Seafair, Schmeefair: Looking Back at 3 Years of the Seattle Sprint Tri

Seafair, Schmeefair: Looking Back at 3 Years of the Seattle Sprint Tri

The Seafair sprint triathlon holds a special place in my heart because it’s the only race where I’ve consistently been not too sucky. I thought I’d recap my experience racing Seafair in 2008, 2009, and 2010. It’s a crowded sprint, but I always have fun doing it and will probably keep racing it for years to come.

2008: Is That Soggy Meat?!

2008 was my first year training for triathlons. I sucked it up royally in my first triathlon, the Issaquah sprint, and also did pretty sucktacular that year at the New Balance Victoria half Ironman (I should put up belated race reports for those two — maybe I’ll do a “throwback week” on Mediocre Athlete and publish old race recaps). Seafair was the first time I thought, “Hey, I’m not so completely horrendously awful at this!” I did get a flat before the race when I inadvertently bent my valve when pumping up one of my tires. After freaking out, I managed to change the tube before the race started.

Swim Recap

I remember looking at the swim portion and thinking that the buoys were so far away from the shore. Even though I had completed a half Ironman-distance triathlon, swimming still felt pretty daunting to me (oh hell, it still does). The athletes all got in the water and the race organizer started to explain for the 17th time that we were going to swim counter-clockwise and keep the buoys to our left. While he droned on, I looked down and saw a piece of styrofoam floating face-down in the water. I picked it up to chuck it away from where the racers were standing, only to discover that the piece of styrofoam was actually the bottom of a meat package that had been soaking in the lake for God knows how long and had turned soggy and gray. I started hollering in typical “Ew ew ew this is so gross what the shit I just touched soggy lake pork” fashion, and some bitchface turned to me and said, “Could you please keep it down? I can’t hear the instructions.” Really? You’re too dumb to understand “counter-clockwise” that’s been repeated ad nauseam? I should have chucked the meat at her stupid swimcapped face.

It's what's for dinner (unless it's been marinating in lake water for a few weeks)

When my wave took off, I kept a steady swim pace and felt like I survived the swim with minimal freaking out. (And indeed, it ended up being my best swim of the season.)

Bike Recap
Two years ago I was still riding on my coworker’s blue Giant bike, so it was a little ghetto but still probably a middle-of-the-pack bike among the other Seafair participants. I had clip-on aero bars and was finally starting to get more comfortable hunching down into aero. At one point I almost ate pavement when I leaned down to get my water bottle and ended up swerving like a spaz, but thankfully I managed to keep it together and pull off a decent bike time.

Run Recap
The run is a short 3.1 mile loop around Seward Park. At one point you have to run up this shitty hill and then turn around and run back down it to the finish. We had practiced on the run course a few times before the race, and I remember thinking how horrible the hill was. I could barely get up it during our practice runs — I was huffing and puffing like James Gandolfini doing step aerobics. On race day I was able to plod up the hill without stopping or dying. I paused at the top to grab some water at the aid station, but other than that I stayed fairly steady.

2008 Results

Swim time: 17:56 (2:14/100 meters)
T1: 2:17
Bike time: 39:28 (18.2 mph)
T2: 1:52
Run time: 26:13 (8:27 min/mile pace)
Total time: 1:27:47
Total place: 583 / 1408
Division place: 19 /72

Overall, I felt pretty good about my times. My swim was slow and shitty, as it always is, but my bike was solid considering it was my first triathlon season, and the run was pretty consistent.

2009: I Hate This

Last year, I signed up for Seafair once again and expected to PR since I had another season of training under my belt. Since 2008’s race I had done two more half Ironman races and was in better shape. We got to the race and were able to bypass the ridiculously long body marking line when a friend of ours spotted us and gave us a sharpie so we could DIY mark ourselves. Huzzah!

Swim Recap
When I started my swim, I felt like I was going so fast and swimming so hard. “Man, my swim time is gonna be soooooo good!”, I kept thinking. When I finally dragged myself out of the water, I looked at my watch and was like, “WTF, I was only 30 seconds faster than last year.” What a disappointment. To make matters worse, I felt pretty out of it as I wobbled over to my transition area. I couldn’t get my wetsuit off and felt kind of dizzy/faint. This was not a good feeling, especially when it’s such a short distance race.

Bike Recap
I took off on my bike (my new fancy Cervelo time trial this time around!) and felt miserable and uncomfortable the entire 12-mile stretch. In the beginning I thought I was going to choke on the obscene quantities of snot and phlegm I had somehow managed to accumulate during the 800 meter swim. Thankfully, I managed to clear my airways of the grossness and kept pedaling. I remember feeling as bad during these 12 miles as I’ve felt during half Ironman distances. I don’t know what the deal was, but I couldn’t get comfortable. I actually considered quitting because I felt so crappy, but then I remembered I’m ridiculously stubborn and don’t quit races, so I trudged on.

Accurate analogy of me when the thought of quitting crosses my mind. Stubborn Goat Becca is stubborn!

