Monday, May 30, 2011

Heart of the Valley Triathlon Review!

And so we came to the 12th race in the EPIC 2011 series: the Heart of the Valley Triathlon. Just a sprint tri, but with a much longer swim than the first tri in the EPIC run, the Beaver Freezer, and a much, much hillier bike.

But the first worry, as with every race this Spring in Corvallis: the weather. The forecast was for some clouds, but mostly sun and little chance of rain. Well, that would be a first. But waiting for my swim heat to start, the sun was indeed breaking through and it looked like it would be a nice day for a race.

The HOTV swim took place at Osborne Aquatic Center (just recently spared from a death sentence by a passed City of Corvallis levy - yay!). Osborne is a nice change for a triathlete that enjoys the swim. First, it's a 50 meter pool, so you can actually stretch out the stroke and not worry about spending half your swim making turns. Second, the HOTV has a 750 meter swim leg, half again and a bit more as long as the Beaver Freezer swim.

They were using both the indoor and outdoor pools to speed things along and I was in the third heat of the day in the indoor pool. Six people in my lane, which seemed like a lot to me, and I was the second to go out in my lane, with ten seconds between swimmers. The risk with indoor swim triathlons, of course, is that people have to estimate their swim times and they're rarely exact once it comes to the actual race. And so it was in my heat. I caught the person in front of me by the end of lap one, which was actually nice since it opened up the water for me. I felt very good in this swim, never too tired, and caught the last swimmer in the lane by about lap six. I got around him then finished strong to the end.

There I am checking the watch right as I got out. It read "12:02," so I hit the wall at about 11:58 or so. I wanted to get under 12 minutes, so good enough there. Please notice that there's no one else on the carpet with me. That's right...first one out of the pool! Well, in my heat anyway, and good enough for 12th overall on the swim time out of 210 racers. Sound like I'm bragging? Good! The swim is the only place I can ever brag, so don't think I won't do it!

So I hit the doors and run outside...downpour. I mean, it was just coming down! What happened to my sunshine?!

I jogged to T1 and tried to get my clothes on over my wet body with a hard rain falling. Nice. Sort of a slow transition, but I got out and started pedaling. I'm still on the mountain bike and those fat tires were just kicking up the water right in my face. On a couple of the downhills, I was leaning to the side to try to keep the water from washing over my face like a waterfall.

As I mentioned, this is a hilly bike course, although for the first time, the race organizers took the bike leg down from 12 miles to 11 miles. And they did it by taking one decent sized hill out from the middle of the course. Fine by me. The shorter course helped me to a time that was five minutes faster than I rode two years ago - and I had a tri bike then!

Headed into T2, always fast when you're riding a mtn. bike with your running shoes already on, and I had one serious issue. My shoes were sopping wet. And that would be the negative about wearing your running shoes on the bike leg; if they're wet, you're running in them anyway.

That's me yelling at the wife that I could use some dry shoes. Alas, there were none to be found. So off I went onto the run leg. Sort of a strange course, running the exact same loop twice before finishing on the Linus Pauling Middle School track, but it's totally flat, so I'm not complaining. I felt a little off at first, but soon got into a decent stride and actually finished the run exactly three minutes faster than in 2009. Only about a minute off my recent 5k race times, so I was very happy with the finish here.

Overall, 1:25:30. Clearly not fast, but much faster than two years ago, and with a slower bike, so I'm very pleased with the race. Check the results right here.

Onward! The EPIC rolls out two races next week: the Girls on the Run 5k on Saturday and the Run for the Hills 8k trail run on Sunday. Woot.

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