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Swimming with dolphins, and Stadler!

Swimming with dolphins, and Stadler! Kona is not really buzzing yet but that's all about to change when everyone descends on the place next week! The acclimatisation is going well, since arriving late last Monday evening. 24 hours after leaving Heathrow I finally turned the key in the condo at the Kona Sea Ridge and boy, was I glad to finally get some sleep! So this is what my week has looked like, and why it's so good to be here: Tuesday - woke early after 5 hours sleep, went out for an easy 30 minute run. Found the pier and checked out the swim course from the shoreline standing beside a giant turtle in the shallows! Unpacked and built bike, wheels are perfect and frame is fine. A few issues with seat post clamp (again) and headset (again), will need to get expert help! Fell asleep after catching up with Spencer and woke up around 7pm, think I lost an afternoon there somewhere? Shattered…. Wednesday - woke before 5am, and made my way down to the pier for an early swim. Amazing, I've always wanted to swim in an aquarium! Just over a mile out on the swim course, found I was level with where we're staying and turned around into a strong swell. On the way back, trying to sight buoys and I have one of those 'I don't believe this!' moments followed by about 5 sheer panic seconds… Three fins heading straight towards me! Underwater I make out they are dolphins, and my HR begins to decelerate from max to somewhere in the Zone 2 range. Adrenaline has a strange effect on your swim technique! Before I knew it, they had turned around and swan alongside me for what seemed like ages, I was fascinated by the fact they were keeping pace with me and only about 5 metres away! One of the support kayakers paddled closer to me to check whether I'd seen them, I was too busy breathing to my right side and watching them under the water to notice her efforts to intercept me. What a way to start the day! Took the Stealth into the bike shop to get sorted out, and then headed out for an easy spin along the Queen K for an hour or two. I had my first taste of the heat and wind out there past the airport and the Stealth is completely at home among the black rocks of the lava fields! A short run off the bike and that's me done for today. Thursday - down to the pier again first thing and I spot Normann Stadler stripping off ready to swim. Cool! A few pics and then into my PZ3 suit from sponsors Blue Seventy for todays' steady swim effort, with Spencer's words ringing in my ears 'use some feet today if you want'. Ok, no worries Spence. So I follow Norman's cameraman, perilously perched on the back of a kayak, until he catches up with the group at the 3rd buoy where they do some filming. I swim on and realise the group is right behind me as I approach the 4th buoy where I'd planned to turn around and head back in. About halfway back I suddenly become aware of a similarly clad PZ3 on my left hip and another on my right, and underwater I recognise Normann's swim cap and goggles. So I up the pace and decide to see how long I can stay with them as it's not far to the next buoy, finding those feet Spencer was talking about! It's a pretty cool feeling to be sitting on Normann's afterburner feet, even if they were only cruising! I reached the pier and kept out of the way of the cameraman capturing some last material. As I came out of the water, I thanked Normann for the tow back in and asked for a photograph, and he obliged. Happy days! Off for a run now before lunch, and then this afternoon I'll drive the bike course. Friday - Pool swim and followed by an easy spin, getting used to the intense heat now in the early afternoons. Rob gets in later this evening. Saturday - Key session today along the Queen K, felt great heading out with a strong tailwind spurring the Stealth onto average over 40kph cruising. Rob kindly pointed out the effect of the wind on the vegetation on the side of the road, and he was soooo right! Coming back was a completely different story into a gusting head and crosswinds. Using the Ergo was useful in keeping my effort in check as I'd already supposedly done my intervals for the day. A short run off the bike gave me some time to digest what I'd learned out there today - in the rain! One week to go - and counting the days! Fiona

8 October 2007

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