Run Recap
When I finally got off my bike and hurled it towards my transition area, I was so tired and irritated that I just wanted to curl up with something horrible and fried and drown my sorrows in food and naps. Unfortunately, I had a run to finish. I took off and continued to feel like shit, breathing hard and willing myself not to pass out or puke. I know you’re supposed to push yourself and feel miserably anaerobic during short distance races, but I was feeling especially shit-tay. Thankfully, I was able to plod along and finish.

2009 Results

Swim time: 17:27 (2:10/100 meters)
T1: 2:32
Bike time: 37:21 (19.3 mph)
T2: 1:32
Run time: 25:01 (8:04 min/mile pace)
Total time: 1:23:54
Total place: 559 / 1460
Division place: 22 /124

I was really surprised to see that I biked better this year than last year — I had felt so shitty during the bike portion that I thought for sure I was going slower. The run was kind of funny because I had actually run three seconds faster than a standalone 5k I did a couple weeks prior to Seafair — maybe I run better coming off a bike. I was so close to running a sub-25 minute 5k; I should have dived across the finish line and done a barrel roll. Oh well. I still PR’d, so I was happy and forgave Seafair for making me feel so miserable that day.

2010: Yeah Baby

This year I didn’t have very high expectations for how I’d do. I wanted to race a sub-1:20, but it was a lofty goal and I had been training all year for endurance races, not sprint distances, so I wasn’t sure how fast I’d be or how strong I’d feel. Plus, I was coming off a disappointing Boise race and a couple of craptacular rides in a row, so I was feeling very “meh” about the whole thing. I did a brick workout (a swim, bike, and run) the day before the race and felt pretty stiff throughout most of it, which did wonders for the psyche going into a sprint race.

Swim Recap
I gathered near the swim start with some teammates and waited for my wave to start. As with previous years, I was able to watch the “elite” wave start and finish their swim well before my wave started. I saw Teresa exit the water like a champ and dorkily cheered her on before I got in the water and peed in my surroundings all jerk-like (you may be faster than me, fellow age groupers, but have fun swimming through my urine! Suckers!).

When the gun went off, I just went a steady pace. My neck was a bit aggravated due to a chafe mark from a long swim I had done a couple days prior to the race, but I was able to mostly ignore it since the distance was so short. I felt pretty solid during my swim and was able to pass some stragglers from the wave before me. My goal was to finish the swim in under 17 minutes, and when I got out of the water and checked my watch, I was happy to see I succeeded.

Bike Recap
After I emerged from the water, I waddled over to transition and had some difficulty taking my wetsuit off. My new suit has padding that goes so far down the leg that I can’t cut the cuff at all, so the material is much tighter down by the ankles and can be a pain in the ass to yank off quickly. As with last year, in my mind I felt like I was taking forever trying to get the wetsuit off. I finally wrestled free from it, shoved my shoes on my feet, helmeted and sunglassed up, grabbed my bike, and took off. During my graceful exit out of transition, I inadvertently kicked the weird running toe shoe of the dude who was set up next to me and sent that sucker flying. I felt bad, but not bad enough to stop and retrieve it.

I had a strong ride and only needed to hoark up one post-swim loogie (hooray!). When I neared the little hill climb up to I-90, I saw an arrow that signaled we were to stay on the road to the right, yet I saw a bunch of cyclists taking the road to the left. Both streets take you to the bridge and I had raced the course enough times to know that the path to the right was the correct way, but somehow I just went into auto-pilot and followed the other cyclists onto the technically wrong street. I think a volunteer yelled at me, but it’s about the same distance so no harm, no foul.

My bike portion was going well, and I was able to pass a lot of people. I only got passed by one dude who was decked out in an aero helmet and looked like Elitey von ProRacer, so I wasn’t too bummed out. When I turned around on I-90, I felt a cross wind pick up but it felt pretty cute compared to the bullshit I had to endure at Boise, so it wasn’t a huge deterrent.

I got log-jammed going down the little hill to get off the bridge, and from there I got stuck behind some douchetard who was riding in the middle of the lane with his ass crack hanging out of his shorts. I kept trying to go around him, but I don’t know if he kept swerving or if I was just grossly distracted by his hairy, un-manscaped arsehole, but I was unsuccessful. Eventually I got really frustrated and just shouted out, “On your left, MAN!”, and he finally swerved over to let me pass.

Why does my back look like an alien is about to burst out of it? Aero is not an attractive/photogenic pose.

Eventually I rolled into T2 thinking I had biked well. I wasn’t sure what my time was since I thought I borked up my watch, but I felt pretty good. On the way in, I saw Teresa (who had already finished the race and ended up taking 2nd — story of my life, she races so fast that she has time to finish her race and probably shower and hit up a breakfast buffet before I’m even back from the bike) and my teammate Brent (who wasn’t racing that day) cheering me on. She exclaimed that I was doing GREAT in her unique Teresa way, and it made me smile and pumped me up for the run.

