Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rockin' Pacific Crest

Mother Nature smiled upon us this past Saturday with moderate summer temps and a delightful cloud cover, making for perfect race conditions in beautiful Sunriver, OR. It was my first time racing Pacific Crest Long Course, though I have heard many good things about the venue and race over the past several years. It was time to work it into the schedule...and I'm so glad I did!
Juniper Swim and Fitness Center.
Another reason why Bend rocks (besides the beer selection)

My coach, Flanny, and I decided that Pacific Crest would be targeted as my "A Race" for the early season. The pro field at this race is smaller and more attuned to my level of competition at this time. I knew Mackenzie Madison and Jennifer Luebke would be racing, which would challenge me in the perfect way to bring out my best race. Having raced Leadman 125 in Bend last September, I was somewhat familiar with the bike course. I was also urged to pre-ride the run course since it was described as a maze of paved bike paths winding through cabins and trees, where every turn is like Groundhog have no idea where you are because everything looks the same. Got it.
A particularly enjoyable view from the run course...
and a welcome break from the monotony.

Logistically the race was a tad of a headache as a first-timer, as T1, T2 and the expo were all in different locations. I opted to forego the shuttle bus on race morning and rely on my manager/photographer (also known as my husband) for transportation to the event. Morning setup went smoothly, arrived at the swim start early enough to leisurely set up T1 and enjoy my pre-race snack of peanut butter and banana goodness.

Now for the race recap. I apologize for the lack of photos- Matt is trying his hand at shooting video and it has yet to be produced. Look for a follow up post later on. As always, I'll try to keep this concise and entertaining so as not to provide a cure for insomnia...

  • Solid swim! Yahoo!!! The plan was to try to stick with Jen Luebke, whom I know is a solid swimmer. Plan failed...I was so amped at the start that the only thing my brain was screaming within the first couple hundred meters was, "FORGET HER, JUST GET SOME AIR!!" (You can bet that I'll be implementing a swim warm-up at my next race). By the second buoy I had calmed myself and settled my heart rate enough to pick up the pace again and get into a good rhythm. Turns out I was just over a minute behind Jen into T1, and nipping at Mackenzie's heels. Right where I wanted to be!
  • And now for the blooper reel. No wetsuit peelers at this race, so I was left to my own devices to strip off my Blueseventy Helix. Now, I remember watching a great transition video put together by Boise pro Chris Ganter last year in which he suggests stepping sideways out of your wetsuit. Note to self: wet neoprene on wet neoprene is slippier (new word) than new tube socks on freshly polished hardwood floor. I found myself with both feet in the air, landing flat on my rear on the asphalt. (Yeah, I'm a pro.) What else could I do but lie there on the pavement, squirming my left ankle out of the suit to finish the job? Look for the video to be posted as soon as MFMG is finished editing. I have no shame. :-)
  • The bike leg was relatively uneventful. Mackenzie passed me straight out of T1 and I knew she was out for blood by the way she steadily faded into the distance and out of my sight over the next few miles. I had discussed my strategy with Flanny the previous day, had my target wattage and was encouraged to race, but not do anything stupid on the climb up Bachelor. I told myself not to chase just yet, settle in and be patient. I pedaled comfortably in solitude, soaking in the ponderosas and mountain lake scenery for 58 (not 56!) miles. The bike was executed as planned- controlled and leaving me well-fueled and hydrated for the run. Once again, my nutrition plan was like clockwork.
  • Imagine my surprise when I enter T2 and Wattie Ink teammate Aaron Edwards calls out, "you're about 7:30 down from Mackenzie." Ouch. She must have ridden out of her mind! Then I hear, "4th place female!" Whoa, that was a blow... This mental jolt was just what I needed to get to work on the run. Again, the plan was to find my legs over the first couple miles, relax and settle into a rhythm.
  • Mile 4 of the run is where the magic happened. I noticed my pace was feeling very comfortable; but comfortable is not how I like to race. I had read a great article recently (courtesy of my friend and fellow tri-geek, Lauri Thompson) that examines the art of racing and suffering. I decided it was time to suffer. Watching my pace gradually pick up, I settled in at a slightly slower pace than what I had been doing on the track for mile repeats. I figured if I could hold that pace for at least the next 6-7 miles, perhaps I'd find another lady to chase for the last few miles of the run. And so my K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Lights carried me through the next several miles with a little more spunk than typical. 
  • FINALLY between miles 8-9 the trio of significant others appeared (MFMG, Ben Metcalfe and Matt Lieto) all there to cheer on me, Mackenzie and Jen, respectively. I was rapidly closing on Laura Coombs and Jen. Sweet! Hearing that I looked as strong as MFMG has ever seen me on the run, and that I had cut into the sizable lead Mackenzie had on me going into T2 was just the motivation I needed to hold the pace. While it wasn't enough for me to get the win, I was thrilled with a run PR of 1:31:58 on a somewhat challenging course.

  • Congrats to Mackenzie on her repeat win (I've lost this 5th consecutive for you at Pac Crest??) and to fellow Boisean Kevin Everett for a stellar performance. Special thanks to our house-swap buddies Rick and Meg Floyd (look for great things to come from this neo-pro at Lake Stevens!). Also, Hortie Everett, Kevin's wife, for cheering and calming me when I let a little "French" slip out as I fell over in T1. :-) And of course, Matty Green...there are no words.
Next up...Lake Stevens 70.3!

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