Home > Race REcap, Team Trakkers > Rev3 Portland . . .

Rev3 Portland . . .

. . . or having the race you deserve.

Two days ago, on Sunday, I raced my second Rev3 race, this time in Portland, OR.  For those of you that know me a little more, Portland is number one on my list of places to move after law school is done in May, so this race doubled as a reconnaissance mission for me to see whether I could see myself living there.  There was little chance I wasn’t going to love it, and, as the weekend was going to show in more ways than one, it was something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I loved it.  I loved the forests, the mountains, the people, and the weather (and yes, the weather was beautiful which I know is not necessarily the norm for the city).  I had a conversation with a friend that Portland feels like Austin but with better weather (i.e. not 150 degrees in the summer).  All that to say Rev3 picked a fantastic venue for the race.  Portland is awesome.  As for the race itself, Rev3 puts on amazing race experiences from the expo to the kid’s race to the personalized transition to the race itself.  While I didn’t put up a race report about Rev3 Knoxville, both of these races are absolutely my favorites as far as overall experience.

Now as for how my race went, that’s a whole other story, so here we go.

Pre-race:

I have had some trouble this season really getting my mind right for my races.  I have struggled with really being mentally there in the days leading up to the race.  Once I get started, I’m usually alright, but I haven’t had that bit of urgency that usually precedes a race for me.  That’s not to say that I don’t love racing, but my mind just hasn’t been switching into “race mode” as readily as it has in the past.  This race was no different.  While I loved exploring Portland Friday and Saturday, I just didn’t feel like I was there for a race.  I was pretty blasé about the whole thing regardless how I tried to get my mind right.  This was going to bite me in the a** before Sunday was over.

Sunday morning I woke up at 5 (not a huge deal since for me it was 7 . . . kind of nice racing west of me) and went about my pre-race routines.  I listened to some music, showered, ate, and headed to the race site.  Now the venue was changed not too long before the race, which caused some amount of furor in the interwebs.  I will say that the aplomb with which the organization handled the nay-sayers made me proud to be a part of Team Trakkers and the Rev3 series and that if this was the “B” site, as beautiful as it was, then the “A” site might have been unraceable for me because I’d have been too distracted by the beauty.  I got to the race site at about 6:30, when transition opened.  My wave didn’t go off until 8:35 so I had more than enough time to get my area set up, relax, talk to some of my Trakkers teammates (which is always my favorite part of a race), and mosey my way to see the pros start at 8:00.

Swim:

The swim was a beach start.  Like I said, my wave (under 40s and Clydesdales) started at 8:35, which was behind all the pros and the women.  It was kind of nice starting that late because we got to see the first pro men and women come out of the water, which I can’t say I’ve ever seen.  Promptly at 8:35 (another thing I love about Rev3 is that the race goes when they say it will) we went off.  I knew I was not going to be at the front of the back and I didn’t want to get plowed over by the fast guys, so I let the barracudas go in front of me and got into my rhythm.  The water was warm but not insanely hot (not like the Playtri race here in Las Colinas).  Being in a wetsuit made it a little warmer, but when you get used to 100s, anything less than that doesn’t seem too bad.

Here’s the thing I’ve realized about my swim, I just don’t know how to maintain a consistent fast pace.  It’s not that I can’t swim faster, I just let my mind wander while I’m swimming and my pace slows way down.  It’s pretty aggravating.  I’m moderately certain that if I could focus a little better on the swim I could be under 40 minutes, which for me is a big deal.  As it was, I found myself wandering on the swim both physically and metaphysically.  Other than the frustrations of that, the swim was relatively uneventful.  I got kicked a couple times including a glancing blow to the jaw, but nothing worse than I’ve had in other races.

Time: 46:10

T1:

The interesting thing about T1, and the reason why my time was 3 minutes slower than T2, was that you had almost a half mile run from the swim exit to the transition area.  The question became, for most athletes, was whether or not to have a bag with your shoes waiting for you at the swim exit so you could run that 4/10 of a mile to T1.  Being the tough (read idiotic) dude that I am, I forewent shoes for my ever dependable bare feet.  I was a little worried that I might hurt myself, but the truth was it wasn’t too bad.  I don’t even remember feeling any rocks or anything else that would have hurt my feet.

Time: 7:42

Bike:

This was where the wheels started to come off for me (no pun intended).  As I said, my mind wasn’t really right going in to the race, and I kept fighting a somewhat losing battle against negative thoughts and reasons why I shouldn’t have been racing in the first place.  This continued through the swim (thoughts like “why aren’t you swimming faster? you are going to be last out of the water” and “you’re tired anyway. you didn’t sleep well. just volunteer and watch the race.”) and on to the bike.  More on that in a minute.  I liked the bike course on the whole.  It was flat as a board and there really wasn’t much wind.  This was a PR dream of a course and the conditions were ripe for many records to fall.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t what was in store for me.

