It’s the rhythm of the days that I enjoy most in Hawaii, swim at 7am then a leisurely breakfast watching the good and the great of triathlon go by. Friday saw Emma Cranfield arrive at the pier, her first trip to the Big Island having qualified at IMUK, first female amateur. As her coach I feel an extra pressure in making this an unforgettable experience for her but actually that’s not hard to achieve out here. Saturday the breakfast club grew again as second timers Mel Dowell and Brett Hedges pitched up for swimming and breakfast banter.
Bike Works serviced my bike Friday so I could get out on the Queen K Saturday for the last decent bike session and an opportunity to ride with Emma on a recce of the course. We did the short 10k loop in Kailua before tackling the climb up Palani, passing a couple of old codgers on equally old bikes. As we arrived at the top the lights turned red so the old boys pulled up behind us. I turned round and casually asked if they were doing the race (thinking that at their age it was fairly improbable, but hey, I was being polite). Yes, one of them volunteered so I asked if he had done it before – twenty two times he chimed back. Feeling a little silly I struck back with ‘have you ever won it?’ (Of course he hadn’t doh), ten times he said without not so much as a note of smugness. Thank goodness the lights changed before I could embarrass myself any further. It’s moments like this that make the race week so special.
As we set off down the Queen K I was feeling good for the first time since we had arrived, the watts were coming easily and the tail wind made it super fast. I love riding down the Queen K, every athlete cranes his neck as you pass and you crane back to check out who is out there, star spotting. Quickly we came across three of the Abu Dhabi team including Faris then a few ks further there was Rasmus and four of his buddies. Of course as we passed I felt obliged to put the power down, I always feel a bit silly just inching past people then not really making ground. Across the other side of the highway was another pro I didn’t recognise being motor paced. We carried on to the end of the Queen K then turned to head back to Kailua. This is the hardest part of the bike course on race day, 140k into the ride and you are faced with a head wind and the heat of the day. I wanted to practise this part of the course so I pushed at race pace and looked out for landmarks to tick off, Manu Lani, Waikoloa, scenic point, veterans’ cemetery, donkey crossing, airport then just 10 miles home. Breaking it down into manageable chunks really worked, I found it much easier to focus one section at a time.
Saturday had been the first day I was beginning to feel a little fresher and the jet lag start to subside. It will take a few more days to feel properly rested but it’s starting to come. Now for the routine of dinner and some more tri-craic !