The Great Issaquah Triathlon Adventure

The great adventure starts the day before when I had to pick up my race packet in Issaquah between 2:00 and 7:00 PM on a Friday.

For those who don’t live here, trying to drive from the East Side down to the South Sound where I live at rush hour is pretty much the worst thing ever. It can take 2 ½ hours, especially on a Friday.

I was going to try to dash in and out (which as it turns out, would have been a grave mistake as everyone was hitting the roads because the weather was nice and traffic was a nightmare before 3:00 PM.) and take a back highway home.

But my wise friend Julie thought it would be a better idea to meet for Happy Hour in Issaquah. It would have been rude for me to force her to twist my arm to have a beer, so I obliged. Our friends Claire and David joined us as well. (pictures posted yesterday)

I got off work at 1:30 and made it to the packet pickup by 2:00 PM (I work about half way between where I live and Issaquah) and so did everyone else. It was a long line for ID/USAT license checking, packet pickup and body marking, bit it ran smoothly.

I then headed off to Target to get a few things on my shopping list and some cash.

Then I headed over to REI for some electrolyte solution/cubes and to visit. I noticed that there was a GNC in the same shopping center, so I grabbed a few of the 42 gram New Whey protein shots (they REALLY help recovery after a hard workout or race and at only 3 oz, they go right down even if you’re not hungry/thirsty.)

One of the managers at the store had told me earlier in the day that he was going to be grilling burgers (I had asked for recommendations for happy hour, bonus points for a good burger) for bike commuters and that if I stopped by, he’d cook me up a burger. I did, and it was good. I visited with him, Kelly and some bike commuters, and then headed over to the Brewhouse (Rogue Brewing Company) to meet Julie, Claire and David.

It was a gloriously beautiful day and we scored seats outside.

I hit the road around 6:30 PM and took Highway 18 home. It was a breeze, probably the easiest drive I’ve ever done from there.

I was home in plenty of time to fine tune my packing for the triathlon and get to bed early.

This is where things went bad.

As I was thinking about giving my poor congested allergy ridden sinuses a flush with the neti-pot, I could feel my nose running. That was odd because I was congested. The first thought that ran through my mind was, “Oh, crap, I’ve got a sinus infection from the few moments I was in that damn lake without my nose clips on.”

That’s when I saw that I had blood on my hand.

UGH! That’s (a nosebleed) what you need when you’re trying to finish race preparations and get to bed early.

The next “incident” involved my Garmin.

I KNEW I put it in my race bag. I SWEAR I put it in the bag, THAT night, I took it off the coffee table, took the cradle off of it, and PUT IT IN THE RACE BAG.

Guess what wasn’t in the race bag?

You guessed it. I dumped the contents of the bag (and every other bag/pack in the house) out no lesss than four times. I scoured every room.

I glared menacingly at the BadKitty and pleaded with the house faeries to return it.

At 10:00 PM (I had to get up at 4:20 and should have been in bed by 9:00 at the latest) I gave up.

I tore the apartment apart the next morning, and it was apparent that the Kitty and/or the house faeries weren’t giving it up.

That’s when I noticed that my bike computer was dead. (my bad night was turning in to a less than stellar morning)

Planning on taking solace in a mocha, I loaded up the espresso machine, poured the milk in my cup and YUCK!!! It plopped out like cottage cheese.

No Mocha, no place open that early to get one.

I was not amused.

I got out the door on time and arrived at the park to set up my transition area.

I thought this would be a small local event; Wrong! It was BIG!!!

It was VERY well run.

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Notice that the splash guard is not on my areobottle? I was so tired from lack of sleep and no mocha that I stuffed it in my bag instead of putting back on after I filled the bottle… DOH! I wore a lot of that electrolyte drink.

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When I pulled my wetsuit out of the bag, what did I find way down at the end of my sleeve?

My Garmin. At least that went right.

I wandered down to check out the lake before the mandatory pre-race briefing.

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You can see the buoy for the final turn through the arch (this is where we exited the water)

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My wave (the old lady wave) was 2nd to the last wave so I had lots of time on the beach to chat and do some warm up swimming. We were joking that we were having a “geezer party” down there. I had to get back in twice to get more water in my suit because I was drying out (and to answer the call of nature-if you think you’ll never pee in your wetsuit, you’re wrong-if you keep doing tris, you will)

The women in my wave here hilarious and lots of fun. We had a great time getting lined up for our wave and were joking about designating “kick free zones”.

