Aloha!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ridiculously Happy...

From across the parking lot the home girls were spotted and I took off running! I was ridiculously happy to be back home, about to jump in the ocean and swim far out to sea with 2 of my favorite friends! The ocean soothed my sights the way it always does and swimming above the coral without that wetsuit felt nearly heroic...splishing, splashing, swimming the way I love-freely!

It was a day of pleasure filled shakas here, there, everywhere! Actually it was a day I had to be brilliantly happy for the girls, they both broke the news that tonight's sunset I'd be solo...of course every growing up girl reaches this point in her youth when the boys come into the picture and rob you of your friends...the girls both had dates tonight and I had none. All swim long we were giddy and smiley, them because they got to pick out dresses and get dolled up, me because I was happy for them. Of course this princess stills believes her fairy tale will get it's turn to happen, but today was their day and my story would have to wait...shake another shaka to them for that one.



Girls will be girls in our back yard, we ditched our swim suits once we got beyond the buoys and let bikini lines become optional, that's the way we roll in Hawaii...and we are ocean minded, I think its better for the sea to be free! Oh more happiness on the island...




I spent a lot of time in my most favorite solo thinking spots, just smiling about the little things, the simple things, the things that make me smile for no reason at all, sometimes just because they are the color blue or the words rhyme, or because a friend said it or it gave me butterflies. Being back home on the rock I got a lot of favorite spots to sit and do almost nothing at all. My mind did fill with triathlon for some of it, okay, a lot of it...2 races in the near future and training has begun again...easy this week...then back to business...
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I also sat on a rug, at Kainoa's school during story time. I love being a mom. And of course I sat on a bike, my road bike, spinning along Queen K, recovery style. Then I went to the airport to pick up my tri-bike that missed one of my many flights the last 47 hours of travel. That bike is always a few flights behind me!


The sweet smell of plumerias reminded me I'm home and I got ridiculously happy all over again.







Between finding the optimal balance between recovering from a race, long travel adventures, getting back into my wana & papaya filled life, and looking towards whats next was a nice collision of what's to come and where I've been...living in the moment. More like wandering with purpose in the moment...It was definitely a good day, a ridiculously good day.

Good night from home.
Bree
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Can I please be home already...

All that stands between me and home is a 5 hour flight across the Pacific Ocean. Every single time this 5 hour flight lands in my lap I appreciate it more and more and no matter where I am coming from its never as good as where I am going, home. And no matter what I’ve just experienced it never takes the place of what I know is waiting for me, home. 5 hours from home….just 5 hours.
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I’ve been on the go for 41 hours, my butt hurts from sitting so long, my eyes hurt from lack of sleep, and I’ve got a bloody nose from the dry plane air that is filling my lungs. I’m pretty sure my ears are broken too because it’s difficult to hear, or maybe they just need to be popped. We won’t talk about the food choices the airplanes or airports offer. Gosh I miss my kitchen.
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Right now I’d give almost anything to just get lost in the ocean, to take off these dirty clothes and run wild and free into the Kona Coast. I want to feel the sand in my toes, just let the salt water wake up my sleepy face, and feel some sunshine on my back. It would be even better if the waves were up and I could swim down deep under the swells and feel them shake my body alive.
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I want to eat fresh papaya, smell plumerias, and watch geckos do that little dance with their heads when they are happy. I want to get in my truck, roll the windows down, play the music loud, and sing all the songs at the top of my lungs. A few cliffs are calling me to jump, a few fish are asking me to snorkel around them, and I can almost hear the little Filipino lady telling me I can have a deal on the bok choy. I feel like honking at the runners down Alii and watching the local boys sitting on the sea walls talking story or playing the ukuleles at Honl’s. That sounds nice. I’m almost there.
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Kainoa is on that island too and there is nothing like the hug from your son after not seeing him for several days. I miss the sound of his little voice and that laughter. I love the island life waiting, it’s a love filled life! While I was gone two of my favorite people got engaged and this weekend is the engagement party, another good friend wants a double date (or possibly triple date) so we can meet her new “friend”. I’m excited to return to what’s happening in the lives of my friends, they are the family I missed so much. And Wendy needs me, she was the only one at Taco Tuesday while I was gone!
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Of course the plan to un pack my bike and get back on Queen K is filling me with joy too! All the training partners I am sure are full of “what the hell Bree” stories to question my South African Ironman adventure. I’m more than ready to swimbikerun with them again, it’s been too long without them. And the hard part, it seems like every time I go away then come back they have gotten so much faster…love that challenge they give me!
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For now, it’s a little more time in this airport, the 5 hour flight (which Im getting on 90 minutes late thanks to a delay in the last flight now my trip is 47.5 hours), and then home. Ooooooh, tonight I get to sleep in my own bed! That is enough to make me “almost” not mind sitting on my butt for another 5 hours. Despite the fact going so far from home can present so many adversities and other long mind boggling adventures, if you are ever dreaming to go half way around the world or the opportunity ever lands possible for you-take it, the bloody nose, sore butt, and sleepiness from crossing 3 or 4 time zones is worth all 46 hours (plus some).
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Across the Pacific I go.
Bree
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Kona Bound...

