Thursday, June 14, 2012

Popoi'a Swim Race Report '12

Popoi'a Flat Island Race Report

I had no plans to swim this. Do a 1.4mi race the weekend after a Half Ironman? Why would I do that? Shouldn't I be tired and resting?
Well, I wasn't too tired, and I'd spent the whole last week sitting on my couch alternating Skyrim with Super Awesome Wife, we'd earned a long session on the couch, and swimming for me isn't all that tough. I wouldn't have entered a foot race and probably wouldn't have spent money on a bike event, but I like swimming. It's worth it. Plus, I placed third in my age group last year so I had to defend. And my ego may have been whispering that if I managed to place last year...and I should be in better distance swimming shape this year...maybe...Not that I would ever register for a race simply because I might place well. I'm not the Grey.
Super Awesome Wife had no interest in getting up that early, or maybe it was Dirtbag Fetus who didn't, but either way I did this one by my lonesome, which is fine. I showed up, registered there, grabbed my fancy white t-shirt, way better that last year's shaky blue one, and killed time in the truck waiting to warm-up and getting mentally prepared.
Love me a new cap
 If this race was going to be anything like last year, it was going to be tough. Last year I remember thinking that if I was prone to sea sickness while swimming, it would have happened. The water out on the Kailua side of the island, especially when swimming around the tiny flat island, it brutally rough. Last year was a very hard swim and I fully expected more of the same. Embrace the waves.
Warm-up went well, I felt surprisingly strong considering I hadn't been in the water for a week, since my short swim with Greg Bennett. I decided to place no expectations on myself. I was going to go out, go hard, and whatever will be will be. Recovery Race.
Well, it was rough out there. This is, and I've said this before, the hardest swim on the island. The current and winds make for very choppy going and there were plenty of times where I would go for a breath only to have to knocked back by a wave. I decided to try and be as hydrodynamic as possible, trying to keep a tight core through the washing machine that I might cut through the water better.
This race uses smaller red buoys than many of the other open water swims on the island, which use huge yellow pyramids. The little buoys, plus the high chop, make sighting very difficult. You pop your read up, try and get a bead on either the flat island, a buoy, or a bright orange cap and head that way. If it's a cap then you're also playing I Hope They Ain't Lost Too, a game familiar to everyone who's ever done an open water swim. I track fairly straight, so as long as I can see where I'm supposed to be heading I stay on course, but it is unnerving to look, sight, swim, sight, and nothing seems closer. There is also quite a bit of accidental contact even later in the swim because of the ocean's push pull. You're swimming on someone's hip, drafting or just finding a good line, and suddenly you're grabbing feet or getting kicking in the face or getting a little touchy-feely on their waist. Sorry, dude. It was the ocean, I swear. ...what are you doing later?
The way back is awesome because there is some body surfing going on to make up for all the rolling fighting earlier in the swim. I found a group and hung out, determined not to get left and trying to make a climb up into them. Open water swimming is strange because it is very hard to know where you are in relation to the other racers. You can't tell from brief glances at feet who is in your age group or even if that's a guy or girl sometimes. You really need to swim your own swim, overtake whomever you can, and hope the people in front of you are in some other age group.
Triathlon has given me an advantage over the pure swimmer in one aspect- the finish. The clock doesn't stop when you hit the beach, it stops 200 yards later, after the run up the beach and across the timing mat. One guy I was chasing for 500 yards or so finished swimming ahead of me, but cruised his way up the beach. No way I'm letting him get away with that, so I was up and running hard as soon as I could get my feet clear of the water, passing him in the last five feet. Suck it, you should do the whole race. Turns out he wasn't even in my age group, but I don't care. Maybe he learned something about going hard all the way.
Result? I won my age group! I won it by a big, strong margin. Admittedly, the turn-out for this even is a fraction of what the North Shore Series events will be, my AG only had 10 swimmers, but I don't care. I'm proud of my time and my effort.
Finish Time- 42.53
First in the Men's 30-35 AG. 38th overall.
Because this event is put on by the Kailua Masters Swim Club they get prizes donated, which leads to going home with strange thing. Last year I took home a few pairs of really good cycling socks. This year- two gift certificates to Kailua-side establishments (cool, but 45 minutes away from me at best), ready for sure...A NAPA HAT!
YES! A blue Napa Auto Parts hat. That I, ummm, I'm so happy, uh, to have won a....hat. Woo!
There should also be official event pictures on here at some point, but they haven't posted them yet.
I don't know what the next Dirtbag Event will be yet. Things are very up in the air right now for the Dirtbag Family as far as where we will be when. If we are here I'll probably do as many of the North Shore Swim Series races as I can. I'm looking into the Aloha State Games to see what that is all about. And I know there are a few triathlon's coming up that I'll want to do. Right now I'm still in the Take It Easy phase of recovery. I swim, I bike, I run, but nothing hard or long.
Hey- completely unrelated Dirtbag Contest- You can win a FREE Napa hat if you see me anywhere and ask me if you can have a Napa hat and I happen to have a Napa hat with me. Good luck!
Thanks to my sponsor Background Profiles for continuing to help fund all this foolishness and good times.

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