Thursday, September 07, 2017

From Vashon Island to Oahu

This past weekend my husband David and I took a short trip to Waikiki. The timing was right: he had the week off work, we had a companion fare deal on AK Airlines and there was the famous Waikiki Roughwater Swim on Labor Day this year!

The humidity hangs thick like a velvet curtain when you first land on Oahu. It's easy to forget about, being so far from it. We took a (total ripoff) taxi ride into Waikiki and decided to Uber the rest of the trip. Good decision. We stayed at Hyatt Centric Waikiki, which is a fun boutique hotel in the middle of everything. David remarked that Waikiki reminded him of Vegas, in its built out, luxury retail, commodified way. After living on quiet Vashon for so long, I'm incredibly sensitive to sound at night. The untz-untz of a nearby nightclub and street noise awakened me a lot (even being 12 stories up). David never heard a thing.


This man is an awesome athlete.

David, Brion, me


This is Becky. Met her at the start.
We finished a minute apart.


My brother Brion lives there and has since 1994. He works in construction living a simple life he loves. Same apartment for two decades. Steady as it gets. We had nice visits with him and David surfed Diamond Head with him one day while I chilled out in the sun. The surf was UP on the south shore, which doesn't bode well for the swim. That means the little keyhole channels between the deep water and the shore where you're swimming into are sucking out....which means you are fighting like hell to get back in. Great for getting into the deep, bad getting back. To my delight, David decided to enter the swim as well. One of our Notorious Alki Swimmer friends Randy was in town too, signed up and ready to go! We all met up with the Waikiki Swim Club on a channel practice swim the day before the race (nice people). I pointed out to David the apartment I once lived in (1992-3) at the Hilton long before they became timeshares. So trippy seeing it again. I never took living there for granted, and always hit the beach, and its little gym and pool! On this day, on that beach, strong whitewash took my goggles and cap off a few times. Big surf!

We saw Moina, a resident swim friend, and enjoyed a quick chat riding across town with her to get our race packets squared away. Traffic has really gotten worse in town. Town is also so built out along Ala Moana. Nuts. We had an AMAZING dinner in Kaimuki at 12th Ave. Grill. The food is modern American with some island fare thrown in, and lots of local produce and meats. Service was top notch, too. We could have come back again and again. Carbed up, we got to bed early.

Race day was partly cloudy and the surf died down a little. About 700 swimmers from all over the world gathered to race. About half were not from the islands. There were lots of D1 collegiates and world class athletes in the mix. I signed on to the D group, to avoid being trampled, and hopefully to stick with David. That lasted about 300 yards. With feet and arms all in your face in a mass wave of 150+ others, all you see are bubbles and the toes in front of you. Later I swam alongside someone I thought was David, only to realize it was someone else. I noticed a lot of tidal resistance after the first turn buoy, but the very hardest part was the final leg back into the channel. In between that 1.5 mile stretch of ocean, you really do spread out and it gets damn lonely. I followed the buoys in a line on the sea shelf, although a lot of swimmers stayed 100-200 yards parallel, inside towards shore. I joked with some of the volunteers in the deep, asking for my Pina Colada, before putting my head back down.


Whoops, my Garmin was off until I flipped it on at the first turn buoy.
Started from shore at Kaimana Beach.
I can't make a muscle. 

The very last leg was an all-out swim to inch forward (and right) against the current. It was also tugging left, which unchecked, would drag you right over coral shelves. It was then the swimmers began to converge again in pursuit of the keyhole channel to finish (safely). Once out (2 hrs, 5 minutes..not breaking any records on that swim people. HA!), I was overjoyed and overheated, hyperventilating! Straight to the medic tent, got my breath back, and David finished just minutes behind me. Seattle folks did great. There were many more from Puget Sound in that race. About 620 finished the race. I'd do it again.

Because of being centered in Waikiki and car-less this time, we didn't get too social. There are several friends we'll go back and see with a car next time, and there will definitely be a next time!

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