Yesterday I competed in the first of a summer series of 3 races that Finish Line Productions puts on in Santa Cruz, CA. The series is called Dip and Dash where the swims are open ocean and the runs are along the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Each one is supposed to be a little longer than the preceding. The first was a 1500 yard swim and then a 4 mile run.

The day started as expected. It is not a big race, so the only packet pickup is on the morning of the event. The transition area is in a small parking lot and each competitor picks out there own space of their choosing. With a nice spot selected, similar to one I have used before, I took my time trying to get the pre-race nervousness energy down. I did get my transition spot set up the way I wanted. My shoes/shirt that I would need for the run were set and I had a little water to splash on my feet to get the sand off prior to putting on my socks and shoes. I had one nutrition gel at about 15 minutes before the start. This would get me to the next one which would be at about 30 minutes in to the event while on the run.

I had time before the event started to get in the water and do a little warm up. This was not so much about getting my muscles loose, etc. as it was getting used to the ocean’s temperature. The water temperature along the California coast is typically in the mid 50’s. It can get a little warmer when it is late in the day and it is sunny/warm. This was not the case today. This little swim can go a long way to getting your skin used to the cold so it is not a shock just after the start of the race. A good portion of the racers were doing this exact thing. Maybe just 4-5 minutes.

The interesting thing about the swim was the buoy markers for the turns. This past Saturday evening was one of the brightest full moons of the summer. Along with this, was a very low tide. There were 2 buoys that marked out the distance for the swim. For my distance in the event, the longer course, I had to swim the course twice. The buoys are set in place for the summer. With the very low tide, the distance from shore to the buoys was much less. The swim seemed shorter than it should have been.

The types of people that tend to do these events can be a bit competitive. Since everyone is trying to swim as fast as possible and make the tightest turns around the buoys, it can be a little crazy near the buoys. Some arms flailing and kicking of feet. It is important to realize this will happen, to not take it personally, and to simply move on. If you let it bother you, you will only make yourself mad and lose your focus. Sure, there can be the rare person that is just rude and does not have race etiquette , but this is most often not the case. It is the nature of the event and the limited vision of the swimmers in the water.

The other interesting thing about the swim was how the low tide changed the entry/exit to the water. I have swam at this particular beach countless times and I am quite familiar with how to enter/exit the water in a safe fast manner. However, with the extreme low tide, the contour of the bottom where a person could stand up and run had changed. As a result, I stood up too early on the exit and had too far to run. I had to lay back down, swim some more, and then stand up again to start running.

At the exit, I did my usual of taking off the top part of my wetsuit while running to the transition area. This is a good time saver as I can get the wetsuit unzipped and my arms out of both sleeves prior to reaching my shoes and I do not lose any time. I splashed a little water on my feet to get the sand off, and then proceeded to put my socks/shoes on. The sock part did not go to well. I seemed to have a little bit of trouble getting my socks on. Mostly because my feet were wet. I have done this before and it is expected, but it seemed to be a bit more difficult. I can not really change/improve it. I did not have a very fast transition time, but it was still okay. I was 9th out on the run.

I did manage to pass a few people on the run, including the first woman! I had a pretty fast run. My pace was just over 7 minutes per mile. I had one nutrition gel at the first mile. There was only one aid station for water. That was at the 2 mile point at the turn around to head to the finish.

For results, I was 8 of 30 competitors. My age group is fairly competitive and I was 3rd out of 4. The age group results are the more disappointing. I was fast enough to beat the fastest woman and yet slow in my age group. My swim and run times were quite fast and I did place in my age-group. This can happen in small races. We will see how it goes for the series of three events.

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