Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tiki Swim 2014

Tiki Swim is the first stand-alone swim event I have ever done.  The last two years I did Superfrog the day of Tiki.  So many people said they loved it last year; and since I am doing IMAZ, Superfrog did not fit on the schedule this year. 

My friends were right, it is a fun event.  Starting south of the pier in Oceanside, swimming well past the pier before turning south and heading toward the harbor.

Arriving early on a pleasant Sunday morning, 64 degrees outside with just a hint of a nip to the air, some clouds, with enough clear to see some stars as the promise of daybreak looms to the east.  The water looked pretty calm.  Two, maybe three footers without much power.  Should be pretty easy to get out, and then swim. 

Chatting with Sugarmagnolia, Leo, and Leah before the swim we suddenly noticed the surf had picked up and had some bite.  It was about 15 minutes before go time, daylight was upon us and it seems it woke the ocean up.  Crash.  The two to three footers were now three to five, and with punch.

We got in to get wet and a feel for the water.  I went out just past the first set, and rode a fast, fun wave back in. Like sitting on water with jet propulsion.  Then the short march south to the start.

A few announcements, Blah, blah, blah. (Imagine the Peanuts parents) and then the siren.  GO TIME!

Into the water, no need to run in, I get to where it is time to swim, and a strong wave is coming.  I duck, a bit late and smash, the water crashes into me.  I ducked just enough to not go backwards, but I popped up with my goggles around my neck.  Luckily my eyes were still where they belonged.  I fixed the goggles and started swimming.  A few more to duck, but forward progress was being made.  I was looking forward to getting past the swells so I could get into a swim grove.

And past the swells I got.  But I was getting rocked like a 12 foot aluminum boat in stormy seas.  The chop was well past the swell line.  I’d be in this chop for the duration.  All one could do was swim and make forward progress.

The number of swimmers was good, there were others out there, but it never felt too crowded.  I caught a few, but had no problem passing, usually plenty of room.  Maybe I had that room since I was constantly way wide of the buoy line.  I knew I was adding distance to this one.  Isn’t 2.4 miles far enough?  Everytime I made my way back to the buoy line, I was back wide again.  The chop was pushing me.  At one point I wondered if I could just drift to Catalina Island

Did I mention it was choppy?  I could not figure out what was wrong with me, when suddenly I realized I was nauseated.  I have never had that swimming before.  I figured it out, it was the tumultuous waters.  I found myself wishing I had some ginger or Bonine.

There was a triangle buoy out where the 1.2 mile swimmers would merge onto the 2.4 mile course.  I wanted to hug that buoy.  I snuck a look at my watch and was right at 50 minutes here.  This is over half way, but I wasn’t sure how much over, trying to do math while swimming in a washing machine is a challenge.  I figured I was about 30 minutes out, which would put me at 1:20.  That was my time at IMCdA in a choppy but much calmer lake.  This felt harder; maybe I have more than that to go?

Is that a yellow buoy?  The yellow buoys signal the harbor, but I am still getting chopped.  The mouth of the harbor was still rolling, but calmer waters were ahead.  Must keep swimming.  One-two-three BREATH.  One-two-three BREATH/SIGHT.  Repeat.

Hmm.  That feels easier.  Now I am in the harbor.  Not only is there no more chop, but I felt like the current was with me.  Like turning a corner on your bike, and out of a head/cross wind into a tail wind.  Ahhhh.  Except now my arms were tired.  I was ready to be done.

Now I am in a swimming groove.  The arms are tired, but I am swimming!  CRASH.  Right into a guy.  Who decided to stop.  Right in the middle of the water.  Hope I didn't hurt him, as I hammered the poor guy with my right hand.  I assume he was a newer swimmer, but cap color he was doing the shorter course.

To my left is another swimmer.  We are matching stroke for stroke.  Everytime I breathed to my left, we were exactly the same.  This seemed to go on for several minutes.  It was probably 8-10 cycles.  Then he went about ¾ of a length ahead of me, and started to come in front of me.  Okay, I’ll trade with you.  I was thinking, yeah, see, now I’m back ahead.  Hey, where is he going?  Oh, that is the turn into the boat ramp.  Steve, wake up, you are there!

Yes, and like that, my arms dragged the cement, letting me know it was time to stand up.  Well that and the volunteer telling me get up, you are there!

Up the ramp, across the timing mat.  Stop the Garmin.

Go get my timing chip off, my medal and hat, and look for my friends.

The swag:

A couple of minutes later, Leo popped out of the water.  Then I saw Leah.  After getting out of my wetsuit, and feeling more comfortable, I went to the finish line just in time to see Sugarmagnolia come out. 

It's all over:

Photo courtesy of Sugarmagnolia

Everyone was talking about how tough it was.  The chop was relentless.  Which only means we were all even more proud of getting through the day.  A 2.4 mile swim.  Hey!  Where is my bike, it is now time to ride, right?  Oh wait, I just swam, and don’t have to bike now?   That feels weird.  Seven weeks from today, I’ll get to do that in Tempe, AZ.

Garmin time 1:23:04

Blue Seventy Wetsuit

Tyr Rx goggles