First Ever "Gear West Splash and Dash"

>> Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Last night, after wrapping up teaching, I braved rush hour traffic to head out to Long Lake. I was going to try out Gear West’s “Splash and Dash.” They were supposed to have had the first one in June, but the weather caused them to cancel. Here’s what Gear West says about this event:

...The swim is 200 meters consisting of 2x50 meter out and back swims. You will swim out and around a buoy and back then run out on the beach around a cone and then back in for another out and back swim. You will transition to a 1 mile out and back run north on Brown Rd. Then repeat. (200M 2 lap swim/1 mile run/200M 2 lap swim/1 mile run)...

Sounds fun, right?!? It was pretty cheap, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I arrived an hour early, and helped Curt from Gear West set up the tent. Here’s Curt getting ready to set out the buoy:

The buoy on the right is staked to the beach,
and that’s the one we had to run around.

Here was the “transition zone square” as it was called. It’s TINY! The arrow shows which way we were to run out:

Well, there were 7 people that showed up! Curt was thinking there’d be around 10, so that’s about right. Here’s some of us getting officially registered:

Here’s the transition square “filling up.” My shoes are to the right on the brown plaid blanket:

Hannah from Gear West showed up, and we changed the format a little. Instead of swim / run / swim / run all back-to-back, she said we were going to do the first swim / run, and then take a 5 minute break to wait for everyone to finish before starting our last swim / run. That sounded fine. That sounded safer: we wouldn’t be sprinting right into the water already oxygen deprived from the run.

We lined up on the beach, and we were off!

The 7 of us spread out pretty quickly. I rounded the buoy and headed back to shore. I was getting ready for the run, and I honestly forgot about having to run back into the water for the second part of the swim until I saw the 2 guys in front of me jump back in. Oops. So the second part of the swim was a bit tougher because I went a little too hard in the first half. My first 100 was 1:22 and my second 100 was 1:32.

My 18 second transition consisted of running to the coned-off square, plopping down, and throwing on my running shoes. I was off to try to catch the 2 guys in front of me.

I started running. It’s really hard to run when you’re already breathing hard from being oxygen deprived from swimming. It was MUCH harder than I thought it was going to be! I caught Mike in the first 1/4 mile. Nearing the turn onto Brown Road, I saw the guy a block in front of me going the wrong way. We were supposed to cross Brown and then round a cone and head to the right up the hill. This guy kept going straight instead of taking the right. Running up to Hannah who was controlling that intersection, I was asking, “So we turn right here? Just past the intersection? Right?” I took the right and rounded the 1/2 mile turn-around cone in 3:06. I wanted to be faster than that. That was 6:12 pace, and I was thinking I could do more like 5:35 - 5:45 pace, but the swim REALLY took more out of me than I thought it would.

I ran hard back to the waterfront. I did that last 1/2 mile in 2:52, so my 1 mile run was 5:59. I was the first one back with a total time of 9:14. There was no sign of the guy who got lost. So I took a commanding lead after the first half of the race due to his error. D’oh. Everyone showed up after a few minutes, and we mulled about until we were ready to start again. Here’s a shot of all 7 of us in the “transition square” getting ready to start the last half:

We grabbed our goggles, and we were back in for round two!

I tried to keep it easier for the first part of the swim, and then I tried to pick it up for the last 1/2. I swam a 1:26 and a 1:33. The last half of the swim I was all over the place - when I get a little fatigued, I can NOT swim in a straight line!

I had a better transition time as I only took 14 seconds to put on my shoes. (Oh yeah, these were the first 2 runs in my racing flats where I did NOT wear socks, and my feet were just fine!)

It was the same situation as last time: I had 2 guys in front of me, and I caught 1 pretty quickly. The other was about 2 blocks ahead of me. I was slowly gaining on him. And he took the right turn this time... good.

I cut his lead to about a block at the turn-around. It’d be a close finish if I kept this up. I ran out in 3:02, which was too slow. I noticeably picked up the pace and headed towards the finish.

Rounding the “flower mart” corner, I knew I couldn’t catch him, but I only finished second in that heat by a couple seconds. I ran that last 1/2 mile in 2:41, for a total mile time of 5:43. That was better! And that made my final time for the last swim/run 8:59. Nice.

Curt tallied the results. He noted that the guy who beat me on the second swim/run had the fastest individual swim/run time (of about 8:55), I had the best single mile time, and that I was the overall winner with a combined time of 18:13. The 7 finisher’s times were between that and 25 minutes, with a majority stacked up in the 21 minute area (if I’m remembering correctly).

I felt bad for the guy who probably SHOULD have won, but he had a good, carefree attitude. He didn’t seem to mind. There weren’t any prizes or anything, so he didn’t miss out. It was a REALLY fun little event!! One of the participants said, “Hey, we should all come back to the one in August, and we should all bring at least 1 friend!” We all agreed that was a good idea. So, who’s interested? The next one (and final one for the year) is on Tuesday, August 11 at 7 pm. Click here for more info. If someone wants to come from St. Paul, you can hitch a ride with me!

