Posted by: bradhammond | July 25, 2011

Seafair 2011

I did the Seafair Sprint Triathlon today (7/24/2011).  They added an Olympic distance race this year, but I decided to do the sprint again.  The main reason is that doing the exact same course as last year lets me do direct comparisons between my performance in the two years.  Also, my last race was a full ironman distance, and I wanted to do something really short and easy for a change of pace.  The first wave of the Olympic race started at 6:30, and I was in the last age-group wave of the Sprint which didn’t start until 8:00.  (I wasn’t wearing a watch, but I assume things really started at approximately the scheduled times.)


The swim is 1/2 mile, and last year I was very happy with my time of 14:06.  I have been swimming slower in practice this year, and was a bit slower at Coeur d’Alene than in my previous ironman swims, but Thursday’s swim class gave me some hope of improving.  Hardly anyone was in class, and the coach had plenty of time to explain some problems with my stroke.  He’d probably told me before that I wasn’t going deep enough when I put my hand in the water, and I know that he’d mentioned something before about  me dropping my elbow partway through the stroke, but Thursday was when it finally sunk in a bit better.  When I made the adjustments I seemed to be able to go a bit faster, and I confirmed this with some open water practice on Friday and Saturday.

Watching some of the earlier waves, it appeared to me that the best spot to start was at the far right side of the starting line, so that is where I lined up.  I recognized one good swimmer in my wave from previous races, and I had hoped to draft off him, but he lined up at the far left side.  I immediately pulled away from the swimmers who were close to me, and I didn’t end up doing much drafting at all.  I had to sight fairly often, and I came pretty close to the volunteers who were out on surfboards.  I focused on my stroke adjustments a lot, and felt pretty comfortable.  I zigzagged quite a bit on the last stretch.  It seemed like I hadn’t been in the water all that long when I got to the finish.  My swim split was 13:35, a 31 second improvement from last year!


As soon as I got into the transition area I lay on the ground and pulled off my wetsuit, then I carried it while I ran to the place where my bike was racked.  (It was pretty crowded between the bike racks.)  I set down my wetsuit and goggles, and got my helmet on.  I had fastened my shoes to the pedals, so as soon as my helmet was on I grabbed my bike and ran for the exit.  Time 1:40, 7 seconds faster than last year!


I had a slightly slow bike start while I struggled to get my feet into the bike shoes, but pretty soon I was pedaling after people as fast as I could.  There were tons of people from earlier waves out on the bike course, and I sped past a lot of them.  Climbing up to the I-90 bridge, I could see the fast swimmer I had wanted to draft off.  I passed him early on the bridge, but by the turnaround point I still hadn’t opened up a very large gap.  I pushed really hard to catch and pass more people on the way back, hoping not to get stuck behind anyone really slow during the short “no-passing” zone.  I caught my breath and sipped some more water as I followed someone a bit slower down the “no-passing” part of the hill, then I got back into passing lots of people.  I don’t think I got passed by anyone during the ride.  There were some great views of Mt. Rainier during the ride, and the weather seemed perfect to me!  Time 34:00 for 12 miles, a 27 second improvement over last year!


I had slipped my feet out of the bike shoes during the last few hundred yards of riding, so all I had to do in transition was rack my bike, take off my helmet, and put the running shoes on.  I tried to run pretty fast as I was going through the transition area. Time 1:12, a 14 second improvement over last year!


The run is pretty flat for almost 2 miles, then there is a long hill that we run up and down, with about .3 miles of flat after the hill.  The road is pretty curvy, and I was trying to run the tangents and not do extra distance.  There was a guy ahead of me in an orange hat doing the same thing, and he seemed to be going at a pretty good pace for me to follow.  We passed lots of other runners, and I would get pretty close to him, but he kept pulling away.  I pushed hard on the uphill and caught up to him, but I didn’t actually pass him until the final downhill stretch.  A few moments later another runner (a 50 year old) went rocketing past us both.  The orange hat guy passed me back in the last .2 of a mile, but I managed to sprint past him for good in the last 50 yards.  Time 22:59 for 3.1 miles, a 51 second improvement over last year!


My final time was 1:13:26, 2:09 faster than last year!  I finished 43 out of 574 overall and 1st out of 13 in my age group!  Moving up to a new age group does make it easier to place – if I was still in the 50-54 age group I would have been 4th again, instead I won my age group by over 4 minutes.



  1. Congrats, Brad!! Sounds as if you had fun and found it really rewarding to improve in lots of little ways, that all add up! Great job.
    Your sister, Lark

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