I saw South Africa with my heart, mind, and eyes wide open...a dream I got to experience all because coach said yes to Ironman South Africa. My back pocket is filled with a ton more moments that will last a lifetime, enrich this cool world we live in, and makes me even more, me. Moments do that, they change us, and this one added a lot to who I already am. Maybe it was the fact I packed too many clothes that only arrived in time to wear half of them, if that. Maybe it was all the hands reached out to grab mine and befriend a new person from somewhere far. Maybe it was because I was living in the Lion King movie for a little while...
Woke up to my last sunrise and spent my morning thinking about my race. Not bad thoughts, mostly good ones. It was a big push to come so far with so few days pre race and even though I was kindly warned that perhaps Ironman St. George or something closer to home would be better for me, and knee deep into the run I understood, I wouldnt change the fact we chose this one, I will never look back with regrets.
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Coach greated me with our next Ironman this morning, closer to home. Like 6 hours away. As soon as I saw it I said to myself, "WOW, thats nearly the same race date as Ironman Japan, hmmmm, maybe I can convince him to let me return to Japan (I loved that race), even though it would be another long adventure". But I already know, this is my dream job and sometimes that means going to an office with a view that the boss thinks will be better suited for you. So...the next Ironman is in the plans and I am thrilled about it, I love Iron distance racing and believe with all my heart that you can only make so many mistakes and learn so many lessons before you finally figure it out.

Alright Africa, time to get on that plane. Having some red Ruby slippers like Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz would be really cool right now, a few clicks, there is no place like home, and I could be home... 46 hours of travel...here I come!!
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Oh, and before I forget, which I never would because I appreciate you more than you know, THANK YOU to Trakkers, Argon 18, KSWISS, Splish, Bike Works, Johnson Blanton, Healing Island Massage, Cera Sport, Coach Jimmy, Coach Steve, Travis Blanton, Kona Aquatics, my son, the amazing family, friends, and training partners I've been blessed with! This race & life experience was only made possible thanks to you!
Bree
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Friendly" Ironman South Africa...

