Kona, Hawaii, February, 2012
Location: The Pier, Kona, Hawaii
Today’s Swim: 10,500 meters
How did Iron Man Start?
It started as a friendly debate, in 1977 a group of naval officers debated which type of athlete was more fit, a swimmer, cyclist or runner, to settle it Commander John Collins combined the 3 major endurance races on the island of Oahu, with rudimentary rules in place, on February 18th, 1978 fifteen athletes completed the very first Ironman, the winning time 11 hours, 46 minutes and 58 seconds. In 1981 the event moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, a course that consists of a battle of endurance, stamina and heat.
So how about the training, the average Ironman athlete trains 18-24 hours a week, and how about me, a modest 20 hours per week! As for what’s involved in running an event like the Ironman….200,000 cups, 260,000 gallons of cola, water and soup and 5,500 volunteers, WOW, makes my support crew and supplies seem modest in comparison!
The Swim Course
Nearly 1,800 athletes flood the swim start area every October for Ironman Hawaii, but not today, today my training is a variation of course laps with a dash up to shore between each lap to fuel up with a drink of Maxim. The start is a sandy beach making for a nice entry and exit point, there are outdoor showers to rinse off after my swim and even outdoor cubbies to store my feeds, perfect….
Into the water I go, I head out through the colorful fish to the deeper waters of the bay, I swim 3 out and back laps, plus some trips to and from the coastguard buoy, after each lap I dig into my cooler for a feed of Maxim, then head back back out, 2.5 hours later my swim is complete. Time to rinse off, swallow a turkey sandwich and head to ” The Club” for some strength training……
The lines on her flippers and head are perfectly placed, she looks like she is dressed in her Sunday best outfit, not a hair out of place, she is beautiful…….
Time to Swim
Back to the task at hand, finishing off this 10,500 meter day, just 2000 meters to go, Karlyn says ” I am going to give it a good push, do what you need to”. Karlyn is competing in French Nationals next week, this is her taper time, reduced mileage with a mixture of recovery and speed work, this is clearly going to be some speed work! ” Get Ready Kiwi”, I say to myself, and I do.
Karlyn barrels out of the bay, she is a powerful and fast swimmer, who has been setting world records since 1986, I am not a world record swimmer…..but a very determined one. We thunder out towards the King Buoy, the 1.2 mile turnaround, I decide to think of the buoy as ” Cap Gris Nez, on the French Coast, I imagine that Karlyn is the tide. We swim hard and fast, Karlyn accelerates, I dig deep to stay with her, painful yet fun, the feeling reminds me of words from a recent read, ” pain is inevietable, suffering is optional”, I choose not to suffer and drive on. ” Where is the buoy, where is the buoy”, I push thoughts of the buoy from my mind, stroke by stroke we pull closer to the buoy, finally it is before me, I am elated and relieved, made it, what a terrific push. ” When I get the beat the tide command from my crew in the Channel, I am going to imagine you right by my side”, I tell Karlyn, she has the knack of making you rise to the occasion and she did just that today.
Back we go on the return leg, Karlyn powers back towards shore, I follow, 100 meters out, I feel a tap on the head, ” look down there”, it’s Karlyn pointing down, ” thats a ” Bait Ball”, I look down not knowing what a ” Bait Ball” is. Below me is a swirling caldren of thousands of small fish, all swimming in a circle, they are tightly packed together and there is a white hole in the middle where we are treading water, WOW, ” 10,000 fish down there”, says Karlyn, she explains that this is a form of protection, coming together as a team gives bigger fish the impression that they are one big scarey fish not to be messed with.
We swim into shore, rinse off, next up Yoga, food and lights out…….
What’s coming up tomorrow: Another 10,000 meter plus day in Kailua Bay.
Will I see Dolphins? I’ll keep you posted.
Closing thought: Part of Wisdom is to know the value of today
– John Palmer