Sunday, September 18, 2011

Starcrossed and Kirkland Triathlon

I had been doing a bit of swimming throughout the summer with the hope of not drowning for my annual appearance in the Northwest Triathlon scene, and was again targeting the Kirkland Triathlon since Roanne and I did it last year and it was pretty fun. Roanne was traveling for work and so was unable to join me this year, but nonetheless I was looking forward to it. As it did last year, it once again conflicted with the Starcrossed Cyclocross race. I didn't really want to choose between the two events, so like last year I decided to do both.

I woke up early on Saturday morning to cool, windy weather and gray skies, and headed over to Kirkland to get my gear set up in the staging area. I ran into my friends Mike and Yuko Schmitt at the starting line, so it was nice to have someone to hang out with as Mike and I are both in the same age division. Here is a shot of Mike and I getting ready to enter the water, we had a delay before the swim started because the bouys that marked the swim course kept getting blown out of position. Check out our coordinated outfits!

We were the second group to start after the elites, and like last year I managed to move off the front of our group during the swim thanks to residual ability left over from swimming in my youthful days. I think there was one guy in our group ahead of me, but it was hard to tell because pretty soon we were catching a lot of people from the "elite" group. Here I am exiting the water:

I had a quicker transition to my bike than last year because I had learned a few things from that experience (lesson #1: putting socks on when your feet are wet is time consuming; don't bother), and pretty soon I was off and rolling. I caught a good number of people on the bike leg, probably because the course was quite hilly and also quite technical. Triathletes aren't known for their bike handling skills so they lose time in corners, and most of them also don't grasp the concept that an aero position only yields benefits when you are going fast, so they end up grinding up climbs in their aero position instead of changing to an upright position that would be more efficient for climbing. Here I am coming into the transition zone after the bike:

After swapping to my running gear I set out on foot, and it soon became obvious that running is not my strength as the people I had passed on the bike leg began streaming by me. I think for next year I will try to do some track workouts, as it would be nice to run a bit faster. Here I am coming into the finish line:

I guess my slow run was good enough, as I managed to win my age group though I didn't stick around for the awards presentation since I was off to my next event, StarCrossed which was being held in Lake Sammamish State Park. This was a change from recent years, it is normally held in the evening at Marymoor Park and while Lake Sammamish is a great venue, I really missed the party atmosphere from Marymoor with the beer garden in the middle of the velodrome. I spent a few hours volunteering (my bike clubs helps run the race), then suited up for the Cat. 3 race. I am normally a Cat. 2, but since the 1s and 2s race together and there are a lot of pros in that field (including Bart Wellens, a Belgian former World Champion) I decided to race down a category.

Unlike recent years I had a decent starting position in about 20th of 80 or so, and after dropping back a few positions in the chaotic start I started slowly working my way up and finsihed the race in 8th. Not bad, and super fun! After my race I spent some more time volunteering in the beer garden and watched the pro races which were really fun. Here is Ryan Trebon, one of the top domestic pros using his long legs to cruise through the beach section:

Bart Wellens ended up winning which was really fun to see. All told it was a good day of racing and I'll be back next year!

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