My First, Last, and Most Terrifying Ocean Swim:TriRock Clearwater Olympic Race Recap
Prior to arriving in Clearwater, I had planned on trying to get a swim in Saturday to get comfortable in the ocean, but the day was chilly and overcast with a strong breeze bringing in an impending thunderstorm. White caps were forming just off the beach, and we could barely see the temporary buoys marking the course that was far more offshore than I had anticipated! We quickly decided that trying to swim that day would do more harm than good. Kim at one point mentioned that she would probably see a dolphin, panic thinking it was a shark, and not be able to finish the race. I too, had been fighting nerves over the toothy creatures. We certainly had a lot of shark risk factors going against us - early morning, near a pier, on the other side of a sand bar, murky, post-storm water… cue Jaws music….
The Gulf was 67 degrees by our 7 a.m. start time. Securely in our wetsuits, and still shivering on the beach, Kim and I said our goodbyes and reassured each other that the water looked calm. The start would be a wave start, but also a time trial start, which was new to both of us. Sounds really crazy, but it actually worked pretty great. Kim was in the first wave (military and first responders) and I was in the third wave (all women). Within our waves, we went out three at a time across the timing mat, down the beach, and into the ocean. The starts went quickly, and Kim probably started only about five minutes or so ahead of me.
Where we were, and where sharks HAD been.
Official Swim Time: 00:37:35
Division Rank: 190/267
(Ranking is all men and women for some reason)
As the bike course wound to an end, I was a bit down on myself that I hadn’t seemed to be able to catch any of the age group female athletes that had crushed me in the swim. Knowing I was way behind, I spotted Kim, who had rounded the first run loop (did I say she was an awesome athlete!?). Swapping cheers perked me up a bit, and I ran to my rack. Shocked, I nearly burst into tears. Not a single bike anywhere near me!!! I guess that kicked my butt back in gear, because I had a great T2 time! Knowing the run is my weakest point, I took off, hoping to hold onto my lead.
Official Time: 01:19:58
Pace: 18.0 mph
Run Distance: 6.2 miles
Official Time: 1:02:04
Run Pace: 10:01/mile
Loubie, my ride or die!
So that said, TriRock was pretty much what I was looking for-a FUN end to a great race season. It wasn’t the most organized event (e.g. the long transition line and bizarre, confusing transition area), nor was it the best course, but the announcer, the music, and the energy was great. If you are looking for a fun event, definitely check out Clearwater TriRock. If you are a serious athlete looking for a fast race however, you might want to stay away. Personally, I will never, ever again do another ocean swim ever again (I thought throughout the race that if I had signed up for Ironman Florida last weekend, I would be crying my eyes out right now). EVER. Have fun with that! But, even though it was by the skin of my teeth and waaaay worse than I ever imagined, I conquered my fears, finished the race and brought a successful race season to a fun end!