It sounds too good to be true, and I hardly believe it myself. I have been doing some work for a client in Honolulu, Hawaii since January this year. It allowed me to escape the winter in Boston this year and gave me the opportunity to train in the warm winters of Hawaii. Basically winter here is low 80s, and they talk about cold fronts at night, in the mid to high 60s....
So January I packed away all my cold winter training gear and got on a plane to Hawaii. The day I arrived here, I left from 0 degrees in Boston and arrived to 80 degrees here in Honolulu. Probably most triathletes think about Hawaii, in one sense, their goal of reaching the Ironman in Kona, on the Big Island. This story is not about that, rather more of what it's like to live, train and race on the island of Oahu, on Waikiki beach.
Hawaii truly is a paradise, it's now spring here, and the sun rises before 7 and sets about 7pm ( they don't use daylight savings time here). There are mountains for hill training and open road for long rides. And since I live very close to Kapiolani Park and Diamond head, much of my running training is on the Honolulu Marathon route.
On Wednesdays I join a bikegroup from the "Island Triathlon and Bike" store. It's a group of about 7-12 per ride, and we ride past various volcanic craters and along the south shore of Oahu. They set a pretty decent pace, train paceline riding and sprints. The racing season in Hawaii starts in February with road races and end in December with the JAL Honolulu Marathon.
Race 1. Mokuleia Time Trial - 12m Bike. February
When I got my number, 65, I realized it being a time trial there would be a while for my start to come up. Anyways I warmed up. It was kind of weird not coming out of the water and into a transition area, but instead have a guy hold up while you got ready to go. Off I went, pretty straight flat road, cruising along at a good 24 mph. This is going great, I thought. The turnaround at 6 miles was fine, and then I turned, right into the wind. Going back not quite the same speed, but good enough to average 22.4 mph for the 12 miles.
Race 2. Tantalus Time Trial - 4.5m Bike. March
Well, this time, I arrived at the start, better organized (having pre-registered) I avoided any lines. Only to find that I was rider 90 something, and with 1 minute between riders, and all ghost riders (missing numbers), there would be at least 1.5 hours before I started.
My time finally came around, and I hammered up with all I had. There is a point at about 2 miles, where it's so steep that you just can't keep going. But I got through and went to the top in about 25.52, which up until then was my fastest time to the top. That was about 6 minutes behind the fastest guy to the top, but this is a killer climb, unlike anything close to Boston.
Race 3. Norman Tamahana 15 K Road Race. March
Race 4. Lanikai Triathlon (sprint). April
The swim was along the beach, 500 meters to a buoy, and then straight into the beach and run back to transition. The waves were big, but not unmanageable, and they kind of were going in the right direction. Good swim for me, and time to hit the bike. Got on the bike, and we had a tailwind going out, and I was catching a lot of people early. I kept saying "on your left", but the bike course was crowded. You never really found any space. It took us onto the Marine Corps base in Kaneohe, where we were safe from automobile traffic, but not the jam of all the bikes fighting into the headwind. There were USAT officials monitoring for drafting, but seriously, just too many bikes since it wasn't a wave start.
At the turnaround on the base we got some tailwind again, and hitting 40mph plus downhill in the aerobars was a great feeling, until the gusts were coming from the side again. Guess I haven't spent enough time in the aerobars this season.
Back into a fast transition and out for the last 5k, I felt great, and kept picking off guys in front. Looking at my time, I knew this race was good for me, and cruised into the finishing area. I was very satisfied with my time just under 1 hr 9 minutes, as I feel my training out here has been paying off.
So if my dream of reaching Ironman in Kona don't necessarily realize, I really appreciate this opportunity to be living out here, training on this beautiful island, racing local races and having fun. I know Boston had a tough winter this year, and I am glad I escaped it this time.
Aloha from Honolulu,