Friday, March 14, 2014

Bootcamp DOMS - It's gotta be good for you...

This morning we bootcamp crew made Rich, our trainer, a very happy guy.

As we started to congregate at this morning's session in Bradfield Park, just before 6.00am, there was a common theme coming through the conversation.

DOMS (or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) was the cause of everyone's complaints this early Friday morning.

And I, fresh from Ironman New Zealand, was suffering like everyone else.

Wednesday had been my first day back to bootcamp.  I was glad to be returning to the fold after 5 weeks away but was also under strict instructions from Coach Dave to temper my activity.  I'm still in recovery mode and so had to make sure I eased my way back rather than go gangbusters.

And so I did.

We did a whole stack of backwards running up stairs, running backwards up hills, lunges and squats.  About halfway through my injured knee started twinging  a little so I stopped with the deep knee work and moved onto cobras, tricep dips and push ups while everyone else did backward step ups.

All good and everyone was happy ... until Wednesday night when virtually every muscle in my body started seizing up.  By Thursday morning I was walking around like an old woman and feeling very achy and sore.  And more than once I was thinking to myself that I wasn't this sore after ironman this year.  

What the?!

I certainly didn't think I had gone hard out but could only imagine that my 5 weeks away from Bootcamp was punishing me big time.  This morning, and due for another hell session, I seriously questioned whether I'd get through it and quietly tossed up whether I should be going.  But I decided to suck it up, and glad I did.

Because as I was standing in the plaza with my fellow bootcampers it soon became clear that my 5 weeks away wasn't the problem.  Instead Rich had managed to come up with a cunning routine that had challenged muscles that we hadn't activated for a while. And that's a good thing.

And so while we were all suffering, he was a very happy trainer.

Oh, and apparently it proves that 50 minutes of bootcamp is tougher than 13 hours of ironman....  In which case I'm looking forward to seeing them all on the start line of ironman next year!

Pass me a walking frame.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ironman New Zealand 2014: The Run

7 hours, 45 minutes and 10 seconds after the starting cannon had gone off that morning I was handing Black Beauty over to one of the fab volunteers in Transition 2.  Despite the puncture she had done me proud and I was ready to head out for a "little" run…

As with T1, the volunteers were in a party mood and had my transition bag ready to hand me as I ran through their lines.  While we were all out riding they were busy adding our names to the transition bags and so by the time we got back they were not just handing our bags to us, they were also yelling out "Go Toni!" as I laughed and did a whoop of joy while heading through and into the tent.  Another amazing volunteer was inside waiting just for me (well it seemed like it!) and emptied out my bag ready to help put on socks, running shoes and put away my helmet and bike shoes.

A big thank you to her and I was out the other end, pausing again for another application of sunscreen and a quick toilet stop - my first one since the swim.

I jogged out of T2 feeling pretty good and got my head ready for the next/final 5-6 hours.

The run is a 3 lap course, out and back through Taupo's lakeside residential area.  The atmosphere in this final stretch is phenomenal with street parties and cheering spectators all the way.  Even so, I knew this leg was going to be all about the head.  It was going to be my mind that would get me through this and I was as ready as I had ever been to get the job done.

The plan was to start out slow and steady and aim to walk the aid stations only.  I had managed this for the first time for the Port of Tauranga Half in January and if I could manage this in Taupo then I should gain a decent chunk of time over previous years.

Lap 1 went to plan.  I was tired and felt slow, but was ticking the legs over and only focusing on the next aid station and trying not to think about the distance to go or the time.  It was too far out to figure out if I was on track for a PB (and I was rapidly getting too tired to care!) and too complicated to keep track of how long it was taking to do the lap.   It was pretty uneventful with the main highlight seeing Dave, dad and Leigh at the end of the lap just before I did the u-turn to do it all again.

Lap 2 was the character-building moment.  It's definitely the worst lap of the three - you are only approaching the halfway mark and you know there is still a lap to go, so it just seems like an endless run with no end in sight.  It was during that lap that I had my lowest moments and found myself walking (and not caring) up a couple of the hills.  It's where a lot of self-talk comes in and I was talking myself through a number of sections.  Halfway back towards the end of the lap (does that even make sense?!) - around 25km I think, I decided to have a toilet stop.

