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Ironman 70.3 Oregon - Triathlon


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Salem, Oregon
United States
Ironman Corp.
80F / 27C
Sunny
Total Time = 5h 30m 26s
Overall Rank = 639/1814
Age Group = W 50-54
Age Group Rank = 10/70
Pre-race routine:

Salem is only about 65 miles from where I live, so we decided to drive up race morning rather than spend the night. Since the race start was at 6:15, I'd assume early due to the recent heat waves and the crazy swim start set-up (see below), we had to get up at 2:30 AM (really), and leave the house by 3:30. I ate breakfast before leaving. Transition opened at 5 and I was there shortly thereafter. By about 5:40 they started herding people toward the swim start. Walked there in my wetsuit with everyone else (it was along a bike path not open to non-emergency vehicles, with no athlete parking) and then stood around for a LONG time waiting to start.
Event warmup:

No swim warmup was permitted. We walked 1.2 miles to the start and then stood around. In my case, for about 40 minutes. Since I was in the third of about 10 waves. guessing that for some it might have been close to 2 hours??? I guess the walk over was my warmup.
Swim
  • 23m 23s
  • 1900 meters
  • 01m 14s / 100 meters
Comments:

This was a pretty crazy swim start and swim. We had to WALK 1.2 miles to the swim start from T1 as it was a narrow river access from a bike trail with no parking. The ramp down was so narrow they could only start about 2 people at once and there were about 2000 starters. I seeded myself at the very front of 33-35 minutes (you were supposed to use your normal HIM time) and it took about 40 minutes after the start time to get in the water. I'd guess 80% of the field hadn't even started at that point. Probably took them almost 2 hours to get everyone in!
What would you do differently?:

Not sure. Maybe try to stroke a bit faster. It was a weird sensation, being pushed downriver with little effort. I felt like my strokes were mainly useful for steering; actually started to get drowsy on the swim! Maybe find some feet and try to stay on them more often, but I was by myself much of the time due to my choice of route.

Most people either hugged the shore opposite where we started or tried to follow the buoy line (which was to the right of the main channel, and we had to keep them on our right), but I'd observed the day before that the downstream current is strongest in the middle of the river, so that's where I swam until I angled over to the other side for the exit, without a whole lot of company. This was my first downstream river swim. I have kayaked plenty of rivers, though, so tried to use that experience to my advantage.

Wear a mask until I entered the water. Way too much time standing around in tight quarters with a bunch of people I don't know during a pandemic.
Transition 1
  • 07m 12s
Comments:

It was a long transition zone, with probably 400m total of running. Transition slowed another 2-3 minutes by timing chip issue. I noticed at the swim start the strap was frayed and close to breaking, asked for another strap but they didn't have them, told me to check in T1. When I took off my wetsuit in T1, the strap destructed and could not be pinned back. I asked again for another chip or strap but (after a volunteer went to get an official to ask) was told that I should just put the chip in my pocket for the bike and run. This sounded odd so I also paused at the mount line to confirm this with a "labeled" official (who actually had an IM official tag on--first one didn't.) Ugh.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe use my own chip strap, or check the strap more carefully when I was given it during check-in and deal with it before race day.
Bike
  • 2h 54m 27s
  • 90 kms
  • 30.95 km/hr
Comments:

I felt like I handled the bike really well. My NP was the highest it's ever been for 70.3 (NP=162) but it was not my best time. Maybe due to the very rough road surface on most of the course and the wind. I also didn't feel confident staying in aero on a lot of the tight curves and descents. (I hadn't ridden Andreas outside in 32 months until the week before the race.) Unlike any of the other races when my NP has been above 150, this felt sustainable and not too hard. Just wish my time and placing had been better. The bike is still, after all these years of effort, my nemesis!
What would you do differently?:

Something went wrong with nutrition and possibly hydration on the bike (I think) that seriously affected my run. Figure out what it is and fix it. Ride Andreas outside more when I can to get more confident with handling again.
Transition 2
  • 03m 29s
Comments:

As smooth as I could make it.
What would you do differently?:

Not sure. I did my best. It was a big transition zone.
Run
  • 2h 01m 58s
  • 21 kms
  • 05m 49s  min/km
Comments:

Really a miserable run for me and way below where my current run fitness is. I had hoped to run about 1:50, possibly a bit faster if weather was cooler. I felt fine on the bike-no undue fatigue or GI issues or nausea, just some trouble getting down the nutrition I had on board (gu and energy bars). It all seemed disgusting and I felt like no matter how much I drank I couldn't wash it down.

