Rev3 Poconos Olympic Race Report - AMAZING!

sarahz5 Posts: 1,363 Member
I AM IN LOVE!!!!!!

I already know I am going back next year. So here's a recap:

This was my first Oly in my fourth tri year. Also first coed race other than a relay I cycled! I went with three other women from my tri club.

CRAZINESS BEFORE THE RACE: After a full day at the expo, we were headed to dinner and I realized I didn't have my tri bag. !!!! I had half my stuff, but my watch, wetsuit, goggles, and nutrition were all in the tri bag. I thought about spectating; I thought about going home to get it; but ultimately, after a soothing beer and a burger, I decided to hit Dick's and then consider renting a wetsuit. I got TYR Special Ops because I had used them before, and they did not let me down on the swim! That was a relief because I'm pretty picky about goggles. Bought a hilarious headband with camo on one side, it was the only one they had. Raced without a watch. I the morning, the guy selling for blue seventy was SO fantastic. I had to rent a full sleeve wetsuit because they had no sleeveless. I had a full a few years ago and hated it - literally couldn't swim with it. I'm a stronger swimmer now, but also, that blueseventy was light years better than the one I had previously. Orca maybe? I had so much range of motion. Now I get why people go with the sleeves.

SWIM: We did a little warm up swim at the beach - love that they offered that. We got started - I also loved that they had all female waves at the back end of the race. Panicked about 100 yards from the swim start. I stopped and bobbed there looking around for a bit and I couldn't stop thinking that I just wanted to go back and not do this. I said out loud, "I don't think I want to do this!" This woman behind me who was BACKSTROKING said really calmly, "you got this." It was all I need to just get my face in the water and go. I realized I was forgetting to sing to myself, which is my focus technique, and that made all the difference. The swim was gorgeous, perfect temperature, clean, so well marked and supported. Swimming with the current was a lot of fun - glad the part against the current comes first! Long transition, but that was okay with me, gave me a chance to get my equilibrium back. I was extremely pleased with my swim time, thought they lost the timing mat in the storm, based on volunteer time check. I set my expectations very low, at 3:00/100yds, and I beat them by four minutes despite the panic pause. Was not the last one out of the water by far!

BIKE: OMFG. So we did drive the course on Saturday (and freaked out) and I knew what to expect from Glevinso's incredibly helpful Garmin file, which I pored over and compared to my own files from our hills around here. Definitely found that I knew what to expect thanks to that. But, of course, I was at the back of the pack at this point because of the swim, and when I got to the bottom of the steep, long climb, there were five people ahead of me walking their bikes, one of whom was my teammate. It was overwhelming to me to think about navigating around them, and I was not set up well in terms of momentum and gears, and I just threw in the towel. I figured I would be pretty much just as fast walking it as riding it. I passed several of the other people pushing their bikes so I considered that a small win. :D There is a final steep push after that to the top of the mountain and I didn't get off for that, though my friend did - I had to pass her which felt awkward, and I yelled out "I'm trying to make this my moral victory." After that, the bike was the most exhilarating, challenging, rewarding thing I have done, short of childbirth. I loved bombing down the crazy, sweeping descents (well, compared to my past experience), and the location was just breathtaking through the whole race. Creek Rd., with those rolling, twisty hills, and the ride along the creek - I just can't say enough about it. I even loved the feeling of pushing so super slowly up the other tough hills the course offered. I consider myself to have a standing date with that hill every year until I conquer it. Hopefully next year! One of my four club members managed it. She and I finished the bike in times that were less than a second of each other, and our run was only 30 seconds different, though she smashed me by 15 minutes in swim and transition time. Given how evenly matched we are, I feel confident that if she did, I can do it too. Having the bike course closed was amazing.

RUN: Beautiful, and most of all, SHADY, course. Loved being back in those woods, and the rolling hills were a lot of fun. I did walk a few hills, and I don't really feel any need to do that differently next year, particularly THE HILL. The support was incredible on all legs - both the aid stations, which were there every time you felt like you needed it, and the volunteers, who must have had amazing training because they were awesome, and the camaraderie on the course - so many men and women yelling support to each other, half and Oly racers alike.

