Sunday, May 06, 2007

WWU Triathlon V

I was skipping out on my planned 6 hour bike ride to do an event that I have done the past three years. This is a fun event put on by the Western Washington University Cycling team up on the WWU campus.

I woke up early to get some food and ready to go as I was riding my bicycle to the event. After eating a bowl of cereal and reading a bit online I was ready to go. I wore my race gear under my commuting gear and had loaded up my backpack with my transition stuff. The ride up to campus is only about 20 minutes and was a nice warm up, although (as usual) I was very early and it wasn't really a warm up after all.

I found a nice transition area right on the edge of a rack in the middle and setup my bike and towel with my shoes, hat, race belt and more all laid out and ready to go. OK, time to walk around and chit chat and wait. This race has grown and grown, in 2004 when I first ran this event they had 56 finishers. I saw over 120 registered for today's race and lots of my friends and fellow Bellingham Triathlon Club members either do this race or volunteer so I had lots of people to visit and chit chat with. My friend Pat had arrived even before me and had a very nice spot picked out on the closest bike rack to the transition entrance/exit. He has been riding with me on some of these long training rides and it sure has helped. My last 5 hour ride (without Pat) seemed longer and harder.

It is a pool swim this time of year around here and we swim up and down each of the six lanes ducking under the lane lines each time. This makes for a 300 yard swim that snakes itself from one side of the pool to the other. The swimmers are sent 15 seconds apart and if everyone gave an accurate swim estimate you shouldn't have to pass anyone or get passed yourself. I estimated a 5:45 swim and the two in front of me were missing (more on that later) so I didn't have to worry about passing anyone and as it turns out the second person behind me was about to pass just as I was getting out of the water in 5:29 for a 1:52/100 average. Very happy swimmer here!

As you run out of the pool there is a very pleasant gravel path you must run down to get to the transition area. I choose to skirt the edge and actually run in the bark and bushes. Once past the slivers I was on soft grass and on my knees to put on my socks, yeah I like to wear socks, some go barefoot to save the few seconds, but I go with socks. As I was putting the shoes on with one hand I put on my sunglasses, as I put on the other shoe I slipped on my helmet. I also decided on putting my jacket on due to the cold, this took a few extra seconds but I think it helped on the bike. T1 took 1:55 (from just exiting the water until actually on the bike).

The bike is off campus but you head right out Bill Macdonald Parkway as it curves around the new campus parking and information building. This road has a brief down and then up section followed by a nice long downhill where you can really pickup some speed, but watch out as the turn at the bottom is like a 120 degree turn, much more than 90 but not so much that you are riding back where you came from. This road heads south and is pretty flat and easy to pick off slower swimmers. One by one I kept on passing. A couple more turns and then its generally back towards campus but rather than taking the main road (which is busy but flat) we go up 14th street and back down to the main road and once again rather than sticking on this main drag we are sent up and over a section just to get back onto the busy road a little farther down the way. This has taken past the north side of campus, so we turn off this main drag up and back towards campus with some more ups in there for good measure. Rather than going the short way back to the transition area we are sent past campus (from the north to the south this time) almost to Fairhaven again. This section is generally downhill but once again we turn onto a road simply to get an up and then a down. This down is not that great as it is one city block down to a left turn. I was riding the brakes most of the way. Finally we are back on the main drag into the transition but this is a 4 block ride up, so not a lot of speed here (for me at least). Once on the crest and pretty flat into transition I slowed to take my feet out of my shoes but leave them on the bike. I set my feet onto the top of the shoes so I don't need to do this in transition. I think I may of slowed too much, but oh well. This 9 mile loop took me 29 minutes flat for an 18.58 MPH.

Since I was already out of my shoes I was able to very quickly get going, had a little trouble putting the bike back on the rack, but once on had my shoes and race belt on in less than 46 seconds.

The run is brutal at the start as once you leave transition it is straight up hill, up to the top of the ridge past all the dorms (where I used to live many years ago, as did my mom). I was going at a nice clip, but my HR kept on going up and up and finally had to walk for a few seconds to catch my breath and slow down. Got going again and turned the corner to run downhill for the next mile or so almost to downtown, but I think they just have us run that far down to have to turn around and run back up. Once at the bottom, we turn and it is another of those straight up deals, but was able to keep it going up and over the top. One more turn and then its the road up into campus and once on campus we run right past Old main, but not red square along the back of some buildings to get onto a trail I used when I lived on the south side of campus. I love trail running and was able to pickup some more speed here. All this back and forth around campus makes for a very nice event I think. Once out of the trail a short section and turn along a busy road for 1 block and then it is a straight shot to the finish, up hill finish that is. I was VERY happy with my (listed) 3.5 mile run in 22:49 or 6:31 per mile.

Overall was a little bummed that I missed the one hour mark. but not too bummed as I only missed it by 1 second. Yeah 1:00:01 total time. The official time was listed as 59:31, remember those two swimmers ahead of me who didn't make it, I think I got a 30 second head start, but I'm going off my time splits from my watch and am VERY happy with my 1 hour time, although if I didn't put on the jacket, or slow down as much to get my feet out of my cycling shoes, or... Yeah I hope I can break 1 hour next year, something to shoot for.

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