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Race Result

Racer: Tim Coulson
Race: Columbia Triathlon
Date: Sunday, May 22, 2005
Location: Columbia, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 40 - 44
Time: 2:38:10
Overall Place: 231 / 856
Age Group Place: 43 / 162
Comment: Smooth seas do not make Skillful Sailors

Race Report:

Many thanks to Bob, Sadj’s husband for being everywhere (T1, T2, finish) cheering me on (I assume he was cheering everyone on, but I felt like he was just cheering for me!) I think he put in more effort than I did on Sunday and he didn’t even race! Three cheers for all the volunteers out on the course and the Howard County Police for doing such a great job keeping us safe! Thanks to Kristin for the awesome spread, congratulations to all those who raced today, thanks to Vig for putting together a great race, and thanks to Princeton for keeping a watchful eye on our bikes.

This is the largest race (number of souls – not distance) I've done, and I was in the 5th wave, so abut half the race started before me. Based on these 2 factors, I expected congestion in the swim and the bike, but other than a few cars that got into the mix I ran into very little “racer traffic” on the course.

Taper week
Friday, May 13th – One hour run.
Saturday May 14th – Watch daughter’s soccer game, watch Poolesville Road Race, bike 35 miles.
Sunday May 15th – Watch daughter’s first triathlon, bike 35 miles.
Monday May 16th – Swim 1800 meters.
Tuesday May 17th – Ride Columbia course very easy on road bike with the Princeton gang. This is followed by a very scientific high carbohydrate intake of pizza and beer.
Wednesday May 18th – 2-mile walk with daughter and soccer ball.
Thursday May 19th – Half-hour on elliptical followed by 1800-meter swim.
Friday May 20th – 15-minute warm-up on trainer followed by 3-minute high intensity spin, 1-minute high intensity run, 3-minute high intensity spin, 1-minute high intensity run.

Race Day
4:45 AM – alarm goes off and I am up and surprisingly chipper for this time of the morning. Still think to self “Why am I doing this?” I enjoy mornings, but what I really enjoy about them is sleeping through them! Checked the thermometer on the deck and its already 60 degrees! Ate a bagel with cream cheese, a bit of fruit, and a hardboiled egg sans the yoke, washed down by a Diet Dr Pepper. Immediately start stressing out because I think I should eat more, but I forgot to buy oatmeal or bread, and I know barbecue Fritos are a bad idea. To ease the stress, I toast another bagel and slather in with peanut butter and jelly, wrap it in foil to eat sometime in the next couple of hours.

5:10 AM – on the road to Columbia from Rockville. It’s about a 40-minute drive to the park from my house, and as soon as I get on 270, I spot another racer headed that way. I meant to buy a nice big mylar balloon Saturday to tie to my rack, but of course that was just one more thing to forget. I stop at the Safeway off 29 in Burtonsville, but it turns out they don’t open until 6:00. Who woulda’ thunk? Contemplate stopping at McDonald’s but lucky for me they’re not open either.

5:55 – arrive at the park and wander down to transition with my stuff. Set up transition and head over to the MMTC tent. Kristin did an awesome job with the food and deserves many kudos for several sleepless nights and quite a wonderful menu!

6:50 AM – I have had luck riding the trainer before duathlons and running races, so I brought my road bike and spun on the trainer for a total of about 8 minutes. What a waste of time that was! I should have stayed down by the water and watched the other waves start!

7:31 AM
Goal – 31:00
Actual – 34:52
Age Place (40-44 male) – 126/161
Overall Place (male) – 701/856

Swimming is by far my weakest event. I have only done 2 open water swims prior to this race, the first being a half mile (June 2003) and the second being a mile and a half (February 2004). I got in the water (my heart is palpitating and my hands have turned clammy as I write this) and surprisingly felt pretty comfortable. The water did not feel cold to me, and my heart rate only got up to about 140 or 150! My strategy on the swim is to stay in the back off to the side out of everyone’s way. It worked pretty well. I swam the first 25-50 meters OK, but then started to get a little nervous and hyperventilate (more hypoxic sets in the pool may help this). I did a little breaststroke, then floated on my back for a bit, then tried again. This went on about halfway to the damn. At some point I got the idea that it would be really nice to walk for a bit, so I angled for the side (pretty much a 90 degree angle), and walked along chest deep in muck and lilypads a while. A spectator on the side asked me if I was all right, and of course I lied and told him I was just fine! I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to walk the whole swim course, so I ventured back out into the deep. More breast/back/freestyle, and I was around the corner headed up the straightway for home. I checked my watch – I’d been in the water for about 17 minutes. I figured only another 15 minutes of this aquatic hell and then it was time to have fun! There wasn’t much traffic at this point so I was able to get into a groove and actually swim! The leaders of the wave that started 8 minutes after me were now just starting to catch me. I think I actually swam the whole last third of the course with very little breast or back.

