Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pacific Crest Long Course (71.66) Race Report

Just so you know my thoughts about this race, if I could only do one race each year, it would be this race.  There is so much to love about it.  It is in a beautiful place, there are a ton of things going on, everyone has a chance to compete in some manner and I have a great time hanging out with friends.

The race is headquartered out of Sun River Resorts which is a sprawling bunch of connected roads with a web of bike trails.  Logistically it isn't the easiest race.  For those who enjoy convenient and predictable parking, avoid this race.  For those who like sun, constant awards ceremonies, vendors, eating, racing and relaxing...and can tolerate some parking and logistics, this race is for you.

Here are your race options:  Kids Splash Pedal N Dash, Kids 1 & 2 mile, 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Olympic Tri, Olympic Duathlon, Long Course Triathlon (billed 70.3) and long course duathlon, and some ways of doing the above as a team.  Lots of choices.

This was my third HIM time at the long course here.  Both prior attempts were painful experiences in which I suffered on the bike and run.  This year, I had much better training, equipment, and confidence.

We do this as a group and this year most of the group was doing "team" or monoathlete events due to injury.  I was doing this race as part of my training for Vineman but don't think that I wasn't going for it with the intent of knocking an hour off my time from last year (6:36:30).

There was frost on the ground this year as we set up T2.  It was freezing at the lake and they were recommending arm warmers for the summit because of walls of snow. 

The elite waves started for the swim and I had about 5 minutes to "warm-up" in the water.  I went right in and was surprised how much warmer 60 degrees is than 53.  I could actually breath.  The swim went well and I was able swim comfortably for the whole time.  It is kind of nice for the swim to be un-notable.  One thing that surprised me was how many of my wave stood waste deep on the boat ramp and didn't even put their faces in the water until the horn went off.  I think getting a bit acclimated to the water really helped me.  I came out of the water at 39 minutes and started the next phase of my madness.

The bike route is spectacular at Pacific Crest.  Overall, it has elevation loss but don't let that give you confidence.  It climbs about 2400 feet and the profile resembles a mountain, it looks like Mt. Hood but really is just the corner of Mt. Bachelor. 

I love my bike and the ride went well except the Porta Potty Incident which I totally missed but I heard.  I had to stop really bad by mile 17 due to my C2 (Coffee 2) stop after setting up T2.  I raced to a stop, got off my bike and went into the small green house and proceeded to wrestle with the tie on my tri shorts.  I finally got down to business and then heard the loud conversation outside.  A female voice said, "I'm just going to go behind" and a male voice said, "No way, I'm going to wait".  I finished my task and came out to see an impatient man and a woman looking relieved emerging from behind the porta potty.  Kind of weird but a great conversation piece.

The snow banks started around mile 25 and steadily increased until they were way over our heads.  It felt cool but gave me a wicked sunburn.  The climb to the summit is just plain brutal.  8-10 miles an hour for several miles is torture.  There is drafting in this section, no way to avoid it because no one can pass and if we slowed down, we would fall over.  It is eerily quiet, no one talks, no one encourages, just an occasional bout of swearing. 

The the fun, the terrifying kind that can make you laugh but inside you want to wuss out.  It doesn't take long to go from 8 MPH to 45 MPH.  The road is straight and long but it feels exhilarating and frightening all at the same time. The rest of the ride into town is normally pretty easy except this year there was a slight head wind but it was still fast.  I averaged 25.5 mph without much work for the final 19 miles.  Bike was 3:10

T2 went really well and I couldn't believe how good it felt to run.  My legs felt great, just like they do on a normal lunch run.  I was passing people and having a good time.  I was eight miles in at one hour and looking for a great finish, tired but legs felt good.  Then my right knee started to feel a pang.  I had felt a bit of this in Boise but ran through it there without a problem but the pain kept growing and so I shut things down and started to walk until my knee felt better, then I would run till it hurt. 

At first I could only run about 40 steps after walking 40 steps but by the end of the run I could run about 1/4 mile before walking 40 steps.  Really disappointing that I didn't run the whole thing but I don't need an injury going into the final 5 weeks before Vineman.  I finished the run in 2:13 which was a PR for this course but I was hoping for 1:45.

My family was at the finish, great atmosphere and I pretty fresh.  My stomach did great this race and my body with the exception of the tight IT band did excellent.  My recovery has been good and I'm back to training.

Great race and can't wait until next year.
Time:  6:06:34, Swim, 0:39:29, T1 2:27, Bike 3:10:05, T2  1:22 Run 2:13:10

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