I’ve been to Hawaii, particularly to the Big Island, more times than the average person. First time was back in college – 1999 to the Island of Oahu for Spring Break. I’ll never forget the smell of plumeria in the air when I walked off the plane and into the airport.
The second time – 2011 on my first trip to the Big Island with Team in Training for the Lavaman Triathlon. Right away, there was something very special and spiritual about the Big Island that captured my very being. I knew on that trip that I would return…and I did. 2012 and 2013 to race at Lavaman again, 2014 as one of the coaches for Team in Training at Lavaman. Each and every time I left the Big Island, my soul cried as if a piece of me was being ripped out of my heart.
In 2015, I returned again for the biggest race of my life – the IRONMAN World Championship. When I checked in at the ticket counter, the airline employee made a comment, “Looks like you’re going home!” Ha. Why yes I am – sort of. After that trip, I cried on the inside and out, not knowing when I would return to the place I consider my “spiritual home.” My Hawaiian “brotha” Ocky explained very eloquently what was happening to me. The pain I was experiencing – my soul was calling me back home to the island. That’s all…and I would be going back “home” soon.
During my period of funemployment, I was honored to be asked to join the team at 303Triathlon.com and help with media coverage at the 2016 IRONMAN World Championship. I was going back home again and couldn’t be more thrilled. I got to experience the race on the other side of the fence…and to be honest, as much fun as it was chasing athletes all week long and on race day, I’d much rather do the race!
This week, I’ll be returning back to my spiritual home, as the on duty coach for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Team in Training, who will be racing Lavaman on April 2nd. I know. Ridiculous. My 7th trip to the Big Island…and most likely there will be an 8th trip later this year in October. You can slap me all you want, but it seems no matter how hard I don’t try I always manage to find my way back to the Big Island.
As the plane comes in for its final approach over the Kohala coast, I always shed a tear of happiness when I see the coral and lava rock engulfed by the rich blue waters from above and say to myself “I’m home.” And whenever I leave, when the plane roars down the runway and I can see the lights on the Queen K Highway get dimmer and farther away, my eyes start to well up and I always say, “Mahalo Hawai’i. See you again soon.”