Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rev3 Portland--Be Here, Now

After Alcatraz I recovered fairly quickly and got right back into some good training for Rev3 Portland. I knew that I would need to be in good form since the women's field was deep and the course, most notably on the bike, would be challenging. I watched the course video but once we arrived in Portland I knew it would be important to get a look at the course to make sure I was prepared for the hills and the technical descents. Once we began to drive it I was excited to tackle it in the race. It was hilly and challenging but the scenery was beautiful and I was looking forward to a fun ride on race day. To me, having a challenging course like the one in Portland really helps me to be in the moment and focus on what I am doing. Besides the last 13 miles, the course was either going up (and very steeply I might add) or down.
A big reason to race in Portland--to visit with my grandma, who is 100.5 years old! 
I was able to "sleep in" on race day given the civilized 8am start time. I loosened up on land with a nice jog to check out the buoys on the swim course and then headed down to the water to get a good warm up there. The swim was not wetsuit legal for the pros but since I have a tendency to get cold I warmed up in my wetsuit and then took it off shortly before the start.  I got a relatively good start and tried to stay calm with everyone fighting for position around the the first buoy.  I usually shy away from contact and will take a wider line just to avoid it but I forced myself to stay in the fray. We got around the buoy and I found some open water right on the feet of someone.  I felt okay in the water but not super. My usual sharpness did not seem to be there but I stayed with it hoping I would feel better as the swim went on.  We were sighting into the sun a bit and I tried to keep with the bubbles in front of me but they seemed to be zig-zagging a bit. I sighted on my one to make a straight line to the next buoy instead of staying with the feet in front of me.  This was probably a bad decision because I lost the group of three in front of me and spent the rest of the time swimming 50 yards off the back of the group.  I would throw in surges here and there to try and catch back up but I never was able to close the gap.  I also felt like I had been swimming for a long time.  This was not the usual 25 minute 1.2 mile swim. I figured this was probably good for me since I am a swimmer---a long swim + no wetsuits was good for me.  I finally made it to the end of the swim and ran into T1 to get on my bike.  I had a good transition, ran out to the mount line and then things went terribly wrong...

I did my flying mount and for some reason I missed the seat. This was always a worry when I raced cyclocross in Chicago but people told me that it is pretty rare to miss the seat. All you have to do is get your inner thigh onto the saddle and then you slide on and start pedaling. This did not happen on Sunday. I vaulted myself over of the seat, slammed down onto the crossbar and in the process lost my right shoe. I tried to get started but the right shoe hit the ground and popped out of the pedal landing 20 feet behind me.  I turned around, got the shoe, put it on and finally got going. I actually laughed out loud as I got started on the bike.  What a disaster!  I still cringe when I think about it.  As my coach said "not pro" at all. 

My plan for the bike was to build into it and hold back on the first couple of climbs.  The air temperature was going to rise and then sun was out so I knew the run would be toasty.  I wanted to have as much energy as possible going into the run so I could lay down a good split. Plus, I thought some people would wear themselves out on the bike. I also made the decision to drink A LOT. In the last few half ironmans I have done I felt that my run fell off in the last few miles. I wanted to go into the run topped off on fluid because no matter what I think you usually end up a little dehydrated at the end of the race. I did not want to start out in a deficit with 13.1 sunny miles to go on the run. 

I was riding well, hydrating and staying within myself and not panicking if a woman passed me. At about mile 28 (I think) I was going up a very steep grade. I was behind another pro so I made sure to be staggered. However, the official behind me did not feel I was staggered enough. I was given a penalty and I had to stand down for two minutes.  I stopped immediately and got two feet on the ground so the official could start the count down.  The hill was very steep and she had to pull up before being able to get off and I kept asking if she had started the watch. She had and she commented that I certainly did get my feet on the ground quickly. When I got this penalty I was probably going 6mph on so it was pretty easy to stop.  The two minutes went by pretty quickly and I was able to started again even though I was on a big hill. A tour de france type push would have been nice but I don't think it is allowed. I told myself to be calm and keep riding as I had been. Trying to "make up" the two minutes by putting out a huge effort was not going to help, in fact, it would probably come back to haunt me later on the race. I must say, it was challenging to stay in the moment and not freak out about the time lost. I needed to be where I was and not think about the being two minutes further up the road. I was also super paranoid about having anyone around me because a second penalty would disqualify me and take me out of the race completely.  I maintained my effort and pushed the descents a bit.  Who knew that a stand down penalty could make me a fearless descender?  In truth, I probably was still a wimp on the downhills but I felt like I was being brave. I finished up the last part of the bike feeling strong and I was ready to run and see what I could do about the gaps to the women in front of me. 

