Last year I had noticed a very early season open water swim tri on the calendar, Oregon Dunes Triathlon near Florence, OR. I had it on my radar as a possible race if I had work in the area this year. Last week I had a job come up in Newport, OR, 50 miles from race, so I signed up for the Olympic distance event.
Reviewing the course info, it looked to be fairly challenging: cold water, hilly bike course and some rugged trail running. The water temp was reported as 57, 58 or 60F. The start was delayed about 10 minutes due fog on the water. I had been lax on swim training off season with only 6 trips to the pool and I had not been in open water yet this year. I was not sure what the actual water temp was but the initial “warm up” left me with an ice cream headache sensation. I was glad I opted for a double cap and swim socks once I was in the water. All this being said, I found a reasonably efficient stroke and held a fairly straight line for the two laps. My Garmin showed a 1:46 per 100 yards performance. Swimming is by far my weakest leg so this was not a bad start.
I had a huge time burning T1 in part because I put on sleeves and gloves but struggled a bit with them on cold and wet skin. Then I found the helmet straps had come loose. After 3 attempts, I got that straightened out and burned through 4:55 – uggh. T1 times of my competitors was 2.5 to 3 minutes. Note to self: put the helmet on a couple of times when setting up race morning.
The bike course: lots of hills and lots of curves. My Garmin recorded 2185’ of elevation gain over 25 miles. The extra challenge was the curvy descents including several near 90 degree turns and one with a railroad crossing. The course was well managed with volunteers warning to slow down at couple of these hazards. I also found the highway signs that noted 15 mph curves really mean 15 mph for bikes too. So in addition to the big climbs, the make up on the descent was reduced by necessary braking. With the hills in mind, I had a pace goal of 18.5 mph but ended up with 17.6. Relatively this still was a reasonably good performance putting me 17th of 91 on the bike leg.
T2 was efficient without the problems of T1. The run was part trail, part grassy field crossings and about half paved surfaces. There was one substantial climb up and over the foot bridge crossing Hwy 101 that looped twice for the 10K. Total elevation gain of 404’ with the rugged trail sections also made the run leg fairly tough. On top of this, the race finished with the last 100 yards up a steep sand dune to the finish line.
This was my longest time for an Olympic tri at 2:55. Still it was good enough for an AG podium finish, 3 of 9 and I was 27 of 91 overall (and yes I checked – I would have been 20th if T1 were 3 minutes). Mile-for-mile this has to be the toughest tri/multisport event of the 40 I have done.
So what did I do to celebrate, besides visiting the Ninkasi Brewing Taproom? After we drove into Eugene, I signed up for the half of the Eugene Marathon right before the expo closed. After heading down to Oregon I realized this race was Sunday morning. I could not pass on the opportunity to participate in one of the great races and finish on Hayward Field. No surprise that 1:50:32 finish was not my best result but it was better than my last half in March at the Tacoma St. Patty’s. Actually it was about average for the 20 half- marathons I have done.
With 3 more RTB Wednesday night swim sessions with Patty this month, I should be ready for Troika at the end of the month. The question is whether I can continue my tri/du AG podium finish streak of 4. J
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