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:
Sunrise in the Gorge:
Columbia River Gorge at The Dalles:
Heading into transition to set up (yes I'm practically the first person there):
Heading into transition to set up (yes I'm practically the first person there):
Timing chip on:
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:
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:
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: