Rev 3 Portland 70.3 Race Recap (or “I Totally Meant to Eat Pavement, I Swear”)

I signed up for Rev 3’s inaugural Portland 70.3 race way back in December along with about a thousand of my TN Multisports teammates. We were all pretty excited to try a non-Ironman branded race that was close to home, and Rev 3 had a reputation of being a challenging series…until they were forced to switch the venue at the last minute due to permit issues. Poop. Instead of a challenging course taking place in downtown Portland, we were treated to a flat, boring course out at Blue Lake Park, where a bunch of triathlons are already held each year.

Most everyone’s reactions to the change:

Rabble rabble rabble!

My reaction:


Some of my teammates who are racing Ironman Canada next month were bummed because they wanted Rev 3 to be a challenging training race to help prepare for the big one in August. I, on the other hand, have had a season plagued with injury so news of the course change had little impact on me since I’d long given up on kicking ass this year and was instead trying to focus on having fun instead of beating myself up over factors I can’t control. I was more bummed that the race was less convenient to get to since our hotel would have been right in front of the old transition area, but oh well, shit happens.

Week of the Race

Naturally, leading up to the race I developed a last-minute hamstring injury because my body hates me, so before we left to drive down to Portland, I popped into see our team’s sports medicine doc for some last-minute TLC.

"Just relax while I shove a bunch of needles in your leg."

(Yes, I know that’s a picture of my thigh, not my hamstring, but I wasn’t exactly limber enough to turn around and snap photos of the back of my leg when I was told to turn over for Round 2…wait, that sounds kind of dirty. It was a rape-free treatment, I swear.) The only other thing I could do for my hamstring all weekend was to alternate straddling a heating pad and a bag of ice like I was trying to hatch an egg and hope for the best.

Day Before the Race

On Saturday Jas and I woke up and headed to Blue Lake Park to meet with our teammates. As we drove by the transition area, I gawked at it and exclaimed, “Uh, that’s just for the pros, right?” I was mistaken. Apparently about 800-900 people dropped out or deferred their registration to next year when they found out about the venue change, leaving less than 500 people to race on Sunday. The transition area and registration set up was super dinky, giving this whole race a “small town” vibe. I felt like I was doing the Olympic distance Apple Capital race in Wenatchee instead of a fancy schmancy half Ironman. Even better was that my team’s 31 athletes represented over 5% of the race, so there was going to be a lot of blue and yellow out there on the course.

Speaking of the team, we met them at the swim start, which is a lovely 0.5 miles away from the transition area across the street from the park. As we drove past numerous large parking lots and huge grassy areas, I kept sarcastically thinking, “If only Blue Lake Park had a spot big enough for transition!” Why they set up the actual transition area so far away from the swim is beyond me.

Since the lake was roped off for pre-race swimming, all we could muster was a sad 30ish meter looping swim along the rope. I pulled on my Zoot suit and received an odd compliment from my teammate Tammi: “Whoa, that suit is so cool-looking…you look like TRON!” I always thought it looked Batman-esque, but to each his own.

This is exactly what I look like in my wetsuit.

The lake was warm, and some of my teammates worried they’d get too hot in their wetsuits. The pros were actually going to have to swim without a wetsuit or with a swim skin instead, but us amateurs would still be able to bake in our sausage suits. I figured I’d get a bit warm but that it wouldn’t be too bad, so I wasn’t fretting too much.

After our swim, we headed over to pick up our race packets and rack our bikes. Instead of being body marked the morning of the race, we were given temporary tattoos of our number and our age to stick on our arms and calf the night before. We were also forced to have our picture taken so they could flash it up on the Jumbotron as we crossed the finish line. I posed with a dorky thumbs up and shit eating grin, because that’s exactly what a mediocre athlete would do.

When Jas and I headed to transition to drop off our bikes, I was surprised to see that instead of racks we get to use the fancy schmancy pro bike bumper thingies. Check this legitness out:


They even printed out my name and number:

Shit just got real

The pros got something even cooler: a huge poster of them at their transition spot. My coach’s (who was racing for the first time in over a year due to injury and chronic sickness) looked especially adorable, and I joked about stealing it afterwards and breaking into various teammates’ homes to hang it on the ceiling above their bed so the first thing they’d see when they woke up is this:

She's like Santa Claus...always watching, always knowing

After we dropped off our bikes, Jason and I headed back downtown to grab some street food and spend the rest of the day lounging around and staying off our feet. “Lounging around” turned into Jas nagging me to take a shower because I “smelled like lake” and saying he was going to check for wet hair and a soap smell to make sure I didn’t just lazily rinse off. He’s going to make a great parent someday. Later we hit up Rite Aid to buy a super sad pre-race breakfast for the following morning (since the hotel restaurant and none of the 80 Starbucks in the area were going to be open earlier than 6 am), then grabbed dinner with Brent and Jes before calling it a night.

