Monday, August 22, 2011

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.

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)

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

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!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fire Freaks!

Team "Fire Freaks" after the Pineapple Classic 5K

August is a busy race month, which is great but a little sad because it also means the end of this season is quickly approaching. This month includes two fire department events for me--super fun to combine two separate parts of my life!

Pineapple Classic 5K
August 13 I did the Pineapple Classic 5K with Eric Stevenson, another firefighter from Gresham Fire. This race was a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an organization near and dear to my heart. This race was an obstacle adventure race, which I love. Tam Driscoll, from the City of Gresham, contacted Eric looking for Gresham Firefighters to form a team for a special Firefighters Challenge this event was going to have. We formed a four-person team, but ended up with only Eric and I racing.

The race was terrific! It was held in Canby, Oregon at Pat's Acres, a go-cart racing complex. Weather was perfect, overcast, cool. The event included 16 obstacles, including high wall, low crawl, creek wade, rope net climb, etc., and, required each team to complete carrying a pineapple! Most teams dressed in Hawaiian garb...Eric suggested we do the race in turnouts, so sure, I'm game! Running in turnouts is a lot of work...even with the liners removed and in running shoes. It did, however, get a lot of attention and really encouraged us to run strong since everyone was watching and cheering for the firefighters doing the course in turnouts (we were the only ones, by the way). We completed the event in 34:44, including all those obstacles, which means we ran fast! I was super impressed with our time. And it was super fun and a great fundraiser.

Eric, Tam, and me

I'm laying down the challenge for all my firefighter friends for 2012...come out and beat my time!

Hood to Coast Relay Race

The last weekend in August I will be doing the Hood to Coast Relay as part of Gresham Fire Team DNR (Do not Resuscitate). This will be my first run of the HTC, having done the Portland to Coast Walk Relay with Mother Superior with Team DNR about ten years ago. I am doing Legs 2, 14, and 26. I'm very excited about it.

Other Events
August 21 I will be completing the Portland Triathlon sprint, September 4 will be Stumptown sprint Tri. Look for race reports after each of those.

Train safe!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Should I Buy Organic?

It's been a while since I had a vegan post in my blog and since I went camping this week and really have no triathlon-related updates, it seems like a great time to talk nutrition! And yes, I had all-vegan camp food during my recent trip into the wild. This post won't be about vegan camp food (but I will do one soon, I promise) but about organic food, a question that comes up a lot and came up from a fellow camper this week.

What is Organic?

In 1990, Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) which required the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop standards on how food is produced, processed, and certified to be called organic. Organic food are those produced by methods free of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, industrial solvents, chemical food additives, irradiation, antibiotics, or genetic modification, on farms or operations certified by a USDA accredited agents. Farms must show they have been free of prohibited chemicals for at least three years, keep organic food separate from non-organic foods, and submit to periodic site inspections.

Food Labeling
Organic food labeling can be confusing, to say the least. So what do all these labels mean? 

100% Organic
  • Must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients and processing aids.
  • Must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding
    water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the National List including specifiic non-organically
    produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form.
Ok, those are the only two categories of organic foods that can sport the USDA's Organic seal (shown above as my blog art). But what about all those other labels we see on food?
Made with Organic Ingredients
  • Must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients and list up to three of the
    organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel. These products must contain ingredients that are certified organic, however, the product cannot display the USDA Organic seal anywhere on the package.
What about the other food labels we commonly see...?

Free Range
  • A chicken who was given access to the outside for as little as five minutes a day, not that it actually went, but that there was a single door in the side of the barn big enough for a chicken to get out if it could get to it. No limitations on hormone or antibiotic additives in feed.
Sustainably Harvested
  • Is a marketing gimmick. There is no description or certification or legislation that set parameters on what this means.
  •  A term regulated only for meats and poultry, contains no artificial flavors, colors, or chemical preservatives. Otherwise meaningless.
Made with Whole Grains
  • Meaningless marketing gimmick. Other than somewhere in the nutritional contents is at least one ingredient that is whole grain, does not have to be the primary ingredient at all.
  • An important label (in my book) that indicates that no Genetically Modified Organic (GMO) products were used. GMO products are generally soybean, corn, or wheat that were genetically altered as not to be killed by Roundup herbicide spray, thus allowing farmers to liberally spray fields with Roundup to kill weeds while not killing the crop. 

Which fruits and vegetables should you buy organic?
Organically grown fruits and vegetables are admittedly more expensive than their non-organic counterparts. Do you HAVE to buy all organic or are some more important than others? The quick answer, if you're going to eat the peel, then yes, organic is best. If you're not eating the peel, such as an avocado, banana, orange, etc., than you can get by with the non-organic version. However, there is a "dirty dozen" list of fruits and vegetables that you SHOULD buy organic:

Twelve Fruits and Vegetables You Should Buy Organic
  • Nectarines – 97.3% of nectarines sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Celery – 94.5% of celery sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Pears – 94.4% of pears sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Peaches – 93.7% of peaches sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Apples – 91% of apples sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Cherries – 91% of cherries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Strawberries – 90% of strawberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Imported Grapes – 86% of imported grapes (i.e. Chile) sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Spinach – 83.4% of spinach sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Potatoes – 79.3% of potatoes sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Bell Peppers – 68% of bell peppers sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  • Red Raspberries – 59% of red raspberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.

