Saturday, June 23, 2007

An Early, Unofficial Sunriver Report
As tapers go, it's not like any I've seen spelled out in the triathlon manuals and mags. This is the A-race taper that involves spending several days packing up more than seven years of belongings, cleaning the house for the next occupant, and then driving all that accumulated stuff 600+ nerve-wracking miles in a 24-foot Budget rental truck. (You should have to pass a test before they let you behind the wheel. But you don't.) Oh, and then you move onto three days of unloading and unpacking, all the while worrying a good deal over whether the house purchase you made in this new city was a smart move.

Swimming, biking and running? No swimming for nearly two weeks. No biking for nearly two weeks. But two or three short runs--and some walks!

That was the state of my game as I arrived in Sunriver for the Pacific Crest Half Iron Triathlon. Weird thing was, as I walked the mile or so to T2 setup and the buses to T1 at 6 a.m. this morning, with the temperature just above freezing, it struck me that my legs felt fresh and strong. Hmm. So I wasn't sure what to expect, though I had told my family the night before that I'd finish no earlier than 3 p.m. (a 5:45 effort, given my 9:15 a.m. wave start) but probably closer to 3:30.

Prerace: As I said, it was crazy cold at dawn, not shocking at 4,200-feet elevation, but a big change from last year's much-talked-about heat misery. Arrived at T2 at 6:15, 45 minutes early (nerves), but got on the 6:30 bus to Wickiup, about 25 miles up into the hills. At Wickiup, T1 was in the shade, so with nearly two hours to spare before race start, most everyone migrated to the boat launch area (where the swim would start) to soak up the early-morning sun. It was just generous enought to keep us from freezing. Pity the fool who wandered up and cast a shadow on you.

Swim: Wickiup has got to be the most beautiful lake I've ever competed in. It's surrounded by forest and old barren volcanic ridges and snow-capped peaks. The water is cold--62 was the race-time temp this morning--but I wasn't bothered by the chill and actually found it refreshing. Not that my swim benefited. Don't have the splits yet, but I think I came in over 42, at least four or five minutes off my Vineman swim split PR. That would have been OK, if I didn't flounder in getting my wetsuit off, taking a whopping 10 minutes or so at T1. Pathetic.

Bike: Because of road construction, the bike course was modified this year; the big climb was lost. The revised route was fast. Unlike Vineman, with its ceaseless short, just-steep-enough rollers, Pacific Crest 2007 featured very gentle grades, and most of them of the downward variety. Given the serious lack of cycling I've done this season, I was surprised to find myself at 29 miles at the 1:30 mark, which inspired me to push on harder. Finished around 2:46, my half-iron best bike split ever. Cheers for the roads of Central Oregon; them were some smoothies. And what weather for the ride! 50s and 60s and sunshine up to your eyebrows.

Run: The decent effort on the bike, plus the elevation, seemed to take a bit of a toll on me on the run. I have a run half-iron run PR around 1:50, but never found that kind of grove today. But I put in a steady effort, around 1:56 pending official splits, under increasingly cloudy skies and with midday temps hovering only in the 60s. When I went through the finish chute, I believe the clock showed 5:49:05; with my wave going off 15 minutes after the first wave, that puts me at 5:34:05, a half-iron PR.

Best part of the weekend? That was watching my little guy do the Kid's Splash, Pedal and Dash. Hey, he had an unorthodox taper - he moved, too! - but he killed in the race, working hard all the way. He told that at one point during the run, he told himself, out load, "Remember, it's supposed to be fun." Good job, Niko!

Oh, and special thanks, too, to Mom & Dad for coming up all the way from San Jose, and sister Debbie and hubby Greg from Hillsboro; it was a joy to be surrounded by family.