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Race Result

Racer: Stephen Levickas
Race: Columbia Triathlon
Date: Sunday, May 22, 2011
Location: Columbia, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 40 - 44
Time: 2:09:54
Overall Place: 33 / 1630
Age Group Place: 2 / 180
Comment: Super competitive beautiful day, great race, PR!!

Race Report:

I’ll tri to make this short (get it!), but probably won’t. Let me start by saying thank you to all those who support my efforts in triathlon – my wife Bridget, kids Kelsey and Kyle, coach Mike Matney, my super stud training partner Ben Winterroth and most recent Kona spot earner, my newest up and coming training partner Shawn Young, who is on track to join Ben in Kona, and all my other friends who share in the great sport of triathlon.

After racing Kona in 2010, I wanted to spend the winter focusing on the basics, getting healthy and fine tuning all three disciplines. Things were going well into November (I had bought a mountain bike to do some cross training during the winter) when I broke my left pinky on my 3rd mtb ride. Ouch! Had to get pins to extend the finger to length. Six weeks later the pins came out. So I ended up out of the pool for eight weeks, hardly any outdoor training at all, limited weights. The biggest struggle was that I had rotator cuff issues going into the 2010 summer, but managed to get through IMLV and Kona simply by cutting back volume and intensity along with lots of PT work. So I thought maybe 8 weeks of resting the shoulder would actually help me. But not the case. I had an MRI to find out I have a frayed labrum. I got a cortisone shot in early February and started swimming again. Boy does taking that much time off feel bad. It took close to 3 months to get back up to the pace I was before the shoulder started hurting. Good news was that the cortisone seemed to be working. With the finger and shoulder fixed there were no excuses left, just a lot of hard work.

With all the rain and cold weather, and being very tired of the trainer, I finally started cycling outside regularly around the end of April. The normal 4:30am rides in the dark were a welcome change.

I decided to do the home stay for a pro athlete this year. So I was matched up with David Kahn, a 70.3 pro, and ranked 10th in the world. David was great to have around. We both talked more triathlon in a single weekend than ever before. That was cool as most folks we triathletes encounter in life just don’t understand us.

Thursday before dark, I took David for a tour of the course. Then Friday, David and I went to the pool for a quick swim, and then registered. David decided to ride the lollipop loop of the bike course while I did my short ride and run at home. Dropped bike off Saturday, but not before a minor hiccup. While cleaning my bike Saturday morning I noticed a large half inch gash in my rear tire, but it wasn’t flat. So I changed it with a spare that I thought was new. An hour later getting ready for transport the tire was flat. So I quickly replaced it with a new one this time. There goes 2 tubular tires…Ate dinner early as usual. Ben Winterroth came over to join us. Thanks to my wife Bridget for all the usual great food while showing David the ropes around Columbia. The race…

Swim: 20:31 (4/180 AG, 55/1630 overall)

Got up at 4:30am. I never eat anything before exercise, training or racing. I don’t want to risk any GI issues. The time went fast this year standing around waiting. My new AG wave went off at 7:26. It was nice hanging out with all those MMTC members chatting – sorry too many to name all. The announcer said my AG was the largest in the field, but the results say differently – 2nd largest behind 40-44. There were 6 people in my new age group this year that I know are really fast, so that meant one of us was not going to make it to the podium. I was determined not to be that person. Once in the water, based on the advice of my coach, Mike Matney, I found Geoff Irwin, the winner in 2010, and one of the fastest swimmers. The goal was to let Geoff do all the work sighting, and I would just draft away. It ended up there were 4 or 5 of us very close together pretty much the whole way. The first 2 turns were hard to see based on the glare from the sun. It went out I little hard, but quickly decided that I wasn’t going to burn up even it meant losing those guys. I settled into a long smooth stroke keeping all the competition in sight the whole way. It didn’t feel that fast, so I was happy to find out I missed a PR by 11 seconds.

