Well, the big thing to do today (and I do mean BIG) was the Ho'ala training swim that took place at 7 (ish) am. The course is almost identical to the race course except it finishes at the beach on the OTHER side of the pier, as opposed to on the pier. The distance appears to be the same and the conditions are near identical (barring different daily ocean patterns obviously) as the start is at roughly the same time, so it came as no surprise to see about a billion triathletes lined up waiting for "packet pickup."
The indomitable Greg Welch was on the mic, emceeing this grand event. As a sidenote, he is as not entertaining in that role as he is on the IM live broadcasts, in case you were curious. Somehow, even though most other Australian accents I've heard are interesting, dynamic, and (in the case of women) downright attractive, his just kind of sounds whiny.
The swim is definitely a tough one, which was not especially surprising to me given the number of race reports I have read that describe the swim using such words as "epic," "swellacious," "hard AF," "chaos," "MMA fight," "salty AF," and "fun." Ok maybe I made that last one up, but I actually did think it was fun. Of all the North American Ironman races Hawaii probably has the most "legitimate" swim. There's no wetsuits, there's lots of "dirty" water to deal with (chop, swell, other people's aerated water, etc) so no one is ever really swimming that clean, and a very straightforward course. Out 1.2 miles, back 1.2 miles. As simple as simple gets. No loops to content with, no lapped traffic, and no nonsense. Plus, the added difficulty at Kona is that everyone here is used to being a big fish in their world. They may be the only multiple Kona qualifier from...Mobile, Alabama but at the end of the day the entire world's selection of triathletes and Ironman races makes it a pretty freaking huge pond. I may have raced as a pro at one point (/semi elite amateur) but I'd be surprised if I was in contention for a podium spot at a race like Kona (in my age group). I was actually quite pleased with my time, as it's about the same time as I did in Louisville last year. This time, however, the water was choppier and I had no swim aids (just a speedo) to help me go faster, suggesting that I am in better swim shape than last year. I've actually thought that as I've been more consistent and with David's workouts have been able to focus on my stroke technique and nice progression, but it's nice to see some tangible results of that.
Lots of Euros here, pretending they don't understand or read english when the sign at Lava Java says "please wait to be seated" and they just sit down at any empty table. When the waitress comes up to ask they perfectly say "we'll take 3 coffees, 2 pancake orders, and a lava java breakfast" but when she - instead of taking their order - asks them to please put their name on the wait list and that the table is for someone else (who has been waiting in line) they say "sorry, did not know." Well, read the gigantic sign posted right in front of the restaurant and you'll probably give yourself a better idea! Sillies. But hey, since when has reading directions been cool? Oh that's right, never.
Also, out of curiosity why is Lava Java THE place to be in Kailua Kona? To be honest, the breakfast was pretty bland. I suppose it's a place to see and be seen, mingling with the masses, networking, and sizing each other up and down. The coffee was good I suppose, but I've never had bacon that looked SO delicious and yet tasted like...nothing. Very strange.
Eventually I ran my 30-35 minute easy run after we had moved into the different condo (we had to stay in an interim location as we ended up having to fly out a day earlier #firstworldproblems) and I ended up heading north along Ali'i and ran maybe 8 minute pace. I can virtually guarantee you that I was the slowest running male out and about this evening.
I also ran up Palani, which wasn't too bad. Not sure why everyone complains about it. Or perhaps my view is skewed because I had been running for 10 minutes and not swimming, biking, and running for a combined work day before I hit Palani on the run....