Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Splash and Dash Race Report

Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Splash and Dash Relay with the Super Sexy Wife
Dirtbag Splash/Super Awesome Wife Dash

*no splits were taken. Guessing I did a 7 minute 500m, which makes her 5k a x

I have been wanting to do a relay with the wife for a while now. It sounded like fun, something active we could do together. We both completed the Great Aloha Run, but not as a team. I ran it and she walked it and we met up at the end. I wanted to do a relay. It's a team event, and I like that idea. Also, once small people start coming into our lives I think it will be great for them to see both dad and mom being active together, even if its just for fun. Especially if its for fun. She has no interest in completing an entire triathlon and isn't competitive like I am so I went looking for an event that would be fun, on the cheaper side, and small enough to be friendly. The Splash and Dash was perfect. My favorite event plus the only multisport event she would enjoy. She made it very clear from the moment I started bothering her about doing something like this that she wouldn't race it. There would be no running. And I assured her I didn't care about that. If she wanted to walk the 5k, and that's what would help her enjoy the event, then go for it. I don't want a medal, I just want us to have matching t-shirts and a shared experience.
Pre-race cute pictures are important

We're Number One!
Result of: "Honey, look tough."

Pictured: "Tough"
The race started across the island at 7am on the Marine Corps base. I've been on base before, once as part of a race and twice for an air show, but never over by the hangers where this race took place. If you want organized, take part in something the Marines put together. Sure, we started a few minutes later than scheduled, but everything else ran like clockwork. Or like a surgical strike on an unsuspecting bunker. I had morning nerves for no reason, like always, but Angela seemed pretty calm. Which makes sense, mine would be over in seven or eight minutes and hers would take 45, I've done this a dozen times in the last year, she's done it once, so of course I should be the one stressing out. Dork.
I grabbed a quick warm-up before the safety brief to try out the water and get everything loose. There was no time for me to warm-up before Ko'Olina and I felt it big time during the first two lagoons and I wasn't about to let that happen again. The swim course was technically open water, but really it was inside K-Bay. Which meant no waves or real current to deal with, but a strange and occasionally pointy man-made bottom on the entry and exit. Being next to an airfield, it probably also meant swimming through leaked fuel, but we aren't going to think about that.

It was a water start, which was wonderful because the field was large and, like I said, the bottom wasn't friendly to bare feet. Like most water starts, I got myself to the front, tried to find somewhere I wouldn't get kicked in the face right away, and treaded water, joking with the athletes around me. And, like most water starts, no one in the front heard the count down. So it's tread, small talk, tread, look around, tread, look around some moHORN! And we're off.
Being near the front I squeezed in with the leaders and took off towards the first buoy. And I do mean squeezed. There were a few times right at the start that the swimmers to my left and right both closed my little gap and I had to assert myself. To be clear, there was no pushing or shoving or pulling or smacking, there was just nudging to remind them someone else was already occupying that piece of aquatic real estate. The first turn was a madhouse, like normal, and then the group spread out some.
My goal was to swim hard. I had no reason not to. I didn't have to worry about biking or running afterwards, and while Angela didn't want to race, I know I learn more about myself every time I push. So I raced. Did well too. I don't know where I came out in the pack, somewhere in the front. Angela guess there was the lead group of four or five guys, then I was in the second group out. I do know that I swam on the hip of a chick who ended up winning the overall individual event. Crazy fast.
I blasted out of the water and ran to Awesome Wife, waiting by our stuff in transition. She took pictures of me exiting, having never had the chance to be that close during a race before, and then I quick-fast handed off the chip, dried my face and hands, grabbed the camera, and took a snap of her on her way out.
Here I come!
Transition Picture

Go honey go!
After watching her walk determinedly away I was left by myself in transition. Never done that before. So I became Dirtbag Cheerleader, clapping and encouraging all the rest of the swimmers. I have to say, it was a lot of fun to watch everyone coming out of the water, cheering on people who I don't know. And inspiring too. Much of the time in triathlon, the guy who comes in first gets the glory, but its the guys and girls dragging themselves to the finish, the people who at first glance look like they have no business out on the course but are doing it anyway, and doing it with all the mental toughness of the hardest core speed demon, who are the inspiration. Because, for most multisport athletes, the swim is the hard part. Its scary, there is the potential to drown, and its the easiest place to psych yourself out. I got a kick out of watching them triumphantly (or sometimes barely) exit the water.
I also got a kick out of watching some of the athletes go so slow through transition. I'm used to getoutofthewaterhelmetshoesglassesbikeGO, followed later by changeshoestakeoffhelmetGO. But here I saw a ton of people come in and sit down, and put on socks and pull on a shirt before heading out on the run course. Not to disparage anyone's effort, but come on. Socks? Shirt? Sitting? Grabbing your iPod? It's only three miles folks. Still, however you get it done, as long as it gets did. After the last swimmer was out of the water I gathered our bag and headed to the finish just in time to see the first runner cross the line. Dude was part of a relay that won in 26 minutes. 26! Runner guy was flying! And then I resumed my Dirtbag Cheerleader duties and brought in all the runners through the hanger and across the line.
Super Awesome Wife was the only walker out there, so she was one of the last to finish, but I didn't care. She came across smiling. I asked her to write a  report about her walk, which I've added below:

