Wednesday, July 13, 2011

REV 3 Portland

Rev 3 Portland was going to be my first of the Rev 3 race series and my last half IM distance of the year prior to Ironman 70.3 Worlds in September. I've wanted to race a Rev 3 for a couple of years now but without any on the western side of the States I knew I was going to have to save up for it or wait until something closer was announced. This was the inaugural year for Portland and never having been to this city I was excited to check it out.

Similar to other travel plans I have made this year, my plans to travel with other triathletes from the Boise area fell apart faster than they were formed and I found myself preparing to make the trip alone again. “Saint” Jeremy was going to be with the kids in eastern Idaho for Tayllor’s state softball tournament so I had plenty of time to organize my gear and prepare for the 7 hour drive to Portland. Trips always seem to work out better when the “Saint” plans them and all I have to worry about is my gear and racing. I need to figure out some way that I can make enough money so I can pay him to quit his job and work fulltime for me. I was excited to race Rev 3 Portland and had heard a lot of positive things from the Rev 3 race series; mostly that at some of the races the payout goes into the AG and not just the Pro ranks. Only weeks prior to race day, Rev 3 announced a race venue change due to permit issues with the city of Portland. I’m not sure what the original course was going to be like but the new course was going to be flat and fast…I prefer hilly and fast on both the bike and the run. 

The new venue was going to be at Blue Lake Park in Franklin (east and slightly south of the of Portland airport) and when I arrived Friday evening I began to scout out the course…yep, flat and fast, right along the Columbia river that divides Oregon and Washington. Although leaving me alone to only my thoughts for an extended period of time can be dangerous, the drive from Boise wasn’t bad other than the mind-numbing 65mph speed limit you are forced to obey through the entire state of Oregon. Just when you would get the urge to go a little faster you would see a State Trooper that has pulled someone over for speeding.  

Blue Lake Park is a large, beautiful park with a spring-fed lake that I learned was closed to swimming prior to the race unless you were one of the lucky locals that lived right along its shores. Had I been able to swim in there prior to the race I would have opted to swim in my TYR Torque swim skin instead of my TYR Hurricane because 72 degrees is really warm after about 400 yards. As I scouted the course I also learned that the Park was not going to allow us to transition inside of the park due to all the other activities already booked inside the Park so we would have a ½ mile run from the swim exit to the transition area that was set up on the other side of the road in a field just outside of the Park. Kind of odd but when you only have a couple of weeks to completely re-plan your race you have to make the best with what you have. They did a good job of mowing and clearing the field and it wasn’t too bad on race day.

Race morning brought mostly sunny skies, 60 degree air temp with no threat of rain and no wind…perfect conditions for a fast race. I arrived at the race venue a little later than hoped because I was trying my hand at camping again to keep costs down and no camping at Blue Lake. The State Park I was staying at wouldn’t open the gates to get in or out until 6:30am and with a 30min drive it was going to make tight but doable since my swim wave didn’t leave until 8:30am. I finished dropping off my gear in the transition area and as I ran back to my car to get on my swim gear I came around a hedge of bushes and almost literally ran into a couple of kids that looked mysteriously familiar, and then I saw the “Saint” with an expression on his face like he had just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “SHUT UP!” for some reason that was the only thing I could say for a couple of seconds because my family was not supposed to be here. Apparently they did a midnight run to make it to the race and cheer me on. They were trying to avoid me and surprise me on the course and were headed away from the swim start thinking that would be the best plan to keep the surprise alive. I was so excited to see my cheer squad and they were wearing their green race shirts!

The swim start was divided into 4 groups, Pro men & women would leave at 8:00am followed by all of the females 30min later then 5 min gaps between the men and then the Clydesdales. This was perfect, I could see my competition all day and know exactly how I needed to pace myself. As I mentioned above, the swim was very warm and almost sickening if you are not accustomed to it. The pack of women thinned quickly as we started and we swam in more of a straight line than as a pack almost the entire swim. I ended up swimming the entire 1.2 miles by myself and came out of the water 13th with a turtle-like 33:25. I’m not sure why my swim is so slow cause I can consistently swim the distance under 30 minutes during training. I don’t know if I gas myself at the beginning trying to get out front and then swim out of breath the rest of the time or maybe it’s my nerves. Even though it was warm I don’t think this played too much of a role on my overall swim time and there wasn’t anybody close to me the entire swim to kick me in the face. This will definitely have to be one of my focuses for the next couple of weeks while I prepare for Worlds.