T1 – 2:38
Felt really good coming out of the water other than a minor cramp in my left calf, which I’d been feeling a bit on the swim. I was having a hard time getting to my zipper pull so I asked the guy next to me if he could help me out as we jogged up the chute. He consented then I helped him with his. Ain't it great when your competitors help you out!! Was able to jog through T1. My bike was real easy to find because it was all by itself. However I don’t recommend this strategy – get the balloon instead!

Goal – 1:15:00
Actual – 1:12:32
Rate – 21.0
Age Place (40-44 male) – 15/161
Overall Place (male) – 95/856

The bike was awesome! Since I broke no records in the swim I had lots of people to pass on the bike. All outdoor tri bike training this spring I had focused on staying aero on hills, both big and small! I think this really paid off because I was able to stay aero the entire course and spin relatively easily up ALL the hills. Knew the course fairly well having ridden it 4 times since October. Saw about 15-20 people throughout the ride with flats or other mechanical issues. Whenever I spotted an MMTC jersey I worked out this clever cheer of encouragement which I used the rest of the race – “Go Mid Maryland!” For future reference, if anyone else has come up with a better line please pass it this way.

A 15-year-old male (Andrew Yoder – finishing time 2:15:52) passed me somewhere on the hill coming up Green Bridge Road, so I pointed out this humbling fact to the other 2 old farts who were in my vicinity. This gave me a little motivation to work harder. Left calf starting to bother me a little more, but not affecting my performance. Coming back down to the circle at Folly Quarter Road, 2 of us got stuck behind a car that was stuck behind a landscaping truck pulling a trailer that was stuck behind some racers. This was a bit frustrating because I was forced to brake to bleed off the speed from the hill. Coming up to the light at Centennial Lane began removing feet from shoes. Started with the left, and the calf cramped so badly I had to hold my leg and now shoeless foot out from the bike to try and work the pain out. Somehow I was able to get it under control, and back down on top of the shoe. The right came out without incident. Clean dismount right before the line and a quick jog into T2.

T2 – 1:35
Felt good, and calf cramp not bothering me at all. Sat on my bucket slipped on my socks and shoes put on my visor and out the door.

Goal – 48:00
Actual – 46:34
Pace – 7:30
Age Place (40-44 male) – 33/161
Overall Place (male) – 192/856

Unrolled my number from my race belt. A little hungry so I dug for the Gu in my very inconveniently placed rear pocket in my DeSoto tri suit (I believe the new ones have side pockets - this one is in the back right above your vertical smile). Ate about half the Gu between the first long downhill and the first water station. Figured I’d had enough sugar for one day, so I tossed the rest in the garbage with my cup. Saw a bunch more MMTC jerseys so I was able to say, “Go Mid Maryland” a bunch. As I was running along Old Annapolis Road, right before you turn down the hill into the neighborhood, I saw Chip Warfel being shadowed quietly by Scott Fisher. These 2 guys were in my wave and were WAY ahead of me. I saw our award winning MMTC president Sadj bringing it in strong as we crossed over the dam.

Run was pretty uneventful – kept my heart rate to about 160-165 most of the way (don’t think my legs would let it get any higher). Can only recall seeing the 3 mile marker. Walked through 2 of the water stations so that I could actually get liquid down my throat rather than all over my shirt. Was able to kick at the end and bring it in pretty strong (at least it felt that way). It was really cool hearing your name over the PA as you come in the last 25 yards. Vig high-fived me as I came through. There were so many timing mats I was a little confused as to when to stop, but as luck would have it someone told me (he also wanted my timing chip). My goal time was 2:37 and I finished in 2:38:10 so I was pleased.