Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tri-ing It Old School



I had the opportunity to do a little bit of time travel this last weekend, back into the days when triathlons were not so much about who had the best carbon fiber frame or multi-thousand-dollar wheels or 24-hour coach or whatever, but just about swimming, biking, running, hanging out with other athletes and having a great time. It was not serious, but it was tough and it was fun!


A local triathlete puts on a small race every year at a nearby lake nestled in a valley in the foothills of the coast range. The transition area is on a church lawn. There's a hand-painted finish sign, and some signs along the course to tell you where to go. The bike course is on local roads, the run course winds along a logging road that turns into a rutted dirt track and climbs a crazy grade. For a sprint tri, the course was quite challenging, with a big downhill out of T1 that portended a good climb at the end of the bike, and that up-and-over hill on the run course. You can see the logging road winding over the hill in the clearcut in this photo, that's where the run course goes!

The swim went by all too fast. Supposed to be 600 meters, but I think it can't have been more than about 450 as my swim time was 5:47. That would've been a truly smokin' 600 time, probably out of my league. Still, the lake was gorgeous and I felt like I was flying along. It was warm enough to wear my sleeveless wetsuit and it always feels like I swim WAY faster in that than in my full-sleeve. Out of the water in 1st place overall (from a very small field, LOL!) Onto the bike which followed the road away from the lake, mostly rolling hills and forests on either side, very pretty. Hitting 30 mph out of T1, I realized I'd have about a two mile hill coming back at the end of the bike course. It's weird, this race was so casual, I almost always drive the course if I'm racing, but I was flying blind, so that was actually kind of fun! The turnaround came up quickly, but not before Chad (the race director) flew past me on his bike.

I only got semi-lost once on the run course, when a fork in the logging road had a sign that was slightly ambiguous. I second-guessed myself as the road turned into more of a rutted track, and so I backtracked to check the sign. Yep, I was going in the right direction. After awhile, racer #2 Greg passed me, so at that point I figured I was probably on the right road. The run was a 3.6 mile, a little bit longer than the average sprint (great, a short swim and a long run, that is not to my advantage!). I calculated that I had a 4 minute head start going into the run on the next fastest female triathlete. I had no idea if it was going to be enough. A lot of triathletes can run a minute per mile faster than I can. But being a trail run helps as I'm strong on hills. As it turned out, she caught me a couple hundred yards from the finish and flew past. yep, she's a really fast runner (she confided after the race that she'd recently run a sub-20:00 5k - with her dog!!! at one of those dog-and-owner fun runs, yikes!) But all in good fun, it was nice to be out on a course with a bunch of other dedicated athletes having a great time at a beautiful location.

After the race it was time for a big post-race feast put on by Chad's family. Wow, talk about the royal treatment! Elk burgers and gorgeous fruit salad and oatmeal cookies. You KNOW no food on earth tastes as good as post-race food, but this was truly delicious.

Bottom line: Swim: 5:47, T1: 2:01, Bike: 38:18, T2: 1:05, Run: 33:09 Total: 1:20:18, plus one pair of VERY dusty shoes and a lot of fun! 

4 comments:

Marv said...

Now that does sound like fun...Elk burger? How neat! "Old School" can be pretty refreshing.

Caratunk Girl said...

That is awesome. MMM Elk burgers!

midlife_swimmer said...

nice recap! the hills sound kinda brutal to me on a bike at this point but I can see getting there.

Jon Gilchrist said...

good times...and LOVIN the nike frees