Tuesday, September 23, 2014


We did it, to me a huge feat, a great big deal, and something that I'll remember forever and a day, "The day we paddled across the Kaiwi Channel".  By the time we reached mile 41, above, I was in tears, a long time dream was about to become reality and it was so much better than I ever dreamed it to be.  For being a girl who likes to dream it up then go do it, I often fumble with my patience and lack of "being in the right place at the right time".  Well, this was the perfect time, the exact moment in my life when I needed to be on Molokai, team up with Kai 'Opua women, paddle Na Wahine O Ke kai (From Molokai to Oahu), not back in 2003...

Dear Life, thank you for teaching me (again) to hold my horses.

The race is the Ironman of paddling.  It's a huge deal that paddlers all over the world spend the entire year gearing up for.  I got to witness my Big Island sisters working so hard for it this season and was part of their special journey, it became my journey too.  Sunday our crew landed 7th in the world, just breaking the 6hr mark. It feels unbelievably special knowing I get to be part of two Championship races this season.  Paddling has been such a beautiful part of my world, enhanced everything about triathlon, and softened the blows on some difficult days.  The women I got to paddle with have won the race in previous years, they are all so experienced in the ways of the water, it was so beautiful working with them & an honor.  

The morning of the race.
The event reminded me so much of being in the transition area of an Ironman, except we set up our seats in the canoe instead of our bikes.  We checked our paddles, not tires.  We got our nutrition all set (I used the exact same stuff I fuel with in an Ironman), it was a really good day to test out my nutrition for October 11th!!  The start of the race was the same too, full on emotion for a big day that holds so much unknown and so many opportunities.  My key words were the same as Ironman race day, "Stay humble, stay confident".  You just don't know what Mother Nature can do out there in the middle of the ocean!  

At the end of the race the emotions of crossing the finish line were identical to that of Ironman.  Raw joy that is difficult to put into words or understand unless you experienced it yourself.  You are tested physicall, mentally, and emotionally all day.  You sacrificed to be there, you worked hard to be there, you want to be there.  That's the beauty in all of this, it really is a choice, our gift.  Physically the Ironman is more of a challenge to me, but mentally, I was so much more exhausted in the channel.  You have to work as a team, hitting the water at the same time or you mess the entire boat up.  In triathlon, when our minds wander we notice, bring them back, but rarely does it completely throw us all the way off track.  We still move forward.  In the canoe, it is 100% focus all the time, the entire time, or you mess it all up, you mess up every one by not following entirely what's going on in front of you. I truly believe paddling has helped me focus in triathlon more this season than anything else I've tried.  More than my quotes, my books of advice, my self talk, none of it.  I can now ride bike and not even notice I forgot my ipod!  I suppose paddling has played a bigger part in my Ironman journey than ever expected.

Molokai was so beautiful for so many reasons.  I wish we had more time there to collect shells and run the beaches.  To explore and get lost then found.  The people were as gorgeous as the little island.  It was so tiny, not even a movie theater!  Molokai taught me to do a better job of being in the moment.  My mind always seems to be on overdrive, it took a big breath of fresh air over there.  For the first time in a long time I didn't think about anything at all...I just lived.  

Being home now is prettier than ever.  I was welcomed to all things Ironman.  My paddle is hung up for a while and my lessons are sitting close.  Splish sent me some fun practice suits to keep the swim motivation going strong these final weeks.  That Wonder Woman suit is the absolute best!  And a box of fruits were left for me at swim practice along with Red Bull from Natascha Badmann herself, you know, to keep me going. I love home and having left it for a place I once thought I'd like better made me love it even more...

Training is still in full force for me this week, loving it, embracing it, and still remembering how this time last year I was not part of it.  Unbelievably thankful, for all of it, the journey and moments leading right up to that start line and all we worked for to get us to the finish line.  

One more paddle picture, because I am still just so happy to have lived through yet another dream come true.  And I miss those girls already.  Night, night, Ironman miles await me bright & early.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

French Polynesia, New York, Molokai...

