Boy #1 at the finish of the Issaquah Triathlon, his 3rd kids tri.Date: 2 June 2012

Location: Lake Sammamish State Park, Issaquah, WA

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The Issaquah Triathlon remains one of my favorite races and, no, it's not because it was my first (which it was). It gives me a great barometer of my training during the off-season (or lack thereof) and is a very well run and fun race. It's even more fun when the water is warm but that hasn't happened in years.

Beginning with the 2009 race my oldest son (i.e. Boy #1) decided to do the kids triathlon. He did it again in 2010 but we both had to miss the race last year due to family scheduling conflicts. This year we were both "all-in" as it were, not missing it for anything!

Packet pickup was at a hotel virtually across the street from the race venue, Lake Sammamish State Park. When we arrived, all 3 boys in tow, Boy #3 informed me that he wanted to race. I said, "That's nice. Let's talk about it later," as I grabbed my packet and got my race number. At every step along the way Boy #3 reminded me again that he wanted to race. As I finished getting my number marked on my leg/arm he once again asked me if he could get a number. Did I mentioned he was excited about this race? We had a little talk about trying hard things and doing our best and he was very excited. As I filled out the form he kept asking me to hurry up, thinking they might run out of shirts or something. In the end he got his race packet, race number markings, and exited with a HUGE grin on his face.

Boy #3 at packet pickup, getting his first tri number!


The night before the race I was surprisingly calm and slept very well even though my wife was quite sick and unable to do much of anything that weekend. Once again Grandma and Grandpa came to the rescue to transport the boys to the kids Tri so they didn't have to sit unsupervised in the park while I did my race. That would not have ended well.

At the start I found someone else with the Super Grover jersey! The woman on my transition rack said she found it several years ago on eBay and had to have it. I agree, that is one of my favorite jerseys and I wear it to all my races, even though it is a pain to put on in T1.

The Goal

On every race I set a goal time and this one was no different. Several years ago I set a lofty goal to finish this race in under 75 minutes and for some reason I thought this was doable this time around.

2010 goal

Swim: 8:00, T1: 2:30, Bike: 40:00, T2: 1:30, Run: 23:00, Total: 1:15:00

The Swim

For the two weeks leading up to the race Boy #1 was kind enough to give me daily updates on the water temperature at Lake Sammamish, even though I knew it was going to suck.

Water temp on race morning: 62F, 6 degrees warmer than the 2010 race but still quite cold. A quick warm-up swim before the race really helped to acclimate my body to the shockingly cold water. I can't imagine having to start without a warmup.

After the obligatory "mandatory race meeting" I only had to wait for about 15 minutes for my wave to be called. At around 7:15 am they called us into the starting pen but there were too many of us and they split us into 2 packs. I was 2 people short of being in the back of pack #1, where I wanted to be, so there I was standing at the FRONT of the second group. My traditional strategy of "wait for everyone else to go first" kind of went out the window. I'm not exactly sure why but as the horn sounded I positioned myself in the middle of the pack where I stayed for the entire swim. A group of 5 of us stayed together until the last 50m where they pulled away from me. The water temp didn't affect me as bad as I thought it would. What did throw me off was the sand bar near the end. Here I was in deep water swimming away when all of a sudden, in one of my arm down strokes, I come up with a handful of sand. I pushed away from it and was able to swim to the finish. In the end I was able to stay in my crawl stroke for nearly the entire race except for a short time after the second buoy where I did the breaststroke for a few yards to catch my breath.

Did I mentioned the sharp rocks? The swim this year, as well as last year, were at the smaller beach on the south end of the lake. Despite having a sandy beach the lake bottom is strewn about with very sharp little rocks that REALLY HURT. This slowed me down considerably coming out of the water.

Swim result: 12:46, OA: 439/527, AG: 50/61 (35-39)


I am glad I hit my "lap" button on my Garmin as I exited the water because I was curious just how long it was from the swim back to transition. Wow. A quarter mile from the lake shore to the exit to T1? They recorded the time as you entered transition so my swim time includes a that 1/4 mile jog, which added about 90 seconds to my swim time. I need to find a quicker way to complete T1. I should have been in and out in under 2 minutes, not 4:25.

 T1 Result: 4:25, OA: 453/527, AG: 55/61 (35-39)

The Bike

As I began the ride, after blowing my swim time by almost 4 minutes, it was obvious that I was not going to make my bike goal: I was tired, my legs already hurt, and my attitude was somewhere around "meh?". Overall the ride went well and with little to no issues. After the first decent down the small hill on East Lake Sammamish Parkway my attitude improved dramatically. There is no substitute for a long, sustained push over 30 MPH (max speed of 38.6 MPH). I hit the turn around, climbed the hill again, and did the same push on the other side. As I looked at my watch it was obvious that I wouldn't hit my 40 minute goal but maybe I could do 45? Nope, not this time. By the time I got into T2 it was obvious my legs were cooked. Hey, at least I beat 50 minutes!

