Sunday, September 13, 2009

Aluminum Man Olympic Tri Race Report

I signed up for this race just to get in another practice triathlon closer to my goal race of Ironman Arizona which is at the end of November. I thought the 3 months between Lake Stevens 70.3 and the IM would leave me feeling a little rusty so this race bridged that gap a bit. I also wanted to test out some new gear (the tri top) and just get some more race practice. So while this certainly wasn't a goal race, I was hoping a strong performance would be a confidence booster.

Unfortunately I was feeling a little "off" the last couple of days since my b-day and came down with a little cold or something. My throat was sore and I was just feeling a little run down. I rested Friday night (actually went straight to bed after work and slept for about 3 hours, then got my race stuff ready, ate dinner, and back went to bed) and figured I'd just see how I feel Saturday morning. Thankfully I felt ok, actually a bit better, so I knew I could finish the race. I decided that I would tone down the effort if I was feeling lousy, and I knew even if I felt great this wouldn't be my best performance. Plus, since it was just a "practice race" I wasn't terribly motivated. I really realized out there that if your heart isn't it in, it is difficult to push yourself and really race hard!

We headed out as planned about 6:00 for the hour and a half drive to The Dalles. The 9:00 race start was nice for this reason, I didn't have to get up ridiculously early. We arrived nice and early and I checked in and got my transition set up. It was really helpful that Zach wasn't racing and could help haul my stuff around and keep me organized. Alisa showed up a little bit after me, she was racing the Sprint Distance which started 30 minutes after the Oly that I was doing. I hung around while she set up and then we listened to the pre-race briefing and then it was time for me to start.

This race was TINY- It looks like there were 22 women doing the Olympic and about 37 men. The waves were just separated by gender. Watching the men start off I realized how shallow the water was and watched them run about 50 to 100 yards before jumping in to swim! A woman next to me told me there is a lot of seaweed once you get out there a ways, so I figured this was going to be a challenging swim. Luckily the water was very calm so at least we had that going for us.

The swim: 1000 meters

I started off to the side and when the air horn went off I ran along with the other women for quite a ways in knee-deep water. Annoying! As soon as I saw someone dive in I dove in too and started swimming. Many women continued running/wading for quite a while before we were all finally swimming. Sure enough, I immediately encountered a mess of seaweed in the shallow water and my arms were getting tangled in it. I wasn't freaking out at all but I was pretty frustrated. I altered my stroke a bit and even did some breast stroke for a while. Finally it cleared up and I made the first turn. The next stretch was a long one and it was out in the deeper water, so I was looking forward to a seaweed-free swim. Well, there were patches of it and I got tangled up again! I did some breastroke where it was very thick and then continued on. I was passing a couple of people and moving up a bit in the field (I started basically in last place). We rounded the second and final buoy and I swam hard toward the beach. I passed a couple more ladies. Then, more seaweed! Ugh! I just pushed (literally, pushing myself through the plant life) through until I could see the rocks (I didn't want to stand up in the seaweed). I stood up and ran out of the water. As I was running through the water I stepped on some large object with my left foot that really hurt!! It wasn't a pointy object but I could feel it bruised the bottom of my foot pretty good. Dammit. What a challenging swim!

Swim time: 22:57

T1: I passed a couple of men in the run up to transition (didn't pass any in the actual swim) and got my bike gear on. I felt a little flustered but tried to maintain focus. Zach was standing right there so I told him about the seaweed and he encouraged me as I took off. T1 time: 2:41

The bike: 30 miles (ish)

The race site bills the bike as 50k, which is like 32 miles. At the pre-race briefing he told us it was 30 miles on the nose. I measured it at 29 miles.

