want to dig rocks out my hand on my own, so please make sure you get it all! So completely understood what I was getting at! So, they bandaged me up, gave me some antibiotics, and said "take this for 7 days, no alcohol, no dairy products for 1 hour before/after taking it, AND NO SUN." I said "I am in HAWAII, and I live in SAN DIEGO." They all seemed to get a big kick out of this. The worst part is, I said "I'm a triathlete - I need to swim!" their reply was "You need to wait at least a week". UGH. Yes, my cuts were that deep.

so, that was my friday.

moral of the story, keep water with you at all times, and don't fall on lava.

Needless to say, I took it easy on friday night.

Saturday - Another day spent taking it easy, I drove north from Hilo to check out the botanical gardens (they really are that beautiful) rain forests, and one of the best falls in the US: akaka falls. I continued north, and actually stopped for a burrito. Living in San Diego, I am used to every corner having a place to grab a burrito, but I gotta say - this was one of the best ones I ever had! I continued on my way, stopped at Hapuna Bay, voted #1 beach in North America by conde nast traveller, stopped again at Anhaeo`omalu Bay where our event was to take it all in again, and headed back to Kona where my flight left later that night. If you ever need a place to eat in Kona, I highly recommend Island Lava Java. Of course, the only place to worth partying at Lu Lu's.

Sunday - I took the red eye back from HI, and I never thought I'd say this, but I didn't like being in San Diego :) This was my second experience being on island time (Puerto rico was the 1st), and it was great. I purposely didn't wear a watch a lot of the time, and tried to hide my cell phone too a few times too. Being back on the mainland, it has been a little bit of a transition getting back to the american pace of life, but hey, San Diego really isn't that bad of a place to be.

If you haven't experienced island time yet, I highly recommend it, as I barely knew what month, or day, or time it was when I got back to the west coast :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


5am - Alarm goes off. Time to wake up, have some breakfast, and get down to the hotel lobby by 5:45. Our hotel is so big, it takes 15 minutes to actually get to the lobby! After everyone is checked in, our 82 person team will take off on our bikes for the transition area. A transition area in a triathlon is where you keep all your gear. After the swim, you run to the transition area, grab your bike stuff, bike, come back, put your bike back in the bike rack, and start off on the run. By the time we get there at 6am, the music is pumpin, and the announcer is getting everyone psyched. Only an hour and a half till race time. I later learned that Dave Scott, a 6 time Ironman champ, and partly responsible for the growth of triathlons was our announcer!

Between now and the start, everyone usually uses this time to set up their transition area. This usually means setting up all your bike/run gear in the perfect spot to make the transition times fast. One example would be to keep your helmet on top of your bike so you don't have to bend over to pick it up or keeping your sunglasses already open, in your helmet, so you don't have to later. Little things like this add up in a sport decided by seconds.

7am - We took the group photo, and then had a little group meeting where coach did what coach does best - prepare us. A man that has done 256 triathlons knows what to do before a race. We gathered around, closed our eyes, and envisioned the entire course, which was previewed in days previous. Imagining the swim, getting to the bike, biking, coming into the transition area, getting our run stuff, doing the run course, and finally, the pose when we finish! During the entire 5 month training course, I was picturing myself having a lot of anxiety right before race start. The reality couldn't have been farther from that. I was calm as can be, and very excited. I started warming up on the swim, came back to shore, and was ready. When you have done 256 tri's, you become obsessive, but that's good, because I don't think I could have been more prepared for this race.

7:30 - 3.... 2.... 1..... GO! The gun went off, and away we went. Again, I was imagining all this excitement leading up to the start, but I was calm as can be. The water was a beautiful 80 degrees. The swim was tough though. One mile is no easy feat, but drafting in the swim of a triathlon is legal, whereas on the bike, it isn't. This actually makes a huge different to draft someone - since they are doing a lot of the work! My first lap of the course was a little fast - a little bit more than 13 minutes. When I finished the first loop, I realized that I felt more tired than normal, so I eased it up, and found someone else to draft off of. My final swim time was 28:59, which I was happy with (anything under 30 minutes was my goal). I was a little discombobulated when I got out of the water (as noted by my PICTURE) but now it was bike time - my favorite part of the race!

I came up to bike, got everything on except my singlet (top) and was having trouble. Thankfully, coach recognized this, and came over to help me get it on. I would probably still be putting it on if it wasn't for him. Putting on a tight shirt on a wet body is damn near impossible! Now I was off to the races. I got out to the main road (Queen Ka`aumanu), and realized my legs felt tired. This was surprising since I typically don't use my legs a lot in swimming. I became frustrated, and starting wondering if there was a head wind. Then I realized there wasn't one! Ugh, what is happening! After 5 miles, my legs got warmed out, and I started picking up the pace. I then realized that it usually takes me 5 miles or so just to get warmed up on the bike, so it all made sense. The Queen K had rolling hills, and surrounded by nothing but lava fields. I really felt like I was racing on the Moon! By 10 miles into the course, I had already put down one drink (water, gatorade, and electrolyte tablets to help prevent dehydration), and was already thirsty for another. (PICTURE) It was only 8:30 or so, and it was starting warm out, especially with no clouds. I got to the bike aid station, and there was a godsend of an icecold water bottle exchange, and I grabbed one, and poured it through my helmet to cool off. It was unbelievable. I was now fully warmed up, cooled off (Imagine that), and ready to kick it into overdrive. I started back on the course, and really picked up the pace. Up ahead, I could see that I was going to pass someone. In triathlon rules, you have to leave 3 bike lengths between you and the next bike, and you only have 15 seconds to pass. I could see that I was going to pass him, so I yelled the universal sign to pass "On your left". He veered right, but must of had something wrong w/ his chain, and didn't realize he was veering back to the left! The only I could do by not hitting this guy and causing more danger than he, was to actually enter traffic (with me going 30 mph no less). I passed him successfully, yelled a few choice words, and continuted on my way. Shortly after, someone passed me and said "Nice reflexes, you probably saved your life!" I am amped at this pointand just flew to the transition area. I jumped off the bike, got my run stuff on, and I was out of there. I later learned that I had one of the best bike-run transitions in the entire race!

