Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stumptown Triathlon Race Report

Running back in for T2 after bike course
I completed my final triathlon for this season September 4, the Stumptown Triathlon, at Blue Lake in Fairview, Oregon. This was the exact same course as the second tri I did, Blue Lake Triathlon, so it was a great way to finish and compare. I PR'd this course and placed second in my division.

Stumptown Triathlon, September 4, 2011, Blue Lake Park, Fairview, Oregon - 1:35:12 (-00:03:31)
It's a good thing I wasn't graded on use of technology, though, because I failed miserably in that! There is NO Garmin data for this tri because, 1. I didn't start "multi-sport" correctly at the beginning, so the Garmin didn't start recording, 2. Running to T1 is a poor time to try to troubleshoot why a Garmin isn't recording, and 3. The Garmin Quick-Release Mount is a poor handle for running into T2....the Garmin WILL fall off the bike without you realizing! DOH! Fortunately, I can do a triathlon without a Garmin! Lessons learned!

My comparison times are from Blue Lake Triathlon in June, as it is the same exact course.

The Swim - 0.5 miles, 00:19:34 (-00:01:16)

The swim went fine, but I didn't feel as efficient as I did during the Portland Triathlon two weeks prior. I seemed to be in the thick of swimmers all the way to the first turn buoy and there were a lot of folks doing backstroke from the start, so it was very congested. After I made the turn, the sun was glaring on the water, making it impossible to see the next buoy. I did notice that the rest of the swimmers were about 75 yards south of me, nearly at the buoys marking the Olympic distance swim. I stayed my course, as this was my third sprint swim here and I knew where the buoy should be. After a few minutes I spotted the buoy, was on course, and was able to sight my course off of distant treeline. The sun glare recurred with the next buoy, but again was able to spot it and re-sight in a few minutes.

I swam sleeveless again this swim, like I did in the Willamette. For some reason, though, I felt as I was being pushed with a current from my left. I don't think there should be a current in Fairview Lake! I don't really know what was going on with my swim. Knew my time was off. I was 0:01:57 slower on this swim from my Portland Triathlon swim.

T1 - 00:03:49 (-00:00:10)
While running up toward transition, I saw that my Garmin was not recording and still on the "Select Multi-Sport" screen. I futzed around with it, hitting "start", "lap", trying to get it to start and then gave up until I got on the bike. On the bike I realized I didn't hit "enter" to select multi-sport and got the Garmin recording for the bike course.

Bike - 12 miles, 00:39:45 (-00:03:22)
The bike portion felt great! In fact, my average speed was 18.2 mph, which is the fastest I've done on flat during a triathlon yet. We'd had a strong east wind the day before, so I was expecting wind at my back on the way out, but turns out there was a slight west breeze, so the last half was faster than the first.

T2 - 00:02:08 (-0:00:34) 

Note hand location
As I mentioned, after dismounting the bike, I ran back into transition holding my front stem. I've never done that before, I usually grab the saddle and steer in that way, I don't know why I did that. I remember my hand on my Garmin and waving to my friend, Cindi, but when I got to transition my Garmin was gone. I don't remember anything from this transition, seriously, gone! On the drive home, I looked at my running shoes on my feet and thought, "I don't remember putting my running shoes on!" I was so distracted by losing my Garmin that I went though T2 on autopilot.  

Coming out of T2 I saw Cindi and asked her to look for my Garmin in the corridor from bike to transition. Nothing more I could do at that point.

Run - 3.1 miles (5K) 00:29:55 (-00:00:34) 
The was my best sprint tri run of all my triathlons this season. Maybe it was not having my Garmin? I ended up with a 9:38 min/mile pace, only walked a couple steps during the two water stations, ran every bit. I didn't feel fast, but I felt consistent.

Medal Ceremony with First Place finisher

So, I think a pretty great finish to my first triathlon season! It has been a blast, so much fun, such a great experience, better than I even imagined. Lots of lessons learned, especially on this race!

And a super special thank you to my friend, Cindi Morrow, my running inspiration, for coming out to cheer me on and taking photos. And, ESPECIALLY, for finding my Garmin, needle in the haystack...YOU ROCK! Cindi, I'm bringing you over to the dark side of triathlon...you know you want to! :o)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hood to Coast - The Mother of All Relays!

Last weekend I completed the Hood to Coast Relay (HTC) as a member of the Gresham Fire Do Not Resuscitate team and had a blast! HTC is the largest relay race in the world (more on that later) with 15,000 runners, and travels 200 miles from Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood to the beach at Seaside, Oregon. Teams are made up of 12 peope, split into two vans.

I was waiting for more pics, as I don't have many on my phone, but decided it was time to get the race report out. So I will do an update later with pics when I get them. Rumor is there will be a team video made as well.

This was my first HTC. I did the Portland to Coast walking relay with Mother Superior about 12 years ago, also with Gresham Fire DNR.

I was in Van #1, Runner #2, which gave my legs 2, 14, and 26. We were given a 9:30 AM start time. The weather was perfect, partly cloudy, cool, but forecasted to be a hot weekend. We met in Boring, Oregon (yes, for my non-Pacific NW friends, it really is the name of the town!!) at one of my coworker's homes and decorated our van, got everything loaded, and headed on up the mountain. We are really fortunate to have had another firefighter who has allowed us to use two of his vans from his wife's daycare center for year after year.

