... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Triathlon Birthday Weekend

The last week I felt a little inertia in getting going again after the Training Tri. I took the Monday afterward off, then sort of restarted on Tuesday with a very short run on the beach before work. I also solved the mystery of why all of the swims I've done have felt longer than I thought they should: Hapuna is not a half-mile long like all the tourism website insist it is. According to my GPS, it is barely squeaking in at .4-miles, maybe even more like .39. Damn. Maybe it was better just not knowing.

My work schedule was switched around because of Memorial Day and the doctor I work for being gone for a day, so my normal workout schedule got flipped around a little, too. It was kind of a weird week, overall. On Wednesday I swam, Thursday I re-ran the course from the Training Tri, this time running the whole thing instead of walking up the hills, which felt good. Friday I was off work, so I did a fairly easy 20-mile bike, which did not feel easy at all because of some nasty wind. Saturday I did a 50-minute hill run, which I was really excited about because I felt fast and awesome, at least until I measured the distance and realized I was averaging almost 13-minute miles. Again, damn.

Saturday was Honu. I couldn't figure out at first why there were twenty people in the water with me during my swim the Thursday before until I realized this. Once they put the buoys out to mark the swim course (Friday), it was really cool and slightly intimidating to see. The half Ironman distance starting at Hapuna Beach going all the way up to Hawi and back to finish at the Fairmont Orchid hotel was, for the second time, fun to watch. Although I had been really disappointed that I didn't sign up in time, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I know that I would not have been in my best shape for it this year and the outcome would have been disappointing. This year I have money set aside and I am ready to register the day the 2015 registration opens, and I will be able to really dedicate the right amount of time to training so that my first half Ironman can be a success. It was inspirational to watch the athletes tame the tough course, and it was fun this year to actually know some people in the race (congratulations to Helgi Olafson and Jason Nixon!)

Creepy birthday beach
The week after an Ironman event on this island is like January 1st everywhere else in the country. Full of resolutions and freshly inspired to transform their flab into muscles and grit, people flock to the ocean, roads, and their bicycles, optimistic but wholly unprepared. My morning swim, during which I am always the only person in the water, is practically crowded with people who are notably awkward getting in and out of the ocean. I watched a girl in spotless new dri-fit and spandex struggle to get started with her clipless pedals, fall over three times, then give up and forlornly walk her new bike up the hill. I sympathize, because I have been there oh so many times, but I also take my trial and error history as a pass to giggle a little under my breath. Because, you know, I'm laughing with them. Sort of.

Monday was my birthday, and again I started my day with a swim. When I got down to the beach, I was almost intimidated away because the water looked strange, like either a storm was coming in or one had just passed. The usually glassy water was churned, the beach was wet much further up than usual and covered in sediment, as if the ocean had been recently angered, and the sky was dark. There were two people in the water, however, so I ignored my wavering confidence and waded in.

It was only minutes into my swim that I saw the manta ray, hovering on the surface. It was about 40 feet away, and although I immediately tried to swim toward it, it disappeared and didn't resurface. Oh well, I thought, and kept swimming. I did about a third of a mile, then turned around and headed back. Suddenly something told me to stop and look around, so I did, and there it was again: a beautiful, huge, 6-foot manta ray on the surface just 5-10 feet from me. Oh, how I wish I carried an underwater camera with me. I immediately dove down and swam toward him. He didn't move. He hovered there, slowly moving his gorgeous fins with perfect grace. For five minutes I floated next to him, admiring him and thanking the ocean for this wonderful birthday gift, before he swam gently away into the blue.

Yet again, triathlon gave me something beautiful. It never fails.

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