Posted by: bradhammond | September 11, 2011

No Clothes in Sept.

That’s what the sign said on the way back from my race this morning. This was just after passing the “Cowgirl Espresso” stand which had its own suggestive signage, and I thought “Wow, the zoning laws here must be pretty darn permissive!” Since I had to wait for the traffic light anyway, I took a closer look at the building which had no visible windows. Signage on the door identified the building as a community center (sure…) and said something about clothing donations.  It is unclear to me whether they are not giving or not accepting clothes for this month, but either way not what I thought at first! Now on to the race report…


My last tri for this season was the Lake Stevens Sprint Triathlon. My back problems have kept me from doing any hard training for the last month, so my expectations were a lot lower for this race. Twice this week (Wed. and Thursday) I started to run and got less than .1 miles before the sciatic nerve pain in my glutes and hamstrings convinced me that running was not a good idea. I felt fine swimming and biking, but running totally sucked. I had a chiropractor visit Friday morning, and hoped that it would help me be able to finish the race.

I got to Lake Stevens in plenty of time, picked up my race packet and started setting up my bike in transition. I saw Larry Clarke setting up at the same bike rack and I figured my chances of winning the 55-59 age group were pretty slim – he can usually kick my ass when I’m totally healthy, never mind when I’m not running well. I don’t think he knew who I was even though we raced against each other just 2 weeks ago, but I look at lots of race results online and had identified him as someone really fast several years ago. I noticed an “Ironman World Championship 1999” race number around his top tube – if I ever did Kona I might leave the number on my bike forever – but I wondered if he’s really been using the same bike for 12 years.


The 1/4 mile swim was straight out and back, and my age group was in the second wave. I started right next to Larry and started drafting behind him after the first 50 yards. This worked really well, because when the first wave was passing us in the opposite direction I didn’t have to worry about head-on collisions. On the way back we were passing a lot of people from the first wave, but we got separated and he beat me back by a few seconds. Time 8:24, 26/209 over all.


I managed to pass Larry in T1 – he was sitting down putting on his bike shoes, and mine were clipped onto my pedals, so I snapped on my helmet and ran out before he finished. Time 55 seconds was faster than most.


I went a bit slower for the first 20 or 30 seconds as I got my feet properly into my bike shoes and the velcro straps closed. Larry passed me pretty early, but within a minute I was passing him back and trying to put some distance between us. There was a nice hill to climb, and I stood up for most of it, passing several riders. I tried to keep going really hard over the top, knowing that I could rest pretty soon. After about 10 seconds or so of descent I was going so fast there was no point in pedaling – enjoyed a nice coast while I caught my breath and kept in the aero bars.

It was an out-and-back bike course, so I started counting riders when I saw the first one coming back towards me. By my count there were only 17 riders in front of me when I got to the u-turn cone, and I passed one more soon after that. Pretty good, considering the first wave had a 3 minute head start! Climbing the hill on the way back I passed two more people to move into 15th, but  the guy with the disk wheel passed me back after the bottom of the hill. I wiggled my feet out of the shoes in the last couple hundred yards and followed the disk wheel guy into T2. Time 28:00 (12/209 overall) for a pretty hilly 10 miles, and I beat Larry by over 30 seconds, so I was really happy with my bike ride!


I couldn’t tell if I was passing people in T2 or not, but I came out right between two younger men. Time 43 seconds seems ok.


It didn’t take long for the guy who followed me out of T2 to run past and leave me far behind, but I felt pretty good and even passed someone in the first half mile! Larry passed me at about the 1 mile mark, and I yelled “Go Larry!”, so I figure he’ll probably recognize and remember me when we race next year. Then some young 50 year old all in black passed me too, and I tried to stay as close as I could.

Soon there were runners coming back at me, but I didn’t bother trying to count them. When I saw Larry and the 50 year old coming towards me I knew I was almost to the turn-around. I didn’t bother to get water, just a quick u-turn and I got to see the people closing in on me. There was a young woman I didn’t recognize, a few more men, and then Stacia who had made up the wave differential and passed me in the run 3 weeks ago. I figured they might be passing me pretty soon, but I managed to hold them off until the last corner and the 50 yard sprint to the finish. I could hear people saying “First woman” as I neared the finish area, and when we turned the last corner Stacia passed me on the right and the younger woman passed me on the left. The 16 year old girl was part of a relay, and she beat me to the line by 2 seconds and Stacia beat me to the line by 1 second! The race announcer thought it was very exciting. Time: 25:33 for 5K, about 7:53 per mile and 41/207 overall (2 DNF’s) Usually I would be very bummed out about a run split like that, but I haven’t been able to run hard in training for at least 4 weeks, and it wouldn’t have surprised me at all to do much worse.


I finished 15 / 207 overall, counting the relay team that beat me by two seconds. 2 / 4 in my age group doesn’t sound too impressive, but I was less than 2 minutes behind Larry, and almost 18 minutes ahead of 3rd in our age group, so I feel pretty good about it.


I had a good chat with Larry after the race – I asked him he was still doing Iron distance races, and he said he does one every 3 or 4 years. I wish I’d asked if his bike was really that old, but forgot to. He introduced me to his wife, and we all commiserated that older age groups were pretty competitive – the people who quit the sport when they get older all seem to be the slow ones instead of the faster ones… Then I drove home and read the signboard saying “No Clothes in Sept.” A good day, a good way to end the season, and now I’ll take some time to heal up so I can train hard again.


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