With a downtown swim in the tasty Williamette river, three 14K bike loops through downtown Portland and two 5K run loops, the Portland Triathlon is a true urban triathlon. After a 4th place finish and satisfyingly tough competition last year, I decided to return this year to try for a better result.
Frankly, I enjoy this race quite a bit. Since there are multiple wave starts, an Olympic and Sprint distance triathlon, and a few other simultaneous events (such as a 5K run), the course turns into a complete cluster of competitors. I'm not just a fan of alliteration, but also the challenge of migrating through a crowd of triathletes, so I get a kick out of this. The race seems to go by incredibly quick with all the required dodging and weaving. If you're a fast cyclist prepping for this race, I recommend you practice shouting "ON YOUR LEFT" while riding at functional threshold power for 1 hour.
I started the swim in the second wave, as an in-the-water swim start off the dock - straight down the slightly polluted river and back. Within 10 minutes, I was swimming through the first wave - elbowing and shoving my way through while trying to to get kicked in the face or lose my goggles. I was also making an attempt to drink as little of the suspiciously flavored river as possible.
From what I could tell, 3 athletes came out of the water ahead of me. I opted to simply run in my wetsuit up the long, winding dock to transition rather than sit down and take off my wetsuit on the dock like last year.
Turns out that after comparing last year's transition times, it is about 20 seconds faster to just sit down and take your wetsuit off on the dock.
The Portland triathlon bike is interesting. It is a "surge and recover" style ride - with steep, quick climbs that load your legs with lactate, followed by sharp descending corners during which pedaling hard is impossible. Paired with a few hundred competitors riding the course and the fact that I completely removed my rear brakes 15 minutes prior to the race (my apologies to any USAT officials reading this report, but it was a necessary tech issue) - and this bike ride was quite a thriller.
I came off the bike in 3rd place, behind a couple triathletes against whom I'm never raced (Jeff Helmer & Zach Winter), but really not knowing my placing overall, since it's pretty hard to tell with all the other events and waves taking place.
My run felt fantastic, and I covered the 10K in 38 minutes and change for a total time of 2:08. This is a relatively slow time for an Olympic distance triathlon, but the bike course is anything but fast. Nobody passed me on the run, so I ended up 3rd overall for the Portland Triathlon, and 1st place division.
This was enough to get me 40 bucks, a bottle of champagne, and a cool engraved rock. Talk about a nice payday.
Kudos to race director Jeff Henderson for putting on a great event, that actually is a true "green" triathlon with all the works: bamboo t-shirts, recyclable plates, carbon credit buy-offs, and much more.
Interestingly, even though I gave it my all *during* the race, I was completely recovered with a matter of minutes. This is the best I've ever felt after a hard Olympic effort - which suggests my Kona Ironman endurance build-up is paying off - moments after the race, I felt as if I could have easily completed the entire course again, despite a 100% effort. Instead, I polished off the bottle of champagne and romanced my wife in Hood River.
Thanks to all my nutrition sponsors for making this type of lightning-speed recovery a reality, and to all my gear sponsors for making fast racing possible.
Next stop: Grand Columbian Half Ironman on September 18. Stay tuned!
Key Nutrition Used In This Race (leave comments below if you have "usage" questions):
Pre-Race: Ancient Minerals Topical Magnesium Oil, Scape Sunblock, Enerprime,delta-E, Millennium Sports Carnage, Millennium Sports Cordygen VO2, Sweet Potatoes, nuun
During Race: GU Electrolyte Brew
Post-Race: Wicked Fast Recoverease, Ancient Minerals Topical Magnesium Oil, Mt. Capra Solar Synergy, Mt. Capra Double Bonded Protein, Bioletics Amino Acids
Key Gear Used In This Race (leave comment below if you have questions)
Wetsuit: Blue Seventy Helix
Goggles: Blue Seventy Carbon
Sunglasses: Zeal Optics "Slingshots"
Bike: Specialized Transition Elite
Wheels: Gray 9.0 Clinchers
Helmet: Specialized TT Helmet
Cycling Shoes: Specialized TriVent
Running Shoes: Avia Avi-Bolts