... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Saturday, May 24, 2014

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them!

I know that most of my entries are chock-full of nausea-inducing details about how beautiful my training grounds in Hawaii are. I am semi-apologetic, because... well, no, I'm not. Hawaii is beautiful. BUT, with that being said, even living in Hawaii I have days where my training conditions are less than ideal, and with that in mind I will share my swim training experience from Tuesday of this week.

I left the house at 5:20am, feeling energetic and excited to swim at Hapuna Beach, which is a gorgeous half-mile long stretch of white sand with consistently clear water. In the mornings, it is one of my favorite places to be. The water is glassy and calm, there are usually only one or two people walking along the beach, and I am always the first one in the water. The clouds are generally still pink and the sun is just peeking over the horizon. Everything is awash in pastels. It is quiet and peaceful and centering with only the soothing sound of the rhythmic waves in my ears. I was looking forward to a meditative start to my day.

As I got closer, I realized my morning may not go as planned. It was pouring. Now, I don't mind swimming when it's raining, but I do mind being the only one in the water with no one on the beach. If something were to happen, which is totally possible at Hapuna, with its sharks and open water, no one would be there to fish me out. I checked the beach, but as I suspected, the rain had kept the few early risers indoors.

I was disappointed, but figured I would just go to Kailua Pier in Kona and swim there. (Notice my victory over the Quitting Moment in this situation!) When I got to there, though, my heart sank. The times that I have swum at Kailua Pier in the past, and really every time I ever recall looking at Kailua Pier, it has been relatively flat. Not glassy, like Hapuna, but at least lacking in waves and choppiness. Not so today. There were breaking waves, rolling surf, and wind-blown chop. God damn it.

Kailua Pier, on a normal day (Photo courtesy of lovebigisland.com)
Having just given myself healthy amounts of congratulations for not quitting when I realized I couldn't swim at Hapuna, I would have felt like a total douchebag giving up when I got to Kona. And so, begrudgingly and with a fair amount of fear, I took out my swim cap and goggles and put my towel in the little cubbies provided for swimmers. At one moment, there were two middle-aged women standing near me. Next thing I knew, there were fifteen of them completely surrounding me and blocking me in as they strapped flotation devices around their midsections and chattered about who they weren't inviting to their sunset yoga class. I tried to keep my eye-rolling under control as I "excuse me, excuse me, EXCUSE ME'ed!" my way out of their midst and walked toward the water.

"Do you know that he is King Kamehameha?" Came a voice to my left. I was still annoyed at the spatially-challenged women and it took me a moment to snap out of it. I looked over to see a very dirty but very happy homeless man looking at me inquisitively. He was gesturing in the direction of his friend, also seemingly homeless, who was standing behind him dancing in the middle of the street.

"I did not know that," I responded.
"Yes, he is King Kamehameha. The Great One." He informed me.
"Oh. Nice to meet you," I said.
"Well have a good day," He said with a smile before returning to the dance party.

And so, with that send off, I waded into the water, timing it so that I got swept into the deeper water instead of against the sea wall. I would like to say that it was better than I expected, but it wasn't. The chop had stirred up the bottom and I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. Spoiled with clear water for so long, it freaked me out to not be able to see where I was going, especially with waves. And there were waves. I didn't go as far out as I usually do, just tried to swim hard so I got a cardio and arm workout.

One my way back in, the 50-something gossip exercise group had positioned themselves in the shallows completely blocking the swim lane, bobbing in place and still talking a million miles an hour. Of course since the water was so cloudy I couldn't see this until it was too late, but to be honest I got a little satisfaction out of accidentally slapping one of them.

I made it back to solid ground, glad to be out and marveling at what a shit show my peaceful morning swim had turned into. The guy who fixes the air conditioning at our office was standing on the pier, sharing what appeared to be alcohol with my dancing friends. He gave me a wave, clearly un-phased by the fact that I was witnessing him drinking on the street with homeless people at 7am. It seemed like the natural finish to my morning.

The ridiculousness of it all finally hit me and I just laughed. In fact, I giggled all the way back to my car. Because if you can't beat them, you may as well join them.

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