I made the way out to the beach this morning with a friend and despite being right in the middle of Orange County things were looking much more like a Santa Cruz kind of swim. It was gray, a little overcast, and we had plenty of cold water. They were announcing anything from 58 to 61 depending on where the reading came from. I would say 58-59 is about on point with how it felt. Not too tropical! There were way more wetsuits on the beach than you would normally see at a Masters event today.
On the beach I caught up with some friends that I had swam with last week in Laguna. Since it was so cold a lot of people didn’t want to get in and warm up, but me and Natalie decided that we needed to go spend some time underwater to get acclimated. It took a minute to get used to but once I was all the way wet I felt fine. 58 is a pretty warm day at my house, but that first contact with the water never gets any warmer no matter how often you’re in it! We swam out to a buoy and just floated and talked a little bit. The conditions weren’t too bad, the waves weren’t a big deal and the chop was definitely manageable.
Back on the beach everyone asked us about the water temperature. There was a lot of temperatural apprehension in the air. Eventually we got a little bit of a course briefing and they had us get lined up on the beach for the start. While waiting for the start I ran into a guy that swam with me at Alcatraz (a fellow non wetsuiter!) and we got to catch up real quick, very cool to see him again.
The start of this thing was the roughest crowd I’ve dealt with all year. I don’t think people self seeded so well. I got caught up in a lot of people slower than me and little traffic jams were building all over the place. I kept having to move laterally to try and find holes to swim through, that wasn’t going particularly well however. Everywhere I tried to go, roadblock. Also I apologize if I crossed of the top of anyone or cut them off… I try to avoid that but this was kind of a mess. As we neared the first turn buoy it only got worse as the pack tightened. I got squeezed in on by somebody and they seriously smacked me in the head like 5 times. In the meantime I was swimming right up into a pocket of people that were going slower than me. As much as I was trying to not touch anybody I’m pretty sure one of my strokes landed square into someone’s butt cheek. I would have swam away from them but I had no where to go with the impending buoy. The upside was at the turn I managed to get the inside line and was able to start distancing myself a little bit.
The long leg at the top of the rectangle we did was interesting. I hung to that inside line and tried to aim as directly as I could for the next buoy, the vast majority of everyone else arced waaaay out to the top. It was a little lonely on the straight shot line. I’m not sure how that happened and it made me a little nervous that there was another buoy in the middle that I wasn’t aware of. Turns out 85% of everyone just decided to take the long way to turn number 2. Although a little odd it was fine by me! I think I moved way up in the overall scheme of things on this leg just because I cut like a 100m off of what everyone else was doing.
I turned tight on the next buoy and just tried to continue with an inside line. People were playing this particular leg a little better and I was passed by one or two people. I don’t like getting passed but it was a good wake up for me. I had settled into a groove that was a bit to slow for a mile long swim and it was a good push to speed it up a bit. Had to remember 1 mile is basically a sprint in Open Water!
The last long leg back I tried to hang on to the guy that passed me and draft off him a bit. I did this with varying degrees of success. We got separated a few times though because of big strands of kelp in the middle of the course. I hate scraping over the top of that stuff but I didn’t want to go around it either so I just took the free full torso exfoliation in stride.
On the last turn to the beach I tried to catch the guy in front of me but I just wasn’t quick enough. I even tried to catch a wave on the way in to speed me up but I didn’t quite get it. I maybe got 5m out of a little one and then it pushed on without me. I stood up to run in too early because I could see the bottom and though it was closer than it was. At home if I can see the bottom it means I’m about to hit it… apparently CDM is much more see through! I did an awkward high leg run thing through the last couple meters of the race and and jogged it up into the chute. I didn’t see a clock and haven’t caught my time yet, but I felt like I did pretty well. I was like 50th out of 200 (including wetsuits) which is right about where I think I should be right now. I ended up 3rd in my age group and got an In-n-Out gift certificate for my efforts :) The guy that won my age group was out from Virginia and I had the pleasure of losing to him repeatedly in various national championship swims this summer. We got to talk for a couple minutes and I’m impressed with how well he dealt with the cold water out here considering the hottest swimming I did this summer was all in his state!
After hanging out and watching awards and talking to people on the beach a few of us went to go eat. Apparently the place we were going had changed hands like 3 times since anyone had been there and it had gone from a breakfast burrito kind of joint to a Vietnamese/French restaurant. Odd, but why not right? Lunch was good!
Once we finished up with lunch me and my friend Bekah went out and spent some time on Stand Up Paddleboards. I’ve been wanting to do this forever so it was tons of fun to finally go do it! We did almost 3 miles around the harbor and only took a couple of unplanned swims on our way. My balance was suspect for sure… I think my feet got the biggest workout in the whole expedition just trying to hold the other 225 pounds of me steady on this floating board! My first fall was a pity fall as I was watching and laughing at Bekah while she went headfirst off her board into the water. I followed soon after… instant karma for sure. Way on the other side of this island we circumnavigated I took another tumble that was best I could tell for no good reason at all. Apparently I just spaced out, leaned too far one way and went face first in slow motion. I wasn’t excited about this, but some people in a passing boat enjoyed my unplanned dive so at least it was good for somebody :) Well and I guess Bekah too because she got to laugh at me without falling in herself like I did earlier. I totally need to go do more of this. It’s fair to say I’m not actually good at it… but I had fun! All told super good day so far, tomorrow I’m off to do a somewhat longer training swim… in the meantime I need some dinner and an adult beverage…