The last weekend in June I raced the long course triathlon at the Pacific Crest Sports Festival in Sunriver. This was my 4th time racing at Pacific Crest, and my second half iron distance race up there (the first one being in 2008). Being the first peak race of the season for me, I felt a lot of pressure to perform well after 6 months of training for this event. I set the lofty goal of shaving one hour off my 2008 time.
The morning of the race you really don’t want to be rushed, but unfortunately our group got a late start leaving the house in Sunriver and we didn’t get to Wikiup Reservoir until 8:15am, a mere 45 minutes before race start. By the time I had stood in line to get marked and stopped by the bathroom it was 8:30am. 15 minutes later I finally had my transition spot set up and had done a quick warm-up run, but the race coordinator announced that all athletes needed to leave the water in preparation for the first wave… I had run out of time for a warm-up swim. Frustrated I put on my wetsuit and headed down to the swim start.
At the time the gun went off I only had briefly submerged myself into the cold lake water for a few seconds to get acclimatized… it turns out that wasn’t enough! Pretty much anything that could have gone wrong at the swim start went wrong. First off, I had a crazy adrenaline rush which made my heart rate jump like crazy and made it impossible to get into any sort of rhythm. Next, my swim goggles collected a bunch of water since I didn’t have a chance to adjust them properly in the water beforehand. I then ran into some submerged rocks–a side effect of starting off to the side of the main group. This went on and on (2 minutes into the race thoughts of quitting crossed my mind), and I ended up having possibly the worst swim I have ever had in a triathlon. In the end I did finish the swim in 49 minutes, slower than my 2008 time.
After a decent transition at T1, I was setting off on the bike and 10 minutes into the bike leg I finally found my rhythm, caught my breath, and settled in for the long 58 mile ride. The long 40 mile climb up to the base of Mt. Bachelor was tough as always, but there was a unique surprise waiting for us on the side of the road: 10 foot tall snowbanks–so close that you could reach out and touch them (the cascade lakes highway had only been opened two weeks earlier after being covered in snow for the winter).
The rest of the race was fairly routine. After T2 it took me three miles to get into the groove and I bonked hard after mile 10 and wasn’t able to keep up my 8:30 target pace. Although I missed my goal target time for the day, I was able to cut 40 minutes off my previous time and consider this race a success.
I’m now enjoying a couple of weeks of light training before kicking back into gear and train for my second peak race of the season, Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3, in August.