While I was there I also noticed that one heel had rubbed raw as my sock had slipped down a bit and so I decided to take stock and get a plaster from the aid station.  Supposedly all the aid stations had been left with a first aid kit (and I thought a medic as well), but not this one!  Thankfully the guy at the aid station had a first aid kit in his ute and he dashed over to it, dug it out and found me a couple of plasters to put on my heel.  Again, what a star - nothing was too much for these guys.  Just amazing.

So a few minutes stopped there sorting myself out and it was enough to mentally refocus and get going again and finish off that second lap.

Turning at the end to start the final lap and it was a great feeling to be on the final stretch, so to speak.  I had seen dad and Leigh heading to the U-Turn and then as I started heading back down towards the Lake I went past Dave who yelled out "Keep the faith!"

So keep the faith I did.

I did a quick check of my watch and it was showing 11 hours something.  My brain was feeling pretty fried by then but all I could do was think, OK, it was taking me 2 hours to do a lap last year, if I go at that pace I'll finish with a time starting with 13.  And that will be a Taupo PB.  That very rough calculation was enough to motivate me to get going and put all my effort towards getting through the last 14km.

Keep the faith…you can do this.

The last lap did contain a couple of great highlights - on my last pass of the Sweat 7 aid station I came across Jacky who was standing on the sidelines.  There was no hesitation - I stopped and gave her a big hug, it was so good to see a friendly face at that end of the course, so good to be heading home, and so good to have the day almost over.

And as I was running along the lakefront I found myself glancing up at the sun.  Heading out on the last lap I started thinking "that sun is still quite a way up in the sky - I wonder if I'll get to the end before it gets dark".  And again along the waterfront in the other direction, with only 3km to go I was watching that big orange orb in the sky again - it was still just hovering above the hills in the distance.

The most amazing feeling, then, to run past the last aid station, about 500m from the end and see on the other side of the road the volunteers just starting to hand out glowsticks to those heading out for another lap.  Woohoo - I was getting in before the glowsticks!!!!!

I didn't need to look at my watch, or the clock above the finish line.  As I ran down the finish chute - without a glowstick - I knew I had a PB in the bag.  Mike Reilly was calling me in and boy did I enjoy that last 100m.  It doesn't matter how many Ironman finish chutes you see - they are without doubt the most amazing sight and make the entire day and the entire training program leading up to it, worthwhile.

I crossed the line with my hands in a heart shape, sending a virtual hug to St Pete who I knew would be watching live from Sydney.

As I crossed the finish line a familiar face came and gave me a big hug, wrapping my finishers towel around me and putting my medal around my neck.  Charmayne (another fellow ironman, from Auckland, who started on this mad ironman journey with me back in 2011) was volunteering at the finish line and jumped at the opportunity to be my catcher.  Such a great way to finish but there was only one thing to say, which she completely understood: "This shit doesn't get any easier!!!!!!"

Ironman New Zealand 2014.  Ironman #6.  13:10:33
52 minutes faster than IMNZ 2013 and 47 minutes faster than Ironman Cairns 2013.

Job.  Done.  (And a 12 hour finish in my sights!)

Ironman New Zealand 2014: The Bike

Transition 1 was a bit of a blur.  I held a steady jog along the green carpet then up the stairs and through the waiting volunteers who had my transition bag out ready for me to grab.  What a team!  Into the tent and another volunteer found me quickly and stripped off my wetsuit and grabbed my gear out of the bag.  Bike shoes on, spare chocolate brownies in my back pocket (thanks mum!) and sunglasses in hand, I ran out of the tent, accepted a rapid application of sunscreen from more volunteers and found Black Beauty.

Time for the fun part of the day!

Onto the bike and into my stride.  The bike course can be broken down into four sections.  It's a two lap course, out to Reporoa and back.  There are a few hills around the Taupo end of the loop and then it is mainly flat, although slightly downhill overall out to Reporoa.

The first lap on the bike went to plan.  A solid pace, passing lots of people and feeling strong.  I was eating and drinking regularly and my biggest concern was staying out of trouble with the technical officials!  There were a lot of people around me (that I was mostly passing) and staying legal distance from the person in front was a bit of a challenge…  The best approach seemed to be making sure I was always moving through the "pack" whenever we were being watched and this approach seemed to work.

Either that or I was just lucky...

