This particular triathlon had caught my eye a few years ago, but had never worked out for me to do it until this year. It was in Portland (about a 3 hr drive from Seattle) and my mom decided to come along for the ride. Car loaded up, it was time to start the long, very long drive with just me and my mom in the car. Did I mention it was a 3 hour drive? Agatha Christie (and Hercule Poirot) to the rescue! My mom was and is the queen of books on tape. I remember listening to books on tape all throughout my childhood and on many family vacations. So we popped in Death on the Nile and were off. (You know I love you Mom – and you did get an A- for the trip!)
Traffic wasn’t too horrible, many miles and several slow downs later we were in Portland. After picking up the race packet and checking into the hotel, we drove out to the race site to look around. Thank goodness the buoys were not up in the water because I think I would have had nightmares if I had seen where they were placed. What did greet us at the race site were mosquitoes, lots and lots of mosquitoes. Given a choice of Person A or Emily, mosquitoes will undoubtedly choose Emily. I must have sweet blood or something. The tour of the race site did not last long, but by the time I got back into the car I was sporting a handful of mosquito bites. Which called for an emergency stop at Target for bug spray and calamine lotion.
Dinner ended up being room service at the hotel as by the time we got back it was getting late and I needed sleep. I was debating between margherita pizza and crab gnocchi and guess what I choose? Wrong! I did not choose margherita pizza, although I really wanted to, but instead had the gnocchi. It was quite delicious.
I passed quite a restless night, which is usual in a new bed and the night before a race. Breakfast was half a bagel and a banana. The drive to the race site was much faster at 6 a.m. I set up, listened to the race instructions and before you knew it, the race was about to start. I took a quick dip in the water to test out the temp. Oh my word, it was warm!! This was definitely not Lake Washington!
As I might have mentioned previously as I was starting to feel a slight bit complacent about this distance. All that went out the window on the swim!! This distance can still kick by butt! Just looking at the buoys way out there started freaking me out. Is that really how far I have to swim? I started off to the side and near the back. My wave started with the windmill of arms and legs thrashing through the water. I apparently did not adjust my goggles quite right as they started to fill up with water. I tried to ignore and keep going. The distance to the first buoy seemed to get longer, not shorter. One thing I do need to work on – sighting. Finally I passed by the first buoy. The next several buoys passed by much quicker and then I was almost to the shore.
Coming out of the water, I ripped off my goggles. My eyes were so happy! And then I spotted the steep hill leading back to transition. I literally tripped my way up the hill, somehow managing to stay on my feet. Socks, shoes, shirt, sunglasses, race number, helmet & I was off.
The description of the bike course was flat and fast. Flat, definitely, with a couple of baby hills. And so began the portion which I like to call “Where Emily gets passed by a lot of people, but manages to pass a few”. I did try not to draft, however in these small races, sometimes you can’t avoid it! Girls were flying by me left and well, left. Although one did call out “on your right” before she passed on the left. Then, for a time, no one was passing me and I started to wonder if everyone had already passed me and I was the last one on the course. But surely I had not been passed by 300+ women? It is funny what your mind will think. I decided that while I was going to continue getting passed, I might as well get in on the action. I picked one rider ahead of me and slowly reeled her in, and did the same with another and another. I played leapfrog with one rider – I passed her, she passed me, I passed her, she passed me and as we were nearing the end and I wasn’t sure I had enough time to repass, but I did!
I swear the ins and outs of this course were super long! I dismounted and made my way to my transition area. Putting the bike back on the rack has to be one of the hardest parts of a race for me, however due to the size of this race, the racks were fairly open and easier to navigate. I took off towards the run when suddenly I realized I still had my helmet on. Oops! Back to my transition area and off with the helmet. Now I was really ready to run.
My goal for the run is increasingly becoming run as much as I can, walking through water stops. The first part of the run was through the park, with lots of spectators. Their cheering helped keep me running at first. And then it was the fact that no one else was walking. Since no one else was walking, I had to keep running, didn’t I? Or so I told myself. It was at the Mile 1 sign where I really wished I had my iPod because then it would only be 7 or 8 more songs. But they are not allowed so it was just me and my thoughts. And then the hill appeared. There still wasn’t anyone walking, so I still couldn’t walk either. But the girls coming from the other direction called out encouragement saying the turn around was just up the hill! And a water stop! I walked through the water stop and then started back up. Mile 2 passed and I kept running. One more to go! This I can do! Especially since there was another water stop, which I walked through. And a steep downhill, which I walked down, as I was pretty sure if I didn’t I would fall flat on my face. Less than a mile now, I can do it. I came around the corner and there was the finish chute. The cheers were amazing and gave me energy to sprint to the end.
And there you have it! A new personal record for yours truly. Where did I pick up my time? Why in the run! And while the elusive sub 2 hr race still eludes me, I am that much closer. This was a fun race! I would do it again.
We headed back to the hotel, checked out and were back on the road towards home, trying to figure out who done it (and we guessed right!).