I had so many emotions about doing my first Columbia Tri: excitement and nerves all mixed in! I was mostly nervous about biking such a challenging course in the rain. Also my wave was going off an hour and a half after the pros -- I wondered if it would be discouraging being on the bike when most everyone else would be done with the race. As most of you know, I did my first triathlon not quite a year ago. Prior to that I did not know how to bike or swim and had just recently started running. So for a novice like me, the CT course is quite rigorous. I still want to be able to use my “newbie” status.
My goals for this race: enjoy every minute of it, not finish absolutely wiped out, bike pace 15 mph, run pace 10:00 min/mile and overall race under 3:45 (in my head I thought if everything was perfect, I could shoot for a 3:30 time but with the rain, I was not holding my breath).
I changed a few things in preparation for this race: nutrition, pacing, training (volume, consistency and intensity)…actually guess I changed quite a bit!
Despite the pouring rain, I was very calm race morning. I was mostly excited to be doing another race on home turf! I woke early, had a cup of coffee and headed out. Since I was in the last wave before the relayers, I did not eat first thing in the morning. One advantage to being in such a late wave was that I was not rushed at all. After setting up my simplified transition area (thanks, Mark), I helped a friend of Terry’s who was doing his first tri. I ate a small banana while in the transition area. Over to the wonderful club tent (thanks Sandi & Company) to relax and socialize. Ate half a protein bar. I thought the morning would drag by but before I knew it, it was time to get in the water.
The swim had the most contact I have experienced thus far. Nothing specific but definitely felt a little beat up. I also went a little off course, nothing major. I was just in a rhythm swimming and then as I was swimming on the back side of the course, past the swim start, I heard them announcing that Andrew Yoder was the winner! I got a little distracted thinking that he was done and I hadn’t even gotten out of the water yet!
T1 (4:11)…was a mess. Stuff was all over my transition area. I had to take an extra few seconds to refocus.
Bike: 1:38:29 (15.5 mph)
Started out easy, spinning it out on Rt 108 (Thanks, Jelly!). I just focused on staying steady and strong. Last season I had a problem with my chain dropping every time I put it in the big ring in front. Finally got that fixed after 3 trips in to Princeton, but this season, I was having a problem with the chain slipping when in the easy gears in the back. Took it in just before CT so I was hoping it was fixed. No such luck. It was very frustrating not to be able to use the smaller gears on some of the climbs. I subscribe to Jelly’s “high cadence, spin it out on the hills” theory, so loss of the lowest few gears was going to make the climbs more challenging. Believe it or not, I was so happy to see Greenbridge, I forgot about my gearing problem and when I tried to put it in the easiest gears, I couldn’t get it into any gear. It kept slipping. This was the first time I talked to my bike saying: “Come on, Baby, just get me up this hill. Don’t fail me now“…and she didn’t! (By the way, the reason I was so happy to see Greenbridge was that the hardest hill for me is the one right after the winding descent by the reservoir. So with the rain and the hill, I knew I would be going slower downhill which would hurt my momentum on the hard climb. Once I got to Greenbridge, I knew the hardest part was over.)
It was absolutely wonderful to see Aldona, Linda and Kristin at the Ten Oaks Circle. I so appreciate you staying out there for such a LONG time, despite the weather. You all made me feel like a rock star! And I can’t believe you were still there as I came back through. I gave you my best smile and princess wave!!
As I was coming back on Rt 108, I remembered more of Jelly’s advice. There is no need to kill it on 108 coming back…spin it out and save your legs for the run. As I was on Rt 108 I was amazed at how quickly the bike portion went by. I had stuck with my nutrition plan and had a bottle of HEED while on the bike.
T2 (3:41)… even worse of a mess. Found my race belt two transition areas over, I took some time to dry my feet off a bit and I broke my hair tie so had to redo my ponytail. Thought I was a bit quicker than I was but there’s much room for improvement here.
Run 1:00:47 (9:48 pace)
It was fun to hear Chip yelling at me as I was coming out of transition. He asked what time I had according to my watch and then he yelled some ridiculous time he wanted me to do the run in…I just smiled and gave him the thumbs up (as opposed to the less lady like gesture that popped into my head). I plowed into some lady in front of me who stopped suddenly because she forgot something in transition. Lost my momentum for a brief second making sure she was okay but I then plowed on (pun intended). I took a bit of gel and water on the beginning of the run. The entire first mile my legs felt like lead. I am attributing some of it to the grinding on the hills that I had to do because of the technical difficulties with the bike. I kept trying to hold a steady, albeit slow, pace. After making it up that 1st hill without stopping (thanks Heidi for being there and yelling words of encouragement) and making it down the back side of the hill, I thought my legs would loosen up…no such luck. Was getting a bit nervous, wondering if I could keep running with cement like legs. Somewhere before Gatorade hill, they finally loosened up. I was able to continue to gradually pick my pace up. It was wonderful to see familiar faces along the run. I felt surprisingly good during the run and I was able to save just enough for a kick the last ½ mile. I had looked at my Garmin at the 5k mark and then at the finish -- best part of the race for me was that I negatively split the run on such a challenging course (my pace was over 15 seconds per mile faster on the back 5k versus the first 5k)!!
So I hit all my goals for the day, even the “shoot high” goal of doing it in under 3:30. I am so thankful for such a wonderful club -- the support, advice and friendship have been unbelievable! You are all responsible for my transformation from “zero to triathlete.” And now Mike B. has officially pulled my newbie card...