Final Thoughts on Kona



It is hard to believe, but 2 weeks have passed since the big race. I have had several people push me for a follow up blog post so here we go:

I can’t get the entire two week experience out of my head. Often, when you have thought about something for over 12 months, you find that expectations do not match up to reality. On this trip, from the race to the vacation afterwards, we exceeded every possible expectation we had. Now, everyone wants to go back and enjoy Kona!

I really enjoyed spending time with my family. The uninterrupted time I got to spend with my wife, kids, parents, sister and aunt was incredible. I just loved seeing everyone having the time of their life, being active, enjoying Kona and enjoying the entire experience. I think everyone found something special on the Big Island to grab onto that provided for a life changing experience. Our photos speak for themselves.

To come clean, I spent a lot of money in the merchandise tent. People have asked how much, but let’s just say I have enough Ironman merchandise to dress me for any occasion.

I not only went to Lava Java, I hung out there the week after the race like a local. On Thursday, I sat there with Shani having breakfast, watching the waves, drinking Kona coffee and listened to a musician sing some Jack Johnson songs while playing his ukelele. At that moment, I realized just how awesome the vacation was and Shani and I both agreed that life does not get much better than that.

On Wednesday night, I took my son to swim with Manta Rays. The experience was magical. Watch the video and see these amazing creatures for yourself.

I learned that my wife is a good stand up paddle boarder. She held nothing back when she stood up on her board, started paddling out into the ocean and left me for sharks as I tried to keep my balance. We now find ourselves considering a paddle board of our own.

Want a great beer to drink? Try Kona Brewery’s Waialua Wheat. Yes, I am wheat free, but is it really cheating if I drink beer? Drink one of these and you will see why I found one of these in my hand every afternoon while in Kona.

Shani did her best to film parts of the race. Here is a short video showing that awesome day.

Lastly, we finished up the week with an awesome sunset sail, thanks to my Aunt Katherine. We saw a beautiful sunset, enjoyed some mai-tai’s and I decided to show off my permanent reminder of the big day!


So what is next? I want to go back in 2011. To do that, I have to re-qualify again at another Ironman race and earn my slot to go back. I look forward to my next journey as I continue to compete in this awesome sport.

Race Report

Racing yesterday was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. This was my fourth Ironman, but my first trip to race here on the Big Island. There is nothing that compares to Hawaii. I don’t think it is possible to prepare yourself for this race. It is simply something you have to experience. Here is a recap of the day:

The day started with transition yesterday morning. After getting my nutrition on the bike, I decided to check and see what the pros do for the biggest race of their lives. A few racks over sat Macca, Alexander (Mens Winner), Potts, Lieto, Badman and many others getting their bikes ready for the day. I shared a few words of encouragement and all of them shared them back. There is a sense of camaraderie here that does not exist at other races. I think those guys knew what we were about to get ourselves into, and because of that, everyone shares something in common.

After my pro gawking, I made my way to the swim start and the pros were entering the water. I had another chance to sit on the wall and watch them get ready to go. We had to pause for the Navy to parachute in then the national anthem and off the pros went.

Right after their start, we make our way into the water and out to the buoy. We bobbed up and down for about 15 minutes, the excitement builds, the people all around are cheering, then…. Boom, the cannon goes and we are off.

At this point, I knew this day would be different from other race days. Normally I can get out front in swims and find some open water. Here, I had the crap kicked out of me for 58 minutes. The girls are the worst! One of them made a fist, then kicked breast stroke to get some guy off of her. I really thought this thing would thin out, but it stayed tight all the way to the finish. Someone asked me about sighting, and I thought they were kidding. Your goggles fill up with water from all the turbulence and all you can see is a white foam in front of your face. I did my best to keep it easy and to stay right behind someone so I would not get clobbered.

