Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sarasota SUP Championships 2015

I went up to Siesta Key this morning for the Sarasota SUP Championships. Siesta Key is famous for being voted the USA's #1 Beach. I found it to be quite nice indeed, with clear water, fine white sand, and free parking. The SUP event was big and well-organized, with lots of sponsor tents, a stage for the MC and a band, fancy lunch, etc. It was also well-attended, with lots of participants in a 10k "Elite" race, 5k "Open" race, relay race, kids race, etc. (Pic is start of the 10k race. Map shows the race course. 2 laps was 5k, 4 laps was 10k. You had to get off at the beach in the middle of each lap and run around some flags, but that's not shown on the gps because board caddies kept your board in the shallow water ready for you to jump back on it.)

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Fastest paddler in the world Danny Ching was there, lending his celebrity and kicking everyone's ass in the 10k race.

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Lots of the top riders at the state level were there, too, (see Brad Ward, Connor Bonham, and Garret Fletcher in first pic below) along with some tough amateurs around my own pace (see second pic below with me in white rashguard behind David Dean and John Sekas who both beat me despite being in the 50+ age division).

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Competitively speaking, I didn't do very well in this race, even compared with my other races this spring. My time was 1:14:28 over 10.43 km (6.48 miles) for a pace of 8.4 kph (5.22 mph). One HUGE and embarassing mistake I made was forgetting to attach my GPS to the board until the last minute when we were standing on the starting line, then having the start whistle blow while I was messing with it and my camelback was off. For 15 or 20 seconds after everyone else had started I was stuck fiddling around on the beach like an idiot. That probably cost me more time than just the 15 or 20 seconds because it put me in the rough water of the crowd of slower people and blew my chance to save some energy early by linking with a draft train of similar speed riders. Also I fell off once during the early part of the race, which didn't help any with my catching up. A couple times later in the race I drafted the guy ahead of me for a bit, but I just didn't have the energy to stay on him. Although I think my fitness level is at least as high it has been for most of my recent SUP races, I found this race super duper exhausting. For one thing, it was very hot and humid- already over 30C when the race started. Although I took some sips from a camelback full of dilute gatorade during the race, I think I may not have been hydrated enough before the race started. I was wearing a visor, sunglasses, dark boardshorts, and a longsleeve rashguard, and I think I might have been cooler if I'd just gone bareback or with a tanktop. I'll also do icewater in the camelback next time. Another thing that might have worn me out and made me slower than usual was my technique. Since watching the video of myself paddling I've been trying to correct some problems with my stroke, but the changes haven't become natural enough yet to actually make me faster- or my fixing some things has created other technique problems. On the last of the four laps of the race I kind of reverted to my old, bad stroke just to use some muscles that weren't worn out yet. A final thing that made this race tough was all the buoy turns and the short beach-runs that you had to do at the completion of each lap. I found out after the first lap that if I did the beach run fast I'd be so exhausted when I hopped back on the board that I could barely paddle at a cruising pace, let alone a race pace. I think practicing some beach runs alternating with SUP sprints would be a killer workout for the future that would help me prepare for more races like this.

The CGT Kayaks and Paddleboards race team made a great showing at this race, and we got our pictures taken with Danny Ching! From left to right there is Matt Kearney who was right behind me in the 10k, Justin DiGiorgio who got first in the 5k, Kevin Hill who got 3rd in 12'6 class in the 10k, Kate Pagan who got 3rd in the 12'6 women class in 10k, Danny Ching who did the whole race at a pace over 6 mph even though he was stopping to talk to the people he lapped, Meg Bosi who was 2nd 12'6 woman in the 5k. Not pictured is Mark Payne who signed up for the 10k but judiciously bowed out after 5k in the torturous heat.
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Florida legend Mark Athanacio won the 50+ age class and overall 12'6 category in the 10k.
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Next races are next weekend. I'm definitely going to the CGT summer race on the Imperial River on Sunday, and I might go to a race in Pompano Beach on Saturday, too.

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