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swimming with the sharks and riding with the snakes

9 June 2010 2 Comments

Instead of driving over 20 hours this weekend to a race that we just got keen on and signed up for the same week..Monique and I opted to stay home and enjoy a quite weekend with the animals.

Saturday, we slept in, had a good breakfast and rolled over to the start of the Playa Del Run in Huntington Beach(down the street). A few friends were out to race from OC Multisports and Nova doing the aquathon and run. I opted for the 1 mile open water swim and Monique jumped into the 10K run. We signed up just minutes before the race and it was fun, easy and simple. Perfect weekend stress

Last year, I did a couple of open water swims and was seriously schooled by some 13 year old girls(the real sharks in the water) and big beer belly dudes. These are usually the two fastest category swimmers out there for some reason?!? It just goes to show how much technique is driving the speed in swimming.

This was another opportunity to see what trying to swim “fast” would feel like and I was bound to learn something new by the end of the weekend that would take my swimming to new levels…good or bad! Going out just about as hard as I could without the worry of a bike ride or run after wards really sets the bar for a “hard” swim effort. I wrapped up the swim and got to watch Monique drop over 10 minutes off of her 10K PB. We got hamburgers and lots of good chats with friends after the race. Good times!

Next up was some local dirt. 1 track please! Local trails are in pristine condition and we got to roll out with some friends and special guest, still in town, my buddy Sean Clancy. It is hard to imagine all of the cactus, laughs, barb wire….adventure we found ourselves in just tooling around El Moro on a weekend ride. We saw snakes and we acted like animals knocking out the hilliest run after our ride dropping down to Laguna Beach and back. Sean’s secret sauce run “the big ben loop”. Epic!

Sean going wide on the OC 1 track

Sunday it was time to take my medicine! The Pacific Open Water Championships were just down the street and featured the main event, a 10K swim on Saturday and some 1-5K swims on Sunday. Michael Collins asked me to join him and Jim for a team time trail 2K race. I have never seen anything like this and even when I expected to see a “swim meet” scene it was very different. I love open water swimming! There was a huge looking course setup at the Marine stadium in Long Beach with a 2K lap and unique looking finish shoot.

the south side of the course

Watching the sharks in the waves before our race was amazing. Huge packs of swimmers who managed to turn up the pace on the last lap after miles of swimming. The white wash explosion from the kicking was impressive! I was about to have the hardest swim of my life and just had no idea what I got myself into… Mike and Jim are FAST!

me, mike and John – The Nova 2.5 men (i was the .5!)

The teams left with 30 seconds apart and we would try to stick to our strategy of rotating the lead and drafting as we worked our way around the 2K course. The goal was to start out smooth and . . . well. As we hit the second buoy and I was already anaerobic, red lining and a few yards behind the boys I knew I was going to be in trouble.

To make (what felt like) a long swim a short story…. I ended up blowing up several times and was just stoked to finish. Not getting on or holding onto the draft in a triathlon is not that bad as a TTT race. If you loose the draft you simply try to get back on or swim at your own pace. When I was right on Mikes feet I felt like I was swimming at about 90% of max. As soon as I lost the draft I would basically blow up trying to catch up or Mike would slow down and let me get back on and get right back into the pain cave. Oh, thanks! I didn’t want to let my team down and I had just enough of a draft to repeat this over and over and over. Taking my medicine!

In the end, I somehow had my enjoyment for swimming grow just a little bit more and I am looking forward to implementing some of the ideas that Mike mentioned. I felt really lucky to be swimming with my swim coach and glad that Mike and Jim didn’t mind doing backstroke while they waited for me. Pushing yourself is hard when you are all by yourself but races help bring out the extra dream reaching ability. Sometimes races help you to go the extra mile or dig a little deeper but friends add another element that I cannot explain. James knows exactly what I am talking about. You want to do it all because the motivation, energy or whatever you need to power it shows up by the truck loads as fear falls behind. When you are racing with your friends you forget all about the sharks, snakes and any other hurtle . At times, even time itself or the clock does not really matter. You are just doing your best to lead when you can, keep up when you must and laugh at every moment while you race life with your friends. Sign me up for that one any weekend.


  • jameson said:

    so gnarly… swimming that hard scares me!!!

    there is nothing like racing and training from home on the weekends…

  • sean.clancy said:

    that was a fun ride and run…thanks for omitting the even more embarassing and incriminating photography.

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