Sunday, September 27, 2009

Race Report: La Jolla 1 mile Rough Water Swim

I have a goal race coming up that requires an ocean swim. I've only done 1 ocean swim before, which was last year's La Jolla rough water swim. So I decided to do the race again this year for the experience. Zac and I made it a weekend trip, and spent time in La Jolla, which has a ton of stuff to do.

On Friday we arrived and had some time to kill before heading over to the hotel. So we wadered around Birch aquarium to check out all the fish.

After that we checked in, got some dinner, and headed down to the beach to watch the sunset.

On Saturday we ran up the coast, and in the afternoon had our very first surf lessons. I loved it! Surfing was so much fun, and we are planning on doing it again any chance we get (most likely any time we are at the beach).

Sunday was race day. This race is great because the women's wave doesn't go off until 11 AM. We opted to walk the 2 miles from the hotel to the race site at La Jolla cove, and as we walked I noticed big waves rolling in. When we got to the cove it was insane. It made last year's swim look like waterskiing water.

You can see how rough it was at this Youtube video.

I watched the racers swim out and how the waves were coming in and decided I'd put myself on the far left of the group. Our wave didn't get to the beach until 11:30 AM. The rough conditions were pushing the race further and further back in the schedule. The gun went off and I ran in to the water with the others and started swimming. It wasn't long before the first wave hit. I could hear the lifeguards yelling about the waves. There was a huge chain of them there to keep us from getting pushed into the rocks. I dove under and emerged on the other side and kept swimming. The next wave hit, and I told myself to keep swimming and once I got out of the cove I would at least be into the rollers and out of the breakers.

The rollers weren't much better. It was really hard to sight, and you had to lift your whole head up and do a couple of strokes just to see past the rollers. Most of the time I looked forward all I saw was a wall of water. One thing I hate is that they use small buoys with a string of balloons tied to them instead of the large TYR dorito chip buoys. On race day the wind was blowing, flattening the balloons. All I knew was to head to the red roofs of the La Jolla Inn.

Zac was watching from the shore and watching people get pulled out of the water. In my wave a gal in a speed suit came in on a surf board. So I beat someone in a speed suit! ;) He also said the main group didn't swim straight. Afterwards that made some sense to me because I had started to the far left with the group on my right, and when I reached the first buoy they were all on my left. So I had swam straighter than the group.

I hit the first buoy and hit the lap button on my watch to see 18 min for the 800 yd leg. That was much slower than last year and my usual 800 time. But conditions were the worst I had ever experienced, and I was here for the swimming experience and not to try to win anything. On the way to the second buoy we were now swimming into the rollers, so sighting was really tough to do. I finally came up to where the lifeguard boat was and could hear them making announcements, so the buoy wasn't far behind. They were telling us to swim towards the point of the cove on the way back in. I rounded the second buoy and followed their directions as they made sense. If you headed towards the point that would help compensate for the waves and the current and keep us out of the rocks.

At this point I was wondering if I was even going to make it. Each wave was sucking the energy out of me. I had to do a lot of sighting on the last leg in, and was hoping I would time it to where I wouldn't have too many breakers. I got lucky and only had one wave wash over my head as I came in. I kept checking behind me and got out before the bad waves hit. According to Zac, just a few minutes earlier the entire cove was white water and the waves were really bad and the group was having a hard time getting in.

I got my finisher's medal and checked my time: 44 minutes and change, which was 8 minutes slower than last year. But I survived the waves, which is what it was all about. Now I have a good gauge for rough ocean conditions and can hopefully survive in case my goal race has rough water.

The start of our wave:

Diving through the waves:

Coming back in:

My "survivor" medal:

All of the pictures of the trip are here on Facebook.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sabino Canyon trail run

I've mapped out the trail run for the upcoming Tucson Tri Girls training camp, and today Zac and I did a practice run. There is some trail-finding required at some of the creek crossings, so I figured I'd get those out of the way now and make sure where all the turns were.

We will be doing the loop below counter-clockwise. From the parking lot we will be taking lower Bear Canyon Trail to the Sabino Lake Trail. This leads into the Creek Trail, where we will cross the creek several times. The Rattlesnake Trail takes us out of the creek and across the road, where we'll head south on the road for a short bit before joining up with the trail again. There is a bit of a climb out of the creek bed as we intersect the lower Esperero Trail and take that south for about half a mile. We will cross the main road and take the Esperero Trail all the way back to lower Bear Canyon, and back to the parking lot. Overall it will be just under 4 miles. The trail only has a few technical rocky spots, no long climbs, and some great views. It has a great mix of everything for trail running, from slickrock to sandy washes to rocks to smooth dirt. This is a good one for beginner trail runners as the trail isn't technical, and the veterans will enjoy the constant change in terrain and the scenery. I was glad I brought my camera along as the views were fantastic.

Here is our route in blue. (Click to enlarge).

Heading north on the Sabino Lake Trail. (Click any of the photos for a larger version).
Canyon walls to our left as we crossed the creek.

Lots of creek crossings on the Creek Trail.

Starting the climb out of the creek bed on the Rattlesnake Trail.

View from the intersection of Rattlesnake Trail and Esperero Trail.

Another climb on the Esperero Trail as we head back to the parking lot.

View of Sabino Canyon from Esperero Trail. You can see Phoneline Trail cutting into the side of the mountain (future trail run as that one is a bit more technical ;).

The slickrock slide as we head down Esperero Trail, with Tucson in the background.

Always a chance for wildlife encounters on the trail. As I was running, I was looking for the next turn and didn't see this Gila Monster until he jumped, opened his mouth, and hissed at me. He was not happy at how close my foot got! I took a quick picture as he wandered back into the brush. This was the biggest one I've come across out on the trails.

However, the cardboard Gila Monster at the visitor's center is ok to pet. :)

So that's it! We will be doing the run on Saturday, the first day of the Tri Girls training camp. The pace will be nice and casual, and we will wait at all of the turns so that no one gets lost or left behind. Plus, it gives us a chance to take some pics out on the trail. For those that aren't into trail running, there will be a couple of groups running the road at the same time. So there should be something available for everyone. See you at camp!

Italian Springs ride

On Sunday, Zac, Johnny and I set out on our usual Redington ride. I had been sick with a head cold for the past 2 weeks (hence no blog updates) so the plan was to go up Redington to Mile 12.6, do the Italian Springs section of the AZ trail, and take the Jeep roads back to Redington.

We got lucky with the weather this time with clouds keeping the sun off of us for most of the ride. The Italian Springs section of the AZT was great up to the intersection of FR 37. After that we tried to continue on, but the trail turned into a hike-a-bike with loose rock everywhere. We decided to head back and take FR 37 to 4424 to 4417 that took us back to Redington Rd. After that the sun had come out, but at least we had the downhill for the rest of the way home. In the last quarter mile, my front tire started to go flat, so I had to sprint the rest of the way home. I rolled up to the doorstep right as the slime in the tube was sealing the hole. Thankfully the flat happened so close to home and not on the switchback descent of Redington.

Overall it was 4 hours of riding and just over 34 miles covered. The Garmin map is here.

The blue shirt twins hanging out at the OHV area.

Rolling along the Italian Springs AZT.

Zac and Johnny coming down the AZT after we turned around and decided not to hike-a-bike anymore.

A bit of mud on the Jeep trails.

Watching the storm roll in.
Heading home.