My Washington Debut

Since moving to Seattle 5yrs ago I still was yet to do a triathlon in the state of Washington.  I know this is very sad and that is why this year I have set forth to remedy this inexcusable fact.  I chose the Moses Lake Sprint Triathlon to be my debut because my cousin lives out in the semi desert and semi deserted area of Moses Lake.  After registering I found out that they wouldn’t be in town to watch.  I began questioning my reason for doing this race and when I got there I questioned it even more.  My guide Graham and I spent the entire night before the race driving around the dark open fields looking for my cousin’s house to stay at.  Google maps had taken us to an RV camper near a barn and I was pretty sure that wasn’t it.   The road they live on is named Road 10.2.  In trying to determine how you find a road with that type of name I figured that between Rd 10 and 11, closer to 10, we were just supposed to drive through the crops and come upon a house.  It took hours but we finally found the mysterious house.  We then discovered another problem.  My cousin had forgotten to leave the key so she gave us the code for the garage.  Come to find out the garage code box needed new batteries and wouldn’t work.  We were so tired and just wanted to pass out.  We then executed plan B and got a hotel that was $90 for the 5hrs that we would be using it.

Memorial Day morning we woke up at 5:15am and as always on the day of a race, “it was game time!”  We both shoveled down our oatmeal and hopped in the car.  As we pulled into the park and got out of the car, everything felt different.  We got the tandem out and all that was going through my head as others walked by was, “I wonder if they have seen a tandem before.  They are probably thinking that there is a new type of relay division in the race.”  Each time I go to a small local triathlon there is always a shock factor when others see the tandem and a rope tied between my guide and I.  I know that it’s primarily because local races have not had a physically challenged athlete participate before so it’s a little new.   I have come to expect this and now know how to react and help make the process go smooth.  Registration is always interesting at these races because it’s all new to them  I end up just educating them on what to do and then it’s all good from there.  The people at BuDu racing were very good with accommodating me and allowing me to be just like any of the participants.

When it was time to strip down the track suit, Graham and I became even more apparent.  We had our matching K Swiss suits on and CEP  compression sleeves.  People either thought we looked really good or we just looked like a bunch of circus clowns.  Either way, “it was game time!”  We were in the second of three waves and would start 5 minutes behind the first wave.  The swim was only 400m so it would be a big splash fest.  When the whistle blew we sprinted out into the lead.  I thought we were in the clear with the tether because we had gotten into the lead but I thought wrong.  As we went around the second buoy a swimmer from the wave in front of us was struggling along.  He was hidden behind the buoy so Graham didn’t see him.  Right as we made the turn we were yanked violently back.  Our bungee was snagged on a big fish (the swimmer) and we were force to stop and untangle ourselves.  I began to hyperventilate for a second which made the last 150m of the swim very difficult.  Two people passed us as we were getting untangled and we came out of the water a few seconds behind in 3rd place.

Since Graham and I had not practiced our transitions, they were a little sluggish and uncoordinated but we got on the bike eventually and began hammering on the 12-mile bike.  The bike was uphill out of transition and then flat and windy in the open fields.  We quickly started blowing by the entire first wave of participants.   At the turn around we still had four more people from the first wave to pass.  We put the hammer down and came into T2 30secs behind the last lone soldier from wave 1.  Our plan was to catch him and put a lot of ground on him and then just turn the engine off and coast.  We started making up ground right away out of the transition area which was again up hill.  The 5K run was not exactly flat.  The first 2 miles involved zig zagging uphill through a neighborhood.  We caught the guy at about the halfway point and quickly put some distance between him.  I asked Graham to look back and see if anyone was near.  He said there was no one and so I said let’s put it in cruise control for the rest.  I am a stronger runner than Graham and so there was no need to max him out unless we needed to.  With about ½ mile to go we made a right hand turn and I asked Graham to check our status.  He said, “There’s a guy about 200yds back that’s gaining.”  We picked it up a bit but when Graham checked again the guy was 100yds back.  We didn’t know if this guy was in our wave or the wave beforehand but we did know that we had to win this race.  I revved the engine back up and started hauling.  I shouted over to Graham, “Come on man we gotta go.”  Graham responded in a gasping plea, “I’m going as fast as I can man!”  Luckily, we were really close to the line because I don’t think Graham could have held on any longer.  At the last turn downhill the tether somehow untied from Graham and in a frantic leap he caught the very end and held on.  It looked as though I was his dog running away from him.  The guy was very close behind but we sprinted to the line and crossed in a time of 49:44, just 11second in front of the guy behind.   I still had quite a bit left in the tank but Graham was spent.  He had done an amazing job in pushing himself and guiding me to a great Washington debut.  I am now 1 for 1 in the state of Washington so if I win my next one in the state we can call it a winning streak (ha-ha).

Later, at the awards ceremony I got one of the coolest little trophies I have ever seen.  It’s got a miniature bike chain ring and piece of chain.

I made sure to thank the people of BuDu Racing for putting on a great race and then Graham and I set out on a nice easy 2hr bike ride to make our trip worthwhile.  We preferred to do the ride in the warm sunshine than the gloomy rein.  Being that we were in podunkville it is only fitting that we got chased by multiple dogs, one of which chased us and kept up at 25mph for more than a half mile. I don’t know what the owners of this dog are thinking.  They need to get that animal to the race track.  It may have a future in dog racing.

Well that ends the story of my Washington debut race.  My career in the state of Washington is untarnished but that doesn’t say much of anything.  I need to get myself out there to do more of these small races and be reminded of how I got started.  My next race is quite the opposite of Moses Lake.  Next up is the Hy-Vee Triathlonon June 13th.  Until then, keep on keeping up and remember to be yourself because everyone else is taken!