The pesticide levels of these 12 fruits and vegetables are low to undetectable; okay to buy conventional: Asparagus, Avocados, Bananas, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kiwi, Mangoes, Onions, Papaya, Pineapples, Sweet corn, Sweet peas.
I hope this helps! It is confusing, was confusing for me and I have to refer to my list all the time. In general, any fruit or vegetable I am going to use in its entirety (peel and all), especially in juicing, I use organic. I juice lemons whole, so I spend the extra cash for organic lemons, I figure I'm worth it!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Midsummer Triathlon Race Report

First Place medal, Athena 30-39 Division

I got my first medal! What an amazing, fun, crazy thing that was!

Amica Insurance Midsummer Triathlon, July 31, 2011, Blue Lake Park, Fairview, Oregon - 1:49:15
Yes, another triathlon at Blue Lake Park! However, the bike was 16 miles, 4 miles longer than my previous tri there. My times now include difference from previous triathlon personal best. Negative (-) time is faster and positive time (+) reflects longer time.

The Swim - 00:19:24 - 0.5 miles (-00:01:56)

This is the exact swim course as my previous tri at Blue Lake other than starting a little further in the water so no dolphining of the start. Like before, about 200 feet in a bunch of people who started super fast stopped and I had to go around them. After the first turn buoy I noticed the bulk of the swimmers were about 50 feet south of me for some reason, way off the buoy line. Think they were following someone, I continued to do my own sighting. It meant no one to draft off of, but continuing south toward them just to draft didn't make sense. I did pick up someone to draft right after the last turn, so spent the last 250 yards in draft, which was a great way to conserve energy for the bike ahead.

T1 - 00:04:11 (+00:00:12)
Due to my recent bout with ulnar neuropathy, I opted to don cycling gloves this time. My increased time reflects my struggle to put gloves on my damp hands! I don't think I will do that ever again on a sprint tri, just seemed unnecessary.

The Bike - 00:52:45 - 16 miles (n/a due to difference distance, 0.6 mph faster than previous)

I didn't realize until about 10 minutes prior to starting the event that the bike was 16 miles instead of 12! Glad I listened to the pre-race briefing! I was anxious for the ride so I could compare with my new HED Jet 4 wheels. I did increase my speed by 0.6 mph from previous.

I rode the majority of the time in my lower drops, keeping my torso low and my hands out of the hoods as not to crush my ulnar nerves. This seemed to work. I did have some brief tingling in my left pointer finger and realized I was mashing my radial nerve and adjusted my hand. Paying more attention to my hands now!

One thing that happened this time was an inefficient turnaround for me. During the race briefing they announced that the turnaround was at the SeaScout base on Marine Drive, just opposite the Port of Portland Fire Station. I am VERY familiar with this area and planned my gearing accordingly. However, I came upon the turn just after a rise about 0.25 miles BEFORE the fire station, totally unprepared for the turn, in high gear. There was no warning sign that the turn was coming up. So my speed suffered after the turn for a while.

T2 - 00:02:52 (+00:00:10)
Those silly gloves again! Probably just should have worn them on the run...

The Run - 00:30:02 (-00:00:19)

I ran more consistently this time, and no shin splint feeling (checked the tongue of my shoe more carefully). I did watch a runner in front of me take a scary tumble about 2 miles in and briefly stopped to check to make sure he was ok, and then watched my feet carefully realizing that the shaded patch was full of areas pushed up by tree roots, which tripped the other runner.

Getting There Early

We arrived at the gate for the park just slightly before they opened at 6 AM and were the third car in (Portland Tri Club friend Darcie Facebooked me that my car was very obviously the third car in due to it's location in the parking area!). But I got some prime real estate! It's really nice to get there early and not feel rushed before the event.


My first event medal placement ever! Really quite an amazing feeling. It's not what I do these events for, but it is a very nice extra.

Sherri and me with our First Place medals

Friendly Competition!

Fellow Portland Triathlon Club member Sherrie Austin and I have been "chasing each other" in these two tri's. This year we are in separate divisions, but next year I move into Athena 40-49 and the real fun begins! We had met each other via the PTC Google Group after sharing race reports for the Blue Lake Triathlon, and we met at Midsummer waiting for the medal presentations to start. We both placed first in our respective divisions. I think it's going to be great to have the friendly competition to push me into improving next year!

A special shout out and thanks to my personal support crew, Mother Superior and Trimazing Christine! You make the day even better! Couldn't do it without you!

Check out the new awesome orange and black sleeves from Mother Superior!