Posted by: bradhammond | June 23, 2013

Tri-Monroe Race Report

I raced in the Tri-Monroe Sprint Triathlon today (6/22/2013) in Monroe, Washington.  To be more precise, I raced in the non-drafting amateur sprint race.  There were actually 6 other races on the same course today: Elite Youth Females (13 – 15), Elite Youth Males (13 – 15), Junior Elite Females (16 – 19), Junior Elite Males (16 – 19), Under 25 Female Elite Developmental, and Under 25 Male Elite Developmental.  All of the other races were draft legal, and limited to people less than half my age – I watched the first two, and some of those 13 – 15 year olds go really fast! The race distances varied, but for my race the advertised distances were: Swim 375 meters, Bike 18.5 Km, Run 5 Km.  I did this race last year, and I was a little disappointed in my run split but pretty happy with my overall race; my goal for this year was to come  close to last year’s time and try to win my age group again.

My race was the first of the day, starting at 7:00 am, so I got up before 4:30 to start getting ready.  They closed the road into the parking area at 6, and I got there about 10 minutes before that.  I picked up my packet, set up my stuff in the transition area, and made one last bathroom visit before I put on my wetsuit and did a short warmup swim.  The water was warm, but there was so much fog that it was almost impossible to see the course.  When I got out of the water, they were giving pre-race instructions in the transition area, so I listened to the end of that, and headed over to the start with everyone else.


We lined up on the beach and strained to see the buoys that we would swim around.  There were numbered starting slots, and a guy near me announced that his birthday was on the 24th, so he was standing on the 24.  I said that since my birthday is on the 22nd, I might as start on the 22, and a bunch of other people filled in all around us.  I did some deep breathing to relax, and then they started the race.  I tried to get off to a fast start, and I didn’t get stuck behind anyone slower.  Everyone seemed to be going in the same direction, so I didn’t worry about not being able to see the buoys, and just went with the flow.  For swim form, I focused on keeping my elbows high and out to the side as I pulled through.  I tried to pull hard with each stroke, but not rush the cadence like I would in an all-out sprint.  I managed to make it around the buoys without colliding with anyone.  After rounding the second buoy, I got behind a guy in a red and black wetsuit, and tried to stay close behind his feet and just follow the bubble trail instead of trying to sight the finish.  I came charging out of the water feeling like I had a good swim.  My swim split was 8:52, vs. 6:42 last year, but I think the buoys must have been farther away this year.  Last year the top 3 finishers had swim splits of about 5 minutes (5:03, 5:01, 4:57) while this years top 3 had swim splits of (7:11, 7:51, 8:10).  Placing the buoys seems to be a fairly inexact piece of work at the local races I have done.  Although I used an additional 2:10, I actually trailed the leaders by a smaller percentage this year, so I think I swam just as well as last year.


I had already started pulling off my wetsuit before I got into the transition area.  When I got my bike I lay on my back and finished pulling my legs out.  I saw a guy in a Pro Club Tri Team uniform (Thomas Goos) and I was encouraged that I had almost caught up to him in transition. I put on my helmet and ran out with my bike.  Time: 0:53, nice improvement from 1:16 last year!


The bike course is on a 4 lane road that is closed to traffic.  Basically, it is 4 laps with U-turns at each end.  Last year there was this odd little loop going through parking lots to go around a school building, which added 6 90 degree turns to each lap (in addition to the 2 U-turns).  This year they did away with that, so bike handling skills were less of a factor, and it was easier to keep a consistent speed.  I’m not sure if they changed where the turn-around points were to keep the total distance the same, but even if they did, this year’s bike course should be faster.  Last year the fastest bike split was 30:10, but someone did it in 28:19 this year.

I ran out past the mount line and got started without any problems.  I spent a few hundred yards getting up to speed before I fastened the velcro on my bike shoes.  I started sipping water fairly early and kept taking little sips through out the ride.  I managed to catch and pass 2 guys before I got to the first U-turn.  I was breathing hard, exhaling quite forcefully, grunting like some of the women tennis pros – I wasn’t sneaking up on anybody.  Soon after I completed my first lap I passed several more people, but from that point on I could be passing people who were on the same lap as me, or people who were a lap behind, so I didn’t bother counting them.  Nobody passed me at all, and every time I came up behind someone I was able to pass them right away.  I was working very hard, but it was a fun ride! After my 4 laps, I could see the rider in front of me, so I didn’t have any trouble turning in the right spots to get through the parking lot and to the dismount line.  Time: 31:24  vs 34:07 last year.  A faster course, but I also feel that I rode better.  I compared my time to Goos, who came in 4th overall and had the 2nd fastest bike split both years, and this year I was only 1:40 slower vs. 2:14 slower last year.


I ran in as fast as I could, and I saw the guy in the blue tri-suit who finished the bike right before me.  I was hoping to pass him in transition, but I was still putting on my running shoes as he ran out.  Another guy left T2 at the same time as me – I think he finished just behind me on the bike and caught up in transition.  Time 1:05 vs 0:55 last year – I’m slower at getting my running shoes on now, darn!


Well, the guy who was right beside me leaving T2 hesitated as we approached a left turn onto our 2 loop run course, so I passed him, but I expected him to be passing me back pretty soon.  I could see the guy in blue getting further away, but I thought I might have a chance to catch up with the guy he was passing.  I managed to open up a gap on the man behind me, and took some pride that so far nobody had passed me during the run.  I managed to keep that true for the first lap, but just after I finished lap 1 a tall man with age 41 on his leg went past going a lot faster than me.  Within another 50 yards I got passed again, this time by a 15 year old girl (1st woman overall).  She was also going a lot faster than me.  I was getting really close to that guy I thought I could catch, though.  First I saw him look at his watch, and I thought “He’s hurting, I should be able to catch him.”  Then, as the 15 year old girl was passing him, he looked back when he heard the footsteps.  They were both wearing uniforms from the Snohomish Triathlon team, and they high-fived as she passed him.  I caught up to him and passed him soon after that.  He was in his early thirties – I love it when I catch up to a younger guy on the run!  I still had about 3/4 of a lap to go, and I tried to keep my pace up all the way to the finish.  Time: 24:11 vs. 24:44 last year, over 30 seconds faster!  About 7:48 pace on the run – I’ll take it.


Well, I managed to win my age group again.  I might have been the only one in it.  But I also had a faster time than the 50-54 age group winner, and finished 11th overall.  (Out of 40 starters, 38 finishers.)  I got slower at putting on my running shoes, but I really think I did better at everything else, so I am very happy with the race.  My quads are really sore from that bike ride.  I took a cooling dip after I finished, and I spent a lot of time stretching, but I am sore now and expecting feel a bit worse tomorrow.  If anyone has tips for minimizing post-race soreness, let me know.  Well, I know that going slower would work, but that’s not an option that I am interested in!

So why do I do these small races?  I’ll admit that just finishing the race is not enough to give me a feeling of accomplishment – I go longer distances than today’s race in almost every training ride, run, or swim that I do.  The feeling of accomplishment is from trying to do it as fast as I can, whatever distance I am taking on.  I can have fun whether I am racing with thousands, hundreds, or just tens.  If I have a bad race in a short one, I can shrug it off easier, as I’ll get another chance in a matter of weeks.  If something goes wrong in a big, long race, then I don’t know when I’ll get another chance to do better at that distance, so I enjoy scheduling some shorter races each year.  They give me a good chance at being happy with my racing, and the risk / cost is fairly low!



  1. I understand and agree with “..I can have fun whether I am racing with thousands, hundreds, or just tens.” I also get a great feeling of accomplishment when I’m able to best “young guys in their 30’s”.

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