Speaking of fun, Portland became more about the 70.3. I was equally excited to get in a mini vacation with the sherpa. Btw, sherpa has a name, it's John :) Originally I was supposed to do Portland with D and Lindsay, but they had some not-so-fun stuff happen (major bummer!), which left me solo until John saved me with his sherpaing services/company. I don't mind traveling and/or racing alone, and I'm used to doing everything for myself when I do so--from taking apart and building the bike to hauling luggage, dealing with reservations and finding quality food. But this time around I barely dealt with any of that, sherpa took care of it. Totally foreign to me, but very awesome.
We got to Portland on Friday and it was beautiful! I'll share some of our fun non-race adventures that we had later, but for now it's all about the race.
View of Mt. Hood (not part of the race course lol)....
Checkin out town with the sherpa (behind is the river where we were originally supposed to swim)...
Race expo, check in and a mini tuneup workout. Met up with my buddy Ben G with whom I do the Endurance Planet podcast and we rode together for a bit. Then a t-run. My knee felt a little odd on therun, but I figured it was just that icky taper feeling.
Ben and I....My faithful steed ready for yet another adventure....Everyone gets pro-like treatment at a Rev3 race...The rest of Saturday was mellow. Found a farmer's market and a WF-like healthy grocery store/deli where I got a bomb GF sandwich. That night, the main goal was to find a good carb-filled but preferably gluten-free dinner. Got just what I needed at an Italian place called Fratelli's in downtown Portland: Risotto with ahi, sauteed spinach and a glass of vino.... as well as some of John's gnocchi and skirt steak. We were settled into the hotel by 8:30ish. It's light outside until after 9 in Portland, making it hard to go to bed. Thankfully heavy curtains in the hotel room did the trick to give the illusion of night.
My wave was scheduled to go off at 8:30 a.m. (so late!!!) so that meant I could SLEEP IN. Still, we got up at 5 a.m. and eased into the morning. I was pumped up, but surprisingly not nervous nor stressed. I even had time to watch a little TV while eating brekkie, which was oatmeal cooked with a [real] egg, almond milk, one packet of Justin's Honey Almond Butter, extra salt and stevia, with a side of strawberries, coffee and amino acid tabs. Getting closer to the start I had a banana and 3 Endurolytes.
Rev3 had the race set up well. The morning went smoothly and never once was I rushed. I even brought a roll of TP after what happened at O-side earlier this year, but I didn't need that at all... bathrooms were well stocked! (Bonus points to Rev3). Granted, it was a small-ish race of 500 or so athletes.
Scape'n it up...
This is where the swim was, at Blue Lake. You can see it in my face that I was starting to get a little bit of those pre-race nerves, but I was still more pumped than anything...
Pre-race it was already sunny and getting warm in the morning so I was expecting a hot one. We made our way to the swim start, which happened to be almost a 1/2 mile from transition area -- sucky! It'd be a loooong T1, which would definitely mess with my goals. It was such a long run that they set up racks for us to hang our running shoes so we could wear them from the swim exit to transition, as it was too far/sketchy to run barefoot. Other than that, everything seemed like it was going to be great. Talked with some friends, said goodbye to John and off into the water it was...
Calm before the storm...
Several goals here: 1) Don't cramp, 2) don't over-exert myself, 3) swim 36-38 min. Goals achieved, namely NO FOOT/LEG CRAMPING! I've been doing more race-specific practice, and the faster I go on long sets (i.e. a 1:35 or faster 100 pace for 500-1000+), the sooner I cramp. I can hold a sub-1:30 pace +/- on my 100 and 200 repeats now, which is great for me, but I can't put that pace into action in the long stuff yet. It's a work in progress. So on race day, I figured I'd do my 1.2-mile swim at the RPE of my 500 repeats (usually those are 8:20-9:00).
The lake water was WARM, 72+ degrees! This will not be the case for this race in years to come because the venue will be back at the Williamette River in downtown. My wave was all AG females. Right away I saw how this swim would be: aggressive. There were some fiesty ladies in the mix. It was the first swim in a long time where I got beat up on a lot, practically the whole time. I took the blows as best I could, but they definitely affected my ability to stay smooth and calm. But at least I wasn't swimming in no man's land ;) Not to mention I was HOT in that jacuzzi of a lake. I was wearing my Zoot Prophet and compression socks, which each offered their own benefits, but I was toasty.
