Why I Tri? by Eugene Partridge
During my middle school years, we called it junior high school, I played a lot of baseball and football. I knew at an early age that football wasn’t going to work out as I was a head shorter and 50 lbs. lighter than other players. I played Pony League baseball and turned out for center field. One year, there were 23 games. The coach put me in for 1 inning. I got up to bat and got a home run. I spent the rest of the season on the bench. That was the end of my baseball career.
My older brothers, Rick and Mike, both ran cross country at West Seattle High School. When they practiced on weekends or at night, after school, I would go out and run with them. We ran in old Converse tennis shoes. We would go on 2-3 mile runs. Those runs were easy for me. I had no problem hanging in there with them. I learned what sport I could do. Both cross country and track and field. Back then, there were great runners in Washington State, such as Gerry Lindgren, from Spokane. Both Washington State and Oregon were running meccas. Running was extremely popular in all the Seattle Public Schools.
I was good enough my sophomore year to walk on and make the Varsity cross country team the first day by running 2 miles in 11 minutes. I was varsity all 3 years of high school. Although I found running easy, I didn’t have the discipline to train hard. I was only average throughout my high school years.
One of my first triathlons was in 1987. I just walked on at Lake Sammamish to do a sprint tri without training. Until those days, I was primarily a marathoner. During my National Guard days, I turned out and ran with the National Guard marathon team. This earned me a spot to run every year in Lincoln, Nebraska at the National Guard Championships. So, running was an entry for me into triathlon racing.
My primary influence and entry into triathlons comes from my son, Vince. In the early days, we would run triathlons over many of the common courses including Issaquah, Kirkland, Seafair. We kept it simple. We did mostly sprint triathlons. In those days, I road mostly on a steel frame 501 Trek 10 speed. In those years, aluminum tri bikes were popular and carbon fiber seemed too space age for me. About 7-8 years ago, Vince introduced me to Raise the Bar. This was something we could do together. The first several years, limiting my races to sprint triathlons and Friday night swims. Hindsight, being what it is, those earlier races were great fun. No pressure, I just wanted to finish the race without drowning. I was always able to make up whatever distance I lost on the bike with a reasonably good 5 K run. I’ve enjoyed running with all my children, Vince, Valerie, Brian and Elizabeth through the years. They’ve kept be grounded and humble. They call me out if I get too big a head!
Once I started swimming with RTB at the Covington pool, I learned that I was a swim type, called Arnie. My struggles in the water had to do with my body from my waist to my toes sinking. I was hauling my body around the pool constantly out of breath. Learning to swim became a major goal for me. While I have improved markedly, I have become addicted to my pool buoy. Thank God for wet suits in the open water races.
Once I began swimming consistently, I also began to look for long distances such as the Olympic. I attempted to run my first Half Ironman in Boise. While I finished that race, me suffer score was high and my times were relatively slow in my age group. After completing Boise Half Ironman, I was first in my age group and qualified for the World Championships in Las Vegas. I continued to race and eventually completed a full Ironman at Lake Coeur d’ Alene. That race, at that distance, is still my PR today. The following year, while training at Coeur d’ Alene I ruptured my left Achilles tendon. Although having ruptured my Achilles tendon, I didn’t believe it for 2 weeks. I finally woke up, sought surgical help, and had my rupture repaired. I didn’t handle injury with grace. I was frequently caught cheating by riding my bicycle around the neighborhood with my cast on. I embraced physical therapy at Outpatient Physical Therapy. I had 22 sessions and that became my work out.
In recent years, my racing is primarily the 70.3 distance and a once a year a 140.6 Ironman. I try to do at least one Olympic and one duathlon per year. My favorite race is our very own Black Diamond Half Ironman. I think it is my familiarity and my training ground that make this race so much fun for me.
So why do I do triathlons? I enjoy the team, the building of friendships, both pre-race and post-race festivities. I enjoy Northwest Tri and Bike. I try to stay away so I don’t buy so much stuff. I need to make at least a weekly visit to pick up badly needed Power Bars and Power gels, and lights.
The future-I’m not the best planner. Many times, I can’t see past the next race. My next race often depends on how I did in my last race. I’m not ready to quit although safety is paramount. One cannot train without putting time on the bike and on the road. I look forward to many more years of training and racing.
Raise the Bar
Race reports, upcoming events, news, and more, from RTB.