Towards the end of the first lap, as we were heading to the hills coming back to Taupo, I went past a girl who then came by not long after and called out as she passed, "I thought it was you!".  It was Leonie, a friend from Rotorua who I had met through Jacky when she came to do Ironman Cairns, her first full distance after the aborted IMNZ in 2012.

Leonie and I then proceeded to track each other through Taupo - I'd go past her on the downhills and flats and she'd catch up again on the hills.  I remember thinking to myself that it was going to be a great second lap if I could stay with her for the rest of the distance and then maybe get far enough ahead on the flat section of the course to hold her off on the final climbs back into Taupo.  (No, I'm not competitive…).

I went through the 88km mark in 2 hours 48 minutes - well inside my 3 hour goal for halfway.  But I knew there was an additional climb to negotiate on the second lap, plus I needed some breathing space for the inevitable headwind that we would encounter for the final section coming back into Taupo.  So I was happy with the split and confident I was on target for a 6 hour bike split.

On the second lap we deviate slightly and go onto a private road as we head out of town - which adds the extra hill.  This was all fine until about 500m from the end of the road when my back wheel starts going "thump, thump, thump".  I didn't want to think it possible, but it was the heart-sinking bump of the wheel rolling over the valve when the tyre is flat.  The road surface was quite rough so I took a minute freewheeling to see if it was really going flat or hopefully it was just my imagination.  But, no, finally I cruised to a stop, got off and, sure enough, the tyre was down.

Just as I stopped Leonie flashed past me.  That would be the last I saw of her…  crap.

Ah well.  Better get this tyre fixed.  Back wheel comes off, tube out, carefully run my fingers around the inside of the tyre to find whatever it was that caused the puncture.

Can't find it.

Run my fingers around the inside a second time.  If there's something there I need to find it, otherwise this is going to be a bit of a disaster.

Still can't find it.

Run my fingers around the inside a third time - and double-check the outside of the tyre.  Nope, nothing.

At this point I decide I need to take a punt and put the new tube in, hoping like anything that it doesn't go the way of its predecessor in 5 minutes time.  Inflate the tube, put everything back where it belongs and get going again.

The Garmin later shows that I was stopped for 7 minutes.  But it didn't ruin my day.  It had given me 7 minutes additional "rest" which surely can't be a bad thing, plus my main goal for the day was to put in a solid run, and if my 7 minutes "rest" was going to help that then I'd take it!

Thankfully the new tube was all good - sweet!  Only thing was, my knee was about to stop playing ball.

About 5km from the turnaround at Reporoa my injured knee started making its presence felt and so the last 50km was spent nursing it back to Transition.  That final, fourth section, also had the headwind arrive, and the slight overall climb back to Taupo which meant I took that last stretch reasonably conservatively.  Spinning the legs more and knowing that I still had a run to do and that this is where I was planning to make up the bulk of my overall time.

While I punctured and got a sore knee, though, it could have been a lot worse.

One section of road on Broadlands Road had been resealed just that week and so we had a section of road, about 400m long that was even rougher than the typically rough chip seal surface we were riding on.  And at least one guy went down on it and was being tended to by medics when I went past.  His food and bottles from the bike were still strewn across the road and.  I was pleased to have got through that section (and the whole bike leg, in fact) in one piece.

I rolled into T2 still happy with my efforts - an overall bike split of 6:13:59 which was still 17 minutes faster than my 2013 IMNZ bike split.  No puncture and injury-free knee means a 6 hour bike split is definitely within my sights on that course!

Just a little run to do :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ironman New Zealand 2014: The Swim

Facebook post on race morning:

OK, ready to do this - really windy overnight but it's died off now and shaping up to be a good day. If you've got nothing else to do, live coverage of the race will be on at and, if nothing else, it's shaping up to be an exciting race between Cam Brown and Bevan Docherty. And I'm hoping Terenzo can give them both a fright as well! On the girls' side Gina Ferguson should give Meredith Kessler a run for her money.

Oh, and 1700 of us age group athletes will also be out there, having the time of our lives and being looked after by 2000 volunteers - those guys rock!

Have a great day people - I think St Pete is going to hack my account during the day. See you on the other side! xx

So I was a happy camper, calm and ready to have a great day (so different to Ironman #1 in 2011!)