I made a decision earlier in the week to race without any watch.  This wasn’t only in regards to my Timex, but any watch at all.  I raced Lonestar that way in April and loved it, but that was simply because I left it at the house where I stayed.  This was a conscious decision.  Looking back I wouldn’t do it that way again.  I didn’t know how far I’d come or how fast I was going and once again I found my mind wandering in an uncharacteristic way for me (at least on the bike).  I felt like for as flat a course as I was riding, I should have felt faster.  Once again this opened the door for negative self talk, a door which the pessimistic side of me was all too happy to walk through.  This made the rest of me pretty pissed, and on raged the internal battle between the fighter and quitter inside me.  While this battle continued, I kept on rolling.  There wasn’t much else to do.  I took in the Columbia river and Mt. Hood in the distance.  It really was an amazing thing to view while racing.  Then two incidents happened within the span of 15 minutes that almost ended my race.

The first happened somewhere between mile 35 and mile 40.  I was rolling along and had mostly quashed the negative thoughts and was determined to finish the race strong.  There was a maroon SUV sitting on the side of the road ahead of me.  I have always hugged the right side of the road to the extreme while racing (and riding in general), which has led to issues in the past (namely, me actually riding off the road in my first 70.3).  I didn’t think much of the vehicle and made an adjustment to go around it as usual.  Just as I passed the rear bumper, the driver’s side door opened.  I hadn’t even seen anyone in the driver’s seat and was fortunately able to miss the door by inches.  This shook me a little bit, as expected, but I just kept going.

Not even three miles later I had once again let my mind wander, but noticed two manhole covers coming up, and I moved to avoid them.  Suddenly I hit what I can only assume was a pothole and found myself veering all the way across the road while having my left knee literally inches from the ground.  How I managed to avoid laying the bike down and being done right then (or worse, ruining my front wheel) I’ll never know.  It was the closest I’ve come to a real accident and I was shaking (and cussing a little bit) for the next few miles.  From there the battle really was on to finish the race.  For the rest of the bike I argued myself into just doing the aquabike (i.e. DNFing on the half).  I told myself that my left knee was hurting and I was beat up.  I had actually convinced myself to quit as I rolled in to T2.

Time: 3:03:13

T2:

As I rolled in, I didn’t even plan on putting my run shoes on.  I had made up my mind that I was done.  As I ran my bike in (or hobbled anyway), I saw that I was right at 4 hours on the race clock.  This wasn’t too bad but for a course like that it was pretty slow.  I decided to go ahead and put on my run shoes since they were more comfortable than my flip flops.  As I started walking toward the tent to turn in my chip, I found myself unable to walk further.  I physically couldn’t make myself quit.  I don’t know why.  It wasn’t pride, Louisville and the last of 2010 scrubbed me clean of that.  It wasn’t to prove anything.  I still have no idea, but I looked once more at the tent, told myself in no uncertain terms to HTFU, and began the trek out to finish the race.

Time: 4:15

Run:

The run, as the bike, was flat.  We ran along the same route as the bike, so I knew what to expect.  I actually started out pretty strong and felt good all things considered.  My left leg was still throbbing, but I was able to find a pace that didn’t cause too much pain.  I had decided when I chose to continue that I would walk the aid stations, which ended up being a huge help.  After about mile 5, I began having some pretty serious pain above my left knee, and walking the aid stations helped alleviate that.  This continued until the final turn around between miles 8 and 9.  At that point, all the little pains in my left leg congealed into one nice big pain.  This decided to team up with my latent frustration and built up negativity (which to that point on the run I had kept mostly in check) and use my heart as a punching bag.  At the mile 10 aid station Carole and Charlie drove by and asked how I was and I was almost too frustrated to answer.  I tried to make light of the situation, but I’m sure I failed miserably.  They were great and gave me a shot of positivity that I needed.  They had to stop to answer a volunteer’s question, but I was able to keep going.  As I slowly ambled into the finisher’s chute, I let some of that frustration go.

Time: 2:21:24

Total Time: 6:22:46

It wasn’t the race I really wanted, but it was the one I set myself up for.  I can’t find any fault in the venue or the execution of the race.  I absolutely love Rev3 races and Portland will most likely be my home before too long.  I went in with my head out of sorts and it got me.  I wasn’t mentally prepared and thought I could just fake it through.  I guess in some way I did, or maybe I just gutted up, but it reminds me that mental preparation is, as always, at least as important as physical preparation.  While I will not complain about finishing a 70.3 nor will I diminish that feat (as many can’t or won’t ever do one), I will say I was disappointed with my performance and humbled by the experience.  As I have now had a couple days to reflect, the truth is that it was just a race and I wasn’t going to win, but for me it’s about testing myself and pushing myself to see how far I can go.  In some ways I failed that test on Sunday, but I guess maybe in not quitting I showed myself something new.

I’ll see you next year, Rev3 Portland, and who knows, maybe it will be my first hometown race in my new hometown 🙂

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Categories: Race REcap, Team Trakkers
  1. July 13, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Awesome job hanging in there! It was great to meet out out there and It was cool to have so many teammates out there on the course!

  2. July 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Hey Mike – Good for you for sucking it up and finishing the race! I’ve never been to Portland but if it is like Austin without the the fury of hells’ heat then a visit is in order!

  3. Colleen
    July 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Sounds like a tough day, but in true fashion, you didn’t give up! 🙂 The mental side of all this triathlon stuff can be quite daunting – keep strong!

    So you might be moving to Portland huh? I really wish I could have gone this year… maybe next year!

  4. July 19, 2011 at 10:31 am

    SOrry you had a rough day, but at least you got to see a great city. I would love to go there someday.

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