Portland Triathlon Race Report

A podium finish!

I completed the 2011 Portland Triathlon Sprint Distance August 21. What a great challenging event! Kudos to Athletes Lounge for organizing a great event. The Portland Triathlon was touted as the “Greenest” race by Triathlete magazine, known for its sustainability, use of recycled products, solar-powered electronics, composting food debris, etc. Check out yesterday’s Oregonian article for more.

Portland Triathlon, August 21, 2011, Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon – 1:59:36.1

There were a lot of firsts for me at this triathlon. First time doing the Portland Tri, first river open water swim, first sleeveless wetsuit swim, first dock start, first bike over Marquam Hill, first hot weather event, and my first time in Female 40-44 since it was a USAT event and I got “aged-up” into a new group. It was also a longer sprint course, bike was 26k (16.2 miles). Again, as in last report, I will indicate time difference from previous triathlon (Midsummer in this case since the distances are similar), negative (-) time is faster and positive time (+) reflects longer time.

The Swim – 00:17:41.307 – 0.5 miles (-00:01:17)

This was my best swim ever! I felt fantastic the entire time. Upon reaching the dock at the end of the swim I actually had some internal dialogue that I could have easily taken a second lap and completed the Olympic distance—a huge first for me!

This course is a dock start, not a dive off the dock start, but a hold onto the dock, can’t touch the bottom, create your own momentum swim start. The water was 69 degrees (F), having had a run of 80-90 degree days for the past couple of weeks. Since the water was so warm and the ambient temperature was in the 60s at 6AM and forecasted to be in the 90s, I opted to go without my tri sleeves for the swim as not to overheat waiting for the event to start and while swimming. It was the right decision. Swim was an out-and-back, with about 25 yard separation between the legs to avoid a past problem of head-on collisions after the turn. A big standing ovation to the person who built wooden ladder platform attached to the dock to exit the swim—they announced who it was but I can’t remember—it made for a flawless climb up onto the dock from the water.


Gorgeous morning swim start in the Willamette River.

Also, note on nutrition. I didn’t feel great during the Midsummer Tri swim portion, felt that all my blood was at my stomach processing nutrition rather than at my back, shoulders, and arms. This time I was much more careful with my timing. I had 32 oz. carrot/red cabbage juice and 16 oz. carrot/green bean juice 3.5 hours prior to event and 4 oz. of Energy Pudding (Brendan Brazier recipe which I’ll post in an upcoming race nutrition blog) 1.5 hours prior, and had excellent energy, no heaviness in my stomach, and no misdirection of blood this time. Also had 32 oz. coconut water for electrolyte preload the night before, and probably about 8 oz. more along with water prior to the race in the morning. I did start to feel hungry at mile 1.5 of my run, so still need a little more adjusting.

T1 – 00:03:19.358 (-00:00:52)

All smiles in T1

Wow was I dizzy in T1—this has NEVER happened to me before! I had tremendous energy running up the ramp and hill up to transition, in fact, I was frustrated that it was narrow and single file because I couldn’t pass the person in front of me who was going slower than I wanted to go. Funny, in looking at the picture, that person ended up being the 4th place finisher behind me! I could hardly stand on one foot to get my socks and cycling shoes on. At one point I considered going without socks since I was having so much trouble, but had never done that and didn’t want to try something new in an event. I absolutely REFUSED to sit down, thinking I’d have trouble getting back up (and there was goose poop everywhere!), but I managed, and had a surprisingly faster T1 time than I figured. Turns out, I didn’t kick my legs hard enough in the last few meters of the swim, thus causing the dizzies…lesson learned. Grabbed a quick shot of gel (homemade, again Brendan Brazier recipe from dates, agave nectar, and raw carob powder) but even though it’d sat in the sun, it was still thick and didn’t get as much from my gel flask as I wanted.

The Bike – 01:05:49.171 – 16.25 miles (+00:13:04)

This was a challenging bike course. All of my other triathlons have been absolutely flat, this was two laps up over Marquam Hill, 500 foot climb, for a total elevation gain of 1,104 feet. I ran this course in March for the Shamrock Run, which was a hella-challenging run, hoped it would be better on a bike, which it was, but still a challenge. The great thing about having a climb is that you have an awesome descent…and had a 32.7 mph max speed on the course, wheeeeee! Some scary road conditions heading down back toward the waterfront, but otherwise very fun! I also noted that I had enough left in me to have gone for a third lap, which was the Olympic distance…

T2 – 00:01:29.921 (-00:01:21)

Screamed through this transition somehow. No bike gloves. It was getting warm, into the 80s already, and I needed to get going before it got any hotter. And, I thought I had tanked my T1 time and needed to make it up in T2.

The Run – 00:31:16.374 (+00:01:14:00)

It was hot, not much shade on this course. My splits were really pretty good. Second mile was slower, had several ramps to run up as the run went along the East Bank Esplanade which are floating docks on the Willamette River, and we had to climb up to get to the Steel Bridge to cross the river. I ended up walking the first half and running the second half of each of the ramps, slowing my time. They also ran out of water at the second water station at mile 2…argh! All they had was HEED, which is not refreshing to me. I took two sips of HEED, realized it would be a mistake to drink it, and poured the rest over my head. I grabbed water in my hand while running past one of Portland’s historic Benson Bubbler drinking fountains for a sip and cool down. I think my time would have been much faster if cooler and I’d had some hydration at mile 2. Also felt hungry at mile 1.5, need some nutrition adjustment for that. I was done by 3.1 miles! My internal talk wasn’t about how I could do another lap for an Olympic distance, but how I needed to just keep running to get to the finish line!

Waiting for Results

Would ya look at that! Third place and NOT Athena division!

So I had my Garmin, but had started it while on the dock waiting to start, so knew I had about 5-6 minutes extra time from my official race time. Mother Superior and I hung out, visited with friends and waited for my results to post so we could head home and clean up for the two other social events we had scheduled for the day. It was a challenging course, no Athena division, did it as a training event as I was certain I wouldn’t have a competitive time. I wish I could have seen my face when I saw the results—THIRD PLACE! It took my breath away, could not believe it!

A terrific event! Will definitely do this event again and probably will do Olympic distance next year. I have a ton more pictures on Facebook, so take a look at my album there. Mother Superior did an excellent job as a race photographer!

My favorite support team member, Mother Superior!

So training partner, Christine, has announced she is training for Vineman 70.3 in 2012…thinking about throwing my hat into that one now…

So now it’s prep for the Hood to Coast Relay next weekend and the Stumptown Sprint Tri the weekend after that. Having a blast! Wish you were here!

Best wishes for a great race and train safe!

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