MM#209 / JapanJoyful#803
www.racecenter.com/kirklandtri/ www.chacos.com wwww.runningbarefoot.org
barefoot jon’s 2011 Kirkland Regular Sprint Triathlon with Chaco sandals boy.
Chaco David and barefoot jon together in transition area after event (c) - Chaco David
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1/2 mile swim in Chaco sandals . . misfit friend's bike / no aerobars ...... Chaco run
event photos (c) purchased by Chaco David from EPilchik Photography
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getting up the ramp was hardest part . . . . . .. easy ridin' on the aerobars. . . . . . . . . . . .finale 5K run
event photos (c) purchased by baretoot jon from EPilchik Photography
SUMMARY: Mariposai’s son wonders at the last minute about doing a triathlon this year after all. Two days later were are doing it, me swimming, cycling and running in my bare feet and David doing all three legs in his Chaco sandals, yep, he swam a half mile wearing Chaco sandals before cyclng 12 miles and running 5K in them..
NARRATIVE (warning: same as three race reports, if not more):
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter One - fitness marathons on a whim.
My ski buddies and I’d run our first marathons in 1977 on a whim to see if intensive leg-jarring, body-shaking ski team racing all winter was good enough to run 26.2 miles without having to bother with any run training. It was. . The next year, 1978, when the first triathlon came to town, we decided to try it too. There were no indoor swimming pools for learning how to swim in those days but I’d once gotten a 50-foot certificate during a summer vacation with more southern relatives. Therefore, most of us just sidestroked our way out into the middle of the small lake and got back just fine..I’ve been doing both ever since but now, since I don’t ski so much anymore, marathons and triathlons are primarily for their own purpose to get in shape rather than to stay in shape. .When my friend’s son recently decided to see if he could run marathons as his mother had started to do also, I got to join him for all 26.2 miles in a July marathon down a rails-to-trails course in the Cascade Mountains, . . . same marathon where his mother was up ahead achieving a well-deserved BQ. .During our more recreational-paced run <<<(six-hours/six-hours)>>>, I found out that, just as I had been for skiing, he was more interested in hiking, mountain biking and other physical activities than in just plain running for running’s sake. Thus, along the way, pointing out adjacent mountains he had been climbing on recent weekends, he admitted he hadn’t actually trained much, if any, for this marathon. When he expressed a possible interest in triathlons, I suggested the upcoming super-sprint* triathlon at nearby Beaver Lake in August. It has been my annual favorite since moving to Seattle in 1997. .David hadn’t swum any distance at all since boy scouts but, when he found out the quarter-mile swim in the BLT was the only swimming I’d been doing at all for each of the last five years too, we made our vow that it didn’t matter and we would be there together. .Unfortunately, I ended up out-of-town so we put it off until next year. There were a couple of late-season regular sprint* tri’s in September but their half-mile swims were too long for my now easily fogging corneas. Also, the one-half mile swim out into the middle of Lake Washington probably warranted at least a little of the swim training I wasn’t willing to do. .After I got back in town in September though, David’s interest in tri's persisted and, last Thursday, he asked about the Kirkland Triathlon upcoming on Saturday. Though the one-half mile swim was too long for me now, I didn’t want to disappoint his very interest I’d been responsible for piquing. Anyway, the worse that could happen would to be pulled out of the water for a ride back to shore by lifeguards in one of the many skiffs and kayaks stationed nowadays along the swim course buoy lines. I knew the feeling: once I'd been plucked out of Tokyo Bay when a thunder/lightning storm developed in the middle of a tri-swim. .Besides, Kirkland allowed grabbing the gunnels to rest, clean goggles, etc. In addition, there was no time limit on the swim. How could I say no?
So we signed up on Friday and were standing on the shores of a wind-whipped Lake Washington on Saturday. Fortunately, after ten days of sun, the mid-September water temperature was still 67 degrees. With the air temperature at 51 degrees, it seemed even warmer. Nevertheless, only a handful of us were not wearing super-slick, speedy wetsuits. David had a swimming suit that looked more like cargo hiking shorts and, as usual, I just left on my brand new, black boxer-briefs <<<(jockey/jockey)>>> that looked the same as everyone elses’ $100 nycron or whatever tri-trunks. I then noticed that David was still wearing his shoes!.We had talked a little about him going barefoot too but the pedals on his friend’s borrowed (and ill-fitting road bike) were too sharp for bare soles. Lacking any cycling cleats, he started gushing about the leather Chaco sandals he would wear instead. .I have no infatuation at all with shoes but he loved those Chaco sandals so much he had permanent tan lines on the top of his feet from the last five years of even wearin’ ‘em sockless on sunny days even in the winter. I respected David’s parents too much to do it but, not being a big fan of footwear, I would have otherwise probably said something smart alec like, “if they’re so great, why don’t you swim in them too?” .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 2 - swimming in sandals and not.
