The weather helped create perfect conditions for today's Columbia Triathlon. It was definitely the best I've seen in the four times I've done the race. Since I entered a new age group this year I got to wear an orange cap for the swim. This afforded me a later start than many of the MMTC guys I've trained with. I got to the park at about 6:15am so this made for a relatively laid back transition area set up.
I am usually pretty apprehensive about the swim not really for the water temp but just the open water experience. Because of that I tend to hang back at the start which was exactly what I did. I could feel my heart pumping out of my chest and I just could not get any kind of stroke going until the first bouy. Once I did, I really stayed far to the outside around the bouys since I find it really tough to sight breathing on the right as I do. I found many pockets of pretty cold water out there but my main dilemma was just swimming in a straight line. I'm sure I swam at least 1.2miles. I need to see if there is a waterproof GPS unit to truly see how far I swim.
Anyways, the final bouy and the shore eventually came into view and once again my heart rate was soaring as I went from a horizontal pull to vertical run. That's really a blood flow shift and I felt myself getting a little light-headed. I heard some friends calling my name but I'd did really see them. I think I heard Adam (my swim coach) and I was wishing I could have done a little better considering his time with our group. My swim was north of 40min....yuck! I have a little chair I sit on in the transition and things seemed to re-equilibrate enough for me to get out on the bike.
Exiting the park I heard a couple more friends shout my name and the cheers of "Go Mid-Maryland" were great as a result of wearing the club cycling jersey. I turned and waved as I exited the park as I heard a neighbor. On the bike, I know its about 7 miles of climbing before you can really start to hammer and so I just focused to get to that fun part. I passed a few and a few passed me from the women's 25-29yo wave just behind us. I really love the Columbia bike course since I think I know it pretty well and getting to High's would really start the fun part of the course. I play a little game to see if I can get up enough speed to hit that first hill after High's still in the large chain ring and I did it so the ride was going pretty well. Now it was time to just stay down on the aerobars and get in a rhythym. I played cat and mouse with a few people on the ride back. Overall, I had 17mph on my odometer so I was pleased with my bike but knew the swim had really drained a good part of my energy for the run.
As I started the run, I knew it was going to be very tough to do much more than 9-10min miles since my body was exhausted. Thanks to the Power Gels I was carrying to save me from really bonking. I had 3 of them in me by now. I had some Endurolytes on me but they popped out of my cycling jersey spilling on the road around mile 4. I wasn't cramping so I really didn't need them. I walked a little on some of the uphills and water stops but for the most part I didn't totally sieze up. Again, it was great comaraderie to have all the MMTC folks and Howard County Strider friends out there cheering you on and words of encouragement from duathlete Ken Fowler were greatly appreciated as he was running and biking all over the course. Re-entering the park down by the lake is a great feeling for me in this race since you can look across the water and see and hear the roar from the finish area so adrenalin kicks in to bring you home.
Crossing the finish, I high fived Vigo and received my medal. I started to see stars a bit after the effort so I just walked a bit and then found a chair. Man, I did another one of these things! I really appreciate the efforts of the MMTC volunteers to bring food and set up the tent at the finish. I had to make a fairly quick exit since I had to pick up my son in Fulton from a sleepover. On the ride there I called my teenage daughter and woke her up! It must be nice!!
In summary, I think the weather helped me to my best effort on the course so far and I had my finish (unofficially) in 3:19. Conquering the swim so I have energy left to run my best at the end is where I need to focus no doubt. My daily regime of 3-4 hour work commutes between
Reston and Columbia probably also took a bit of a toll on my training but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right! I also now have a suspiciously hickey like red mark on my neck from my wetsuit which has already drawn a few comments. ;)
It was great seeing you all out there and I look forward to the other race reports.