I felt like I was holding the right pace, but I was a little scared that maybe I was going too conservatively at times. I'm so terrified of cramping, and as a result that definitely messes with my head and how I swim. Ugh. I eventually saw the finish and was stoked that the bod was still in tact, so I picked up the pace. Exited at just under 38 on my watch and hit the mat at 38 and change. I can handle that, especially given that it was cramp free! Was it the compression? Who knows, but I'll take it!
Starting a max-effort sprint after the body has been prone for nearly 40 min is rough, especially when the sprint is almost a 1/2 mile and all you want to do is be on the bike. That run seemed never-ending, and my heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest. If I had felt like that for the rest of the race I might have not made it to the finish. Seriously. Just ask John how awful I looked, he saw it all haha. Ugh. That said, I had a great T1 time, relatively speaking, of 4:50 something. But like I said, this would come back to haunt me and the goals I'd laid out for a sub-5 day. Essentially, the race was probably a 70.7 or something. Crap.
John later told me I came out of the water 11th in my AG. Standard. I knew I'd be far back after the swim, so as always I had my work cut out for me on the bike. It was a two-loop very flat course and I was ready to hammer. I had set a goal to go 2:40 or faster, so a 21 mph average at the least. With all the rides I've been doing lately I knew this would be cakewalk and I could go faster, but I wanted to PR my run and needed to stay a little conservative on the bike in order to have the running legs I wanted.
I was very thirsty right away on the bike and drank a whole bottle in the first 20 min. I think it's because I got so hot in the swim. I didn't have my bike legs right off the bat and was a little nervous that maybe I'd gotten too dehydrated in the swim or that the T1 run killed me, but after some nutrition and getting into the groove I found my legs and settled into pace.
The bike course is very pretty; it goes along the Columbia River, passes by the Portland airport (the only section where the road conditions sucked), and there's lots of lush, undeveloped land to see, as well as Mt. Hood in the distance. But after the first stretch all that gets old, and I'm not going to lie, it's not the most "exciting" course. There was some wind, but not too bad.I was just focusing on nutrition and passing as many people as possible, as well as riding legally. On a flat course like that it'd be easy to find a "free ride" and draft. But that's just BS, and there's nothing I hate more than cheating. For me, cycling is my strength so I like to show what I can do all on my own. Unfortunately, I did see some drafting and packs forming, but nothing Clearwater-style. Plus the start waves were spread out well, the course was wide enough to prevent ridiculously large packs from forming, and it was very well-marshaled so cheaters were caught (again, nice work Rev3). Anyways, I had passed a lot of girls in my AG but still had no idea how many were ahead.
When I passed by transition second or third time, John was yelling where I stood in my AG, and I thought I heard, "Only one girl in front of you." Who knows if I heard him right, but regardless I got an extra boost of energy and was ready to lay it down even more. I passed another girl in my AG soon after and got a big smile on my face thinking I biked my way into 1st AG. As an added bonus, with the turnarounds I could see all the lead AG women, and by my count I was in the top 10, like 7th or 8th. On the final stretch back I wanted to pass more girls, and turns out I passed another chick in my AG. I knew then that I had to be 1st going into T2.
My bike split was 2:36, a 21.5 mph average, with an average of 180 watts. Slightly better then I planned but with the exact effort I wanted to give. It was a really great feeling to ride like that and still feel so fresh going into T2. All the biking I'm doing with dudes, or even just solo, is paying off.
Btw, bike nutrition: I love racing with GU Vanilla Orange Roctane gels. That flavor is not too sweet/overwhelming and has the tangy orangeness that I like, plus extra amino acids and electrolytes... perfect for a mega sweater like me. All together, I had 4-5 gels on the bike (I think), most of a Clif bar, GU tabs in one bottle and about 5 Endurolytes. Felt just about right. I find that eating something like a bar helps me feel like I get more substantial calories than if I were to do all liquids and gels.
Quick and fast. Under a minute and onto the run. It was getting hot outside, but not too bad.
My goal was 1:40. I knew this would be really tough, as my fastest half-Ironman run to date is a 1:46. Shaving off 6 min would be a challenge, but my open half-mary PR is 1:35ish, so possible. When I hopped off my bike, my overall time was 3:18 or 3:19ish, so a 1:40 was just what I needed to do to go sub-5. I got going and saw John. He verified that I was first AG. Sweet. Right off the bat, I felt really good on the run. Too good, and I think I made stupid mistakes, the same mistakes I warn my athletes not to make, i.e. running faster than your goal pace because you feel good in the beginning. The first part was on grass and trails, then a bike path, and I was running 7:20-7:30 for the first few miles. I took in a gel and water at the aid station. I was feeling good, but my times were dropping a little... 7:37, then 7:47, then 7:50s. No worries, I thought, just keep it sub-8. A few times I thought I felt the onset of GI issues. But I said, "Body, you know what's up right now, this isn't anything new, just keep it together inside there pleeeease." No major GI problems in the end, whew.
