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Columbia Triathlon - TriathlonOlympic

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Ellicott City, Maryland
United States
The Columbia Triathlon Association Inc.
68F / 20C
Total Time = 2h 31m 32s
Overall Rank = 215/1640
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 36/220
Pre-race routine:

Up at 3am, thinking "this is supposed to be fun?". Out the door at 4am, arrived 4:45am. This was my first 'real' triathlon, apart from a small practice event with a pool swim a couple of weeks ago, so I was excited and apprehensive in equal measures, and both feelings increased as the start time approached. But I had a much better idea of what to do, thanks to all the good things I've learned on BT. And I was so happy to be taking part at all, having lost almost all winter bike/run training due to knee injuries; 6 weeks ago I wasn't sure that I was capable of running 5k. ... So feeling very thankful all around.
Event warmup:

This didn't really seem necessary, apart from a little splashing around in the water right before the swim start. Goal: just relax, don't panic (panicking did seem like an attractive option at that point).
  • 28m 57s
  • 1640 yards
  • 01m 46s / 100 yards

I was really worried about this part. I am a land mammal. I started swimming in Nov., and my one OWS practice a couple of weeks ago had been a humbling experience. I knew that if I could relax and avoid too many other bodies I would be less likely to panic. I deliberately waited at the back of the big M40-44 pack, and tried to stay wide for much of the swim. I still found the first few minutes quite disconcerting: my vision isn't so good at the best of times, and kept thinking that I was in clear-ish water, only to discover another body unexpectedly appearing out of the murk. But from the first turn onwards, I managed to stay relatively clear of traffic, and that helped me to get into a rhythm. I was swimming a bit wide, but the lines were so long that I don't imagine that it cost much distance. I started to feel comfortable, and to believe that I would make it ok. I may even have passed one or two people from my wave. I had no idea how fast I was swimming, but really didn't much care. Coming down the final stretch I made a special effort to avoid taking on water, remembering that this was where the high e.coli levels had been found that almost canceled the swim (yum!). Almost cramped coming out of the swim - why does that happen? Especially since I had been barely kicking at all. Really delighted to see that I had gone under 30 minutes on the swim.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing really. This was faster than my ambitious target, so I was quite happy. I just need to work on becoming a faster swimmer. This is clearly my main limiter right now - nobody who finished ahead of me in the AG had a slower swim. Need more lessons.
Transition 1
  • 04m 1s

I thought that the swim would be my weakest event, but it turns out that getting my kit off is an even greater weakness (990th overall). I thought it went pretty smoothly, but I guess that shows how little I know.
What would you do differently?:

Perhaps attempt getting out of the wetsuit before the race. And I'm sure there's much else that could shave off seconds here and there. Practice!
  • 1h 14m 2s
  • 25.48 miles
  • 20.65 mile/hr

A tale of two rides. The uphill parts, and the downhill parts (if there were any flat parts, I didn't notice them). I rather enjoyed the uphills, and I reeled in a lot of people on those sections. Fortunately there are a whole lot of them in the Columbia course. On the downhills some of the same people who I had passed going up would zoom past me; my 'relaxed geometry' road bike was no match for the mean machines that were flying past. Despite this, the ride went pretty well. I passed a lot of people, and I think only 2 in my AG passed me. One of the benefits of being a slow swimmer.) I had moved up to 75th in the AG by the end of the bike leg. ( I did my best to keep a lower position on the downhills, in order to minimize the losses, and this did help somewhat. My back quickly felt sore, and this became my main limiter. Probably partly due to the unaccustomed position (I should practice it more), and partly due to riding outside (almost all biking has been on the trainer since my collarbone break last July). I didn't eat or drink as much as I had planned to, but it was probably fine under the conditions. Overall quite pleased with my time for the hilly 41k, which was faster than my optimistic target.
Highlight of the ride: a turtle walking across the path of bike traffic around mile 24. Hope he made it to the other side.
What would you do differently?:

I was happy with how I handled the race. But more outside riding to strengthen the back would be helpful. As would a tri bike and some semblance of a decent aero position.
Transition 2
  • 01m 40s

Woohoo - I almost cracked the top 500 in T2 times.
  • 42m 53s
  • 6.21 miles
  • 06m 55s  min/mile