I got home and updated my FB status. This is my race report condensed to 2 lines:

p.s. OWS at 6:30 pm at Nokomis tomorrow night (Thursday) if anyone is interested.

p.p.s. All my splits above are unofficial. The “official” results should be up on GW’s website in a few days. And Curt had a video camera, so there MIGHT even be a "highlight reel"...


Iron Girl Nyhus 8:00 AM, July 15, 2009  

I am going to try and join you guys at Nokomis.

CoachLiz 8:44 AM, July 15, 2009  

Hey Steve,

Congrats on the win. I cannot get my message to go through to an email address so I will post it here about the running technique.

You asked if you should be landing on your heel and rolling through the foot or landing flat footed when you run. You are really doing neither. The goal is to have the foot landing almost under the body on the area between the ball of the foot and the arch of the foot. As you travel forward, you foot and toes will feel like they are "paw-ing" off the ground like a cat or dog's foot would do.

This is sometimes called the Pose method of running but I learned it as the Evolution Running technique put out there by Ken Mierke.

Basically you want to imagine that you have a few small grains of gravel in the heel of your shoe. Imagine how painful it would be if you did a heel strike and you drove those pieces of gravel into your foot. The heel of your shoe will probably be touching the ground, but it is a very light touch. My shoes that I just got out of still have almost all of the grid and little bumps on the tread of the heel. Hardly anything is worn off. Also, I have been having great success running in Newton shoes that promotes this type of running.

If you are not used to running like this, you will go through a "break in period" where your calf muscles will be super sore and tight because you will be using them more. If the feet really hurt, look into an orthodic for the shoe and even a chiropractic adjustment for the feet as one the tarsal bones might have pushed out of place.

Again, running barefoot on pavement gives you a feeling on Non-heel striking so that you can know what to "feel" for on your practice sessions. Start slow with the break in period and for you, dial back the speed a bit as you learn before picking up the pace again. Remember, you are trying to reteach yourself to run and it is not an easy job.

Lindsay 9:04 AM, July 15, 2009  

congrats on the win, no matter how small the race! :) i thought you would've at least shouted out to the guy hey wrong turn! shame shame ;)

Marlene 9:10 AM, July 15, 2009  

A win is a win! Congrats! Sounds like a fun, unique event.

Cy 9:17 AM, July 15, 2009  

Bummed I missed it. I'll be there next time!

Missy 9:17 AM, July 15, 2009  

He only SEEMED not to mind...'they' all do;) Nice speedy work, dang it!

Kim 9:25 AM, July 15, 2009  

that little "race" sounds so fun!!!! wish we had that here in boston! congrats!

Steve Stenzel 9:25 AM, July 15, 2009  

Lindsay - he was just too far ahead on too busy of a road (with traffic noise) for me to shout. It would have been in vain! Really!

Regina 9:36 AM, July 15, 2009  

congrats on the win. I'm not sure if I would be relieved or more nervous as such a small field: i's end up dead last. Sounds like you all had fun, so it doesn't matter anyway.

McHaste 10:13 AM, July 15, 2009  

I totally love these kind of events.
We had a similar (2.7 k swim down river and 5.6k run) swim/run last friday. Great BBQ afterwards.
Check out the pics if you wanna see how us Dutchies do it :-)

PS congrats on your victory!

X-Country2 10:57 AM, July 15, 2009  

What a fun little race! Congrats on the win.

Jen Rife 11:14 AM, July 15, 2009  

Sounds like a good time - I'll put in on my calendar and try to make the next one!

Julia 12:19 PM, July 15, 2009  

what a fun event! I love low key small events like that. I get so intimidated by huge crowds of people.
And congrats on the win :)

Mel-2nd Chances 12:47 PM, July 15, 2009  

Sounds like a great first event, congrats on the win!

Unknown 12:47 PM, July 15, 2009  

Congrats on the win. Sounds like a good time.

Boys Athletic Shoes 8:42 PM, July 15, 2009  

Wow, hope to join that kind of fun someday.. anywayz congrats!

Unknown 9:54 PM, July 15, 2009  

Congrats on snagging the win, that event sounds awesome! That event has me thinking about an event here they're doing in about a week and a half, it's called Uberman and it's and ultra short distance tri (we're talking a 200 meter swim, 4 mile bike, and 1 mile run), but it's an invite only race, should be fun to watch!

Beth 10:19 PM, July 15, 2009  

Hey, I'll give it a try next time. It looks like it was a lot of fun!

Julie 10:42 PM, July 15, 2009  

That sounds like fun, even though I still don't like running that much! I think it would be fun to do a swim, bike, swim!

Michelle 2:53 PM, July 16, 2009  

Congrats Mr. Awesomeness!!!

Terrific win!!

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