Athletes from all over the world had races scheduled in the United States. Now, that restriction caused by pandemic lighten up, the races start happening again. Ironman recently made the following announcement:
We appreciate your continued patience and understanding while we have been developing options for you during this very dynamic time. After assessing all event scenarios, we are pleased to share with you the new race date and location for the 2020 IRONMAN Texas triathlon which is now scheduled to take place on October 17, 2020 in Waco, Texas as part of a festival weekend with the 2020 Bicycle World Texas IRONMAN 70.3 Waco triathlon on October 18, 2020.
That’s great news! Pack your bags, we are going to RACE! … wait a sec. You are not from US? Canada? Mexico? Europe? If so, then there might be some problems… If you’re outside of United States of America and want to come to attend a sporting event, consult with US Border officials. COVID-19 changed the way we travel.
I did the work for you and sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Information Center. I explained that I’ve got the Ironman Texas coming and I really want to be there. Can I go? Would you let me into the country?
Information for guidance on travelling to the United States from Canada
COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions across the U.S. Borders with Canada and Mexico
The United States will temporarily limit inbound land border crossings from Canada and Mexico to “essential travel”.
U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and certain other travellers are exempt from this action.
The following categories DO NOT fall within the definition of “essential travel:”
Individuals travelling for tourism purposes, such as sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events in the United States. (Ironman or any other sporting event included)
Who is considered an “essential” traveler?
Citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States.
Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States).
Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions.
Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada or Mexico in furtherance of such work).
Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies).
Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada and Mexico).
Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel.
Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.
This action does not apply to air, rail, or sea travel at this time, but does apply to commuter rail and ferry travel.
I am gonna have to miss the Ironman Texas… you probably too. Sorry bud.
Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid, New York
is the only race that separates me from my “A” Race – Ironman Panama City,
My goal for Lake Placid was to beat
my 70.3 PR of 5:19:24 I set two months ago in Muskoka. In fact, I was more than
confident that I can break the 5 hour mark with my brand new bike I bought just
two weeks ago. Argon 18 E117 TRI+ with crazy expensive carbon wheels from
“Blade”, rear – disk, front – three spokes.
I am ready!
7:00 am – Start-gun shot broke the silence.
It was raining the entire night. Morning was cold and dark. Clouds on the sky gave no chance for the sun to break through.
Despite the fact that I zig-zagged a bit, I swam 2,125 meters in 35 minutes, averaging a 1:41 min/100. Exiting the water and seeing the numbers on my watch I was excited, felt strong and determined to give it all on the bike.
It was cold, rainy and REALLY windy, definitely not the weather for shorts and sleeveless top I was wearing. And it was not the race to have the disc race wheels on… The farther I went, the more hypothermic I got. My vision started getting blurry and no matter how hard I pushed on the pedals, my HR would not go above 120 bpm. I am cold, really cold.
You’ve got to warm up buddy, it’s not safe anymore. Spin your legs faster. Increase and keep the cadence high. Put more sugar in your body. Have a gel or better two, have more water. – Sasha thought to himself.
Bike course was really hilly with a
lot of fast descends on the wet pavement. First aid station. Gatorade G2 – love
it! Put a lot of fluids and fuel in my body, feeling better, however still
cold. EXACTLY at the midpoint – 45 km into the race , I was going down a big
hill and I was going FAST. Shifted to the highest gear I had and kept pedaling as
hard as I could. The sound carbon wheels make, rubbing on off the road is
hypnotizing. Laser focus, looking straight ahead, lean into the bike.
Cross wind hit from the right.
Holly shit that’s strong. Stay focused!
Cross wind hit the second time. Two-three wiggles… Feeling a hard hit on my head… Sky, ground, sky, ground… Dark and silent.
I reached the top speed of 47.3 mph (76 km/h). Side wind blew and my bike started wiggling. All I remember after that is waking up on the road and seeing a blue sky. I remember excruciating pain and not being able to stand up…
He’s awake! Somebody call 911! Don’t move! Don’t move! Call 911! I heard people yell
What do you mean don’t move? I attempted to get up Hell no…
pain won’t let me even lift my head
up. It’s cold. My body starts shaking… Laying down on my back. Blue sky – what
a blue sky. Finally the rain stopped…
30-40 minutes the ambulance arrived. Paramedics and police officer(s) loaded my
on the stretcher and slide into the truck. 45 minutes after I found myself
surrounded by 4-5 people in Emergency Room of the hospital in Plattsburgh, NY.
Right clavicle comminuted fracture that is broken into three fragments Broken 5th and 7th ribs 3.8 mm & 2.8 mm nodular areas in the right lung
Feeling sorry for myself
Feeling unworthy, not good enough
I failed. I failed miserably. Not only I wrecked a brand new bike, didn’t finish the race, wasted all the money and time, but also broke myself to the possible no-return point. I am a looser… All my plans, all my dreams of becoming a world-class triathlete will never come through. I won’t be able to swim as I used to with this shoulder. I am going right back to where I came from… I cried, yes I cried so hard. Not from the physical pain, I could endure that, but from the mental pain that was burning me alive from the inside.
You are DONE! It’s OVER!
….hey. Are you done crying yet? Let
it all out, don’t leave anything inside. Whenever you finished this mental
masturbation and ready to move on, let me know, I’ll be around.
I am ready
Okay, the first think I need you to
do is STOP and take a deep breath. STOP, there are no things to do, there are
no places to be, STOP.
Now listen, as long as we have each-other we will be okay. We ALWAYS find a
way, always. Remember what you went thought, the challenges we been through,
the hardships we overcame. We not only found a way out of each situation, but
we came out stronger, smarter, wiser. The history shows – you flourish in times
of crisis. Like a cockroach, you survive even after atomic war. Did you touch
the ground? Do you feel foundation under your feet? Great, this is the bottom
we will be pushing against to the way back up.
What is this? You can legitimately perceive it as a punishment, a fee to pay.
You can also start blaming others, the weather, the bike, the disc wheels etc.
Let’s not waste time on that. We both know that’s stupid, just a waste of time.
I suggest looking at this an OPPORTUNITY. The opportunity to start over, to try
the things you could not have done before, to learn, to practice the skills
that you already have. This is a challenge, a hell of a challenge. But, you are
always looking for a challenge, don’t you? Here is one for you. Isn’t it, not
hard enough? Embrace it.
But, it’s such a loss of time. I could’ve done so much, move so much further. Time lost in recovery is the worst. How can I take the most of this time?
Great question! Let’s brainstorm. First of all it is not a loss of time if you don’t let it be so. You’ve got your brain and that is the most important part. Also you get about 20 hours a week more, otherwise spent in training. Not including the commute times to & from trainings.
What are the things you could not have done living
the lifestyle you had before?
Try different diets. You wanted to try, and now you can go vegan. Try a plant based
diet without worrying about performance decrease and protein consumption.
See how you feel.
You have more time to research &
write. You can move further with your book.
Also add few chapters on eating for recovery and adjusting energy intakes for
people who are limited in their physical activities.
lifestyle change? You are passionate about travel and was thinking about an RV, a camper-van? Why not now? There is
no training to do, no stationary bike to ride…
Be a student. What a great opportunity to learn! Learn about your body, about healing process and physical rehabilitation. Experiment with new foods and find the ones that work for you better. Look around, and learn more about the people in your life. Who helped, who did not, who turned their backs on you or simply ignored? Without judgments or grudges, take notes.
Brain is a powerful thing and mental attitude is one
of the main factors that contribute to recovery. You know it, so don’t let
yourself self-limiting beliefs and negative thoughts.
Marbella race completely destroyed my expectations, flipped everything upside down. For about 3 weeks after the race I suffered from depressing thoughts and emotions. I got locked up in my head. I almost dropped out of sport of triathlon…
It was dark and I searched for help at different places. I was looking for someone to help me to stop my mental masturbation and make a sense of my thoughts and emotions.
