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Ironman Oregon 70.3 - Triathlon

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Salem, Oregon
United States
Ironman Corp.
78F / 26C
Total Time = 5h 20m 22s
Overall Rank = 113/966
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 16/154
Pre-race routine:

We decided to stay in Salem the night before so it was a 4 AM wakeup instead of 2:30. In retrospect, maybe not the best decision. Mom doesn't sleep well in hotel rooms so she got almost no sleep. And between nerves and her not sleeping, I hardly got any either. Maybe 2 or 3 hours, maybe not even that. Anyway, up at 4, breakfast in room (oatmeal, 2 granola bars, coffee), left at 5, went to downtown Salem, drove around looking for parking, parked, set up transition in the dark. Racers were herded down to the river at about 6 AM. Got into the river at 6:53 (I think).
Event warmup:

This race is kind of unique. There is no warmup, except walking 1.2 miles to the swim start, with 2500 or so of your closest friends, while watching the sunrise. Tried to swing arms around a bit to get them going, when I could find room to do so.
  • 21m 29s
  • 1900 meters
  • 01m 08s / 100 meters

I put dive but actually you are told (in my case at the last minute) to JUMP off the dock (it's not deep enough?). I was all ready to dive at that point so I lost my balance and kind of fell into the water!

I followed the briefing instructions and swam towards Buoy 1. All of a sudden there was a big wave and the buoy started moving away from me. Popped up to look and a boat was towing it away. Why? if you have read my race review you will see that I had the EXACT same thing happen to me with Buoy 1 in 2021. WTF??

To be honest, I only saw about 1/3 of the buoys. Just like last time, I ended out in the middle channel of the river with only a few other people. Probably swam an extra 50 yards or so but we were passing almost everyone swimming to the side by the buoy line. I do not recommend this if you don't like being out in the middle of a big river, by yourself.

About halfway through I again got washed around (and swallowed a bit of the the Willamette) when a police or rescue boat with a flashing light passed at high speed. Started feeling a bit nauseous from the chop and was very glad to spy the buoy for the turn into the finish. (From the main channel, one has to start angling for it a few hundred yards out. Fortunately it is very large, and red). I was still feeling dizzy when I got there--I actually swam into it!

What would you do differently?:

?????? I didn't deliberately choose the middle channel, just somehow ended up in it again after my encounter with the chop and the moving buoy. Maybe someday I will try to follow the buoy line and see what happens. Maybe kayak the whole stretch and figure things out when I can actually see where I'm going.
Transition 1
  • 07m 14s

This was an enormous and nasty transition. About 30 yards up a very steep and rather slippery metal ramp (I couldn't really run it; no one else was), and maybe 500 more yards around a circle (??) at the top and then on a grassy strip outside transition (the entire length) before entering. My bike was right near the swim in, so I had a very long run to/from the bike out/in (which were the same). Ugh. Aside from that, I made pretty good time. Full wetsuit and big zone with the ramp, so it is what it is. Average T1 at this race is in the 7-10 minute range.
What would you do differently?:

Redesign the swim course?? Move the whole thing to Cottage Grove or Hagg Lake??
  • 2h 55m 39s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.13 mile/hr

I had to stop for about two minutes total to deal with bike issues. At about Mile 2, the water bottle cage on my down tube partially detached and was hanging at a 90 degree angle! Saved the bottle but was unable to get the cage back on, so I stuffed that bottle into the back pocket of my tri top and carried on. Later on, one of my back bottles ejected. So I had to stop twice to get fluids and switch bottles at the aid stations. Actual moving time according to Garmin was 2:53:50. I also had to slow down more than normal at the many railroad crossings to hold onto the back bottle. Shades of IM Malaysia. Shit! Probably cost me one, possibly two, AG spots.
What would you do differently?:

Make sure the cage is fastened securely to the bike! This happened once before but I thought I fixed it. Seemed to be a combination of the cage not quite lining up with the bolts on my bike, and the bolts becoming stripped through lots of bumpy use. I replaced the bolts and got a new cage (which can be adjusted tighter or looser depending on bottle size) this morning. Don't use the narrower Polar bottles in the back cage. Plus...this is just an IM Oregon thing. About 80-90% of the bike course is on really rough rural roads, and they get LITTERED with ejected bottles and other items!
Transition 2
  • 03m 59s

As good as I could make it. The main problem was that my legs really cramped when I got off the bike so I had a hard time doing any semblance of "running" with the bike to my spot (which was at the far end of a 2500 bike zone from the bike in/out), and then to the run out. It took about 4 miles for the cramping to resolve. Other than that, I was pretty efficient.
What would you do differently?:

Probably go into an easier gear and get out of aero more in the last few miles of the bike, to get stretched out a little and ready for the run. But I was so PISSED about losing time on the bike that I didn't do that at all! Didn't slow down till I saw the dismount line!
  • 1h 52m 3s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 33s  min/mile

It was actually a pretty good split for me and one of the best runs I've done in the last few years, but I didn't really feel that good at any point. Miserable cramps till about 3 1/2 miles and then I gradually got into a rhythm. I dealt well with the heat, hydration, and nutrition, but legs and energy levels felt sort of flat throughout. Maybe due to not much sleep the night before. I started getting sick of gu and anything sweet (but unable to swallow more than one potato chip per aid station) and found myself craving some strong iced coffee. But, despite how many stations this race has and how well-stocked they are, they didn't have that!
What would you do differently?:

