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Playa Del Run Aquathon - Race #2: Santa Monica - Aquathlon

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Santa Monica, California
United States
Playa del Run
65F / 18C
Total Time = 38m 50s
Overall Rank = 28/148
Age Group = Male 50-54
Age Group Rank = 2/6
Event warmup:

This is my third year doing this race. The first year it was the first multi-sport event I'd ever done. Each year, I use it as a tune up race as part of my preparation for the Redondo Beach Triathlon. This year's race was a real comedy of errors. I don't think I've ever had this many things go wrong in one race, not that some things didn't go especially well, but it was just that kind of a day. My typical problem of racing with an insufficiently healed injury, or succumbing to one during the race was not an issue this time. The lower leg muscle strain that has kept me from all but a couple decent running workouts over the past month seemed to have finally gone away. I jogged a mile and a half along the run course for a warm-up with no problems at all.

By the time I got my wetsuit on half way, everyone was heading down to the swim start, so I grabbed my cap and goggles and followed along. Apparently as I continued getting into my wetsuit I dropped my goggles in the sand. As I got to the beach, I realized they were missing and told the person next to me I needed to run back to the transition zone to get my spare goggles. Someone else heard me and said the race director had just found some goggles. Sure enough, they were mine. As I entered the water for a quick swim warm-up, I realized I'd left my earplugs behind. I'd made a special trip to the sporting goods store just for my favorite wax earplugs, so I was pretty disappointed I'd left them in my backpack. Yes, it was already shaping up to be that kind of day. No earplugs is not really a problem such that I would forgo my swim warm-up to go back and get them. They're much more for comfort than a necessity like goggles anyway.

So the actual warm-up consisted of stretching and 1 1/2 mile jog plus more stretching, and finished up with about a 100 yard swim just before the start.
  • 00m
  • 0 miles
  •  min/mile
Transition 1
  • 00m
  • 14m
  • 1094 yards
  • 01m 17s / 100 yards

These Playa del Run series aquathons are pretty informal. You can do just the 1,000 meter swim, or just the 5K run if you want. But most in the field of about 150 were doing the full swim/run event. While we were waiting at the starting line, you could see several dolphins milling around the lifeguard boat just past the breakers. The usual comments and jokes about sharks were made. At the same time we started, the "5K only" race started back behind us off Bernard Way and Ocean Park. There is only one wave, so it was a good mass start running down the sand berm into the waves. The water was pretty shallow, so we had to run well out into the ocean before getting to the real surf. I was trying not to tire myself out running through the water, but I didn't want to start swimming too soon and get trampled. Finally, I was through the breakers and swimming. I was able to glance at my watch, which read 54 seconds. It had taken almost a full minute to get to where I could actually start the swim.

The field seemed more crowded than usual. We were packed in pretty tightly together. I sighted the first buoy, and realized I was well to the inside of it. To move to the left, I had to swim over the legs of the person next to me. He (she?) seemed to be a good sport about it and just kept swimming as though nothing was wrong at all. I rounded the first buoy in a complete traffic jam, then headed north breathing to my right, facing the beach. There was some woman swimming just to my right who kept moving up along side of me. She actually bumped against me a couple times. I changed to breathing on the left and immediately realized the problem. The main string of swimmers was well off to the left some fifteen to twenty yards or so. I had veered off to the right and this poor woman wasn't bumping into me, I was bumping into her. I changed my direction and kept breathing to my left as I eased back toward the proper course.

The water was just choppy enough to make sighting the next buoy almost impossible, so I just sighted on those ahead of me. By about half way through the swim I was steadily passing the competition, but feeling like I just wasn't able to really get up to a good speed. As well as my swim training in the pool has been going, it just doesn't translate into good ocean swimming without getting time in the ocean. By this time last year I had done around ten ocean swims. This year I've only done one prior to this race, and it showed.

I rounded the second buoy by mere inches, in another traffic jam. About six or seven of us were all cutting the course as short as possible and arrived at that final buoy about the same time. Once past it, I made my move out of and around the pack to the inside and pulled away. As I approached the breakers, I could feel the current helping me along, right up behind two more swimmers. Anticipating catching a wave to ride into shore, I was now trying to move to the right so I wouldn't crash into these guys. But as I kept swimming, glancing back after every couple breaths, I never did see a wave to ride and wound up swimming all the way in.

Once in shallow water I got up and ran for the beach. I glanced at my watch, saw 8:15 and thought that's pretty fast for 1,000 meters. A moment later as I was peeling off the left arm of my wetsuit I wanted to look at my watch again because that time couldn't possibly be correct. Maybe my watch had stopped. But now my tightly fitting wetsuit was caught on my watch and I couldn't seem to finish pulling it over. Soon I was exiting the water and I wanted to get a split, but I still couldn't get the partially reversed sleeve over the watch. I ran up the beach with my arm trapped across my chest with my elbow sticking out to the side like a chicken with a broken wing. I pulled my right arm out of the wetsuit and then went back to work on the left. Finally it was out and I looked at my watch to see that it was showing the time of day, not the race timer time. During the crashing and thrashing of the first few minutes of the swim someone must have hit my watch button and switched the display back to time-of-day mode. Once back on timer mode I could see I was at about 14:40, still fast, but I had long since missed my opportunity to get a true swim split right out of the water. I figure that must have been right around 14:00. So I decide to take the split at the chute entering T1, 14:58. I'm certainly happy with my swim split, as approximate as it was, this was a nice improvement over last year's 14:48 split.
What would you do differently?:

Get a better start. I really need to be more aggressive in getting to and then past the breakers. But despite the fact that I didn't feel I was swimming well, my unofficial swim split tells me I was doing OK after all.
Transition 2
  • 01m 56s

I spent 1:56 in transition getting my wetsuit the rest of the way off, washing the sand off my feet and then putting on my socks and running shoes; too slow for a real triathlon. Then I took off on the run course, feeling pretty good. After all, there's no bike related wobbly leg syndrome in an aquathon, just fatigue. Then I panicked. I forgot to put on my race number. I instinctively pulled a U-turn and dashed back to the transition zone to get it. As I did so I questioned myself as to whether or not I needed it since the number was still quite visible on the backs of both hands. I guess I really didn't need it, but by now my 5K time was screwed anyway. I took a split as I entered the run course for the second time. Lost 34 seconds. Why did I go back? It really was that kind of day.

