Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pacific Crest Race Report

This last weekend I raced Pacific Crest Olympic Distance Triathlon. This was a big weekend of firsts for me.

1. It was the first time that I've done back-to-back races on subsequent weekends
2. It was the first time that I've camped the night before a race
3. It was the first point-to-point race that I've done with two separate transition areas.

We left earlyish on Saturday morning from Tacoma. It was four girls (myself, Emily, Fawn, and Tracy), three bicycles, one extra wheelset, 1 metric shit ton of camping gear, and 1 hyundai accent. It actually took three of us to even close the trunk so needless to say things were a little ... cramped.

We made our way down to Sun River, OR arriving around 2:30ish or maybe 3:00 (It's amazing how time has no meaning when traveling with 4 women and their luggage in a tiny car). One funny aside, at a gas station in Sisters, OR one woman was kind enough to point out to Tracy that we should have taken a minivan or an SUV. Too bad we hadn't thought of that before we left Tacoma. Thank you brilliant lady for your insightful advice, unfortunately it was too little too late.

Anyway, we get down to the athletes village and pick up our race packets and I ask three different volunteers how to get to T1 to rack our bikes. No one knows. They all tell us to look at the map but of the three maps in the race packet, not one shows T1 in relation to the athletes village.

We start driving around and find T2 and finally another racer tells us generally how to get to T1. We go to T1, take a look at the lake (breathtaking) and do a cursory racking of our bikes and T1 setup. We head back to the village and T2 and set up T2 and head into Bend for a killer mcmenamin's meal and beer.

At this point it's getting dark and we still have yet to locate our campsite and I am f---ing cranky and wanting to just get a hotel for the night. After about an hour or more (I'm not sure how long ... once again, time had no meaning) we manage to stumble upon our campground, no thanks to any signage. It's probably around 11:00 at this point and we just choose a campground and set our stuff up.

I barely slept. I know I wasn't awake all night but I know I woke up several times throughout the night and I was already awake at 4:30 when my alarm went off. Fawn, Emily, and myself get up and make some oatmeal and are eating until we realize that I have to be in Sun River in like 45 minutes (we're about an hour away) to make my bus from T2 to T2 ... yeah, not going to happen. We made a valiant attempt but then just decided to have Tracy, who was not racing, drive us to T1 and then meet us at the finish.

More havoc ensues but we manage to make it to T1 with plenty of time to spare. Thank goodness we racked our bikes the night before because T1 was CROWDED.

Now the good stuff, the actual race report.

4 minutes before the start I do a little 20 stroke out and back just to get a feel for the water. As we're waiting to go (all men and women under 30 and all relay swimmers) I am just chatting with some girl and I hear "GO!". "okay cool, here we go I guess."

I had been pretty apprehensive about the swim since it was a co-ed start. I know I'm a strong swimmer but co-ed starts always make me nervous. I have to say, this was the MOST civil swim start I have ever had. I took it a little wide but really, there was no congestion and I had almost no body contact. At one point, around the second turn, I was passing some dude swimming freestyle when he decided to do a big breastroke kick right into my ribs ... thanks dude. It didn't hurt but seriously people, stop doing breastroke kicks.

I came out of the water feeling good and knowing I was at the front of the pack for my wave. On the shore I thought the swim looked pretty long and I'm almost certain now it was. Swim: 26:27 (1:36/100m)

T1 was uneventful. I got out of my suit and bagged my stuff pretty quickly. I had to stop on my run out to get a rock out of my shoe because I'm an idiot and forgot to actually wipe my feet on my towel. My transition time was actually comparatively very fast. I'm happy with this. T1: 2:37

The bike was as beautiful as the swim. I only got passed by two dudes and no ladies the entire time. I was definitely working but I was loving it. It was 25.2 miles with a very slight (400-500 ft.) elevation loss. It was flat to rolling the whole way. I was a little nervous only because I know I'm stronger in the hills but man, I just felt great. Bike: 1:06:36 (22.52 mph)