Race Day

I woke up the morning of the race feeling kind of groggy and tired, then ate, dejectedly yanked on my ever-tightening race outfit (oh Spandex, you unforgiving bastard), made sure I had all my gear, and headed out. We got to transition, marveled at the huge row of portapotties that were available (thank you, 900 people who failed to show up!), set up our stuff, and hung around until the race was to begin. I looked around at the competition and immediately knew I was in deep shit. It seemed as if everyone who decided to stick around and race despite all of the changes were serious athletes. Normally I’m a top third to top half age group finisher, but I figured that today me and my post-Canada paunch would be bringing up the rear. Oh well. Can these fast girls polish off a full order of nachos plus three tacos and beat Portal 2 in one sitting? Yeah, that’s right, who’s the elite now?

The pros started their swim a half hour before us amateurs, then all female competitors would go, followed by men 40 and under five minutes afterwards, and then men over 40 five minutes after that. Great, I got to look forward to having not one but two big waves of dudes swimming over me. Who the hell planned this shit? Sigh. Before I had too much time to stew over swim logistics, the announcer shouted for us to begin so I dorkily jogged into the water and dove in to start swimming.

Amateur women's swim start (photo by Adrian Santic)

Swim Recap

The swim course was a counter-clockwise loop around the entire lake, with the first turn buoy situated really close to the swim start because the lake was wider than it was tall. That first turn was pretty hairy, but I pushed my way through and turned left to begin the ridiculously long stretch towards the next buoy. Since I couldn’t see the actual buoy, I resorted to swimming as straight as possible, looking up every so often to make sure that others were still splashing alongside me. In no time at all I was run over by a bunch of men in the 40 and under wave. Boo to them.

I actually almost ended up swimming to the third turn buoy instead of the second because the lake is so narrow that it was easy to mistakenly sight off the wrong red buoy (and in fact, a number of athletes did make that mistake and were told to double-back and get back on course). As I was heading back to the swim exit, my right side started to hurt and feel tight as if I was getting a side stitch. I did manage to draft off some other slow pink cappers until I got run over by a bunch of men from the over 40 wave. Finally I trudged out of the water and glanced at my watch, hoping for the best.

Swim time: 46:34

One of the worst swim times in my age group (and among all amateurs, probably), but it was a PR for me so I was relatively happy. Next time I’ll shoot for 45 minutes or less — basically I want to get out of the water faster than the time it takes for a pizza to get delivered to me.

Transition 1

I ran over to the rack and grabbed my bag that had a pair of shoes in it, then yoinked off my wetsuit, swim cap, and goggles. One of my teammates’ friends was actually volunteering and recognized me, so she offered to put my stuff into my bag for me so I could be on my way. I thanked her and started on the half mile jaunt over to the actual transition area. Once I got there, I saw Jason’s parents, who felt the need to tell me how far ahead his sister was ahead of me but didn’t give an update on Jason. Thanks for the forced rivalry, guys!

Transition time: 5:21 — Not bad for stripping off a wetsuit, cap and goggles, slipping on shoes, running 0.5 miles, slipping off shoes, slipping on bike shoes, pulling on a helmet and sunglasses, and grabbing a bike.

Bike Recap

The bike course was a two loop flat and fast stretch past the airport and back. As soon as I hopped on the bike and got going, I noticed a few things:

  1. “Flat and fast” doesn’t necessarily mean “easy”
  2. My left hamstring and groin muscle instantly got tight and remained that way for the duration of the ride
  3. This pavement fucking sucks

“Flat and fast” pretty much meant “100% aero,” which meant that I couldn’t coast or sit up without compromising speed. The continuous pedaling basically felt like I was doing a workout on my bike trainer but pushing it much harder. My injured hamstring started acting up almost immediately, and my left leg plus the groin muscle felt tight/tweaked, which forced me to constantly shift my weight and fidget to try and stretch it out. It was a pretty uncomfortable 56 miles.

