23 May, 2010

Columbia Triathlon 2010 Race Report

Category: Racing,Triathlon — Moose @ 9:11 pm

The day started with a bit of lightning.

A storm moving through the area woke me a bit earlier than planned, so I went ahead and got up around 2:30 to start getting ready. Got the car loaded up and took a slower than usual and much, much wetter than usual drive through the storm system up to the race site, where we parked on a sort-of grassy-sort-of-muddy field. Grabbed the one bag, got it down there and unpacked, took it back to the car, then brought back the pump to inflate my tires, then back to the car and off to the club tent from there. Got there with oodles of time to spare, so was very glad I had my portable chair for under the tent. The rain continued as we lead up to the swim start, and the weather report was threatening more as the whole race went on.

The water was particularly muddy once we got in, lots of feet having churned up the start area, so the beginning of the swim was like plunging into utter darkness. Where normal lake water lets you see to a little bit past your hands, this seemed to cut off around the elbows. It cleared up after a short bit, but it was a freaky way to start a swim, even for someone used to doing open water swims.

Only managed to get kicked once, going around a buoy. Otherwise I did fairly well with a steady-ish pace. Did tend to pull to one side or the other, and couldn’t quite get into my head which way I was pulling at any given time. In any case, the steadyish pace paid off in terms of coming out of the water not completely sapped of energy, and with a swim PR for the Olympic distance, 32:54.

The bike. Lord, what a mess. It was cold and wet, and as I believe I’ve observed before, drizzle stings at 20+ miles per hour. I had determined based on the rainy conditions that I’d focus on the swim and run and let the bike fall where it would. I did try to use downhills to the extent I could, and I suspect most other age groupers were riding fairly conservatively as well. Only one freakout moment, where a guy I was pacing down a hill veered suddenly off to the left in front of me (and I suspect may have gone down – someone did around that area), leading to a bit of “holy shit” on my part. Made it through okay, and the rest of the ride was without incident.

As I came up toward the end I glanced down at my time to see how I was doing, and was quite surprised to see that I was coming in faster than my previous top bike time on this course, and a good bit faster than I’d rode it in practice a few weeks earlier. Got a huge grin on my face and started laughing as I came up to the final turn, then into transition and another PR, though only for this course, 1:26:56, about 9 minutes faster than my previous best, though not as quick as the very flat Nations course. Still, I came into transition feeling pretty darned good.

The run out went pretty well, keeping a relatively quick pace for the first mile as the rain died out (not to return during the run), then gradually slowing with some walks on most uphills. Ran every downhill on the course, keeping to my new mantra courtesy Ken Mierke – “downhills are free speed” (use it on the bike, too, but learned it in the run context). I need to practice hills more, but as I came up to mile 5 I realized I could take almost 18 minutes to finish the last 1.2 miles and still meet my prior run score. Final score, another Olympic distance PR: 1:03:52.

Finished the entire race in 3:12:52. Overall, I shaved 21 minutes off my previous PR at the Columbia course, and about 4.5 minutes off my previous Olympic distance PR at Nations last fall. Completely not what I had been expecting out of this race, but I’ll take it!

This means so far I’m three for three this year for PRs at the distances I’ve gone. Barring a DNF next month at Eagleman I know I’ll PR there as well (simply because I was so unprepared for Diamondman that I have to do better than finishing third from last!). Pretty good way to spend this race season, I have to say.

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