Normally I go into painstaking detail about my ridiculous travel arrangements leading to a race. I don't have to do that for Sandman, which took place at the Virginia Beach oceanfront, with large portions of the course concurrent with some of my more common training routes and transition a mere 3 miles from my apartment. I pretty much laid low after Hy-Vee with minimal training, accidentally starting my postseason break a little early, so I honestly wasn't too sure what to expect from this race. I couldn't skip it though, being so close. The day before the race was super-mellow, just kind of lounging around at home, at one point going to pick up my packet and pick up my dad at the airport (because it's honestly impossible I think for me not to involve *some* sort of travel in a triathlon, even if it's not me) after he decided to give himself the birthday present of coming down to visit.
Initially I'd planned to wake up at 4:30 give myself plenty of time to air my tires, get dressed, and eat breakfast before riding over to transition, hoping to get there when it opened at 5:30. However, I decided the snooze button was a good idea, so I ended up not getting out of bed for almost another hour. I was still fine on time, but the most remarkable thing about the ride over was how cold it was! I mean, I know it was still dark, but it's theoretically still summer and I live in the South. I got to transition right around 6 give or take and set everything up, nothing really notable there, except that I went with my trustworthy cardboard tube box to cover the whole on my disc. It's pretty much the most aero thing ever, and I pretty much had to dress up like I was going skiing for the ride over.
|Dressed up and ready to ride over. So much for it still being summer and/or being in the South.|
After that, I carefully stalked the two guys I knew best in the field, both of whom I believed would be better swimmers than I: Aaron Williams, an alum of Stevens whom I raced against "back in college" (I feel old being able to say that) and Matt Greene, a "retired" pro (he says he notices that at 28 he doesn't recover as well as he used to in the 'old days'), now a Navy SWO-Nuke in the area, whom I've met through some group rides and runs. After a rather non-descript start, with barely a little toot of the airhorn, we were off, running into what NOAA says was high tide, but I insist was low tide because it was a long way out there in pretty shallow water. I saw Aaron went way off to the left, even though the first turn was a right turn, but I saw to my right, Matt was duck diving a lot quicker than anybody else under the ankle-high waves, and he was the first or second to the buoy, which couldn't have been more than 100m offshore, just past the breakers. Right before the buoy I tried to slide over into the pack of about 4-6 guys, latching onto Matt's feet. Then I noticed Aaron recovering from his decision to swim wide on the turn and he was coming up onto my feet. By the 200m mark, though, I was pretty much side-by-side with one other athlete whom I did not recognize. I don't know when exactly we dropped the rest of the field, but we did at some point. We stayed side by side, but separated by probably 10m, as I was farther out to sea, making sure any early-breaking waves wouldn't swamp me from the side like so often happens when I go surfing. I remembered last year that the second and final turn buoy was significantly farther out to sea than the first one, too, so I took a more diagonal line rather than swimming directly parallel to shore. It's a loooong way swimming the straight 600-700 m parallel to the shore between 8th and 2nd St, so I finally was able to discern that the object I'd been sighting was the actual turn buoy about halfway to it. I also saw a jet ski right near it, presumably to make it more obvious. I tried to drop the other non-wetsuitted swimmer a couple times, but to no avail each time, but he also seemed to have no interest in sitting in my draft, so it didn't bother me too much. Right as we got close to the buoy, I noticed that the jetski actually had a hold on it and was moving ever so slightly. A summary of my thoughts on the jetski/buoy combo:
"That's a big shape that I can't really tell what it is, and it's right near the entrance to Rudee Inlet, but it's orange. Or am I actually colorblind and the Coast Guard never picked up on it? Red, right, returning, so that should be a red buoy there if that's actually the channel marker and not a turn buoy. It's kind of pointy, so it might be a nun buoy. Are nuns red or green? Something about squares and cans and nuns, but I have no idea what's what. I knew I should have looked at the nautical charts for my area of operation and corrected through the most recent Local Notice to Mariners"
"Oh, good, it's more obvious with the jetski now. That's definitely the turn buoy. I'll live another day to fail the deck watch officer exam. So glad I'm an inspector. Buoys are hard to remember. Oh look, a dolphin!"