I quickly took off my wetsuit and slipped on a separate pair of running shoes at the mini transition area between the swim and bike transition. As I exited the water the “Saint” told me that I was 13th out of the water had a heafty 6 minutes to make up from the lead women. I was starting my favorite discipline and riding my favorite bike so I was sure I could at least ride myself into the top 3. As I ran the ½ mile to get on my bike I passed a couple of gals that exited the water just ahead of me. The results will show a 5:00 transition time for T1, this ½ mile tour of the park is why. I was starting my favorite discipline and riding my favorite bike so I was sure I could at least ride myself into the top 3. Once out on the bike it actually didn’t take long for me to pass another 9 gals. The course is a 2-loop with 4 turnarounds that made it easy for me to tell how I was doing relative to my competition. At the first 2 turnarounds I would tell I was easily gaining on both of the lead girls and so I opted to stay back off on my watts and save it for the run. By time I had completed the first loop on the bike I had moved into 3rd with only a 3 minute gap behind 1st. I could see that they were starting to fade as they were standing up hammering on a flat course while I just maintained my current watts. I felt like I was going too easy and almost felt guilty holding my Speed Concept to only 22 mph but I had a plan and so far it was working out to my advantage so I needed to stick with it.
As I came into T2 I could see the 2 lead women in front of me and they were only about a minute up. The plan was to run 7:10 splits for the first couple of miles and then adjust from there. By time mile 5 came up the lead gal had been passed by 2nd place and I was only about 30 seconds back. I was in a good spot and was going to just sit in this spot and maintain her pace until mile 8, then make my move. She had her husband out on the run course giving her my run splits every mile so when I came up on her she already knew it was me and tried to pour it on to try and drop me. We ran a 6:30 pace for a mile then I picked it up to a 6:10 pace until she fell off. I slowly backed off the pace and felt good running the last couple of miles. I wanted to run a little faster the last half mile to have a stong finish but misjudged my distance and didn’t pick it up until about the last ¼ mile. I felt strong coming into the finish with a 1:32:04 half marathon for an overall time of 4:43:41 that was a new PR by over 4 minutes. It felt good to know that I had more to give and that going into my focused training for Worlds should help improve on these times even more. I probably could have shaved another 8-10 minutes off of my total time time if I wanted to gut myself. That OA time would still have left me out of the top 5 for the Pro women but I know that I still have more conditioning to do and I have to figure out what’s going on so I can nail that swim; I can’t keep trying to make up +4 minutes on my bike. It was also good to finally have that OA win under my belt.

I was "READY" mentally and phsically for this race. The prep that I had missed on the last two halfs, I hit for this one. I think what took this race over the "top" had to be "secret weapon", my family. I know that made the difference for me to keep pushing when you see these little faces cheering their guts out so much that I can see their veins popping when I barrel by. I know have said this a million times, I could not do what I do with out the support of my family, especially the "Saint"; nor would I want to.

I can't sign off without saying that I love my sponsors and I could not consitently finish on the poduim every race without the support, services, top of the line equipment and state of the art gear I'm lucky enough to train and race with.

Next stop, maybe a local Olympic distance Tri and then most of August will be about the Idaho state Championship road racing, TT and crit then off to Vegas in late August to start acclimating for Ironman 70.3 Worlds on September 11th only 8 weeks away.

I'm excited to race in another Rev 3 event. If they can throw together a race this great in 5 weeks, image what they will do with a year to prep. I have been to my fair share of races put on by locals as well as world wide organizations and this company has it together. Just the swag you get for racing is better than any other race I've ever been to.I was able to speak with several of the race organizer and workers, all where extremely pleasant and a joy to chat with. I have not had that kind of interaction at a venue of this size. The staff genuinely cared about your race experience as well what they can do to make it better. I felt like was not just a number, but an athlete with a name and a story. Know this, I'm lobbying hard for them to come to Boise...keep your finger's crossed.