This is the fourth consecutive year I've done this race. Why do I keep going back? Simply, because it's just a barrel full of fun. It's completely old school with a spacious transition area and no chip timing. You have a brisk 1000-1200m swim around the concrete boat. Then a 13 mile bike that starts off with 6 miles of climbing. You finish with a little more than 6 km run on the beach. Simply put, it's a course that throws a deceptively large amount of intensity at you and provides a lot of challenges for pacing. Don't let the short distance fool you. You can't just hammer the course. At least I can't. Yet.
At the start of the swim, the tide was coming in and the seas were choppy. Just eyeballing it, I think the waves were 3-5 feet. The high tide was okay for the start -- I got to water deep enough to swim rather quickly. But then about two strokes in a wave crested into me and literally threw me back onto my butt. My butt literally hit the sand. So I got back off, ran out a bit and managed to dive under the next wave. Then I just tried to push the swim at a good pace. Of course, sighting the buoys was a little more difficult with the swells. But you have the ship and pier as easy landmarks. I took the buoys pretty wide and generally avoided traffic. I experimented with my Magellan on my wrist and it FUBARed the distance. But judging by the charts, I got to T1 in 20:38. Considering conditions and the fact that exiting the swim requires you to run across deep sand, I'm happy with that.
I didn't really rush in T1 and earlier I had decided to try a flying mount on the bike. To be honest, I was a little disoriented. I think the sloshing in the ocean threw my balance off. The flying mount didn't go well. I was trying to get my left foot into my shoe and crashed into the guard rail on the little pedestrian bridge linking Seacliff Beach to Rio del Mar Beach. I managed to get my handlebar stuck in the rail and banged up my hand and foot as well. It took some time to extricate myself from the guard rail and adjust my brakes. Luckily, it was a low speed encounter. But I got out and started motoring onto the course. I don't quite understand how the multisport setting works on my Magellan so it was still saying I was swimming. I was also wearing it on my wrist and couldn't really see it. So the entire bike was a perceived effort undertaking. I wasn't completely on fresh legs, but I feel like I maintained a pretty good effort. I passed a lot of people and of course a few people passed me. Towards the end, I made a stupid shifting mistake and managed to slip my chain. I've now done that three out of four years. Even with all the mishaps, I think my time was somewhere around 47 or 48 minutes. This is the 16-17 mph range. Take off the two or even four minutes I lost to mishaps and you have a really respectable bike ride. Interestingly, I think basically biked the same time as the year before.
T2 went quite a bit better. When I got out to the run, I noticed my left foot was throbbing a bit. And the tide made things quite a bit harder by pushing the runners onto softer sand. Nothing really to report about the run. It was harder than the year before because of the tide, but interestingly, I ran almost exactly the same time -- 35:30. I'll take it. My family was waiting for me just before the finish so I grabbed my daughter and carried her across the finish line. My son tried to run beside me there, but the sand was a little too thick for him to keep up.
Overall, my official time was 1:49:00 which was 1:47 faster than the year before. Of course I was disappointed with the year before because I totally got the pace wrong. But considering my mishaps on the bike and the more difficult conditions, I'm happy. I've been focusing on longer races this year and by doing that, you lose some sharpness on the shorter ones. Plus, my family was at the finish. That always makes the races better.