OVERALL: Like I said, no watch, but since I saw this as a first attempt at a lot of things - challenging course, Olympic, coed - and as a training race for my 70.3, I figured I would just see what I could do. Had a hard time setting a goal because I was not sure what to expect from myself and from the course. On the shuttle bus on the way there, I said that my A goal was 3:30, and if I did that I would be REALLY thrilled. I was thinking 50 minutes on the swim, 1:30 on the bike, 1:00 on the run, and :10 in transition. Without a watch, and allowing myself to take it rally easy on the bike climbs and to walk a bit of the run, I hit about... :44 swim, 1:34 bike, :58 run, and :12 in transition. Total of 3:29!!!!! That was a real confidence builder. I have an A goal of 7:00:00 for my 70.3 in Atlantic City, which should be a much easier course (short of potentially brutal sun), after five more weeks of training, so I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.

This race was just so incredibly well executed and it was breathtakingly gorgeous throughout almost every minute. I cannot recommend it highly enough. There is also a ton of great accommodations nearby, not only in the inn where it is held but in a number of townhouses and condos within a mile. We stayed about a mile away and it was so convenient. No traffic issues. And if you wanted to extend the trip the resorts all have tons of recreation options.


  • glevinso
    glevinso Posts: 1,895 Member
    I am *SO* glad you had a good time! This really is one of my favorite races of all time. Rev3 puts on a great event, and this was no different.

    If you are interested in my race report from the half I would be happy to share it.
  • glevinso
    glevinso Posts: 1,895 Member
    Well even if you don't want to read it, I am going to post it anyway:

    Pre-race stuff:

    The day before a race, at least in my opinion, should be all about light activities and generally trying to get some rest. That never, ever, seems to happen. There is always a ton of running around to do, gathering things, set ups, shake-out activities, etc. to do and the day gets totally filled by non-relaxing things. This was no different. We got to Smithfield Beach early for the practice swim. Last year when I did the Oly here I struggled with the current in the river. I came out of the water with a dismal 28 minute swim. So I decided I was going to take this time to go learn the currents in the river and try to take advantage of it where I could, or mitigate it where I couldn’t. I spent a bunch of time just floating in the river and assessing currents in different locations. I found that the current was weakest far to the left, and strongest down the middle of the river. The course was set up so that the up-stream part was on the left, and the downstream part went out in the middle. Perfect. I planned to stay as left as possible early on, keep out of the weeds, and then catch the channel on the way back, and just make sure to sweep in to not cut the buoys inappropriately.

    Shakeout ride was mostly just to make sure the bike was set up right with the rear disc, and that the Powertap pedals worked. They did. Then the storm happened and I was drenched right as I finished the ride.

    Race day:
    T2 was at the host hotel, which made things very easy. Set up T2 by dropping shoes, gels, bib and visor on my spot then got on the bus to T1. Breakfast was coffee and a large apple fritter (donuts… breakfast of champions, right?) Setup was easy here since there wasn’t much to do but pump tires, set out my helmet and sunglasses and put on a wetsuit. Water temp was 76. I decided to take a bit of a gamble on the bike setup. Since the day was not predicted to be hot at all, at least until I got to running that I was not going to carry any extra water. I took the downtube and seat tube bottle cages off entirely, and ran only with the bottle between my aerobars. I knew with aid stations at mile 20, 30 and 45 that I had plenty of opportunity to pick up water on course to refill. No cages and no extra water meant a little less drag and a little less weight to carry up the hills.

    Swim 29:07: So it seems that all year I have been struggling with turning my decent pool speed into actual open water speed. I decided that struggle was going to end right here, right now. I put it in my mind that I was going to smash this swim. My wave was up first. Good, I like racing off the front. Once I got in the water I made sure to stay off to the left as planned. The water was perfectly clear straight to the bottom even where it dropped deep. Consequently I could also see the grass and weeds on the bottom being pushed towards me in the current. I stayed with a group of people and we seemed to have an unspoken agreement to paceline. We traded leads and drafts for the entire uphill part of the swim. I made it to the turn buoy in what I thought was a decent time. Post-race analysis shows that was 700 yards upstream and I was able to hold 1:46/100yd. At the buoy the course made a sharp turn so we were now going straight downstream. I aimed for the next turn buoy and then purposely moved into the middle of the river. Rounded the last turn buoy and purposely aimed high for the exit arch. I knew that the current would pull me towards it. Sure enough I saw a bunch of guys aim straight for the arch when I turned sharply. They got carried farther down river and I got out of the water ahead of them. Exited the water in 29:07. I was floored! 1:21/100 average for the back half of this swim. I was so happy to break 30 minutes in the swim I decided right then and there that it didn’t matter what happened the rest of the day. That was my victory.

    T1 3:09: Transition was a full quarter of a mile from the swim exit. Once I got to my bike it was a very fast wetsuit removal, stuff into the bag, helmet on and grab the bike. Flying mount was sloppy this time but I managed it.