Aside from trouble swallowing my nutrition, I'd felt fine on the bike, but within 5-6 minutes of starting the run, I started feeling horrible. Very nauseous and woozy, sweating a ton right at the start, actually felt hotter than later in the race when the temps were higher (mid 80's). My legs didn't feel that bad, but every time I tried to pick up the pace, I started feeling like I was going to throw up or pass out. No GI issues but deep cramp-type discomfort.

I was having my period and it was quite heavy. Wondered if the nausea issue had something to do with hormones. I wasn't sure what the cause was, so I tried everything I could think of--slowing down, taking my salt tabs, drinking more, sticking ice down my trisuit, walking through the aid stations and making myself slowly eat pretzels and sip Coke to try to settle things down.

Between about 4 and 8 or 9 miles, when I felt the worst, I walked every aid station and forced myself to do some semblance of a run between them. Fortunately there were a lot of stations, about one every mile to mile and a half, and they were well stocked. Eventually I did start to feel a bit better. I feel like nausea really held me back until about 8 1/2 miles into the run, then I was just tired. But so was everyone else and at that point I started passing some people again and managed to hang in there till the finish. Felt better after the race but I think it might be weeks before I can think about gu or chocolate again.
What would you do differently?:

Do a better job of nutrition and hydration on the bike so it didn't cause nausea on the run. In retrospect I think I may have gotten seriously dehydrated on the bike, I drank just shy of 2 liters, but conditions were warm for here (high 70's by end of bike, mid 80's when I finished), it was very dry, and the middle part of the bike and run courses had little shade. It took me ages to re-hydrate to the point where I had to pee after finishing (as in, over 8 hours, which isn't normal for me, or for anyone.) This plus the gu/nausea issue was just a mess.
Post race
Warm down:

Forget it! I got my finisher's stuff, and went to find Mom. I felt really tired and just wanted to get off my feet for a few minutes. I lay down in the shade and instantly regretted it--nasty cramps that made it difficult to get up! Mom wasn't in much better shape after sitting/standing around since 5 AM. I changed, located the post-race food, shared some with her, got some tri shorts at the IM store as I'd managed to forget my compression shorts, put them on, and we headed out. We enjoyed a nice drive up to McMinville in the wine country (I lived there for a year in the late 90's) and lunch at one of our favorite places, then home on back roads through the valley rather than the interstate.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Nausea on the run. Issues with nutrition and hydration on the bike that affected my run. One of my reliable bike foods (Cliff Mojo bars) is no longer being produced and I haven't found a really good substitute for it. The bars I used for this race didn't work--still too sweet, too hard to chew and swallow at race effort on a dry day. For some reason I needed a lot more hydration than usual for this race and I clearly didn't take in enough.

I know I have the fitness right now to run low 1:50's, possibly a bit faster, off the bike, if nausea hadn't been an issue. I also 2-3 minutes in transition due to the timing chip fiasco.

This was my first tri since IM Malaysia in November of 2018. (I didn't race at all in 2019 after breaking my elbow in February, and then all my races were deferred in 2020 due to Covid.) Clearly some of my race skills and decision-making are a bit rusty. So I was happy just to get a race in and finish in one unbroken piece!

Event comments:

This is IM's first event in Oregon to my knowledge and the course did a great job of showcasing what makes our area of the state awesome--the river, the wine country and valley farmlands with mountains visible in the distance on both sides, quiet riverside trails winding through woods and meadows. I like that much of the run was on dirt/gravel roads. That being said, there are a few logistics that need cleaning up!

The river swim was fun and fast, but the start logistics were a mess. With that size of field, and possibly pandemic concerns, they need to change the set-up. We were crowded together, some people for over two hours, on a narrow bike path, going down a ramp two by two like a really poorly managed Noah's ark boarding. Having to cross and then re-cross the river and pass through a very shallow area of rapids (about 6 inches deep) frightened and confused a lot of OWS novices. As I was swimming toward buoy #1, I saw it was moving. Thought it was current at first and then realized a boat was pulling it away. WHAT??? Gave up and just headed for buoy #2.

