Pacific Crest Olympic Triathlon

This last weekend I did the Pacific Crest Olympic Triathlon. The race is part of a sports weekend in Sunriver, Oregon, which is about 20 miles south of where I live. While I have now lived in central Oregon for almost five years, I have yet to participate in any of these events, so I was excited to finally do so. The Pacific Crest Sports Weekend consists of an organized bike ride, kid’s triathlon, Half Ironman Distance Triathlon and Duathlon, Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k, 5k, and Olympic Distance Triathlon and Duathlon. As you can see it is a very busy weekend. I was excited to do the Olympic Distance event as I have never done a triathlon of that distance. This race was also my first of the season as I prepare for the Rev3 Portland Race and Leadman Bend 250 races later in the year. While this was a “B” race for me, I had set a goal of 30-minute swim, two-minute T1, 90-minute bike, two-minute T2, and 48-minute run for a total of 2 hours and 52 minutes.

Let’s just say it has been an interesting spring and early summer here in Bend. If you have been following some of my posts on the site, you will find an underlying theme that it has been a cold and sometimes wet year thus far. Unlike the rest of the country having heat waves, we have just had sporadic days above average. For some background, Bend average’s temperatures in the 78 degree range at this time of year and forecast for the weekend were not looking so good.

The race itself is billed as the Olympic Distance race which is normally a 1.5km swim, 40 km bike, and 10km run (.9m, 24m, and 6.2m). The Pacific Crest race is a bit longer at 1.5km, 46km, and 10km (.9m, 28.8m, and 6.2m). The swim is up in the Wickiup Reservoir in the cascades. The reservoir is a popular fishing spot and is located at 4350 feet. The bike course then takes you along Forest Service Roads that roll up and down through the forest before climbing the only significant hill at mile 12. From the top of the hill at 4950 feet, the course is a descent into Sunriver, which is at 4200 feet. This makes the 2ndhalf much more fun than the first. Most of the roads are varying degrees of chip seal with some smoother pavement for the last 5 miles into Sunriver. The run course takes place in the Sunriver Resort Community. It is entirely on the many paved paths through the area and has only some slight ups and downs. The finish was located in the Village with the expo going on. This set up also meant that T1, T2, and the finish were all at different areas, a logistical struggle you would say.

Sunday Morning at the Swim Course

Saturday Melissa and I headed to Sunriver to drop off my bike, get in a practice swim, and pick up all the appropriate stuff for the race the following day. We thought it would be fun to drive the back way by Mt. bachelor to see the racers of the Long Course and were surprised not to see any riders until we were on the Olympic Course. The whole drive to Sunriver was off and on rain with the temperature around 43 degrees. I was definitely not envying those racers. As we approached the Village, it even started to hail, which had to be completely miserable. Many of the racers were not prepared for the weather as I saw lots of trisuits and bare arms as we passed them in the car. When we arrived at the village, the sun started to pop back out and seemed to stay nicer for the rest of the day. I still sounded like they had a tough day out there; the organizers actually shortened the bike route because of snow and icy conditions up at the top by Mt. Bachelor. After getting my race packet we met up with my brother who was on vacation at Sunriver and we all went out to the reservoir to drop off my bike and for me to get in a swim.

The reservoir was really nice with two boat ramps. One for the swim start and another for the exit. I dropped my bike off and told it I was sorry for leaving it out in the rain overnight. =) At least it is titanium. Even though it was cold out, I needed to get in a swim. I was testing a new wetsuit by Camaro for the website and did not have much experience with it yet. The suit has so much stretch to it; I was afraid it was too big and wanted to make sure before the race. As it turns out, it fits pretty good. I got suited up and went out in the water, it was reported to be 61 degrees but felt much colder. After getting in about 10 stroked I decided to turn around. The water was giving me an ice cream headache feeling, and I wanted to use my neoprene cap. After donning the cap the water felt much better. I only did about 400 meters as my brother and Melissa were waiting. At my turn around point, it started to hail again so I had to get changed in the medical tent after I got out. Fortunately, the weather forecast was for a slightly better day on Sunday.

Sunday I had to wake up at 6:00 am, which is earlier than I like but much better than I have for some of my bigger races. The race start was at 9 am, but I had to set up T2 and then catch a bus to the race start. On another note, the $15 for the bus ticket seemed very steep. They made some money there that is for sure. It was mostly sunny at T2 and looked to be a good day for the race. On the 30-minute trip to the reservoir, there was a little more clouds but the weather was holding. I started to set up T1 and had everything in order with plenty of time to kill. After about 20 minutes of relaxing I started to get ready for the race. I got my wetsuit on, and all my stuff packed away except what I needed for the bike. In transition, you are required to pack everything into a marked bag for transport back to T2 for pickup. This allows you to avoid going back out to the reservoir to pick up your gear. With 20 minutes until the race start the rain started to fall again. This was not what I was hoping for, but it was still better than Saturday.

I was in the first wave after the elites. We had one minute after they started so there was not much time to get acclimated to the water. In retrospect, I should have jumped in before to get the shock over with. They measured the water temperature to be 60 degrees, but it felt colder than the day before. I had my neoprene cap on under my race supplied swim cap and lined up on the inside of the clockwise course. The lake was fairly calm with only some small ripples from the boats and volunteers out on the water. From the start, I started swimming and did not have any of the dreaded scrums like can happen at bigger races. There were about 80 of us in my wave, and we spread out well. The start of the swim was all about finding a rhythm and getting over how cold my face was. At about the first turn I was feeling good and had swum at a decent pace. At this point, I did have a person try to swim over my legs, but I stayed the course and they figured it out. I noticed that I still am not a very straight swimmer, I tend to go right. I developed a system of strokes to combat this and made my way to the halfway point.

