Senior Islander athlete competes in triathlons

Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Islander Pat Aldape, 70, has competed in more than nine triathlons and took first place in her age group during the 2006 co-ed event ‘Escape from the Rock’ on Mercer Island. -
Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Islander Pat Aldape, 70, has competed in more than nine triathlons and took first place in her age group during the 2006 co-ed event ‘Escape from the Rock’ on Mercer Island.
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Aldape trains for fun, friendship and exercise

By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter

The thought of competing in a triathlon is daunting for most people. Running, biking and swimming long distances becomes a test of wills and stamina. But for 70-year-old Pat Aldape it is matter of lifestyle, exercise and friendship.

“It helps to come in first or second in your age group each time,” joked Aldape, who has lived on Mercer Island for 36 years. “I have a great group of friends that I train with and they are really supportive.”

The triathlete has competed in nearly 10 triathlons during the past six years and is training for her sixth Danskin Women’s Triathlon on Aug. 19. The event will take place in Seattle with 5,000 athletes competing.

But speed is not the name of the game for Aldape.

“I am sure that some of (the other competitors) are wanting me to get out of their way,” said Aldape, who said that her best time was two hours, 16 minutes.

One reason she keeps competing is the fun she has with a group of friends that she trains and competes with who got her involved. Two of those athletes, Rachel Paysse and Eileen Coyne, live on Mercer Island and are significantly younger than Aldape.

“They are so supportive,” said Aldape. “I had never heard of a triathlon and I thought I was too old to start doing something like this.”

Six years later the group, which met in a water aerobics class, is training year round for triathlons. The hardest leg of the triathlon for the Islander was the running and the start of the competition.

“It is hard on old knees,” said Aldape. “But getting in the water with 100 other people kicking and banging into you, that was the most frightening part.”

Aldape was forced to miss one year of the Danskin as she broke her elbow while training for the biking portion of the race.

After doing the Danskin for a few years Aldape and her friends decided to take on new challenges like the Escape from the Rock triathlon on Mercer Island. The coed event was yet another challenge.

“It is definitely a challenge to compete with men,” said Aldape.

Aldape has two Escape from the Rock competitions under her swim cap, including a first-place finish in her age group in 2006. Aldape said that she will miss this year’s Escape from the Rock to do a different triathlon with a group of friends from Brazil. Aldape has traveled to Spokane twice for events and as far away as Orlando for another Danskin.

The Islander and her friends have also begun swimming around the Island, a mile and a half at a time, for training. She has also swam across lake Washington by the I-90 floating bridge.

Aldape said that she trains for the normal 12 and a half mile bike ride and three and a half mile run. But when it comes to the swimming she prepares by swimming a full mile prior to the race, which is a half mile. Along with her group of training partners, Aldape also runs with her husband Hector. As for the biking portion, Aldape trains by attending a spinning class.

“I don’t like to bike year round but the spinning classes are tough,” said Aldape, who has three grown sons.

Aldape said that she doesn’t normally see too many triathletes her age. While in Spokane, Aldape met a 76 year old triathlete.

“She was really impressive,” said Aldape.

The 70 year old said that she will keep doing the triathlons for as long as she can and is having fun with it.

“I hope that maybe more people will come out and join us,” said Aldape. “You just have to try it. Do a little and ad on. But most importantly, find some good friends to train with. Speed is not the big thing and it is truly not difficult to do.”

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