The bike course was beautiful and turns and potential hazards were well-marked, but the first and last 10 miles or so were quite narrow and winding given the large number of riders. I saw several crashes. Traffic was not stopped during the race and it became a problem on the last 5-6 miles back into town--at some points I had to wait to complete a pass or abandon an attempt due to oncoming traffic. I'm not sure what the alternatives are--maybe this course was the best one possible in this area.

The run course was pleasant and there were plenty of aid stations which, compared to other events I've done, were very well-stocked with foods and drinks--more like a full IM than a typical 70.3. Volunteers got us everything we needed.

Given the recent rise of the Delta variant and size of the field, I was a bit unnerved by what seemed to be a near total lack of Covid precautions. No attempts to distance athletes at swim start or transition, hardly any athletes or volunteers had masks in very crowded settings, there was hand sanitizer available but just one small table to the side of bike in/out that was not easy to access. Volunteers were handling cups, etc. Hope we don't pay the price by becoming a super-spreader event.

There was a timing fiasco at the end of the race (some people's results, including mine, showing us not completing the run) and I believe I was not the only one affected; they did appear to straighten it out by mid-morning the day after. I was afraid at the time it was due to having to do the bike and run with the chip in my tri shorts pocket but late found out it affected others, so appeared to be a timing tech issue, not my chip. Did not need that stress post-race.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this event if they can clean up the swim start issue. It just took way too long to get underway!




Last updated: 2021-07-26 12:00 AM
Swimming
00:23:23 | 1900 meters | 01m 14s / 100meters
Age Group: 8/70
Overall: 279/1814
Performance: Average
Suit: ProMotion full wetsuit
Course: It was downstream, west to east, in the Willamette River, which should explain the split. We started by swimming across the river, nearly to the other side, in order to round a sandbar by floating through some rapids. Then down a side channel around the sandbar and out into the main channel, and finishing on the same side of the river as we started.
Start type: Wade Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 69F / 21C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Good Navigation: Average
Rounding:
T1
Time: 07:12
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
No
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
Biking
02:54:27 | 90 kms | 30.95 km/hr
Age Group: 16/70
Overall: 757/1814
Performance: Average
Splits for the "laps" (different stages, roughly 10 miles each) in mph: 18.44 20.02 19.23 19.47 18.73 18.90 I think fairly even effort as the middle sections were flatter with fewer tight curves; easier to stay in aero and hit slightly higher speeds. Power was very consistent (VI= 1.03).
Wind: Some
Course: Out and back, almost all rough 2-lane country roads. A few miles through town and suburbs and then following the Willamette upriver south of Salem for the first/last 10-12 miles. That section had plenty of short, sometimes steep, rolling hills and tight curves hugging the river. The middle 35 miles or so were flatter and more exposed, through farmland in the valley. Turnaround just before I-5 and back the way we came. Felt like a steady tailwind on the way out and headwind on the way back. Isn't it always that way LOL?
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 91
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
T2
Time: 03:29
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
Running
02:01:58 | 21 kms | 05m 49s  min/km
Age Group: 13/70
Overall: 680/1814
Performance: Bad
Faster pace (8:30's and 8:40's) for about first 4 miles, really slow until about 9 miles (because I was walking through the aid stations), and then faster (9's and 8:40's) for the rest.
Course: Mix of city streets (first and last miles), dirt/gravel roads (about half of the rest) and paved bike paths (the other half) through a nature preserve along the Willamette River and river bottom area. Mix of shade and sun.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %?
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Evaluation
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

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2021-07-26 5:05 PM

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Master
8124
500020001000100
Eugene, Oregon
Subject: Ironman 70.3 Oregon


2021-07-29 2:57 PM
in reply to: #5277297

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Master
8941
50002000100050010010010010025
Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Oregon

Good job getting it done.  It sounds like the event has come hiccups to work through but has great potential.

2021-08-20 10:47 AM
in reply to: #5277297


194
100252525
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Oregon
Excellent report. I put this one on my radar as a possible future event when it first got launched on the IM website. Glad you made it through, even with the difficulties. Well done.
2021-08-24 7:48 AM
in reply to: #5277297

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Master
2409
2000100100100100
Atlanta, Georgia
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Oregon
Congrats on your day!
2021-08-29 4:47 PM
in reply to: alltom1

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Master
7247
5000200010010025
Orlando
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Oregon

That swim start sounds very frustrating and a lot like Choo 70.3. Maybe all river swims have the same issue?  Sorry you didn't feel well, but you still crushed it!

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