Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Island gives. The Island takes away!!!

Wow, what a few of days it’s been. After trouble free flights from the UK we finally arrived in Hawaii, to rain!! Just like home. The feeling when we left the plane however was much less like home. “Who stole the air?” was one of the questions we wanted to know. It was heavy and humid and intense and this was well after dark.
We queued, seemingly forever to get the hire car sorted and then finally we were away. Finding the building where we had to collect our apartment keys in the dark wet night was a nightmare. Even with four pairs of tired eyes in the car the directions still seemed to mean nothing. Still, finally things were sorted and other than Shelly tripping up a huge kerb and buggering her knee up we finally made it to the apartment in one piece, eventually getting to bed around midnight local time (1pm UK time), some 32hrs or so after we’d got up that day. Monday appeared all to quickly after just 5-6hrs sleep, but I felt fine. We got plenty of the normal bits and pieces done, food shopping etc and then in the afternoon I took off for a jolly on my bike. After embarrassingly riding several miles with a Ken Glah (google him) and not realising who he was until later I headed onto the Queen K for a bit of aero bike riding practice. The road is just amazing!! Once you’re on it the shoulder you ride on is as big as the main lanes, the tarmac is wonderfully smooth too, the junctions are quiet but still well sorted for cyclists and of course the traffic is very considerate and cycle friendly............ although most of the cars are probably being driven by Ironman racers anyway. The heat however was just as impressive as I expected, it really does feel like you’re riding in a huge sauna, there’s no escape from it. The air temp in Kona was 28C, but with the sun bouncing off those rocks it was a whole lot hotter out there.
After 17miles in the aero bars I turned at a scenic viewing point and having averaged 23mph I feared the worst of the wind and hills were about to hit me, it wasn’t to be though and another 17miles later I’d still averaged 23mph and other than a putting a little more effort in at one point when I played with someone on a shiny new mega expensive TREK being motor-paced (not sure he liked that (hehehe!!) I would say I wasn’t much above Ironman intensity. The one big decision to come from this was that I do feel I can ride with my aero helmet, I’ll find out on Saturday if the extra speed is worth it.
I came back from this ride totally buzzing. Everything had gone as well if not better than I’d hoped. The speed was fast, the intensity relatively low, the ease at which I’d played with Mr Motor-Pacer had given me a buzz. Race day bike times were rolling through my head....... but surely the other 2/3 of the bike course couldn’t be that good, could it?

So yesterday was a day that gave! Today was the day that took away! The day started with a little drive out to the Wal-Mart where Shelly was going to browse the shops in the area for a couple of hours while I trained. First up was a short run down to the sea for a swim on the course, 1.6miles mostly downhill, nice and easy. Then I changed and headed out to swim about half of the course, stopping off at the Coffee’s of Hawaii boat for a quick cuppa (nice).
The swim really is as amazing as you hear, it really is like swimming in a fish tank. All the brightly coloured fish are just flitting around without a care in the world and they seem totally unfazed by the hundreds of lycra clad idiots invading their living space. If I’m honest it was actually quite a tough swim, I never seemed to be able to get into any rhythm and there seemed to be currents pulling me every way that I didn’t want to go. Normally I’d have been a little concerned by that, but the whole thing was such an experience that I didn’t really care.
So....... onto run number 2. Oh dear!!! After swimming and a bit of socialising I finally headed out on my run back to Shelly and it was TOUGH!!! I took the long way round planning to do 4miles but took a wrong turn and ended up doing 5. It was probably one of the hardest 5miles that I’ve ever done too. The sun was beating down and before long I was really suffering with the heat. From mile 2 I could feel it and at 3 miles I decided this was a good time (excuse) to practice my run/walk strategy. When I realised that I’d taken a wrong turn and had to double back on myself it was like mental torture and that climb back up to the Wal-Mart nearly finished me off. When I got back to Shelly I can only imagine how bad I looked. It was a big wake up call after the massive boost of the previous bike ride.
For the rest of the day I felt totally cooked. That afternoon we went down for the packet pick up. There was a bit of a laugh with the good folks dealing with registration and with Chrissie Wellington when she came past and I did the whole “We’re not worthy” thing, but other than that I really just had no wish to be there. The Parade of Nations followed and we all had to meet at the back of the hotel to get sorted. I quite liked seeing a few old and new faces that were racing, but other than that (I’ll be honest) I’d much rather have been sat in the crowds watching the show than have to walk along being part of it where you miss all the best bits. Of course (as is the way with us Brits) when I got there I found out that we’d all got pretty tee-shirts to wear for the parade of nations. Except for the fact that they’re currently being Fed-Ex’d to Kona and should be there on Friday (Hmmmm!!).


Today was going to be a big tester. We were having a full day of bumbling around, visiting shops and beaches etc. But first of all there was the little matter of Hawi to check out.
Hawi is the bike turnaround. The course profile suggests it’s a good climb and it’s also apparently where the Trade Winds come in, so it’s a git gusty up there...... I can confirm that it all TRUE!! We drove out to Hawi and all was very jolly until we were about 5miles away when all of a sudden I noticed that the car was getting battered by the side winds which had suddenly appeared as if from nowhere. We looked up at the tree tops and sure enough we’d arrived! When we got there and parked up I was wondering if bringing Shelly with me was a good idea, this looked like an old shanty town, it actually looked a bit ‘rough’ and I wondered if she would be ok on her own. This just shows that initial impressions are not always right, nor do they last. It’s a lovely little town and as with everywhere else the people are very friendly. I can thoroughly recommend the Fudge shop too!!
Off onto the bike and the first section was both amazingly fast and dangerous at the same time. After 7miles I’d averaged 30mph while struggling to keep my bike on the road as I got battered by big gusting side winds. It was an interesting experience keeping the bike in the hard shoulder with imminent lava rash so close at hand. After 7miles though the road became more rolling and it curved around the island to give a full on headwind instead. This slowed the pace considerably, especially on the uphill sections, but by the turnaround at the bottom I’d still averaged 24mph. Much less than I’d expected it to be when I drove up in the car, but then it looked like it would be all downhill from that view. Then came the turn, the uphill and the expected slow-down that didn’t really happen. In fact with the wind assistance and the occasional flat/downhill I was still averaging over 23mph at 30miles. The next 6 miles however were torture!! The big side winds were slightly buffered by me being closer to the lava and obviously nulled by my lack of speed, but this bit was a constant grade and when we turned into the wind I was struggling to keep my speed in double figures. For the last 6 miles I averaged just 15mph.
So that’s about it for now I guess. Shortly I’ll be off for another early morning swim and (hopefully) a run through the Energy Lab and that’ll be my training done for the week. I must go buy some spares too as somehow my little bag of goodies detached itself from my bike on yesterdays ride. I’ve no idea how that was possible, but it’s gone and that’s that!! New tubes, levers, gas fillers all reqired. Maybe I’ll get excited and buy some expensive contraption? Who knows.

1 comment:

The (not so) Reluctant Athlete said...

I'm having a blast following your experience. Good luck and keep having fun!