Dave had sent me a message Thursday night that his grandfather had passed away and he had to head back to Ohio this weekend. Looks like he’ll have one more angel looking after him during his swims. Look forward to swimming with you when you return, bud! My condolences and safe travels.
Well, both procrastination and trying to figure out family travel plans to Newport for the Annual Pier to Pier race resulted in me not leaving the house until 40 minutes before the 10am start. Tough traffic on Balboa Island resulted in me getting to the beach at 9:55am. I put money in the meter and a surgical glove on my splinted left hand. I registered quickly, stripped off my clothes, wrapped my wallet and cell phone in my towel (no time to take them back to lock them in my truck!), laid my stuff under the Lifeguard stand and stepped up behind the group of contestants. Standing 50 yards to the right of Balboa Pier, I almost immediately heard the starter remind everyone to put their googles on and seconds later, he hit the start beep.
I ran down the beach and saw a nice head-high set breaking right near the shore. It made for a quick start to swimming as we all dived under the large wave. The surgical glove quickly filled with water and it felt like I was swimming with a water balloon instead of a left hand. After 1/4 mile, the glove started coming off my hand and created a nice drag with every stroke. I stopped, ripped it off and stuffed it into my swimsuit. I then continued with my splint exposed, which held up fine for the rest of the race.
At approximately 3/4 of a mile I noticed that I was all alone in the water. The leaders were well ahead, but I was surprised that there weren’t a few more folks of my speed around. I started looking above the swells and spotted the mile buoy about a hundred yards further out to sea. I had been swimming into shore! The sea was pretty choppy and combined with the big swells, it was tough keeping the buoys in sight. As I rounded the half way point, I noticed a few other swimmers nearby and started to exert a little more effort. At 1.5 miles, I almost had another wave break on me. I again noticed that I was alone. I worried about that because it wasn’t because I was so much faster that I was passing others. I swam with my head up for a while before catching glimpse of the next buoy and other swimmers. I found that I had once again veered towards the shore 50-100 yards after I found the last buoy.
I made another course correction and found myself with a half dozen swimmers. I turned up the juice a little more and hoped I’d be lucky enough to catch a nice set of waves on the way in. Unfortunately, the trip in to the shore was almost entirely on my own effort and I finished 97th (out of 300?) in 48:09. I felt I could have turned around and swam back without much fatigue, but instead of doing that, I broke into a nice jog back to Balboa Pier so hoping my stuff would still be there and I could get my truck before the meter ran out, which luckily I did.
I don’t know where I’ll be in a month, but today I felt great. I know I could have done it even faster and longer, so hopefully next week with Dave back, me off work, we’ll start pushing the double digit mile distances.