The bike course was challenging because it was a gradual climb for the first 11 miles, then a steep climb for a mile, then rolling for a couple of more miles. I checked my bike computer at 15 miles and my average speed was 13.6. Ugh! I was practically alone out there due to the small field although I did get passed by 6 women in the first 10 or so miles. After that I only saw a couple other athletes. I saw two women changing flats so I suppose technically I passed them (ha). The climb wasn't bad, and I felt good. I just had no motivation to push myself- not athletes in sight to pace off of or anything. I was just riding strong. Finally up at the top of the hills I was going pretty fast and having fun. It was totally desolate out there- brown grassy hills and some cows. There was a super creepy old abandoned/falling-down house which was neat. As we turned back toward the west I could see Mt. Hood and it was really a beautiful sight. I sped down a stretch of downhill for about 3 miles at nearly 30 MPH. The road was hardly curving at all, the surface was smooth, and there were NO cars or other bikes. Perfect for a fast decent. I was feeling very appreciative of my situation- lucky to be alive. The downhill was disappointingly short-lived and it flattened out quickly. There was some more downhill as we got back to town but I was never able to really get my average speed back up. I was feeling good except it was getting quite hot and I knew the run would be a challenge. I finished off the last of my water (I had a bottle of Perpeteum, a Hammer gel, and a bottle of water on the bike) and made it back to transition.

Bike time: 1:50:52 (15.6 MPH according to my bike computer, 16.3 according to the race site)

T2: Super fast. In and out. T2 time: 1:07

The run: 10K

The run was a flat out-and-back on a bike path along the river. The sun was high and it was hot, and the path had no shade. I meant to grab my bottle of water in transition to take with me on the run but forgot about it in the heat of the moment. I started off feeling good and passed three women right away. I saw Alisa right away, she was just finishing up her sprint race. We high-fived! I ended up occupying my mind for the entire run by counting people I passed and counting the number of women ahead of me. I took water at each aid station (4 times total) but otherwise just ran. I tried not to think too much about how hot and tired and thirsty I was and just ran. They had accurate mile markers on the path and I was running like 7:50-7:55 pace for the first 4 miles. I slowed down a bit in the last couple miles, probably also because I walked at the water stations to get as much water as possible. Finally, I was heading toward the finish and could see Zach and Alisa and Justin and heard them cheering! I passed through the finish arch and stopped my watch.

Run time: 49:42 (8:00 average pace)

Total time: 3:07:19
2/3 AG (25-29)

After the race Alisa and Justin and Zach were nice enough to wait around with me to see if I got an award (I kinda figured as much). No matter how small the field it is always fun to win something!! We finally got our stuff loaded up and headed to Hood River for lunch at the Full Sail brewery. As I may have mentioned several times, I love the Full Sail LTD and couldn't wait to get it straight from the source. I love the beer and I love the name: Live The Dream. I discovered the beer when we first moved here and honestly have felt like that is my motto here in Portland. Zach and I are so happy here and have had so much fun since we've been here. It's truly a special place and we're so blessed to have such wonderful friends in our lives and to be healthy and strong enough to participate in events like these. Even if this wasn't the best race of my life it was amazing and I'm grateful to have participated. :)

I'm taking the next couple of days off... I was hoping to get an easy training ride or something but I need to rest. Turns out I bruised my foot pretty bad when I stepped on that mystery object in the water so I've been icing it. Also, this cold or whatever is kind of hanging around. My throat doesn't hurt anymore but I"m all stuffed up. Zach's been taking care of me and doing everything around the house so I can just rest. He's the best. So today (Sunday) is a rest day and tomorrow is a planned rest day, then hopefully I'll be back at it on Tuesday.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics below. :) Have a great week!

Crossing the river out of Portland at 6:00 am:
Mt Hood at sunrise:
Mt Hood:
Sunrise in the Gorge:
Columbia River Gorge at The Dalles:
Heading into transition to set up (yes I'm practically the first person there):
Timing chip on:
Columbia River:
Alisa showed up a few minutes later (her race started 30 minutes after mine):
All ready to race:
Walking to the swim start:
Getting my feet wet. Check out how shallow the water is:
And we're off (running the first 50 meters or so in shallow water!)
This is the entire women's field, by the way.
Finally swimming (some people were still walking):
Finished the swim:
This is right about where I stepped on some large object with my left foot. Ouch!
Back on dry land:
Running up to T1:
And heading out on the bike:
Some shots while I was off on my bike ride-
This is Alisa's wave down in the water about to start:
Alisa coming out of the water:
And here I come in from the bike:
And off onto the 10k run:
Feeling good heading onto the run:
Right after Alisa finished (I saw her coming in as I was running out) getting a smooch from her husband. Too cute!
And 10 hot kilometers later:
This pic says it all:
Awards Ceremony-
I placed 2nd (out of 3!) in my AG:
Receiving my medal:
We did it!
And now, beer:
Justin and Alisa:
Me and Zach, my #1 fan (notice his IM 70.3 hat and his Hagg Lake Tri shirt, just so we don't forget he's a triathlete too! I do the same thing.)
Live the Dream:


the gazelle said...

great race report! and a great race. I can't wait to start triathlon-ing again!


kelsalynn said...

