Monday, June 27, 2011

Pacific Crest

I was amazed at how quickly this race came and realized that this meant we were about midway through the "normal" 2011 season. This means 70.3 Worlds is only 2 months away…I’d better finalize my travel plans.

Pacific Crest is held in Sunriver, Oregon which sits about 30 minutes south of Bend and is in a beautiful location. I raced here once before a couple of years ago and vowed to return again some time when I wasn’t racing IM CDA since they are on the same weekend. I quickly learned how nice it is to have the “Saint” plan the logistics of the race and all I needed to worry about was showing up to the race start with all my stuff, ready to race. He was home with the kiddos making sure they made it to swim team practice and Tayllor was playing in another softball tournament over the weekend. This time planning the entire trip was up to me which eventually meant driving myself the 6.5 hours to the race. I had originally planned on riding and staying with friends and fellow racers which gradually unraveled as race day approached. In the end I packed everything in my car and headed off on my own. I quickly found myself singing to myself in the car when there was no radio station to be found in remote central Oregon. I was also trying my hand at camping instead of staying in a hotel or condo since I decided to race at the last minute and all the housing accommodations in Sunriver were full and staying in Bend by myself was going to be too expensive.

The week leading up to the race was chaotic, at best. I had to take a dozen teenage girls to the mountains for church girls camp that I was in charge of and came back to town just in time to drop off dirty laundry, refuel and maybe get a “Mom, we missed you” from my kids. Probably not the best pre-race activity for getting in key workouts and plenty of rest but I was going to make the best of it. I arrived at the race venue on Friday evening just in time to get my race packet and get my bike dropped off in T1 before it closed. Finally here, I was able to pitch my tent in a campsite where my girlfriend’s parents were staying.

Race morning brought sunny skies, a stiff back, a slight breeze, sore hips, watery eyes, cool temperatures and a stuffy nose…another beautiful day to race.  Even though I didn’t have a very restful night of sleep, I was up early and off to T1 to see if I could identify who was going to be my competition for the day.  I was completely out of my element since most of these women are from Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Goal times for the day were to mimic what I had done at the Boise 70.3 but this time push a little harder on the bike with the understanding that my time might be slower due to all the elevation this course brings as you climb Mt. Bachelor. I was swimming in the Elite wave of athletes which meant my wave went out first and I could keep an eye on the other women and possibly know where I was in the lineup since the “Saint” would not be there to give me updates.

As the swim wave took off, my plan was to get in the middle of the pack and pace myself with others of my ability. As we rounded the first buoy one of the guys to the side of me apparently decided he needed clearer water to swim in and as he rolled over the guys in front of me I managed to find his heel with my eye socket…he has a pretty strong kick. This snapped my head back, made me see stars and I stopped swimming for a second to adjust my goggles and regain my senses. When I started swimming again I could only breathe to the left side because turning my head to the right hurt really bad. I had lost the pack and was now swimming with a slight handicap not being able to breathe to both sides. All the swim buoys where to my right so I had a lot of trouble sighting. Swim time was a lumbering 35:41 and left me almost 5 minutes back from the lead females and 5 minutes off of my target time. I needed a good transition time and then a solid bike to make up for the poor swim performance. As I got up to my transition area in T1 it was adisaster zone because other athletes crowded into my area due to limited transition rack space. I had previously moved my gear along the fence, away from the rack, which ended up being a good choice with all the gear everywhere I would have never found anything. I had a soild transition time of 1:07 because I made the change prior to the race.

 I was glad to be out of that water and on my Trek Speed Concept. By time I reached mile 10 I realized that kick to the face did a lot more damage than I thought. My back and neck where screaming at me in the aero postion accompanied by a massive headach, not a good way to start the day at all. The part of the race I was really looking forward to was now going to be a survival test. When I raced here in the past, we had a change to the course due to contstruction so I have never summited Mt. Bachlore. I needed to be a little conservative on the bike because I hadn’t trained for any kind of climbing since preparing for Wildflower almost two months earlier. Even though I didn’t have time to pre-ride the course I knew climbing over Mt. Bachelor was going to be a beautiful ride but would require discipline not to hammer too early or I wouldn’t have anything before I hit the summit. It actually didn’t take that long and before I hit the summit I was sucking wind and feeling the burn in my lungs and legs…allergies…can you say elevation. The race course starts at 4,500ft and peaks at 6,300ft as you climb over the pass at Mt. Bachelor which isn’t too bad for elevation change until you factor in that Boise resides at 2500ft elevation. I guess I should have considered thin air in part of my race strategy. It actually felt hotter at the summit than it did on the rest of the course because the snow was so high it felt like you were going through a tunnel but there was no wind and the sun was reflecting off the snow giving you an oven effect. I actually thought about trying to ride really close to the snow bank so I could lean my head and neck into the snow and cool or at least ice my throbing head and neck it off a little. The bike was a sad representation of my riding abilities with a 2:47:43 finish time, way off the mark. After I got home I learned that I needed to adjust my power zone to compensate for the climb; mark that down for next time.

As I came into T2 my friend Dave said that he thought I was about 3 minutes back of 2nd but he wasn’t sure how far back I was from first. As I got up to my transition area in T2 I noticed that somebody had put their stuff all over my transition area and I had to sort through all his gear to get my stuff on. I still had a pretty good transition time of only 1:11 but probably could have shaved another 10-15 seconds off of that had I not been blessed with extra gear.  If that wasn't enough, as I came out of the transition area the inflatable they had at the exit came crashing down on top of me. What is with my luck this race? The run is a beautiful course that winds through the resort area and offers a fair amount of shade. I didn’t feel like I had very much to give after that depleting ride but I knew there were other girls not too far behind me and I couldn’t let myself fall outside of the top 3. By mile 6 I had made up the gap with 2nd and wasn’t going to let her run on my heels for the rest of the race so I pushed the pace even harder and planned on holding it until she fell off. It seems like she held on for about a mile but then I was on my own again trying to catch up to 1st , not really knowing how far ahead of me she was. I am now starting to realize how nice it is to have the “Saint” there  keeping track of the competition to give me regular updates. I finished the run in a 1:35:59 which wasn’t too bad after that painful ride.

Directly after the race I knew that I needed to get my neck and back adjusted to see if they could offer me some relief. I had a great fill-in Chiro, Josh. He tried all of his tricks with ART and manipulation but still could not get my neck to adjust. His advice was to to ice and rest it and see if it felt better in the morning but thought I would need a day or two before the mucsles would relax enough to allow for an adjustment. I told myself that if it was moving better and the headache went away than I would at least start the Olympic distance race the next day.

Finial time was a 5:01:42 and was good enough for 2nd OA but was more than 15 minutes back of 1st. I got chicked on the bike by almost 10 minutes  and I don’t like it. The bike is my favorite part of each race but I was unprepared for this one and I paid the price. I stuck around for the awards ceremony and was happy to see that with my fellow TYR teammates we rounded out the top 3.
I then headed back to camp to get ready for Sunday with plans of racing in the Olympic distance but I didn’t sleep well that night and when I woke up on Sunday morning I couldn’t turn my head which meant it was going to be a tough race if I went through with it. I called the “Saint” and he advised me to call it a weekend and save it for Portland in 2 weeks. Yeah, it sucks that I already paid the entry fee but I just couldn’t see myself racing without the ability to turn my head, especially during the swim. I packed up, said my goodbyes and drove back to Boise, first stop…Dr. Jim’s office at Boise Valley Chiropractic to get my neck adjusted and then my tail bone; camping did not do me any favors. Next up, Rev 3 Portland on 7/10. I’ll be looking for everyone to be there.