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Celebration Sprint Triathlon - TriathlonSprint

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Columbia, Maryland
United States
70F / 21C
Total Time = 1h 38m 26s
Overall Rank = 38/947
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 5/89
Pre-race routine:

Up at 3am, after struggling to sleep very much at all. The problem with a nice easy day before a race is that I'm just not as tired as I normally would be on a regular training day. And I don't normally do early nights. Out the door shortly after 4. There's something I really like about rolling up at the race site with lots of other racers while it's still dark. Adds to the sense of adventure. It was shaping up to be a really fine morning for this time of year in Maryland. Temps in the 60s at the start - it even felt a little chilly - and lower-than-normal humidity. Nice!
Event warmup:

That's what the swim is for. Just swam a few strokes to check that I was feeling comfortable in the water. First OWS without my wetsuit/floatie, so it was going to be a fairer test of how my swimming is coming along. Alas. At least I felt much more comfortable in the water than in my first OWS race a few weeks back, which was in the same lake for the Columbia Tri.
  • 23m 33s
  • 1094 yards
  • 02m 09s / 100 yards

I guess I learned here why the fishy types don't like wetsuit-legal swims, as it reduces the damage that they can inflict upon us non-fishy types. I was hoping to be competitive at this race, but the decent swimmers were so far gone by the time I left the water that this wasn't in the cards. But I didn't really know that until I got to pore over the results the next day.
Last time out at Columbia I waited at the back of the pack, worried about the mess of the start. Based on my better-than-expected swim in last week's Oly I decided to start further towards the front this time. The start turned out to be relatively tame, except that it was hard to see where we were going, because we were headed directly into the sun. So I just tried to ensure that there were swimmers on both my left and right, assuming that this would send me in roughly the right direction. My initial hopes of being more competitive soon faded, as I felt that I was struggling within the first couple of hundred yards. Without the wetsuit, this one didn't feel quite so good, and so I figured that it could be a long slog. After 300-400m I managed to settle down a little, and was able to focus on trying to maintain a moderately decent stroke for the return swim. I had really no idea how fast I was swimming (not very), or of how much ground I had lost on the better swimmers (a lot), and was simply happy to make it to the end.
What would you do differently?:

Not much that I could have done differently in the race. I just need to keep working on the swim -- a lot -- if I want to compete on the bike and run. I'm giving up too much time to the strong swimmers, and can't rely on reeling them back in on the run. I'm puzzled that my pace was so slow, as I've been swimming a whole lot faster in the pool without too much difficulty.
Transition 1
  • 02m 30s

The long run from the swim timing mats into T1 is good for getting my head around what I needed to do. With no wetsuit to mess with, this seemed more straightforward than usual. I felt faster, and that was partly true (16th AG, 164th OA), but I'm still losing a bunch of time here. Probably something to do with putting on the socks, shoes and glasses in transition.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, except that I need to practice more.
  • 49m 24s
  • 17.5 miles
  • 21.26 mile/hr

The bike leg covers about 70% of the hilly Columbia Tri Oly route, mostly in an out-and-back. That meant that we were going mostly uphill and mostly into a breeze on the way out; and then faster on the way back. As usual, it took a couple of miles for me to get my HR down after the excitement of the swim and T1. I managed to stay aero for most of the course, and appreciated the fact that I wasn't weaving through dense bike traffic as I had been in last week's Oly. My overall position was better than expected, but I had hoped for a bit more speed, and probably lost a chunk of that through some errors. In my quest to be as aero as possible I figured that leaving my race number flapping in the breeze behind me might not be so optimal, so I tried to move around my race belt, forgetting the "if it ain't broke ..." rule. Oops, the number ripped and now it was flapping like a kite at my side. Great. Wasted some more time scrunching it into a spot on my front where it wouldn't fly away. Then all went fine for a couple of miles, until we started on the return leg, and just as I was getting up to speed on a nice smooth downhill, a big SUV stopped in front of me to wait to turn left, leaving no room for me to pass on the right. I braked hard and yelled, but I wasn't going to stop in time, so I was forced to ride into the rocky ditch. Scenes of last summer's crash and collarbone break flashed through my head, and I was sure I would at least puncture in the ditch. But luckily I managed to just skid a little, unclip and come to a stop. I'm sure I lost some more time there, but I was so happy to be in one piece that I felt reenergized and was able to complete the rest of the ride fairly quickly and without further mishap. Nobody passed me on the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Repeat after me: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And stay well clear of SUVs. They just don't like me. I'm not sure whether I paced the bike right. Might have held a little too much in reserve. I need more practice riding hard on the tri bike, but I'm happy with how much more comfortable it feels after riding it for just a couple of weeks. And I probably shouldn't have wasted time fiddling with my shot bloks on the ride - I don't need the extra food in a race of this length. I was surprised how high I placed given the various errors. There's more time to be had on the bike.
Transition 2
  • 01m 35s