About Mile 17 on the Bike

At this point, my goggles began to fog, and it made sighting much more difficult. This would not be a big issue, but I need to sight as I explained my directional issues above. The second half of the swim was much less fun than the first. Sighting was difficult and it made my back hurt from all the looking up. I also feel like I started swimming slower and even got passed by some people from the later waves. This is to be expected though as swimming is my weakest discipline. The last straightaway to the exit went okay; I had someone who like my pace but did not know how to draft without hitting my foot every couple seconds. Once again, I just swam my own pace, and eventually they must have found a better option. I finally hit shore and stood up and was slightly off balance, so I walked rather than run to my bike. My swim time ended up being just over 32 minutes, which was a 2:10 pace and a bit slower than I had hoped. Surprisingly, it faired pretty well compared to the rest of the field. I was in one of the first rows so it was not too far to my spot. I was really cold, so I fumbled around a bit trying to get stuff on and other things off. I felt like I spent forever in T1, but my time ended up being better than lots of the field. This is still a place where I can get better, I ended up taking 3 ½ minutes at T1, a lot longer than planned.

It was still raining when we got on the bike, and I tried hard to get going. My legs ached from the cold and took a couple of miles to loosen up. The first part of the bike is rolling, and I tried to find a level I could maintain. I felt like I was working hard but not going very fast for the first couple miles. I passed a couple of people and got passed by some as well. I have noticed that I tend to get passed more on the flats and downhill, but I pass lots of people on the climbs. Depending on the course it gets close to evening out. As I got 5-6 miles into the bike course, I started to get into a good rhythm and had warmed up enough except for my feet. They had been numb since the beginning of the swim and were not warming up anytime soon. At mile 12, the course turns onto Forest Service Road 40, which takes us into Sunriver. This is also where the only significant hill begins, a 410-foot climb over 3.2 miles with some rollers before the top. This climb I felt really good and passed quite a few people, many from the duathlon that started while I was swimming. From the top of the climb, it is nearly all descending to Sunriver and made for a very fast 2ndhalf. It felt good cruising along especially since the sun started to peak out. I was able to average 23.4 mph over the second half of the course compared to 17.4 over the first half. The closer you get to Sunriver the smoother the road gets as well, which is also much appreciated. I cruised along and hammered the last little bit into T2 finishing the bike segment at 1:27:10, a 19.8 mph average.

Much Warmer on the Run

T2 had a long run up a hill and then through the racks. I had the farthest spot in T2 so I ran the whole way to my spot. My feet were still numb, which made getting my shoes on a bit of a chore. I thought I was fairly fast, but it seems like I was there forever. I also had to use the restroom which added to my delay. My T2 time came in at just over 4 minutes, which turned out to be really slow. My brother though was there to cheer me along which was nice to finally have someone cheering me along. First thing I noticed getting out on the run was that my hamstrings were very tight. I think it has to do with my wider saddle, but I could really feel it. I got into a decent but painful stride and had to laugh as my feet were still numb. It felt like my shoes were falling apart even though they were still like new. The weather for the run had warmed up significantly, and I was now starting to sweat, a far cry from the earlier bike ride. I was running at a fast clip and passing a fair amount of people. At about mile 2 I got feeling back in my feet which was a welcome feeling. The run course has some small ups and downs but for the most part is a flat course. I cruised along trying to hug the corners and grabbed some Heed every two miles or so. The run slowly just passed by and I was only passed by two people running, there were plenty of casual bikers on the trail as well but most of them did a good job staying out of the way. As I got close to the finish, I picked up the pace a bit and finished the race strong. My run time came in at 45:38 and a 7:22 pace. This was faster than I had planned, and I was excited to finish at 2:52:53, just a hair slower than my goal but pretty good considering how cold I was.

While I learned several things for my races to come I was also excited to not have any stomach issues over the whole race, a new experience for me. It was also nice to have my brother Nick, his family, and in-laws there to cheer me on at the finish. It is good to have someone there at the finish. IF you are thinking about doing the Pacific Crest race, I would recommend it. The weather is normally much better, and the race was run really well. While it does take some logistics to put on a point to point race, I felt like they did a good job and never felt like the race was lacking. Now time to get ready for the Rev3 Portland in two weeks. As always, your mileage may vary.

Link to my Strava Ride

Link to my Strava Run

Gear Used

  • CEP Compression Tri Suit – Suit was comfortable and dried quickly when on the bike even though the weather was a bit drizzly. Back pocket held my gel and pump well, even on the run.
  • Camaro E-Pulsor Wetsuit – Comfortable and has an excellent stretch. It kept me warm in cold water and did not give me any rubbing issues.
  • Finis Swim Goggles – They fogged a bit probably due to me cleaning out too much of my anti-fog solution. They did not leak which I do appreciate.
  • Rudy Project Hypermask Sunglasses – Did not need these as much for sun protection as for blocking the cold wind. They did well at both, and the lack of a frame made vision perfect even in the tri position.
  • Cobb Cycling V-Flow Plus Saddle – I am starting to think this saddle is too wide for me. It rubs my inner thighs, and if I sit too far back it aggravates my hamstring.
  • Louis Garneau Tri-Lite Shoes – Boy were my feet cold. I went sockless for speed and had no rubbing issues. The shoes breathe very well making for a cold ride. =) The straps could be slightly shorter as they would occasionally brush against my crank arms.
  • K-Swiss K-Ruuz 1.5 Running Shoes – Besides not feeling them for the first 2 miles. They felt good for the rest of the run. Lightweight and I wore them without socks. The tongue shifted to the side I noticed and rubbed one spot on my left foot a little. I will have to see how this develops over time.

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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