T2 was just as it should be, fast and uneventful. I already had my shoes off when I got to my running stuff so I just threw on my running shoes, race belt, and visor and I was off. T2: 1:26

The run ... well ... the run hurt like hell for the first 2 miles. Like, I considered walking. I was pacing a woman who I belive was Daphne Slife (if I'm wrong, sorry) for the first 3ish miles. We leapfrogged at first but then I just followed her for a while. Thank you so much to her for helping my through those first few miles. I passed her just after mile 3 and then something amazing happened. I was passing EVERYONE. I think I got passed by one guy and one gal (Lis Wilson who ran brilliantly). I finished feeling strong but glad to have it over with. Also, I heard from another racer that the run was actually more like 6.4 miles but, whatever. Run: 49:33 (7:58/mile)

Total time: 2:26:39

So here's the amazing part. I took 3rd f---ing place overall and won my age group by almost a full 2 minutes! I couldn't believe it. I felt like I had had a good race but not THAT good.

Oh, and the other amazing part, aside from a cool medal, I got a pint glass and a free beer! Man, if I could win beer at every race I would work even harder.

All in all, an apparently great race for me.

Now, on a slightly more somber note, as I was sitting at the finish waiting for Emily and Fawn to finish, a gentleman named Gerald Balaban crossed the finish line looking strong in a bit over 3 hours. As I watched, he walked up to the volunteers to have his chip removed from his ankle, paused and then collapsed face first onto the ground. I initially thought he was having a seizure (I'm epileptic so I was thinking maybe I could help) but it became quickly apparent that he was not breathing and that he had no pulse. Medics quickly began CPR as his friends, family, and much of the community looked on. After several minutes the medics announced that they had a pulse and everyone cheered although his breathing was quite labored and he was not awake.

racecenter discussed the incident here

I am trying to contact his family and see if there is anything that they need. Please keep Mr. Balaban in your thoughts as he works his way through his recovery.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pacific Crest

On kind of a whim, I registered for the olympic distance race at pacific crest this weekend down in Sun River, Oregon. I'm going with my pal Fawn (it's her first race) and Fawn's friend Emily and I believe Emily's sister. We are going to camp the night before the race which will be a first for me but luckily my dad loaned me his thermarest.

The bike course is different than it's been in the past, (I guess due to some construction) and it looks like the run was 5.8 miles last year as opposed to 6.2 which would be ... nice for me. Also, this will be the first time that I have raced on back-to-back weekends so I'm not expecting any greatness from myself but that is not to say that I won't give it my all. I was looking at the bike splits from last year and the top splits were a little slower than I would have expected so either the course was long or it was really windy. (please don't let it be windy) Also, the bike has been 28 miles in the past which is, of course, great for me, but is only 25 this year. The website says it's fairly flat. Yeah, I've heard that before.


The run looks like it's all on paved paths and is also supposedly flat.


Another interesting thing is that the bike is point-to-point which I've never done before. I'm a little nervous about how it's going to work but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Also, I got a massage yesterday ... thank goodness.

That's my pre-race report. I'm probably going off the grid for most of the weekend so I'll post a real race report on Tuesday (we are spending Monday on the Oregon coast surfing and laying in the sun!)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cascades Edge Triathlon

I woke up at around 5:45 and was out of bed by 6:00 for this race. I stayed at a friend Ben's house in Seattle so I wouldn't have to get a hotel or deal with the ferries in the morning. As usual, I spent 30 minutes second-guessing myself and convincing myself that I could, in fact, swim roughly a mile, ride my bike for 25 miles and run a 10k. It's strange, no matter how many times I race, I always have to have this internal argument with myself.

After dragging Ben out the door (he had been out until 3:00 the previous night/morning) we were on our way at around 6:55 (I had wanted to leave by 6:30). Luckily, in 4 years of racing at Nolte State Park, this was the first time I didn't get totally lost getting there. Also, because I'm a card-carrying USAT member, I was able to cut to the front of the 14 mile long packet pickup line.