My swimming and triathlon coaches, Bruce and Renee, my father – were able to find the right words and grounded me and kept me away from mistakenly turning my back on the sport. Thank you! I’m am grateful for you.
You can only lead the horse to the water, but you can’t force him drink. Still, all the mental work needed to be done. I had to re-evaluate and reassess the mindset I bring into the training and racing.
What role does the sport play in my life? What function does it have? Whom am I competing against? How do I see myself as an athlete, but more importantly who the Sasha is as a person? How do I evaluate my athletic performance? What expectations do I have for my body and how are they linked to the feeling of self worth?
I had to destroy and rebuild myself as an athlete. I bring a different mindset to this race, my expectations are different.
My goals for this race were:
SWIM: under 30 minutes BIKE: no specific goal here. Just give it all and see how it goes RUN: 1/2 marathon under 1:40 hr
3 day before the race, starting Wednesday, I increased my carbohydrate consumption from typical 300g/day to 300g+. Wasn’t tracking anything so it’s hard to say what the actual amount was.
I give preference to low glycemic, complex carbs. I like to have my foods simple and I get most of my carbs from:
Previously, for Ironman Marbella, I was carb loading with solely with oatmeal. It’s a great option, however due to the high fiber it’s not the best option for a day or two prior the race. This time I am loading with brown rice. I am hoping that low fiber content will make it easier on my GI and prevent digestion issues on the course.
A day before, on Friday afternoon suddenly felt really bad hunger. Ate a lot of rice, oatmeal and chicken.
Opening a can of peanut butter was a mistake. After I got a taste of it, I literally lost control… I ate the entire jar myself. (About 3000 Calories). I wasn’t tracking anything, however my curiosity took over and I threw in some numbers into MyFitnessPall to guesstimate the amount ate.
This is almost triple the amount of food I usually eat. Damn, I’m so full! I hope this extreme caloric excess will provide by body with the energy to unleash on the course tomorrow. Stopped eating at 6 pm, went on a 30-40 minute walk around the block. Planning to wake up at 4 am, which will give my body about 10 hours to digest all the peanut butter I ate 😅 I hope I won’t feel this full tomorrow morning.
Did not sleep well 😔 Had night sweats and woke up to the restroom 3-4 times. My usual resting heart rate went up from 40-41 to 55 bpm. Really bAD headache upon waking up.
Breakfast: Sweet potato (~300g) Oatmeal 50g 4 tbsp of peanut butter 1 tbsp of honey Banana Coffee
RACE VENUE: T1
T1 transition opened up from 5-6:15 am. I arrived at 5:30am and faced a huge line from cars. We were not moving at all. I heard one of volunteers saying that they’re already full and there are no parking spots left. Well, great! People were leaving their cars everywhere, on the side of the road, on the hills, anywhere they could find a spot. I was not an exception and left my car on the side on the road. I had 20 minutes left until transition is closed.
Clean transition. This means that you can not leave anything on the ground. All your bike gear has to be off the ground.
Walking down the isles of bikes with my wetsuit hanging over my shoulder I’ve been getting weird looks from other athletes. I a few minutes I realized why. My bike rack neighbor, when saw the suit on the ground, said: “Nice wetsuit, man! Is it legal to swim in suit?”
This is when I realized that NO ONE had a wetsuit , besides me 😆. Went back to the car to drop it off.
I was very disorganized. I couldn’t focus, I could think straight. I felt I was in some sort of mental fog 🌫 On top op it, since waking up this morning I had a REALLY BAD HEADACHE.
slow but enjoyable
Idiot brought a wetsuit.
My wave, 25-29 was starting 25 minutes after the official start. First, they let older folks get wet and slowly moved downtown to the younger athletes. Each wave was separated by one minute time.
10 minutes before the start had a half of Cliff Energy Gel.
Despite headache, felt ok through the swim. It was not as crazy as Marbella start and I found out that I was competing with only 42 athletes, my age group.
It was hard to sight. Because of waves and small size buyees. Another thing was the sun. Being a left side breather I was constantly blinded by the sun, zigzagging throughout the course.
There were a lot of space between athletes. Because of wise separation between age groupers, there were enough space for everyone to swim at the comfortable pace without getting kicked in the head or pulled by the feet.
The swim course was absolutely beautiful. The water was so crystal clear, that you could even the tiniest fish swinging around the corals on the bottom. Turtles foot steps could be seen on the white sand. I almost wanted to slow down, just to watch the wildlife.
The last turn, straight to the finish line, sun was hitting right in the face. Couldn’t see anything, so I was jut following other folks.
Exiting the water, you’ve got to run up the hill to T1. It was about 2 minutes run that would bring your HR up.
Approaching the bike, I had a volunteer by my side offering to hold transition bag and help to lift the bike. The young kid was really nice.
Headache is getting worse.
challenging but fast
At the *mandatory pre-race meeting, organizers made a big emphasis on drafting rules and penalties. At least 6 meters between front wheels. Two penalty tents on the course. Yellow card – 30 seconds, blue card – 60 seconds if I recall it correctly.
T1 was quick. No need to take the wetsuit off, just put your shoes, helmet, sunglasses on and fill your pockets with nutrition, previously prepared.
First 20 km flew by fast. It was a bit windy here and there, but nothing crazy. Approaching the hill is when the wind started to pick up. The higher we went, the stronger the wind blew. About 10 km to the top of this monster hill the wind was BRUTAL. Rocks and sand flew into my face. Along the route I’ve seen quite a few flats and respectively frustrated athletes. Unfortunately you can not prevent it, but you can prepare. “Every hill has a downhill”, I kept repeating in my mind and oddly enough this hill was not an exception. Halfway through the course, on top of the hill you turn around, grab your G2 and fly downhill. I felt I could use a higher gear ⚙️ but my cassette did not carry any. With gravity and wind working for you, not against, second part of the ride was definitely more fun and enjoyable.
Nutrition: Aid stations were offering Gatorade Endurance at each tent, so I planned to rely solely on it. Brought only one bottle of electrolyte solution, leaving the second bottle cage empty for G2. Also only aid station#3 had GI gels.
Planned to consume & Actually consumed:
Pretty close to what was planned. Sugar in Gatorade accounted for the rest. Also G2 endurance tastes good. I loved it.
Headache continued chasing me through the entire bike leg and followed into the run. I could feel the veins pumping on the sides of my head.
Quick Tip: in hot climates like this, solid foods most likely will melt. If you don’t want to drink your protein bar, pack gels or liquid sources instead.
hot and painful
REALLY-REALLY HOT🥵 is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the run part. Right the second I dismounted off the bike, sharp pain 9/10 hit me behind the left knee. I could not even walk…
“The race is over!”, flew through my mind. Somehow I limped up to my running bag and put on my gear. Again, volunteers were really helpful and helped me with my bike. Thank you!
First 5 km were painful to even step on the leg. However I felt a little bit better 30-40 minutes into the run and slightly picked up the pace.
We were running along the golf course, often on the grass. Wild goats were starring at people from the side of the road. They were more confused than us, having no idea what was going on.
Two loops with 7 aid stations on each. Gatorade, water, coke and ice. In addition there were ice sponges, GU gels, oranges and bananas. Very well organized and setup.
Planned & Consumed through the run:
Twice as much as planned.
15 km into the run, really fast and sharp pain hit my knee again 8/10. Ever since it never went away and rapidly increased to the point where I could not resist it anymore… I suffered each step I took. However I did not walk. I was slow, really slow, BUT I did not walk! and it took a lot.
Dropped my race belt, which I later lost. I also found it much more painful to run downhills rather than uphills.
Suffering was real, especially for the last 5 km.
“It’s all good mental training Sasha!!!”, I keep repeating in my head. My mind crossed the finish line, not the body.