Me taking a photo of you taking a photo...
The wind had been huge overnight.  I'm generally a good sleeper but the noise woke me several times and had me wondering about contingency plans and also mentally double-checking that I had in fact clipped the helmet onto the bike properly and hoping the security guys in transition were looking after our bikes OK.

But nothing to worry about - by the time the alarm went off at 4.00am the wind had gone and when we got to transition the bikes didn't even look like they had been touched.

A quick phone call to St Pete (no sleeping in for him in Sydney!) and we were all down at race site checking in.  Coach Dave and dad found Leigh, Paul and I down there and I headed into transition to check the bike, load it with food and drink and then let one of the friendly bike mechanics pump up the tyres.

Wetsuits on and then we headed down to the swim start.

The lake was looking great for the start and the air was electric with the anticipation of almost 1600 (there were 1586 official starters) ironman athletes ready for a good day out.  After many photos and hugs all around Paul and I headed through the swim gate and down to the water to await the start.

Paul was excited to get going and he was amazed to get out by the start, turn around, and see the hundreds of bodies still up on the beach and coming into the water.  It really was a sight to see.  Before we knew it, though, the grand prix lights onshore were counting down the last 3 minutes and then the cannon went off and we were into it.

And into it in a big way!

It was absolute bedlam to the first buoy and still chaotic to the second buoy.  People trying to swim into you, over you, push you aside, gobfuls of water, it was a complete thrashfest.  And I definitely felt it for the first few buoys, really having to talk myself through it.  I stayed on Paul's feet for about 50m and then he disappeared and would eventually come out of the water about 10 minutes ahead of me.

Pretty soon, though, I found another pair of feet that were great to follow - barely kicking at all but still going at a good pace and these feet took me to the first turnaround.  I didn't do a lot of sighting on that first half but did notice that we had ended up just on the inside of the buoys.  Not to worry, we were only around 5m inside and we worked our way back to the outside in time to round the first turn buoy at the far end of the course. 

Rounding the bottom two buoys I lost that pair of feet and looked for some more to latch onto but for some reason this seemed a much more difficult task.  One pair I got onto were doing what I can only describe as a fugly kick.  Thrashing around and feet splaying apart sideways - it was a wonder there was any forward motion and it definitely wasn't something you wanted to follow.  I therefore spent most of the return leg either in clear water or trying to move onto a new pair of feet.

All through the leg, though there was almost constant contact with other people and it wasn't exactly fun or friendly contact.  More than a couple of times I'd have someone trying to swim up my legs and I'd suddenly find myself at a 45 degree angle with ankles sunk down.  Thankfully for me, unlucky for them, I have a strong kick when I need to and so they all received a pretty violent response from my legs kicking the cr*p out of them in return, which soon got rid of them.

I also found myself defending my position on my friendly pair of feet on that first half of the swim leg.  Quite often I'd find someone trying to move in on them and so I'd have to hold my position until they finally gave up and moved off somewhere else.

This irongirl may not be the strongest speed-wise in the water, but don't mess with her - I don't get intimidated easily!

I don't know if it was because I was slightly further up in the field or whether it was down to the fact that there were around 400 extra people in the water compared to previous years, but virtually everyone I spoke to afterwards commented about how rough they found the swim (in terms of body contact).

Finally we were turning around the final buoy and heading for shore.  Always my favourite part of the swim (!) I was pretty pleased to stand up and see the clock reading 1 hour 23mins as I ran out of the water.

It was around 3 minutes off last year's swim so I was really happy considering the shaky start.

Onto the bike and the real fun would begin!

Ironman New Zealand 2014: Pre-Race

OK, now the excitement of the previous post is out of the way, onto the main business.  Ironman New Zealand ticked off for 2014.

It had been a good build up but, like all ironman events prior, there were new challenges to deal with before making it to the start line.  For the first time I was dealing with a minor knee injury and, also for the first time, St Pete wouldn't be on the sidelines or taking on chief support duties while in Taupo. 

Nevertheless things had gone pretty well.

I had a great flight with Emirates from Sydney to Auckland - love their A380 to bits!  We get off the plane and, for the first time ever, I get to the baggage claim area and find a whole stack of bike cases already lined up by the carousel ready for collection.  Usually the bikes seem to be the last out but this was a welcome change, and impressive sight - big ups to the ground crew in Auckland!