Run Recap
T2 felt pretty fast and smooth thanks to the racing Zoots I planned to run in — those suckers are nice and easy to slip on quickly. I puttered out of transition and started running at a good pace — it was fast enough for me to feel like I was pushing it, but not so hard that I felt like yakking and burning out. Some freakish 14-year old girl who I blew by on the bike returned the favor and owned me on the run, but aside from a few dudes who zoomed by me, I was surprised to find that I wasn’t getting passed by too many people. I guess my run has gotten better.

I got to the hill and climbed it pretty steadily, passing a number of people who were tired and walking up it. All of those runs around Capitol Hill have conditioned me to be a somewhat better hill climber, so my 2010 run up the little incline felt much less pathetic than the 2008 attempt. I got to the turnaround spot and ended up getting passed by a girl in my age group. Frick! I sprinted down the hill hard to try and catch her, but by this point I was starting to get a bit of a side cramp. Boo, hiss. Fine, go ahead and beat me. (I ran into her later and told her I unsuccessfully chased her on the run, and she laughed and said she had done the same to me on the bike, which made me feel better knowing I passed her on the bike portion and she couldn’t keep up.)

When I reached the final stretch, I heard my teammates who had already finished cheering me on, and I saw Jason giving me the “I’m proud of you but don’t want to display too much emotion so I’ll just nod stoically in your direction” look of approval. I turned on the burners and crossed the finish line.

Blurry photo of me nearing the finish. I don't know why my left arm is all Gumby bent.

2010 Results
Swim time: 16:54 (2:06/100 meters)
T1: 1:55
Bike time: 35:23 (20.3 mph)
T2: 1:11
Run time: 23:31 (7:35 min/mile pace)
Total time: 1:18:54
Total place: 213 / 1104
Division place: 7 / 85

I wasn’t sure what my finish time was when I crossed because I messed up my watch splits, so when I checked later I was pretty surprised by my performance. I thought it was going to be difficult to break 1:20 this year, but I was able to do it and improve across the board over last year. I was happy with the swim but kind of hoped I’d be low to mid-16s (although Teresa swears that the swim course was a bit longer than 800 meters due to the elites’ slower than expected swim times). Maybe next year I can finally do a sub-2:00 / 100 meters.

My bike time made me quite happy — I was 1 mph faster than last year’s time, which was a huge confidence booster after all of the shit rides I’d had lately. The run was huge for me. I’ve been trying to run a sub-25 minute 5k and was able to smash it. (Technically I ran a sub-25 minute pace at the Mt. Rainier duathlon, but that was for 3.7 miles and part of me still doubted I could run that fast for 3.1. I know, it makes no sense. I’m just not used to how well I’ve been running lately.)

Overall I was really stoked with my time and my age group placement. Jason also took 7th in his age group and raced a 1:12. I honestly think next year he could place in his age group or maybe even win if he pushes it hard since the times that beat him were all so close together (less than a minute, I think). I, on the other hand, would have to shave quite a bit of time off to place but hey, you never know what could happen.

We celebrated our good day by eating an irresponsible amount of dim sum and taking a glorious nap. It was the third year in a row where I really enjoyed racing the sprint distance and had a lot of fun both competing and cheering on my teammates. I’d like to do it again next year but am considering doing the Vineman 70.3, which usually falls on the same weekend. I kind of hope I’ll be around to do Seafair since it’s such a fun race and it’s always been a good luck charm for me. 🙂

10 Responses to “ “Seafair, Schmeefair: Looking Back at 3 Years of the Seattle Sprint Tri”

  1. teresa says:

    Dedication and consitent training pays off and you are a prime example!!! So proud of you and hope all athletes read this and understand that the sport of triathlon is a journey, a process, and it truly does pay off!!! Nice job! tn

  2. Rebecca says:

    It’s all thanks to you, T! Every PR I’ve had and every warm fuzzy feeling and sense of accomplishment I’ve felt is all because of your stellar coaching and guidance.

  3. Sara Keogh says:

    Hey, I missed see that you had posted this race recap. It’s great seeing how much progress you’ve made. You’ve put in a tremendous amount of work, and it’s cool to see it pay off.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Thanks! It’s a fun race and I enjoy doing it each year.

  5. Mr. Mature says:

    Hehehe. Your bike is called “Cervelo”. Does your boyfriend ride a Urethralo?

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Duuuuuuuude. You are my hero. I need to get my transition and bike times down. 🙂 You kick ass!

    • Rebecca says:

      Practice makes perfect! It’s taken me three years to finally be in the “not shitty” category of athletes. Next year maybe I’ll graduate to “good”!

  7. bets says:

    OK…ridiculously late catching up on your blog. Your caption about your back looking weird aero reminded me: I saw a girl at IM Florida one year whose bones were so prominent on her spine when she was aero, I thought she looked like a stegosauras! 🙂 Thought you’d appreciate that. lol Keep up the fabulous writing!

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