Posted by: bradhammond | June 19, 2010

5 Mile Lake Triathlon

On June 19 I raced in the 5 Mile Lake Triathlon – a sprint distance race in Auburn, WA.  There is a 1/4 mile swim, a 14 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run.  The weather was damp and chilly, just like most of spring has been this year.

Prerace:

During the week before the race, they posted a list of the people entered, and I scanned it looking for possible competitors in the 50-54 age group.  One name I recognized right away was Andrew Neff, who just turned 50 this year and was the overall winner in several races during his 40’s, so I figured I was probably racing for 2nd in my age group.  Since I have no control over what fast people enter the same race as me, I didn’t worry about it.

The race was scheduled to start at 8 am, and by the time I parked it was after 7, so I felt like I was striking a pretty good balance between being late enough to get a little worried and get my adrenaline flowing and being early enough to get my race number and get properly set up in transition, warmed up, etc.  As soon as I entered transition I saw my friend Emily from triathlon swim class at the Pro Club.  I’m often in the same lane with her, so it was nice to see a familiar face, and we wished each other good luck.

At first my bike rack was severely crowded.  I noticed that one of the bikes had a number that meant it should be in the next rack, and we eventually applied enough persuasion to get that woman to move her bike.  I went for a short warmup swim in the lake – the water was pretty comfortable, but you couldn’t see anything at all underwater.  I finished in time for the last part of the prerace briefing, and then we all walked over to the swim start.

I was in the second of 4 waves, and I overheard one of the men in my wave saying that swimming was his best part.  He had done 52 minutes for an Ironman swim, and expected to be about 6 minutes for this, so I figured that starting right behind him in the second row was a pretty good spot for me.

Swim:

I tried to draft off the guy in front of me and not be on top of his legs too much.  I stayed reasonably close for a while, and then after I got to the first buoy and turned I found another pair of feet to follow.  Something in the water (minerals?) made it look reddish and I could only see about 18 inches, but I stuck to this pair of feet all the way to the second buoy.  After we turned the last corner and headed in to the beach I had to sight several times since the beach markers were not as visible as the big orange floats.  I fell in behind 2 guys who were swimming side by side, and I really enjoyed that draft!  I wasn’t winning my swim wave, but it seemed like I was only 20 yards or so behind the lead group, so I was really happy with the swim leg.

Transition 1:

There was a pretty long run – maybe 30 seconds – from the beach up to the transition area, and for a few seconds I considered flopping on the grass there to pull out of the wetsuit, since it wasn’t crowded and I wouldn’t be in anyones way.  (This would have added to my swim time and made the transition time look faster…)  I just did it by the bike rack, though, and just as I was finishing the guy who had his bike racked at the end showed up.  He seemed surprised to see me there, and said “Good swim!”.  I wished him good luck, snapped on my helmet and ran away as fast as I could!  I had my shoes attached to the bike, so it was just: wetsuit off, helmet on, go!

Bike:

I slipped my left foot into my bike shoe and started biking with my right foot just on top of that shoe.  After a couple hundred yards to get up to speed I coasted while I slipped my right foot inside the shoe and fastened the velcro straps on both shoes.  Soon after that I was passing the first of what would eventually be many fellow racers.  The bike course is 2 laps around a 7 mile road course.  There aren’t any steep hills, although I did shift into my small chainring at least once on each lap.  I wasn’t wearing a watch, so I couldn’t tell how fast I was going, but I think there were only 3 guys who passed me on my first lap.

My sense of distance really sucks!  All through the first lap I was thinking I had gone farther than I really had.  When I started passing things I had seen on my drive to the race I was thinking “Almost done with lap 1!” and I had only done about 5 miles.  I had a few sips of water, but not too much.  I was worried about things sloshing in my belly, but I figured dehydration was less likely than hypothermia!  Actually, I was so excited that I didn’t really feel cold, even though my hands and feet were numb.

Eventually I was on my second lap, and I was immediately passing women.  All of the women were in the 3rd and 4th waves, i.e. 5 or 10 minutes after I started, and I got to pass lots of women during my second lap.  I think there was only one guy who passed me in the second lap.  Since I knew that no men started later than me, I was thinking “So where have you been all race if you’re only passing me now?”