Total consumed through the race:
According to carb consumption formula (0.33 x body weight (150 lbs)) x 5 hr 40 min = 277 grams of carbs were required to cover energy expenditures.
Looks like I’ve done a pretty good job with my fueling and it’s almost gram to gram precisely close to what formula suggests.
I tend to binge eat the night before race. I don’t repeat such behavior during regular days. Could be due to stress and anxiety, could be out of fear of coming into the race under fueled and bonking, could be because of deeper psychological issues I am not aware of.
Overeating before bed will not fuel up your glycogen stores, but will compromise your night sleep. You will wake up exhausted and feeling like crap.
Do your homework and carefully research on race rules, requirements and regulations. Failing to do good research made me bring the wetsuit into the event where it was not permitted.
Rice and sweet potatoes are better alternatives to oatmeal for pre-race meal. Consuming low-fibrous foods reduce the chance of GI distress during the race.
Gatorade Endurance G2 is a great hydration tool. If possible, use it in the next race or hard training.
Some gels can cause your liver to spasm. Don’t experiment with unfamiliar fuel on the course. If got a spasm, deep balled breathing: in through the nose, out through the mouth.
Absolutely gorgeous race course!
This is definitely the race to remember and experience worth all the money I payed.
I did not perform as I wanted to. I suffered a lot.
I trained my mind. I experienced 50 shades of pain and will be more appreciative of pain free body.
I enjoyed the race!
I’ve been there, I’ve seen the fish and felt the warm water on my skin. I smelled the melting road and enjoyed the cool breeze of salty air on my sweaty face.
I put my all, physical and mental. It’s all that matters.
Special thanks to Volunteers along the course! You guys were EXTREMELY NICE AND HELPFUL! You were one of the highlights of my experience.
REPEAT AFTER ME:
You are doing triathlons because YOU CHOSE TO, not because you have to. Don’t forget that!
You do it FOR YOURSELF, no one gives a f*ck. Don’t forget that!
NO ONE FORCES you to train every damn day. No one, besides your ego or whatever motivation you have.
You can quit anytime you want. No one gives a fuck!
It’s your life, it’s your decisions. Don’t forget that!
I’m calm, grateful and for the first time in a while EXCITED!
Today I’m going to Hawaii, and not just for travel but for Ironman 70.3 experience. How many people get a chance to travel to the Big Island 🌴 and experience its beauty with their own eyes, not from the movies or the pictures? If you told me few years ago about all the places I’ll have the opportunity to see including Hawaii, I would laugh into your face. Impossible! I would say…
Toronto ✈️Chicago ✈️San Francisco ✈️Hawaii
All the people I met on my way to the Big Island 🌴 were really nice. Starting with the Uber driver, airport staff and border security officials – everyone met me with a smile and were really nice. I passed all the security checks in no time and there were barely any lines holding me back. Mr Gonzales – the USA immigration officer was so nice and kind. We even had a little chat about the Ironman race, after which he awarded my passport with a fresh US stamp and handed it back to me.
⁃ “Safe travels Sir!” He wished me.
⁃ Thank you mr. Gonzales!
Beginning of the trip looks promising. I thought to myself.
My flight to Chicago ✈️ got delayed, cutting the layover time down to 30 minutes. I better be fast. And I was. Running through O’Hare International Airport I was amazed by how pretty the airport is. Made it to the gate on time. 4 hours until I’m in San Francisco.
KOA airport is one of a kind. The are no roofs, no windows – it’s all opened under the bright clear sky. Planes, like cars are parked just outside of the gate.
I loaded my spaceship with all necessities, fueled up and headed onto discovery mission. In 3 days I drove around the entire island and explored pretty much all of the most attractive “touristy” places. I did not feel rushed and was able to keep my monkey mind still.
Out of pressing curiosity, I crack-opened up the visor on my space suit… and figured that there is O2 on this planet! It is so much richer and cleaner that my head got slightly dizzy. You can actually breathe it and not die! I de-compressed my suit…
I don’t need to carry heavy tanks with compressed stinky air on my back so I threw them off my shoulders.
I felt lighter, I felt taller! I need to to report back to the base about my discovery, I need to tell everyone how great it feels, how beautiful it is here! I need… I have to…. Do I?
“No Service” on my tracking device did not give me a chance to ping back my world. It remained still for two, three, four…. eight hours. I put it away. Wait, do I really need to report back? No. I’m here on my own, there is no chief, there is no boss. I might be even dead and no-one will know. I am FREE! I felt it before, this is freedom.
For the first time in a while I felt I could finally breathe out and sit back. I felt playful and more opened to people. I did not want to listed to any of my smart-assgurus on podcasts I’m subscribed to. I did not feel the pressing need to read any sophisticated books I brought with me. I did not want to think at all. I did not care…
Scary! I am lazy! Holly smokes, I need to get my shit together and get back to work. Think of everything you need to accomplish, think of your “duties”. I am missing out. I am falling behind the bus.
Wait, Do I?
“What?! How can you even question that? Are you insane? Of course you do”, the ego has woken up and put its heavy claws on my shoulders, pressing me to the ground. It felt uncomfortable.
Quietly I began question everything that seemed so important to me in the past. Every step I took, everything I did, every thought I had, every food I ate under. I felt that I found a place to escape. I can hide here and no-one ever will hear a word from me.
I can hide from my ego that been breathing so heavily over my shoulder, pushing me hard.
As I was getting deeper and deeper into the tropics, anxiety was also failing to keep up with me. The needs to prove, to show, to be recognized and validated had softened its grips on me…
Day #1 HILO: Rainy ☔️ side of the island 🌴
North and east sides of the island are pure tropics. Deep forests, rich wildlife and rain…never stopping rain.
Waipiʻo Valley Lookout
My IronMan buddy whom I met on a shuttle bus to the race suggested visiting this place, specifically for its beautiful sunrises 🌅. On the island 🌴 sunrise starts at 5:40. Got there on time, but face a 4×4 vehicle only restriction sign. Left the car and proceeded down the steep hill on my feet. Shortly I realized that I couldn’t go all the way down due to increasing pain in my knee after yesterday’s injury. Disappointed, I turned around and went back up. Had a breakfast up at the lookout point and enjoyed the view from the top.
My next stop was the Akaka Falls. Admissions: $5 per car / $1 per person. Young man at the register kindly notified me that they accept all forms of payments, from all major banks, besides the one that has “TD” logo on it. Guess which credit card I had?What were the chances that I would have only TD cards in my wallet?
I got lucky. An older gentleman behind me in line payed my admission of $1. Thank you Sir!
It’s a short 20-30 minutes walk through the rainforest and the waterfall is worth seeing. You might also want to bring an umbrella with you’re afraid to melt.
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
From the falls, I continued driving along highway 19 for about 30 minutes to get to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.
$20 will got me on a ~1hr 30min walk averaging about 1.25 miles long.
Absolutely gorgeous place. Plants and flowers are outside of this world. It almost feel like they can bite you if you get too close.
Icing on the cake is the endpoint of the walk – the scenic view of the ocean from the rocky beach. I have no words to describe how beautiful it is up there. Unbelievable!
20 minutes drive from botanical garden is another falls that caught my attention. It is located in the town called Hilo, on the east side of the island.
Whats the best way to explore a new city? On bike or by feet. Pulled out my bike off the trunk and went on the ride around the town up to the falls and back. Got caught up in a pretty bad rain, but it only added to experience. The rain was warm and the town was wondering. You can get from one side of the town to another in less than 30 minutes.
Got to the falls, completely wet. No hiking, no admission to pay.
Stripped down to my shorts and went into the rainforest to find the spots worth remembering.
Lianas hanging down from huge-huge topical threes. Following the waterfall sound, I shortly found the way out to the falls on the other side.
Waterfall is a-ma-zing. Upstream, there are some little ponds with clear water which I had to swim in.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The more south you go, the less of the greens you see. Landscape rapidly changes from leafy green to rocky black.