To travel is to be blessed, richly, more so than any dollar amount, blessed.  I consider time the most you can spend on someone and travel the most you can share with someone.  In 8th grade my aunt gave me an Australia travel book, I carried it everywhere, everyday, till I left it on the bus.  Heart broken to lose the little book I'd often get carried away in, I promised myself, "One day I'll just go there myself".  That began my lust for travel and collecting travel books.  34 years old, I am richer than the 8th grade me ever imagined I'd become.  15 years old was my first trip out of country and I've been to 14 others since that day.  Dear mom, thank you for letting me go...

I learned to give & share.  To appreciate differences in others.  To work hard, really hard.  To love.  To value.  To set goals & go after them till they become real.  To not depend on anyone out of laziness, to lean on others in times of need.  Many nights I still fall asleep with memories of stars above head in places I can't even speak the language.  I left my toothbrush to a little boy in Honduras who's only wish was to have a toothbrush of his own.  I helped build a school and painted a home for a town who had nothing they could offer me, yet gave me everything I needed at that time in my life.  I won an Ironman in another country with my mom & son at the finish line.  I broke my foot in Australia yet picked myself up and kept going on it, because the rest of me still worked.  In Nicaragua, the poorest town I've ever been in, I saw a man love a woman in a way that still brings me to tears, far beyond what movies can offer us in the way of romance.  I cut a chickens head off and went to bed hungry in Belize.  I danced.  I made friends. I made family.  I borrowed clothes from a boy in South Africa who only had one extra outfit but gave it to me since my luggage never showed up.  I learned so much...

And sometimes travel can even mean a road trip, an island hop, a trip to the country or city.  

Of all the places all over the world, without even knowing entirely why, just knowing it's safe to make dreams, I have always wanted to see NY, Molokai, and any of the islands in the French Polynesia.  In 11th grade my friend Claude from Tahitti told me all about his island life, boats, and culture.  I'm pretty sure I could have tagged along on a trip back home with him since my parents were so supportive of my travel passions, but I tucked it aside as a place I wanted to French kiss, surf pretty waves with my best friend, and hold hands on perhaps...a honey moon.  

NY was a place I put on my list later in life, in college days after the bombings.  I realized how amazing America really truly is and I've yet to really indulge in it.  I wanted to go there and get educated on history, run through the park, take a cab and eat pizza.  I wanted to share it of course, but not with just anyone, it would have to be with someone who doesn't know it either, because I want to explore and get lost and then find our way.  

And then there is Molokai.  In December of 2002 my college sent out my application to the little island for a teaching position.  I of course, dove into a travel book and fell in love.  Molokai had other plans for me, Big Island needs her more, Kona teacher I became.  But I still looked out over the ocean and dreamed of Molokai.  In 12 years I have never really had a "reason" to go.  Not that life must have a reason to live it, I always just thought perhaps no rush, let it be special when it finally happens for me...

Well, my friends, tomorrow I am going to Molokai.  To paddle.  With some of the strongest and most wonderful people I have met, we will paddle from Molokai to Oahu.  I can hardly believe this day is almost happening and depsite how I imagined a trip to Molokai would look, I am happy it is happening this way.  Yes, I know, 3wks before Ironman, that's okay.  Because life has taught me, we don't always have a say so when we get to live out a dream, they surprise us when they decide to happen for us.  Mine is going to happen, I get to paddle a channel...

Terrified?  Not at all, Ironman has given me all the courage I need to take on a big, big challenge.  But the waves?  I nearly lost my life surfing in Costa Rica in 12th grade, I know the strength of the ocean and give it the utmost respect.  And paddling?  That's okay too, the women's crew that I get to be part of are incredibly experienced, they would not have taken me as part of the crew if they didn't think I was capable.  Emotional?  Yes, very.  I have watched Youtube videos of the race over and over, to be part of something so amazing is sometimes a girls "once in a lifetime", but maybe not, however I am not going to live life letting opportunities pass me by with hopes they come around again.  So here we go...

Beautiful life, thank you that two dreams are colliding so gracefully in a single year.  Ironman, thank you for a nice week of hot miles, I'll be back to you Monday...

Bree xo

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Eating Pineapples

At the moment I really can't come up with a more clever title than that, so sitting here eating pineapples it just makes sense to me.  I should add a bowl of cocoa crispys too, those are also being eaten at the moment, with pineapple.  That's how I know this is the chunky, beefy, feeling it, week before an Ironman.  When you just roll with it, wake up and follow the plan, minimal thinking because you're nearly too tired to make sense of it...just trust...and do.

