Issaquah Sprint: Return of the Bec

Recently I did the Issaquah sprint for the first time since 2008. It was my first triathlon of the season and the first race I was doing without my Big Friendly Giant racing alongside (meaning ahead) of me. Jason had signed up to do the Boise 70.3, which was a week after Issaquah, so he served as my cheering squad and gear sherpa for the day.

I signed up for the event when I arrived, so no awesome shwag for me. Oh well, I have enough crappy finisher’s t-shirts to last me a while. I puttered over to my transition spot to set up my crap while the race organizers blasted the sleepiest “pump you up” music ever. After hearing Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and a mini-marathon of Police songs, I wondered whether I should be racing or watching an end-of-the-episode, post-breakup clip montage from Dawson’s Creek.

That Joey Potter is a real heartbreaker.

The girl racked next to me realized she didn’t have a pair of goggles, so I lent her an extra that I had. We joked about the less-than-stellar music playlist before I headed out for a warm up run. I jogged down to the swim start and realized how different the race was set up this year compared to when I did it back in 2008. For one, we were swimming at a different beach. The transition area was also set up pretty far away from the swim exit, so it was going to be a longish T1.

After getting lubed up and pulling my wetsuit on, I got in the water to do a half-ass warm up swim. Sweet jesus, that lake was cold. It was colder than Greenlake, which I had swam in earlier that week. Rebecca no likey. “Oh well,” I thought, “I can survive a measly 400 meters. Remember when you swam 2.4 miles in August? Sure, you were 10 lbs lighter and in better race shape, but this won’t be so bad! Plus, it’s not even your ‘A’ race so stop giving a shit and just get this nonsense over with.”

Roughly fifteen hundred wave starts later, it was finally time for my group to get in the water. I squirted out one last pre-race pee before the air gun went off. Time to race!

Swim Summary

I took off amid a cluster of females, my nerves and adrenaline propelling me along at a fast (for me, anyway), unsustainable pace. I swam for a while, and when I eventually looked up, I realized that the group I thought I was keeping up with had, as usual, left me behind. Boo. My swim felt kind of tired and lethargic, which was a big ol’ bummer because I had a good pool workout earlier in the week and a decent open water swim. Of course my arms chose race day to be all, “Screw this, we’re tired.” It was at that point I decided that 400 meter swims suck. I only have one swim speed, which is “mediocre.” That speed becomes more embarrassing the shorter the distance.

Swim time: 0:09:22 (2:20/100 meters)

Wow, talk about tragic. Even though I was faster than my first attempt at this race three years ago, I was really disappointed when I crawled out of the water and glanced at my watch. I had expected to be a minute to 90 seconds faster (even 30 seconds on the slow end). Later, however, I found out from a couple people that the swim course was most likely measured wrong and that we had swum more than 400 meters. My teammate Kim compared swim times from this year to previous years and saw that they were 30 seconds to a minute slower, so that made me feel better.

Transition 1

I waddle-jogged up the long path from the beach to the transition area and made it to my rack. Thanks to my new concoction of Glide, hair conditioner, and wetsuit spray, I was able to get my suit off rather quickly for the first time since I bought the damn thing two seasons ago. I yanked on my helmet, sunglasses and shoes and shoomed out of transition in 2:50. Not too shabby considering how far we had to go to get in and out.

Me (and my sexy armpit fat) biking out of transition

Bike Summary

I wasn’t terribly fond of the bike out path from the transition area — it involved going over grass, dirt, roots, gravel, and a bunch of other crap that could easily take out my tire and make me never want to race this sprint triathlon again. Once I got out onto the road, I was less than thrilled to see that the first part of the bike involved having to share the crappy little bike lane with the other racers, which made passing incredibly difficult (I did it anyway because I didn’t want to get stuck behind slower cyclists — this is a race, after all). I finally got out onto open road and pedaled with my little stump legs.