Admission into the park is $25 and it’s valid for a week, meaning you can go in’n’out as many times as you want for 7 days from the purchase date.
Kīlauea Shield Volcano is one of the very few active volcanoes 🌋 in the world and major tourist attraction in this park.
A scenic view of the crater reminded me Grand Canyon in Arizona, but in a smaller scale. Steam comes out of the cracks inside the crater, reminding people that this is an active volcano.
I also got lucky to witness the full rainbow over the crater.
Kīlauea Iki Crater
The next stop at the park is Kīlauea Crater. Trailhead isabout20 minutes down, 30 minutes up. It’s a 4 miles moderate-easy hike. Easy on the way down and respectively hard back up.
When you reach the bottom of the crater you find yourself on another planet. It is unbelievable! This hike definitely worth the time and energy. At the bottom you continue walking throughout special hiking signs right on top or hardened lava.
Holding Sea Arch
It’s been a long day and I found myself about 2 hours away from hotel, on the opposite side of the island. I’m tired.
I’ve got some food on me. I’ve got gas and water. I don’t have any kids, commitments or anyone waiting for me back, therefore there is no need to go back to hotel. I decided to proceed exploring the island and sleep in the car tonight. I just need to find a good spot to park and figure out the plan for tomorrow.
Constant “No service” made me go back to the roots and pull up the park map I’ve been granted at the entrance. After careful consideration of all potential overnight spots I headed towards the ocean. I picked the Holding Sea Arch as a good spot for overnight stay because I can meet the sunrise 🌄 there in the morning. It’s a slow, scenic 40 minute drive along the road called “Chain of Craters”.
Woke up at 5 to meet the sun. 20 minutes hike through the lava took me closer to the pacific ocean, where I patiently waited for the sunrise 🌄. Unfortunately weather had a different plan and washed my face with warm tropical rain. Still, the view was outstanding. I’ll be back for more.
Day #2 KONA – West & Sunny 😎 side of the island 🌴
About 2 hours driving away from volcano park and you’re on the west side of the island – the sunny side. I stopped at the town called Captain Cook. Air temperature rapidly increasing and the sun puts its warm rays on my face.
Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
Captain Cook has the landmark called by the name outlined in the headline that I can’t even pronounce. It’s a national park and my first stop of the day.
The park is gorgeous! White sands, tall palms and crystal clear water makes you feel like you are back in the summer. One day entrance fee is $25 per car and $7 per person.
The park has about 10 km hiking trail that goes along the beach. You are on the wild goat’s land here 🐐. To keep my blood moving I went on an easy 7 km run through the park and hiking trail. I’ve seen at least two dozen goats jumping back and forth across the trail. I was looking at them, they were starring at me.
Jaw-dropping Snorkeling: Honaunau Beach
Right by the park is the beach called Hōnaunau and it is known for its snorkeling. Exactly what I needed after the hot run.
A little beach grants free snorkeling access to the public. All you need is a pair of goggles and the ability to stay on top of the water for at least a few minutes.
Pacific ocean is so warm! The water is crystal clear. You can see all the tiniest fish and corrals from tens of meters above.
Do not just jump straight into the water!
There are a lot of dangerously sharp corals on the bottom that look like the balls full of needles.
There is a non-official designated spot for entrance. People call it a “Two Step” place. Ask the locals if you can’t locate it yourself.
The second you put your head down into the water you feel yourself as a french explorer Jacques Cousteau. Fish 🐠 and corals I have previously seen only in documentary movies about wild ocean life. A-MA-ZING!!! And it’s totally free.
Captain’s Cook Monument Hike
20 minutes drive north from snorkeling place was my next stop. Swapped my swimming gear for sneakers 👟 and continued exploring Kona by feet.
3.8 mile hike with challenging 1400 elevation gain on the way back. This is what the sign said and it didn’t sound too good considering my knee injury.Going down was fast and easy. At the bottom you will face another scenic view straight from the movie of a perfect life.
Make sure you bring your snorkeling gear. Right by the Captains Cook Monument is a fantastic snorkeling place. The place is quiet and deep, hosting a wide variety of wildlife.
William was the name of a guy I met at the spot. He was undoubtedly convinced that he met a really special fish that he had a conversation with. He also mentioned he is a fish himself and that was a reason why he could talk to his aqua friends. The size of his pupils gave me an idea of what was going on.
Going back up was not as bad as I thought it would. In fact I barely broke any sweat and made it to the top quite fast and easy. Garmin showed 9 km worth of 1200 feet elevation gain.
Magic Sands Beach Park
The sun goes down as well as my energy level. I’m 85 km away from my bed, which is about 1 hr 20 minutes drive.
I’m facing the same question as yesterday: Go back to hotel or camp elsewhere?
What will I get going back?
A shower 🚿
Few tomatoes, chicken breast, rice or oatmeal with peanut butter on top
A human bed with pillow and a blanket
What will I get for not going back?
Experience of camping at the beach like a homeless man
Free hypnotizing sounds of the most expensive waves in the world
Fresh ocean breeze
Save about 1/3 of tank worth of gas and 3 hours of my life driving
Decided! Sleeping at the beach 🏖
Pu’u Wa’awa’a Cinder Cone State Park
Round trip took me 2 hr 33 minutes and put 17 km on my body’s odometer. It’s not the easy hike. Elevation gain is about 2000 feet.
First 30-40 minutes you hike up the paved road with about 10% incline. Enjoy, thats the warmup. Next, you step on a black unsaved road filled with volcano rocks and sand. Hiking boots would come handy here, but regular sneakers also worked out good for me. (changed my mind later…)
There are 12 markers on the route, which will lead you to the top. It’s a bit hard to navigate some of them. Just keep in mind that if the trail you follow flattened or going downhill, you are on a wrong trail. On a way there its all uphill.
*CAUTION! Don’t watch if you eat!
Due to its popularity around the world and limited living space on the island I developed two major assumptions about the life on the Island.
Firstly, I assumed that the job market is really competitive here and it’s nearly impossible to get employed even as low-skilled employee. I assumed that you need to be a highly motivated and qualified professional to get hired at one of the local businesses to at least make a living.
Secondly, I believed that the rent and real estate prices are sky high. This assumption let me to believe that a regular, mid-class person, could not afford to buy a piece of property here.
None of my assumptions got validated. Any here is why:
The most demanding skills or qualifications are responsibility, self-management and motivation. This observation I borrowed from the guy who lived on an Island for quite a bit and went through the job hunting process himself. He said that employers are hungry for people that would simply show up. “Those who have at least a little bit of brain and discipline worth more than gold here.”, were his words.
Real estate market IS expensive. However it’s not much more expensive than in some major American cities. If you have at least $50k in your savings for a down payment, you can can afford a decent condo, or even a house in the area that is not too far from civilization.
It looked, sounded and felt that local inhabitants simply don’t care. They are truly chill and laid back. They are different than people in big cities. People value money much less here.
You don’t move to live in Hawaii for big houses, expensive cars or fancy clothes. You come to the Big Island for fresh water and clean air. You come here for life.
I am sad to fly back to Canada
I really enjoyed my time in Hawaii and I changed my view on a lot of things that were important to me. I hope to return sometime next year and when I’m back, I will not book a hotel stay. Instead I will camp throughout my entire visit. I will also rent a bigger car, preferably a Jeep or any other 4×4 vehicle that will allow me to explore more remote locations.
For now I want to leave me thoughts and feelings about this adventure as is. They will be different next time, I will be different…
Spartan race is over and it’s time to sit back and relax. While still in Quebec, visiting Montreal is a must.
Highlights of the trip: 1. Mont Royal 2. Old port of Montreal 3. Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal 4. “Stereo” night club 5. Bota Bota
Interestingly, when I asked locals to suggest places to see, they mention a spa. Apparently it’s a high end place, called Bota Bota. Located underground, right on the Old Port’s pier. Unfortunately I haven’t gone there, but it’s on my “Want to see” list for the next time I come. I love spa’s, steam rooms etc.
