I skipped Columbia last year and had made pretty good gains in my swimming and running since then, so I was looking forward to this year's race. I'm peaking only once this year, for Iron Girl, so I'm still in my base phase, but lately work has gotten in the way and I haven't been as consistent as I'd like. Still, I wasn't too worried about the race and was going to just do my best. About a week before the race my husband asked what my finishing time was going to be. I did Columbia in 3:21 two years ago, and I figured I'd do each a leg a couple minutes faster, so I told him probably 3:15. He then said, "No, I think you'll do 10 minutes better than before. You WILL do 10 minutes better. You will do 3:10." Then he did one of those repeat-after-me things and I humored him.
We hosted a pro this year (James Duff), who was so laid back about the race, it rubbed off on me and I didn't worry at all about the race. I was less prepared about nutrition than usual, since I got a new tri bike with only one water bottle holder. I usually do one water and one Infinit. I'm still trying to decide what hydration system to buy, so I went with just water in the bottle and Gu Chomps.
Race morning I waited to lead James to the park since he had a last-minute adjustment to his bike in the morning (they let the pros rack their sweet rides on race morning), and we made it to the park at about 5:20 , which was plenty of time. After racking, I hung out at the tent and talked to Gwen until our early 4th wave. I know lots of you want earlier waves, but please let mine stay where it's at!
I have worked hard on the swim this year, and although my pool times are dropping, it sure didn't reflect in my swim time. It was the same. I have been a bit more aggressive in my start position, so I went in the middle of the group. The washing machine was just so fascinating! I was amazed that it went on so long and I felt like a dispassionate observer of the whole thing, The next thing I knew, we were at the first turn. Then the group left me between the first and second turns. Dang. I should've pushed it there and caught some feet, but didn't. I ended up drafting someone who was probably going too slow for me, because it felt way too easy. Lesson learned.
One stubborn wet suit leg and a little too much time putting on socks.
I wasn't sure how much my new TT bike would help on such a hilly course, but I was excited about it. I got an excellent bike fit from MIke Stone and felt pretty good on it. My previous time was 1:36, but I purposely took it a little easy on that race since I was doing a pacing experiment for Eagleman that year. Still, 6 minutes improvement is pretty good and I felt good about using a higher cadence on the hills and saving my legs. The last half of the bike is when I started thinking about that 3:10 and pushed just that little bit much harder for it. I was running out of water near the traffic circle and took a hand-up that I chugged and tossed back the rest before entering the circle. I was trying to eat the Gu Chomps regularly, but it turned out I only ate about half what I planned. I stopped eating them, and stopped drinking water, about 15 minutes before the bike finish because I like my stomach to be really settled before the run.
Nothing special to report here.
Started easy, took the first hill slow while getting my running legs back. Even though it was slow warming up my legs, I knew right away I'd have a decent run because I was able to keep a good cadence. I was surprised at the first mile that I was doing a 10 minute pace because I was taking it relatively easy on the hill. I took a Gu at the first water stop and my legs were all warmed up and ready to take on the long climb. I tried to turn some focus away from me and keep it more external, so I was watching for MMTC'ers and generally trying to remind myself that I was blessed to be able to do this at all and on such a beautiful day. Though the beautiful day was getting hotter! I drank until my stomach started to slosh a little more than I like, and the ice cubes felt really good! Toward the end of the neighborhood, my legs started getting heavier, though my breathing was just fine. I had half of another Gu. In the last half, that 3:10 kept popping up in my mind, and I kept pushing the pace to make sure I made it. I sped up on the downhills in the last mile and a half, but kept it within reason, remembering how I got a hamstring cramp the last Iron Girl from pushing the downhill too hard and getting passed by someone in my AG while I limped. Gatorade Hill is indeed a long haul, but that dang finishing hill gets harder every race. My legs were totally spent by then and I was very happy to be finishing! My run time was 4 minutes faster than two years ago, I beat my husband's mandated time, and I PR'd the distance!
A big thank you to the volunteers at the club tent! I really appreciated the time you spent for us on Sunday.
My big take-away this race is to be very careful choosing my time goal for a race. While I do not choose goals that are unattainable, I need to make them more of a stretch. Having that time in your head really does help during the race to motivate you to push harder than you might otherwise. Now I'm looking forward to my catered training day at the Blackwater Duathlon and to the rest of my racing calendar!