You know how places have names, like "The Aloha State", the "Sunshine State", the "Windy City", you get the idea. Upon touchdown the airline attendant says, "Welcome to the friendliest city". I've been hearing a lot of rumors about Port Elizabeth being "super friendly" and I must agree....on a day like Ironman Day it was VERY WELCOMING!
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Everyone in transition this morning must have had their coffee because they were so kind, lending bike pumps, helping zip up wetsuits (thanks by the way), giving sunscreen help, one man even came right over and introduced himself and told me he hopes I get dolphins on the swim! He's my new friend from the friendly city!
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This morning I woke up and it felt like my wedding day, I was that excited and that ready. It was as if something I had worked hard for, invested my heart into, and wanted was about to happen and nothing was going to stop me from stepping up to that start line and walking down (or jogging down) that finishing chute. It was the best race morning feeling I've ever had pre-Ironman. Perhaps it has to do with the lead up, super healthy, super happy, some of my best training sessions, lots of support, and confident in all coach had taught me and our game plan.
Going into the race I was going to be a ballerina, really. Did you know that a ballerina has to have perfect focus on one spot while she spins or she falls over? Today I was going to have that same focus, on my goals, while spinning, (or in my case enduring the Ironman highs and lows). No matter what....focus.
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The ocean was beautiful, it reminded me of a day back home, some chop and some salt. Loop one I was lucky enough to have feet to follow. Loop 2 I was on my own but no stress, I swim solo in the ocean all the time and chop and I are friends...be a ballerina, keep the focus, no stress that you are all alone in Great White Shark land. Out of the swim I felt like a million bucks, strong and ready to ride.
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On the bike my focus point was "patience". Coach wanted a good a good swim, good bike, good run. We weren't thinking of a Kona slot, the goal was getting 3 good sports on a single day, something I've yet to do in a very long time. So I had to be patient on the bike, ride my own ride, and just do my own thing. I started the bike second and made no attempt to hunt down number one girl, just ride and if I reeled her in cool, if not no biggie and if any woman passes me stay in touch if I can and if it's out of my pace be patient. The plan was brilliant. I felt strong the entire ride, nailed my nutrition, and when I was on the final miles I wanted another loop! That has never happened to me on a bike ride. The ballerina approach was working wonderful!
It was all smiles in and out of T2, just a few feet from the leader. My new focus point was mello first 4 miles, then find my goal pace, hold. That was it, no matter what the rest of the world was doing that was my plan so I could finish the day with a good swim, good ride, good run-ballerina style. Well, My legs felt this pain I have never felt. It wasn't that tired-shake off the bike legs pain, it was like my knees wanted to buckle and the legs didn't want to have help from the muscles. Hard to explain. I was totally salted and hydrated. Loop one was the typical Ironman style run but really forced to even have it that pretty.
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Loop 2 the quads didn't want to help so it felt like I was running on ligaments, joints, and bones without any muscle help, again hard to explain. By the time I got up the hill for the second time my feet didnt want to come off the ground, in fact those ice sponges all over the ground kept tripping me because I was shuffling that much!
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Ballerina, ballerina, focus, focus. I was frustrated. My head was totally there, my stomach was happy, it was as if everything for a good run was in place but the legs were locked. Loop 3 was almost funny but I wasn't laughing. This loop was only complete thanks to the good folks of the friendly city. 3 loops means you pass the crowds 6 times. At one end a man kept calling me "half naked girl" thanks to my Splish and he was cheering so loud, "lets go half naked girl, we love you". Another guy was calling out, "lovely run view, lovely run view" and believe me the run I had going was FAR from lovely! Of course seeing Pam & family was incredible too! Oh, the life guard I made friends with, Beve, was out there all day too and he even ran next to me for 5 seconds trying to make me laugh, VERY FRIENDLY CITY! Everyone made me laugh and smile despite the pain and frustration of feeling perfectly ready to run but barely managing to get my feet off the ground. Oh, to the man that asked for a lunch date (see, very friendly people on the run course), only if you pack my bike for me....and to everyone else, THANK YOU SO MUCH for giving up your day to cheer for all of us!
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Entering the finish shoot was bitter sweet, my good run never happened, but my focus was there and that has been something we have been working on. Lots learned, new friends made (in fact, Face Book had 14 friend requests from people I met on the course today alone!) Is this city really that friendly!?
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The massage tent was the only thing on my mind after that run, however they sent me to medical instead. After taking all their little tests they said I had a mild case of hypothermia. The laughter poured! How in Africa do you get Hypothermia?! My core was too low so I had to stay under a heat blanket for a while and get all the tests done and get back to normal. One highlight was the physio from "THE" Rugby team of South Africa coming to examine my legs. A little discovery was that a 40 hour trip, sitting legs bent, cutting off blood circulation caused the blood to pool in my legs. It created the brick like effect that makes the muscles lock up. Then getting in the cold ocean where the blood isn't flowing well to heat me up caused some mild hypothermia. Suppose on the swim it doesn't matter because you just drag your legs and on the ride you have no gravity either, but the run is impact and well, you get the inability to lift your legs over sponges.
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Thought I would be sad, but I was reminded that I am living a dream, being here in Africa is something I've had on my dream list for many years. The Ironman was just a cherry on top and I learned not to fly 40 hours 3 days before an Ironman, they recommended 10 days for a trip that long (IN case you are planning a half-way-around-the-world-Ironman).
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Tomorrow I wanted to go in the cage to see the Great Whites, can't do that though because of the COLD, so it looks like I'll have to find some other adventure. Thank you all so much for the long distance cheers, I'm cheering for you too!
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NIGHT from South Africa....
Bree

....Photos courtesy of IM SA.
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Who's Number 49???