Speaking of uncomfortable, at one point along the course the smooth pavement abruptly turns into what I dubbed the “vag destroyer” — rough, bumpy pavement that was really tough to ride on. All of the athletes moved over to the shoulder once they hit this part of the road because it was a little bit smoother, but passing someone proved difficult because you’d have to get out of the smoother shoulder part and back onto the chewed up road, which forced you to work harder to get the bike going and make the pass.

Naturally, while riding I became a snotty mess, so I tried to occasionally shoot snot rockets but ended up just blowing snot all over my face and hands and feeling like a welfare child in Alabama. Speaking of snot rockets, this race marked the first time that I got residual snot on me from someone in front of me shooting liquid boogers behind them as they cycled. I was not happy. My reaction went something like this:

Even though the bike leg was painful, snotty, and somewhat demoralizing, it was great to see my teammates on the course. I also battled back and forth with this bad-ass 54-year old for a long while — I’d catch up to her and pass her, then she’d roll up and pass me right back. We exchanged pleasantries each time before I was finally able to pass her permanently. I hope I’m still kicking ass at this sport when I’m in my 50’s.

Eventually I rolled into T2 with a PR bike split, happy that I didn’t get a flat tire which would have forced me to figure out how to change a tubular (I borrowed race wheels from my friend Karen and half-ass watched some how-to videos on YouTube before saying, “Fuck it, I’ll be screwed anyway” and hoping for the best).

Bike time: 2:50:50 — a 29 minute PR over last year’s disastrously windy Boise 70.3 bike split. Even with an injured hamstring, I managed to pull off a pretty sweet bike time. I was pretty stoked to finally go sub-3 hours.

Transition 2

Maybe I felt a bit cocky from my bike split, but for some mentally handicapped reason, as I rolled towards the timing mat, I thought, “I’m going to slip my feet out of my shoes, pro style, and hop off the bike like a boss.” Had I done this during a race before? No. Had I even practiced this before? Well, yes, three years ago at a bike dismount clinic. Had I practiced this since then? No. Therefore, was this a good idea to try during a race? Of course not, but you don’t become a mediocre athlete through logic and common sense.

I got my left foot out fine, but my right shoe velcro banged into the bike chain and I couldn’t get my foot out. As I neared the timing mat, I inexplicably decided to lean my bike to the right, presumably in hopes that gravity would plunk my foot out. Instead, I keeled over and ate pavement in front of a group of spectators and friends who quickly went from “Go Rebeccaaaaaaa yaaaaayyyyyy” to “…..oh.” As I lay on the ground, I looked up and immediately saw a concerned volunteer stick his face an inch away from mine and shout, “ARE YOU OKAYYYYY?”

I responded with something along the lines of this:

Real smooth

Thankfully, embarrassment fueled me to have a relatively decent transition time since I wanted to get as far away from everyone who just saw me bite it big time as possible.

Transition time: 1:16

Run Recap

The first person I saw coming out of transition was Jason’s mom, who snapped some photos of me before exclaiming, “Oh, your knee is bleeding.” I sighed and said, “I know” before turning the corner and running into Jason’s dad. He looked at me and said, “Jason is about 7 1/2 minutes ahead of you,” then he paused and blurted out, “I saw that!” I laughed and said, “I know” again, then added, “That’s what I get for trying to be fancy.” I puttered past them and kept running.

My knee didn’t sting too bad and I didn’t want to stop and clean it off until the race was over, so I just kept moving forward at a steady pace. My run felt pretty strong at first — I high-fived my teammates and even ran into the 54-year old super cyclist and shouted some words of encouragement. Once I hit mile 8, however, my stomach took a turn and I was about halfway to Barfsville from then on. I slowed down a bunch and walked through the past few aid stations to sip flat coke and douse my head with water. It was about 80 degrees, and although there was some cloud cover, it was definitely a warm day out there.

Eventually it got so bad that whenever I’d pass a teammate, I could only nod and mouth “Good job” without actually saying anything because I feared that any attempt to make a sound would result in me projectile vomiting on my buddy, effectively ruining both our races. The last few miles were hell and made me thank the Ironman gods once again that I had a miraculously good race in Canada the year before. After quite a struggle, I made it to the finish line amidst cheers from Jason and my teammates. Ugh, finally.