The Columbia run course is brutal. At least 7 substantial hills that sap your strength. But at least the run is supposed to be my strength. I wasn't sure what to expect, as I had not been able to run for 4 1/2 of the past 6 months, thanks to knee injuries, and I hadn't run this far since November. Still treating the knees with a lot of respect, especially on the downhills, but feeling good about the run-easy-every-day plan that I've been following for the past month. I felt quite good at the start of the run, but the steep hill that comes after just a few hundred yards soon took care of that. But at least I was passing people all the way, and that provided a big boost. At around the half-way point, going up the 4th of the 7 hills, I passed former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, who is in the same AG. We exchanged a few words -- too bad that we don't still have a triathlete as mayor. Each hill got progressively harder. I hadn't expected that stopping to walk would be an issue, but by the last couple of hills I was sorely tempted. I tried to pick up the pace a little in the last mile, but with about a half mile to go I felt the legs starting to cramp, and had to ease up a little. I felt great coming around the finishing chute, but I guess I must not have looked so great, as a number of people approached me with concerned looks on their face, expecting that I was about to keel over.
What would you do differently?:

I had hoped to run faster, but I hadn't reckoned with the difficulty of this course. And I was happy that the pace was still below 7 min/mile. More hills in practice might have helped, and it might be useful to have run as far as 10k in training, but I was delighted to be even doing this after all the knee problems of the past 6 months.
Post race
Warm down:

Wandered around in a daze for a while. Hoped to see some of the BTers who were surely there, but that didn't go very far, since I wasn't sure of what to look for (we need BT t-shirts!), and even if I was I didn't have my glasses. After retrieving my bike and loading the car I checked my messages and found out that Andrea and Zoe had made a surprise trip to come to see me finish. So sweet of them! Too bad that they got delayed on the race shuttle, and so they missed me finishing by around 20 minutes, and then we didn't meet up for another half hour after that. All the same, it was fantastic to see them there.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

So many things! But that's why this is just the first tri of many that I hope to do

Event comments:

This is a fantastic event. Not a race to set a PR on, since the bike and run are so tough, but it's a real test, and there's never a chance of getting bored. The race organization is outstanding. I can see why people keep coming back year after year. The volunteers were excellent, and the spectators surprisingly plentiful. The course is not easy, but it's also rather scenic.
The one thing that I missed was more information on the run. It shouldn't be too difficult to provide clear mile markers, and I wouldn't mind if there were race clocks at intermediate points (I know that we all have fancy wrist gadgetry ... but some of us can't read those without our glasses, and the mental arithmetic would help the miles to go by).

Last updated: 2011-01-01 12:00 AM
00:28:57 | 1640 yards | 01m 46s / 100yards
Age Group: 110/220
Overall: 730/1640
Performance: Good
Suit: XTerra Vector Pro
Course: Lake swim, long rectangle.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 71F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Below average
Time: 04:01
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
01:14:02 | 25.48 miles | 20.65 mile/hr
Age Group: 56/220
Overall: 250/1640
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: Rolling hills throughout, approx 1500' ascent.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:40
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Below average
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
00:42:53 | 06.21 miles | 06m 55s  min/mile
Age Group: 12/220
Overall: 93/1640
Performance: Average
Course: Hilly.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2011-05-22 2:17 PM

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University Park, MD
Subject: Columbia Triathlon

2011-05-22 2:49 PM
in reply to: #3512366

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Middle River, Maryland
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Columbia Triathlon

FOP in your first tri, which is an OLY????  You almost broke 2:30...that's awesome.  Great race and race report.

And congrats on being the first race report!

Edited by jmhpsu93 2011-05-22 2:50 PM
2011-05-23 10:40 AM
in reply to: #3512366

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Havertown, PA
Subject: RE: Columbia Triathlon

let me get this straight:

*you started swimming less than a year ago.

*this is your first tri

*you didn't run/bike train much over the winter due to injury

*you are on a road bike sans all the aero doodads

all this and you still dropped a 2:31 with a sub 7 run split on a very hilly course?  wow.  I smell a ton of natural talent!  great job!!  keep it's the limit for you.

2011-05-23 11:02 AM
in reply to: #3512366

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Malvern, PA
Subject: RE: Columbia Triathlon

Awesome race, especially for your first.  I always wonder if I am one of the faster riders out there using a "relaxed geometry" road bike, but I guess you've got me beat!  Am I the only one that smirks a bit when my beater passes somebody riding a $6000 tri bike?


Your swimming will get there - the fact that you were MOP and already under 30 minutes despite just starting swimming 6 months ago is impressive.

2011-05-23 11:45 AM
in reply to: #3512366

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2011-05-23 8:56 PM
in reply to: #3512366

Gloucestershire, England
Subject: RE: Columbia Triathlon

Great job !  Fantastic performance.

I'm glad it wasn't a 15k run or else you would have caught me.  Too bad we didn't meet up. Maybe at another event.


2011-05-24 7:14 AM
in reply to: #3512366

Reston, VA
Subject: RE: Columbia Triathlon
Congratulations on a very well paced and fast race!
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