Happy open water anniversary! This race in 2012 was my first open water race as an adult, so this year marks my one year anniversary. Every year they offer a 1.25 mile option and a 2.5 mile option. I choose the 2.5 mile option… obviously!
6am felt especially dark this morning.. maybe just because it was a Saturday and 6am should never be seen on a Saturday. As any swimmer is able to do, I was in my suit and out the door by 6:10am. Before heading to packet pickup, I stepped out onto the sand to watch the sun start to rise.
Packet pickup was super easy. No markings this year, which is like sweet sorrow. I don’t exactly love the permanent marker on my body for days, but it’s also something that you earn and lets others know you competed. The shirts look the same as last year, which is fine. I was disappointed with the caps, though. The caps are clearly recycled from other events.. some people even had caps that said 2003 on them. Really. This is the 8th year for this event; by now they should have someone funding caps that at east have the name of the race on them.
What I do love about this race is that it’s local; it’s great to hang out pre-race and catch up with some people I haven’t seen in a while. Our Duval Ocean Swimmers (DOS) group all found each other pretty easily. Two school busses drove us south to the start line (start area.. can’t exactly say there was a start line). I remember having a somewhat unexpected start last year and this year was even worse. Upon arriving at the beach, half the swimmers hopped in the water to warm up… which kind of makes me chuckle, because there was no way anyone could possibly have time to properly warm up. You’re racing 2.5 miles and you’re going to warm up by swimming 100 yards? Whatever helps their psyche, I guess. Anyway, suddenly a bunch of people started yelling for everyone to get out of the water because we were going to start soon… and a few seconds later everyone was yelling while running back into the water to start. No megaphone, no countdown, no gun start…. just hey, wanna go? Ok sure. It’s ok, though.
I was pretty happy with my entry this year as compared to last year. I’m much better prepared now to deal with the crowd (not getting kicked in the face or ribs) and handling the incoming waves. I made it out and around the buoy pretty easily and started my 2.5 mile swim north. I stayed with Jim and John for about the first mile and then lost John.. still had sight of Jim, though he stayed pretty shallow and I stayed pretty deep. Thankfully for the rest of us (and bad for him), he opted to wear his white DOS cap instead of the race’s green cap – he stood out very easily. Around the time that I lost John, though, I started to zone out and I think I forgot I was supposed to be racing. We reached the 1.25 mile buoy (halfway mark), I looked at my watch, saw 39 minutes and thought, “Oh… shit.” Too slow. I wasn’t sure I had the mindset to pick up the pace, but then I saw Jim….. :)
Jim was pretty far in front of me, but I had my mark. When I was a competitive distance swimmer in school, I survived by finding my mark and hunting them down.. or finding my mark and pulling one more black line ahead of them every flip turn. Finding Jim was the kick I needed, especially when I realized we still had at least 25 minutes until the last buoy. I could catch him in 25 minutes. So, I put my head down, stopped sight breathing (time waster) and went on my hunt. It did take about 20 minutes for me to finally reach him, and thankfully he didn’t put up much of a fight. I blew past Jim, found Vedad just before the last buoy and raced home. Sorry Jim ;)
I had total sea legs when I finally hit the sand and had to walk a few steps before picking it up to run to the finish. Candice snapped a pretty good photo… I almost look like a runner!
I finished in 1:19:38, which left me second in my age group. I was 12 minutes behind first place, but 7 minutes ahead of third place. Keep in mind this is a small race. We stood around for a while, watching everyone else come in. We cheered for our friends who won their age groups, took a team pic, ate some bananas, etc,
And then it came…. the storm we’d been avoiding all morning. Honestly, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Rain came, we headed out for breakfast and then home for a nap!
…..it’s now the next day, and all the little zaps and stings I felt during the race have proven to be sea lice. I really hate sea lice. Where’s my cortisone? *itch* *scratch* *cry*
Up the River Downtown on September 7th. JumpingFish has organized a 10k swim from Jacksonville University to the Riverside Arts Market/Fuller Warren Bridge. We’re swimming under 5 bridges with close to 30 kayakers, St. Johns River Keeper’s boat, the Firefighter Association’s boat, dragon boats, SUPs and plenty of land support. Come out to RAM just before noon to watch us arrive at the docks. It’s sure to be a great event! In addition to raising awareness for our river, we are raising money for Special Olympics – the goal is to send their best swimmers to Nationals. If you’d like to donate a few bucks, you can do so here: http://events.jumpingfish.net/sponsor/