I live on the Big Island of Hawaii and we are in the final week of Ironman. It's great to see hundreds of cyclists on the roads (I wish there were this many athletes here year-round.) As for being a spectator to this international event it is really quite inspiring, especially watching the last hour of the finish (from 11p.m. to midnight).
Watching men and women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s complete such a grueling event has inspired me to try my first tri. I'm 48. The one I'm aiming for is the Lavaman held on the big Island April 6. It's an Olympic distance tri at 1.5k swim, 40k bike and 10k run. Like a lot of people I'm nervous about the swim ( I just recently learned to breath and swim at the same time and I can only do that for a short distance now, so I have a lot of work to do before April. I bike 30 miles three days a week and am just starting to build up my running ( I have a torn ACL, which complicates the running since it is over rough terrain such as lava rock, sand and grass, but I've been putting up with that for years.)
Anyhow, I was wondering if there are any former Lavaman participants out there who can tell me if this might be a good first event to do? I bike out that way three times a week so I know the area and the biking won't be a problem. I know the A-Bay area as well. I'm mostly concerned if this event is just for the serious competitor or if there are a few novice, just-for-the-fun-of-it participants. My goal is not to win of course, but just to complete it. If all goes well I would enter the half-ironman in June here on the Big Island. But again, it all comes down to the swimming. If I can't get my confidence up and distance in time, I'll be pretty disappointed.
I'm going to start (as soon as Ironman is over next week) to do laps in the pool until I get good at breathing without gulping water (the tsunami warning sirens go off every time I try it in the ocean ... you know, the sudden receding water from me gulping it all up ...) then move out to the ocean (which is where I learned to swim)
Anyhow, any advice would be appreciated.
I participated in Lavaman. I love your home of Kona by the way! Anyway...I think this would be a great event for a beginner. The swim is very calm..there was very light chop to no waves. I also could not feel a current. I remember it being one of the most peaceful swims I have ever encountered in a triathlon. This race does not allow wetsuits- so make sure you practice your swimming without a wetsuit, and that you can do the distance without the buoyancy of a wetsuit.
The bike is just an out and back, and the pavement is nice and smooth. The hills are light, so no real worries there.
The run goes down a road and then cuts through a hotel. You come out on rock/lava, and need to run to the finish. This happens around mile 4.5 or 5. It is not tough- the only trick is to be super careful not to roll an ankle as the terrain is pretty unsteady. I had an ACL injury as well- but had it fixed so I had no problems on this part of the run. If your ACL is still torn, you may want to take it super easy on this part or practic in the months prior to the race.
The Lavaman is a Team in Training destination race, so you will find beginners there..many of them racing in memory of a loved one. I found this race had all levels, unlike when I do an Xterra when everyone appears to be expert
The distance is longer than a sprint, so make sure to train for the distances so that you can have a comfortbale race. Swimming is my weakness, and I found that this was one of my best races/finishes.
Have fun at the Ironman and best of luck with your races! Big thumbs up for Lavaman!