But it has also been pretty special.  We have had a rainbow every single day this week.  Tonight was a double rainbow over the ocean where one end landed on the Ironman buoy.  I was so happy, like a kid that believes there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!  It was also the last paddle practice of the season.  Oh, how I'll miss it, miss the girls, the ocean at sunset, and just escaping out to sea a couple nights a week.  But it's not entirely over, we race Sunday, one more long distance race to go...

After that it really is only Ironman on my mind.  My healthy distraction has served me so well, completely balanced me, mentally kept me from burn out, and has given me so much happiness seeing two dreams collide at once.

It's been looking more and more like Ironman around town lately.  Little things, like signs slowly being posted, "Ironman athletes shop here".  Pros riding through town in fancy matching bike kits, some really big legends showing up to swim practice (see above),  and the woman I usually see for massage is booked up, now I know why she had me schedule a month out!  And today, I put two meetings on my calendar for sponsorship obligations race week...it really is coming!  I also took my last teaching assignment before Ironman, one day next week, then only triathlon...yikes.  I'm ready to tone it all down and let some butterflies slowly find the way to shift my gears.

Monday I committed to a fruit and veggie "juiced" only day with my friend Tiffany.  She sort of has to do it, I sort of feel like I should support her.  I tried to get on the wagon today and have only fruits and veggies for snack, but cocoa cripsys happened.  I always try to do a one day fruit & veggie day pre race anyways.  It makes me feel so much better after weeks of gels, sports drinks, and bars from wrappers.  Monday I'll let you know how it goes...

Today was another swim to the Ironman buoy.  Guess what?  It's actually 2.7 miles on regular days when the race course isn't lined up.  Somehow all the locals that swim knew that and like the late bloomer I am, finding out years later.  I always thought the slight time difference was because race days I don't stop to check out the sea life.  I think one of the things I'm most looking forward to it the setting of the buoys.  They are so beautiful to me, perhaps only because I can appreciate the ocean without them.  But seeing them is a sure sign the race is coming!

Ahhhhhh, deep breath, just over three weeks to go...
Good night, 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Four Weeks, Baby!!

I am totally on celebration mode (and flying kites on Kua Bay Hill mode) that we are a month from Ironman! The prom, the Super Bowl, the wedding, the Wimbledon, the NBA, maybe not those things, but it does take a special place in my heart and get the special attention that a 140.6 mile race deserves...

Humbling. Respected. A privelage. The Championships of my sport is almost here.

This week my focus was on all three sports, of course, but I really tried to feel like a swimmer.  The Ocean is my second home, thankfully I'm comfortable there and have found peace in the water like no place on Earth. But I really need to learn to go fast, move, and focus on swimming like a swimmer, not a girl solely floating in her heaven on earth. I swam out to the Ironman buoy 3x, that's more than usual for me and I took part in the Peaman swim race this morning. It helped having a little prerace jitters lining up with fast high school kids and going breathless for nearly a mile.  Week 5 goal, the swim, has been successful. Now to hold onto that faster feeling and ditch my floating feeling throughout the Ironman.

My sister got me hooked on this Drake poet, he is kind of intense about life and love. Sometimes it feels like I'm reading something from a drunk man at a bar, but other times it just says what I feel without having to find my own words.  Like this one.  It's really helped to keep me more at ease through this Ironman journey. Appreciating all life has to give me, while holding firmly to my opportunities with sport at the same time. A collision of dreams and obligations, I guess. Or maybe just not needing to be reminded that life is short and we have to just go for it in the moment.  

I did go surfing too.  Today, I just had too.  Absolutely, without a doubt, in no way, could I avoid it.  My church is right on Ali'i Drive near a good surf break, the waves kept calling, I kept fighting to focus on the message, but something in me took over...follow your heart.  It was swim practice #2 of the day, a dose of Vitamin D, recovery from my run, breakfast, one of those days that you simply appreciate every single drop of all the good things you are capable of. I'll let it tide me over now till after October 11...

As for the food pic that is somewhat standard on an Ironman blog post, pancakes.  Seriously I don't even like pancakes unless we make them at home.  I'm fussy.  They have to be flat, like a crepe, not fluffy, and require mostly eggs.  And I like them cooked in coconut oil till the edges get crispy.  As for the fun stuff, I always go wild.  Sometimes spinach and other garden things.  But this week, after a long ride, it was bacon and strawberries!  If you have yet to try that, do it.  What a beautiful combination of sweet and salty.