Lake Taupo, looking towards the swim course - stunning as always
As soon as I got through immigration and outside the terminal I phoned Jucy for my pick up to go to their depot and get the rental car.  That also went really well with the Jucy guy not only unloading the bike case etc from the van but then also loading it all into the car for me.  (Oh, and if anyone is interested, yes, a bike case does fit in the back of a Hyundai i30 hatch, with the back seats down, as does the fully assembled bike afterwards!)

Within an hour of touchdown at Auckland Irongirl was on the motorway heading south.  Sweet :)

Getting into Taupo that evening was like arriving home.  We have been coming to Boulevard Waters for Ironman each year since 2011 and love the spot.  Close to the run and bike courses, far enough out of town to be quiet and yet also within walking distance for St Pete to easily get around.  Plus, a natural thermal pool onsite is the best thing for chilling out in pre and post race.
The hot pool … the best!

Wednesday was pretty relaxing, although the potential for disaster happened early, down at the lake.  First up was a brief swim and all I had to do was 30 minutes.  However as I started swimming out towards the first buoy down the course the current towards the outlet had me thinking I wasn't moving.  The old brain tricks of "not getting anywhere" tried to throw me but I hung in there and talked my way to the third buoy before swimming across to the other side of the course and heading back.  30 minutes done and, apparently, 1.5km swum so I ended up being happy.  However I decided there was nothing to be gained by putting myself through that mental game again and ended up not doing the planned Thursday and Friday swims.

Sounded like a fine strategy to me!

My main task for the day was putting the bike together (all good first time - yippee!) and checking out the ironman expo. Then a relaxing afternoon with my feet up and a light run along the lakefront.

All good.

That evening Leigh and Paul arrived from Christchurch and overnight I knew dad was making the long drive up the country from Rangiora to be on the sidelines for me race day.  My support crew on the ground would be complete the next morning with a quick drive to Rotorua to collect Coach Dave from the airport. 

Thursday ended up being a little more "hectic" than I had wanted, but that was OK. Back from Rotorua with Dave and it was straight to registration, followed by a couple of talks that I decided to sit in on. 

The first one was an aero seminar presented by Specialized and mainly talking about their purpose-built wind tunnel, the first of its kind and opened just last year. It was fascinating stuff and interesting to hear the most aggressive positions aren't necessarily the most aero.  It's all about presenting the smallest frontal area as possible.  For instance if you are dropped down in an aggressively aero position your head will likely pop up above your shoulders so you can see ahead and that increases your frontal area.  The second takeaway was specifically for the guys and was all about the perennial question of leg shaving. With the wind tunnel they have been able to confirm that shaving your legs is more aero and can save almost 6 minutes off an ironman distance bike leg.  If there were any guys in the audience planning to have unshaven legs on Saturday I think they were headed to the supermarket for the razors after that news!

After that seminar I joined Leigh and Paul for the first timers' seminar and then a relaxing late lunch with Dave before heading back to the apartment and taking Black Beauty for a very quick spin. Dad called in for a quick catch up and a Skype chat with mum who was holding the fort back in Rangiora and, before I knew it, it was time to head to the welcome dinner. An afternoon lie down hadn't eventuated but, never mind, I would make up for it on Friday.

Paul and I registered
Friday dawned calm and sunny again and after a quick Skype with St Pete in the morning all I had to do was pack the transition bags and check them in as well as the bike.  Things were set for a great day and I was chilled out and relaxed.  That evening dad, Dave, Leigh and Paul all converged in my unit for our pre-race dinner.  It was a pretty relaxed bunch and hopefully we were all managing to help allay Paul's nerves a little.

He was about to have the adventure of his life and I was so happy to be sharing the day with him, and excited about ticking off Ironman #6.  All going to plan, on Saturday night I would be halfway to a legacy lottery slot for Kona...

Let's do this!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kona - Here I Come!

OK, sorry, but the blog entries are going to be slightly out of order...

Normally you'd be reading a race report from Ironman New Zealand about now.  However I'm going to throw this one in now without keeping things chronological because this update is HUGE!

And anyone who is friends with me, or St Pete, on Facebook will know exactly what I'm talking about, as will anyone who was at the Ironman New Zealand awards dinner last night when Leigh and I were screaming the hall down.

Yep, this update is all about Kona 2014.  Irongirl will be there.  On the start line.  With the best in the world.  Who would have thought....


