Danskin Triathlon, San Jose
Sunday, June 22, 1997
Lake Almaden - San Jose, CA
.75k swim, 20k bike, 5k run

With an insanely busy weekend planned, I was sort of questioning the wisdom of participating at Danskin this year. What is the point, I kept asking myself, of messing up your long training weekend schedule by inserting a little sprint race in there? And with the annual family picnic scheduled for Saturday, you're going to lose way too much training time overall. IMC is getting way too close for this; why race Danskin?

Well, whether it was a wise decision or not, I have to say now that I'm really glad I did Danskin this past weekend. Sure, it meant I didn't get in my long run at all, and I had to shorten my long bike from 4 hours to 3, but I found that it really was worth it. Danskin is so unique and so inspiring. And aside from such touchy-feely fuzzy warmth, the real reward for doing the race was the revelation of a huge payoff for all that painful work on my running--- in short, I was AMAZED!

Although the race organizers apparently were unaware of it, I fortunately had heard through the RST/DRS grapevine that the light rail parking lot across the street from Lake Almaden was no more. So, Skippy and I arrived nice and early and nabbed a parking spot in a reasonable location. Trundled on over to the race site and set up without a hitch. Hobnobbed with a collection of friends and acquaintances, and made the distasteful decision to actually use the wetsuit---mostly just because the air temperature was a wee bit chilly, since the race was starting an hour earlier than usual this year (7 instead of 8).

I started in the very front row of the swim. No, my swimming's pretty mediocre, but at Danskin it's fatal to dump yourself anywhere but in the front! This worked out really well; only a handful of girls swam by me, and I wound up with a great cushion of open water all around me for most of the swim. Got into a good rhythm early on and pushed pretty hard all the way, reminding myself over and over that it's a sprint and it's *supposed* to hurt.

At the first turn there was a little too much traffic, but at the second turn I employed the newly-learned-from-RST "spin" technique to negotiate the buoy, rolling over for a quick backstroke as I switched direction, and immediately reverting to freestyle as I rounded the turn. Wow, that was really slick! I think I really gained an advantage doing that. I love it! Thanks, guys, that was an excellent tip.

The final leg seemed absurdly long. When at last I hit the shore and my split button, I was appalled to see the numbers on my watch--- 13:55!! Wait a minute, that's not possible, not for a half mile, and not when my swim has actually been improving this year. What on earth is up with that?? No time to crab about it now, slide outta this damned wetsuit (while 6 or 7 girls run out of the lake ahead of you) and get moving.

Running up the beach, heart pounding, lungs aching. Wait, you can run harder than this, come on, you're in better shape than ever, make it count! I speed through the throng of cheering spectators and laugh inwardly as one helpful fellow assures me, "No hurry, no need to rush, you're doing great." You don't understand, I *do* need to rush; I gotta get on that darned bike and make up some time here!

A speedy transition (geez, this transition area gets more packed every year!) and now I'm running in my cleats pushing my bike toward the bike exit---no riding in the TA. The transition area is quite lengthy, and, as I begin to recover my land legs, I pick up the pace. Hand on my bike seat, deftly guiding it past the racks and racers, clop-clop-clopping like the crazed Clydesdale that I am, I fly past a slower racer ahead of me and hurl myself in the saddle as I hit the exit.

Click, click, click! Get it up to speed, quick! Get settled in the saddle, get smooth. Brrr, it's a wee bit chilly, almost wish I'd pulled on a T-shirt. Oh well, you'll warm up soon enough.

As usual, the bike is my saving grace. I can't tell you how many women I passed out there, but I can tell you that not a single one passed me. There's one small hill that deserves the name on the Danskin bike course, and even there I kept the pressure up, making my legs ache with the effort as I spun the gears powerfully over. The other side of that hill provided the sweet reward of a 42mph descent, woo hooooooo!!

A number of women tossed admiring encouragement my way as I blasted past, and I responded whenever I could spare the breath---no kidding, I was hammering. I must have looked like some kind of crazed Racer X from Hell to a lot of these ingenue triathletes!

Anybody out there listen to the Squirrel Nut Zippers? I had "Put a Lid On It" going through my head the entire time on the bike:

Put a lid on it!
What's that you say?
Put a lid on it!
Oh, man, no way!
Put a lid down on it, and everything'll be all right.

Put a lid on it!
Don't hand me that!
Put a lid on it!
I'm all right, Jack.
Put a lid down on it before somebody starts a fight.
Hey, ev'ry time I turn it loose, you cats come down and cook my goose
When I start I just can't stop
If you keep this up you're gonna blow your top!

