Always one of my favorite races, Sandman is a true test of speed on a foggy swim, hilly bike, and sandy run. This year was especially different thanks to the loss of the pier that leads to the cement ship causing the swim to be foggier than usual as well as a totally new bike course that I didn’t realize was new until I got out there. Some races you execute to perfection, and some races like this one, you just roll along and have to enjoy the race you are in.
The swim was at least the most straight forward of the race. Perfect conditions with warmer water, almost no surf, but a healthy dose of fog. Straightness of the swim was definitely off and I struggled to catch the draft of someone who passed me, but my pace was up from last year at 1:35/100 which is about where I am swimming distance in the pool.
The bike was like a tourist wandering through a new city with a hand drawn map. Within the first quarter mile we started a climb up a steep hill I had never seen before and after that I knew all calls were off. Halfway into the out of the out-and-back I even made a wrong turn and a policeman steered me back causing me to have to re-pass two people I had just passed. The whole bike failed to drop into a total groove since I had no idea what was coming until the half way turn around point and the road was pretty rough. I still passed a solid 5 people who had beat me in the swim with one last pass coming right at the end in transition. Overall it was a lot of small hills and I definitely will be better practiced for next year.
The run at least was the most familiar. With a pretty low tide, I was able to find some harder sand to run on and picked up the pace from the year before to sub 7:30 - which for sand is amazing. Of course, to continue with my flawed day I rubbed some pretty nasty blisters into my feet from the wet conditions. I need to experiment with some tape on my foot to reduce the rubbing, but that is for the next barefoot race.
In the end - I took 8th place which was still 4th in my age group (I always say the prize you win has more to do with who shoes up than how you do) and am happy to be much stronger than last year. Next year hopefully we can put together the strength with the skill to make a more perfect race.