#49, that would be me! Really I'm just a girl from a small town where everyone knows everyone and to anyone on the island I'm just Kainoa's mom who swims, bikes, and runs a lot. I like being that girl. The one that spends most her swim time chasing the boys of lane one and swimming after dolphins with the Tuesday 2.4 group. Some days I ride after whoever will pull me, ride with the girls in our bikini's, other days it's me and the IPOD going as hard as we can. I run most days alone. That's simply it. Nothing fancy. My training partners aren't big names with Ironman Champion titles or the best of the best labels (except when those athletes come to town and let us follow them). The Kona crew pushes me though, hurts me, believes in me, and dreams alongside me. #49 likes to jump off cliffs, surf, watch sunsets, camp under stars, cook & bake, paint, take pictures, read books at night, ride horses, snuggle, build sand castles with my son, and eat tacos on Tuesdays, that's #49 most days of the week...
Tomorrow though, I'm #49, Professional Ironman Athlete, racing in South Africa! WHOOOOP WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP! Feels like Christmas I am so excited, sure hope I can get to bed early tonight knowing all the fun waiting for me tomorrow!
The bags have been packed...swim, bike, run. Those bags drive me crazy, you fill them with all the stuff you think you will need to make it through 2.4 miles of swim, 112 miles of bike, then 26.2 miles of run. Then you hand them in and don't get to see them till race day (hoping you packed them really good).
Then we leave the bike overnight. That part I like...its waiting for me and in the morning I only have to get myself ready. Besides, my bike and I spend so much time together that a little break makes me miss him and want to spend 112 miles with him the next day.
I made a new friend today. (South Africa isn't ALL about triathlon). His name is Duma, I might take him home with me, Kainoa would really love a pet! I was asking him for run tips...I'll let you know tomorrow after the race how his advice worked for me.
This beautiful face, up close, petting and kissing distance stole my heart! South Africa exceeds my wildest dreams! All the animals, people, buildings, beaches, the history, foods, and culture have truly been an experience that's going to last me a lifetime. All Kainoa asked for was a giraffe, I found him one too...

Before I was a mom traveling was my world. Every opportunity I could grab hold of I would take. 12 countries and 7 islands later I still love it, but now my heart always has a tiny part missing that makes me homesick and ready to return as soon as I leave my house. Its really challenging to me even though I know Kainoa is in the best hands back home at his dads house or with my parents, he is my home. Thankfully this trip my favorite South African, Pam, made sure to spend some time with me and that kept my mind from getting to home sick...


Okay, #49 is in for the night. See that picture above, that was taken at 7am this morning, the exact time the race will start tomorrow morning...that very sunrise will get the day rolling. Seriously, what a way to start a day at the office! Good night from Port Elizabeth. AND thank you so much for all the cheers from all over this great big world. I'm truly thankful and have read the emails and comments with a VERY thankful heart! ALL the best to those racing tomorrow!! WHOOOOP WHOOOOOP!
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Bree, #49
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Crazy Beautiful Africa...

I'm watching a handful of local boys kick around a ball on the beach outside my room, the sun is about to dip below the ocean, and one of the most beautiful African women I have ever seen just brought me yogurt and a banana. She didn't want any money or any praises, just wanted to give me something that makes me happy, (I've been putting a damage on the bananas, yogurt, and granola around here). The ladies that are in charge of house keeping are beautiful...they just want to sing while they work and always with a smile, I always tell them I'll help with the rubbish or my towels, in return I suppose they enjoy sneaking me yogurt from room service...

It's been a bit of a roller coaster being in such a lovely, calm place yet having a major race lingering over head. Even more crazy is when the bike and everything needed to compete is missing. For a while it felt like I was being served more lemons then I wanted and sugar was nowhere to be found. Being in a place I've always dreamed to walk kept me from going sour with all those lemons...it was a dream to be here once upon a time and in the frustration of my missing bike and bag I had to remind myself that sometimes life rolls like that and I better live it as best as I can so the moments don't pass me by.

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This morning I received a message that my bike was in Africa. A phone call later nobody had a clue what I was talking about so I asked for a ride to the airport and sure enough the shuttle man from the hotel and I found (then smuggled) my bike and bag out of the airport. It had arrived late last night and was finally within my grip-24 hours before I had to check it in for the race. My bike is still on ALOHA time I suppose...a little late but always there when needed most.

