Open water racing is unlike any other type of swimming. Swimmers and race directors have very little control over anything, including the distance of the event. Sure, the race director tries to control the distance with buoys and lifeguards, but no one swims the exact same length race. It's impossible, the ocean is too big and the margin of error too wide. Even if I were to track right behind someone else, drafting and just missing their feet, eventually one of us would be swept to the side by a random current, a cresting wave. When I first started doing open water events, this was the hardest adjustment for me, coming from the uber-controlled swim meet environment. Now it is one of my favorite parts of racing. The Grey compares it to trail running vs road running. Yeah, you're faster on the road, but the trails are more fun. They also require a higher level of technical skill.
And there's a chance you end up stuck on a rock.
I haven't been riding the bike nearly enough since the 70.3 so I decided that Super Awesome Wife would meet me down at the finish in the car and I would ride. That way I would be able to choose to ride home on the bike or in the car. It was fun to be able to ride to an event, the late-for-Hawaii start times of the North Shore Swim Series are great in that respect. Actually, in all respects. My back of knee pain was low level with occasional spikes for the ride, but nothing awful. And I wasn't worried about ruining my swim by burning energy with the ride because it's only about 15 miles from where we are staying to the swim, and a part of that is down Pineapple Hill. So if that wears me out then I've lost way more fitness that I thought. Especially because this was only a mile swim, which shouldn't be hard. But it didn't because I'm Dirtbag Tough. Booyah and whatnot. It also poured for the last four miles. That sucks.
I'd missed early registration so had to check in at the race, which made my comfortable time bubble pop, but I wasn't in any danger of missing the start. Even got to get in and warm-up. Warming up, by the way, just as the race director was calling everyone into the beach for the pre-race briefing. Whoops! Lemme guess, he said, "Swim thatta way. Obey the lifeguards. Turn at the buoy." Right? Right.
|Gotta get the cap ready|
|Dirtbag Action Figure- Series 2|
For some reason, which I won't complain about, they started us in a men's wave and then five minutes later a women's wave. I don't know why, but I'm not going to ask because that makes the starting area so much more open. A more open starting area means a lower chance of getting kicked in the Dirtbag Handsomeness, which I'm all for. So all the men swam out to between two buoys and tread, waiting for the go. No countdown. One second you pop your head up to check position relative to the beach, buoys, and other swimmers and thenAIRHORN! "Oh, we're off then!"
|We had a cheering section for the off|
Like I said, this was a very wide open start. It might have been the first time I didn't worry at all about the washing machine. Instead I was trying to get a little more outside the break. The race went from two famous surf sports, Pipeline and Sunset Beach. Famous for their good break. Great for surfing, kind of not so much for the swimming. There was a lot of lateral movement, and plenty of up-the-wave-down-the-wave. Fun. Weeee!
I like going this direction, south down the coast, because the current works with you. I'm sure we were all getting really good pushes. I stayed fairly shallow the whole time, and the water here is so nice that you get a good view of the bottom while you're swimming. This means that when you catch a good current the sea floor goes wooosh by you. Please not that in a few swims, probably the Chun's to Waimea, I'll be complaining about looking at the exact same spot on the bottom for hours because we fight the current in that direction.
I didn't rally pace this, nor did I waste much time looking around. There were four buoys. Two marking the start, two marking the finish turn. Nothing to look for. Breath to the left, keep the beach as far away as you feel comfortable, and go for it. Nothing else to it. And look for feet to draft off.
Once, coming to the end, I got hit by a wave that broke a second before it got to me, which didn't tumble me but did surround me with white water for a few second. So I drift in streamline, enjoy the feeling, and wait to break the surface to I can get back at it.
Waves were pounding at the finish, right on to the beach. I wanted to sprint past the guy right in front of me, but when I tried I also caught a wave and got dropped right onto his foot, so he inadvertently kicked me in the stomach. Well, let's be honest, in the rock hard Dirtbag abs. Grrrrr. Needless to say, I didn't get by him.
The next wave, which I tried to bodysurf in, crashed earlier and steeper than I wanted. Which meant instead of a smooth transfer from swimming to running up the beach I went up and then faceplant into the sand, getting dragged a few feet up the beach. Weeeee? I'm not saying it hurt, but it certainly wasn't a fast finish.
I sprinted to the line, but fell just behind a group I couldn't catch. Damn.
My official finishing time was 25:46.7, which put my in ninth for my age group. Not to complain, but I was only 25 seconds off fifth place. Which makes me happy. The dudes who won the whole thing did it in 17 minutes. Wow! Yes, dudes, because there was a sprint to the finish for first.
No, I didn't ride home. It was raining and Super Awesome Wife wanted to stop at Waialua Bakery for cookies. Who am I to argue?
Much thanks to Background Profiles, without whom I probably wouldn't have registered for this event so late. They rock.
Stay tuned for Swimtastic Weekend Part 2- Aloha State Games