Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lake Padden Triathlon Recap

I survived the Lake Padden Tri (recreational division)! 

It was a lot of fun doing the Lake Padden Triathlon with buddy, KH, but I do have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Here's how it went...

The morning of the event was a bit of a rush as we were cleaning up the pizza boxes and such from the mini-party we had the night before and also packing baby food, clothes, triathlon stuff, etc so we could hit the road. We had a hard time finding the key to the bike rack for the car but eventually got on our way and avoided the Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon traffic.

We hit Bellingham at 11:45 am, race start time was 1 pm. We piled out of the car and I started to unload my stuff, including bike. Mr. F had the key to the bike rack. Or so I thought...


To avoid freaking out, I grabbed Baby F and headed to registration while Mr. F and friend from San Diego looked for the bike rack key. On the way to check-in, I called a Bellingham girl friend, "The H," who was coming to cheer KH and I on, and let her know I might not have a bike for the race. The H was super-sweet and offered to ride her bike to the park so I could borrow hers if needed. Phew!

Next, I picked up my registration packet, had number 437 drawn on my arm and calf, then headed back to the car. The boys had managed to pick the lock on the bike rack with a knife (reassuring, right?) and had my stuff all ready to go. Mr. F was saved from the dog house!

I headed to the transition area to get my bike + shoes + helmet + water bottle + socks + sunglasses + running shoes + hat + towel organized. I think triathlons really are a huge organizational challenge. There are so many details to think about. 

I lubed up with Body Glide at key points to facilitate wetsuit donning/doffing. Meanwhile, KH found me and got her bike on the same rack. It was nice that we were both running late because it gave us little time to stress & obsess about the perfect placement for all the gear. The downside of being rushed is that I didn't get a decent pre-race photo of KH and I together :(  We had just enough time to squeeze into our too-tight wetsuits.

KH and I headed to the start and were among a sea of green swim caps. We took off in the last of 5 heats of swimmers. Since it hasn't been very warm this season, the water was a bit CHILLY. My head froze. Between the cold and my lack of swimming training, I soon became light-headed. I had to back-stroke a while just to catch my breath. The bad part of that is that it was so slow, I felt like I was swimming backward. I gained so much more ground with the crawl so I had to really force myself to ignore the dizzy / light-headedness to keep pushing forward. It was brutal. Maybe a team triathlon would have been better?

After an eternity, I made it through the 1/4 mile swim. In the transition, I fought to get my wetsuit off without falling over. I actually had to sit down for a while until the dizzy feeling went away. KH came into the transition area, we laughed at each other for the madness of it all. This gave me time to dry my feet, put on my socks and bike shoes, drink some of the best sports drink ever, HEED, then get the rest of my bike gear.

Laughing because I couldn't get my wetsuit unzipped.

I trotted out of the transition with my bike, hopped on, and soon found I couldn't remember how to get my darn shoes clipped in. Yes, should have trained on my road bike a bit. I've just been riding my hybrid commuter bike lately. Oops. After a while, I got my shoes clipped in and got into a rhythm. The 10-mile bike ride was a roller-coaster heaven, cruising through beautiful rural areas SE of Bellingham. I loved zipping along on my little road bike with skinny tires. I am happy to report that I made it through the whole route, including the brutal switchback hills at the end, without dismounting and walking my bike. Yeah!

Heading back into the transition area, I saw Mr. San Diego, Mr. F, and Baby F. In transition, I took off my bike gear, pulled on my running shoes and hat, and headed out on the beautiful wooded trail around Lake Padden. I picked what I thought was a comfortable but challenging pace and focused on maintaining that for the 2.6-mile route. Running the trail brought back fond memories of my college days running around the lake.

Mr. PT would shriek if he saw this heel-plant. Definitely NOT the forefoot barefoot running technique we've been working on!

About half-way into the run, I started to get weary. My sugar-buzz from the HEED was wearing off. To keep my pace, I thought about my friend Katie (aesthetician extraordinaire) who did this triathlon last year AFTER running the Seattle R&R Half Marathon. Yes, two events back-to-back. Crazy girl!

I focused on the red-shirt "City Gym" girl in front of me to drag me along the path. After a while, I could hear people cheering at the finish line. I saw Mr. KH and Baby KH. I hadn't seen KH since the transition between the swim and bike. Then I saw Mr. San Diego and Mr. F & Baby F. And I heard The H's loud "Go Alma!" and fantastic laugh. Yeah! The finish!

I felt so relieved!!!!!!!! I couldn't believe I had done it - the whole triathlon with much less training than in 2008 and still didn't have to walk my bike or walk during the run.

So here is where the mixed feelings come in:

In 2008, I swam about 1x/week for the 10 - 12 weeks before the triathlon. That's a lot for me. Even though I enjoy swimming, I'm really a horrible swimmer. I was also running pretty consistently and got quite a few long bike rides under my belt. Here are my 2008 stats on this same course:

TOTAL: 1:15:27 = 1/4 mi swim (7:53); T1 (3:05); 10 mi bike (41:31); T2 (1:41); 2.6 mi run (21:17)

Here are my 2010 stats, 10 lbs heavier and with less training:

TOTAL: 1:20:03 = 1/4 mi swim (9:57); T1 (3:55); 10 mi bike (42:17); T2 (1:30); 2.6 mi run (22:25)

Only 4.5 minutes difference. I don't know if I should be happy about that or if I should decide that training is somewhat over-rated? I was really expecting my time this year to be at least 15 minutes slower. How can this be? 

The swim training really did help me in 2008 and I certainly felt better while swimming in 2008 compared to this year but the biking and running weren't very different. Or maybe those few minutes are a big difference given the short distances?

Either way, I had a fabulous time and enjoyed my IPA and lamb burger on pretzel bun at Bellingham's Boundary Bay Brewery with KH + clan, The H, Mr. San Diego, and my F-boys. It was a beautiful day in my old college town and I hope KH and I do the triathlon again next year (and The H too!).

The question is, how much will we train next year?

Oh yes, and we found the bike rack keys on the garage floor when we got home. Wah-wah!

Just for fun, here is a post-race picture from 2008 of KH, Katie (crazy girl & aesthetician extraordinaire), me, and The H (who, by the way, completed her swim leg in a mere 4 minutes in 2008). 


  1. What a great recap! I so wanted to try a triathlon this year, but it is not to be. Maybe I can tag along with you and your friends (again) next year! :)

  2. I loved reading your blog!! I would have stayed for the rec triathlon if I knew you were there! You did awesome and look great. I had not done this one since 1995, but definitely want to start doing this more often. Although, next year, maybe I'll do the shorter swim, so I don't freeze! Running around Lake Padden is always so much fun and reminds me of when I lifeguarded there when I was 20 years old!

  3. Great recap, I like the pictures there's a lot of action in there.

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