I decided two weekends ago, that I wanted to try swimming the Tiki Swim this year. The second half of the 1.2 mile race course is the same harbor as the entire Oceanside Half Ironman swim course, so it would be an awesome preview for me to check out the water and swim it. I know I wasn't too excited about the surf start, but I know and can execute the move to dive under waves, and I was more worried about nerves, but was convinced I could get that under control if I just got enough practice at the HB Pier surf diving.
|Saturday surf conditions. Not so bad.|
I went to the area on Saturday to pick up my race packet and also to preview the area again. The last time I saw it was at the Oceanside Half Ironman in March and HOOBOY, there were some pretty big waves! I was pleasantly surprised that on Saturday, conditions didn't seem that bad at all. Also, I saw surfers standing by the second breaker, so it looks like a pretty shallow water entry. Diving was no problem if I had a foot hold, so that's even better. The race volunteers told me the surf is expected to be even calmer in the morning. So I drove home feeling pretty good about starting the race the next morning.
So I get to the course the next morning, found a pretty good parking space and walk over to the start line to see the staff putting up the 1.2 mile start markers and drank my coffee as I studied the surf. To my dismay, there was light surf of 2-3 feet with intermediate moderate surf of about 3-4 foot sets. O_o I was not expecting this, but at least the sets were well spaced and the water was pretty clean in between each surf crash. Also, I was more confident that I could tackle this since I survived 5 footers in Huntington Beach the very Tuesday before, and that involved some pretty messy waters.
|First buoy! Deceptively far away!|
I got back to my car to relax a bit, to calm down a bit. I wasn't nearly as nervous as when I did the HB Pier Swim since conditions were better and I had much more practice in surf and rough water. I was feeling better than on Saturday (Saturday morning I woke up and was feeling a little bit like I was coming down with something, ugh.) With 40 minutes to the start, I started to suit up and headed back to the start line to drop off my bags and warmed up with a quick dip in the water.
The race staff with the megaphone told us about the surf conditions, and told us we could strategically wade out into the water, wait for the surf to die down and sprint past the breaker as a strategy. My strategy was to go all out, dive under any surf that comes my way since waiting will just lower my confidence level even more and I needed every bit. I tried to calm myself down, eyeball the surf and tried to recognize what type of surf is what. Then we started.
So I let pretty much everyone else start ahead of me on the sand, but once I got into the water I was going to get ahead of them if I could. There were a couple of 4-5 footers on the way out, but I read each wave correctly and executed the dives as well as I could have done them and made decent forward progress. There were a couple of late ones even after quite a bit ways out, but I did a silent cheer once I got past all the breakers and surf. But where the heck was the buoy? I knew it was out there since I saw it from the beach, but for the life of me I could not spot it from the water. I was concerned I passed it and was off course, so twice I stopped and looked all around me to see if I missed it and had to backtrack. Alas, it was just REALLY really far out XD .38 miles according to my watch. It looked much closer from the shore! After I spotted it again 10 minutes from the race I felt a lot better.
The rest of the swim was average. I got into some contact with some swimmers and almost kicked in the face once while heading for the buoy, but overall it went as well as could be expected. I did get a bit of an injury on my way out of the water since it was a boat ramp and I had not expected bumpy concrete and I might have bruised the ball of my toe on my foot while climbing up the ramp at the finish. This is on the same foot that's already in recovery mode. Can't my left foot get a break?
And MAN, I missed placing in my age group by one spot! The times weren't even close, but so close! Though I was 3rd place out of 4 people in my age group... so really nothing to be proud of XD though it would have been nice to get an age group award for the first time! I'll keep working hard for next year!