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Copper Creek Triathlon: Shawn's Report

by Shawn Blaesing-Thompson, Kyle’s Bikes 2014 Triathlon Team

Shawn Blaesing-Thompson was ready for Copper Creek TriathlonI have been doing triathlons since 2007 but racing Copper Creek Triathlon was a day of firsts for me:

  • First time doing Copper Creek
  • First race in the 40+ age bracket
  • First triathlon after being diagnosed with MS
  • First time using my ladies triathlon Bia GPS watch
  • First time racing with the Kyle’s Bikes team

It was supposed to be my first time racing on the Kyle’s Bikes Specialized Alias Comp Tri. Saturday night I aired things up, pulled the bike bags off of my road bike, and loaded the Alias into the car. Sunday morning, I was up at 5:15 a.m. to a glorious sunrise and checked the weather. The radar was not looking promising. Storms were coming in so I made the call to switch to the back to the road bike. I am used to riding it and felt more comfortable on it should the rains arrive before I got done with the bike portion of the race. I did a quick check of my gear. I should have checked my list twice.

I had my traditional prerace meal of gluten free toast and almond butter on my drive down to Pleasant Hill. Once I arrived I stopped to pick up my race chip and went to the bike tent before going to claim my spot in transition. I had ridden the MS bike ride the day before and noticed my bike had a squeak but since I didn’t plan to ride that bike again right away, I hadn’t put any lube on it. The guys at the tent fixed me right up.

Then I headed into transition rocking my Kyle’s Bike team tri kit. They had us grouped by wave in transition so I was with all the 40 and over ladies near the swim in/run out area. I got my area set up socks rolled down into my bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses on the aerobars, running shoes/visor/race numbers in the back, a little towel to dry off my feet, and misc gear like sunscreen, my extra water bottle, and a banana.

After I was good with my set up I wandered out to check out the lake, visit the Tri-Racers tent, and then use the porta potty. I made sure I had my chip and watch on, grabbed my cap and goggles and headed out of transition.  I ran into my Tri-Racer training buddy and sat and shot the breeze to move time along. I was feeling anxious and excited, and between the 25 mile bike and three hours gardening the day before I was trying to conserve my energy.

Start and Swim

Shawn Blaesing-Thompson comes out of the water at Copper Creek TriathlonAbout then one of the race volunteers made an announcement that they were going to move the start up to 7:45 in an attempt to get ahead of the coming storm. After a race brief and a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner we were ready to race. There were five waves and of course I was in the fifth wave.

The beach at Copper Creek is narrow and rocky so the start is actually a treading water start which was new to me, and is also the longest sprint swim course in the area. I was treading water trying to get a handle on my new triathlon Bia GPS watch for ladies. The triathlon settings are still in beta so I had to run each component of the race as a separate event. I spent time in each transition fiddling with it. It kept going to sleep while we were treading water for five minutes waiting for our start buzzer. We got a 15-second countdown, so I got it started and we were off.

I decided pretty early on that this race was going to be for me. I was not going to focus on time, or how fast I could go. I just wanted to finish and feel solid at the end of things. I went into the swim pretty conservative and maintained about an 80% output rate throughout the 750 meter course. I was a competitive swimmer when I was young, so the swim is really my only advantage when racing. I swam through parts of the two heats in front of me and came out towards the front of my heat and felt alright. My only difficulty was foggy goggles as I realized I forgot to pack my antifog but I got through it and managed to sight pretty straight between buoys. I ran up the hill out of the lake and down the sidewalk to transition.


I realized my second hiccup was that I forgot to unvelcro my bike shoes so I sat down, rolled up my socks and pulled the shoes on.  After the race I realized I was pretty darn lucky.  I had the bike shoes that go with the Specialized and have a different style cleat than the shoes I use with the bike I brought. Fortunately after my jaunt across the transition area, I hopped on the bike and was off despite the mismatched cleat/pedal set. My quads were barking at me right away and I thought I was sunk when we hit the first section of rolling hills. After a couple of miles and a major mental struggle I got into a groove and was rolling at a solid pace. About mile four there is a serious down and up hill and then a flat section before the turn around.

It started to drizzle right after I made the turn around, but it felt nice and wasn’t making the road too slick. I got to the hill and was moving at a pretty good pace however half way up the other side while moving gears on my front ring the chain came off. Fortunately the gear transition was almost complete so I popped the chain back on, waited for traffic to pass, and kicked it in gear up the rest of the hill. I spent some energy trying to overtake all the space I loss with my minutes standing on the hill and around mile 10.5 it really started raining and I was happy to get off the bike by mile 12.


Another slow transition transpired from bike to run related to having to tie my shoes and tinker with my watch. I had forgotten to get some stretch laces early enough to get a trial run in and had to do things old school. I have some laces in the queue and will be ready for a fast shoe transition at my next race. I had the usual spaghetti legs as I made my way around the lake and up onto the hilly run course. I was just focused on trying to keep a steady, albeit slow, pace. The rain was all happening on the other side of the lake so I was feeling the effects of the humidity without the bonus cooling, and as I heated up my feet started their tingling. I walked through all the water stops and drank a cup and wore a cup of water. I ran for a while with several folks and finished the lap around the lake with a fellow doing his first triathlon. I think chatting and running got us both around the lake where my Tri-Racer teammates cheered me on to the finish line.

Big Picture

Shawn Blaesing-Thompson enjoys an ice bath after Copper Creek TriathlonI was happy to finish my first race with MS and on Kyle’s Team with a glorious ice bath just across the finish line. I wish I had one of those after every steamy run! While this race was tied for my slowest sprint race time I was ok with that. I know I left a lot in the tank, but I am still figuring out my limits and I am good with how things came out. I know where I need to focus my training energy for my next races.

Final outcome, I was 12 of 14 in my new age group. Swim 15:54, T1 2:08, bike 46:59, T2 1:22, run 32:25, final time 1:38:48. I have a lot of room to improve; however, right now my next two races are twice as long. But they are also races I have done in the past. I will spend the next six weeks building my bike miles and working to find the faster run pace I had before the summer heat arrived.

A big thank you goes out to the Kyle's Bikes and Discount Tri Supply team for sponsoring me and getting me out to a new (to me) race.

Complete results from the Copper Creek Triathlon can be found at Online Race Results.

Shawn races with MS and encourages people to support MS research by fundraising for the MS Society.

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Katherine is our Content Champion. She has done triathlons in the past, and now focuses on mountain biking and long-distance gravel riding. She still has a soft spot in her heart for weird multi-sport events like indoor triathlon and aquabike. She also teaches indoor cycling.

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  • Jill Jensen

    Way to go Shawn! You are such an inspiration to me and many others I'm sure! Can't wait to get back to training soon!

  • http://Trigive.wordpress.com Christian Baughman

    Great write-up Shawn! You've got so much to be proud of with all those 'firsts.' I'm working up to being able to take an ice bath like you :-)

  • Scott Carkhuff

    Nice swim! I need swim lessons!