Saturday, November 14, 2015

Family Challenge Relay #1

About a month ago I have a friend, Jennifer, who recommended me to her friends to participate on a relay leg (swim portion) of a triathlon that is traditionally held in Venice Beach, FL.  I was ecstatic when they ask me!  Of course, what's more fun than swimming in the ocean on a relay triathlon?!   Keep in mind that these ocean waters are no ordinary waters....they don't call it Sharky's Pier for nothing!  It is the shark capital of the world!  Maybe the race directors sent a memo to the sharks to inform them that there would be no fishing from the pier, and to stay away from that area until the triathlon was over. Ya think?

I met Scott and George for the first time one week before the race in Punta Gorda. We got to know each other and their significant others and had a nice time chatting and organizing the logistics of packet pick up and race day itinerary. Turns out, Scott is sponsored by 'TriSports" and since they were one of the major sponsors, he had a free entry into the race, giving us a free entry pass too!  Cool. I only needed to pay the USAT single day race admission. 

All of us had to be in attendance at the packet pick up on Saturday, as there was no pickup on Sunday, race day. This Family Challenge event offered two distances, the Olympic and a Half (70.3)  We were signed to relay the Olympic distance. (1.5k/40K10K) 

Saturday was a good opportunity to check out the waters and get a feel for how it will be going around the pier.  It was an easy 50 minute drive North, and the beach was gorgeous.  There is a very large restaurant and gift shop and all of this is located adjacent to a nice park, with jogging paths, and next to that a doggie park. Across the street is a driving range and a golf course. Pretty cool set up. 

I hopped in the water for a test swim just before meeting them for packet pick up. There was  a planned organized swim, so there were kayaks and swimmers out there already. As soon as I started swimming along, I immediately thought, oh crap, there are probably sharks out here. Oh well, I'll just keep swimming. I headed to a kayaker, and inquired with her about the course, since there were buoys stationed out there.  The waters were pretty clear, and the current was strong. The course was a little different. You start at the beach, head straight out past the pier (3-500m), take a hard right, and go North well past the pier, take a 45 degree right turn and angle in toward the pier where the sun was directly into your eyes, then make a 90 degree turn left to the beach.   The chop that was most bothersome was traveling at the 45 degree angle South bound.  I did not swim the entire course on Saturday, just simply around the pier. 

I headed to the showers, and rinsed, dressed, and made my way to the park to meet Scott and George for packet pick up plus the 'mandatory' meeting. There was no way I was going to stay for the entire meeting, as all of it did not pertain to my straight forward .9 mile swim. I just needed to know which direction to swim, and where to turn and finish. Simple!

I decided to drive up the morning of the race this time, rather than spending the night up North. It was not bad of a drive, as I took Highway 41 all the way because it was so early.  I planned it well. Race organization was very good. Plenty of parking in the grass. Headed over to body marking. I already had the chip from packet pick up.  So much easier, then lugging all the tri gear. Simply need cap and goggles.  I made a pit stop, walked to the beach start, where they were already sending off the waves for the half distance. I warmed up a little bit, ate a Power Bar gel and gathered for a group photo.


After all the half distance waves went off, we had a couple of minutes before the Olympic distance wave plus relays to start. I noticed this really tall guy in a sleeveless wetsuit. I started up a conversation with him. He was also doing a relay with his wife. He was swimming and cycling, and she was running. I asked him what his background was and he said water polo. Why he was wearing a wet suit came as a surprise, and he said because he just bought it and it was brand new.  Okay - fair enough. 

I made sure to situate myself so that I don't get trampled at the start. There was no worry for that, but you never know!  About 200meters into the start, I don't see anyone to me left anymore, and another 50 or 75m later, I noticed that I am passing the tall gentleman in the wet suit.  Okay - so now the only thing I have to contend with is getting around the other swimmers that started before us. I came upon one guy who was on his back doing the frog kick. Oh dear.   I tried not to crawl over anyone.  I knew the second turn buoy would be tricky and that angling toward the last turn buoy would take some navigational skills. The kayak support was very helpful.  Although because the sun was directly in front of the turn buoy, I had to remove my goggles to get a better look a few times.  I knew I needed to spot the little house thingy that was on the pier, since it was lined up with the buoy, which really helped as well. Part of it was I didn't trust that I was swimming a perfect line, and I was aiming for a perfect line!!  The chop to the last buoy was in our face. Anyway - navigation went well, and then the current was in our favor going into the beach. 

The only thing I was really concerned about was getting up the beach , and then running the 300 meters on the road into transition. Given that my hip had been sore, I planned for that and took Ibuprofen the night before. That helped A LOT.  I actually was running!  LOL!
Fat, but running 

 George was prepped to remove the chip and put it on Scott's ankle. Scott was ready to ride hard!   

Here is Scott returning from is 1:11 ride!
Nice work Scott!  He said it was pretty sketchy out there though. I am glad he returned safely. 

Now it was my turn to remove his chip and place it on George's ankle so he can take off running like a bat out of hell!  George was very amped up before the run. There was nothing I could do to calm him down. He had to run the the most heat, so his leg was no doubt the toughest of all!  He ran a very solid race despite the conditions. George is very fit and currently is in training for a marathon.

We awaited anxiously for him on the course. Here he is coming into the finish!  Nice job George!

Scott was able to run across the finish line with George, I was 
support personnel close behind --

Our team won overall relay division by about 30 minutes. We all had a blast and plan on competing next year.  Thanks guys and thank you Krissy for taking all the pictures!

Swim training practices for this past week can be found on the GSTC Masters Face Book page.   Kind of running short on time to put these in this post. 

Happy Laps!

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