Hot running and scary swimming

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Run near Hapuna Beach State Park

We’ve been in Hawaii for a week now and I am starting to get used to the heat and humidity, and the ocean.

I – Heather – have done a few hard rides with some serious strength intervals against the wind and against gravity; up the crazy roads that go flying from the ocean to over 1500 ft with only a couple bends to lessen the grade. The despite lathering myself in SPF 50 with zinc oxide that makes you look dorky and pasty-white the instant it gets wet, I have quite the tan already. I even got burnt through my jersey on my first 4hr ride and have a nice heat rash on the shoulders to show for it! Another good reason to get here well in advance of the world champs – my sensitive skin needs to toughen up a bit.

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climbing in the jungle

Yesterday I did a 2 hr run out from Kailua to the turnaround at the Energy Lab and back. I felt pretty good, and it was inspiring for me to get some time out on the race course so far in advance of the big day. Trevor was nice enough to ride along behind/beside me and hand me extra water, record mile splits, and take photos and videos for a little Hawaii montage. It was the hottest, calmest day wind-wise we’ve seen so far and it definitely took its toll by the end. Trev made me run hard for an extra 5 min loop at the end and I got that “boiling head”, jacked HR, ‘give me shade before I die’ overheated feeling.  Even after standing under a cold shower at the awesome Kona community pool, and doing and easy flop to loosen up, I was totally allergic to the sun for the rest of the day.

I know that I have the fitness to do really well come race day, I just need to adapt to the heat! The UV proof, surfing “rash guard” that I now wear while training, really helps. It keeps the sun off and stays wet without getting heavy. I definitely stay much cooler running with it, that running without.

Yay sunproof shirt!

Yay sunproof shirt!

So… about the ocean. I love open water swimming, and when I get in the water at Dig Me beach with the beautiful fish and turquoise blues I am usually happy as can be, and thrilled to be out there. Last Wednesday, Trevor and I swam the Ironman course with a local swim coach and athlete.  We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed going out that far (it gets pretty deep, and there are no marker buoys after 1/2 way).  We were lucky enough to see dolphins and a sea turtle and it was a fantastic swim! Two days ago, however, we went out on our own in what was some larger than normal swell and wicked wind chop. We both got a bad ‘wigged-out’, goose bumby feeling after about 30 min and high tailed it back to shore, fighting against panic attacks for much of the way.  Water is conductive, especially salt water, and I think that it transmits stress too! The uneasy feeling you get when the person you’re swimming with has the uneasy feeling makes everything worse.

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The view across the bay to the Cook Monument

Yesterday, another episode.  We drove out to the Captain Cook monument for a swim. It was cloudy to the south and I wanted to swim out of the sun after my epic run.  We also wanted to maximize our last day with the rental car and swim to the Captain Cook monument – a gorgeous, 1 mile swim across a bay to a marine wildlife preserve and dolphin sanctuary (what we know now to be the safest harbor on the island).

It is also the site of Captain Cook’s death.  Death!!  That word seemed to be the one word to stick in Trevor’s mind.  Right from the get go I could tell that he was in ‘oh shit’ mode. The water was not calm, in fact we had to go find a safer place to get in so we could avoid the crashing waves.  It was cloudy and grey, there were no kayakers or snorkel boats (which were abundant on our last visit). I was happy to be there, I felt amazing in the water and was having a great time – but my poor husband pretty much had fear dripping out of his ears. It took about 35 min to swim out to the monument, and I was like “cool lets take some photos and play a bit” but Trev was having none of it. There were these strange cool water upwellings that didn’t help the weird vibe. Despite my reassurances, he was “not exactly enjoying himself”. I snapped two shots and then he was off like a shot. I had to swim HARD to stay on his feet. Man when he gets freaked, he could swim down Andy Potts! I was trying to transmit calm zen vibes on the way bad to counter act Trev’s feeling like the bottom was about to drop out on us, but it didn’t seem to help. Dry land did. Huge grin as soon as we scrambled up a rock wall and escaped certain death.

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ha ha ha ha - that was scary!!

If you grow up around this stuff I’m sure it’s all good.  But for a guy who only in the last 5 years figured out how to swim past the boat buoys, and over patches of mill-foil in the lake without his heart rate jumping 30 beats, this ocean business can be pretty overwhelming.   The one thing I will give lake swimming, is that you never have to stress out about rogue waves, rip tides, storm swells, sharks, sea lice, or ripping of skin on coral and sea urchins. I think that we’ve also seen a few too many surfing movies that feature guys getting pulled out to sea, chomped by sharks, smashed into coral reef breaks.  I had a little chat with a Hawaiian guy after – and he assured me that there are no bad tides or currents in the bay, and that the cool water near the monument is from artesian springs that drain near there – the main source of fresh water in Old Hawaii.  Would have been good to have that little visit before our swim, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as good of a workout!

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Spoooky... the Cook monument, before our mad dash back across the bay

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~ by trevorandheather on September 14, 2009.

One Response to “Hot running and scary swimming”

  1. Keep getting scared; as you say, it’s great training (though the recovery might take a little longer)! I’m just glad I’m in a land-locked state right now, though the lightning is as scary as the ocean, methinks. 🙂

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