We were a fairly small wave and we really didn’t swim over each other much. I had a challenging time passing one woman who was dolphin kicking. It got a bit crowded around the first turn (there were two) but after that, we all had plenty of space. One woman occasionally touched my leg to let me know she was there, but it didn’t bug me like the woman that kept grabbing at me last year in the Subaru triathlon.

I swam a solid crawl stroke the entire way and felt good when I got out of the water. I’m still a bit freaked out about my Oly distance tri next weekend, but I’ve already done one full mile + swim and will do two more next week.

I swam the 400 meters (& got out of the water) in 8:45 (I did 250 down in Elma on Monday in 5:26) which still puts me at being able to swim a mile in 33+ minutes.

My transition wasn’t so great; it was 3:59, of course it was a good long run from the beach to the transition area and since I was near the back of the TA, it was a good long run out with my bike, so I did transition faster than in Elma.

The bike was much more difficult than Elma because this course does have hills and I had get down in my lowest gears to get up one of them. There was also a no passing zone in the park, and of course, on the way back in when I wanted to make up time, I spent way too long behind a very slow person (I was going batshit crazy, but didn’t want to get disqualified). The other thing that really slows down the bike segment is a couple of nasty speed bumps. I heard something crack on one of them, I’m just not certain if it was my bike or my spine.

I came in at 51:05, which is a very disappointing 15.26 mph average. Of course, the big hill, the no passing zone and the speed bumps made this more challenging than other races.

My transition from bike to run was 1:54, but a lot of it was a fairly long distance into and out of the transition area so I’m not going to be too disappointed in it. I had hydrated very well and had to pee (yes again) I tried using a technique that a certain Athena triathlete many of you know told me about, but I just couldn’t pee on the grass while changing my shoes while casually chatting with the guy next to me.

I did not feel good on the run. I beat myself up pretty badly last week (this was my 2nd triathlon in 6 days with a 5K race in between) Whatever was spewing pollen just about took me out. I was actually wheezing. It was getting hot and it was a trail run which also slows things down. Oh, and I had to pee, bad.

I swear, it was the longest 5K ever, it’s like it was never going to end. We could hear the finish line but not see it. I had a bunch of people fly past me and was feeling like fail, until I realized it was the 5K and 10K race and they hadn’t just swam and biked.

The first part of the trail was freshly mowed grass (with 3-4 tall grass on the sides) and then it varied from gravel, dirt, rocks, potholes, etc… it was not a fast course, and my IT bands didn’t much care for the lateral movement. I came in at 34:32 which is an 11:06 pace. Given that I was wheezing and it was a rough trail, I guess I’ll have to take it.

I crossed the finish line at 1:40:15 which I don’t think is too bad. Hey, it’s a PR for this course and I won’t have to worry about breaking it until next year.

Of course, I got a shiny thing. (you know how much I love shiny things)

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I really enjoyed this race. The narrow no passing lanes are a pain, but with the narrow winding park roads, there really isn’t a save choice. It would have been nice if someone had checked the bike route there was some sand, gravel and even some broken glass in the bike lane (I saw one guy changing a flat tire)

I’ll be back next year.


Mood: Accomplised


Mother’s Day Triathlon-A Comedy of Errors


Yesterday (Saturday) was the Elma Mother’s Day Triathlon, my 5th Triathlon (I’m almost thinking that I can start calling myself a triathlete now.)

It was also an amazing comedy of errors.

I was none too bright yesterday morning, as was evidenced by some of my tweets/facebook updates via Twitter.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, not too hot, not too cold-perfect for a triathlon.

My friend Annie came down as well and it was good to see her. We hadn’t seen each other since the Bike MS ride last fall, and had winter stories to tell.

The start signal was a bit different than previous events; she didn’t know what it was, and I wasn’t paying attention.

So there we were, standing on the shore towards the outside of the swim start, we looked out to the water, and saw everyone else swimming.


We jump into the water, I’m to the far outside and have to cut a diagonal to get anywhere near the other swimmers and get to the buoy which marks the turn around.

