Aching Bad! (B!tches… Yo!) The Couples Triathon 2014

So once again Alison and I were partners for the Couples Triathlon, a Tri where you each race individually, but your times are combined for the purposes of the competition.  Alison left it up to me to come up with our team name since there was also a “Best Team Name” contest.  After much thought I came up with the BEST. NAME. EVER.


Come on.  How great is that? (we didn’t win, even though we should have, and I am considering starting a Petition for a recount).


I had gone for a recovery bike ride the day before, that turned into a race (of, course).  So I was interested to see how my legs would hold out, but I was feeling pretty good race morning.

I got out to the race site really early, and got some prime parking.  I pumped my tires, loaded my water bottles, grabbed tri-bag, and headed to transition.  Because I was early transition was not yet opened and the volunteers that do bodymarking of your race numbers were not in position.  I spied my friend Kim Hanford also waiting.  I went over to her and said, “I have a marker.  What’s your number?” then neatly marked her arms and legs with her race number and her calf with her age.  When I went to hand her the marker to do me, she said, “Oh, my handwriting is terrible” and scurried off to the transition area … See how it is?

I had one of the volunteers mark me, then went into transition where I scored the best rack position ever!  The racks are generally designated by your group (be it age group, or in the case of the Couples Tri “Friends-female” or “Mixed-friends”, “More than friends”, etc…). Normally older women are delegated to the furthest rack from the bike exit, so you run furthest in your bike shoes and shortest in your running shoes, which I might point out are designed for running and actually have “running” in the name.  I was racing with a female friend so we were in the Friends-female group and one of our designated racks was the first rack directly in front of the “bike out” exit.  Score!

instant karma

Alison showed up and racked next to me at the spot I saved her, and we donned our team race bibs and matching 98.7% pure blue bracelets that looked like the meth in Breaking Bad to go with our awesome team name:

team aching bad

This race had a time trial start, where we would enter the water with your Couple -two at a time – with 3 seconds between teams.  Friends-female started right after the pros and Friends-male.  The water looked calm and the sun was rising across the lake. We were looking into the sun down the first buoy line.


The shadows were on “our side” of the buoys, but I could clearly see the outline and shadow of the big triangular turn buoy on the 800 meter swim course, even if I couldn’t see the color.  Just swim towards the triangle!

We stood on the shore until the swim director said “go!” and we were off.  The water was not particularly congested with swimmers and I was able to get into comfortable stroke fairly quickly.  I passed the first buoy, then the second.  I swam towards the big triangular shadow in the distance.

Often races have folks in kayaks, on S’up board, and on Jet skis keeping an eye on the swimmers.  So, with the sun directly ahead, and all I could see were the shadows, I learned that the shadow of people on a Jet Ski can look a lot like the shadow of a big triangular buoy:


So I swam towards the jet ski for a while…  Dang it!  I got back on course and finished the swim without much further drama.

Swim 15:00 at a 1:53 for 100m (yeah, I suspect the swim may have been a bit short, because I am not that fast, but I’ll take it!)

I ran out of the swim and up the long hill back to transition.  I actually felt pretty good getting up that hill.  Sometimes it’s hard to get your land legs back after being horizontal in the water, but I felt great.  I got into my bike gear and jumped on my bike, then ran out of transition.

The bike is my sport.  As I have often said of my less than stellar swim times, “I’ll make it up on the bike!”  The Couples bike course also has some good climbs on it.  I also happen to love hills on the bike.  The course starts out with a few rolling hills, than flattens out for a while before a nice little incline to warm your legs up.  As I approached that first longish (though not steep) incline on Decker Lake Road a gal flew passed me.  It’s okay.  It’s okay, let’s see what happens on the hill.

Yep. She was toast.  You’re not going to pass me on a hill for two reasons.  One is that I am strong on the hills.  The other is a pride thing; Oh no, you are not going to pass me on a hill.  I will destroy myself on a hill to not get passed, but I don’t care if you pass me on the downhill.

Bike Elevation

couples bike

So through the bike course I powered up the hills and held strong on the flats.  I also know this course very well.  Knowing what is ahead, how fast you can safely go downhill, what’s around that next corner will really benefit you in a race.

Bike: 32:37 over 11.2 miles for 20.6 mph. Loving it!

I finished strong and headed back into transition for the run.  I ditched my bike stuff and jammed my running shoes on, grabbed my race belt, visor and little 10 oz water bottle and headed through the transition to the run-out on the other side.  There were volunteers handing out water and Gatorade as you exited onto the run course.  I grabbed a cup and dumped it over my head.

Yeah, that was Gatorade…  Hey, just more incentive to run faster since I would likely be chased by bees.

Even though this was my third week in a row racing (albeit the races were progressively getting shorter) and I had ridden hard the day before, I still felt good.  The run course has some hills, and it more like a trail run than a street run.  Not particularly technical, but several areas on grass and piles of broken sticks that are supposed to be mulch.  I know a lot of folks really hate it, but since I have some experience with trail running, I am not particularly uncomfortable running on uneven surfaces, and I thought the breeze felt good.

What the “mulch” looks like

decker mulch

At about the 1 1/2 Mile point, Mikey Thompson (of Kona, and Jack &Adams fame) passed me.  Then I passed him at the next water stop, then he passed me at the bottom of the big downhill, then we approached the hideous deceptive final big hill more or less together. The hill is always about 20x worse than I remember it.  It doesn’t look that steep and it doesn’t look that long, but day-um!  I always consider walking, but then I know I will be really mad at myself if I do, so I just imagined that Coach Gilbert was watching me and yelling at me.

OK, maybe it does look long on a map.

OK, maybe it does look long on a map.

I finally managed to squeak passed Mikey. “Mike… you’re killing … me…” I gasped as I passed him on the uphill and for the last time before he smoked me on the final straight away to the finish line.

Run: 25:15 at 8:09 min/mile

My overall time was a 1:16:26 which was over 2 1/2 minutes better than my best time on that course before, so YEA, me!

Friends Female is a particularly competitive group, so my Couple and I did not place, but I still say we should have won for best team name.



About jredtripp

Triathlete Extraordinaire!
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