4wks to go, that means the swim pool first thing in the morning.  Plenty of athletes are starting to roll into town, so hopefully this week I land some company.  Or at least some motivation to keep myself feeling more like a trigeek for the next few weeks. Butterflies, not yet.  Excitement, continuously. But above all...thankful.

Good night from Kona.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Some miles.

The day has arrived, I am a soccer mom. It was only a joke when he was in my belly, that one day I'd be a soccer mom...now it's real. And I like it better than swim meets, it's an hour of action, not all day long requiring me to learn patience. I don't know the rules so I don't scream and shout from the sidelines.  I just watch and think it looks fun to run after a ball...

The best part, Kainoa chose the sport himself and loves it. He wears the biggest smile I've yet to see him wear in any of his sweaty activities, so far.

Okay, back to me. (Insert sarcasm, it's my attempt to not blab too much about family stuff since my fam does not give me permission to blab about them publicly on blog). But really, Ironman is in the 5wk window which happens to be my favorite window!  It's the one where girls like me finally narrow their gaze.  I admit to the struggle of wanting to do absolutely everything in life, live it up! That suggests a problem when the race draws near and laser focus is needed for a great 140.6 miles, so week 5 is when I can actually start seeing the race and begin to feel eager about just one thing at a time. 

My brother n law sent me the above picture of my first Ironman, what beautiful memories came flooding, along with the perfect motivation to strive for a repeat of a day I'm proud of.  Hello Ironman number 20!

Oh before I forget, mix those things listed on the glass jar in our fridge, it's my flavor of the week.  Dear God it's so good!! It all began by cleaning out our garden...it needs a make over after Ironman!

Back to Ironman, this hill was my mental workout. You know how sometimes you just need to go kick your own ass? I had that day and ran up the path to the jello mold hill, then to the top of the hill.  Ill be honest, it was pretty brutal, but it's hardly torture when you are surrounded by views that make you beyond thankful...that said, it made me appreciate even more the 140.6 miles soon to come.

Today was the money in the bank day.  Stacking some hay in the barn day. Planting seeds day. Whatever you prefer, it counted.  I loved it.  And even more incredible was feeling truly blessed by good friends, like Staci's future hubby pulling over on his way to work and surprising us with drinks! 

It has been a few good days in a row of miles and miles on the way to another Ironman. And tomorrow, wake up and do more miles... 

Happy training! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Yesterday's 93 mile ride may have taught me 93 lessons! It was one of those rides that you hop off your bike and know it counted. Okay, they all count, but you know the ones that make you feel like a badass or at least more like a you deserve to ride without training wheels. Oh the little things learned on a long ride...

Hills and climbs eventually end. We are so much stronger than we believe. Wind only causes you to lose your balance if you let it. Water is the cure for most anything. Going faster does feel better. Going easier does feel better. You can make u-turns. Sometimes we just have to go with the downhills. I like it hot. A flat tire isn't the end of the world. Beeps and honks are gestures of love. I am thankful for food. 93 miles really isn't that far... 

My list could go on and on. I just know yesterday counted.

I have officially managed lots of beach time this week too!! As in, 2 trips to the Ironman buoy and runs along the coast. If you are wondering, the heat is on. I'm still too scared to take an ice bath even though I'm sure my body would thank me. Lessons from the heat...

Cool down the pace if you are about to fall over, it's faster than laying on the side of the road. Hats help. Less clothes and more sunscreen. Drink. Drink. Drink. Ice. Salty drinks. 

One more thing. I'm going to paddle a channel. This year is sort of amazing me. Last night I was reading my bucket list book from 2002, it said:

Go to Molokai
Paddle a channel
Sky dive
Be somebody's awesome wife
Sleep on top of a mountain
Pay off my credit cards

And a bunch of other things that by now have been crossed off. Turns out I jumped out of a plane in New Zealand earlier this year (that was a nightmare that will not return to my bucket list). I've been narrowing down the cc's and feeling confident my extra teaching will make it happen sooner than later. So my friends, the top two will happen very soon, with coaches approval of course! 

Love Bree