Hapuna Beach, Hawaii
Today’s Distance 13,000 meters
Today I’m off for a new adventure at a new beach AND I have a new partner in crime, Nancy Taubner. Nancy is a friend of Karlyn Pipes Neilsen and her mum and now lucky for me she is a friend of mine. Nancy is amazing, she is fit, strong and delicate all rolled into one, and she’s tough, I can tell you she’s tough because this young looking woman in her 60’s has 14 Iron Man races under her belt, Marathons and more and has no sign on easing her foot off the pedal.
Here is our plan for today, we drive together to Hapuna Beach, where we park the car, I swim a few hours while Nancy rides her road bike along the Iron Man course, I get out and drive to pick her up, then we take in a little sight seeing together, perfect right?
Well off we go with lunch coolers packed with food, we head out of Kona and along the long desolate highway towards Hapuna Beach, instead of paddocks of lush green grass filled with grazing sheep that you would find in New Zealand there are only piles of black rock, volcanic rock fields from the still active Volcano on the island. We drive for an hour, and I take in all the fascinating stories of Nancy’s races, after one story finishes I am hungry for another, she describes what it is like to ride the 112 mile bike section of the Kona Iron Man bike course which travels this very road, ” this part right here is tough, it looks like it is down hill but it is actually a gruelling gradual climb, I know every post on this road, every curve and pile of rocks”. I feel like I have a snap shot into the ride, I feel admiration for all those who have pedalled this road.
Soon we are parked at Hapuna beach, Nancy prepares for her ride, I down a feed of Maxim, gather all my gear and head on down to the beach. It is a stunning beach, calm waters, small breaking waves crashing onto the shore and a real family feel, most of those on the beach are up at the far end, I walk down to the life guard hut, and shout up to the 2 life guards, ” Hi, I am planning to swim some laps of the beach is there anything I should know about, Rips, currents or anything?” . The life guards look at each other almost as if they has just been told a really funny joke, then they look back at me and pause, finally one of them says ” No, you’re good” Then they go back to chatting between themselves, they don’t seem to focused on the bathers, I scan the beach and see that there are only few swimmers actually in the water, those that are in are only waist or knee deep, ” weird”, that more people are not swimming on such a lovely day”, I think to myself.
I set up my chair in between 2 families, layout my feeds and head towards the water at the top end of the beach, I wade past the sparse group of bathers and dive under, the water is sparkling, I stroke out to the deeper water at the outer edge of the beach and stop to tread while I get my bearings, I sight a point just beyond the far end of the beach, head down and swim, I am under way lap1, I reach the point and tread while I pick a land mark to swim back to, the bathers at the far end of the beach look like tiny specks, I swim back to my start point, 1 mile down. Back I go for my second lap, done ” time to get out for a feed”, I say to myself, I surf in, walk up the beach, down a feed of Maxim, a bottle of water and then back in for another 2 laps…
What’s that Noise?
I am now starting to recognise things under the water, where the sand turns to reef, where there are fish, where it gets shallow, I no longer have much of a need to sight, 2 more laps down, the sun is beating down on my back as I swim in for my 4 mile feed of Maxim. Back in the water I go, just 2 laps to go, the wind has picked up, the waves have arrived, ” now I have to earn it”, I say to myself, the water is not looking as calm and sleepy as when I arrived”. I push onwards, before I know it Lap 5 is done, “Final lap already, I can’t wait to wrap my jaws around that Turkey sandwich in my cooler”, I have a snap shot in my mind…. Turkey Sandwich, Turkey Sandwich, Turkey Sandwich……the thought gets me all the way down to the point, I turn and look back down the beach towards the tiny specks at the other end, over 2 hours have passed already, 2 hours patiently waiting for this final home stretch.
I pull hard, each stroke draws me closer to my 10km goal, I breathe to my left and see the lifeguard hut, ” phew, that means I have only quarter of a mile to go, WAHOO”, then I hear a noise, ” what’s that, sounds like a siren”, I jerk my head up and look to the beach, I can’t see if they are clearing the water, I swim some more, the siren keeps going, ” OK, what could it be, an emergency, an alert? In New Zealand that would mean shark!” Well I ponder the situation as I swim on….” I only have less than a quarter a lap to go, I don’t see any dorsal fins coming at me, I have to swim in anyway, best to calmly complete my swim nothing gained by thrashing around”, and that’s exactly what I do, I emerge from the water, everything is in order on the beach, no emergency. I wolf down my Turkey Sandwich, change and drive off to meet Nancy.
Nancy and I connect, she has had a harrowing ride, the winds that had not only been menacing in the water, on the road they were ruthless. We head on to Hawi and then to deadend road with a breathtaking beach, then down a steep path, it is well worth the hike down and steep climb out, I loved the wild untamed waves.
The Life Guards told me: ” I wouldn’t swim if I were you”
Nancy and I chatted on the way back to Kona, you know I didn’t want to tell you this until after your swim, I rode my bike to Hapuna Beach with the plan to swim, I asked the life guards if they could keep an eye on my bike while I swam, their reply was…. You don’t want to swim out there, there are BIG FISH” , Nancy told the story with wide eyes, ” so did you swim?” I asked, ” No way”, she replied.
Oh Tell me Wise Goggle of Shark sightings at Hapuna Beach?
If in doubt goggle it, and that’s what I do, Goggle pulled up no shortage of shark sightings at Hapuna Beach including beach closing for sharks, take a peak below……..
Now I know why I was the the only one out there humming the smurf song merrily as I swam, if there were any “Big Fish” out there today they were not interested in me, and if they took a nose around they did it from a distance and said ” aww mate look at that skinny pengiun…..I’m not bothered! Oh and what was the siren? A monthly civil defense test!
What’s up tonight: Masters Practice in Hawaii with Adrienne Pipes Neilsen’s coaching, she’ll keep me honest and tomorrow the 2.4 mile Iron Man Course in Kona with some fun local swimmers
Closing Thought: Keep Calm and Carry On