Saturday, July 28, 2012

Race Report: Rev3 Portland 70.3

Three weeks ago tomorrow I crossed the finish line of my second 70.3 - beating my previous time by 1 hour and 7 minutes!  Between training for ALC and this race I put a lot of things on hold, hence the break from training and blogging.  It felt good to disconnect for a while though and I am excited to get back into it.

For the month prior to this day I had been ready to race.  I felt good, I felt strong and I was hitting every workout.

After months of training, planning, organizing, and evaluating, race weekend was finally upon us.  My family was amazing and offered to drive up with me to cheer me on.  We left Friday night, drove half way to Grants Pass, OR and made it to Portland on Saturday afternoon right before 1:00 pm.

First stop was the expo.  It was a seamless check in process.  The swag was awesome and I lucked out with a great end spot in transition.  One thing I thought was really neat was they took your photo so when you crossed the finish line it was projected on the big screen above the finishers chute.  I usually look pretty beat when I finish a race so at least people would see I can look normal. :)

Cool personalized name plate in transition
After the expo it was off to drive the bike course.  There was a lot of buzz about this bike course - steep climbs up to 11% grades at times, fast downhills up to 10% grades, sharp turns, and 2500 feet of elevation.  I had watched the course videos online but I wanted to see it for myself.

It was no joke - miles 12 - 35 were going to be hard.  Luckily, while slow, I don't mind climbing and the course was shaded and beautiful.  I was a little bummed that my bike time might not really reflect what I was capable of in a race since it wasn't the ideal course for racing but I was looking forward to the challenge.

Dinner was at Deschutes Brewery where I had my standard mix of salad, pasta and protein and then I headed over the Alisa's house where I got to meet some of her Rev3 teammates.  We chatted a bit about race strategy, goals, etc and it was time for bed.  Water bottles filled, race gear set out, alarm set for 5:00 am and it was lights out.

Goal: My goal for this race was to come in 6 hours and 30 minutes or better.  I had trained hard and given my performance at races leading up to the event I knew this was possible.  To achieve a 6:30 I needed to hit the following targets:
  • Swim: 30 minutes 
  • T1: 2:30 
  • Bike: 3:45 (I would have normally said 3:30 but given the climbing I built in some time here) 
  • T2: 2:30 
  • Run: 2:10 
  • Total: 6:30
We made it to the start of the race with plenty of time to spare.  Despite practice and racing multiple other races there is still something that make my nerves run high the morning before a tri.  Maybe it is the fancy bikes, the official looking kits, but tris still get me.  Another thing that was making me nervous this particular morning was the rising temperatures.  At 8 am it was was already in the 60s with high 80s forecasted and a run course that was completely in the sun.  

I finished setting up my stuff next to my bike with about 20 minutes until the transition closed.  I tried to just concentrate on my training and how far I had come since my my last 70.3.  



With about 20 minutes til go time we made our way over to the water to survey the course.  The buoys were very clearly marked and before long I was saying good-bye to my family and Alisa to line up along the beach.  Having not had a tri with a beach start to practice with I tried to line up directly out from the first buoy.

Swim: 1.2 miles

As we ran into the water and adjusted ourselves I quickly found my stride (stroke?).  Within the first 100 yards I realized I was only the third women back!

The swim was held at Blue Lake and the water was amazingly clear and calm for open water.   I felt strong and quickly found myself in the lead.  I celebrated in my head for a moment that I was actually first despite the fact that it was still extremely early in the swim.  No triathlon is won in the swim but hoped it at least meant I was in for a good race.

Despite being in a good groove when I checked my watch I saw I was at 25 minutes and when I sighted next it appeared I still had a ways to go (I failed to set the screen on my Garmin to show my current distance).  I was slightly disappointed as I completed my previous two mile open water swims between 25 - 27 minutes and from the looks of it I had more than .2 to go but I was still in the lead so I tried to focus on that instead.

I rounded the last buoy and headed for shore.  As soon as my hand grazed the bottom I popped up and started running.


As I exited I heard a lot of excited cheers screaming, "first women, first women".  It was exciting.

Time: 34:22
1/19 age group (women 30-34) 
1/78 women
28/255 overall

Side note - once I got home from the race and uploaded my Garmin stats my Garmin read the course was 1.4 miles.  I have heard from a few others that the course measured long as well.  No excuses, my time is what it is but it makes me feel better knowing that my slower time is potentially due to a long course.