As I was heading out of the transition area, I heard someone yell "Denner!" It was my good friend Dave on the team. Overall, I am better at swimming, he is better at biking, and we are even with the run, so it was perfect that we happened to start the run together. At this point, we were both feeling relatively good for just having swam a mile, and biked 25. But the run is never fun at this point. So we were chatting for the first mile, and had a few laughs with some other contestants, and by this time at 9;15 or so, it was starting to get pretty warm, and pretty humid. Thankfully, there was aid stations (water, gatorade, gels, etc) at every mile of the run. Each time, I would grab 2 cups of cold water, and just pour them over my head to keep cool. Finally, at mile 2.5, we started running through lava fields again, and it was really warm here being surrounded by black rock and all. We made it through that aid station, and were on our way to the 4th aid station, and shortly before it, I said to dave "Hey, take 2 cups to the domepiece". What I really meant to say was "Pour 2 cups of water over your head because it feels really nice!" About 20 seconds later, he finally realized what I meant. and then, I don't know what happened. We came up to the aid station, and I don't know what was going on my head, but somehow, for some reason, I yelled at the volunteer "Let me holler at 2 cups of that H to the izzo". (if you were born before 1975, you may have no idea what that means, but it just means "I am interested in 2 cups of water" if you were born after 1975, you are probably doing a combined laugh and shaking of your head in awe) Folks, I don't know what came through my mind, but honestly, that's all I could process at the moment. Dave said he saw the reaction on the volunteer's face, and said it was priceless. I guess he just started laughing uncontrollably. Mile 4 was running through the Hilton resort area, so seeing the reactions of people who had no idea there was a triathlon happening was pretty funny. At this point, I am soaked from head to toe (PICTURE), and at mile 5 came one of the most difficult parts of the course. For the next mile, our run was on coral and lava rock - pretty much unstable ground. It was challenging, but fun, since it provided some variety, and a trail run feel to the monotonous asphalt and sandstone earlier. We finally passed mile marker 6, and now there was only 200 meters to go - ON SAND. Dave said to kick it up a notch, so we did. I was feeling it at this point. My body was getting really warm, I was trying to go faster, and as we came up the last 50 meters, we noticed there was someone in front of both of us. We looked at each other, dropped the hammer - I passed him on the right, dave passed him on the left, and we both finished at the same exact time - ultimately having one of the best finish poses of the race!

After crossing the finish line - I could only do 2 things. 1.) grab a water from a volunteer, and 2.) run into the ocean to cool off, so of course, I did just that. I ran back into the water, hat/shoes on and everything, jumped, splashed, and just floated there for 5 minutes. It was heaven. I was oblivious to the world at that point. People came in to congratulate me, and I could barely acknowledge them.

Overall, I finished faster (2:37:22) than my fastest projected time (2:40:00) The overall times are listed here:

Due to popular misconception, this was an OLYMPIC distance triathlon (1.5K swim (apx 1 mile), 40K bike (apx. 25 mile bike), and 10K run (6.2 miles), and not and IRONMAN (a much more psychotic 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile marathon run). But, our course was done on part of hte bike course as the ironman championship.... so, ... one day, hopefully I will be there, back on the Kona coast of the big island going for the super bowl of triathlons!

It was a phenomenal race, phenomenal coaching and training, phenomenal
teammates (who I know I will be keeping in contact with), and phenomenal

In any sporting event, there is always competition. But, one thing that I found very cool and unexpected about the event is the cheering on from other competitors. On multiple occasions, if I was passed, or if I passed someone either on the bike or run, I'd hear things like "Nice work", or "Keep it going man", or "Go Team!". Of course there is that hidden competition, and when pass you someone, there is that feeling of accomplishment and confidence (especially if you are really pushing it, and not showing it to try to deflate your opponent!), but I don't think I've ever heard a defensive back in football yell to a running back "Hey, Nice run" when he just got burned for a touchdown!

The only thing left to say, sign me up again, and 2:30:00 is the time to
beat next year!

Thanks everyone for your support!

Ps- if none of the picture are working, going to and type in 0052 into the search box at the end!

Goals met or beaten:

Raise $4,800 - Beaten
Place in the top 100 - Check
Finish between 2:40 and 3:00 - Beaten

More photos: