Family commitments (and lack of training volume) in prior years make this my first Columbia tri. I've been excited to do the race for a while, since we live so close and I ride the course (or parts of it) all the time...
I had been really working on my swim, so was very disappointed in this time--2:34 slower than Savageman 30 last year. I had expected to shave 1.5-2min off that time, but I had a lot of trouble locating the first orange turn buoy--this left me tentative in my swimming. It seemed there were a lot of lost people around me, so that didn't help. A suggestion for the newbies (that we all should take)--look at the swim course before you start! I thought because I did Celebrating Heroes twice I would know where to go, but I was dead wrong about that...
T1 - 3:11
I came out of the swim mad and seeing empty bike racks around didn't make it any better. So there was a bit of fumbling with the wetsuit, but overall, this wasn't too bad, although it easily could be 30 sec faster.
Bike - 1:12:23 20.7mph avg 218/1511
I was still mad exiting T1 so I started pushing hard on the bike. By the time I got to the right turn on Homewood I noticed I was averaging well above 20mph, which is fast for me--I had hoped to average 20mph on the nose for the race. After that I settled down and tried to race smart--pushing (but not too hard) on the hills and concentrating on continuing the push on some of the slight downhill grades on the course. I think starting a little later and having a slow swim was helpful here in some respects--I had constant targets to pass on the bike.
In the end this was a great bike ride for me. I've never averaged over 19.5 mph on training rides and was hoping to push to 20.0 for the race. The extra 2.5 minutes I got here almost made up for my bad swim.
T2 - 1:35
The hill entering T2 is slippery when when. I didn't fall, but my bike shoes/cleat combo isn't great going downhill. Otherwise T2 went pretty smoothly--I still run in socks so this includes getting the bike shoes off.
Run - 533/1490 50:45 8:12
This was a big question mark for me. I had been seeing a PT for IT band issues for the prior 6 weeks and just got back up to running 10k. I ran the course the prior weekend in about 54 minutes but wasn't too sure how much more I'd have on race day--the knee gets balky on downhills after running ~4 miles.
On race day, the run went fine for the most part. I was able to hold 8 minute miles for most of the run, slowing to 8:45 for the two miles in the neighborhood. In the end it wasn't the knee, but the left hamstring starting to tighten when pushing up hill the slowed me down. Fortunately, slowing down helped and the problem didn't show up on flats or downhills.
In the end, I'm very happy with this result. I didn't quite break 2:40 like I was hoping, but this was almost 6 minutes faster than Savageman 30 last fall--which is great considering my run fitness.
This is a great race, and I really feel like the run makes you earn your finishers medal--it just never gives you an easy stretch--just when you think it's flattened out for good, you have to go up that little finisher's hill just to keep you honest for the finish line.