It's been one week and I have yet to write a race report... I'm back home in NZ and am still contemplating race day. It wasn't the race I wanted at all, at least not in terms of time (about 45 minutes too long!!!) but I can't possibly blame myself. All I feel is an inexpressible feeling of frustration that the conditions prevented me from putting together a performance I'm proud of; that is, I'm frustrated with myself and the goddess Pele in general.
I arrived about a week pre-race to 1. have fun in Hawaii and 2. to acclimatize to the heat and humidity. I had no idea that I also needed time to acclimatize to the vog (volcanic fog), which is so dense on that side of the island that it is seen as a grey thick mist. What it is is volcanic gaseous sulphur (and perhaps nitrogen compounds as well) that react with oxygen, water and sunlight, to produce sulphur oxides (acidic compounds) that react with the lungs. I spent about 5 days with the feeling of lungs burning, eyes watering, nose stuffed up and dripping. I felt fine, except that if I looked into the light, my eyes would not stop watering!! It did clear up 1-2 days before the race, for which I am very thankful!!
I took care of myself pre-race. I swam with dolphins (twice), I found turtles and colorful fish and reef. I attempted to body surf some waves. I ate heaps of poke bowls (yum!!), and did all the taper training. In one ride on part of the course, I was so overwhelmed by the winds, only to later find out that that day had had a storm/gale warning. Okay, I thought, it can't possibly be worse on race day. If that's as bad as it gets, I'll be okay!!! Never mind that Pele had something else brewing!!
Prior to getting to the race report, my thoughts on Hawaii in general:
- It still is American, it is so overwhelmingly car-focused. It is so not pedestrian friendly. I find it amazing that there are no gravel paths or trails to walk/run on. No where. People walk their dogs on the highway. People ride on car-riddled highways. Oh yes, huge shoulders and smoothly paved roads... but so congested with cars and trucks that it can't possibly be enjoyable. It isn't enjoyable! People run... on... the... roads... what is this craziness??
- Some items sold in the States are so insanely cheap. Americans have no idea how lucky they are. A 60$ pair of Nike Free Runs cost 200$ NZ. No joke. Shoes and clothing, processed foods, cars, gas. SO CHEAP. Oddly enough, fruits are about the same price in supermarkets, but farmers markets and roadside stalls are bountiful, and that's where you REALLY want to buy your papayas, mangos, avocado and citrus. Beyond delicious. Delectable. Jaw-droppingly tasty. Meat quality is despicable (especially their red meat), but their seafood is top notch. Especially ahi. I could live off of ahi.
- American trucks, which are owned by every individual on the island, I'm sure... they are HUGE. The trucks themselves are large, they then jack up the body and put MASSIVE wheels on them. Insane!!
- Hawaii, unlike almost every other part of America, is still shaped principally by nature and not by man. The lava fields are barren and exposed and windy, the rainforest is lush and wet, the desert and southern part of the island is grass and rock and wind-blown. The waves are either beautiful pipelines or messy as all hell.
- Few people actually live by the ocean. Almost everyone is tucked up on the slopes of the volcano far away from the risk of tsunamis. I wonder how many people actually regularly visit the ocean if they live a good 20-50km away from it.
- Those that do live near the ocean live IN it. They are one with the waves and the water, and that is beautiful to see.
Okay... this'll be a separate post. Next: the race report proper!! :)