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Kona SMASHfest 2014

by hillarybiscay

In the past couple years Kona has become my biggest work week of the year. It is a crazy non-stop 7-10 days going full bore on the SMASH and coaching jobs. I always end up getting verrrrrry minimal training done myself yet coming home feeling like I’ve been run over by a bus. As I sit here on a plane to Texas for the next stop in our SMASH roadshow, I am still not sure I have recovered from the Kona madness.

smash booth with belinda

But it was well worth it! The only bummer of this new schedule is that my catch-ups with some of my besties are limited to their time stopping by our SMASH expo booth. Gone are the leisurely coffee chats and long dinners out during race week. Thankfully, as you can see, Belinda and my crew came by and visited and even got outfitted in the latest SMASH gear! We introduced a bunch of new stuff (see bikinis below) in Kona and were pretty stoked with how it was all received.

teamhpb kona coaching

This year was a huge year for TeamHPB with our biggest group of athletes racing yet—6 in total. I always relish being able to work with my kids in person even though there isn’t a ton of “work” left to be done race week. Still, I love seeing them in action and for them to have this time to bond as a group.

triathlete mag teamhpb crew

timmy teamhpb

The team suits are always a highlight . . . And we loved having a male mascot this year (first-timer Tim Perkin) Smile

kona underwater with kids

There are not many experiences in coaching more thrilling than watching the wide-eyed excitement and appreciation of a Kona newbie, knowing the kind of hard work for YEARS that have gone into getting him there.

timmy kuakini

I don’t think Tim stopped smiling the whole day, all while flawlessly executing his race plan and going sub-10 in tough conditions on his first outing.

sam kona finish

Then this was another huge TeamHPB moment: our first Hawaii age group win. That’s Sam, running down Ali’I to take the 18-24 victory by over 40 mins (and 4th overall age group woman). I feel so incredibly fortunate to work with this group of athletes and already can’t wait to see who makes up next year’s Kona crew, as we have three who will be switching to the pro ranks now.

kona 14 waiting for my cat

I had one more responsibility this year in Kona and that was to try to be support staff for the GCM in his return to the Island. He took 2 years off from this race after a meltdown in the lava in 2011, which apparently took 2++ years to recover from.

cat on the front!

I knew he was back ready to embrace the pain when, race week, I asked him how his ride that day went, and he replied, “I just love that highway.” Dead serious.

Okayyyyyy. I guess someone is ready to go!

And he was. That’s him at the front of the race, where he managed to spent a ton of time last Saturday, leading the bike. If you missed the online coverage (I did), you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmA9SkuQ_sI

CAT kona run

Cat had his best Kona yet (maybe the it was lucky Fast Cat kit we designed especially for him to wear in Kona?!?), coming off the bike in second and finishing 11th. This was his best place yet and closest he had been to the holy grail, or top ten—but it is a bit painful when that 10th is just 51 seconds ahead. Ouch! Next year.

kona 10k swim

This is now my annual post-workfest decompression routine: my all-time fave open-water swim, the 10km from the pier in Kona to Keahou (also known as the Ultraman swim course). My friend Michelle Simmons has been an awesome partner in crime for this little adventure the past two years on Sunday morning while the rest of town eats their hard-earned cinnamon rolls. At that point I am just grateful to get a long workout in and go face-down in the quiet of big blue for a couple hours.