The main miles of the run took place on the same road that we biked on. Again, not very exciting, but whatever, I actually felt like I was in a race in my AG so I was stoked. Meanwhile, I saw the lead pro ladies running, and in the distance I heard Meredith Kessler's name announced as the winner. She killed it. I saw Bree Wee and yelled something to her. Love that chick. When I passed transition, John said that the 3rd place girl in my AG was running a sub-7 pace, but she was far back. Shit, I couldn't match that. I had to run in fear. He said 2nd place was struggling and I probably didn't need to worry about her.
For a lot of the run I was thinking how cool it would be if I got 1st AG. Achieving that at a fairly significant race is definitely something I've wanted for a long time. But I couldn't let result mumbo jumbo dominate my thoughts. I still had running to do. I was stopping very briefly at every aid station to down water and gatorade, and pour water on my head. Those quick stops helped, but not enough apparently. At mile 8-9ish, close to the turnaround that would take us on the final stretch home, things started changing. I hit the wall. My sub-8 pace turned into an 8:10-8:30 pace. It wasn't a nutrition or dehydration issue, and not salt depletion, just my legs starting to feel like bricks. I wanted to hold on to my lead so badly but at the turnaround I saw the speedy fellow AGer gaining on me. She eventually passed me at around mile 10 and I couldn't respond. It sucked, but that was that. I was still happy because I knew I had a podium finish in the bag. However, I saw my sub-5 dreams slipping away as well. By mile 10ish, my new goal became 5:10 or faster. I didn't know if I'd slow down even more or what so I was accepting that a 5:00-5:10 could happen. At that point, an 8:15 pace had the RPE of a 6:15 pace. It hurt. All I could think was, "How am I going to do an Ironman next month?!"
But I held on, and my run ended up being 1:42 and change, a 7:49 average pace on the results, which is a half-iron run PR by 4 min for me, and my first time keeping a sub-8 average pace in a half-iron run. Not the 1:40 I set out to do, but I knew that was a big goal and I'm OK with not getting it... yet :) It was a good run, even with those last several miles not going as planned. I guess I need to practice what I preach and maybe I'll finish a run as strong as or stronger than how I start.
I crossed the finish line at 5:02, which got me 2nd AG and 9th female amateur. Not my sub-5, and not even a 70.3 PR, but I was still happy as could be!! I executed a SBR almost exactly according to what I planned, so I can tell I'm making progress in putting the three sports together and knowing what I'm capable of doing. But more importantly, it's obviously not my fault I didn't get the sub-5, it was that damn T1 that kept me from it.... hahahaha, j/k. Sort of ;) Nice attempt at an excuse, right?
Anyways, I felt shakey after the race, but recovered quickly. A five-hour day is not that foreign to me anymore. We hung out around, packed up and waited around for awards. I got my award. Then broke my award :( Oops. I didn't even get a pic of it; it was a cute little glass plaque thing.
On top of sherpa-ing, John managed to run 11 miles during the race. A multi-tasking champ! We were both ready to chill out in the shade...
Started to chow on a burrito, but it wasn't settling well. Too much salsa...On the podium. Only one in my AG who stuck around, sheesh...
I want to say how well-run this Rev3 event was. I was excited to try a non-Ironman-brand 70.3 race, and Rev3 did not disappoint! Still bummed we didn't get the original course, but they were able to put on a fabulous race even with the last-minute change.
Later on, it was time to celebrate. We headed back to downtown Portland, and I was debating on a burger or pizza. I hadn't eaten much after the race (like I said, that salsa-y burrito wasn't easy on the tummy, so I'd only had some chips and a Muscle Milk). Sooooo.... at the restaurant, I decided on....
Appetizer to share...
My main meal...mmmm....
And of course....beer! Btw, we had temp tatoo race #s that didin't easily come off with soap and water, so I decided to be that person and roll through town with them on ;)...
I also had some special post-race brews waiting for me at the hotel. Had Linsey Corbin in mind when I picked up these bad boys....