I exited the water in about 58 minutes and based on the conditions, I was pretty pleased. I took my time in transition, got some fluids, sunscreen and took off on the bike. The bike felt easy on the smooth roads and I spent most of the way out of town getting passed by 100’s of people. The wind was at our back and we were flying. I did notice that everyone going by me was caked in salt and when I looked down at my black shorts, I realized the same thing. We were losing fluids and fast. I kept with my strategy of drinking a lot of fluids on the bike, took in some salt, ate plenty of power bars (5 total for the day) and some gels.

When we made the turn to head up to Hawi, the wind started and it was blowing right in our face. This was about 10 miles from the bike turn. At that point, we saw the pros coming by and that was cool to see them cruising down the hill so quickly. I was also blessed with a 4 minute drafting penalty. I went to the tent, spent 4 minutes with 8 other athletes and enjoyed the time to get fluids, take salt and eat a Powerbar. It kind of reminded me of a stop in Richards!

On the way down from Hawi, we were moving pretty good, then when we headed back out on the Queen Q. At this point you are 34 miles from Kona. I also realized why the ride out was so easy. The wind was right in our face blowing 20+ mph and I spent the next 2 hours in the small chain ring doing about 15 mph. In addition to that, the heat was just cooking your back as you struggled to move up the road. People were pulling over to get in some fluids because no one wanted to let go of the bars.

Once I cooked my legs coming back into town, it was time to start the run. On Ali’i drive, I felt pretty decent. Legs still felt good and I got to pass my family twice in the process. You spend about 11 miles of the run in town before you run up Palani out onto the Queen K towards the Energy Lab. You then spend 5 miles running to the Energy Lab on an open road with no fans. The only thing you notice on the way out of town are pros walking home, aid stations in the distance and the heat coming off the road. I hit mile 13 and was starting to notice my fluid was not digesting in my gut. By the time I got to the Energy Lab, nothing would go down and I really started feeling weak. I just don’t think anything could have prepared me for what I was feeling. I started walking and running and then walked some more. I spent a lot of the Energy Lab walking trying to get fluid to go down. By the time I got out of there, I started feeling better and was able to run the last 4 miles at a decent clip.

As I look back on that moment today, I just can’t describe the respect I have for the few athletes that come here and run through those conditions. After what we experienced on the bike, then having to run in that heat, I now know what this Ironman is all about.

As I struggled out in the Energy Lab, I wanted to make sure Shani took Hannah to see the women’s finisher. Hannah stood right there as Chrissie Wellington made history with her 3rd straight win. I was so glad she got to see that happen.

Once I started running down Palani, all the pain left. You make a right turn onto Ali’i drive and the only way to describe it is like a ride at Disney World. You feel as if you are on a giant people mover sliding between fans with music, lights, drums and cheers. Then you see it, the finish chute lined with people…then you step up to the arch and what you have waited to hear, “Timothy Monk of The Woodlands, Texas, You are an Ironman.”

Once done, volunteers give you a real lei, and escort you back to the finishers area. Shani and the rest of the “Team Monk” crew made there way back to greet me and we just sat and talked about what we experienced. Everyone was tired, but we just took some time to take in the moment. After about 20 minutes, we made our way to get the bike out of transition and started the walk home up Ali’i while other finishers were coming in. I turned to see the finish line under the lights and like they described it on one of the television shows, it is something seen in Disney Land.

After a decent nights sleep, I did not feel that bad this morning and we made it by Lava Java and ran into Chris Lieto and Robert Larioza with Base Performance having some breakfast. Chris had an incredible race and it was great chatting with him about his day.

To wrap up our Ironman experience, the whole family headed to the awards banquet. Like the pre-race banquet, Ironman put on another awesome show. Seeing all the age groupers get their awards and then having the chance to see Chrissie Wellington and Craig Alexander take home the overalls was a real thrill. Chrissie Wellington’s speech was one of the best I have heard in years. It was not so much about triathlon, but about why this sport can do so much more for those that seek it out.

