Three Keys To Racing Rev3 Portland
by coach Ben Greenfield ( )

Are you racing the Rev3 Portland triathlon?

If so, by now you’ve probably seen the Rev3 Portland Athlete Guide ( ), made your travel plans and completed most of your pre-race training.

But in these last few days leading up to the race, you can still guarantee success 1) generating a race plan; 2) tapering your body properly and 3) racing smart. So in this article, you’re going to get the inside scoop on these three keys to racing Rev3 Portland.

Key 1) Generate a race plan.

There should be two primary aspects to your Rev3Portland race plan: A) fueling and B) pacing.

A) Fueling. In contrast to a Sprint or Olympic distance triathlon, the Rev3 Portland is a Half-Ironman, which means that your body simply does not have enough storage carbohydrate to complete the race, and will need extra fuel early and often.

You probably already know your personal fueling likes and dislikes, and you should never try anything in the race that you haven’t already tried in training. Since the race is coming up soon, rather than giving you the “ideal” Half-Ironman fueling plan I give to the athletes I coach, I’m going to review the three pillars of fueling Rev3:

Fueling Pillar One: Eat Carbohydrates. Keep a race clock running during the entire event and fuel according to the clock. For example, on the Rev3 bike course, I’ll be eating a gel every 20 minutes, and a small amount of solid food at the end of each hour, and I will be a slave to that clock on the bike. During the run, I’ll grab aid station carbohydrates as close as possible to the 3, 6 and 9 mile mark.

Fueling Pillar Two: Drink Water. By the time you get thirsty on the bike, you’ll have already lost about 2% body weight, and dehydration sets in at 3% body weight loss. So be careful about simply using your thirst to dictate hydrating needs. Instead, try to consume about 24-28 ounces of water per hour on the bike and 15-20 ounces of water per hour on the run. If it’s hotter, which Portland likely will be in mid-July, you may need more. Keep close track of how much you drink, as excessive water intake can be just as dangerous and debilitating as not enough!

Fueling Pillar Three: Consume Salts. Gels have some amounts of electrolyte salts in them, but typically not enough to support hot weather racing. I personally use electrolyte capsules every 30 minutes, and you may find that capsules, effervescent tablets, or sports drink works best for you. Regardless of what you choose, don’t forget this important pillar on race day.

B) Pacing. Once again, in contrast to Sprint and Olympic distance racing, you can’t simply “red-line” Rev3 Portland and expect to make it to the finish line. Swimming too hard can leave you exhausted early in the bike, and riding too hard can leave you with no legs to run.

The Rev3 Portland course will be flat and fast. During the single loop swim, try to focus on a steady, consistent arm turnover. Without ocean chop to fight, sighting should be much easier, the swimming will be less technical, and since most swimmers will be “swimming straight”, you may want to consider planning a drafting strategy on the swim – following close to the feet or the hips.

On the bike course, your planning should consist of knowing the speed, power or heart rate zone at which you’ve been able to do your long intervals or longer bike rides, and try to stay inside that zone, without letting other cyclists dictate your pace or push you outside the intensity at which you know you’re able to consistently maintain. Since there will be very few climbs on this course, you should rarely be exceeding your “threshold” on the bike (the point at which the legs start to get rubbery and you begin to breathe very deep and hard).

Finally, the best half-marathon pacing strategy is one in which you do not go out too hard too early, but instead, gradually build into intensity, so that by the time you get to the half-way point of the Rev3 run course, you feel like you are able to pick up the intensity and push the pace to the finish line. This will help you avoid the opposite scenario: going out too hard and walking to the Rev3 Portland finish line! On this flat, out-and-back run course with no hills to climb, you can focus on fast feet turnover and a relaxed upper body.

Key 2) Taper

During the last 5-10 days leading up to Rev3 Portland, your body will need rest, recovery and a chance to absorb all the fitness you’ve built during your training. If this is your first Half-Ironman, plan on resting longer than you typically do for a Sprint or Olympic distance race.

Although you can continue to do workouts every day leading up to the race, they should be very short and mostly easy, but include just a few bursts of intensity up to or slightly above race pace. For example, you might swim 10-15 minutes, ride 20-25 minutes and run 10-15 minutes on any given day. If you’re tapering while in Portland, there are many open roads and flat, easy areas to ride around the Blue Lake area where Rev3 will take place.

Also, try to take at least one day of Rev3 Portland race week completely off, and aside from your workouts, try to stay off your feet as much as possible for those last 2-3 days before the big race. In contrast to Sprint or Olympic racing, in which you might be able to push through leg fatigue, a Half-Ironman will definitely make you feel an “inadequate” taper. Fortunately, Portland has a large number of fantastic coffee shops for you to chill and relax while you taper!

Just follow this simple rule: it’s better to go into a race 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained.

Key 3) Race Smart

Earlier in this article, I mentioned that you may want to consider drafting on the swim, but you’ll want to do just the opposite on the Rev3 Portland bike course! Since there are no hills on this course to break up the crowd of cyclists, it is likely that small packs of riders will form, in which cyclists may be clumped together close than the three bike length rule.

Racing smart means racing legally! Rather than getting caught up in a pack and risking a drafting penalty that will affect your race time, make you an unhappy camper, and leave you feeling guilty at the finish line, instead pay close attention to the riders in front of you and coming up behind you. If you are overtaken, make sure you drop out of the draft zone before attempting a re-pass, and don’t get caught up in an ego-fest of passing and re-passing. Stick to your pacing plan, and don’t get caught up in a crowd.

Racing smart is related to the other two keys in this article, since it also means reviewing your Rev3 Portland fueling and pacing plan several times during the last few days leading up to the race, sticking to that plan during the race, and avoiding the temptation to go out and do hard workouts during your taper.

So keep your thinking cap on during race week and race day, and Rev3 Portland will be a fantastic experience for you!