What would you do differently?:

Need to be more organized. I've never forgotten my race number belt before, so I guess you never know what will go wrong. Mostly though, I need to be able to get that wetsuit off faster.
  • 00m
  • 3.11 miles
  •  min/mile

The first lap went well. I felt like I was running fast, but with a manageable pace. My split was 10:33 as I started lap number two. Somewhere around mile two I started faltering. Although I had passed a lot of people, it was sometimes hard to tell if they were aquathon competitors or 5K stragglers. Mostly 5K stragglers I was assuming. But now a few competitors who were better runners than swimmers were passing me. I wasn't able to hold onto anyone and had to let them go. The last stretch from Bricknell to the finish was a real struggle to hold my pace. I just kept reminding myself to focus on keeping my form from falling apart and the pace would take care of itself. With about 200 yards to go I re-doubled my efforts and pushed myself as hard as I could right on through the finish. My second lap was a 10:51, giving me a self-timed 5K run split of 21:24.

With the extra 34 seconds to retrieve my race number, my official run split would show 21:58. That is, if they got my official splits at all. Which they didn't. The official results show that at least a dozen people didn't get splits. I was one of them. It was that kind of day. At least I did get an official time for the whole event of 38:50, good for 28th place over all and 2nd in the 50 to 54 age group. And yes, the 34 seconds spent needlessly going back for my race number cost me the age group 1st place. As a consolation though, I did beat the guy who finished ahead of me and who took 2nd place to my 3rd in our age group at the Hermosa Beach Tri last October, by 5 seconds (actually, 39 seconds!).
What would you do differently?:

I don't think there was anything I could have done durning the race to improve my run, but I was hoping to turn in a much faster run split. If I'm going to run faster in these shorter events, sprint triathlons and aquathons, which are mainly what I do, then I need to do more fast-run training and less of the longer 10 milers.
Post race
Warm down:

Walked a few hundred yards, then jogged about 1/2 mile, then did some stretching.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I need to do more ocean swimming since all my races have ocean swims in them. That is not a problem since I live close to the beach, it's more a matter of dealing with this year's colder water temperatures. It's getting warmer, but it's still about 5 to 8 degrees behind last year.

Also, I need to spend a day per week on faster running. So that means I'll be doing some interval workouts and running some hill circuits.

Event comments:

And the last thing that went wrong? These guys at Playa del Run raffle off an awful lot of stuff after the races, so it's worth sticking around. Last July in the aquathon they held in Playa del Rey, I won the shoes I was wearing in this race, so that saved me about a 100 bucks. What did I win this time? Diddley-squat. It was that kind of day.

Last updated: 2007-04-14 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 00 miles |  min/mile
Age Group: 0/6
Overall: 0/148
Course: This is a swim then run aquathon format, unlike the standard run, swim, run format. Since most of the participants were wearing wetsuits it probably worked out better this way. With a water temperature of 60 degrees, I would rather not do this sans wetsuit. And just imagine how slow T1 would be if it included putting on a wetsuit.
Keeping cool Drinking
Time:  00:00
Putting on cap, goggles and wetsuit:
Getting out of shoes:
00:14:00 | 1094 yards | 01m 17s / 100yards
Age Group: 1/6
Overall: 0/148
Performance: Good
Suit: xterra Vector2
Course: This is a 1,000 meter U-shaped course with 2 buoys. Swim out past the breakers to the first buoy, turn right and swim north to the second buoy, turn right and swim to the beach.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 60F / 16C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Bad Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time:  01:56
Overall: Bad
Removing cap, goggles and wetsuit: Below average
Getting into shoes: Average
00:00:00 | 03.11 miles |  min/mile
Age Group: 0/6
Overall: 0/148
Performance: Average
Course: The run is a two lap course, mostly on grass going south to the Venice boarder, then looping back north to Bicknell before returning south to the start just off Ocean Park Blvd.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Bad
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2007-06-08 3:44 PM

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Redondo Beach, CA
Subject: Playa Del Run Aquathon - Race #2: Santa Monica

2007-06-08 4:03 PM
in reply to: #836660

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Subject: RE: Playa Del Run Aquathon - Race #2: Santa Monica

LOL, nice report.  I keep meaning to do the PdR races each year... just don't

Good luck in Redondo

2007-06-08 5:15 PM
in reply to: #836660

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Tyler, TX
Subject: RE: Playa Del Run Aquathon - Race #2: Santa Monica

Nice race, poor pre-race!!

I happened to be in LA that week for work/vacation and did the same race.  A great race for out-of-staters since you don't have to lug a bike.  I really liked the informal atmosphere, though was surprised by no timing chips!  We didn't stick around post-race since the family was ready to go.  Probably a poor choice given your comments about the prizes...

And thanks for entering the race data in the BT system.  Maybe I'll get around to doing a race report now....



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