When I registered for this race, I had a goal of coming in under 3 hours. Then I had surgery on my foot in December. That obviously changed the goal. New goal- improve the swim and the bike, finish the race. Recovery from surgery went very well, but a very painful run at the Brick-n-pic made me more than a little nervous and reinforced my post-surgery goal.
Set up my transition area and headed over to the tent. When you have 1 ½ hours to wait for your start, being able to keep your bag with you and get ready nice and leisurely is such a great way to start the race as relaxed as possible. Thanks to all those working the tent to make that possible!
Goal: Stay strong and steady, not necessarily fast.
Since last season, I have worked very hard on stroke technique and thought I was capable of taking about 5 minutes off of my swim time from last year. Thanks to the frigid temps in Lake Anna last month, Centennial's water temp felt pretty comfortable. More importantly, no hyperventilating this year. I was able to keep a nice straight line to the first orange bouy, so I was pleased with that. Unfortunately, just before I got there, I received a swift kick in the jaw. I shook it off pretty quickly, but took a little longer to recover from the second kick in the head. My mask was knocked off my face, but I remembered to put it on under my swim cap so it didn’t go too far. It only took a minute to get the water out and reposition the mask. The rest of the swim was pretty uneventful. I was tired at points, but always felt strong enough to maintain my form. I knew better than to try to go “fast” because for me that just means bad form, lots of energy lost and not really getting anywhere. I finished feeling strong and very pleased - 5 minutes faster than last year!!
Always a little wobbly, but uneventful. I had to take a minute to dry off my glasses from the rain, but other than that, it was a pretty smooth transition.
Bike: 1:22:11 (18.5 mph)
Goal: I had a good ride last year, so I wasn’t really sure how much I would be able to improve upon it. I was hoping to maybe go from last year’s average of 17.2 mph to 17.8 mph.
I was nervous about the wet roads. I had new tires on my bike and was not prepared for that. I started the ride cautiously on 108 to get a feel for the road. The stronger swim made it easier (mentally) to take the time to do this. By Homewood Rd, I decided that the straightaways were ok as long as you stayed away from the paint lines. I tried to stay fairly aggressive on my aerobars, which was more adventurous than it sounds because I don’t really train that way. The traffic on the course during training rides makes me a little too nervous! Anyway, I pushed hard on the bike, but slowed way down for the traffic circles and turns. On the hills I tried to remember all of Bob’s great technique advice and maintain a steady effort. More frustrating than the wet roads was the number of people riding in the left part of the lane! I saw officials many times over the course of the ride. It would be interesting to see how many blocking penalties were given!
Overall, I felt like I went as strong as I could without completely frying my legs for the run. As I pulled into the park and looked at my bike computer, I was ecstatic – 6 ½ minutes (1.3 mph) faster than last year!
I felt like I was pretty quick through T2 – another racer even commented on how quick I was – but looking at the time, there is definitely room for improvement. I haven’t figured out a way to do this yet, but something to work on.
Run: 57:52 (9:19 min/mile)
Goal: Finish – nothing more!
After the great swim and bike, I went into the run very confident. I knew that I was at the mercy of my foot. I also knew that even if I was forced to walk up the hills (the most likely parts to inflict some serious pain in my foot), I would finish with a PR. Talk about taking some pressure off!
After the first couple of miles, I realized that if I just kept the run steady, I could actually reach that sub- 3 hour goal. So that’s exactly what I did. I slogged up the hills, kept it fairly comfortable everywhere else, and didn’t try to overdo anything on my foot. I also poured a little water over my head at each water stop to make sure I stayed cool, since I was out there running when the sun finally came out.
For better or worse, I am getting very good at mentally fighting through a race. This is one of the first races that I can remember not spending most of the race forcing positive thoughts. The great beginning helped, but the incredible support of so many people out there cheering along the run made it impossible to stop even if you wanted to (the Dunnigan and Travisano kids were screaming and jumping up and down just at the sight of a Mid-MD jersey – awesome!!) As if I needed any more motivation, I saw my husband and kids as I came across the dam, and my dad cheering at the finish. What else could anyone need?!
Finish Time: 2:56:10
This is my second time racing Columbia and it was a PR by 14 minutes, far better than I ever imagined! I had an incredible day. There is always room for improvement, but I can honestly say that I ran the best race that I could do for that day – always goal #1 for me! Thanks again to everyone that made it so great!