Lastly, I have to thank everyone again that have supported me on this journey. I have enjoyed chronicling this from the start and have been told by many that it was inspirational. I can’t say anything that I have done is inspirational, but I hope anyone that has the dream to race on the big island can realize that chance. It truly is an amazing experience.

The amount of well wishes I received and congratulations over the past few days has just been overwhelming. I am thankful in my life to be surrounded by so many incredible people.

I look forward to next week enjoying HI with the family. They deserve a week of R&R and time away from the Ironman.

Day 4 (Pre-Race)

The bike is all checked in, the gear is dropped off and it is time to have my final meal before tomorrow.

Before I go any further, I just have to say thank you. Thank you to everyone that has helped me get to this point. Tomorrow is going to be special and it is because I had so many people help me reach the starting line.

Bike check in was quite the experience. For starters, you walk through a chute with all the bike reps taking notes to see what equipment you have. Then you get your own volunteer to help you rack your bike and walk you through transition. When you are all done with your bike, they show you where to hang your bags and then give you a final good luck as you leave the area.

I have seen the transition area on television so to be able to rack my bike there next to some of the fastest bikes in the world was quite an experience.

Thank you again to everyone that helped me reach this point, especially my family. I can’t wait till tomorrow.

Day 3 Thursday in Kona

I finally slept in on Thursay and felt great when I got up. I started with another visit to the Lanai, watched some waves and enjoyed Kona coffee.

My only workout plans for the day was a short ride out the Queen K to the airport and back (15 miles). My legs felt great and I was amazed at how smooth the road surface is on the highway.

After the ride, I met up with the family for breakfast then Hannah wanted to go for a short training run on Ali’i. There are people running up and down Ali’i all day long and she wanted to be in the action. We ran about 2 miles and I know we were doing under 9 minute pace. Not bad for a 9 year old in Kona heat.

After the run, we visited the local beach next to the condo and then we decided to drive out to Hawi. Hawi is approximatley 52 miles from Kona and is the point of the bike turn arround. The rugged nature of the lava fields make for a stunning back drop as you drive out. We did not experience too many winds, so hopefully that will hold up on race day.

Shani and the kids also decided to make some race Grafati on the Queen K as added motivation for the bike leg.


After we got back, we had to get ready to go to the K-Swiss pre race banquet. It was a lot of fun from fire dancers to inspirational stories about who is racing. Always a motivator when you attend one of these.

My parents also arrived last night and I am sure they are tired from the trip over. Glad to have them, my sister and my Aunt Katherine here for the big dance.

Friday will be my normal pre-race routine with a 15 minute swim down at Dig Me beach, a 15 minute ride then a short run. Bob Schloegel is picking me up at 7:00 to get this out of the way. After that, it is breakfast then I will set up all my race gear. Shani and the kids are doing a helicopter ride which should be a lot of fun.

With this being our first trip to Hawaii, the beauty here is so overwhelming and to have this incredible race on top of all the Island has to offer, is an experience hard to describe.

By the time I get this post up, race day will be 24 hours away.

We have new video posted on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQt7wKDyEwk

Day 2 (Dig Me Beach)

Yesterday was an awesome day here in Kona. It started with an early morning wake up call at 3:00 AM since I could not sleep any longer with the time change. Our balcony (Lanai) has an incredible view so I just sat out there for a few hours and enjoyed the sights as the sun rose from the other side of the Island.

The kids love the private beach next door to the Condo and played out in the surf a bit while I was down at Dig Me beach doing my swim.

I posted a video showing all my exploits yesterday morning down at Dig Me Beach. My goal was to get a nice swim in and make it out to the coffee boat sponsored by Coffees of HI.

The kids also got into the action yesterday afternoon at Dig Me beach and did some snorkeling of their own.


We caught up with a few pros:

Then, we finished up last night with an awesome Luau at the King K hotel.

More to come today as I ride some of the bike course out to Hawi.

Day 1 Wrap Up

We arrived safely and on-time in Kona. The flight was a long one, the kids were awesome and all of our our luggage arrived, including the bike.