Run time: 2:04:54 — A slight disappointment since I wanted to go under 2 hours, but considering how little I’ve run this season, it’s not too terrible. Besides, it’s still a run PR for me. Still, I know I’ve got that sub-2 in me, but it’ll have to wait another day.

Total race time: 5:48:56

Hey, look at that, I finally hit my sub-6 hour finish goal and managed to PR by 41 minutes! And wouldn’t you know it, it happened when I was at my fattest and most injured. I wonder what I’m capable of once I’m healthy and at my racing weight. Considering the mental funk I’ve been in all season and how I’ve been struggling with various injuries, I was quite pleased to have such a good race despite everything that I’ve gone through mentally and physically. I know that the course was easy, but it was still a nice confidence booster and is now pushing me to hit another sub-6 at a more challenging race.

I ended up taking 10th out of 16 in my age group, but I had the 4th fastest bike split (well technically 5th, but that girl DNF’d so whatevs) even while riding injured, which is nice. My teammates all had killer races too — a bunch of them placed in their age group, and Jason even won Clydesdale (out of 18 contenders) with a 5:16 finish time (which is a big PR for him, too).

After the race, I headed to the medical tent to get my knee cleaned up (making the Post-Race Medical Tent tally Rebecca: 2, Jason: 1), then nearly hurled but managed to munch it back. Victory!


After the race I realized that the saddest bike crash ever took a little chunk out of my shifter:


My knee wasn’t looking too great, but I’ve seen worse:

Thumbs up for extreme stupidity!

I’ve also got some mystery chafing on my back as well as a nice bruise from the fall. Most of my teammates have been polite about the mishap, but the hilariously mean ones (Jason, Brent, Mark) have been giving me shit nonstop, calling me “That Athlete” who always bites it at transition when doing something dumb. Yep, that’s me. I’ve enjoyed loudly lamenting to Jason, “Ugh, isn’t this the worst knee scrape you’ve ever seen? It really stings” while he glares at me and points at his scars from last year’s lovely bike accident. We’re such assholes to each other.

Wrap This Shiz Up Already

Welp, that was my first Rev 3 race and it actually went pretty well. I liked how well organized it was and all of the schwag we got. The competition is definitely more stiff, so if you want to be challenged amongst more elite athletes, I recommend giving Rev 3 a try. I wouldn’t do the race again if it’s at Blue Lake, however, because that course sucked big ol’ donkey balls, but I’d do another Rev 3 race. I definitely want more competition for Ironman branded races because I feel that they don’t treat their athletes (and especially their pros) as nicely as other race series.

I’m still battling a tight hamstring and groin muscle, so my post-Rev 3 goal is to get that taken care of before deciding what my next race will be. I’m going to try and get the body healthy and leaner (I’ll start eating better tomorrow, I swear, but let me finish these two cupcakes I bought from Cupcake Royale — it’s Strawberry Festival month, damnit) so I can start 2012 off fresh, strong, and ready to race.

6 Responses to “ “Rev 3 Portland 70.3 Race Recap (or “I Totally Meant to Eat Pavement, I Swear”)”

  1. Angela says:

    Nice job! I’m so excited for you that you got your time goal and a big PR!!

    I saw that they changed the course at the last minute from another blog I follow – and it seemed most people weren’t too keen on the change.

    Good luck with the recuperation!

  2. teresa says:

    crack’n me up!!! love the poster idea 🙂 You did phenomenal and I was so happy to be out sharing the course with you! Great report!!

  3. Diana says:

    Once again you’ve proved that you are anything but mediocre! Not many people have the tenacity to push themselves physically and mentally the way you do, and even fewer people have the ability to laugh at themselves when they fall (literally and figuratively speaking!)

  4. Harvey1958 says:

    Did the acupuncture work for you Rebecca? It works suprisingly well on my arthritic Corgi. If you haven’t tried it yet, go for the electro-needles option. That and Tiger Balm does it for me.

    • Rebecca says:

      I felt a couple of muscles release during that treatment — weird sensation, but it definitely seemed to help. We got a bunch of balm at Rev 3 called “Dragon Ice” that I’ve been using too — it’s basically fancy Icy Hot.

  5. Sean says:

    Way to go on the 41 minute PR! Dumb wipeouts at zero speed are WAY better than cool wipeouts at 30km/h.

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