Yesterday I gave the lifeguard a scare. He thought for sure his day would include rescuing a girl from hypothermia for swimming laps in a bikini. He stood pool side just waiting for the rescue. Supposedly the pool closes May 2 and nobody has even been in it for a couple months because of the cold ocean that fills it this time of year. Today he was happy to see me return-with a wetsuit. We became friends with something as simple as a poolside blunder, Africa is like that, something really simple exchanged between people almost automatically makes you friends.

The pool was beautiful today, being warm I enjoyed it, a lot. In some small, special way it reminded me of ocean swims back home. The peeling of the pool bottom was my coral colored ocean floor, the bright blues were the way the sun dances on our ocean back home, both are very salty, and you could even see where the bright blue water meets the sky blue sky. It made me happy.

The ocean is filling with a swell. Today I watched dozens of surfers play on the waves. A few head high rollers came through right in the swim zone for race day. With a 2 loop swim we will have to battle out against the swells and thankfully get to ride them into the beach twice as well. I'm looking forward to that ocean swim...just like back home.

Pamela (my local South African friend) was nice enough to drive me around the bike course yesterday. This was my most favorite spot on the course...its full of wind, big surf, and views around every corner that make you want to ride faster and stronger so you can see more! It was a real treat having a local to explore with. THANKS AGAIN PAM! One of the best parts of traveling (in my opinion) is getting the truth about a place from someone that actually knows it rather than fully being a tourist all alone hoping to discover the secrets. Today I finally got to ride some of the course myself AND I love it....this course is brilliant!!! Truly a little adventure tucked away in South Africa.


Now that I'm checked in, the bike is here, the race meeting has been attended, it's beginning to feel like an Ironman is dangling in front of me. Excited is an understatement...I am THRILLED to be in Africa about to do something I enjoy doing with all my heart...

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2 more sleeps till the big day...

Bree
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wanted: Argon18 Size XS (Please).

MADE IT! Not my bike or bags, just me. Finally here and so far it is well worth the hop-skip-jump that I had to take to get here! After landing all I wanted to do was get outside and see what my eyes could find, breathe in some fresh air, and feel the feeling of Africa all over me. Coach told me to run, lets just say I ran, what I ran in does not matter, (remember I have no luggage, only a bikini that goes everywhere I go-it was in the carry on). That doesn't matter, I got to run and it was incredible! When I turned back I was given the most amazing view of the sun wanting to set yet wanting to stay in the sky long enough to get me home by sunlight. Living in a dream, living in a dream...
Getting here started wonderful, the local boys in Kona let my bike and bag fly free (thanks for the $300 savings boys!), however, the bags got lost in California and I got lost in NJ. Yes, I landed in NJ and my flight to Africa was out of NY so I ended up taking a road trip over the Hudson River to the NY airport. The man that drove me was kind enough to shuttle me near the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty-however it was more traffic than I have EVER seen EVER in my life EVER and it landed me face first in a barf bag! Poor shuttle man didn't know how to help so he offers me a cigarette, just what I wanted, NOT!
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From there it was a 15 hour flight that included an emergency landing in some small town in Africa, we were running (fast) out of gas. Peeking out the window, my first views of the country were exactly as I envisioned. They were right out of a children's book full of safari land and miles of untouched trees. Beautiful. I have no idea what town that was, it was an emergency and quick stop, then back up in the sky to Johannesburg. From there I missed my connection to Port Elizabeth and the 36 hour trip turned to 43 hours. I have been in the same clothes for 3 days...travel at its finest.
Like I said, all the travel stories are worth it to finally land in this beautiful place. However, I would really love to see my luggage and bike soon. Its almost Thursday here in Africa and today and tomorrow I will remain as calm as can be about the bike...after that I'm looking for back ups because I didn't come all this way to be a cheer leader, I want to race! I've gotten to scout out the run course and swim loops and let me tell you, this is one amazing race course that I simply must get my hands on.
As for the laundry, all I have is the green hibiscus Roxy bikini and the clothes on my back, that are now hanging to dry. The sink became my laundry machine tonight...ha ha. No worries, it's Africa, I caught people naked in the ocean tonight so I'm sure anything goes, right? Okay, bed time....good night from Africa (I've been waiting weeks to say that)....
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Bree
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