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Race Result

Racer: Erik Melis
Race: Columbia Triathlon
Date: Sunday, May 18, 2008
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 50 - 54
Time: 3:01:57
Overall Place: 970 / 1681
Age Group Place: 39 / 82
Comment: PR for Columbia and at Oly distance

Race Report:

Race Report - Columbia Triathlon 5/18/2008

I wasn't sure what to expect from this open tri for my race season. I wasn't sure if I'd ever even get to the starting line. Hernia surgery took me out of commission for 5 weeks in Feb/Mar. Diagnosis and surgery for malignant melanoma last month took me out for some additonal time and then a week ago I injured by back (thank heavens for Dr Jeanne Swope, my chiropractor, and Active Release technique). Well, since I'm filing this race report, I obviously did make it to the starting line and not only made it to the finish line but managed to do a new PR for me at this distance and for the Columbia course (even if I didn't quite break the 3:00 mark which was my stretch goal). Shaved 9 minutes off my prior
fastest Columbia time and 5 minutes off my prior PR in the Olympic distance on a full course without current-aided swim (set at General Smallwood last fall).

Pre-race check in

Columbia is a convenient race for me in that my sister-in-law lives about 10 minutes from Centennial Park so gives me a good local base of operations. Got up to Columbia early Saturday afternoon and got all checked in wihtout any problems. Went out to the park to rack the bike and realized right away why we normally get a much earlier start on Saturday for this. Traffic into the park was heavy, the line for the bike check was long and growing quickly and the population of racked bikes was already pretty robust. Got the bike racked and covered (just in case it rained overnight like was predicte by some) and then drove the bike course again just to refamiliarize myself with rolling terrain.

Race morning

Got up about 4 am to eat breakfast and head out to the park for body marking and transition setup. My wife was in swim wave #3 and I was in wave #9 but we knew that parking gets tough early so we decided early was better even if we had to nap in the truck a bit after getting our transition areas set up. I decided to stay in my sweats and top until my wife's wave went off and then I'd head back to truck to get ready for my wave.
When I was leaving my truck and heading back over to the swim start, I heard them announce that the first of the pro men were getting ready to exit the water. Some day I'll the be first ini my age group to exit the swim (even if it doesn't happen until I'm 70)...

Swim (32:52)

Prior to going into the water, my heart rate was about 60-64 bpm. As soon as I hopped in, it jumped to about 115 b[m (must ahve been my body wanting to circulate warm blood to those cold parts. It was cold but I kept telling myself it was warmer than the lake for Mooseman was right now so get used to it. I kept submerging my face into the water to get it used to the cold while treading water since I didn't want my breath taken away in the first few strokes. When we finally went off, I just tried to find my rhythm and my line through the many bodies in my wave. Tried to stay focused on good rolling and reaching. Managed to catch a heel in the eye and one in the chest at the start but didn't let it deter me from my quest to exit the water alive (I have simple goals in the swim). The swim is always my nemesis but I did manage to improve my swim time from my last Columbia by 2 minutes. Was a little groggy getting out of the water but got my land legs fairly quickly for a long run out to the bike rack.

T1 (5:00)

Very slow transition and this time wasn't even due to wetsuit removal issues. When I started to get my bike gear on I got really dizzy and lightheaded. Luckily I was close enough to the adjacent bike rack to catch and stabilize myself. Wouldn't have been a pretty picture if I took out a bunch of bikes on the rack by falling on them. The cause of the light-headedness may have been the groggniess from the swim still or it may have been some medicine I've been taken that can affect one's blood pressure. I decided to take it slow to make it had completely passed before putitng thsoe wheels under me.

Bike (1:21:12 - avg 18.8 mph)

Started to feel pretty good as the bike started so managed to forget fairly quickly the T1 dizziness incident and also managed to forget my strategy for the bike which was not to leave my legs completely on the bike course. Started pushing pretty hard pretty early just because it felt so good to pass some of the folks that left the water before me. I didn't give a second thought to how it would feel when they passed me again on the run but I was busy living in the moment. Actually did try to take it a little easier on the uphills but pushed the downhills. Hit 40+ mph a couple of times with no ill effects other than it being pretty chilly. Came across the downed cyclist when the ambulance was there but before the air medevac. Tried to be patient when encountering groups where people were riding 2 and 3 across but it was a bit much when encountering that and vehicle traffic. Focused intently on just staying safe and getting back to transition. This was fasted average speed for Columbia for me and just made me wonder what I might have managed had I not been sidelined in the months before the race.

T2 (3:44)

Had a long run in with the bike back to the rack and was just moving slower than I expected. Maybe I was trying to catch my breath a little more than anticipated after the ride. I'll have to work on that although if I can move this fast for the HIM or IM it wouldn't be too bad... :)

Run (59:12 - avg 9.32/mi)

The run for me at Columbia is difficult usually for two reasons: (1) the very hilly course; (2) I have usually lef tmy legs out on the bike course. I tried to maintain a steady pace including the hills with shortened strides and quick turnover on the hills. Had to walk a little on Gatorade hill but figured that was the best use of my energy at that point. Thought I was having exerrcise-induced hallucinations when I turned the corner into the neighborhood after the ballfields and saw lines of blond-wig-wearing Dolly Parton wanna-bes handing out Gatorade and water. Took some comfort in realizing that others were seeing them too. The one with the beard and wig was the most disconcerting for me. Towards the end of the neighborhood ran into one the guys from Lifetime Fitness where I train out of and we ran together pushing each other from there to the finish, although I did have just enough in me to sprint at the very end so that hopefully the photographer would catch my true level of exertion. :) All in all, run was okay given what I did to my legs on the bike but could probably have done it more easily if I been a little more restrained on the prior leg.


Will try to take lessons learned and apply them to Mooseman HIM in three weeks. Current water temp there about 52 degrees... shooting for low 60's by race day... (I hope).