It’s now Wednesday and there’s a real buzz in the air. Nearly all the competitors are in town now and everywhere you turn there’s carbon and lycra. Registration opened yesterday and after the initial mêlée of type ‘A’ individuals needing to be first in line, things eased off as the volunteers moved athletes through smoothly. Many people come to Kona year after year simply to volunteer and be part of the Big Dance, the consequence of which is that this has to be one of the most experienced crews on the M-dot circuit.
I swam the course for the final time yesterday morning sans dolphins and whilst the swell was up. There were relatively few athletes on the course as we had set off at 6:30 am so it was a relaxed swim finding some nice rhythm. By the time we exited at DigMe beach those going out were shoulder to shoulder and it wasn’t even race day! It becomes a massive schwag fest by the pier as manufacturers compete to hand out branded swim caps and the like and once again, those high net worth Kona athletes compete fiercely for a $2 hat. It’s definitely not the taking part that matters.
The sun was up by lunchtime so I took the opportunity to have my last proper run to help acclimatise and loosen off the legs. I had run for 90 minutes on Sunday and whilst the pace was fine, my legs felt heavy as I struggled to hit my normal high cadence. I passed Lava Java on Alii Drive then hit race pace out to the turnaround, the ks passed by, bang on pace and with some spring in the legs at last. I certainly wasn’t skipping along but I am happy now that come race day the legs will be in top shape and ready to unload out of T2.
The parade of nations took part later in the afternoon, its great fun and gives you the chance to catch up with the other GB athletes. I am always amazed at how few GB athletes do in fact come along; there must have been no more than half our number. Chrissie was in the car at the front and as a consequence we probably received way more press attention than we deserved. All done, more schwag at the expo, which opens at the end of the parade, then off to the Canoe Club for supper.
Today was the usual routine, a brief swim, principally out to the Coffees Of Hawaii boat for a deep water espresso, back in to shore and off to the Active Release Therapy (ART) marquee for a massage. All straightened out we met up at Splashers for the usual veggie omelette and banter whilst watching the bun fight at the pier.
My last session of the week was to do a couple of race pace efforts on the bike to finally tune up the legs for the race. Off up the Queen K then turn on the power to see what comes and how it feels – the numbers were promising. It seems to take at least a week for the jet lag to wear off and to start to feel fresher. This, coupled with coming off a final big block of training, makes the content of the taper a bit of a tightrope. Freshen up for the race, keep reminding your body what it needs to do, acclimatise for the conditions and normalise the body clock. You never really know until race day if you have done it well, so, let’s see!