This was my 4th time finishing the Issaquah Xterra...
…I mean Issaquah Tri.
It sure felt like an Exterra or Cyclocross event. I have never seen Lake Sammamish State Park with so much water in the grassy areas. The mud was ankle deep in some of the transition areas. The deeper puddles (i.e. small lakes) were roped off and nearly knee deep. The usual run course was completely re-routed onto more solid surfaces both inside and outside the park.
The water temp really slowed me down on both the swim and bike. At the end of the race I recovered much faster than I anticipated which usually means I left a lot of fuel in the tank (i.e. I could have gone faster on the course).
My son was constantly checking the Lake Sammamish water temperature leading up to the race. The temps started out around 60F the weekend before and then dropped down to 56F the night before race day thanks to a very cold and heavy rain storm.
I walked down to the water to warm up about 30 minutes before my start time. BRRRR! Did I mention the water was cold? I think I saw some ice float by...
Biggest surprise: the number of people who didn’t have wetsuits. This was my first race in a wetsuit. I usually count the number of people without suits: the number is usually 3-5 for the entire race but this time it was 3-8 per age group. While I was setting up my transition area I met a guy doing his first race in an old pastel-colored O’Neil waterskiing wetsuit. Well, to each his own.
Swim: 12:10 748/839
As the horn sounded first wave of men started off a bald eagle was started out of a nearby tree, flew a circle around the swim area, and returned to his perch, most likely to sleep off his headache from the air horn. A few minutes later I was shivering in the water waiting for my heat to begin. When my heat finally began my body went into shock. The water was incredibly cold away from shore and seriously prevented me from getting into any kind of freestyle rhythm: I ended up doing the breast stroke for more than half the course. After what seemed like an eternity I staggered out of the water and into T1 nearly 2 minutes slower than last year. The cold water really threw me for a loop and negatively impacted me for the rest of the race.
The run into transition was easier than I thought. The muddy ground was quite soft and squishy between the toes. I took the extra time with a water bottle to rinse my feet a bit before putting into my socks which turned out to be unnecessary. As I exited transition in my bike shoes they filled with water and mud.
Bike 48:22 391/839
The bike is typically where I shine, thanks to my bike commute schedule, but not this year. My legs took a VERY long time to warm up from that cold water. The other impacting problem was the very long and narrow exit out and then approach into the park which did not allow for passing. This created about a mile in each direction where everyone was at the mercy of the riders in front of them. In a race staggered start and a duathlon it made for some frustrating minutes lost. I was shooting for 40 minutes or under and was quite shocked at my time.
I traded my muddy bike shoes for an old pair of running shoes that I had remembered to bring (i.e. not my nice, newer shoes).
Run: 25:52 612/839Muddy shoes after the run
The run was almost enjoyable. The sun came out and started to warm things up. I even ended up with a bit of a sun burn. The new run course was an out and back loop on sidewalks through the park. I didn't have my GPS running but I swear it was under 5K. I was very happy to be at the end of that race.
Total: 1:32:53 OA: 539/839 AG: 88/113
Once again, it was a fun day. The weather, mud, and cold water made for a very interesting and educational experience.
- Old running shoes are great for short races if you don't want to get your new shoes muddy.
- If the water temp is less than 62F, go for the LONG SLEEVED wet suit.
- Do more warm up in the cold water before the race to better acclimate to the frigid temps.
Looking forward to next time!