Put a lid on it!
Too late this time.
Put a lid on it!
I gotta get what's mine.
Put a lid down on it, and everything will be all right.

Oh, grab your drink and clear this space---
I think it's time to torch this place!
Now the girl's in overdrive---
Some of your pals want to stay alive!

I'll put a lid on it---
I'll put a lid on it---
I'll put a lid down on it, save it for another night...

There's some nasty wind blowing around out here and I'm frustrated at having to drop the gears so much, but I plow on, breathing deep, head down, pushing hard. In the last couple miles I'm doing close to 30mph on some of the flats, yow!

I fly into the TA, holding back absolutely nothing in the final meters. I leap from the bike and repeat my Clydesdale clop, running as hard as I can in my poor abused cleats. A lightning quick transition (wow, not a single bike on my rack, weird) and hit the split button as I turn and head out on the run start.

Now this is weird! I've actually got a little speed in my legs starting this run. This is REALLY weird, I've never felt that before. Hmmm. Quickly slip into a rhythm. It's not fast, but it's fast for me. This is neat! The parade of runners passing me begins, as usual, right away, but it's more of a trickle than a parade, really. Trot, trot, trot. There's an aid station not too far out, and I rip open a Powergel as I approach. Squeeze it down, drink some water and continue. A couple more girls pass me. Go, girl! Looking good, looking strong!

Uggh, a side stitch. Man, if this thing doesn't lighten up soon I'm gonna be in big trouble. Slow down a little bit, breathe deeply. OK, not so bad. Keep breathing. Focus on the runners ahead of you. See if you can catch 'em.

No mile markers, I have no idea of my pace. But I catch a couple of girls and pass 'em. Really strange feeling! That doesn't happen to TriBaby. Hit another aid station and a downhill stretch. I pass the gal in the purple two-piece---wow, she looks really good, she'll probably pass me back soon. Pass another gal in a red-white-blue running bra. I'm sure she'll catch me back after this little downhill.

Hit the turnaround, and again I employ the little buttonhook maneuver going around the pylon---it's great, and very speedy. "Hey, that's cute, but what's your number?!" calls out a startled volunteer. "357!" I laugh and crow over my shoulder. Now I'm energized, that was so slick! I'm feeling good, and just over a mile and a half to go. I focus on Miss RedWhite&Blue, who had indeed run by me before the turnaround, and concentrate on catching her (Purple 2-piece never did catch me again, which I still can't believe).

Pick it up (Put a lid on it!), keep it moving, you're feeling good, you can push it hard. (Put a lid on it! Oh, man, no way!) Think of those godawful mile repeats on the track---you held on for those, you can hold on here! (Put a lid on it! Too late this time----gotta get what's mine----now the girl's in overdrive!!). I continue to pass people and feel as if I must be in a dream. Nobody's passing me now! What is this??

With about 100 meters to go I catch Redwhite&blue and fly by like she's standing still. I sprint for the line and bumble to a halt. Whew!! Stop my watch and can't help but be disappointed by the total time---1:21:03--- 5 seconds slower than last year. How can that be?? I don't get it! I HAMMERED all day. Hmmm, well, don't worry about it, you did ok. But hey, what was that run split?


All right, all you real runners, quit laughing your asses off, I know, that's slow. But you've gotta realize, that meant a 7:54 per mile pace for this here Clydesdale TriBaby. Do you understand how significant that is for someone who's never run faster than 8:23 per mile in a tri in her life? I can't begin to tell you how stoked I was! That alone made the entire race worth it---not to mention all those horribly painful track sessions!

When I returned to the TA to pick up my gear, I checked my bike computer. 39:21 for 13.29 miles, average speed = 20.1 mph. Hmmm. Not bad, since that includes a couple hundred meters of clumsy clopping through the transition area. I wonder what my actual average speed was? That wind must have been worse than I thought, though, 'cause last year I think my bike time was in the 36's. Oh well.

Anyway, I called the results hot line yesterday and found that I came in 15th out of *300* in the 25-29 age group. Last year I came in 29th! I'd say that is a significant improvement.

Of course Michellie Jones doesn't have anything to worry about, but I was on Cloud 9, I tell ya. And this little performance may not do me a bit of good come August 24th, but it sure did me a lot of good this past weekend; looks like all this hard work really has been paying off, even for the short stuff. Now I just have to hope that it's going to keep me alive for the LONG STUFF....

<---Return to Triptychs