Team names and van decorations are one of the highlights of this event! It is a riot to stand at the starting or finish line to hear them announce team names. My favorite? Scrambled Legs and Achin'! One of the most entertaining teams was Timberline Rocks, which included all twelve runners costumed in hair band outfits and wigs (I could not have run in those hair band wigs) and whose vans were decked with loud speakers blasting 80s hard rock, which was very fun but I'm sure incredibly annoying to residents along the 200 mile trek, especially in the middle of the night! They would drive by hanging out van windows, yelling and cheering and whooping it up, singing at the top of their lungs to the music. What a blast!

Some other van decorations that entertained me:

So off we went! The first three legs are straight downhill!

Leg 2: 5.35 miles, 1,500 foot elevation drop, 42:14, 7:54 min/mile pace

Beautiful run, great scenery, very, very, very fast! Straight downhill along the top of the ridge, working hard to keep up with my feet!

Fastest pace of my life! Temperature was still cool but obviously warming up.

Team DNR body art!
While waiting for our fourth runner to come in to the exchange area, we watched a runner from one of the elite teams collapse. It was a horribly frightening thing to watch. He started swerving, jello legs, collapsed, got up, collapsed, got up. Three of us, me, another firefighter from my team and a former department explorer who is an ER tech, ran over when we realized the HTC volunteer near the runner wasn't realizing this was a serious emergency. We had him summon paramedics and worked to cool this runner and keep him from trying to continue and suffer serious medical consequences. We did get his band transferred to the next runner on his team so they could continue. We stayed with him and helped the fire crew evaluate him until our runner arrived. We never did get an update on him, we hope he was transported and is recovering well.

So it was back into the van. The rest of our van's first set of runs went well. It got scorching hot by the time we reached the exchange point in Sandy to meet Van #2, well into the upper 80s/low 90s. We headed back to our hosts' house in Boring to get cleaned up, eat, and rest until we had to head into Portland for to the next exchange point at the base of the Hawthorne Bridge.

Leg 14: 6.09 miles, 1:01:59, 10:10 min/mi pace

I didn't enjoy this leg as much, which surprised me, since it was pancake flat. However, while it was dusk and the temperature had fallen, the humidity had risen to a point where you could not get cooled off and it felt as though it was still in the mid 80s. The runner before me felt very hot during her run.

I donned my headlamp (sexy) and headed out. It's through the industrial area of Portland, not really a pretty area to run and hits Highway 30, under the St. John's Bridge and through Linnton. I hit one pothole in Linnton and would have really twisted my ankle if I had been running at speed, but it occurred at an intersection and I slowed for a car, which saved me.

Back into the van to try to sleep during the other runner's legs, changed my clothes behind an Oregon Trail marker in the dark along Highway 30! We got into St. Helen's for the van exchange at 1:30 AM and headed into St. Helen's High School for showers, food, and a quick nap on the wrestling mats in the gym. I did score a twenty minute session with one of the massage therapists (best $20 I've ever spent!) before my nap and had her work on my legs and feet.

We got up at 4AM and headed into the coast range for our final legs.

Leg 26: 5.77 miles, 0:57:31, 9:49 min/mi pace

This was my absolute favorite run of the three legs! It was 5:30 AM, sun just coming up in the meadows of the coast range, low laying fog on the fields. Just peaceful and cool. I wore my headlamp, but could have passed it off to my van at the halfway point because the sun was up by then, and donned my sleeves Mother Superior had bought me, which were just the perfect amount of coverage with running shorts and tank top for the right body temp.

After my leg...the traffic nightmare started. HTC added 250 teams this year (which equates to 3,000 more people and, more importantly, 500 more vans) so they could retain the title of  "largest relay in the world." However, the two lane roads in the coast range could not handle that increased capacity, and vans got stuck in a traffic jam up to 3 miles long trying to get to the next exchange point to transfer runners. It was a disaster! None of us could remember traffic like this in past years, and DNR has participated in the last 15 years at least. It got to the point where our runners were going to beat our van to the exchange, which required the next runner to get out and run with them, up to 1.5 miles early, to the exchange point. All teams were having to do this. HTC's Facebook page is full of unhappy (even angry) posts from runners and teams. Hopefully they will respond and alleviate this problem next year.

We never saw Van #2 at the exchange...only our last runner did since we were 3 miles back when they met. We picked up our last runner and headed to Seaside, but had a nice stop at some little bar in the coast range with the best Bloody Mary's ever!

And I have to say...my legs were killing me! I never get sore on my runs or tri's anymore, even my long twenty mile runs and now I have to say it is because of my ice baths. Running 5-7 miles and then sitting for 8 hours, running again, sitting for another 8 hours, and running again took a big toll on my legs. Going down stairs and sitting on the toilet were nightmares by the end! Thank goodness I had that massage halfway.

The Finish Line!!

The party at the beach is amazing! Live music, food, beer, thousands of partyin' runners and their friends and families. We waited for our last runner to come in, regrouped and crossed the finish line together for our picture and medals.

Gresham Fire Do Not Resuscitate 2011

And then the party! Fireworks and live band, best beach party ever!

Hit Machine rockin' the HTC party
I will definitely do this event again! So much fun, worth the pain!