One missing thing: there is usually someone who plays leap-frog with my after we settle into the bike. Not this time. I passed a couple of people but it was amazing how many VERY fast riders passed me.

Bike Result: 49:48, OA: 356/527, AG: 47/61 (35-39)

T2 T2 Result: 2:11, OA: 433/527, AG: 55/61 (35-39)

The Run

...and then the pain set in. Not cramps, per se, just pretty intense muscle soreness. I didn't push it that hard on the bike, did I? Apparently I did and I had to walk several times just to maintain forward momentum.  By the time I hit the finish line I was DONE. Boy, was I done.

Sprint factor: Was I able to sprint at the end? Not a chance, even though my watch recorded me on a 7:29 pace for the last 20 seconds of the race.

Run Result: 31:24, OA: 461/527, AG: 59/61 (35-39)

Total time: 1:40:32, OA: 428/527, AG: 53/61 (35-39)

Post Race

This race illustrated very well my lack of consistent off-season training. I did a lot of rides and runs, just not strung together into a pattern that would lead to increased fitness or at the intensity I wanted/needed. In the end I can't ask for much more: I finished without incident, and overall I'm happy that my finish time represents the effort I did (or didn't) put into training. Now it does concern me that a little over 3 months away I want to be finishing my first half-iron distance tri, which will require extensive training in July and August, typically my worst months for training.

Lessons learned:

  1. TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN. At least in a more consistent manner. Will I ever learn?
  2. A warm-up swim DOES help! Boy, am I glad I did!
  3. Need to improve T1 time considerably.

Kids Triathlon

My kids arrived just as I was walking over to the transition area after my race. We had to hustle to get them to their race on time, which means I had to skip the brauts for now. We did make it, thanks to the help of the Grandparents!

 Getting ready for the start of the kids tri

See how excited they are? Really, they are excited about the race, just not too thrilled about the cold water temps and sharp rocks. Oh, and that the rain was really starting to come down.

Boy #1 said he was going to try to swim the short little course but in the end he waded through it.

Boy #1 coming out of the water after his "swim".

By the time he got to T1 the rain was POURING. I helped him clean off his feet and put his shoes on and he was off.

It was at this point that I heard the crying. Boy #3 was having a terrible race. He went to run into the water and the rocks stopped him cold. He came out of the water very upset and didn't know what to do next. A very kind woman helped him along the shore to the transition area where I found him. I consoled him, helped him dry off, put his coat on him to help warm back up, and he actually continued on the bike, albeit in a bad mood.

Boy #3 recovering in T1 in the pouring rain.

As Boy #3 left on the bike, Boy #1 was coming in, like a rocket. He quickly ditched his bike, helmet, and gloves, and off he went on the run. We was so fast that he beat Grandma and Grandpa to the finish line so we don't actually have a picture of him finishing. He clearly needs to step up to the next level in triathlons after proving that the kids tri was not a challenge to him at all.

Boy #3 eventually made his way around the bike course and was still pretty upset when he came back into transition.

I decided that Boy #3 needed my help on the run so I ran along with him. He calmed down and was able to do pretty well all the way to the finish line. By the time he finished he was actually somewhat happy.

Boy #3 finishing his first kids tri!

To improve attitudes we made sure that both boys found the chocolate milk and bratwurst in the finish line food. By the time we left happy attitudes did in fact abound.

Post race food! Enjoying some bratwursts after the Issaquah Triathlon.


My recovery over the next few days started out pretty good but had a weird side effect: my neck was incredibly sore for the next 3 weeks. So much so that I had to make 2 trips to the Chiropractor and apply ice and stretch every night for a month.

What's next?

For me: I need to seriously step up my training, particularly running and swimming, if I want to do the Federal Escape Olympic in late July and the Grand Columbian half-iron in September.

For Boy #1: There are 2 more opportunities this summer for him to actually swimthe swim leg of the kids tri. The Federal Escape has a longer tri for older kids which includes a 100m swim. I told him that if he completes this race I will help him train to compete in the FULL sprint triathlon next year at the Issaquah Tri. I will even race with him, sacrificing my race time to stay with him to make sure he finishes. At this point he is not quite sure this is what he wants but time will tell. He is making great strides in his swimming lessons so we have high hopes.

For Boy #3: He is also taking swim lessons and wants to do the kids tri again next year. This time with water shoes.