Seafair Triathlon 2008

AG 2nd, 18th overall, 4th of male masters
Swim 13:32, bike 30:57, run 18:56, total 1:06:09
10th fastest bike split, 15th fastest run split

The annual Seafair Triathlon is one of the biggest sprint triathlons in the Seattle area, drawing close to 2000 participants; and it all happens in and around Seward Park, just a few blocks away from our house. Last year we volunteered and helped out with traffic control on Lake Washington Boulevard; this year it was my turn to give it a shot as a competitor.

I had high hopes, considering that this is my home territory: I ride across the I-90 bridge almost daily, I run the Seward Park loop every week, and I’ve swum in Andrew’s Bay many a time (the murky water and weeds no longer bother me much). I was also pretty optimistic, given my good result in the Beat the Bridge 8K race earlier this year. Finally, it was going to be my first race riding my new Cervelo Dual time trial bike, and I was eager to see how it would perform.

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The race is 1/2 mile swim on a triangular course, 12 mile out and back bike ride, and a 3.1 mile single loop run. All very standard – the only part that looked dicey was the small access road to the I-90 bridge: try and funnel 2000 bikes through there – single file – and you can expect to see some problems.

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I was in wave #9 with about 100 other 40-44 year old guys. Waves were spaced 5 minutes apart, so fortunately things spread out pretty nicely along the course. The water was temperate, the sun slowly breaking through the clouds, perfect conditions. The first 200 yards were a bit freaky – other swimmers colliding with you, clawing at your legs, and on top of that all the adrenaline in your system makes you want to gasp for air. Luckily things calmed down pretty soon and I was able to settle into a comfortable rhythm. I came out of the water in 13:32 – faster than I expected and not too winded either.

T1 went off well, though it was quite a long run out through the big transition area. Then the fun began – I was moving quickly through the pack ahead of me and had to be super-attentive to not run into some of the slower riders. Thankfully, most of them were quite disciplined about keeping to the right side of the road when not passing. I made a couple of close passes, I must confess, but overall was able to avoid any really dangerous situation. Even the access ramp to I-90 wasn’t bad. To my delight, as I later found out, I posted the 10th fastest time on the bike (actually, places 8, 9, and 10 had exactly the same time) with an average speed of 23.26 mph.

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T2 was smooth and I was ready to go hard on the run. However, my body was telling me otherwise. I was very short of breath – I think I haven’t adapted yet to the lower position on my new bike and wasn’t breathing deeply during the bike ride. I pushed it for a while, but then backed off the pace a bit to regain my composure. Luckily I soon felt better and was able to finish the run at a respectable pace. Good thing too, because it turned out that I only beat the next guy by a margin of 9 seconds!

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It was a fun race and well organized, considering the number of participants and the limitations of the venue. It was harder than I expected – even a short sprint tri like this is challenging due to the high intensity you need to maintain. I am very pleased with the result – lets see what I can accomplish next weekend at the Federal Escape olympic triathlon.

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