I got all set up in transition. I was right across from Tammy which was nice, since chatting with someone I know before the race generally calms me down a bit. Due to the 198 mile long packet pickup line, the race got off to a little bit of a late start but I believe I was in the water by around 9:30.

My swim was actually really good. I started in the front just left of the middle of the pack. I was right behind one woman who I believe was Amy Spence and I just kind of followed her feet the whole time and sighted a lot less than normal. by the second buoy I was passing some dudes who had started 5 minutes ahead of us. I never had any breathing issues and I just kind of cruised like I was in the pool for the whole swim. I'm not sure about my pace (It will probably look slow since the course was long) but as far as how I felt, it was one of the best swims I have ever had.

My transition was pretty smooth. I had my wetsuit down around my hips by the time I got to my bike and it came off pretty easily after that. It was raining at this point and my shoes had some water in them but ... oh well. I slipped them on and I was off. I spent pretty much the entire bike leapfrogging with Monique Lance, Amy Spence, and some dude who we kept passing then he would pass us back and die again. While I liked having Monique and Amy there to push me, I was a little nervous that we were going to get dinged for drafting (even though we of course, weren't). The bike was COLD. It was sprinkling the whole time and it was pretty windy in some spots. By about mile 18 (I think) I noticed that I was barely able to push my shifter down with my right hand. I pretty much would have to push it down with the heel of my hand just to shift. With 5 miles to go I needed to eat a GU and I could barely get my trash in my back pocket ... shit. Coming into transition I tried to get my shoes off while I was still on my bike and I couldn't even grip the velcro straps ... shit. Two people crashed right in front of me trying to dismount but I managed to get in around them.

I get into transition and there are a few people sitting around kind of moaning, totally unable to make their hands and feet work to put their shoes on. I got my bike shoes off fairly easily but my hands wouldn't work to get my running shoes on. I ended up just standing and kind of shoving my frozen feet into my shoes. Luckily I had left my running shoes sitting upside-down so they were pretty dry and I had coated the heel with body glide and filled them with baby powder. My transition was definitely longer than normal but I managed to get out on the trail probably in just over a minute.

The run is normally an out and back with the last 1.4ish miles around the lake. Due to some problem or another they decided to just have us do 4 loops around the lake rather than do the out and back. Because of this I was told that the run was 5.7 miles rather than 6.2. This was kind of cool because I love the lake trail but kind of not because on the first lap, every time I'd hit a big hill or a giant puddle I was like "cool, I get to do this 3 more times." That aside, I actually had a great run. I just kind of cruised. On the first lap I actually PASSED PEOPLE which I never do (and yes they were in my race and not part of a relay). The other really cool part was that NO ONE PASSED ME (except for some dudes and they don't count)! The only really sucky thing about the run was that my left foot went numb for about the last 15 minutes. I'm not sure why this happened because at this point my feet were not cold. I'm worried that it had to do with my trochanteric bursitis but I wasn't really having pain in my trochanter. I guess I will just have to see if it happens again.

Anyway, I ended up finishing 5th overall and 2nd in my age group with an overall time of 2:24:41. Less than a minute (59 seconds to be exact) behind Jill and a little over 5 minutes behind Tracy who was the overall winner. I'm really quite happy with this result even though I don't have my splits yet. My run was f---ing hard but it felt good which is what I've been wanting. My time wasn't WAY slower than Tracy's like it usually is (last time I raced her in an olympic distance she was nearly 14 minutes faster than me) and I felt like I was smart on the bike rather than just hammering like I usually do.

Here are some photos taken by Michael and Ben

you can see I did manage to get my shoes undone but was unable to grip the heel to actually pull my feet out. Also, there was a big spill right in front of me which is likely what I'm looking at.


*edited to add splits ... the swim was DEFINITELY long

Swim: 26:16 (11th woman out of the water)
T1: 2:33
Bike: 1:09:37 (2nd fastest female bike split ... jill was 1st)
T2: 1:59 (oops)