I arrived in darkness. I sit here typing, overlooking the vast expanse of Kona sprawled out below, also in darkness. There is a certain sameness about it; the yellow lights, the impossible stillness, the fact that I cannot sleep past 3am every time I come here. The Big Island, with all of its changes, just seems so unchanged.
The biggest change since my last visit in 2006 is me. I have changed. My life has changed. I am no longer the nervous triathlete looking for another shot at glory at the Hawaii Ironman. I gave up on Ironman in 2008, realizing that the distance and my physiology simply didn't cohere. And, then, in 2010 I gave up triathlon altogether, realizing that my rib injuries were no longer compatible with riding a bike.
As tough as those realizations were, it opened up a world of challenges and opportunities that have given me purpose and a new definition of self. Indeed, the interview question I was asked most often? Where do you see yourself in 5 years. I was always befuddled by this question because the answer seemed to simple, surely I would still be competing in triathlon and doing science.
Life is not that straightforward, though, and while 5 years is a long time, it is also the blink of an eye. Plans change quickly and we must adapt to the situations presented to us. Coming to Kona, in the role of coach, friend, spectator, observer, mentor, seeker of the beach, will certainly help me in my own formulation of my next 5 years.
I toil with mixed emotions about merely being here, yet I am excited at the new opportunities that abound around me. And, now, I must seek out a famous cup of Kona coffee and make new memories.