Sunday, 10 July 2011

Beach Challenge - 2011

Because Antwerp 70.3 is so close, this year I chose to do a team triathlon and do the swim.  I had a great time. I was afraid for only the first 10 minutes when I kept getting waves dumping on my head. The sea was really steep. 

On the second lap (yes, swim 750 km, get out, run back, swim another 750 km and run all the way back and to the transition zone), the waves swept me and a group of swimmers past the first buoy and it took forever to swim against the current and get around it. But I did.

I'm starting to the left of the masses. And what's with the guy standing on shore when it's time to go?
Okay. some of the gory details from yesterday. I ran 11km in the morning with the dog on the high-tide sand line with a 20k/hr wind at my back on the way out. Easy-peasy til I turned around. I had an upset stomach/digestive system while running, which is unusual, but I think I got a bad chunk of ham on the pizza last night. I didn't spit it out. Then I grabbed a quick powdered recovery shake (tried & true and doesn't upset my stomach), took a shower, packed my kit bag, and booked it down to kijkduin on the mountain bike about 5 miles south (into that head wind). 

The dunes I rode through were beautiful and full of yellow flowers (mallow, I think). I needed to be there by 3pm to meet up with my team "No Sweat". I'm glad I brought an ankle band for the timing chip since the guy with the chip has never done a triathlon before. Since I joined the club I now know a bunch of people and it was a friendly, warm atmosphere. Checked in. Met up with my team mates, who arrived about 3:30 p.m. Met up with the volunteer coordinator at 4 pm, got another t-shirt for being part of the crew, got my assignment for after the swim. Changed into my wetsuit and headed down the beach a 1.5 km walk - to the start. 

it was planned to be a 1.5 km swim to the south. I went into the water to warm up a little and get used to it. The current was so strong I didn't think it would be possible to swim south. Even the motor boat was having trouble with the surf to go out and set the marks. I stood around with friends and found the guy in my swim practice lane, and decided I'd try to draft him. after standing around quite a while, they announced a change of course - two laps to the north, starting back near the transition zone with a 750 m run back for the second lap, and about a km run back to the transition zone. 


I was kicking myself for the morning run - but really this was a training swim for me, and I needed to get a long run into my training bank account. So be it. The waves were huge. My lap-friend headed off towards the buoy. I did not think you could swim towards it and make it, with the effect of the current. I swam straight out to the left a little, starting to the left of the big group. It paid off. I was faster than last year and in with a bunch of swimmers, so much that I was having to fight for my own room. It was hard to get moving because I felt so frightened at first. There was a second line of breakers off shore that was breaking on the swim line - so I got tumbled a couple times just like what happens when you're in closer to shore. A really large group of swimmers undershot the buoy and had to swim back to it.

My stroke pace beeper was useful, but not in the way I had imagined. Somehow the setting got adjusted to way too slow. So it wasn't counting the pace for my strokes. Instead I used it as a reminder to be calm and just keep moving. I tried to get on some feet to draft but they were too slow and I passed some people. Then I got to the third buoy and turned for shore. I can't decide if it would have been faster to swim with the current to shore at an angle and run further. I tried to go straight for shore. I think it might have been faster to just go with the current.

Anyway, the run back up the beach was into the wind and my legs were really annoyed with the whole idea that they were part of this race - I kind of shuffled with a really rapid turnover and it was fine.

Then, time to go back in the water. Yikes. I cut the buoy too close and several big waves in succession carried me past it. I had to work really hard and dig deep to get back to turn around the buoy. I even had thoughts of the rescue swim I did last year, which was a hard and fast swim. I know I can swim hard, I told myself. Well, I churned it up and got past it finally after another big wave had carried me back again. (I felt like I was never going to get there.

But I finally did and then floated on my back a bit to catch my breath. Then I found another swimmer to draft, but again I was faster and she was going off course a little. Navigating with current is really tough.

Then I ran back up the beach into the transition zone. I wasn't the last yellow cap (teams) by any means. I finished in the middle of the teams. I would have been third in my age/gender group. 42 minutes. First out of the water, a 24 year old man, did it in 20 minutes.

My team mates were rock stars and I felt a little guilty for not telling them in advance that I would be in the middle of the pack. The runner placed second of the teams - an incredibly difficult 10 km in 47 minutes. Up and down several stair cases, beach sand and off-road terrain, and what not. and the biker was also a rock star - placing sixth in the teams. We finished 3:11:26 (Winner was 2:39 with a swim of 26 min.) We were 8 of 19 teams, I think.

I really enjoyed the day, and the runner was happy since he beat his office-mates, which was one of his goals for the day.

Volunteering was really great. I guided runners and got to see all these really good looking fit runners working really hard. it was exciting to see the # 1 man and # 1 woman running (they each had a bike escort in front). what athleticism. One funny thing was seeing all the men in tri-suits who had their race numbers on elastics that slipped down to their thighs (since they have no hips).

It was great to have my family there. They stayed for the swim and cheered me and got me some fried fish while I was at my volunteer post. Then they headed home. I stayed til the prizes were awarded. Had dinner there. Good catering. And again, fun to hang with my team and then friendly club mates.

And since when am I so small?


  1. Well done on the swim. The athletic eye candy was a fitting reward.

  2. such an exciting recap chris! the swimming makes me nervous, just reading about it makes my heart beat faster. you're very, very brave.

    i love seeing photos of you sandwiched between those handsome boys of yours.

  3. An exciting report about a great event!!


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