This is not the Canada I know. I’m in Europe. Everything is in French, road signs, restaurant menus, the language people talk – I’m in France 🇫🇷. Architecture, streets, cafes and bars.
Beautiful people! No only girls and females in general, but also men are just such a beautiful human beings. Is there is a “perfect human “ factory in Montreal? Kids, women and men are dressed with such a good taste and style. Every person that passes you by, leaves a trace of smell of perfume that could make your head turn. Without extravaganza I got so much aesthetic satisfaction from just watching people around. I’m in Spain 🇪🇸 back again.
Every Starbucks has an added “Cafe” word in front of it. I was fascinated to notice that none of the fast food places I went in for the “washroom” has obese people in them. I don’t actually remember seeing any crazy oversized people I’m so used to seeing from living in the states for the past few years. None of that here. Concentration of running and cycling people is austonishing. In this regard Montreal can easily compete with Paris. The city is an active city for sure. That probably explains my observations of overweight people, or to be exact – the absence of them.
Talking to people is pleasurable. Everyone seem to be so kind and happy. Bonjur! Sava? Mersi! Damn I like it here. I don’t even mind learning French.
Am I just seeing what I want to see? Am I wearing the pink glasses and things are not as bright as they appear to be here? Would I still like this place if I went and moved here?——One of my favorite places in the States is Austin, TX. Montreal, QB is my favorite Canadian City by far.
On May 19th I am doing the SPARTAN race near Montreal, Quebec. A day before, I’ve got scheduled a long bike ride which I planned to do in Mont Tremblant. Why there? This is where one of the most popular IRONMAN races take place in June. I am not doing that particular race, but since I’m in Quebec, it’s a great opportunity to ride along the bike course. Mont Tremblant bike course (100 km).
Arrived to the Mont Tremblant at 8 am. Had no specific agenda for the ride. The only plan I had is that the ride had to be no longer than 3.5 hours. Studied the map, packed the pockets with protein bars and headed out on the course by myself.
Leaving the parking lot I noticed two guys with fancy TREK bikes, getting ready to head out. I started the conversation by asking if they’re going to ride to IRONMAN course and what should I be aware of, going into such a long ride.
I learned that they came to Mont Tremblant for a training camp. And they, along with the group of other athletes are going to ride the full course. They also said that the group will be heading out in an hour and invited me to join them for the ride. I was hesitant to agree for two reasons:
I haven’t payed for the training camp;
One hour wait seemed like forever.
However since I haven’t done the course before and wasn’t familiar with it I decided it will be a good idea to follow the group so I don’t get lost and it’s always more fun to ride together. I agreed to wait and I am glad I did.
One hour later I met the rest of the team on the main square. There were about 20-30 athletes all excited and ready to roll. Everyone seemed to be talking French – the foreign language to me. I introduced myself to the coaches and asked for permission to join on which I got a positive response. Great!
Athletes were really nice and welcomed me into the group. I met a lot of cool guys and made new connections. Thank you for being so nice and accepting a random guy off the street to your group.
At the beginning I got assigned to the slower group, however after the first 10 km I was suggested that I go ahead with 3 other faster riders. Christopher and me went ahead and were cycling side by side for the most of the time. Two other guys couldn’t keep up so we just dropped them. Sorry folks =)
At the beginning I was worried it will take me much longer than 3:15 hr, but now I am really surprised to see how perfectly the time aligned.
How me being here at that exact time, that exact parking lot allowed me to meet all this people and cycle with the group for free. WOW!
It took me 3hr 16 minutes to do the full IRONMAN course. Have no idea of how good or bad, slow or fast this is. Moreover I don’t give a crap.
The question that matter is: Did you ENJOY THE RIDE? Yes I did!
Could I’ve done it faster? You bet I could, but this was not the day and time to give my all. Hawaii 70.3 will give me the chance to push the pedal to the metal.
We had a support vehicle and a mid way fueling station with bananas, oranges, Gatorade and this “Fruit” bar:
They are 25g pure sugar in a form of jelly worth of 100 calories. I loved it. And what a boost I felt after just taking one. Felt the warmth in my stomach and the power in my already pretty fatigued legs. Rocket Fuel! Unbelievable!
Note: Don’t be afraid of sugar while racing or training.
Fuel: 145g Carbs 30g Protein 21g Fat Total: 822 Calories
I don’t think I am consuming enough calories.
The nature at Mont Tremblant is so beautiful! Woods, lakes, mountains… Being an outdoorsy guy, I can’t stop enjoying the scenery along the course.
There are IRONMAN signs along the course, which makes it easy to follow and not get lost. They look like this:
It was a great ride! A challenging one.
Training 95% solo I made a new discovery and learned the lesson: it’s much safer and enjoyable to ride in a group of like-minded people.
Since the Paris marathon which I did on January 6th this year I decided to focus entirely on triathlons. Despite my coach’s concerns in regards to racing frequency, I set myself ambitious goal to do 5 IRONMAN Races this year. Four of them are 70.3 and one full distance, to close the season.
4 months I’ve been training specifically for the first race of the season – IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella. It’s also my very first IRONMAN Race.
Pre race 1-2 days:
This crazy trip didn’t allow me properly eat prior to the race. However I am really happy that I was thoughtful enough to bring three lunch boxes with food. No problems with security checks at the airports. Just make sure there is no meat and it’s secure in transparent container.
Night before the race I went nuts and really overate going to bed stuffed like a pig. The reason of such overeating is partially due to my exhaustion from the trip. It was really, really stressful and I used the food to comfort myself. Guilty of that.
I had a lot of oatmeal (250-300g) + 1/2 cantaloupe +3 bananas + 2 sweet potatoes. 1 scoop of protein and some BCAAs to sprinkle onto the oats. Listening to my friend’s suggestion, I totally eliminated any sort of meat or fish.
Oatmeal before the race is a good choice. You can find it at any grocery store around the world. I actually like the way it tastes. It doesn’t spike your blood sugar; slow burning carbs. It fuels you with glycogen and does not cause diarrhea or any GI problems. The only issue I see with it is that because of high fiber concentration it takes a while to leave the body. Don’t eat too much of it right before the race or exercise.
Try not to overeat, especially before the bed, especially the night before the race.
Have a gel 10-15 minutes before the swim.
Take at least 2-3 lunch boxes with you on a trip. Plane and airport foods are horrible. You will thank yourself later.
Don’t leave your nutrition in transition area, you will have access to it in the morning. You can then throw all extra stuff into transition bags and setup bike water bottles.
Coke might cause the liver to spasm. Drink, but be careful. Not a bad choice for the last 5 km.
15 Minutes before the swim found 1 gel laying on the sand. Ate it =)
Overall pretty happy with the swim.
Right from the beginning felt strong, however remembered Renee’s guidelines and pulled myself back from going too hard.
The crowd was crazy. Got hit in the head 3-4 times. Some people were literally pulling me back by the ankles. Drank a bit of salty water, however didn’t panic and stayed calm throughout the entire swim. Didn’t sight at all on the beginning, however began to close to the end. The ocean was cold, so my feet almost cramped 2-3 times… reduced kicking, focused more on a stroke. I found it to be really hard to keep good technique in such crazy environment.
Came out of water feeling strong. Got pleasantly surprised with the time. No dizziness or fatigue.
Don’t swim in the middle, stick to one of the outer sides.
Blue Nike googles are good, don’t switch them. Wear them under the swim cap.
Have a gel 10-15 minutes before.
Don’t underestimate your swim time and instead of 40, go into 30 minutes swim wave.
If the water is cold – less kicking, so you don’t cramp.
The course was absolutely amazing. Views from the top are outstanding.
