This is my first Season of triathlon. Big Kahuna was first HIM. Only my third triathlon ever.
Arrived in Santa Cruz, and checked into the hotel on Saturday afternoon. Took the kids to the boardwalk, but didn't get the opportunity to get in a practice swim when one of my children came down sick. Mommy wasn't arriving in town until Sat. night. That's life.
Had a nice pasta & seafood dinner at Riva's on the Santa Cruz Wharf (the locals' favorite for anyone interested, cash only too). The Wharf just also happens to be the structure the 1.2-mile swim is centered around.
Tried to get some sleep afterwards. No luck. Way to keyed up, and stressing about the cold swim--surfingsantacruz.com's website had real-time water temps listing about 51F. Sometimes too much information is BAD! Got perhaps 90 min. of shut-eye the entire night, and 3:30am I threw in the towel, got out of bed, stretched, dressed, and rode the 1.7mi down to the Transition Area around 5:00am.
Couldn't eat much, had 1 Balance Bar and sipped water.
T/A was packed already--especially the choice racks nearer the Entry/Exits. I found an easily spotable rack, and set-up my gear. Double-checked my bike, the went down the checklist for gear. Hit the head a few times (nerves!), and am glad I did--because by 5:45 there were easily 70-80 people in line for the porta-potties.
Then, just circulated the T/A looking for anyone I knew. No luck, but did spot one Michellie Jones...yup, the reigning Kona Champ walking around. Wow, I thought. How cool is it to have her in the same race?
So, just paced around, took down 2 more GU gels, and sipped water.
At 6:15, the RD's req'd everyone head down to the Beach (about 1/8-1/4 mile's distance from the T/A) for the Pre-Race Instruction Meeting. Hit the head again at the beach, and who walks out of the head when I'm there...Ms. Jones again. I figured this was a good omen.
At 6:50 or so, I took "the dive". The all-important swim warm-up..or perhaps freeze-up was a better term. It was so cold, I felt gut-punched. My breathing was seriously impaired first few breaths. But, as the water seeped in, and warmed-up, it got somewhat tolerable.
At 7:00 the first wave M20-29 and Elites took off. Another wave every 5 min. after that. I was in the 7:20 M40-44 wave. I watched very closely the other waves as they made their way out towards the tip of the wharf. I overheard to veteran swimmers waiting their wave analyzing the previous waves. By analyzing the previous waves and anchored boats, they determined a left-to-right (as viewed from the beach) current. Start wide left they decided. Me, not knowing sh*t from shinola when it comes to ocean swims, followed suit.
Boom! The gun goes off, and you're wading in waist high water dreading the first shallow dive. Then, its just rhythm. "Smooth is fast, stay aerobic" was my mantra. The ridiculously spendthrift RD's only had 3 buoys placed--way at the far end of the Wharf. Spotting them wasn't so easy, so I followed the wakes and splashing of the lead swimmers until I neared enough to see the buoys for myself.