Saturday, July 07, 2007

Trail Note: Lake Padden Triathlon Race Report

Last Friday night, Jeff and I drove up to Bellingham to participate in our first of several triathlons for this, the Summer of the Tri. A friend of mine from school/work lives in Bellingham (her husband is a professor at the university there) and thought that this would be a great first triathlon for her to do and was looking for others to join in; I was happy to oblige. Considering that my friend had a baby 8 months ago, this was a pretty impressive feat for her and a great training opportunity for me.

When I first decided to do this particular race, I thought it would be this little event with a small and not-very-competitive field of participants. After all, it's being held in a pretty small town; how many triathletes live in Bellingham, anyway? Then we arrived at the race Saturday morning to find hundreds of incredibly fit-looking people armed with expensive road bikes, wet suits, and "tri-talk" (those overheard snippets from experienced triathletes exchanging past race stories that begin something like: "last time I did Ironman Hawaii...." ). Since Bellingham is about halfway between Seattle and Vancouver BC, it attracts a lot of Canadians as well as entrants from the Seattle metro area. And now that I've raced this one, I'll be adding it to my annual race calendar as well.

The competitive race course is longer than a sprint tri and shorter than an Olympic; the run and bike seem to be dictated by the geography of the lakes we run/bike around. The lake is small (1/2 mile swim), and thus pretty warm by late June, the 24 mile bike course rolls through quiet and scenic roads, and the 5.2 mile run is entirely on a path that circles the lake (we ran around twice). There is also a recreational race held later in the day that is half the distance of the competitive race.

There are three points at which I don't like tri's: (1) that moment when I register and/or tell someone I'm doing a tri; (2) just before the race starts as I stand, shivering, in front of whatever water in which I'm supposed to swim; and (3) the first mile of the run when my legs feel like wooden blocks. These are the points at which all kinds of fears, some irrational (I'll be the slowest person here; everyone will laugh at me; I'm not going to be able to finish) and some rational (what do I do if my goggles leak and I lose a contact lens? get a flat tire? crash my bike?), arise and hit me in the stomach.

Once I get going, however, I forget these fears and have a great time. My goggles did leak this time (first time in a race), but I just kept stopping to empty them out until I finally squished them on tightly enough to stop the leaking. Contact lenses were fine. I had no problems with my bike, but Jeff had a major tire blowout, losing him at least 20 minutes or so on the bike-portion, which is his most competitive leg. He managed to make a temporary fix for the tire using dollar bills that he had stashed in his patch kit, and won a consolation "MacGyver" prize that included a nice jersey for his efforts.

I was pleased with my times: about 19 mph on the bike, a sub-15 minute swim, and a 7:50 pace on the run, but my transition times were very slow (you can rank yourself on each event as well as transition times). Next up: the Seafair tri (a sprint) next Sunday, possibly the Whiskey Dick on 7/22, and Troika, the biggie, on 8/5.


Anonymous Amy said...

I liked your list of three things you don't like about a tri. For me, your second is my #1. I always think, "what in the heck am I doing" when I stand at the swim start.

7:47 PM  

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