Posted by: bradhammond | September 19, 2010

Kirkland Triathlon 2010

Well, this was my last triathlon for the year, and my last in the 50-54 age group.  That’s probably a good thing, as this age group just seems to get tougher and tougher every year!  This is my 4th year in a row of doing the Kirkland Triathlon and in previous years I had never managed to finish in the top 3 of my age group or in the top 100 overall, but I keep hoping and trying!  Kirkland has a very hilly bike course, and the weather forecasts were predicting some rain today, so I was a bit nervous.


I got up a early and had my normal prerace breakfast of milk and granola.  This year’s race wasn’t starting until 8 (first wave, my wave was at 8:45) so I didn’t even leave my house until after 6:30.  I found a good parking spot just a little ways uphill from the transition area, and rode my bike down.  My bike rack was fairly full when I got there, but I squeezed my bike in and set up my stuff.  There had been a lot of rain in the night, and all the ground around my bike rack was wet and muddy.  There was a little bit of sprinkling this morning, but that stopped and I don’t think a single drop of rain fell during the race!  I chatted with a few of the people who were racked close to me in transition, and then I hung out with Chris until the start of the race.


I had originally planned on finding one of the people in my wave who swam about a minute faster than me last year and trying to draft off them this year, but the people I knew of weren’t doing the race this year.  One of the men I had been talking with had said the swim was his best part, and I thought his name was vaguely familiar from looking at past results, so I decided to start out drafting him.  Within 100 yards or so I decided that I could go a bit faster, so I started drafting people for a little ways and then moving up to another pair of feet.  I made it all the way to the first buoy without bothering to sight, just trusting the people I drafted to be going the right way.

After the first turn it got spread out quite a bit, and I often didn’t have anyone to draft.  I sighted fairly often and kept pretty well on course.  I passed a bunch of yellow cap swimmers who had started in the wave 5 minutes earlier just before the second turn.  After the second turn, it was a matter of trying to swim a straight line back to the swim exit.  I drafted some, passed a few slower swimmers, and made sure I kept swimming until it was very shallow and I was very close to the exit.  I felt pretty good during the swim, but wished that I had started a little faster.

My swim split was 15:16 for 1/2 mile, which was 20 seconds slower than last year, but reasonably close.  The guy I started out drafting had beaten me by a few seconds in last years swim, but I beat him by 15 seconds this year, so I think my initial decision to try following him was reasonable and deciding to leave him was definitely the right choice.


I had just finished pulling off my wetsuit when the guy I had started out drafting came into transition.  He asked how my swim was, and I gave a quick answer like “Good, but I’ve gotta go now!” and hustled out of there.  Time 1:58 was 6 seconds faster than last year.


I lost a bit of time at the start of the bike: I had my bike shoes attached to the pedals, and started by sliding in my left foot as usual.  Unfortunately the right shoe caught on the ground and snapped off the pedal as I was doing my initial acceleration, so I had to do a U-turn, go back for it, and get it on my foot.  Pretty soon I was riding full speed down Lake Washington Boulevard and passing lots of people.  I passed Chris on this early stretch and figured she must be going a bit slower than last year.  Nobody passed on the bike except for one guy in his 40’s who passed me back in the first mile.  I thought “You think you’re faster than me?  I don’t think so!”  and pretty soon I passed him again and left him far behind.

I have always had hundreds of people starting before me in this race, and it is often difficult to work my way past them.  Today I just seemed to have really good luck in that regard, as every time I came up behind a group of slower riders I got a good opportunity to pass them right away.  I did a lot of standing up on the hills, and a bit of coasting and resting on some of the downhills.  Because of the downhill followed by sharp turn in a few places, it isn’t always worth the effort to pedal hard on the downhills.  Coming down the final long hill I coasted up behind a 45 year old and sort of wanted to pass him, but there wasn’t really enough room, so I was content to follow him into transition.  Time 38:21 – 3 seconds faster than last year – I’m quite happy with that considering my U-turn for the bike shoe and the fact that I was biking really well last season!


Pretty uneventful; the transition area was like a swamp, with mud everywhere, but I just jammed my muddy feet into my running shoes and took off.  I came out of transition right behind the 45 year old I had followed in.  Time 1:26 – 5 seconds faster than last year.


The run course started with a section on a path and muddy grass that followed the edge of the transition area, and I was content to just hand behind that guy until we reached the pavement, at which point I passed him and a few other people.  I could see another 45 year old in a blue and white tri-suit up ahead, and I tried to catch up with him.  He kept passing groups of people and I would lose sight of him until I passed the people as well.  It seemed like he was pulling away a little bit, but not going that much faster than me.  At about the halfway point on the run I started getting a lot of pain in the right side of my abdomen – I’m not sure whether this is related to food in my gut, or whether it just means I need stronger core muscles, but it was just like the run at Seafair.

Up until this point I had not been passed on the run, but before we got to the 2 mile mark I got passed by a man in his 40’s.  I tightened my core muscles and kept telling myself that the pain would stop as soon as I finished running, so I might as well try to make it quick.  Somewhere in the last mile another runner passed me – a  40 year old woman – and I started pressing really hard to try and stay with her.  I saw a blue and white trisuit up ahead and thought it was the 45 year old I had been following earlier, but as I got closer I could see that this was a woman, so obviously just a similar uniform.  I didn’t quite catch her before the finish line.  Then I stopped running and my gut stopped hurting, as promised!  Time 22:33 – 4 seconds faster than last year.  I was just a little bit disappointed in the run.  My best run split for Kirkland was 22:08, two years ago, and I was struggling through some running injuries last year.  This year my achilles was just fine, but I think the gut pains slowed me down a bit.


My total time of 1:19:34 was one second slower than last year, and the swim was the only thing I did slower, so I am happy enough with the time.  I still didn’t place in the top 3 in my age group, but I managed to finish in top 100!

Year    Time    Age Group Place   Over all Place

2007     1:26:27       7 / 27                 162 / 728

2008     1:21:26        4 / 22                  109 / 901

2009     1:19:33        5 / 24                  108 / 799

2010     1:19:34        8 / 27                     65 / 572

My age group is definitely getting very tough – 2 of the top 10 overall were 50 year old men!  I beat everybody who was older than me, but there was one other 54 year old who beat me – looks like I might have a good shot at placing in my age group next year!



  1. Great race Brad! Of the 20 women in my age group (small group!), 7 were in the 10 top for all women. So, despite being 12/20 in my division, I was only a couple of minutes out of it for the women. Now, for the racers as a whole? Not so good. LOL

    • Actually, not. You were looking at the top 10 Masters women (e.g. women 40 and over) although women from your age group did come in 2nd, 5th, and 10th for all women which is still very good!

  2. Great race Brad. You will muck all over those 55 yr olds next year. Keep training your asss off and do some more planks.

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