We went to Hawaii to celebrate my wife’s 50th birthday and I wanted to volunteer at the Ironman World Championship race in Kona the following week. I had a few friends who were scheduled to race there and thought it would also be a great way to light my competitive fire a month before my final two Ironman races of the year.  Continuing my training was important, and I was determined to find a way to maintain my current momentum. Fortunately, the time change worked to my benefit. Being five hours ahead of Houston would make it easier for me to get up at sunrise and complete my workouts which, in turn, would prevent any interruptions to our family adventures. The days would be fairly long, but I’d get the best of both worlds.

Before traveling, I looked into bike rentals and triathlon groups in Honolulu and found a few cycling clubs. Road bike rentals were readily available and I reached out to a few of the groups. The only one that got back to me was the Tradewind Cycling Team. A gentleman named Atomman responded and offered to share some routes and talk by phone, so we did. I lucked up and found the best resource for riding the island, he was the team captain of the state cycling team. We spoke for about an hour as he walked me through a 65-mile route, neighborhood by neighborhood. His detailed knowledge of the roads was impressive. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, they weren’t doing group rides, but at least the training pieces were in place. I’d rent a road bike, and have choices of routes to run along the beach.

A full week of training

We arrived Sunday afternoon (my recovery day), so on Monday morning, I was able to maintain my training schedule and run along Waikiki beach towards the Diamond Head crater. One of the benefits of running in a new place is the ability to explore new environments while experiencing them at my own pace. This week, all of my running sessions were zone 1 and 2 efforts, so there would be no need to find a place for speed work.


Since I wouldn’t pick up the rental bike until Thursday, I used the hotel gym and rode on their stationary bike for an hour, and as always – it sucked πŸ‘ŽπŸ½.


On Wednesday, just after sunrise, I enjoyed another run along the beach. The weather was fantastic and the beach was still quiet. I began running along the beach, then through a park, and around the back of Diamond Head stopping to take in the views of the cliffs. On my way back, a local runner, Lloyd, caught up, decided to run with me, and strike up a conversation. I welcomed the company. He was a fourth-generation Hawaiian whose great grandparents emigrated from Korea. He shared that he was a chiropractor and that his daughter just returned home to practice medicine after completing medical school in California.

Our conversation was light and cordial but he seemed to be in awe that I was so much bigger than him and made jokes about it several times during our talk. We spoke about our professions, family life, racial discrimination in Hawaii vs back on the mainland, and other random topics. The time and the distance passed quickly.

I stayed with him and ran a few extra miles just to keep the conversation going, but began feeling uncomfortable because I was pushing my session too long. Our family plans were important and they were waiting for me to return to the room. I took a photo of the two of us, bid him adieu, and returned to the hotel so that we could explore the island together.


I scheduled the bike pickup for Wednesday evening and planned to ride up the mountain on Thursday evening. Since Houston is pancake flat, I decided to take advantage of the big hills on the island and test myself by riding a route up Mount Tantalus. I sent Attoman a message to let him know my plan, and he responded that he’d like to ride with me and show me the way up the mountain. Ding-Ding! Another win. Robin and Kai dropped me off at the base and then he and I proceeded uphill πŸš΄πŸ½β€β™‚οΈπŸš΄πŸ½.

We rode slowly and got to know each other while enjoying the forest,  the flowers, some rain, and a rainbow along the route. He stopped on a small bridge and showed me some beautiful views and shared some history of the island as well as some of his personal history. The combination of nature, people with common lifestyles, and time together tends to allow for open communication rather quickly. Connecting with other endurance-minded athletes is one of the more rewarding activities when I travel.

Making meaningful connections with people is great. Making them with people who have a common spirit is awesome.