Awesome job! It sounds like you achieved exactly what you set out to- get in a race between races and stay fresh. You overcame some challenges in this race for sure, but I'm glad you had fun!

I'm sorry you're sick and you bruised your foot. Maybe you have allergies? I know I've been stuffed up lately, it's that time of year. Take care of yourself!

Alisa said...

Yay! It was such a fun day. I loved having you and Zach out there too.

Our high five was awesome just what I needed to finish strong.

We need to do more of this next year!

I didn't know what LTD stood for either--very cool.

aron said...

congrats jen!! another very strong race, esp since you werent feeling great! rest up and get better soon!!

X-Country2 said...

Great race reports and pics. You look so smiley for just kicking butt for 3+ hours. :o)

Justin said...

It was fun hanging out with you two. Congrats on the strong race and becoming a medal winning triathlete (or adding to your medals if you had already become one)!

Ewen said...

Is that Full Sail for me? Looks like the perfect thirst-quencher - thanks!

Sounds like a fun race (except for the mystery object) - congrats on the 2nd place, swift T2 and speedy run leg - sub 5's - woohoo!

Anonymous said...

Fun pictures. Great job out there. Sounds like the swim was challenging. Hope you foot is feeling better.

kristen said...

Great race report. Even though you weren't 'feeling it' race wise, it sounds like you still had opportunities to take it all in and appreciate life. That's always a good thing.

Get better soon!

Cindy said...

that looked like a mean hill at the start of the 10k! you really did a great job! i don't know what you stepped on (ick) but it definitely didn't slow you down. congrats! go ironman!

Dragonfly on the Water said...

What a sun-shiny day....Great pics & race. You & Zach make a great team.

ShirleyPerly said...

Nice job, Jen!!

I'm glad someone told you about the seaweed before you encountered it during the swim. I can't imagine how frustrating that must have been to have to fight it.

Congrats on the AG award and hope the foot heals up fast!

Amy said...

Ok, I'll be back to read this (and every other post I'm behind on). But I just wanted to say "hi."

KK said...

OMG, lookin good girl, I can't believe you were sick and pulled off that performance. NICE WORK!

Ok, my top three comments are: awesome run, love the new tri tank and sorry about the foot.

Also, I would love to come cheer you on in Arizona. Who else will be there (not that it matters)? If I can swing a road trip out of it, I'll definitely consider. I have even thought of doing that Ironman, IF I were actually considering doing one. Good thing I'm not...I don't think...but I sure can't wait for yours!

You are doing great with all this training. But good choice to enjoy some down time and let yourself heal. I cannot stress that enough. But you're smarter than me, one of the trillion reasons I love ya! Oh look at that, turns out I had more than 3 comments :).

Amy said...

Wow, I just loved your race report. I know you feel like it wasn't your best race but it was a great post. My favorite part you ask? The LTD motto you and Zach have since moving to Portland. You're so positive and grateful for your have a wonderful outlook.

Congrats on placing in your age group!!!! Now is IMAZ next?!?!?!

John said...

Congrats, Jen! Great race report. I can't believe how beautiful it is out there! What a great place to race. And the beer looks delicious!

Judi said...

sounds like everything is coming along! my girlf sandi did imaz last year and i think you will do well! good luck!

Jo Lynn said...

Why am I not getting your blog updates on my reader??? Damnit! This is a great post. Love the pics. Grrrrrrr. I don't want to miss seeing your beautiful smile and photos. :(

tri_al said...

ok i'm a bit behind but great race report; really enjoyed reading :)