After a very “meh” climb and some gradual inclines, I turned around and headed back to transition. The way back is mostly downhill with the exception of the token hill again, so I tried to duck down and get some speed as I pedaled back to the park. As I got closer and closer, I tensed up and kept expecting to hear the hiss of my tire as it flattened in the same spot as before, but thankfully I survived the bike with no issues.¬†Once I got back to the park, the other racers and I had to wind around on a stupid narrow path to get back into transition. It slowed us all down and was ridiculously awkward, and I cursed the race once again for its poor course outline.

Bike time: 0:43:07 (20.87 mph).

Fastest bike split in my age group. Yaay! I felt pretty good on the bike and thought I could have pushed it a bit more, but since my run has been a bit weaker lately, I figured it was wise to leave a little gas in the tank.

Transition 2

In and out in 52 seconds, with Jason shouting words of encouragement at me. Huzzah.

Run Summary

Here’s where it all fell apart. Since this was a sprint triathlon, I figured my Zoot racing flats would suffice (even though I need to replace them) because they’re easy to slip on and I wouldn’t have to run far. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that the run course had changed almost completely since I had last raced in 2008. Before the course took you through a business park, along the bike course on the sidewalk, and through a grassy soccer field before looping back to the finish.

This year, on the other hand, we ran on almost no pavement at all. I emerged from the park and hit a bumpy, gravelly dirt trail. I ran on that for a while and almost immediately scored a nice pebble in my shoe (which rattled around for the remainder of the run) before the course switched to a grass path. After plodding along on that for a bit, I saw that the grass path led to a muddy as shit and slippery trail. Since my Zoots have zero tread or grip on them, I half ran/half slid through the mud piles, stepping as gingerly and as cautiously as I could in order to avoid rolling an ankle or slipping and falling. Needless to say, this run course was slowing me down by quite a bit, and I wasn’t happy about it at all.

Eventually I hit one of two different crappy turnaround points, so I made my way out of the muddy trail and back onto the grass, where I had to do another out and back in some bullshit field before finally heading back towards the park and that sweet sweet pavement. I rounded the corner to the finish, happy to be done with this cursed run course.

Run time: 0:25:14 (8:24/min mile pace)

Not what I wanted by a long shot. I was hoping for sub-8s (pre-injury healthy I could probably bust out lowish 7’s) but was totally unprepared for this new run course (it may not have been new that year, but it was new to me and I didn’t expect it to have changed so dramatically). Had I known about it, I probably would have worn my trail running shoes and taken a little extra time in transition to get those clunkers on. I was not at all comfortable running in my Zoot flats on that terrain; in fact, the next day my feet were sore as shit because those shoes don’t have the type of support and stability that I need for that type of course. Blerg.

Total time: 1:21:23, which was good enough for 5th in my division out of 43 girls.

Well, it was definitely a course personal best, but I wasn’t completely thrilled with my performance. I thought my swim was slow (this was before I heard that the swim course was most likely measured wrong) and my run was a disaster. The girl who took 1st in my age group did a 1:19:46, which was a bummer because it definitely isn’t an unattainable time for me. Oh well, maybe next time (if there is a next time for me — not a huge fan of this race).

I am so special.

I struggled with a range of emotions after this race (which I’ll chronicle in a separate post). On one hand it felt good to shake off the cobwebs and get my first triathlon of the season out of the way, but I felt a bit frustrated with individual aspects of the race. Chalk it up to me being my own worst enemy, I guess. I’m in such a different mindset this season compared to last year when I was training for an Ironman — I’m slower, fatter, and, inexplicably, more tired. At this point I’ve tried to refocus my goals and just have fun this season in order to take some pressure off my shoulders, and maybe that will set me up to have a better, more positive mentality going into running season and to prep for 2012.

I’m not sure if I’ll race Issaquah again. I kind of hate the bike and run course, although it can get addicting to try and constantly set PRs and leave on a high note, Costanza style. We’ll see — although next year will mark my fifth triathlon season, so it could be fun to do all of the races I did as a noob and see how much I’ve improved since then…

One Response to “ “Issaquah Sprint: Return of the Bec”

  1. teresa says:

    you DID have a great race….dropped an hour from the previous time!! ha! keep on truck’n on…with a smile of course. Experience is a huge contributor to success in this sport!


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