A lot of climbing. A LOT. In addition, strong head facing and side winds made the bike part a real challenge.
Dropped one of my water bottles right on the beginning. I was surprised of myself that didn’t get upset or mad and simply let it go a second later. In fact, loosing a bottle was not such a bad thing. Isotonic drinks at the aid stations were pretty good and I had an empty bottle holder to carry them in. Also they didn’t taste like they had any calories in them.
Found myself being pretty good climbing the hills. I was rarely passed while going up, however I felt like I could’ve used a higher gear on the downhills and flat segments. Fighting the hills I was constantly passing guys on fancy aero bikes, catching their eyes on me. However when the downhill time came they would fly by, leaving me in th dust.
I didn’t eat as much as planned, however it didn’t affect the performance. I stopped once just to pee. I also saw some guys pee on a bike, right in front of me. Because of the winds urine would fly right on the people behind. Disgusting.
Last 20 km were really fast, all downhill. Trying to be as aero as possible I was even passing folks of carbon bikes. Strong side winds and sharp turns made it pretty dangerous to ride at such high speeds. By the end of the ride I felt pretty fatigued, however not too much.
Expensive, carbon/aero bikes are worthless on a hilly course. Hold on to buying a new bike.
Take only one bottle on the bike. Keep the room for on course hydration.
Adjust the speeds on your bike so you can switch the highest gear.
Wear the race belt right away, underneath the wetsuit. Less hustle putting it on while transitioning into the run.
Bike position felt good. No need to change anything.
Right off the bike felt a bit dizzy.
First 5-7 km were a struggle. Wasn’t feeling strong and the distance ahead of me set the fascination in my mind. I did not feel like I could do it.
I was surprised that I didn’t have any GI problems up until half way through. Even when I did stop to use the bathroom, it wasn’t bad. It’s just the amount of food I ate days prior. Right after the bathroom use, the second breath opened up. I felt stronger and wasn’t struggling that much anymore. In fact 30-40 minutes into the run is when I began feeling better. Remaining half of the run I got to truly enjoy it. Loved it! Towards the end had some liver spasms, but nothing too painful.
Increased my pace for the last 4-5 km. Finished strong.
The course along the beach was fantastic. It was really, really cool and I got a lot of joy running through it.
Right off the bike you might feel dizzy. That’s normal.
First 30-40 minutes you will feel like crap. Push through, you will feel better as the time goes on. Focus on technique and pace. Visualize the finish and appreciate a chance to do what you do and to be where you are.
Update (May 13):
I’ve had some time to think and this are the thoughts & conclusions I came up with…
Is it so much about the race and accomplishment or about the experience? Is it about the medal 🏅 or the person you’ve become to get the medal?
It’s about the lifestyle you’ve created to achieve your goal.
Training for triathlon makes me better not just in one but three spots: swimming, running and cycling. What other sport develops the athletes so broadly? How about the mental training I get during the process? How about invaluable lessons I learn from this sport that applicable to my work, business, life and relationships? Only so many people gained access to this knowledge and you can connect with them through the sport.
I know I won’t be doing triathlons for the rest of my life. However, when I decide no longer continue with the sport I will have a solid foundation of endurance, strength and health to bring into another pursuits I will choose to follow in future. Just think of all the adventures you can go on with your skills and fitness. You can follow a swimming path, and challenge yourself to do a cross lakes swimming or something that makes you excited.
You can go on multi days or weeks of ultra endurance running trough the beautiful forests of Canada or USA. You’ve got cycling fitness that will allow you to become professional cyclist or go on a crazy adventurous cycling trip across the state or country.
Essentially, triathlon opened up a lot of doors and opportunities for me. It give me options to choose from.
You are doing triathlons because YOU CHOSE TO, not because you have to. Don’t forget that.
No one forces you to train every damn day. No one, besides your ego or whatever motivation you have. You do it because you chose to do it.
You can quit anytime you want. No one gives a fuck!
It’s your life, it’s your decisions. Don’t forget that!
I sit on steps of my house, tighten laces on my sneakers. A big trip is ahead of me and it begins right now. The phone buzzes in my pocket – a message from Airbnb. The owner is asking me where am I and how soon will I arrive to his place today. Wait, today?!
I realized the mistake I made: I didn’t encounter the time zone difference and the fact that it’s overnight flight ✈️. I reserved my stay from 25th, however I won’t arrive to Spain till noon of 26th. Overpaid for extra day at hotel.
Lesson Learned: Pay more attention to the dates when booking hotel. Lesson Price: $33
Instant Karma or How I saved and lost $100 within one minute
Take out extra weight from your oversized luggage right before checking it in.
Put it somewhere to the side, where no one will steal it.
Put your suitcase (bike box) on check-in scales ⚖️. (most airlines limit is 23 kg). See 1 kg overweigh.
Smile and be extra nice to airline employee behind the desk.
She allows you to get away with it, which saves you $100.
Window of opportunity: Airline employee checks you in, prints the boarding pass and sends you to oversized luggage department. This is you window of opportunity. On a way there you have a chance to sneak the stuff you previously took out, back in. Oversized luggage guy does not re-weight your bag. His job is to make sure you don’t have a bomb in it, so he only scans it through x-ray machine. (Note: If your box/luggage doesn’t fit into the scanner, you have to open it for inspection).
Pre story: Plane tickets I purchased through “AirLingus” were the cheapest economy and did not allow any luggage besides the carry on. Few weeks before departure I called the travel agent and requested a quote for adding an extra piece of luggage: “sports equipment”. The quote was $140 for round trip. Rip off! I thought to myself. I’ll risk at try to check my bike box at the airport as a regular piece of luggage. I bet it would be cheaper. Wrong.
Since I purchased the cheapest ticket, adding just one piece of luggage costed me $100.
“How are you going to pay, Sir?”
Ughhh I am mad… Travel agent quoted me for spots equipment $140. I thought it’s too much and decided to try my luck. I tried, I lost.
Lesson Learned: Don’t mess with airline baggage policies. Play by the rules and pay the price. Check in your luggage online, prior to departure. Check the weight requirements to make sure you don’t overweight. Lesson Price: CAD $600
Now that I payed the money, lady at the register looks at my Ukrainian passport and with expression of confusion on her face asks me:
“Sir, where is your VISA to Spain?” You must be kidding me, I thought to myself.
“Ukraine is part of European Union, as well as Spain. I don’t need a VISA to travel within EU countries.”
15 minutes later she confirmed my statement and printed the boarding pass. This is all good mental training Sasha…
Called the travel agent to get a refund. No luck. Also the agent kindly notified me that I have only two hours layover in Dublin, before my second flight to a final destination. If I miss it, I won’t get reimbursed. Okay…
What’s on a line if I miss my flight:
I loose the money I payed for the ticket. I don’t get reimbursed. I loose the money buying another plane ticket.
I get late to the race expo which closes at 5 pm. I don’t race the IRONMAN, which is the whole purpose of this trip. I loose a shit load of money.
This is all good mental training. Stay calm…
Question: I’m flying back the same way I got here. Where am I supposed to get Irish VISA and can I get it in 2 days? Fuck I’m so mad and tired…
How surprised I was to discover at the Dublin airport that I am not permitted to Ireland without VISA. The officer told me that neither Russians or Ukrainians can travel to Ireland without a VISA. And he has the right to refuse me from entering and send me back to Toronto. Instead I’ve been give a warning and a stamp in my passport. The stamp gives me the right to legally be on a land of Ireland for 24 hours so I can catch my connecting flight to Spain. He said this is on my file now and if next time I come to Ireland without VISA, I will be sent back to where I came from.
With my oversized luggage I’ve been sent to the back of the terminal. It’s dead silent there. Me and one more guy are the only two guys how are brave enough to fly with our bikes internationally. Looking at the watch – 6:08 am. The gate closes at 7:10 am.
In this one hour I need to:
Collect my luggage.
