It's been a while since we've updated the blog, but racing season is now in full gear, so I thought I would take some time to give some updates. Many Blue Mountain Endurance athletes have been working hard this spring towards achieving some racing goals, and the work is paying off for many in a big way. We've have several athletes who've met some goals in finishing ultramarathon races, new PR's in many road running races including marathon and half marathon distances, Boston marathon finishes, numerous triathlon and duathlon finishes including athletes racing over the half ironman and ironman distances! There are simply too many great achievements to list one by one, but everyone should be proud of the work put in, and the resulting accomplishments so far this year.
Since I'm not able to write about every single team accomplishment, I thought I would take some time to highlight some particularly meaningful races to those who did the race themselves. In addition, some of the athletes are going to tell their own story, rather than having to hear it from me!
Without further ado, this week's featured athlete is Amy Hartford of Walla Walla. Amy has been racing multisport and running for the better part of 10 years now. Amy is a local elementary school teacher who's progressed from running 5k and 10k races, to moving up to running numerous half and full marathons and now triathlons. In the past several years, Amy has begun taking on the half ironman distance. This year, one of her goal races was the Pacific Crest Half Ironman which she completed a few weeks ago in Sunriver, OR.
The following is Amy's account of this years race:
Amy Hartford’s Pacific Crest Long Triathlon Race Report/ 2015
Mindset: This year’s long triathlon was my third and my second year for the Pacific Crest Long course. I competed in the same race last year after it had been highly recommended by Michael and Kara Gordon and a few other local experienced racers. I was thrilled with my final 2014 time of a 6:52 which was a full hour off my first triathlon of the distance in the 2013 Grand Columbian long course triathlon.
Pumped and excited about returning in 2015 with a group of friends, we rented a condominium just a half mile from the Sun River Village and the official finish line. Not only was I excited to get back on the beautiful course but in addition I turned fifty this year and had trained hard, purchased a new TT bike and was ready to go out on course with more focus and vigor with a goal of a sub 6:30 time. I wanted to see how I would size up in the 50-55 age group.
The Swim: The swim is located in the Wickiup Reservoir. The night prior to the race we set up our bikes and checked out the water, happy to hear that the temperature was a comfortable 66 degrees.
Swimming is my weakest event. I haven’t quite picked up a speed button yet and look forward to continued work in this area; however I do feel comfortable in the water and can stay calm even when the arms and legs of swimmers slam into you. The 1.2 swim is a double loop course which can be a little intimidating for a slower swimmer due to the faster swimmers lapping you and literally at times swim over you if you don’t get aggressive back.
At the swim start the race started in waves. Luckily for me, females over 45 all started in the last wave so immediately I felt less anxiety and more at ease. There were about thirty swimmers in my wave and I’m happy to say my swim went without a hitch. I stayed calm, I felt relaxed and in good shape when I exited with a time of fifty-six minutes which was two minutes off my last year’s time.
The Bike: I love this 58 mile course that travels over gently rolling hills prior to making the climb around Mt. Bachelor. Jumping onto my new bike that I purchased this year, I was excited and felt comfortable. I had my water bottles and nutrition set up and had tapered well the two weeks prior to race day so my legs felt ready to go. The temperature was comfortable the whole ride. I knew the run was going to be hot so I was careful to drink plenty, getting refills at the three aide stations, to keep hydrated. Coming in minutes faster than last year, I was pleased with my ride with a time of 3.31 and a 16.3 average.
The Run: Running is the event I have the most experience with. I pride myself in knowing and understanding what suffering feels like after competing in seven full marathons and countless half marathons but this was the first time I have ever competed in temperatures in the 90 degree range. I was nervous and went into the race knowing my 2:05 time from the previous year was going to be hard for me to beat. At this event from mile 3 all the way to the end there is a water station each mile. I ran the first three miles and felt ok but was really getting hot. I don’t always listen to music but knowing it was going to be hot I had my music with me. I turned it on hoping to take my mind off the heat and for whatever reason, it didn’t work. As I entered the first station at mile three I soaked myself with water and my body felt cool on the outside but my core was hot and my stomach began feeling off. This was the pattern for the remaining miles of the 13. 2 soak at the stations and try to ignore my stomach. I began, for the first time in any race, to walk between the stations. I was frustrated but also knew I needed to listen to my body.
The Finish: About a half mile from the finish a friend met me on her bike, then two more friends had walked out to support me and a friend ran the last part in her flip flops right along my side. As I saw the remaining group of friends my throat tightened and my heart swelled feeling so incredibly blessed to be able to do this. To successfully set a goal, train hard, compete and share the journey with family and friends is such a privilege and blessing. I crossed the finish line to find my dear friend that had made her way past the ropes to greet me with a huge hug. We embraced and shed tears, happy tears, because we had both done it! My final time was 6:59 (8 minutes slower than the previous year). I placed 6th in my age group out of 14.
Final thoughts: When I returned home, I have to be honest, even though it was an amazing race weekend, I felt down. My reflection turned to my race times. I had hoped after all of my hard work I would have had a PR. Even with the knowledge that the run was in 90 degree heat, I wanted to do better. I was ok with my bike time but frustrated how slow I am at the swim and bummed I had to walk part of the run which I finished with a time of 2:21. Yet, this is another reason why I love the sport of triathlons, and other endurance races. There are so many things that can come into play on race day, equipment, injuries, weather, stomach and more. I want to do this a long time. After each race I get that fire back in my belly of new goals. I become inspired to improve. I have so many races and goals I want to accomplish therefore I need to take each race, and learn from it to improve.