My goal has always been to keep doing this sport for as long as I can…my longtime friend/training partner Jim Hutter is 10 years older than I am…I figure that as long as he keeps doing tri’s I still have at least 10 more years…he has threatened to quit more times than I can remember but he can usually be persuaded into doing another one so if you see him, keep encouraging him to race! And to keep hope alive, did anyone read about the 105 year old Frenchman that recently pounded out almost 15 miles on his bike in one hour? Very impressive!!
I recently had to go back through a bunch of race records to find proof that at one time there was actually a Washington State Triathlon Championship race at Lake Sammamish back in the late 80’s. I didn’t have any luck finding it (I know it was held) but it was an interesting walk back through history of the races that used to be in this area. Now keep in mind this is before the internet existed and all of the race results were photocopied and mailed out to participants. They even posted results in the newspapers! It’s sad some of these races don’t still exist…Silver Lake, Clear Lake, Hoquim, EDS Tri in Poulsbo, Pro Sports Club tri’s and Swim/Runs, Seward Park Swim/Run races and the plethora of Bob Green races in Elma with distances of sprint up to a half IM distance. Bob even provided Wonder Bread to make sandwiches and offered Ho Ho’s and Twinkie’s as part of the post-race meal. Now keep in mind these were the days before tri bikes and wetsuits existed. All you needed was a speedo, goggles, bike, helmet and running shoes. In those days we thought too much time was wasted changing shoes so we rode in running shoes. I even remember doing the Sumner Duathlon (run-bike-run) with Ed Clarke and we opted to wear our bike helmets on the first run to save time in T1. Why do you suppose people don’t run in aero helmets…over the course of 26.2 miles I’m sure you could save 6-8 minutes…anyone willing to test this theory? How many of you would be willing to start a race with a speedo and bike helmet today? And race fees were $15-$25…who in the world would pay $30 to do a race…unheard of! And now I pony up $8-900 to race an IM event…if I had only just invested that money where would I be? It is amazing to see how the sport and events have changed and evolved over the years. Technology continues to innovate and bring new knowledge and faster products to the sport…and yet I’m not as fast as I used to be…maybe that is the influence of aging? My motivation to race fast isn’t as strong as it used to be unless maybe there are some apple fritters on the line!
Erin sat on my feet during the swim which was a regular occurrence in those days…the bike was a 4 loop course which Erin and I had broken away and were leading after lap 2 when I flatted and Erin was left alone up front. Turns out he broke a couple spokes near the end of lap 4 and lost some time…I do figure it was less than I lost changing my flat. But I was able to see he wasn’t too far in front after T2 and I knew he was in new territory being it was his first half. I can remember finally closing the gap and seeing Erin running in his new Trek bike bib shorts with the suspenders flapping in the air as I was finally able to reel him in. He swore then he would never do another long race ever! I know he held true to that until he finally succumbed to the IM bug in 2011…that’s another great story that I’ll leave for another time. But if you see Erin, ask about his IM nutrition plan and pacing strategy.
While there are many great race memories, I think some of the hardest efforts I ever experienced happened at the Sunday morning rides. There were many different people that attended this ride over the years but the theme always stayed the same…beat the ---- out of whoever showed up. Ed Clarke and I are probably the longest term members of the Sunday rides but there were epic battles with Phil Spencer, Erin, Rick Osborn, Brian Guillen, Arnie Maish, Robert Berg, Action Jackson and many many others. Patty (aka the Warrior) was a regular and was always in the mix. The race recaps following these rides were quite entertaining and probably not fit for print today. Phil and Brian were quite the colorful writers. Today the nature of the Sunday rides remain…only the names have changed and the people seem a lot younger. I guess it’s easy to feel old when you look around the group and realize you are old enough to be everyone’s father…age is only a state of mind…age is only a state of mind. And these rides along with many of the swims and runs over the years have created some great and long lasting friendships…spend 3 hours on a run or 5 hours on a bike with someone and the topic of conversations can cover the spectrum…not quite as easy to visit on a long lake swim…hmmm maybe that is why I’m such a fan of swimming…only kidding Patty, I loved those Saturday morning long runs! I do know that one of the primary reasons for why I tri is the people. Think about the community of people we get to hang out with in this crazy sport. I have always been inspired watching ordinary people do extraordinary things! Wonderful people that challenge and make me better on a daily basis! Always a couple of exceptions and yes Bahlenhorst and Fishkin I’m talking about you.
As I think about doing this sport for 35 years, I’m not sure how I stuck with it and I’m sure most of you can relate. Trying to maintain a career and pay the bills, raising kids, family activities, doing yardwork, keeping up the house, training, racing and living off 5 hours of sleep a night for too many years…there is hope for those of you with young kids, it does get easier as they get older. Why do I do this crazy sport? It is the challenge, the competition, the endorphins, the people, the self-discovery, it is definitely the fun, the swimming, the cycling, even the running and perhaps, it is really because I don’t know any different.
Raise the Bar
Race reports, upcoming events, news, and more, from RTB.