It's not a huge secret that this has been a long term goal of mine.  Kona is the holy grail of ironman triathlon.  It's where it all started and it's where the best of the best desire to be each October.  For age group athletes there are a few ways of qualifying to go.  The most common way is to win a slot through winning or placing in your age group at one of the ironman events around the world.  The slots are few and far between, highly competitive and awarded via a combination of slot allocation and then a "roll down" process that I won't get into here.

The second way is via a couple of lotteries.  There is the general lottery, where you can pay approx US$50 to get an entry into the draw each year from which 100 spots are randomly drawn.  Then there is a legacy lottery, which allocates another 100 spots worldwide.  This second lottery is dedicated to the average everyday passionate ironman athlete to provide them with a once in a lifetime chance to compete on the famous lava fields.  To enter this one you have to have had 12 Ironman finishes and have never competed at Kona before.  This second lottery is the one I have been working towards - it seemed the most realistic way for me to get to Kona and completion of Ironman New Zealand on Saturday got me halfway there with finish #6 ticked off.

However all that changed last night.

This year was the 30th anniversary of Ironman New Zealand and, to celebrate the occasion, and for the first time ever in the history of Ironman, a loyalty lottery was created - just for New Zealand.  This lottery provided 10 slots to Kona for Ironman New Zealand entrants in 2014 (These were over and above the 50 regular slots allocated to the age groups).  To be in for the loyalty lottery we just had to register and the loyalty part was about receiving one entry for every Ironman New Zealand finish you had.  So my finishes in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 gave me four entries into the lottery and I was keen as to be in to win this opportunity.  Oh, and you had to be at the awards dinner last night to accept the slot and pay your entry fee.

So Leigh, Paul and I were at the dinner and I had credit card with me but trying not to think about it all too much as this was a lottery afterall, and what would the chances be.  In fact Leigh was getting more nervous/excited about it than I was.  We had finished off a great meal and sat through a few speeches when Mike Reilly asked all the age group podium finishers to go and line up along the side of the hall so they could get ready for those presentations to be made.

While that was being organised he then announced they were going to draw the loyalty lottery.  And up on the stage were 10 leis, one would be given to each winner.

Andrew Messick, the CEO of WTC (World Triathlon Corporation, the owners of Ironman) came onto the stage and did the draw and it was pretty exciting seeing the first few names being drawn out and recipients coming up.  A couple of really memorable moments came when Mike Ramsay, the only person to have completed all 30 IMNZ events got drawn out, as did Ron Skelton, a 27-time finisher.  I found out later that neither have competed at Kona before, so it was fantastic to see them get a spot.

We got to the 9th name to come out of the barrel and Mike Reilly starts saying "Toni Hodge".  I think I took a couple of micro-seconds for it to register but before he had finished uttering my name Leigh was already screaming with excitement.  She screamed, I screamed, we both jumped up and hugged each other across the table - never mind all the bottles and glasses between us - and then I ran, yes - RAN (!) down the side of the hall to the stage.  Along the side  were the age group podium winners lined up ready for their presentations and a few of them stood out and high-fived me as I ran past them screaming.  It was like running down the finish chute all over again.

I got to the stage, ran up the stairs and hugged Mike Reilly.  Turned around and there was Andrew Messick, who had drawn my name out, and gave him a big hug as well.  He put the lei on before I turned back to Mike, gobsmacked, who then laughingly asked me if I wanted to go to Kona, to which I said "Hell, yes!".  And then he asked who I was there with and all I could say was "Leigh and Paul!". I was so excited I couldn't think straight and I must have looked like I had just won a million dollars.  

Instead I had simply won the right to fork over US$825 and go play in the ironman sandpit with best in the world in the heat and wind of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in October.



On the other side of the stage, when I came off, was Terenzo Bozzone, one of New Zealand's top iron and half iron distance triathletes, and I think he was waiting to congratulate me.  Well, it didn't matter if he wasn't - he got a huge hug from me as well! 

In the meantime Leigh was phoning St Pete in Sydney but because of the noise in the hall wasn't going to be able to hear him very well, so it was a one-sided conversation that went something like this:
LEIGH:  "Don't say anything, just listen, pack your bags - YOU'RE GOING TO KONA!!!"

His response when he got to message me a couple of minutes later?

"Holy Sh*t!"

Couldn't have said it better myself...