Go through the customs 🛃.
Find my way to another terminal.
Check myself and the bike in. Get the boarding pass.
Drop off my oversized luggage at the special place at the airport.
Go through security check in again
Locate and get to departure gate before it closes.
Even if I already got my bike, I highly doubt I could make it… Baggage carousel doesn’t move, the guy that was waiting with me left. I’m standing there by myself thinking of how deeply in shit I am. I’m desperate.
Can I do anything right now to change my circumstances? No I can’t make my bike box suddenly appear here. I can’t claim express line to the plane. At this point I can only control myself. Watch your breath Sasha. Deep breath in, slow breath out. You have the tools, you know what to do, you’ve been training for this.
It’s all good mental training…
Carousel make a horrible noise and began moving. Please, let it be my bike, please. I turned away from the carousel so I don’t die from burning anticipation. Baaam! something heavy landed. That’s my bike. Now, RUN!
Made it to the check in. Only few people are in the line, I’m second. Young girl at the desk, good. This time I’m not going to mess around, trying to save myself some euros 💶. I was ready to pay almost any money to just get to Spain. Approaching the scale I put a stupid smile on my face.
“What’s this?”, she asked.
“Sports equipment”. Saying it felt like pleading guilty in front of the judge, who’s about to announce the price I have to pay.
“Put on scales ⚖️” 25.5 kg = 75 euros 💶
“Sir. How are you going to pay?”
Paid the price, but didn’t feel bad. I was ready for it. She looks at my passport, flips few pages, turn around to her coworker and shouts:
“Nina, Ukraine to Spain ok?”,my heart dropped.
“Yes…”, Nina responded.
Thank fucking God!
The girl hangs me over the passport with boarding pass and with a cute smile on her face says:
“The Gate closes in 20 minutes. You better hurry up if you don’t want to miss your flight ✈️.”
And I run, again.
Dropped my luggage at oversized luggage area in 2 minutes. The guy was nice enough to help me lift it up. Ran up to security check. Dammit! The line is huge! Came up to security guy:
“Pardon Sir. I’ve got a flight in 15 minutes”, pointing to my boarding pass. Without any extra questions he said: “Follow me”. He let me through priority line, cutting in front of all the people. I felt myself like a rock star 🌟
Made it through security in 5 minutes. Made it to the gate in another 10. Breathe out Sasha. Great job!
Shuttle bus took me straight to the car rental place. It’s a 15 minutes drive from the airport. The line was huge… waited for an hour for sure. Starting to get worried if I can make it to the race expo before registration closes at 5 pm.
Lady at the register looked at my drivers license and notified me that they can’t rent me the car with this license. It has to be international.
You must be kidding!
Eva Marquez is the girls name looked at me and said to wait. She went to her boss and few minutes later came back with great news. They will make an exception and allow me to rent the car even without having a proper license. Thank God!! However she repeated few times that if the Polizei stops me, and checks my documents – I’m in deep shit.
I also mentioned to her that I’ve got a huge piece of luggage that I would try to fit into the car before I sign the docs. We headed to the parking lot and without even opening the trunk it became clear that there is no way that my “Thule” bike box will fit into Fiat 500cc (if you know what I’m talking about =))
Icing on the cake was that Eva upgraded with with a bigger car (4 door Toyota Yaris) for no extra cost. Am I a lucky one?
Exhausted but grateful I’m on my way to Marbella (50 km driving)…
Lesson Learned: to rent the car in Europe you need to have International DL. Regardless to how tired you are, smile and be nice to the people you interact with. Being a dushbag won’t help you at all, but being nice can make your life easier.
Highlights of the Trip
The race is officially over, however my mind and body are still racing. Trying to slow down, however the brake pedal fell through the floor. Maybe I can’t slow down, but I can stir, so I get out the house for an easy ride on my bike. I need to keep my body moving, otherwise I’ll just fall apart by the evening.
Sun rise began around 7:30, just at the time I left the hotel. Streets are empty, all tourists are still asleep – perfect!
Mornings in Marbella are chill. It’s 13 Celsius, however cold breezy winds from the sea make make me shiver every time the wind blows. Keeping the cadence high to stay warm.
I didn’t have any particular route in mind so the sea line was my only guidance. Riding towards the sea I could not stop enjoying all smells and sounds. Every block and every neighborhood has its own smell and set of colors. So many flowers and trees… Absolutely gorgeous place to be in.
The walking/cycling path goes along the beach line. The sand is clean and the water is clear. Hundreds of fancy restaurants stretch along the path making my eyes wonder through the windows. I got so much joy from this early ride. I think I am falling in love with this place.
Old Town, Marbella
Later in a day I headed off to the “Old Town”. Got myself a cute German guide who took me around the best places in the city center. I was already amazed by the beauty I’ve seen in the morning. I would be hard to impress me now… wrong.
I got aesthetically overdosed just after first 10 minutes walking around the Old Town. Every corner, every building, every shop or restaurant is unbelievably beautiful. Where are the filming crews? I felt myself as I’m in some sort of movie. Unbelievable! I couldn’t stop taking pictures… Beautiful place, beautiful people!
Today I am headed to Malaga, which is about an hour drive east from Marbella. Parked the car, grabbed my backpack and went on to adventure.
Bazar. Mercado Central de Atarazanas
I love farmers markets and this is the place I had to go to. Loved it! Everything is fresh, everything is clean and nicely decorated. Perfectionist in me was amazed and fulfilled joy from seeing how fruits and vegetables are not just stacked on the shelves, but perfectly aligned one to another. How much time does it take the seller to setup his shop in the morning, handpicking each strawberry. Bravo!
Payed 3.50 euro for a can of olives and headed towards the beach. I got so much joy from just walking through the street. I realized how few words I operate with to describe the beauty around. Magnificent! Manifique! That is for sure now – I am in love.
Cathedral de la Encarnación de Málaga
Certainly a beautiful sight-seen, but nothing more than that. Maybe because I am not a religious person, I didn’t have any butterflies in my stomach or experienced feeling blessed from being there. At such places I usually like to meditate, which is what I did and shortly left the cathedral.
There are two admission tickets options: just the inside: 6 euro (4 student) or the inside + tour around the roof 10 euro (7 student). I explored both the roof and the interior and did not regret. If you find yourself in Malaga, it’s one of the places you must see.
It is located right on top of the mountain, at the city center. The word “alcazaba” means “citadel,” and the one in Málaga is best preserved example of a Moorish citadel in Spain. It’s about 15 minutes walk up the stairs which will bring your heart rate up quite a bit. Once on top, you will have to pay the admission fee of 3.50 euro per person and it’s CASH ONLY. I didn’t have any cash on me. Lady at the gate apologized and with regret told me that they don’t accept cards and I would have to go all the way down stair and find ATM. I went through all of my pockets, however all I’ve found was 75 cents. I turned around to exit the line… A second later, girl that was standing behind me in line handed over the ticket. It was really nice of her and I could not be more grateful for such a gift at that moment. Gracias Madam!
The views from the fortress are outstanding. There is also a cute little cafeteria inside, where you can enjoy some coffee or a drink, hiding in a shadows of the trees.
Oh, almost forgot! All beaches are nude beaches =) I’ve been to the beaches in Marbella and Malaga and found that so many girls sunbathe top less. Absolutely with no shame or the slightest sign of concern they take off their bra and let the boobs free. Kids, teenagers, young and old people around get a chance to witness what the nature gifted the girls with.
Do you want to get rich?
What is it that makes one man rich and another barely survive from paycheck to paycheck? It’s all about mindset.
How is the mindset of the the owner of this McLaren or any of the yachts parked in the port different from mine?
What does he think about when he wakes up in the morning or goes to bed?
What’s does he talk about with himself, his wife or friends?
What is he afraid of?
What makes him excited and happy?
