PART BEAR. PART MAN. ALL AMERICAN
Location: Portland, OR
Last weekend Amanda and I went to Portland to experience the inaugural Rev3 Portland Triathlon. Our weekend (week, actually) was filled with plenty of fun activities, and the summary of said diversions can be found on Amanda’s blog here. (She tends to summarize more quickly, more efficiently, and more promptly than I, so rather than post a recap of our time in Oregon and California, I thought I’d share her report.)
Overall, my race experience was very good. The folks at Rev3 put on one heck of a great race, paying attention to every little detail. I was very impressed with their moves, as they took a sharp directional turn late in the game – after finding out that they could not use their original race course – and put together a great race, at a very fun venue. The revised course was flatter and faster than the original plan, and after our slog-fest down in Lubbock, I was looking forward to a faster day of racing!
Most everyone was pleased with the atypical later start in Portland. With an extra bit of sleep and an extra bit of breakfast, we made our way to Blue Lake Regional Park for an 8:00AM start. The air temp was cool, which made the water feel a bit chilly without a wetsuit. But having exploded in the too-warm waters of Texas, I was very happy to have a non-wetsuit swim. We pros got a 30-minute head start on the age groupers – yet another nice touch by the Rev3 race crew. I zipped up the TYR Syonara and jumped into the lake for my warm-up swim.
Straight away I knew I was not going to have my best swim. We had a beach start, which typically affords me the opportunity to show off my monkey dance (that I perfected at our swim camp at Rev3 Costa Rica – thanks to Richie). This time, however, only a few steps into the water, I took an accidental shove/ trip from someone behind me. The premature “dive” would not have mattered too much, but a resulting zipper-pull of my speedsuit left me with a bit of a drag-like situation. Those speedsuits are amazingly quick pieces of equipment, but only when they are fully zipped. After struggling to keep up for the first couple hundred meters, I resigned myself to tow the second pack through the water. Normally that opening sprint is my specialty, but this time, I was in trouble.
I did my best to hit the reset button, and put several hard efforts to close the gap to Richie and the others. By the time I hit the far end of the course, I was very frustrated with how difficult it felt to keep swimming. I stopped to grope for my zipper string, in an attempt to pull it back up. But I could not find it, nor could I stomach anymore stop time. I plugged on, and continued to gain a bad attitude.
Leaving the water, I made my way straight to the “mini-T1″ to grab my AVIA Bolts for the .4-mile run to “big-T1″. This proved to be a bad call, as not one other pro athlete took advantage of this option. I am not sure why I chose to stick with this plan, as I know that those precious seconds in transition can cost a lot more time in overall standing. Out of sight, out of mind: to lose contact with other athletes is a big no-no in fast racing!
By the time I finally got to my bike – and managed to remove the shoes – I had lost about 30 seconds to my swim group, and the next pack had closed much of their gap. Off to a great start, eh?!
Once on the bike, I tried to put the experience behind me. I was fired up to crush the bike course, and I set out to catch as many guys as I could. Again, I knew that contact would be key in this race. Within the first five miles of the race, I had caught a few of the leaders, and was caught by a few of the pursuers. I was primed to use this company to chase down the others up the road. However, my plans were thwarted by the alternative plans of a USAT official who pulled up on her moto and asked me to stand down. Stand down?! What did I do wrong?
Standing on the side of the road was very deflating: I watched everyone ride away, served my first ever penalty (in 19 years of racing!), and saw numerous athletes catch up to me and leave me behind. I was not having fun.
But attitude is everything, so I did my best to forget about the time I lost, and to forget about my swim experience, and to focus on the road ahead.
That plan worked for about 8 minutes, at which point my bad attitude fought its way back to the forefront. For the next several miles, I bounced back and forth between being angry about the penalty, and being fired up to catch the others, and back to angry about the silly stagger rule that snagged me, and then fired up to get back in the hunt.
Sadly, my low points were too frequent and too long, and I continued to lose time for the next several miles. By the time I made the final turn for home, I had regained my fire, and was pushing quite well toward the finish of the bike ride. I knew that my ride had taken me out of contention for the win, but I was sure I could turn the ship around, and run my way into the top ten.
Transition 2 is where my race really began. I made quick work of the Kestrel-drop/ AVIA-grab, and was out on the run course in seconds flat. The first section of the run course was cross country: rocky, grassy, and rough. I loved it. From the outset I knew I was going to have a fast run. I felt smooth and strong, and immediately had found my rhythm.
Once onto the paved portions of the course, I turned up the pressure. Most of my first five miles were in the 5:20′s or 5:30′s, and I felt sure I could hold fairly consistent at that effort. The conditions were mild, and I had my work cut out for me. The goal was to reach the top-ten, and to see if I could have the fastest run split of the day. I managed to pass quite a few folks on the run, and had I been given another mile or two, I am pretty sure I might have caught more runners. The chase was fun, and it certainly turned around my attitude. It’s always nice to finish on a high note.
My eighth place finish was not exactly what I had been planning for, but nonetheless, I was pleased to have made my way back into the money spots. Yet another great thing about Rev3 racing: they pay top-ten, so even with my snafus, I was able to collect a paycheck.
Naturally, I can look back at this race and take away a few positives, a few lessons, as well as a few bucks. I am not sure how I could have avoided the accidentally stripped speedsuit, or the (unjustified!) penalty; however, I now know more than ever that a positive attitude will always prevail, so the sooner I can arrive at the right frame of mind, the sooner I can turn around a ship that is off course!
Big thanks to Rev3 for hosting us at such an amazing race in an incredible part of the country. To those of you who missed this inaugural event, do not delay in signing up for 2012′s race, as the experience will only get better with its improved course! And to the rest of my sponsors, thank you for supporting me through my good races, my bad races, and my medium efforts!
Big shout-out to Trakkers, First Endurance, Kestrel, AVIA, TYR, Jack & Adam’s, Zipp, ISM, Recovery Pump, Oakley, Louis Garneau, CycleOps, Headsweats, Yurbuds, and Justin’s.