Then, all at once, he said turned and said, “I think I’ll swim in them too.”.I thought of what his parents might say about the dangers of trying to swim out into the middle of the choppy lake on the out-and-back course in sandals. However, I kept quiet when I realized any negative comment on what he wanted to do with his feet would be the same as the comments I’d been hearing about running barefoot marathons since 1990 and barefoot tri’s since 2002. .
So that is how we entered the choppy waters. The currents were pulling and buffeting my legs one way and the wind and waves trying to push the rest of me the other way but, somehow, we both completed a swim that was longer than either of us had done for the last five years. It took me 34 minutes, 350th out of 356 swimmers and my stumbling up the boat ramp generated more “are you okay, sir” comments than usual. Happily, maybe the new goggles or something, I could see fine this time. In the meantime, David had already run the three blocks up to the grassy transition, pushed his bike out and was well underway on the cycling course. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 3 - cycling in sandals and not.
Neither of us had to take off a wet suit and, since I had no shoes to put on and he already had his on, we were both pretty fast through the transition for the swim-to-bike (T-1). As a mountain biker, David was in his element on hills of Kirkland so steep that the annual 70-mile Memorial Day “7-Hills-of-Kirkland” ride used to be all I ever needed to do get in shape for the Ironman Coeur d’Alene I was doing in June in those days. .However, our entry was so last minute that the friend’s road bike David was riding for the first time turned out to be too small and lacked aerobars needed to sustain a fast pace. Nevertheless, he jumped from 306th after the swim to 210th overall in the 12 miles of cycliing. It would have been more except for a calf cramp that persisted throughout the bike and run from the last meters of the swim..On one of the steepest climbs, a rider on a $5,000 titanimum steed getting passed by Chaco sandal rider just shook his head and was heard to grumble, “I should have known from those sandals that you were a climber.” .In deference my right knee that had all-of-a-sudden gotten old on me in 2009, it wasn’t much fun one-legged pedaling up the same hills we used to delight in conquering leg-by-leg the same way for conditioning in those days. However, with aerobars I’d been using ever since 1987 when they were introduced in time for that year’s Ironman Hawaii by some skiers in Sun Valley (who called ‘em “downhill bars” ), I got to pass my own fair share of riders on the several miles of long, gradual descents following each of the hills too.. Chapter 4 - running in sandals and not.
With the bike course ending right at the entrance to transition area instead having the long run up there from the swim, our T-2 bike-to-run times were among the fastest of the day. Only two elites, both of whom placed in the top five overall, were faster than my 43 seconds. .Unlike the bike, the 5K run finale had no sustained hills to conquer at all. .But all things come to an end at last and David, still in his Chaco sandals, was kindly waiting for me at the finish arch. Almost right away, an event photographer helping capture everyone’s finishes handed his camera to his partner and came running over to us in amazement. However, instead of the interest in barefoot running I’ve come to expect, he pointed to David’s Chaco sandals and exclaimed, “are you the one who biked in those too?” A picture of the photog would have been better than the ones he’d been taking of us when I added with as much pride as if David had been my own for the day, “he worn 'em in the one-half mile swim too!”.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 5 - Conclusion: finding another me for triathlons too
I’ve “coached” several otherwise fit 5-10K fun runners to their own marathons without any additional training except moderating their own strong 5/10K paces by 3-4 minutes per mile. However, I never thought I’d find another me for no-training triathlons. .On the way back to town in David's car, with both bikes across the back seat (wheels in the trunk), I dozed off until he dropped me off. I then took an even longer nap, . . . as he went off to meet friends for a hike up nearby Mt. Si. That used to be me too.
David did so well I’m thinking he’ll probably still be doing triathlons when he’s my age in 2056, if not beyond.
With a mother like Mariposai, I’m sure of it. In fact, maybe she will too, . . .
and a bunch of other boomers I can think of.too.
APPENDIX - * STANDARD TRIATHLON DISTANCES
. Event Swim Bike . . . . . .. . . . . Run
Super-sprint - 0.25.mi..........~12mi...................5K
regular sprint - . 0.5................ .~12 ......................5K
Half Iron...............1.2................. 56.................... 13.1 mi
Iron.......................2.4................ .112................. .26.2 mi
Henry the Great: "I'm going to keep running as long as I can." Me too, I hope.
T. Igarashi (summiting Mt. Fuji at age 100): "Enjoy yourself. Your younger days never come again."