She had borrowed face mask style goggles from Gene and didn’t know they needed to be spit on and they fogged up immediately.

As she was breast stroking so that she could see (when she wasn’t getting splashed in the face, she saw me and said that I looked like I knew what I was doing and was passing a lot of people. (obviously, way to the outside)

The water was cold, but nowhere near as cold as last month. I could actually get my head in the water and swim a solid crawl stroke the entire way.

I came out of the water ahead of people who have beaten me in the swim in the past, despite the rocky start.

Of course, my transition wasn’t so great.

Something had jammed up on the velcro on the neck of my wetsuit and I coudn’t get it unzipped (normally, I unzip while running and have the top half peeled down before I get to transition.

I got it unzipped, but then had problems getting my swim socks off. I knew it would add a few seconds to my transition, but I was having a “moron morning” and was laying there on my back, legs and butt in the air trying to get everything pulled off.

The bike went as well as a ride on rough chip seal rode can go. I averaged 16.2 miles per hour which is par for the course for me on this event.

I thought something was “missing”

At the turn around, I figured out what it was… the soul sucking headwind.

Usually we have head/cross winds both directions; it this case, it was a brutal headwind on the way back.

As if the first transition wasn’t enough “fail”. I struggled to get my running shoes on (socks were still a bit wet) and my right foot cramped up. I had to pull the shoe off and stretch/massage the foot. Once I had the shoes on, I realized that I almost ran off wearing my helmet.

I DID run off without my tri-belt and number which I would need to cross the finish line, so I had to run back for it adding 1:20 to my run time.


Despite the fact that I had beaten myself up on a half marathon the weekend before and on a steep hike the day before, I felt good on the run. I need to pay extra attention to my right calf as I cramped up again for the first half mile (I tore hit the same year I tore the Achilles tendon). Luckily, the cramp let up and my Achilles did not so much as twitch (it was crackling after the half marathon, but I took good care of it.)

It took me 36 minute to complete the run, taking 1:20 off for my number glitch; that’s still slower than last time. Oh well.

I came in at 1:33:00, which was slower than my last time of 1:31:02, but after the run back for my number fiasco, I’m giving myself credit and calling it 1:31:42. (Did I mention that my transitions and swim start were a comedy of errors?)

In any event, I felt good and had a great time visiting with friends.

Annie kicked butt and got 5th place for the women (actually she got 4th because the woman who got 4th had a flat tire and rode back to the park in a truck and then went and did the run yet she still placed) and got a trophy. I got an age group medal.

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Next event is Memorial Day, May 25th. It will be my one year anniversary of my first triathlon (which just happens to be the same tri on the same course) and my 6th triathlon.

I’m a little twitchy at the thought of the Olympic distance race on June 5th because the shorter swim felt long this time. Hopefully, I can get some open water swims in with Gene, Kathy and Annie (in shallow, non glacial fed lakes) later this month and will feel more confident. I have to more tris between now and then. The Memorial Day one down in Elma and then one up in Issaquah on the 30th after which I need to rush home to attend a wedding.

Now, I need to go for a swim, then clean up my filthy apartment so that the Icky Boy and I can hang out here after Pizza & Beer at the HUB.


Mood: Tired


Triathlon report Survivor Elma or “Holy Crap! That water was cold!!!


It was a dark and stormy night afternoon…

Being seriously insane I drove down to Elma (West of Olympia heading towards the coast) to do a triathlon, uh yeah… in the rain and wind and cold…

A triathlon in mid April, in Washington State.

Where the water is butt cold until July/August.

When no sane person would go there.

The good news is, I survived and every triathlon I do after this one will be better.

The weather sucked pond water.

The water was butt cold, 51 degrees (F) at the shore, likely less than that where it was deeper.

Here is all my stuff in my transition area… I wore the wetsuit, gap & gogglese for the swim and the bike jacket , bike shoes & Recoverite mix for after the race were placed under plastic because it was raining and that water bottle was used to mix my Heed)

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I thought that maybe I’d stand a chance at a trophy since obviously, no sane person would go out on a day like that, get in water that cold, then get on a bike in a cold wet trisuit, then go run in said cold wet trisuit…

I was wrong. Well over 80 people showed up for the tri.

Getting into the water was tricky. We got into our wet suits and stared at each other waiting to see who would be first.

