Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dip 'n Dash #1: Bottom Podium for the Win!

With the cancellation of the Splash 'n Dash race series due to the drought, there was a big hole in my training schedule. I love that series and miss it a lot. However, there is the Dip 'n Dash series down in Santa Cruz as an alternative. Its only drawback is that you have to drive all the way to Santa Cruz on a Sunday morning.

I did my first (and only) Dip 'n Dash last year when I went down to Santa Cruz to practice for a race and stumbled upon it. My carpool-mate and I were the only females doing the swim-only division so we podiumed! I had enough fun that I decided to use the race bucks I won last year to enter this year’s series.

For this first race in the series, I was treating the whole thing more as a workout than a race. My only concession in training was to not run after our Sat. bike ride since I had to run 4 miles here and didn’t want to run two days in a row. Plus, 4 miles is a lot for me. I’ve only started doing that consistently a few weeks ago.

I got down there and registered and started setting up my transition area. It was foggy and cold and there was talk of postponing the race start due to the fog, but that didn’t happen. I was dreading getting the water due to the cold and for a while I just stood around. 

There was a guy there from DC who was traveling on business who signed up on a whim and he was asking me for advice on what to wear since he wasn’t really prepared to race. (He said my cool transition bag proved I knew what I was doing. Ha ha.) I chatted with him to try to make him feel at home and to avoid getting dressed and finally I forced myself into my wetsuit anyway. 

I *thought* about going in the water to warm up but Coach Sean wasn’t so I decided to give the non-warm-up way a try. My new best-friend Steve from DC and I went down to the beach and waited for the start. This is a very casual race. The starting “gun” was just a dude counting off.

Not warming up first gave me mixed results. The good: no shivering on the beach waiting for the start gun. But I did have to slow down at one point to give the upper part of my wetsuit a tug to get more water in there. And my googles did fog up a bit near the end of the first loop and did get some water in them too. But I was able to clear them running on the beach between loops. 

I was with people pretty much the whole way, but definitely in the back. I called our group the ‘wounded sea life’ brigade. Each one of them was swimming like some kind of wounded marine life. The beached whale was rolling from side to side with her strokes instead of rotating (and I kept running into her as she crossed back and forth in front of me) and the wounded dolphin who instead of stroking was kind of launching himself across the water. It was kind of funny, but distracting. 

I felt like my stroke was smooth, but I didn’t feel like I was kicking as effectively as I could. My feet just couldn't get into a rhythm for some reason. I guess that made me the wounded sea lion?

I didn’t really warm up until part way through the second loop either. But I had no trouble seeing the buoys even though I’d had to ditch my contacts and so was racing somewhat blind. I swam pretty straight too except for one part where I kept pulling to the right for some reason.

When I got to T1, Steve from DC was there and he asked me how my swim was. I looked at my watch and saw over 28 minutes. BAD, I said! No wait, I thought, this wasn’t a .5 mile swim, that’s pretty good actually for 1500 yards. No, good, I corrected myself.

Lots of people were using the showers to wash their feet and basically lolly-gagging in transition, much more so then in a full triathlon, but I found most of the sand on my feet came off in my wetsuit when I pulled it off so I just wiped the rest with a towel and high-tailed it out of there. My sense was that it wasn’t my best T1 time so no way was I going to get in a line at the showers and make it even longer!

The run starts with a big uphill but it’s fairly flat after that. I may have powered up the hill a bit too fast (Sorry, Coach Dave. I know I’m not supposed to do that) because my legs felt a bit fried at the top. A friend was volunteering right there, directing traffic, and she told me to run that little kid ahead of me down. I told her I would, but i was thinking I’d have to trip him on the turn around to do it, because little kids are fast!

To take my mind off the fact that my legs didn’t actually want to be running, I started doing math in my head trying to figure out how fast I had actually swam, how far it actually was (it was definitely a short course) and maybe give myself a time goal since I hadn’t actually set any for the race. I was also trying to figure out why my shoes felt so weird. (I think my soles got bunched up when I put them on.) I thought about stopping to fix them but the matter seemed to be working itself out as I ran so I told myself I'd stop at the turn around if it wasn't fixed by then (it was) and did my best to ignore it.

As I ran, the lolly-gaggers started catching up and passing me. I did pass a few people though and I even did catch up to the kid (and his mom — isn’t that sweet that he and his mom did the race together?) and I felt good for most of the run. Saw Coach Sean on his way back in. 

At the turn around, as I was leaving, there was a gaggle of women "around" my age just coming in and I decided my goal would be to hold them off. Every time I slowed down, I thought of them back there and pushed forward.

I pushed on and tried to keep my speed up. My sense was that I was slowing down on the way back in, so for that last .25-.5 miles I really tried to combat that. I like to negative split my runs but I was pretty sure I hadn't done that. I had no sense for how fast I was going but during the "do math in my head" portion of the run I had set a rough time goal of 1:20 and it looked like I might beat that.

As I got to the downhill, Coach Sean was there telling me to "let gravity do its work" so I leaned forward and started flying downhill. I think gravity got me all the way to the finish!

I stopped fist pumping long enough to stop my watch. Hey, I was under 1:15! Not bad, not bad at all.

I went back to parking lot to snack and chat and see if I made the podium, which for this event I figured I had because it was so small. Sure enough: 2nd place. Out of two! Heh heh.

I was happy with my performance so I didn't care if my second place was just by default and I got some more race bucks so I can get a discount on the August race.

Looking over my Garmin data, my "swim" time was faster than the last time I swam this distance back at Shadow Cliffs, but I think that was due to some of the "swim" being a run up to the beach. (I run faster than I swim.) 

My T1 time was on the slow side for just as I had sensed. 

My run OTOH was much faster than I thought. I was averaging 10:58 miles! It looks like I was a bit slow in that one place where I felt myself slowing down but that overall my speed was pretty much the same the entire race. So a very steady effort for the most part. Nice.

10:58 miles is much faster than I ran the 5k at CST. And that was just two weeks ago. I guess I did push a bit too hard on the bike there. But also running three times a week instead of two is definitely paying off.

The Stats:
Swim: 27:41.1 2/2
T1: 1:51.4 1/2
Run: 44:59.3 2/2
Overall: 1:14:31.9, AG: 2/2, Females: 9/9, Overall: 29/30
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