September 18, 2017

Tiki Swim 7 Recap 2017

Yesterday I completed my 3rd Tiki Swim----a 2.4 mile open water swim race.  I have done this race twice before (in 2013 and 2014).  I was signed up to do it in 2015, but after I backed out of the Labor Day Swim I gave my bib away. I just wasn't up to doing Tiki again. I skipped it again last year, and had every intention of never doing it again.  However, two factors changed my mind.  The first is that my dear friend Bryan was doing it for the first time.  Second, my friend Leo actually gifted me with the race entrance. I had been trying to decide between doing Tiki and the Chula Vista Challenge Half Ironman, and knew I couldn't afford both---I need to stick to a race budget this year.  I chose Chula Vista (race recap here) and was grateful that Leo gave me the gift of competing in Tiki again. 

Now in it's 7th year, the Tiki Swim starts at the Oceanside Pier and ends at the Oceanside Harbor (same harbor where the Ironman Oceanside 70.3 swim takes place).  They offer both a 2.4 and a 1.2 option (Ironman distance and half-Ironman distance, respectively).  I have only done the 2.4 mile distance, and this year would be no different.  This year it was sold out---it has been gaining in popularity every year, with both triathletes (especially those who are training for Ironman Arizona in November) and swimmers.  They have a wetsuit division and a swimsuit division.  Like always, I chose wetsuit.  No way I can swim in the ocean without it; I get too cold.  On Facebook, people were talking about how warm the water was supposed to be (in the 70s) and I almost wore my sleeveless wetsuit, but I'm glad I didn't. My body simply can't be in cold water for that long without protection.

from the website. I did the green route

The other difference this year was the swag.  The years I've done it I got a medal, a handmade lei, and a trucker hat.  They would have a sweatshirt hoodie for sale separately that I always bought (I wear them all the time).  This year, they offered a medal and lei, but a visor instead of a trucker hat, and this time included a cute lightweight hoodie as part of the swag.

My friend and coach Steve designed a Tiki plan for me, mainly 2 swims a week, with an optional open water swim on weekends.  With my crazy life, I only made one OWS practice, but I nailed all but one of the pool workouts. I topped out last week with a 4300 yard swim (4200 yards is 2.4 miles) and felt as ready as I could be.  

I'm glad I write a recap after my races (except for 2016, whoops!) because in reviewing my past write-ups I knew how to prepare.  The race started in Oceanside at 7:30, and I was planning to leave the house by 6, but in reading my past recaps I realized I needed to leave by 5:30 or so.  I was up by 5:15 and out the door by 5:35.  Not much to pack the night before---just a wetsuit, two pairs of goggles, Tri Slide and a towel---so different than a triathlon, or even a half marathon.  I brought a Luna Bar and coffee with me in the car for the drive and hit the road. I easily found parking in the paid lot, which is only $5 for a spot right next to the pier, found Bryan, found my friends Leo and Freddy, and got my stuff (namely, my race number written on my hand, my timing chip, and my swim cap).   After chatting a bit and getting my wetsuit on, it was time to line up on the beach and wait for the conch shell to blow, signaling the start of the race.

One of my big fears and concerns about this race, and actually all ocean swims, are the waves. I am terrified of going through big waves. I lucked out yesterday---the waves were 1-2 feet tall!  Getting out past the waves was no problem at all.  However, the water was choppy once past the breakers.  Not awful, but a lot of up and down. I started to get nauseous and seasick, which I happened to me during the last Tiki and when I did the La Jolla Pier to Cove this summer.  Also my mood started to plummet.  Traditionally, when doing an ocean race (whether a swim-only like Tiki or a triathlon) I start to feel despair when going through the waves.  Even without huge wave to content with, it's still tiring going out against the tide.  Usually fatigue sets in, which gets me scared that I won't have energy for the rest of the race (remember, this is always at the beginning) and then fear and despair settle in. 

pre-race.  the waves stayed this size!

Yesterday I decided to rewrite the narrative. When I started to feel despair, I reminded myself that this ALWAYS happens, and that it will pass.  It always does.  So I allowed myself to wallow in the despair, knowing it was temporary. I also allowed myself to be seasick. I didn't try to stop it. I started dry heaving, then actually threw up, then more dry heaves, then I was fine.  I saw my friend Bryan behind me and I told him I had thrown up---he said he did too, which made me feel better!  I kept swimming out to the first buoy (before we had to turn right to head north), and even though I sighted wrong, and was going the wrong way and had to add extra yardage to round the buoy, eventually the feeling of despair went away.  I need to remember that for next time: to expect the despair, to wallow in it, and know it WILL pass.

The rest of the race was unremarkable.  It would seem to take forever to get to the next buoy, then suddenly I would be past it.  One thing I LOVE about this race is that not only are there tons of buoys marking the way (I'd estimate every 500 yards or so) but there are also a lot of lifeguards out there. I mean, a lot.  On paddleboards, kayaks, boats, you name it...I always felt safe out there, and in fact one paddled over to me as I was heading toward some rocks and stayed between me and the rocks until I changed my course.  About halfway into the race my hands got very cold.  My body, feet and face were ok, but my hands felt like ice blocks.  This is typical for me in cold water.  I spent most of the time singing in my head (lots of Beatles and Red Hot Chili Peppers) and thinking about the upcoming week.  The water was choppy, but not too bad. After the race I heard others complaining about how awful the chop was, but in my opinion it was much better than the last time I raced.

Finally I got to make the turn into the Oceanside Harbor.  This would be my fourth time swimming the Harbor---two other Tikis and then the half Ironman.  The water is calm here, which made a nice change, although it tasted weird, probably from all the boats docked. By this point, I was DONE.  My arms were fine, my cardio and breathing were fine, but mentally I was DONE DONE DONE. I wanted out of the water.  But I still had about half mile to go.  This part of the race seemed to take forever. I had my eye on my watch; I had wanted to beat my previous times (1:49 and 1:45 respectively) but as I saw 1:50 tick by my goal was just to finish under 2 hours (there is a 2 hour 20 minute cutoff).  Finally, FINALLY I made the final turn to the boat ramp, signaling the end of the race.  Kim, Bryan's wife and one of my best friends, was on the dock, video taping me.  I got to the end, was helped up by some volunteers, and was directed to the appropriate finish shoot (they had separate chutes for wetsuit swimmers and swimsuit swimmers).

finisher with medal and lei

 I was given my medal, lei, and my timing chip taken off. I had to bend over for a second because I felt faint, but that passed quickly.  Off to watch Bryan finish (only 3 minutes behind me) then found Leo and Freddy, who were in a long line for the rest of the swag (hoodie and visor, plus an egg burrito, which was delicious and thankfully vegetarian). One more stop for free pancakes, then the double decker shuttle bus back to the pier.

I am very pleased with my race.  I didn't swim 2.4 miles----per my Garmin, I actually swam 2.69 miles.  I think my poor sighting in the beginning, plus some other points, added on 400-500 yards.  I need to work on this...but the fact that I did so much more yardage in 1:54 is great (a 2:24/100 pace, which is great for me!).  Every race is different, and the ocean especially is different minute to minute, let alone day to day, so you really can't accurately compare past races.  I am proud of doing this distance yet again.  I may even do it next year...we'll see!

showing off the visor

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