T1

I moved as quickly as I could through transition.  Shoes, helmet, glasses - check.  Grabbed my bike and out I went.  At this point I was still the first women.

Time: 3:04

Bike: 56 miles

As I mentioned above the first 12 miles of the course were fairly flat.  When I checked my Garmin I realized I forgot to change it from transition to bike.  This meant that while I could see the miles accumulating, I couldn't see my mph.  I panicked - I am a slave to my Garmin but at that point felt it was more important to see how far I had gone (for mental reasons) then how fast I was going.  With all the climbing to come I reasoned it may be a good thing not to know my speed.

The course took us out of town and along the river through some beautiful, more remote areas.  When things got tough or I started to panic getting passed on the climbs I just kept repeating to myself, "just ride your bike, just ride your bike," "you know how to ride your bike."  As I think I mentioned in my Silicon Valley Race Report my goal for my next 70.3 (spoiler yes - there will be another) is to improve my bike handling skills.

Despite the climbing the course was GORGEOUS!  While it might not have been my ideal course to race on, it was my ideal course to ride on.  As I said, while slow, I actually love climbing.  For every tough uphill we were rewarded with an amazingly down hill.  There is nothing like the feeling of flying downhill.  I was SO happy I drove the course the day prior.  This really helped me mentally and helped keep me from giving it my all too soon.

Much of the course was "woodsy" and shaded like this

There were at least two, if not three aid stations along the way - miles 16 and 30sih for sure and possibly another one.  While I had water with me the aid stations had COLD water so I would take their water and use mine to dump on me to cool off.  I also grabbed a Gatorade at the second aid station.  The volunteers made it super easy to grab and go on the course.  

Once we hit mile 43ish we were back near the race start on a long, flat out and back.  Given my Garmin fail I have no idea how fast I was going but I felt like I was keeping a pretty good clip.  I saw Alisa on her run back to the finish and she was looking good.

Before long I was headed back into transition - I had survived the hills and it was time to run.

Time: 3:39:44/15.2 avg mph
12/19 age group (women 30-34) 
42/78 women
180/255 overall

(that would be more like 3600 feet of elevation)
T2

I had one of my fastest transitions ever!  Dropped the helmet, switched out the shoes and I was off (after I was re-directed out the proper exit - initially tried to go out the bike exit).

Time: 1:51

Run: 13.1 miles


I had really practiced my bike to run bricks - and run many of my runs had been in the high 8:xxs so I was ready for the run. 

By this point it was HOT out and the run course was 90% in the sun.  About 2 miles in I knew there would be no way I would be able to run without walk breaks so I devised a plan.  The rest stops were about a mile apart and had the most AWESOME volunteers ever.  Each stop was well equipped with ice, water, kids with squirt guns and snacks.  When you came through they ran to you to provide whatever you needed.  

I decided I would run to every rest stop, grab what I needed, walk for .10, and then run to the next.  It was run, enter an aid station grab a water to dump on myself, then grab a cup of ice and another water to drink, walk and then run again.  By mile 7 I added an extra cup of ice down the shirt - amazing!


Initially I was bummed I had to add the walk break but given the heat I knew I had to survive - there are just some things you can't practice for.  

Despite the heat, I really did enjoy myself.  I was having an amazing race - nothing hurt, I never felt overly drained or tired, I was never too hungry, too full, or too thirsty.  I just kept with my plan and kept moving forward.

Around mile 12.25 we rounded a corner that took us back into the park for the finish.  I kicked it up a notch to make sure I left nothing on the course.  

There was still a nice crowd of people just before the finishers chute and they all cheered as I ran by.  As I entered the chute I saw my family and threw my hands up.  I felt awesome.

(this picture does NOT convey how awesome I felt)

Time: 2:30:28/11:28 per mile avg

FINAL RESULTS
6:49:27 
12/19 age group (women 30-34) 
43/78 women
184/255 overall

Once we crossed the finish line we were greeted with our medal, finisher's shirts and a towel that had been soaking in an ice cold bucket of water.  That towel was heavenly!

this nice volunteer really wanted to make sure I was ok
I immediately needed to get my shoes off.  I remember running over to a picnic table and ripping those babies off.  Once I took care of that I could think more clearly.

