Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hometown Race
My assessment of the Oregon Trout City of Portland Triathlon is swayed considerably by the fact that I was able to drive to the start in 10 minutes and park maybe 50 yards from T1/2 and the finish. How cool is that? The contrast with, say, Vineman, with its far-flung transitions, mile-away parking, and dismal school-bus shuttles had me wiping tears from my eyes.

Or maybe that was just muck from the Willamette.

Yes, we swam in Oregon's superfund toilet of a river.

It wasn't bad, actually. Well, my swim was bad, but conditions weren't. Under water you couldn’t see past your fingers, but that was as anticipated. It was long—literally long, I think, maybe closer to 1.0 miles than 0.9, although that hardly explains my pathetic time. That was a product of my generally weak form, and also the strange neck/shoulder/arm ailment that befell me soon after the Pacific Crest half back in late-June. Speaking to the latter point, I just haven't been able to swim much and, being a mediocre swimmer at best, had totally lost my edge. Instead of swimming my usual three or four days a week, I've been in the pool maybe a half-dozen or so times in the past nine weeks. Not good. And when I do swim, I have almost no strength to pull with my left stroke.

OK, so my swim was 37:48, 111th out of the 137 dudes who started the race. I was just happy to have it out of the way.

I then had my typical stupendously slow transition, despite the fact that I got my wetsuit off much quicker than usual. How'd I accomplish that? I cut it off! That's right, I used a pair of scissors and sliced right down each leg and just stepped out. This wasn't as crazy as it sounds, actually, as the suit, after six years of use, had recently suffered several tears and was landfill-bound. Oops, I mean recycling center-bound (this was a "sustainable" triathlon, after all). I almost bought a new one before the race but thought it would be fun to usher out the old one in dramatic fashion. It was a first-generation Zoot two-piece and a gold-medal winning gymnast didn't have the flexibility to wiggle out of that bottom piece with ease. Still, the thing did carry me through dozens of races, including several in frigid waters. I think of Millerton on the edge of the Sierra in April, and Wickiup in the Cascades at Pacific Crest—pretty chilly stuff.

Onto the bike. Riding my old (2001) Lemond roadie among all the sleek, super-light tri bikes is getting ridiculous. I'm springing for a new bike soon, very soon. A tri bike. That's right, aero bars and everything. So this might have been it for the bike, too, though I did not cut it up or even crash it to celebrate the occasion. I just rode it. Not particularly quickly, but on an odd, straight-line, six-lap course, my bike was better than my swim. Up the river parkway for two miles, a U-turn, back down it for two miles, a U-turn, again and again.

One way was into the wind and up a slight grade, the other way—that's right: with the wind and down a slight grade (funny how that worked out). Highlight of the race came on lap six when I saw racer 510 weaving between people on his passes. Passing on the right is against the rules—and it's a good rule, a safety thing, limiting just a bit the possibility of mishap amid riders of varying abilities, fitness levels and powers of concentration. A decently marshaled race would have resulted in a penalty for racer 510—one Luke Reyes, of Portland—but all it earned him today was a gentle (I swear) few words from me when he passed me on the right: "Hey, bud, you gotta pass on the left, not the right." The classy Mr. Reyes flipped me the bird, good and long, without looking back.

Well, I kicked his ass on the run—48:18 vs. 1:00:46—despite the fact he was half my age.

The run course was excellent, over the Hawthorne to the east side of the river, north up the Esplanade, back to the west side on the Steel, then south to where we started. Do this 3.1-mile loop twice and there's your 10K, triathlon fans.

Mile 6 on the run was my best and fastest, coming in around 6:50 as a little peroneal tendonitis in my right leg finally loosened up. Always nice to finish strong and, moreover, always nice to finish.

Crowds were super—more fans than racers (300+), I think. Weather was perfect, calm for the swim, keeping the river smooth, and then sunny and comfortable, in the 60s heading into the 70s by the mid-morning finish.

To Jeff Henderson, who brought this inaugural triathlon to downtown Portland, a big thank you. It was a very well run event. Strictly on organizational terms, one of the best I've ever been involved in. And I'm not just saying that because of the killer parking spot I got.

The final data:

PS: Oregon Trout, the title sponsor of today's race, is a great organization!


Dan Brekke said...

Nice. Now get that new bike. And figure out that arm/shoulder thing! And I hope Mr. Reyes finds this post as a lovely souvenir of his day's work. What the f*** is it with some people?

Pete said...

Flouting the rules and flaunting the bird -- Luke was just stickin' it to the Man. I guess. You run into a good deal of that attitude in Portland...