Mile 54 (or so) of the bike.
I had informed Andy of my penalty when I saw him at mile 40 on the bike so when I got into T2 he just told me to focus. I had the number of 85 minutes in my head for the run. I told myself I just had to run hard for 85 minutes and then it would be over. I felt okay starting the run but when I saw other women on the first short out and back section I felt like they were all running so much faster than me. I put my blinders on and just focused on each mile one at a time. I took a flask with me that had a watered down PowerGel in it. This was another small change I made with me nutrition. It is always hard for me to get down a gel early in the run but I know that I need to. I thought one mixed with 6 oz of water would help it go down more easily.  I sipped on it the first 5 miles and I think it helped with my energy later on in the run. The run course was relatively flat but very exposed as far as heat and sun are concerned. I could see a few women in front of me I just maintained my pace and kept my legs ticking over. I tried not to think of the women behind me and what they were doing but I was kind of waiting to hear someone's footsteps behind me. I still had the penalty in the back of my mind along with the stupid bike mounting failure and while I was running strong I was still a bit angry at myself. I was angry at my lack of focus, angry that I got a penalty and kind of annoyed that I was still thinking about it. At that same time I was catching people on the run so that lifted my spirits.  I made a pass for 7th place around mile 9 and forced another gel down because I knew I would need it the last four miles. I just tried to turn my legs over as fast as I could and stay relaxed.  Around mile 12 I asked a couple of spectators if they could see anyone behind me and they said no. I was shocked! I was still waiting to be caught. I guess I need to have a little more faith in myself!

Mile 5 on the run...I needed to run FAST!
I made it to the finish line happy to have kept my head in the game even with some hiccups on the bike. However, I was still disappointed that I had made a few mistakes. Andy said "I think you ran 1:25" but at that moment I was still being hard on myself. The truth is that races rarely go perfectly and I think you have to control what you can and not let the little mistakes become larger obstacles in your head. I had to do the race in the present moment and not project myself two minutes (or whatever time I lost) down the road. My coach told me after the race that it is always good to learn that "it is not over until it's over." In addition, it is DEFINITELY over when you quit and I was NOT about to do that. In the end, My swim and bike were solid and my run was a personal best and was the fastest run split of the day in 1:25:30.  I never would have expected to do that.

At the finish. My shoes match my kit.

7th Place.

A stop at Crater Lake on the way home.  Breathtaking! Pictures don't do it justice.
After the race we spent more time with my grandmother and then headed back home to Napa. We had planned to drive down the California coast and stop in the Redwood National Forest but we made a game time decision to change our plans. We were talking to my grandma and she said she always meant to go to Crater Lake but never made it there. Before the trip, Andy and I had talked about Crater Lake but it seemed to be a bit out of the way and added time and distance onto an already long drive. We figured that we would go there "another time." When my 100.5 year old grandma said she had been meaning to go there her whole life I knew we had to go. I wanted to see it in her honor.

Next up is Rolf Prima's Tri at the Grove in Cottage Grove, OR and then back to Chicago for the triathlon in August. Some short course racing is on tap for the next couple of months and I am excited about that! This week is my mid season break so I am enjoying waking up and watching the Tour without having to rush out to train. It is the little things!!!


  1. Congrats!! You are doing amazing. So glad you made it to Crater Lake, so special :)


  2. it is a great strategy to check the route before hand to know what kind of route is. That kind of strategies can work for the price per head route too thanks.