I've been thinking of this blog for a while. Should I dive into a huge essay about the entire weekend? Doing so would easily fill up a lot of time and resources. On the other hand if I only take the time to highlight the fact that it's over then I'm doing a disservice to all my donors.
To that end I'll do what I can to give you as accurate and complete picture of my time in Oregon without making you read a mini novel about details that aren't very meaningful.
I knew this was going to be a special weekend when we got set to land and this is what we saw. There's nothing like hopping off a plane and seeing mountains. It's gorgeous. How fortunate I was to be there. The best part was we could see the mountain we had to bike around: Mt. Bachelor. The rest of this first day was spent putting our bikes together and making sure they work properly.
Friday was more of a relaxed day which really helped. We visited the expo &ndash a short 100 yard walk from the back of our town house &ndash to pick up all our registration gear and then headed back to organize our stuff for the big day ahead of us.
Saturday, of course, was the big day. It was a very early morning but luckily because we were on the west coast we got to benefit from a 2-hour time difference. That alone was a saving grace in the morning.
Probably the most stressful part of the morning was setting up the transition area. If you've never competed in a triathlon a typical transition area has both your biking and running gear. As you guessed this wasn't a typical transition area. The way this event was set up it consisted of two completely different transition areas. That means all our bike gear was set up in one location while our running gear was at a completely separate location. This made the logistics of the event tricky because if you forgot to set something up at one of the transitions you were in deep trouble. Fortunately each of us ran through it mentally about a hundred times so all our proper gear was in the appropriate spot.
After setting up our gear at Transition 2 (T2) in Sunriver we headed to Transition 1 (T2) which was at Wickiup Reservoir and the start of the half Ironman triathlon.
There's no doubt the air was filled with energy and emotion. Almost all 50 states were represented there and there were Team in Training (TNT) chapters from all over the west coast. They were mainly from OR but some were from WA, CA and even AK. This was definitely a wetsuit day. Not because of the blisteringly hot sun but because of the blisteringly cold water. The water temp was 60°F. It was COLD!
Other than a minor delay due to technical issues with one of the busses transporting athletes to the start line we were set off in waves to tackle the 1.2 mile swim. There's not much to be said about a swim other than it was a very refreshing swim once we got acclimated to the water. All you do is swim from buoy to buoy until you get back to shore. Everything went smoothly and I got back to shore in about 38 minutes.
T1 was slow but that was my intention. We had to pack our swim gear in a bag before leaving T1 on our bikes or else it was going to get left behind. I took my time, meticulously putting everything away and getting all my gear for biking. Overall I was going at a snails pace: 3.5 minutes to be exact. But that's just fine. Today was about enjoying the Pacific Northwest, the scenery and that really hot sun.
The bike course was challenging, beautiful and fun all at the same time. 58 miles of biking which included a tour around Mt. Bachelor and a pretty significant uphill climb on the back end of that mountain. I wish I could say I kept my positive mental attitude but when you're biking up an incline and going so slow that it'd be faster to walk up it you sort of lose perspective of enjoyment. At least I did. We were as prepared as you can get for living in MN. Two trips through Afton on the WI / MN border helped with that. But it was still an enormous challenge getting up that climb. However, once it was crested it was, as they say, all downhill from there. Literally. I got my bike going upward of 42 MPH on the downhill. It was a lot of fun. Plus, if I were to wipe out that'd be the end of me. HAHAHAHA
Once done with the bike it was off to T2 and the start of the run. T2 was fine. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Just rack the bike, put on my running shoes and hit the trail. It's at this point things take a turn for the worse. By now I found out I made some serious miscalculations of my nutritional needs on the bike. Top that off with the elevation change – turns out a few thousand feet of vertical climb makes a huge difference in athletic performance – and the desert sun and you've got the makings of the slowest half marathon in recorded history. Yes folks, it's true. I walked more than half of the 13.1 miles. The run was the worst part of the whole triathlon experience. It was brutal. I managed to be completely dehydrated by the time the run started. Sparing details of the whole ordeal, suffice it to say I had a breakdown in performance unlike anything I've managed to do before. I did finish the 13.1 miles but I did it in 2.5 hours.
And there you have it. I am now a half Ironman triathlete.
The important thing out of all of this wasn't that I crossed a finish line but I spent the past 6 months working toward raising funds for a very noble cause. I helped give families an opportunity to help themselves and their loved ones who may be going through cancer right now. And everyone who donated can give themselves a healthy pat on the back. It's your fundraising dollars that made this happen. You're the true champions and heroes. So again I say to you: "Thank You!" None of this is possible without your support!
Pictures are currently scattered throughout Facebook. Official ones are posted at the above link but I'm not paying for them. Call me crazy but $25 for a photo is a bit difficult to swallow. Once more pics are up I'll post links to them.