How does it feel to be standing on your own multimillion dollar yacht and finding absolutely no one else around in the opened ocean?
How does it feel to have your Lamborghini parked right by the entrance to the most expensive restaurant in the city?
What is it like to be welcomed as the most important person in the world anywhere you go?
What does people wish you on your birthday? How they look at you?
So many questions running through my head…
Since the childhood I’ve been raised to hate rich people. I’ve been programmed to believe that the only way to acquire wealth is to steal, to jump over other people’s heads. That’s not true.
It made me feel bad every time I desired more money. It automatically put me into the “asshole” category of people. I felt embarrassed to tell people what I truly wanted, I even felt ashamed to think about getting rich.
That’s a total bullshit!
I want to get rich! I want to see what’s on the other side. I want make so much money that I won’t be able to spend through my lifetime. I want to be respected by the most impactful and wealthy man of this world. I to be the founder of one of the richest families in the world, the dynasty of Tereshchuk. I want to leave my kids with a legacy. I want my reputation to go ahead of me and my name to be recognized all over the world.
I want…. shut the fuck up and go back to work! You’re not that kind of breed. Forgot where you’re coming from, village boy?
The way back home
The trip back home promise to be as fun as it was flying to Spain. Getting back is the entire process that consists of a lot of steps and variables that I don’t have influence on. The fact that I’m flying to Ireland without VISA makes me feel nervous.
Stay calm Sasha…
First, I need to return the rental car. If I do it before 7 am I’ll be charged €40 because it’s outside of opened hours. The gate closes at 7:10 am and the flight departs at 7:40 am. I am not going to pay!!! Let’s see if I can return the car at 7 and make it to my flight on time. Airport is 15 away from car rental place by shuttle bus.
To make it happen I went to the airport at 6 am to check in my bike and print my boarding pass.
Second, I need to get permission from airline stuff to get on board to fly to Dublin. Airlines are being penalized for letting people fly without visas and the penalty is $30,000 per person. Because of that they can easily refuse to print my boarding pass as I don’t have any documents that would allow me to enter the Ireland.
Checking in with Ryanair was a nightmare. Come here, go there. Show me your boarding pass. You need to check in online. You don’t need to check in online. Pay €75 for your bike. Show me your passport, show me your tickets, show me your Canadian documents. You don’t have VISA. Bring your bike there, go back pay here…
I’m getting angry 😡 Stay calm Sasha.
7 am – returned the car. Can’t believe it costed €5.60 to rent the car for 5 days.
7:10 am – the gate has closed
7:15 am – arrived to the airport. RUN !🏃
7:20 am – security check. Problems with the lunch I packed 🥗. Take everything out; put it all back in. RUN !🏃
7:25 am – passport control. Passed😁 RUN !🏃
7:30 am – in the plane ✈️
Holly smokes I can’t believe I MADE IT!
In fact the bike saved me. Arriving to the gate the first question I was asked if I am the one who have the bike checked in?
“YES! That’s me!”
“Ok let him in”, lady at the desk told security person to open the door and escort me to the plane.
Being greedy, proactive and fast saved me €40. While running to the gate I lost my jacket with headphones in the pocket. I would appraise this loss in €20. Plus it costed me a hell of a stress which is hard to quantify.
Net gain €20. Did it worth it? No sure.
Notes: Self-awareness I developed with meditation allows me to recognize the moment I get angry or frustrated. It gives me a chance to choose my responses to situations and people. Self-confidence helps me to stay calm under pressure. I know that no matter what happens I’ll find a way, I always did. In tough situations my brain fires up on all cylinders and it will take me out of the craziest places with minimal losses.
My fears in regards to not being permitted to enter to Ireland 🇮🇪 did not come true. Visa officers in Dublin were really nice flying in and out. My passport got another hit with the stamp and I crossed the border.
“Just make sure you have the visa next time you come. Safe travels Sir!”
I felt relieved. Last push and I’m back in Canada 🇨🇦.
This was a hell of a trip. Few days worth a lifetime… There are so many things I am grateful for, that I feel the need to list each of them.
I am Grateful for:
My buddy Kelly, who was nice enough to host mr. Blake for a week.
Airline employee at Toronto airport that let me board the plane without Irish VISA. Without her mistake my journey would end without starting.
The money that bought me the experience of traveling and racing in Spain.
Irish immigration officers that let me into the county without VISA twice. They had the legal right to turn me around, so my trip would end very short.
Making it to the connecting flight to Spain on time and all the airport stuff that helped me to cut the lines and make it happen.
Getting to the race expo on time, before the registration closed.
Eva Marquez, the rental car employee who not only let me rent the car without international drivers license, but also upgraded me with a bigger car for the same price.
A great deal on car rental. It costed me 5.60 euro to rent the car for a week plus 35 euro for gas. Up until I dropped the car, I couldn’t believe I would actually be charged 5.60 total haha.
Airlines not loosing or damaging my luggage and having my bike in proper working condition for the race.
The opportunity to stay comfortably at the really nice hotel and not a shithole.
Completing the race safe and without injury.
Extremely grateful for MY BODY that allow me to experience the Ironman. It didn’t fail on me during the race and took all the beating.
My coach Renee, who not only prepared me for this challenge, but was always supporting me mentally along the way.
All those few people who expressed their support and words of encouragement.
Endlessly grateful for my father. The support I got from himand his wife Nadia. I am also grateful for the support from my brother Stepan.
Meeting Kira. And a chance to explore the city together. Grateful to have like minded person next to me and a chance to share thoughts and emotions with one another.
All the free parking spots I have found while traveling by car.
For the girl that payed my admission fee at the Fortress Alcazaba.
Being a good driver and not getting into the car accident or scratching the vehicle as I opted to insurance.
For making it back to the airport on time and catching the flight.
For all the people that gifted me their smiles and helped me along the way.
Last but not least.
Money Lessons Learned:
Luggage fees ate 95% of my money. By taking the risk and trying to save I lost €300. If you fly with extra piece of luggage, check it in before the trip. Don’t do it at the airport.
Withdraw enough cash while at home, from your bank to avoid ATM fees.
Shopping at the grocery stores and cooking your own foods saves A LOT of money.
Parking in big cities is expensive. I would rather get myself a coffee instead of paying the parking fee. Make yourself a rule: free parking spot = cup of coffee.
I suggest booking your flight and accommodation at least 2-3 months in advance. Keep in mind that you are not the only one who will need a place to stay, as close as possible to the venue. Time is money! The longer you wait to book your flight and hotel, the more expensive it will cost you and you might end up paying 2-3 times more for the place in the woods, with bbed bugs under your mattress.
5 steps to SAVE BIG on Plane Tickets
The cheapest way to buy a plane ticket is to buy it at least 3 months in advance and directly from the Airline’s Website. Use the following scheme that will save you few bucks and a lot of time:
Define departure and return dates.
Define the closest airport to the race venue.
Register on one of the popular flight booking websites:
Set a price alert for your destination and dates (guide to setting up a price alert). Once set, it will email you every time price changes. Because prices on plane tickets fluctuate from day to day, you can save yourself some money if you buy the tickets, when the prices are the lowest.
Once the price is good, open the ticked and search for the airlines name and flight number. Purchase the ticket directly from the airlines website.
This is how I saved myself $100 off a plane ticket.
Choosing a place to stay is more complex than booking a flight. Many more variables come into play:
Your Budget. How much are you willing to pay?
Location. How close to the race venue are you willing to stay? Will you have a car or will there be a way to get to the race with your bags/gear?
What’s around? After the race is over, you might want to go out to eat or see a movie. You might want to have a grocery store or a gym, pool close to you? Is it important for you to have some entertainment nearby?
Do you travel solo? Will you travel with pet?
I found Airbnb to be one of the cheapest services to search for nice places to stay. Sometimes you can find really exotic offers that will add to your travel experience. Make sure you read the reviews and check the ratings.