I knew I missed my time goal but I was still out of my mind stoked!  Not only did I shave over an hour off my last time, I finished feeling great.  Sure, I was tired, but I wasn't hating life like last time.  My adrenaline was still pumping and I am pretty sure I had a goofy smile on my face.  

 
Too soon it was time to say good bye to my family as they were going to drive back to CA with my bike.  They really were amazing to spend 4 days in the car to literally watch me race for 7 hours.  I was so thankful to have them there.  I had a flight out the next day. 

I spend the next day working remotely from Portland and got to catch up more with Alisa over lunch and dinner before my late flight out.  When I landed at almost midnight in Oakland Kevin greeted me with a dozen roses and both the dogs!  It was the icing on the cake to a perfect race weekend.


Funny last note - so usually at triathlons they body mark you with your numbers and age with a sharpie.  Rev3 accomplished with temporary tattoos!  I thought this was a really cool idea.  They looked really sharp and the arm tattoos even had the Rev3 logo.  However, despite my massive use of sunscreen I managed to have my age permanently imprinted on my leg (at least until I get a better tan).  Three weeks later and lets just say it is still quite the talking point!  Oh, and I would be lying if I said it didn't make me feel just a little bad ass. :)


Final Thoughts

When I crossed the finish line I was on cloud 9 - and still am!   

Although, I would be lying if I said wasn't slightly disappointed in meeting my goal.  Yes, I know I killed my last time and I should be proud, and I am, but the goal setter, competitor in me always wants to do my best and I knew my best was at least a 6:30.  I had trained really hard for this race and knew I had put in the time and work to meet it.

In reflecting over the past few weeks I know I just wasn't prepared for the heat on the run.  I think everyone knows how I feel about heat. :)  I can't make excuses, my time was my time, but I think had it not been so hot I would have easily met my goal.

What I am proud of though is I raced a smart race.  Throughout each sport I never felt burned out and was able to keep my pace consistent through out each sport.  I fueled properly and never let my energy dip.  When I finished my last 70.3 I was drained.  This time it left me craving more.  I had a blast and was smiling the whole time. 

There are some endurance events I have always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to do "someday" but never knew if I could really physically do them.  Finishing this race the way I did gave me the confidence to start really considering those events seriously.

Training

I trained hard for this event but much different than last time.  For my last 70.3 that was my main focus.  This time my training included trying to PR a half marathon (which I did!) and training for ALC.  I personally really liked this approach.  Training for my half contributed to my running and training for ALC greatly improved my cycling.  I think having these other events thrown in the mix provided some variety all while still improving my overall performance.  This might not work for everyone but I think it really helped me, especially because I remember getting a little burned out last time spending 20 weeks on the same race. 

Support


I have the most amazing family.  From a husband who supports me spending my weekends on long bike rides to parents who travel to watch my races I am very lucky to have such a wonderful support system who always brings cowbells.

The Course

While this might not have been the fastest course ever, I truly enjoyed it.  As I mentioned the water was clean, clear and calm.  The course was hilly but incredibly scenic.  The more I thought about it the more I really liked it.  It was tough to race but if I had to pick a course to ride this would be it - the perfect mix of climbing and flat.  The run was an easy out and back.

The volunteers were some of the best I have experienced.  They were engaged, proactive and truly there for the athletes wanting to help in anyway they can.  I know they had to be hot standing out there for hours passing out water to the runners but you would have thought they just started their shift.

Everything was very well marked and organized.  If I had a question it was very easy to find to find the answer.  There was also a lot of little "extras" - the personalized name plate in transition, the photo on the board when you finished, the race tattoos, and everyone got a free finishers photo!  We got goggles and a hat in our swag bag and the price of the race was very comparable to others of the same distance.  I am not sure if the towels dipped in ice water are at every race but it made all the difference that day.  

Obvioulsy, three weeks later I am still giddy over this race . . . and looking forward to my next one. :)
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3 comments:

  1. Enjoyed your race recap. I am just entering the world of triathlons and love reading about people's experiences, etc. Congrats on a great race!

    Bill

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  2. Great race report! And what a great job on killing your previous time!! Training in multiple sports is obviously the key for you (and probably all of us, for that matter), and it's great to see it paying off.

    I can't imagine how cool it must have been to hear the "first woman!" words.

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  3. This is amazing, well done!! You're amazing, what a massive chunk of time you took off!

    I love bike climbing too. I'm very slow as well but it gives such a sense of accomplishment. Downhill just scares me silly!!

    Fab job!!

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