This sounded like a wonderful idea. I figured I might as well look for an Oly near there as well for a warm up and to race the TT bike before the half...and I found one just south of St. Augustine in Marineland, FL. Since they had a sprint the g/f decided to give it a try. It's a good thing I found this tri as the open water swimming was a bust. The waves looked brutal and the current was extremely strong.
After packing things up early at the Jacksonville beach due to constant winds and clouds making it cold, we headed down to Marineland for packet pick up. It was a small race so we where the only ones there picking our stuff up at the time. We walked over and got our numbers and PINK t-shirts then went to check out the ocean...it did not look good. The sea was angry. The waves were fairly large and only a few seconds apart. We were a bit worried but decided to be optimistic and thought it wouldn't be as rough in the morning. The g/f was worried about swimming without a wetsuit and would probably end up switching to the Duathlon if it was rough in the morning. Did I mention this race had everything? Oly and sprint Tris and Dus. Sadly no aquavelo for the non-runners.
The next morning we got to transition and set our stuff up. Somehow I lost track of time, probably from going to look at the water, and everyone was already at the beach and I was still scrambling to get my wetsuit on. I wanted to get at least a 5 minute swim in before the start, oh well. The sea was still angry but not quite as angry as the day before. We thought the water didn't look rough but the phrase "looks can be deceiving" definitely applied that morning.
Significantly Smaller Oly Group
The swim course was supposed to be a 750m triangle with the tip at the shore and the Oly was two loops. However, the race director said it was going to be a point to point due to the current. I figured this would be a nice and easy swim. When I finally got to the start I noticed the turn buoys were only 50 meters or so out and right in the middle of the waves. 30 seconds later the horn blew.
I wasn't in any rush to get in the water as I didn't want to get pounded by people and waves...even though there were about 15 of us. Here comes the deceiving part, it was a chore to get past the little waves to swim. I thought the panic factor wasn't in play anymore after my first two races but, I nearly panicked trying to get past the waves. Luckily I managed to remain calm to make it within 5 feet of the first turn buoy, that's as close as I ever came to it. It was impossible to swim against the current. After 30 seconds or so, who knows, I looked around and realized I wasn't the only one as 6 or 7 of us were bobbing in the waves trying to get to the buoy. Finally I said F-it and went with the current, I doubt anyone made it back to the buoy. There wasn't really much swimming going on, it was more like I was moving my arms while the ocean was dragging me. I passed the next buoy like I was slowly jogging and before I got to the last one I could hear the lifeguard telling everyone to just go to shore. Apparently they didn't want to be out their either. Surprisingly there was a pro woman and two guys in college planning to go pro there, all of whom said the water was horrible.
Then I trudged up the hill to get to transition where I met the g/f. I felt bad that she had to swim in that but she said she managed to stay calm. I grabbed the bike and headed out.
Both the bike and the run courses were fairly boring. The bike was a 20k out and back, twice. I think it was about 60 feet up over 6 miles on the way out but the 15-20 mph wind made it feel a bit steeper. I averaged around 19 on the way out and about 21.5 on the way back. A bit slow but, I didn't want to blow up on the run since the sun would be brutal and there wasn't much shade. Oddly enough the wind died down on the run. The only memorable moments from the bike were seeing someone almost get hit by a car while passing, a giant dead snake and a dead possum. I couldn't contain my excitement when I realized I'd get to see them again!
I pulled in after about 1:13 on the bike and headed out for the run. After a slight detour of about 5 feet to get some water and getting yelled at by a volunteer since she thought I was going the wrong way, I was off and running. The plan was to keep about a 9:45 pace given my massive stature and how well I don't do in the sun. I hit the first two miles at about 9:40 and then slowed to about 9:50 for the third. I also managed to pass someone. Something I didn't think I would do. I got back to the run start and had someone waving me to the finish, the exchange went like this:
Me: (holding up one finger and joking) I wish I were that fast but I got one more lap...don't tease me bro...ha...ha.
Him: hahaha, sorry didn't mean to tease you. I'll see you in what, 10 minutes?
Me: Yeah, I'll skip the last 2 miles.
After that running was a bit difficult. I was baking in the sun, I could feel how hot I was getting and my heart rate was extremely high for an 11 min pace. I got some water and walked for a bit on the way out and then again on the way back...three cups on the way back. Then slowly made my way to the finish.
When I could see the clock it was 2:29:55 and I was pissed that I was about 15 seconds away from it. Oh well, I'll settle for a 2:30:09 Oly any day. Just don't tell anyone the swim was 800m...ssshhhhh.
As it was a small race, everyone got an award! The g/f, whom I am very proud of, was third in her age group (out of 4). I was 2nd in my age group (out of 2) and 1st in the Clydesdales (out of 2). Although the other guy got a DNF since he only did 1 loop on the bike and run. An award is still an award, just can't get used to them :-)