    Bike: Right away I saw my HR was sky high. I also knew there was really nothing I would be able to do about it until I got out to 209. The first 5 miles were rough and rolling, then the big hill and big descent. I told myself to control the effort here, but don’t panic about power or heart rate until the race settles down on 209. I passed a couple of people here, and one guy passed me. Right as I got to the top of the big climb I hit a bump and something touched my leg. I look back and, well, dammit, my flat repair kit had bounced out of the rear holder and smashed itself on the road. Oh well, no time to go back. I just hope I don’t flat out. I took advantage of the community drive descent to get into my bento and take my first bite of powerbar. The rest of this ride I was diligent about eating something every 15 minutes.

    Once onto rt 209 I began concentrating on my effort and making sure it was to plan. I pulled back a bit so my HR came under 165. My NP was showing 257w after the big climb so I backed off for a while and let it drift back into the 230 range. On this part of the course it looked like I was holding around 23-24mph at 220-230 watts. Perfect. As I approached the turnaround at mile 24 I started to see riders coming the other way. Surprisingly NOT that far ahead of me. I counted to 10 before I hit the turnaround myself. So there I find myself in 11th overall and there is NOBODY behind me. Whoever was in 12th behind me was at least a mile back. At the turnaround point I was showing a 22.5mph average. I was on pace for a 2:28 bike split and felt pretty good about it until I hit that headwind. For the next 14 miles I fought the wind. It slowed me way down but I dutifully kept my power and heart rate in the pre-agreed-upon range. I knew better than to over-push into the wind. The bike course re-joins the oly course at mile 41 and things got crowded a bit. While on the big descent on river road, somewhere around mile 52 I hear a voice behind me calling a pass and what turned out to be the first OA female just smokes me on the descent. Damn she was fast. I realized she was in the half based on her blue number. OK so I am now in 12th OA. I roll in to T2 uneventfully

    2:38:29 was the time. Slower than I wanted (I really wanted to crack 2:30 but I guess it wasn’t meant to be on this course). 230 watts NP, spot on plan. 650 calories in, 3 bottles of water. My plan to get water from the aid stations was perfect.

    T2 was fast as usual 0:53

    Run: This run course is simply brutal. Just brutal. I flew out of transition while sucking down a gel. The course starts with a gradual uphill, and I clicked off the first mile in 6:58. I knew the big hills were coming so I figured I would just push whatever I had for the first 2 miles and try to bank a few seconds here and there. Mile two was a little slower at 7:06. Then the real hills start and everything after that was much slower. The first of three huge hills starts early in mile 3 and climbs at a 13% grade. It then goes sharply downhill and bottoms out where the Oly course turns around. The half course continues straight and immediately hits an even bigger 16% grade. I haul myself up this hill, then hit the turnaround and head back. At this point a guy I was running shoulder to shoulder with decides he was going to go on ahead and eventually I just lost him. Heading back the backside of the first hill was a 15% grade. These monsters really sap the go-juice from your legs.

    I get back out onto the road and eventually find myself passing someone I know to be ahead of me in the race (I was passing plenty of Oly people, but this one guy I knew was in the half). I was able to accelerate here and pulled in a few faster mile splits. Hit the turn around and went back out for my second lap. Much like the first only perhaps just a bit slower. Never hit a wall of despair though. I was able to just keep pushing through and taking the big hills as they came.

    Gels at approximately 30 and 60 minutes in, and all water at the aid stations.

    Run time 1:35:19

    Overall finish time 4:46:57. A huge PR for me. My last half race was at Pocono two years ago when I went 5:13. That bike course started with a big descent down Bushkill falls road, and it lacked the monster hills on the run as it stayed on River Road. So not only was this an approx. half hour PR, it was on a significantly harder course than last time.

    Finished 12th overall and 5th in age group. However I managed to snag two roll-up spots for 3rd. I got to stand on a Rev3 podium for the third time this season!
  • sarahz5
    sarahz5 Posts: 1,363 Member
    FANTASTIC! Loved your report. Congratulations on the PR, strong finish, and snagging the roll-up! Love that you practically matched your Oly swim time from last year.

