Forty-six minutes. That’s how much faster Rachel O’Brien ran, swam and biked Sunday than in her first triathlon four years ago. Both races were part of the Danskin Women’s Triathlon Series, held each summer in Seattle, and seven other U.S. cities.
“I thought it was awesome,” O’Brien, 26, of Renton, says of Sunday’s race.
O’Brien’s time of 1 hour, 49 minutes earned her a finish of about 1,910 out of the more than 4,000 competing women.
“I came through the finish line and my parents were there; it was amazing,” O’Brien says.
Also amazing is O’Brien’s improvement over the past four years she’s raced in the Danskin.
She had flashbacks while biking up what she calls “Corkscrew Hill” on Interstate 90 during Sunday’s race.
“It was emotional,” she says. “I was on my bike and thinking, ‘I had to get off my bike and walk up the hill at this point.’”
The only times O’Brien got off her bike Sunday was when she finished the biking segment, and when she fell off during a back-up on Corkscrew Hill.
“I was three-quarters of the way up the hill when someone stopped in front of me. I didn’t have time to kick my feet off, so I fell off,” she recounts.
But O’Brien got back on, and set a new personal record for Danskin’s 12.4 mile biking section.
And Killer Hill in the 3.1 mile run/walk section?
“I actually ran up half of it,” O’Brien boasts. “Normally I just walk up it.”
Sitting atop Killer Hill was the same girl who was sitting atop that same hill during O’Brien’s first Danskin Triathlon four years ago. The girl who just by sitting on that hill inspired O’Brien to commit to triathlons full-time. The girl was a patient at Overlake Cancer Center when O’Brien worked there as a receptionist. Her bald-headed presence those four years ago convinced O’Brien she could, and would, get healthy. She weighed nearly 300 pounds then.
She’s dropped 70 pounds since, and is aiming for 70 more. Her 15 triathlons during those four years have certainly helped.
She wants to complete 20 triathlons before her 10-year high-school reunion, in 2010. With 15 down, one more planned next month and four next summer, O’Brien shouldn’t have trouble reaching that goal.
Another possible goal for next summer is to try an Olympic triathlon, which at nearly 32 miles, is about double the length of the 16-mile sprint triathlon.
“At this point a lot of my workouts are practically doing a triathlon, so I might as well,” she laughs.
After Sunday’s race, O’Brien gave herself a day off from training. But she was back in the pool the next morning, preparing for an Enumclaw triathlon in September. O’Brien does so many triathlons she couldn’t recall this one’s name.
But she’ll always remember the name of the Danskin Triathlon.
“Doing Danskin for me is so incredible ‘cause it’s the first one I ever did,” she says.
Emily Garland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 255-3484, ext. 5052.