Participating in a biathlon as the “runner” (funny joke in my head: I don’t do triathlons, but I do bi’s or don’t tri, bi! Yeah, I’ll stop making myself laugh now)
Doug had been bothering me more and more about doing an event with him. Again and again I told him if I ever did participate, it would not be to win. I hate running, I have a massive water phobia, and all I can think about when on a bicycle is “oh god, oh god, I’m gonna die.” And it would probably make my tailbone all hurty, since that happens from sitting in a computer chair for too long. So pretty much, if you want to have a chance at winning something, don’t ask me to play. Unless there is an award for last finisher. But I would have lost that in this race too.

After much asking, I finally agreed to the Splash and Dash on the Marine Corps base. Under the condition that walking the entire route would be acceptable. Doug assured me that would be fine. He was okay not competing if we were doing the event together.

The transition area was tiny. Without bikes to hold, there is no reason for it to be big. Since I was also a competitor in this even I got to stand nearer the water entrance/exit. That was neat. It is usually blocked off by the race or over-crowded with other spectators/supporters. I got pictures of Doug coming out of the water then ran back to our meeting spot to get one more picture of him before trading the camera for the timing chip and heading out for my part.

Walking out of a transition area with a long exit corridor was weird. Even more weird was being watched by the first direction givers at the end of the corridor. They were off-duty marines watching me walk towards them. They looked at me like I was doing it wrong. It was almost enough for me to consider running until they couldn’t watch me watching them anymore. Luckily more people started coming out of transition and I was not the only one moving through the route.
Throughout the race people passing me said encouraging things, like “good job,” “keep going,” or “you’re doing good.” People standing at intersections giving directions were also encouraging. At some point I realized that if you’re going to walk during the 5k, you might want to consider NOT doing a race on the Marine Corps base. Then I got to the hill. It was an evil hill. Not because I’m out of shape (though I probably am). Many runners stopped running on this hill and had to walk. It was one of the places I stopped getting passed. I was almost catching up to people who had passed me. Then I got to the top where I was greeted by water - one of the guys handing out cups actually walked toward me to bring me some. I grabbed a second cup as a passed the table, stopped for a second to finish the second cup so both could go in the trash, and then picked up the pace again. Shortly after passing the water stop I realized that running down the hill was going to be far easier than walking down the hill.

In fact, running down the hill seemed like a great idea. It would help me pick up some time that I had lost slowing down up the hill. So running I started. Four steps later I realized running might be a bad idea. I had put my hair up with bobby pins. Not a bad plan for walking, but terrible for running. O’well, too late now. I pulled the bobby pins out and kept on running. I even ran further than I thought I would. My goal was the bottom of the hill until I saw a guy down at the next street directing us to turn right and my goal changed to run as far as him. 

My goal was reached and I started walking. Kept my pace as fast as I could, and started getting passed by people again. My hair was down and sticky, but putting bobby pins back in was going to slow me down so I put them on the bottom of my shirt instead.

I finished the race walking the rest of the way. I heard more encouraging words along the way as more people passed me. Nearly to the finish I got passed by one more person. When I crossed the line the time was 54 minutes and some seconds. Doug told me he was expecting an 8 minute swim, which would have made my walk 46 minutes. I was aiming for 45, but that was before I knew about the evil hill. And before I knew that pacing yourself is harder when everyone on the course is passing you. The best part was that even though I walked nearly the entire 5k course, I still finished ahead of people.

In the end, it was nice to participate in the event. So far I have been up as early as him for all his races (except for the century ride). And in each of them I’ve waited patiently near the transition/end area to take pictures as he came in and went back out. Once I even set up a tent with refreshments, but no one joined me. If I think I have enough time I pull out my knitting for a few minutes. This time though, he was waiting at the finish line. He saw me coming in and starting waving his arms around to make sure I saw him. On the way home he said he’d like to do more events together. With one under my belt, it might be a little easier for him to convince me to do another. As long as I don’t have to run of course.

Here she comes!

Still smiling

And across the line!
My happy finisher


  1. Wow, this is one of the best race reports I have ever read! I really enjoyed Angela's report. It is so cool that she did this with you. My wife, Teresa, and my son did their very first 5k at Ko Olina so I know how you feel. I would love to do the splash and dash. Sounds fun. You picked a good event for you guys to do together. I may have to do it with Teresa next year. I couldn't do it this year because I had a 18.6 mile race on Sunday.

  2. That's so cute! And what a nice idea to do something like that together. Wow, an 8 minute swim portion. That's fast! How was the current and choppiness? That's part of what makes training in a pool so unreal; there's none of that ocean movement that can really wear you down. But I have a fear of sharks looking up at me from the depths and licking their thousands of sharp pointy teeth, so there's that...
    The two part blog entry was the best part! Great job, you guys.