Friday, June 25, 2004

Pacific Crest 1/2 Ironman, June, 2004

I returned to Bend, OR, to join my father in racing Pacific Crest, a great “endurance weekend” in central Oregon. This three day extravaganza has something for everyone, including runs, duathlons, all the way up to a ½ Ironman triathlon. My father favors the Olympic duathlon where he is the defending 60-64 age group champion, whereas I’m going for the ½ Ironman triathlon. My niece isn’t quite old enough to join the twelve and under events, but they sure look like fun. If you have a lot of friends or family that like to cheer you on and have been tempted to try something short of a triathlon, this is a great place for them to try out an event or two.

Bend, OR is a great location for a triathlon – the swim is a mellow reservoir loop, and the bike course rolls by the Cascade Lakes and climbs up and around Mt. Bachelor, ending in a 16 mile descent that leaves your legs rested for the run around Sunriver Resort. Bend, OR, is still ridiculously cheap too – we got a 3-bedroom house to rent for $109/night, complete with hot tub, just a few blocks from the starting line. Most of the booking agents will give you a decent price, but if they tell you there’s a “three night minimum”, it’s BS. Just keep calling around. Sunriver is self-sufficient, and also has horseback riding, golfing, kayaking, and a full mall. All-in-all a great place to stay.

I hadn’t done much on my bike since the last triathlon, thanks to all the trail running. That meant I got a bit lazy about bike maintenance and didn’t go through my usual checks, assuming the bike was still in racing condition. I realized how dumb this was when I exited the water to find my front tire flat (oops). The volunteers were nice enough to take 10 minutes to put on my back-up tubeless tire and get it pumped up to 110 psi, which was about 60% of what it needed, but enough to get me going. What I didn’t realize was that the spare wasn’t glued on…until I turned into the first corner and wiped out as the tire peeled off. Luckily I recovered nicely since I had gotten a 10 minute rest waiting on the tire, and only had a few minor scrapes after visiting the ditch on the side of the road. As I pulled my tire back on, I faced the ultimate dilemma – should I keep going on a half-inflated tire that I can’t corner on, knowing it’s going to slow me down significantly and leave me exhausted by the run? Or should I just call it a good swim and pack up and meet Christi for some pancakes?

I figured, what the hell. No sense in racking up the first DNF. About 20 miles into the bike, a really nice guy in his 50’s passed me and said “you know, you would go a lot faster if your tire was inflated all the way”. I explained my fiasco, and lack of a portable pump that could handle 200 psi. He replied with a solution – “my son has a bike shop, and he will be at mile 25 in a big red Hummer with all his gear…I’ll ride ahead and tell him to be ready for you”. How nice! Sure enough, as promised a big red Hummer flagged me down and they “Nascar pit-stopped me” and got me back on the road in less than two minutes. At 200 psi, I was rolling much faster, and soon passed my guardian angel who cheered me on. My bike split was atrocious, but I ran a 1:35 half marathon to make up for it and finished in about 5:38. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers!

My dad had a similar mishap. Unfamiliar with the course, he started pacing his bike off a group of riders in front of him with numbers painted on their calves. About an hour later, a cop on a motorcycle pulled him over and told him the people he was following had raced the previous day (thus the calf markings), and today were out on a joy ride….well off the duathlon course! He took it in stride, and still finished well (although he had to give up his title…alas). We had a good time telling our stories over pizza and beer. Mistakes are far more enjoyable after you’re done.

With this race done, I put the bike away for the rest of the season to focus on the trail running.

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