Race 35 was a blast from the past for me. I raced this course many years ago when I was very new to the sport. Memories flood back from the strangest things. Sometimes it is from a distinct smell from long ago or the lyrics of a song from high school. For me it was all of the subtle things about this race. From the swim start to the picnic tables. This race brought back a lot of memories from when I was new to the sport.
The course was essentially the same with a slight change to the run course (a good change that cut out a rocky out and back along an access road). It was a cool morning and the crowd was excited to get going. For many people this was their first race of the year. You could just see it in their faces..in their anxiety and excitement. It became very apparent at the sound of the gun which started the chaos. It was an open water swim. We had about 100 yards to the first turn buoy and it was bedlam. Everyone around me was racing to the first buoy. This is normal for early season races because everyone wants to make sure that they hit their “target” goal for their first race of the season. They don’t want to give away any time especially early in the race. What ends up happening, rather than a smooth fast swim to the turn buoy, is unorganized chaos. Everyone was slamming into each other.
Once we got to the turn buoy we started heading back into shore. The sun must have started to rise with the start of the race also. You could not see anything but the sun in your face. This normally would just be frustrating but in this case, at least for me, it was worrisome from an injury standpoint. Coming into the swim exit there were two yellow booms that created a wake free swim area along the beach. These were made of very hard plastic. We had to either swim under or over these booms. The problem was that you could not see them at all until you were within a few yards. So, no open and rhythmic swimming heading into the beach because I was afraid of slamming my hand on one of the two booms causing a hand injury. It would be something silly like that to jeopardize the rest of the season. So, because of the chaos to the first buoy, the sun and the booms coming into the beach, this was a very disappointing swim for me.
Off onto the bike. Really a nice lollipop course with a small section of road construction on the out and back portion. It was a nice course with a few noticeable climbs that made the legs wake up a bit. There were some fast bikers on the course that day. It is always fun to watch pure speed on the bike.
Back into transition. Out on the run. The run, in order to keep the course from sprawling too far, was several looped or out and back sections. This day I enjoyed this course. It allowed me to keep up with where I was on the course and where the other racers were out there. The run felt good (as good as it can) and soon enough the race was no longer an experience but rather it had moved over to a memory. Race 35 done. 17 to go. This race was a total distance of 19.7 miles. We are now at 752.1 miles. Less than 250 miles until our target mile goal of 1,000 miles in 12 months.