Race Report: Nite Moves #2 (of 18)

Nite Moves results are here. I was 6/115 in a mostly local field – though a “local field” in Santa Barbara typically includes some pretty decent swimmers. Mark W. was first. He’s not really in shape right now, but apparently still has enough to hold off the pretenders.

leadbetter beach
Leadbetter Beach, viewed from Shoreline Park

I haven’t been in the ocean much lately, so the water felt a touch brisk. The closest channel buoy said 57, but I’m guessing it was closer to 55. The overcast skies offered no solar relief. I opted for an in-water warm-up, which was a mistake. By the time I lined up at the start, my feet were numb.

Oh, and I forgot to bring a cap. Mmm… brain freeze.

Beach-start, beach-finish races almost seem designed to punish me. Nite Moves is even more cleverly designed to punish me: the finish is a 70m trek uphill across a soft-sand beach. Here’s how it usually pans out:

After the mad dash into the water, I’m immediately behind like half the field. By the time I’m past the breakers, the leaders have 15-20m on me.

Then, I spend the next 5-7 minutes clawing my way through slower swimmers – at first much slower swimmers, then only somewhat slower swimmers. After I run the gauntlet I finally have some clear water – but am even further behind the leaders, who had clear water the whole time. Usually, it’s too far to make up during the remaining 500m.

At the finish, if I’m in any sort of close race, I will lose. Notice the two guys who placed 4th and 5th (6 and 3 seconds ahead of me, respectively). I beat both of them out of the water. And then they passed me running up the beach. At Nite Moves, I figure I need at least a 10-second lead out of the water to avoid getting passed on the beach.

I’m pleased to report I narrowly held off a pair of hard-charging 13-14 year old girls. Score one for wisdom and brute strength. Well, mostly the latter.

Beach starts and finishes have a long tradition in lifeguard competition… so perhaps I’m being overly literal, thinking an open water swimming event should test, you know, swimming. Not swimming-plus-a-beach-run. Is it too much to ask, to move the finish down to the high-tide line?

Afterward, I caught up with Mark and some other old friends over tacos, live music, and free-flowing, locally-crafted beer. Beer makes everything better.

Another perfect Wednesday evening in paradise.

8 thoughts on “Race Report: Nite Moves #2 (of 18)”

  1. Great pictures, sounds like a decent race. Nice finish given the run disadvantage! I get the feeling you’d be racing for the win without the beach run segments.
    How tight was the pack when you moved through it? Any trouble?
    I’m itching to get back in the water!!

    1. It wasn’t too bad – I usually just try to go around. I’m not bothered by physical contact in a race. It’s just annoying to lose ground on the lead pack, who don’t have to deal with it.

  2. I’m with you dude… I’m not built for running before or after swimming… or running anywhere really. I’m a little jealous that you have two series like that in your backyard though, we need something similar up here although at 50 degrees the swim portion would be a tougher sell until we got deeper into summer.

    1. Yes, we Santa Barbarians can’t seem to get enough of our weekly splash/dash series. I will probably switch to Reef & Run once they start up next month. Longer swim, shorter run, less expensive.

  3. BEach finishes are terrible!! It’s getting harder and harder to look like a Bo Derek “10” running out of the water these days. If they’re really into the surf life saver thing they should level the playing field and make everyone drag a 400lb comatose German tourist to the finish line.
    Those races sound really fun though!!

    1. Never attribute to “being into surf life-saving” what can just as easily be attributed to thoughtlessness 🙂

  4. I think swim/run USAT-type events are a different sport. Even though I hate running, I LOVE the beach finish. This “I don’t care if I die, I just want to get to the mat as fast as I can” feeling washes over me.

    As for combining awards for wetsuits and non-wetsuits, of course you’re right.

    BUT it’s better for me if they combine everyone. Almost all adult-onset swimmers wear a wetsuit. Depending on who shows up, I’m guaranteed last, 2nd-to-last or 3rd-to-last in the non-wetsuit division. I can actually name names–there are exactly 3 adult-onset swimmers in the Phoenix area who regularly compete without a wetsuit. If the other two show up, I won’t be last.

    When they combine everyone, I’m right in the middle (including men). I don’t care that I’d be even further ahead if I wore a wetsuit.

    Even though I’m slow compared to someone who competed in high school (or, God forbid, college), I think I’m a good swimmer. How I place shouldn’t matter. But, as hard as I work, it’s nice not to be last.

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