    It's so funny, I keep seeing people say how hard the run was. I guess it's because it's easier to slow down/walk on the run than it is to slow down on the bike, but I thought the bike course was far more challenging than the run. Or maybe I'm just more of a runner than I think. I was 69/75 women on the Oly swim (which I considered a success :D ), 36/75 on the bike, and 27/75 on the run, and I took it super easy on the run. I enjoyed most of the climbs on the bike, even the ones where I probably averaged about 4mph, and the downhills were a blast, but definitely harder than any biking I have ever done. The run felt like run-only races I have done. Of course, I got to skip that last monster and I only had to do it once!
  • SpectreTT
    SpectreTT Posts: 2 Member
    Congrats on the strong finish, sarahz5. I loved the only Rev3 race I did - though it was Challenge at the time. Sounds like a great course.
  • jacksonpt
    jacksonpt Posts: 10,413 Member
    Great reports both of you... I guess I'll jump on the bandwagon and share my own.

    This entire season has been the season of the mechanical for me, and the days leading up to this race were no different. Friday night I had an issue with my bike which required a stop at a bike shop on Saturday for a derailleur and cable replacement... all en route to the race.

    About 4 hours behind schedule, I finally got to the venue, got checked in, and got the lay of the land with the multiple transition areas. I will say this, everything was exceptionally well staffed and supported. Good job Rev3, and good job volunteers.

    Sunday morning I got up and got to T2, got my run stuff set up and shuttled over to T1... again, everything was very well staffed. I got my stuff set up there, got my wetsuit on for a warm-up swim, and had 3 teeth break on my wetsuit zipper. After fighting with the zipper for about 20 minutes, I just decided to sit and, collect myself, and wait for my heat.

    At this point I was just hoping that my goggles with seal, and my bike wouldn't leave me stranded on the course.

    Eventually my time came.

    The swim was wonderfully uneventful, and swimming in the Delaware proved to be one of the best race swim venues I've done. At 32:34, I was into T1.

    Up next, the bike. I wouldn't say the bike course was difficult, but it was deceptively tricky. It was a very rolling course, with some very fast sections that took you in and out of shadows. The constantly rolling hills made it hard to really settle in and get into a nice rhythm, and all the shadows made it hard to really see and feel confident about the road. None the less, it was a good, challenging, fun race course. Throughout the bike leg I had a lot of general sloppiness and chatter in my rear gears, but ultimately no significant issues. I rolled into T2 at 1:54:24.

    Getting off the bike I felt good, knowing I was right on pace and well within reach of my goal, which was a sub 3 hour Olympic.

    I set out on the run, my first goal being to get my HR down to a sustainable level for the next 6 miles. For whatever reason, I was never able to get it down where I thought it should be, but I was able to keep the effort and keep the pace, despite the higher HR. After 53 minutes in zone four and five, I could see the finishing banner. As soon as I could see the clock, I knew I had made my goal.

    Goal: sub 3 hours.
    Actual: 2:48:57

  • Capt_Apollo
    Capt_Apollo Posts: 9,028 Member
    glad you all had a good race. lots of people from my club did this race.
  • sarahz5
    sarahz5 Posts: 1,363 Member
    So did you end up just bagging the wetsuit? What a fantastic race - congratulations on killing your time goal!

    I really aspire to the day that the bike course is merely challenging but not difficult for me. I don't know how to train for such steep, long hills when I don't have any near me. (The rest of it was perfect - other than those climbs and descents on River and Community, it was ideal. I get bored on flats.)
  • jacksonpt
    jacksonpt Posts: 10,413 Member
    No, I wore the wetsuit, but could only zip it about 1/3 of the way up.
  • sarahz5
    sarahz5 Posts: 1,363 Member
    That's wild. Good to know they work like that! :D

    I have been reading up on training for hills without hills. Hard intervals in lower gears, riding into wind, and strength training seem to be the main recommendations. I can do that!
  • glevinso
    glevinso Posts: 1,895 Member
    You get bored on flats? Oh boy. Get ready to be *really* bored at IMAC :)

    I did it as the full-distance Challenge race both years. Flat doesn't even begin to describe this course.

    I did enjoy the run on the boardwalk though. Lot's of fun, a great "easy" surface to run on and the locals are hilarious because they have no idea what is going on and get in everyone's way. You just have to laugh at it.
  • sarahz5
    sarahz5 Posts: 1,363 Member
    I know, it is not the most appealing race for me! But yes, if my friends jumped off a bridge... or a ferry... or the side of Bader Field....
  • sarahz5
    sarahz5 Posts: 1,363 Member
    And I look forward to using the human obstacles as an excuse for my run pace! ;)
  • glevinso
    glevinso Posts: 1,895 Member
    My wife and a bunch of my friends are racing IMAC so I will be there. Since it is 2 weeks before Ironman Maryland, that day is likely going to be my last big run. I'll probably have a 22mi run on my schedule for that morning which I intend to knock out really early on the boardwalk. Then I can get busy drinking all the beer so I can do my best impression of a local :)