My bike case got thrown around good and one of the straps holding the bike down broke off. Everything appears to be ok, but we will find out later today after I put it together.

Last night we decided to head over to the Kona Brewery for dinner then walk around the Ironman Village so we could stay awake a little longer. A 5 hour time change is a bit tougher to get used to than I thought, as I am writing this at 3:38 AM, Kona time. I am currently sitting on the balcony of our Condo so I don’t wake anyone else and I am no more than 10 yards from the ocean. You could hear the waves crashing all night and they are making that beautiful sound as I sit here and write this post.

I plan on getting a swim in down at Dig Me beach in a few hours, then head over and get registration out of the way. I am meeting up with Bob Schloegel this morning. Bob is my friend Matt’s brother that has probably raced here 10 times. Bob turned 45 and is going for an AG podium in the 45-49 age group. Bob just finished 4th overall at the Redman and qualifed for this race at Wisconsin with a 9:35.

Enjoy the photos from yesterday upon our arrival in Kona. My favorite is the guy we ran into at the Timex booth after we purchased Parker a new IM watch. He had compresion socks on, so he might actually be racing. His advice to me….. “Get off your feet”

We are Off

After over 12 months of training and anticipation, we are off to Kona! I am up at a ridiculous hour and can’t wait to get to the airport with the family, board the plane with my bike and head off to the Big Island.

I have all of my camera gear and look forward to posting some updates via video later today. I have already posted a few videos and you can find them and all of the future ones on the top of my home page at www.timothymonk.com. I will also keep the twitter feed full of updates and will do my best to share as much of the action about the race with all of those interested.

Our schedule for today is mostly travel:

9:00 Depart House
11:45 Continental Flight to Honolulu
4:36 Connecting flight to Kona
5:19 Arrive!
6:00 Hit our Condo at the Kona Reef complex
7:00 Have a Beer or glass of Wine with my wife on our Lanai (fancy word for balcony)

We have a long day ahead of travel, so I will just try and stay relaxed and enjoy some time with my wife and kids. Thanks to Shani, my kids are great travelers and spending time with them on the road is always a great time.

Tomorrow should be a swim at Dig Me Beach and race registration. The plan for the swim is to swim out to the Coffees of HI boat and get some free coffee and take pictures with the new underwater camera.

I also have a short business meeting tomorrow at Lava Java with our new client Base Performance.

On another note, the Lonestar Multi Sport club website is now published. You can view it at http://www.lonestarmultisport.com. The original URL, .org, should transfer over in coming days. I hope everyone enjoys the new site.

Stay tuned as there will be more to come later today.

Moving to Video / A Few Updates

We leave one week from today to head over to Kona. Hard to believe the race is right up on me. The training is basically done and it is now time for a few fast workouts and plenty of rest.

As promised, I will begin supplementing my blog post with video updates as we get closer to the race. My hope is to give everyone coverage of the days leading up to the race showing all the excitement surrounding the Ironman World Championships.

The videos will be uploaded to You Tube and I will have them embedded on my home page at www.timothymonk.com. If you are really bored, be sure to follow along.

Lastly, it is that time when you begin thanking those that have helped you on the journey. I cannot thank my wife, Shani, my kids, Parker and Hannah enough for helping me prepare for this thing. They have endured me being gone most Sundays and seen me come home from a business trip, only to be running from 5:00 – 7:30 the next morning. They have done their part and now it is my turn to do mine.

I have also had many training partners on Sundays and below are a few pictures showing some of our last rides. So much of the fun in training for an event like this are the friends you make as you do the training. Special thanks to Mike, Clint, Jim, Steve, Kevin, Raul, Kyle, Al, Dana and many others for spending their Sunday mornings with me riding out to Anderson.

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Also, I have to recognize my favorite charity, Girls Run. At our annual Wine Tasting event, the awesome people that make Girls Run happen raised over $70,000! We look forward to sharing those proceeds with cancer charities, especially the Livestrong Foundation in coming days.