Sunday, August 17, 2008

Danskin race report

Got up early, put on my tri shorts, tri top, and a pirate t-shirt, then toasted two bagels. Loaded my bucket in the car (fighting off the urge to dump it out and re-check everything I had packed the night before), and Wil and I headed out to the start. Even though we were in the neighborhood by 6:10, the streets were already crowded. We parked about 8 blocks away and walked over.

I was feeling nervous, but I think I was most nervous about the transition set-up! When I got to my rack, my bike had been slid over a bit and It was hard to carve out a little space for my things. I checked and double checked my set up, then tied by sunshine balloon to the rack. Back out of the transition area, then in the portaloo line, and then Wil and I headed over to the swim start.

We didn't see the elite wave start -- we were still making our way through the crowd -- but we heard the whoop. Then a second, larger elite wave followed quickly after. And then the survivors went. Each wave was given their own "mantra" -- a word to repeat during the race. The survivors got "courageous".

I was in wave 14, which meant we had a lot of time. We wandered around, watched the first elites finish the swim (taking surprisingly long, it seemed to me), then headed across the chute to the start side. I got re-inked, we milled about, I got a bit nervous, etc. But then, suddenly, wave 12 was starting so I headed in to position.

I'm not really sure how big the waves were -- I think I was about halfway back? It was all a bit overwhelming. Sally Edwards running out on the dock, getting us to high five each other, shout "you go girlfriend!", and then giving us our mantra. Which was... SEXY. A little weird, and we all laughed and whooped as we stood in thigh-deep water. Then the course announcer interrupted and said "FOUR! THREE! TWO! ONE!" and we all were surprised into swimming.

Lots of grabbing, kicking, and pulling... I just tried to stay calm, keep my head down, and swim. Things loosened up pretty quickly, and I swam cleanly... until the first buoy. The first turn was pretty close to shore, and we hadn't strung out very much, so we bunched up a lot around the turn. That's the only point that I had to pick my head out of the water. Once around the buoy, it was clear water. I slotted in behind a woman who was swimming steadily and we passed a few people from earlier waves. I didn't sight very often, but felt like I could just keep swimming. Then, suddenly, we were at the second buoy.

A little less hectic at the second turn; was very happy thinking that I was almost done with the swim. At that moment my left hand connected with the foot of a woman in front of me -- and I felt my wedding ring shift down my finger. Yikes! I stopped, quickly slid it back on, and started swimming again. I then spent the remainder of the swim wondering if a lost ring would ever turn up. Somehow I'd lost my pacer, but sighted on a woman doing the breaststroke. I swam up behind her and just followed her to the exit ramp. Swim time: 20:26.

Then a looooooong run up the exit chute (saw and heard Wil cheering), and a loooooooong run to my bike rack. (Row F1, where "F" stands for "Far, Far Away"...) I think I moved out pretty quickly, and even remembered to fasten my shoes. Then a looooooooong run back out through the transition area and out to the bike start. T1 time: 4:12. (Absurd!)

The bike started pretty well -- a fast and flat trip north along the lake (another quick glimpse of cheering Wil), where I zipped along at a nice fast clip. Then up a slight hill, and then the dreaded "narrow access lane". I quickly realized that I would be able to ride up it... but a lot of people couldn't. I tried to stay out of my clips, but kept accidentally slipping back in. And then the woman in front of me stopped. Just stopped. I couldn't get out of my clips fast enough and toppled over. Crap! Of course, now *I* was the problem. Oops. But then I just got up, shifted over to the right, and then ran my bike the last 10 yards or so.

Once I got around the corner I got back on my bike, and then nearly popped my chain. Happily, it held, and I was off down the hill onto the bridge. I looked down at my speed and saw that I was going 22.5 mph. Woo-hoo! Kept moving quickly across the bridge, and passed a lot of folks on my way up the hill into the tunnel. The tunnel was strange -- dark, banked a little unexpectedly -- and I saw a lot of women pulled over with flats. Then out through the tunnel and along the road -- pretty uneventful -- and then, suddenly, the turnaround. It was strangely quiet -- only a handful of supporters out on the bike course, which is, I suppose, a result of having a freeway course.

Back across the bridge, and then a strange traffic jam turning back out to that little path -- this time, down hill. We were told to just walk our bikes and be patient -- which was weird. About halfway down a young man came running up with a megaphone, shouting "What are you doing? Get on your bikes! This is downhill!". There was a gap in the left side of our lane, so I jumped in it and got clear of the gridlock. A few hundred yards past the hill I saw two people cheering -- Reba and Eric! I waved and they cheered extra loud -- and then I just put my head down and pedaled. Slowed for the final right turn, dismounted, and ran my bike into the transition area. Bike time: 41:34 -- much faster than I expected.

A quick run to my rack (first bike back! Woot!), and I tried to take my time and get my breath back. Remembered to take my gloves off and put on my hat. Then jogged out to the run exit. T2 time: 2:16.

Did feel winded on the way out -- but I figured I should at least jog until I got past the crowds. Ha! After running for 5 minutes, I hit the first water stop and happily walked for a minute. Lots of walkers from the earlier waves, and a few speedy runners. I started running 7 and walking 1, but then there were so many water stops that I just started running between the water stops. Found another pacer and just stuck with her out to the turnaround, then back to "the hill". My energy was really low at this point, but a volunteer shouted that it was a 50-yard hill, and then downhill to the finish.

The final downhill (like most of the course), had very few spectators, but there was one man shouting out "You all look so GORGEOUS!" -- which was nice, and not as creepy as I think it looks here.

I sped up as I went down the hill, and then ran as fast as I could through the last 100 or so yards -- down a narrow, windy path. I kept repeating "leave nothing in the tank", which always makes me laugh. Then out into the finish chute, trying to remember to grin. And then, suddenly, done. Run time: 32:13.

There was an absolute crush at the finish line -- couldn't find Wil anywhere. Decided that I would just head to the water and bagel area and find Wil later, but he found me. He told me he missed me on the bike return -- neither of us thought I would finish that quickly! Wil said he'd been standing with Reba and Eric, and that they'd heard my name called, but hadn't actually seen me. I didn't hear my name...

Met Wil's friend Allisen and her friend Dawn, and then found R&E, and chatted. Rebecca noticed that I had a nice set of bloody scrapes on my right leg, probably courtesy of my big crank. I was really, really tired, however, and could think of nothing I wanted more than to eat and nap. So I packed up my transition area, chatted a little with the other ladies, and then we headed over to the car. Drove immediately to Vera's, where I hoovered up a veggie omelette. Then home, shower, and nap.

All in all, I think I had a good race. I finished faster than I expected to, and other than the little crash, everything went really well. Would I do Danskin again? No. It's too big, too commercial. The expo was a joke -- tell me again why I had to go to Bellevue to pick up my packet? Oh, I know, it's so I could shop while I waited. Don't get me started on the cheap bike racks. And for all the pink ribbon stuff, there was no health awareness -- I mean, couldn't they have had the Swedish breast cancer screening vans there? But -- I'm really glad I did it.

But. I would like to do more triathlons -- perhaps Chelanman next year?


  1. Kirkland Tri is coming in September!

  2. I am so impressed and inspired. Congrats on completing the race. I want to be just like you when I grow up!