We got in, gasped, squealed , groaned and made lots of other strange noises, and waited as long as possible to let water into our suits to warm up. One poor woman looked horrified when I explained to her that water was supposed to go in her suit for her body to warm up when she said she was trying to keep it out. “If you were meant to stay dry in it, it would be a dry suit.” About three or four other people looked at her and said, “She’s right.” (I also advised her that she would do well to take her diamond wedding ring off in a lake that cold if she doesn’t want to lose it)

Our feet were instantly numb. The worst part was putting our hands in. There we were, hunkered down in the water (it was too cold to be in the water and too cold to be out of the water), all of us holding our hands up above it. I hope someone got a picture of that; it looked ridiculous.

Uh yeah, I thought the worst part was putting our hands in.

Until I put my head in. It wasn’t so much that my face was numb, it was the worse than an ice cream headache wrapping around our skulls that we got. Even with a neoprene cap (which admittedly was too large for me as it was Gene’s) My head pounded with a sharp blinding pain every time I took more than 4 strokes with my head in the water.

I ended up having to be creative and use some very odd strokes to keep my head above water, which means my swim time sucked pond water (and took way more energy than it should have) I looked around and discovered that pretty much everyone else was doing the same thing. It was just too cold to swim normally face down for more than a few strokes.

The combination of water that cold and my chest being compressed by the neoprene wetsuit made it difficult to relax and breathe properly. This was most definitely the worst swim I ever had… in my entire life…

At least I completed the swim. (no matter how ungainly and slow) One guy had to be pulled from the water due to hypothermia. (I heard about it after the race)

Of course, the joy of a Spring triathlon is spring weather…

According to Weather Underground the air temperature was about 50 degrees at 2:00 PM when the race started. Oh, it was windy too.

So I got on my bike already chilled, wearing a cold wet trisuit and rode 13 miles in the cold wind and rain. With wind chill from the speeds I hit, that would be 32-37 degrees (F) from just riding, not counting the wind that was blowing. (for those not from the US, 32 is freezing)

Here’s the run route. If you’re viewing this on LiveJournal (why won’t LJ allow iframe html code ?) or via RSS feed where the map and/or tracks don’t show up properly, you can just click on the button below

View Interactive Map on

I brought along my softshell bike jacket and took the extra time to put it on. It saved my bacon.

My transition from swim to bike went well (this is a manually timed race, so I don’t have transition time) The wetsuit came off easily, the bike shoes went on quickly with the speed laces and I didn’t have to worry about drinking because I had the aero bottle. I actually made up time getting out onto the bike. I could tell because I was out before people who exited the water well ahead of me.

I didn’t put anything on my legs to cover them (Steve is going to have a fit when he hears that) but luckily I didn’t cramp up.

I averaged 16-something miles per hour on the ride, which is not too bad considering that it starts up a long steady hill (on a rough chip sealed road), how cold it was, how cold I was and the wind. I actually passed about 10 people on the bike.

I was oh so thankful for the areobars; there is a lot of wind on this course, especially when weather is blowing in. Oh, did I mention that it was raining?

My transition from bike to run went well, as I had speed laces on both the bike and running shoes ,was hydrated from sipping on the areobottle the whole way and had Cliffshots in my pocket.

That’s when the cold started to get me. My right calf started cramping up. (it was most certainly not a lack of water or electrolytes, I loaded up knowing this race would be tough because of the weather) Luckily, it loosened up and I was able to finish the run in 33 minutes. I know that’s slow, but it was cold, it was after a swim and bike; sadly, it’s faster than I have been running.

Here’s the run route. If you’re viewing this on LiveJournal (why won’t LJ allow iframe html code ?) or via RSS feed where the map and/or tracks don’t show up properly, you can just click on the “view larger map” link

View Larger Map

I came in at 1:31:02 which is not as fast as my last triathlon was at the end of last season, which was 1:28:something. But it was faster than my first triathlon last year (or ever) which was also on the same course and was 1:36:06. (oh, much later in the season and in much better weather)

It wasn’t the time I wanted, but I survived and I’m way ahead of where I was at this time last year.

Oh, and I got a shiny thing. Here it is, with the frigid lake in the background…

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Mood: holy crap I’m tired