Today was round 2 for my Santa Cruz swims, this time it was the Cruz Cruise. This is a 2 mile race using the same piece of ocean as the Santa Cruz Roughwater held the day before. Today’s course started from the left side of the pier, out past a buoy beyond the tip of the pier, and then around 2 buoys set off the the right side of the pier and then back over the top and down to where we originally started from. If you couldn’t follow all that, here’s a drawing for you…
The crowd for the 2 miler was definitely smaller than the 1 miler from yesterday. Although 2 miles is a pretty accessible distance for most swimmers, not everybody is comfortable being in the ocean that long and not everyone is built to spend that much time in the cold. We had a fair number of wetsuit swimmers in the mix, but the majority stuck with Masters Legal swimsuits.
Before the race I was one of the first people to go splash around in the water and get acclimated, maybe only 4 or 5 of us got in the water before the actual race briefing. The water was around 59 again and it felt about right. It’s weird but I feel warmer in the water than I do on the beach when it’s all foggy and breezy. Once the race briefing was over the rest of everybody got in a bit to get wet before the actual start of the race.
As we neared 8:30 a line was drawn in the sand and we all got lined up for the start. Since it was a fairly small group (I heard somewhere around 75) we all went off in the same wave. Oddly I ended up bumping into more people today on the swim out than I did yesterday. At one point I had a person on my right and a person on my left trying to cross my line and cut me off… I had no idea what to do with this. Luckily when each of them finally hit me they over corrected in the opposite direction and let me pull forward through that opening between them to some emptier water.
Having swam this leg down the wharf yesterday it was nice knowing what to expect. I tried to keep a little wide to avoid fishing lines, and when I hit loose floating seaweed strands in the last quarter of the pier I knew it was just plant life not hooked lines. The thing I wasn’t expecting was how far out the buoy at the tip was. You couldn’t see the buoy from the beach and I think a lot of us just assumed it would be right there at the tip. It must have been at least another 100m beyond the tip, maybe more.
From there we had to go back down the other side of the pier about 3/4 of the way to the next buoy. On this leg my mind started to wander a bit. I was staring down into the deep blue green water and not really focusing on what I was doing, luckily someone came and smacked me right on the feet and snapped me out of it. I made a pretty decent line for the buoy and got in front of someone who was a bit faster but took a wider line through the turn. The goal on the way to the next buoy was to keep in front of the person I just passed and then try to pick out my next target. I saw a swimmer in a blue cap about 50m ahead of me and put my efforts into catching them… this wasn’t so easy.
I closed the distance on the way back to the top of the pier but I still hadn’t caught up. About a quarter of the way down the pier I caught a big whiff of two very different smells… glorious bacon and sea lion poo. Not an ideal combination unless you want to be a little hungry while simultaneously considering throwing up, luckily the only thing I had in my stomach at that point was a hammer gel packet.
At the bend in the wharf I was within 10m of my goal swimmer. Now was the time to try and make this happen. I really picked up the kick and tried to increase my stroke rate a bit. I don’t know that they were necessarily engaged in the epic battle I was having in my head or if they even saw me, but I was all in. I kept gaining and gaining until all of a sudden I was 5m ahead. As stoked as I was to be ahead I knew I had to keep moving if I wanted to keep it that way. I tried to squeeze out just a little bit more to put some more distance between us, in the process I managed to pass at least one other person I hadn’t even noticed up to this point.
I crossed the finish line at around 58 minutes and secured first in my age group… I wasn’t particularly contested in my age group… but still I’ll take it :)
After the race I hung out on the beach and caught up with some friends. The Santa Cruz masters who were running the show had a table with free food set up and big pots of hot chocolate brewing. Hot chocolate isn’t really my thing, but it’s good they had it out. Some of the swimmers coming out of the water were shivering and shaking pretty hard after their races. Once all the awards were handed out I cruised through Santa Cruz a bit and did some of the touristy stuff before making moves back towards home. This week I think I’m going to be able to get in some bonus ocean training swims but I haven’t totally figured it out yet, we’ll just have to see how the week progresses.