This was my third Columbia Triathlon since getting back into tris after taking 12 years off. My goal was improve on my time from last year (2:19:58 – third place). I felt that my training was much better this year, so I should be able to improve. Placing would be a tougher task as the field was very competitive this year looking at the entry listing. Many top 10 Eagleman and Columbia finishers from 2007.
Not to get too far off track before the race results, but I want to explain some of my training techniques that I have developed since last year. From January 2006 till November 2007, I was a ‘train when I can’ type of person. Ended up being about 8-10 hours per week tops – all at night except weekends. Swimming was averaging 1 day a week at best at 2500-3000 meters, running was 2-3 times, but less than 20-25 miles, biking was 1-2 for about 75 miles. I kept no logs, no keeping track of times, HR, or anything. Not a good recipe for success. My running has always been my weak point, so after the Annapolis Tri in Sep 07, I decided to sign up for the JFK 50 to force myself to run a lot in the off season. I built my mileage up slowly to 50-55 miles per week from Sep to Nov. See posting on how the race went. But still I wasn’t getting much faster although my endurance was getting better. I did no stretching except for when I got a few small ailments after it was too late. I did basically no weight training, no core workouts. I decided that if I were serious about getting better, I had to incorporate weights and core training. So I purchased a CD called ‘the Runner Core’. It is designed for running specific exercises (of course they help with the swim and bike too). I realized I was running incorrectly, and was not utilizing certain muscles at all which are key to running (hip flexors and core). I turned to working out 6-7 days a week consistently, waking up just about every morning to get in my workouts, doubling up on certain weekdays, bricks and or long rides and runs on weekends. Started keeping a detailed log for 2008, monitor HR, the works. Now to the race.
Woke up about 4:30, got to the transition area around 5:15. Got all my transition gear unpacked as I was already packed the night before. Set up my glasses, helmet, socks, running shoes, towel. Then moved on to the swim start with my wet suit and goggles.
Swim: 20:41 (6)
Pretty uneventful except for the initial shock of the 61 degree water. But I numbed up quickly, and off we went. I was in the front of the line at the start as I usually am since I am a swimmer. There were a fair amount of crowds though, maybe just converging towards to small buoy way out there. I always choose a direct path to the buoy, and the rest seemed to be following the shore line. Oh well. By the time we get to the first left turn, there were still a bunch of people around me. I thought ‘maybe I’m not as fast this year’. But then by the time we made the second left and headed back I noticed no one was around me, and I saw a few different colored caps. Finished strong and came out of the water just next to another guy in my AG.
T1: 1:59 (4)
This year, part of my off season training included learning how to transition with my bike shoes attached to the bike. I succeeded and was very fast in transition. I did spend the extra 20 seconds to put my socks on because of potential blisters.
Bike: 1:06:23 (2)
I rocketed out of the transition, slipped my feet into my shoes, and sped off passing lots of people. I did not notice, but I passed 2 from my AG, and only one person passed me on the bike, and he won the masters category. I was passed at the end of the hill by Tridelphia Middle School. I kept him in my sights till near the end of the ride. When I turned right off of Linthicum back onto Tridelphia, I noticed my average pace was 22.0 mph. Wow. And I knew that the last 11 miles was much faster than the first 14. So I tried to keep my HR down and not over due it because the run was next.
T2: 0:50 (4)
I slipped my feet out of my shoes on 108, turned left into the park, lifted my leg over the seat, and started running seamlessly. Ran down the small hill, racked my bike, dumped the helmet, put on shoes, and off I went.
Run: 43:02 (12)
Usually when I push pretty hard on the bike, when I start running my legs feel heavy and slow. But this time, I felt fresh as ever, and started pounding down the trail to the first big hill. A major test of things to come. I kept my stride strong and moved up the hill and a dent pace, not to raise the HR too much. Not bad. I extended my stride a bit on the downhill to let gravity do its job. This continued for about 4 miles, passing lots of people, which never happens in the run for me. At around the 4 mile mark, I heard this sound getting closer and closer, a pound, pound, pound, but not a quick foot step sound, a slow one. About 20 seconds later this guy comes up next to me, he was in my AG. Damn I said. At this point I knew I was in first place not counting the master leader. He asked how many in front of me (meaning how many in our AG). I told him one, and he asked how far. I told him 1-2 minutes tops, and off he went as if he were out for a Sunday stroll. All the while I was starting to feel things. At the 5 mile mark, I slowed a little going up that last hill. Another guy from the AG ahead of me came up next to me and said ‘it’s all mental now, don’t give up, DO NOT GIVE UP’. So I pushed up the hill at his pace. Then we descended and started coming across the dam. At this point my HR must have been near 170, I was struggling to hold the sub 7 min pace. I took a look behind me as we made the final turn up the last small hill, and this guy started yelling out to me ‘DO NOT LOOK, DO NOT SLOW DOWN, ITS ALL MENTAL’ and kept saying it till we sprinted across the finish line together.
Overall: 2:12:54 (2)
Very pleased with the result, and I think I owe it all to my dedicated consistent, systematic training schedule. I hope to do just as well at Eagleman in 3 weeks.
Thanks to all the Mid Maryland volunteers, the food, tent, drinks, etc. I was looking forward to all the stories afterwards.