Monday, August 24, 2009

Portland Triathlon Race Review!


This Little Piggie Had None.

Hey, I finished the Portland Olympic Tri yesterday, and today I'm only limping slightly with a sore left knee and a broken next-to-little-toe on my right foot.

A perfect race!

So let's review:

The race day started out beautifully. All signs pointed to perfect weather for a race, but then what would you expect for late August?

Temperature readings from earlier in the week had the Willamette at 72 degrees and I had all but talked myself into swimming without a wet suit. As I slouched around the transition area on the morning of, however, they announced the river temp at 69 degrees and I saw a whole lot of people suiting I gave in. As you may know, the swim is the only reason for me to do triathlons, I don't need the extra buoyancy and I'm faster without it, but I'm also a bit of a wimp about cold water, so I usually err on the side of warmth.

As we gathered down by the river for our pre-swim briefing, I realized that the crowding in the first wave was going to be even worse than I had imagined. There were a lot of white swim caps around. Since we were starting the swim from a boat dock, with no ladders or ramp of any type to get back onto the dock, the race official giving the pre-race brief assured us, "we put a 2 x 4 under the dock and netting over the edge. Just put your foot on the 2 x 4 and pull yourself up with the netting. You'll pop right up," she said.

There was much laughter all around. Then we realized she wasn't kidding.

For some reason, they didn't let us down on the dock before the swim, so we had no warm up time. Ah well, with my total lack of preparation, warm up time doesn't really matter one way or another. So we went straight down to the dock, jumped into the water and had about two minutes to try to find enough room to line up over 150 of us along the dock. As we all squeezed along the dock, holding on with one hand, they started a countdown from ten. When they got to five, I thought, "I'm not going out with this mass hysteria. I'm fast enough in the water, I'll just wait for these guys around me to take off, then I'll get behind them and pick my way through once everyone loses their early speed. 5,4,3,2,1...go! I hang there and look at the guys beside me...they hang there and look back. No one is moving. Everyone is staring.

Crap. I take off.

And immediately get into a maelstrom of arms and legs. I got to the front left pretty quickly, but not before I kicked some guy, really hard, in his leg (I think - it's hard to tell one wet suit part of the body from another). So under the Hawthorne Bridge and to the turnaround without trouble. It was pretty cool, you could hear the cowbells they gave out ringing from up on the Bridge as you swam under it. Then back under the Hawthorne Bridge on the way back to the dock. And there was the netting...and the infamous 2 x 4. I got my foot on it and realized a small problem - it was about a foot from the top of the dock...if it were two feet lower, it would have done some good. I struggled up the netting and went across the timing mat at 23 minutes and change. Good enough.

Into T1, and the first thing I do is forget to unzip the calf zippers on the wet suit before I tried to pull it down off over my feet. Crap. It's been too long since I did a tri with the wet suit. I yanked it back up to my waist, undid the zippers, and yanked it back down again. Threw a shirt and my helmet on and I was out onto the bike course.

The bike course consisted of three 8-mile loops. Started at with a slight uphill, then a little steeper uphill, then a short but nasty uphill that had some people throwing their chains. Finally, made it to the top and had a super fast, and a bit scary, long curvy downhill. Two 180 degree turns, which are never welcome in a bike race, and a section of potholed downtown streets where I almost lost a wheel were some highlights, but over all the bike course was decent. I'm just slow.

Felt a little tired on the first loop, really good on the second loop, and my bum started to hurt by the third loop. After dodging one biker that just fell over right in front of me going up a hill, I finally finished up the bike leg.

Into T2 and I was dragging a little bit, but got the running shoes on and headed out.

The run leg was fun, with us doing two 5k loops. First across the Hawthorne Bridge, then down to the Steel Bridge and back across the Willamette for the return trip. The first loop was full of runners, but not so many on my second loop...I was clearly bringing up the rear. By that time the sun was out and the scenery was fantastic.

I also had a serious pain in my toe by the second run loop. I figured it was just a cramp...until I finished the race and saw how bruised and swollen it was. That's right! I kicked that guy during the swim. Man I hope I didn't break it, but it doesn't look too good.

So anyway, a good race with a few quirks, but overall, a winner.

Still to come, a review of the very cool race shirt, and a iMovie of the Portland Triathlon!


  1. Thanks for the race summary/story. Trust me, the 2x4 was much better than prior year's 2 feet deep muck/rocks shoreline swim exit. =) Hopefully they fix some of those potholes for next year!

  2. Great race report. Congrats on great results!