T1: 1:59

In transition, stripped off the wetsuit quickly, put on socks and helmet, and ran off. I took Mike Barone’s advice and taped my glasses to the handle bars. That worked like a charm – thanks Mike. The eventual winner of my age group, Mike Llerandi, was at his bike when I get there – he was directly next to me! And I know he is a stud. But I was able to beat him out of transition by a couple seconds.

Bike: 1:04:39 (23.6 mph) (2/180 AG, 30/1630 overall)

I trained on this course many times leading up to the race. I really think that makes a big difference in this race. Once on the course, about one mile in, Mike came moving past me, not too fast, just steady. I thought, there he goes. My HR was under control as I did not over-exert during the swim. So I just kept moving forward at a comfortable pace. Mike took off down the hill on Homewood. On the first long uphill, I noticed I was gaining on Mike, and passed him early on the uphill. He had a disk so maybe the disk was weighing him down?? I kept a fast cadence pretty much the whole time, especially on the uphills, shifting down to the small chain ring as needed (more advice from coach Mike). I moved steady all the way up to Rt 32 where I noticed I was averaging about 24.2 mph. Wow, that was fast, I hope not too fast. So I maintained a constant spin and can’t remember ever getting leg burn. At this point, I thought I was in first place. On Linthicum I came up on Geoff Irwin. Holy cow, he got out of transition fast. We traded passed each other a couple times, then I slowly took the lead for good once on Tridelphia pointing home. There was one very scary moment at this point. Two big pick-up trucks were moving slowly down the road in front of us. I was leading screaming ‘pass on the right’, but their window was up. There was barely enough room to pass, and when they slowed I made my move passed one truck. Then tried it with the second and as I was half way passed, the road shoulder disappeared and I was off the road in this little dirt groove. I jammed it, passed the truck and popped back onto the road. Scary and stupid, yes. This would be the worst thing about this race – narrow roads with lots of bikes and some cars. Most riders were decent about sticking to the right, but I had to pass by crossing the yellow line a couple times screaming ‘on the left’ a lot. Some riders were just in the middle of the road with no one around them. I decided to back off that 24+mph ave the last 2 hills, then turning onto Rt 108 thought this will boost my average, being mostly downhill. But there was a slight head wind explaining why the way out was so fast. Headed into the park slipping out of my shoes. There was a crowd stopped at the finish. I had to make this narrow escape without slowing down and flew into transition. PR on the bike.

T2: 0:59

2nd fastest T2 in AG. I can do better too. I racked my bike with the seat on the bar, and for some reason felt I had to return it in the same position, so it cost me 5 or so seconds turning the bike around and hanging the seat up.

The Run: 41:47 (6:44 mpm) (7/180 AG, 73/1630 overall)

As I sprinted out of transition all I could think about was don’t blow up. I quickly got my cadence turning, and was fortunate not to have the heavy legs from the bike. Backing off those last few miles of the bike were paying off. As I moved around the lake, I tried to keep the HR under control. I know I was pressing it pretty high, just thinking about the cadence. It was getting hot, and I missed a couple water stations along the way due to people slowing down in front and getting in the way. At around 2.5 miles, Mike passed me as I figured he would, but would anyone else? I looked at my watch at the 5k mark and figured I was somewhere around 21 minutes. At the 4 mile mark I saw 1:45 on the watch. 15 minutes for 2.2 miles. Could a 2:10 happen? Over the last hill past mile 5 I wasn’t looking at the clock or behind me. The execution of a perfect plan was working. Once on the flats and across the dam I lengthened my stride keeping the turnover. Almost a PR for any 10k run, and to find out Mark Yost and I had virtually the same time was amazing (I know you weren’t 100% Mark, but that’s the only way I will keep up with you). Finished strong in 2:09:54 for second place. A PR by 3 minutes. Wow – what a fast age group. Who would have thought there would be so many of us aging men bunched so close together. I can’t believe a 2:13 on this course in this age group did not get on the podium…

Nutrition: Gels before the race, one bottle mixed with Endurox for the bike which I finished and replaced with a water at the second water stop. I was unusually thirsty for such a short ride. Water where I could get it and part of a gel on the run. Sodium, potassium and ATP on the bike.