Relatively smooth and simple. I was happy to notice that there were very few bikes in the section of transition for my AG. That's better than I've seen before. But I also had less of a run to use to recoup my earlier losses.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. There still time to be gained here (268th OA), but it's getting better.
  • 21m 38s
  • 3.4 miles
  • 06m 22s  min/mile

The 3.4 mile run course mostly follows a rolling route around Centennial Lake, except for a tough mile in the middle that takes in a couple of mean hills. The first mile felt a bit rough, and like everybody else I was mostly thinking ahead to the hills in the middle. To my surprise, the hills didn't seem too bad, certainly not as grueling as when I ran them (and a number of additional hills) in the Columbia Tri a few weeks ago. Also, at around the 2 mile mark I felt an unexpected new burst of energy, and so I was able pick up the pace to close to 6 min/mile for the last 1.4 miles. I guess I must have misinterpreted how my legs felt early on in the run, as by the last mile I was feeling surprisingly comfortable, like I had held too much in reserve. Perhaps it was also due to the beautifully fresh morning -- I just haven't had a chance to run in those kind of conditions lately, and forgot how much better it feels to run without high heat and humidity. I passed a bunch of people on the run, but guessed that most of them were from earlier waves. I had little idea about my AG position during the run. What I learned from the results is that I only gained a couple of AG places on the run. Because I had given up too much time to the decent swimmers right at the start.
What would you do differently?:

I'm satisfied with the average pace, and it doesn't hurt that I was 1st in my AG by over a minute. But I think I probably mis-paced this one, and should have gone out faster. Although I do almost all of my running after biking and swimming these days, I'm still learning the feel of starting the run in a race.
Post race
Warm down:

I felt surprisingly fresh almost immediately afterwards. So I also felt a bit guilty, as if I hadn't tried hard enough. But I was happy with my time overall - it was at the top end of the range that I had been targeting. The awards in this race went down to 5th in each AG, and so I managed to snag the last of those awards. That was nice, but it was a bit misleading, as I was really the 7th finisher in my AG, as two guys received higher awards. I was about half a minute behind the 'official' 3rd and 4th finishers - I guess there simply wasn't enough run distance for me to make up for what I had lost earlier.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Apart from pace judgment and the minor mishaps on the bike leg, I guess this was a fair test of where I stand now. When the run takes less time than the swim (for me, at least), and less than half of the time of the bike, then it highlights how I'm doing as a triathlete, rather than as a runner who dabbles in triathlons. This served as a good reminder that I have to take the first two legs seriously, as I'm giving up just too much time then. Especially on the swim. At last week's Oly (wetsuit legal) I gave up just 3-4 minutes on the fastest swimmers in my AG over 1500m, but this week (no wetsuit) I gave up 7-8 minutes over just 1000m. That's just too much. I guess that's a double serving of motivation to continue swimming with the masters group. My only remaining tri this season is a HIM, which is more runner-biased. But this race is the stark reminder that I need. ... But at the same time, I'm so happy to be in this situation. Just to be racing and thinking about how to be competitive for the first time in 20 years is fantastic! And it can't be all that bad that my #1 weakness is something that can definitely be addressed.

Event comments:

Another excellent event from Bob Vigorito's team, now in its second year. Attracts a wide range of triathletes, and certainly beginner-friendly. The course is no cake-walk, though. I agree with others that it's too bad that the turnout wasn't higher (just shy of 1000), as it was a stunning day, and a fine event. I guess it's unclear what niche this race fits into. It doesn't have the draw for seasoned triathletes that TriColumbia's big races have (Columbia Tri, Eagleman), and it's certainly on the tougher end of the scale relative to other sprint tris, with the 1000m swim, hilly bike course, and mean mile in the middle of the run. I plan to be back, though.

Last updated: 2011-01-01 12:00 AM
00:23:33 | 1094 yards | 02m 09s / 100yards
Age Group: 28/89
Overall: 344/947
Performance: Average
Suit: none
Course: Out and back in lake.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 85F / 29C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:30
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
00:49:24 | 17.5 miles | 21.26 mile/hr
Age Group: 3/89
Overall: 18/947
Performance: Average
Wind: Little
Course: Relatively hilly out-and-back on country roads.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 01:35
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
00:21:38 | 03.4 miles | 06m 22s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/89
Overall: 12/947
Performance: Average
Course: Undulating path around lake, plus a tough mile in the middle with a couple of challenging hills.
Keeping cool Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
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

2011-06-28 10:21 AM

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University Park, MD
Subject: Celebration Sprint Triathlon

2011-06-28 12:31 PM
in reply to: #3570896

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Middle River, Maryland
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Celebration Sprint Triathlon

Great race and an excellent race report, Colin.  I like your analytical approach and examination of your race details.

Top 5 is no slouch...especially in that age group.  Awesome job.

2011-06-30 9:12 PM
in reply to: #3570896

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Crab Cake City
Subject: RE: Celebration Sprint Triathlon
good job colin, those are really good times for that course. keep up the good work.
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