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.

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