Reference bike comments--slow down in the last mile or so, loosen the gears, stretch out a bit. And/or stop and stretch in T2 or early on the run. Might have helped with cramping. And seriously, since we're in the US, what's to stop me from parking an iced cold brew at my transition spot and taking a swig (or a small bottle??) on the way out?!
Post race
Warm down:

Collected my swag, went to the athlete food area and got my healthy Oregonian feed (some kind of Asian salad with veggies, tofu, and sesame dressing--actually rather good), banana, and what was described as "your choice of salt delivery system"--potato chips for Mom. Then walked to the ampitheater, found Mom, ate, walked to a restroom, changed, and walked back to the car.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

* Lack of sleep the night before.
*Bike drama. Cost me two minutes due to stops and probably at least another 3-5 due to having to slow down a lot at rough spots and diverting focus from maintaining race effort.
*Probably needed to slow down and stretch a bit at end of bike, in T1, and/or start of run, to minimize cramping on the run.
*Maybe just getting discouraged on the run. I saw women my age and probably older way, way ahead and knew I didn't have a prayer of AG podium. My AG (women's 50-54--I move up to 55-59 in January) was won in 4:42. OMG. First 6 went under 5 hours. The course is fast due to the swim (but the long T1 probably cancels out all but maybe 5 minutes of that) but not crazy fast. Yikes! The older people never get slower, the fast people just get older.

Event comments:

I have already reviewed this race (in 2021) and not a lot has changed. They have addressed some of the issues from their first year. The swim start is still a bit nuts (herding 2500+ people to walk 1.2 miles in semi-darkness through the woods) but now they start four at a time, so at least it's more efficient. Still the same issues with sighting and ambiguous course in the river. But hey, it's really fast!

T1 is awful, but kind of inevitable given the steep riverbank in the park and the popularity of this race. The bike course is beautiful and hazards are well-marked. Just be prepared for ejection drama due to rough roads and numerous railroad track crossings.

The run course has been changed somewhat and is now a bit shadier with a much more pleasant start and end (a dramatic pedestrian bridge over the river) and the entire run is now in the nature preserve near the river, with zero traffic. Volunteer support and run aid stations are outstanding, much more like a full IM. If you were a "complete" type athlete you could easily put lunch together from them. No complaints. Any improvements would require a change of venue.

Last updated: 2023-07-24 12:00 AM
00:21:29 | 1900 meters | 01m 08s / 100meters
Age Group: 18/154
Overall: 140/966
Performance: Average
Suit: ProMotion full suit
Course: Basically, downriver in the Willamette. Racers are marched to a random point on the riverbank 1.2 miles from the swim finish and then jump like lemmings off a dock. It goes straight into the rising sun, which makes sighting really interesting.
Start type: Dive Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 70F / 21C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 07:14
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
02:55:39 | 56 miles | 19.13 mile/hr
Age Group: 29/154
Overall: 196/966
Performance: Below average
Pretty steady 19-20 mph pace, if one discounts the three stops (I think) for the water bottle issues.
Wind: Cross-winds
Course: Same as 2021. First 9 miles and change are rolling hills with lots of curves (nothing dramatic, some steep but relatively short) through Salem suburbs and exurbs and then out into the country (vegetable and fruit farms and vineyards) on flatter rural roads--rough with lots of crosswinds but usually possible to do a steady effort in aero. Out and back.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 88
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:59
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:52:03 | 13.1 miles | 08m 33s  min/mile
Age Group: 11/154
Overall: 83/966
Performance: Good
Not sure how accurate the mile markers are (they seemed off last time, and this time as well). Some miles seemed quite a bit faster than expected and some slower, and this didn't match how I felt. Bike path type courses around here often seem to be measured by sundial! Probably the GPS signal is not that accurate due to tree cover.
Course: Almost entirely on paved bike trails in a riverside nature preserve. Mix of shade and sun. Two years ago, the first and last 2 miles or so were out on the street--miserably hot and overlapped with the end of the bike course. I think people complained, so they moved it all into the preserve. In many places there is the option to run on dirt or wood chip path next to the bike path, which I did a lot.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %?
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
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] 4

2023-07-24 9:36 PM

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: Ironman Oregon 70.3

2023-07-25 7:47 AM
in reply to: #5286237

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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Ironman Oregon 70.3
nice job!

We did this last year and your swim sounded just like mine. I ended up in the middle too and couldn't get to the other side until more than halfway through. The speed at which the rocks on the bottom were flying by my face made me nauseous and I had to close my eyes!

I think we're going to go back next year and do it again - maybe we'll see you!
2023-07-25 7:56 AM
in reply to: #5286237

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Subject: RE: Ironman Oregon 70.3

Congrats on another great race despite the bike bottle issues and cramps!  The swim sounds so much  like Chattanooga - cluster at the start with so many people cramming into a small area and then a forever wait to get everyone in the water.  

2023-07-25 10:25 AM
in reply to: #5286237

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Atlanta, Georgia
Silver member
Subject: RE: Ironman Oregon 70.3
Great RR and congrats on your day! I've done some current-aided races but nothing like that..sign me up.

Iced coffee shots on the run is an idea I could get behind..
2023-07-25 3:42 PM
in reply to: #5286237

Subject: RE: Ironman Oregon 70.3
Great race report!!! I have this one on my short list of races I'd like to do. Excellent write up.
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