I got a little short on breath a few times, and I got my legs feeling tired on the longer uphill slopes, but overall I felt really good!  On my second lap I had a much better idea of how much was left.  I slipped my feet out and rode with feet on top of my shoes for the last 1/4 mile, so that I could save some time in transition.  After the dismount we ran on the grass for the length of the transition area and entered in the same direction as after swimming.

Transition 2:

I didn’t have any trouble finding my spot, and I was thrilled to be putting my bike on a totally empty rack!  I have sometimes had problems with cramping while putting on the running shoes, so I did that sitting down.  I had them on pretty quick, though, and slid my race belt so that my number was in front as I ran to the transition exit.

Run:

When I was walking from my parking spot to the park I had seen a bunch of red arrows on a path, so I was kind of expecting to turn left and follow them, but I would shout “Which way” as I approached each place that I though of turning, and people pointed me to the right, just like the bike course.  As soon as I got onto the main road outside the park I passed a young guy who was having problems.  Soon a guy in his 40’s came up behind me and we chatted briefly before he pulled away some.  Mostly I talked about how I couldn’t feel my feet at all!

I’m not sure how good my running form was today – I think it suffers a little when my feet are totally numb.  After a few hundred yards of running on adrenaline, I tried to keep a fairly high cadence and focused on lifting my heels up towards my butt for a while.  I guessed that my heartrate was probably fairly high – wasn’t wearing my monitor – and I was hoping I was about half way through when I saw 1M painted on the road.  I thought “This even seemed like way more than a mile when I did it on the bike!”  Oh well, I know I keep getting slower (both year by year and mile by mile of races) so I just tried to hold my pace the best I could.  Eventually a few guys in their 20’s and 30’s passed me, and I thought “Don’t get discouraged!  Those guys are way younger, and most of them got a 5 minute headstart!  You’re kicking butt, so just finish strong!”  (Note: talking to myself in the 2nd person doesn’t mean I’m crazy!  I hope…)

Eventually I got to that 2M painted on the road, and I could see an intersection where we would rejoin the bike route.  There were a few people 200 yards ahead that I thought I might have a chance of catching, so I pushed pretty hard.  As I got closer, I saw that one of the men was fairly bald, so I thought “He might be in my age group; I’ve got to try and reel him in!”  As I was passing I noticed he was only 43, and I passed another 43 year old about 10 seconds later.  At this point I couldn’t see anyone else that I had a chance of catching up to, but I really wanted to open up a gap on these guys and convince them I was a stronger runner.  I pulled away steadily and soon I was re-entering the park.

At this point I was directed onto those paths I had seen before.  There was a couple hundred yards of extra looping around past what I had thought as I approached the corner, but I felt strong and ran hard all the way.  There was noone close to me at the finish, so I smiled and put up my hands!

Postrace:

It started raining fairly hard after I had finished.  I got some refreshments, put on a sweatshirt, and tried to find a little shelter while I snacked.  They had some preliminary results posted fairly quickly!  They had me listed as 22nd overall (out of 226 finishers), and 1/8 in my age group!  (Neff hadn’t shown up – I can only race the people that are there!)  My time was 1:10:30, and the winner’s time was 1:00:57, so I was quite happy with my time and placing!

I just found results posted on the internet, so I’ll comment on my splits…

22 Bradley Hammond 414 54 M 34 6:11.7 24:44 0:57.3 21 39:36.1 21.2 0:56.9 66 22:48.3 7:21 1:10:30.3

Swim split of 6:11.7  – who knows if the course is really a 1/4 mile, but that’s a great time for me if accurate!  and it includes that run up from the beach.

T1: 57.33 seconds – that’s pretty good!

Bike: 39:36 , 21.2 mph – only 1 mph slower than the winner, so I won’t complain about that!

T2: 56.9 seconds – a bit slow, but at least I didn’t cramp up and keel over while putting on my shoes…

Run: 22:48, 7:21 pace – I would really like to run faster than this, but it doesn’t seem to be happening.  Some minor discomfort in my abdomen and a few twinges in my legs, but no major problems.  Maybe I can take a few seconds off my pace if I keep at it and do another short race.

Overall, I am real happy with this!  Also, I was actually 1/11 in my age group – some of them hadn’t finished when the preliminary results were prepared.  I was first in my age group in Swim, T1, and Bike; 4th in T2 and 5th in run.

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