"Ok, it's moving a little with the jetski, but he's probably holding it because it was drifting or something"
"WHAT THE HELL??? HE JUST TOOK OFF TOWARDS SHORE!!!!!"
"Oh well, I guess I'm outside of the buoy, time to turn right and into shore"
"Damn, now look at those slower swimmers, they get to take a shorter line. That's kinda crap"
"Oh well, I'm still 20+ seconds up on everybody. It probably doesn't matter a whole lot"
So, for some reason, right when we got to the buoy, they decided to move it in. To their credit, it ended up being dropped stationary again, but kind of in the breakers, so it probably would have been difficult to see from a long distance. However, I'm still not too happy about the situation, even if it made no difference in the outcome of my race.
After turning towards shore, I took the lead for sure, including a little better half-bodysurfing into shore, then a looooong run up through the shin high water and then into the soft sand. As I was at my bike, I said to the other lead swimmer "am I crazy or did they actually move the buoy?" He confirmed that I was not actually hallucinating from too much coffee. My time was 9:21, which leads me to believe it is accurate-ish. A simple straight line drawn from 8th to 2nd St is approximately 650m, so it's fair to say we went at least 50m out and 50m into the water. Although I led out of the water, I ended up not having the fastest overall swim split, as a few of the faster swimmers in the age group categories swam faster, although they swam straight for the buoy, rather than the amusement park-style moving buoy.
|And right there is where running through the sand started to REALLY suck.|
|This is the mental image I had throughout the ENTIRE bike ride. Do you realize how difficult it is to ride away from the scent of bacon?|
I looped around the bottom of Atlantic Ave around the parking lot and came hot into T2, volunteers more than ready for me to come in. I ended up having the quickest bike split by over 30 seconds in a 35:14 for 14mi (or 14.5, according to some of the race literature). It's a deceptively slow bike course; I'm not sure why, but the hotels area is markedly slower than the more open roads. I also recently learned that at some point, the course changed so that transition is at the bottom of the boardwalk, so trying to compare to older races when I see splits in the 33s and 32s is a bit apples to oranges. For me, though, it was over a minute faster than last year!
|Dad's just trying to point to me, in case it's not obvious where I am in the photo, T2ing all alone. Transition areas are creepy with no bikes in them.|
|Figuring out my lead and how much I could saunter my way to the finish.|
It turned out that all of the top three live in VB, so that was cool (hence the title, a reference to the fact that this place is well known for localism among surfers...even though nobody is actually from here; they're all at best second generation military transplants)
So it was pretty neat to win the super-local race, and the way it happened was super-awesome. Leading pretty much wire to wire with a nice little cruise on the run; if only every race could be like that. Afterward, I got to partake in the awesome decision of dishwater or air conditioner condensate, so I went with Bud Light over the Michelob. Then there was pulled pork, and a discussion with THE Matt Shaffer, founder of the great USCGA Triathlon Club, so we've got some lineage there. It was cool, as there were quite a few coasties in the 18933 different iterations of CG uniforms, including the one I designed. I didn't get a chance to talk to most of them, but that's ok. I was pretty pumped to be able to give Dad the birthday present of the W, so that was really neat. It's been a couple years since I won a race, so that's also neat. Part of that is because I've been doing bigger, more competitive races, but so much of it is just who shows up. Still, you can only race who is there, and my start line included a couple of ex-college swimmers, and an ex-pro (Matt, despite his holeshot victory, finished 10th after realizing 200m into the swim and 5 minutes into the bike that he is no longer 22 years old and spending 30 hours a week training...he'll get back, and I was semi-hoping we'd be able to get it to come down to a Gomez-Brownlee type sprint, because that'd be AWESOME)
At one point during the post-race funsiness, I had to have Dad hold my beer so I could get my first TV time, so I'm pretty much a celebrity now.
|#hardware Dan doesn't believe in clothes. I wouldn't either if I had a beard like that.|