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Race Result

Racer: Mike Guzek
Race: Columbia Triathlon
Date: Sunday, May 18, 2003
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 2:22:39
Overall Place: 45
Age Group Place: 2
Comment: Cold Cold Day

Race Report:

As I was driving to the race Sunday morning with the windshield wipers zipping back and forth and the heat blasting from the dashboard, I was starting to wonder what I had gotten myself into. This was not what I had in mind when I pictured the race this year. Two years ago the weather was great….actually…I think it might have even been hot, but last year it was bitter cold and this year it was bitter cold with a nice dash of rain. Air temperatures were 52 at the start of the race and the water temperature was 61 – there was a steady light rain. I loaded the tank about an hour earlier with some oatmeal and a banana. I was now guzzling a homemade sports drink concoction I made.

I tried to lay plastic bags over my gear in transition so it would at least be dry when I put it on. With my transition area stocked with all the provisions I needed (the normal stuff plus gloves, arm warmers and a hat) I headed down to the swim start.

“Holy smokes!!” I think that that is what I said when my slipped off my shoes and touched the wet ground with my bare for the first time by the water. I reluctantly slid into the water with all the other Orange caps in the final of 13 waves and instantly did a sprint swim to the far start buoy. It was 50% an attempt to warm up and 50% some animalistic reaction to a sudden and extreme rush of pain. When I reached the buoy I popped my head up and aligned myself with the others at the start and got ready for the horn. When we started I quickly surged ahead of my wave and got clear of any of the contact. It was chilly. I moved around the first couple buoys and then start encountering all the slower swimmers from the other waves. I zig zagged my way around the course, occasionally ramming into a breast stroker. Most of the time in cold water….I sort of forget that it’s cold at some point…that never really happened here. At many points around the course I would ask myself (rhetorically of course), “are you cold?” Every time I responded, “ya ya ya ya yes…….I I I I I I am….. cah cah cah cah cold.” (also rhetorically). Still, it was manageable. I was not in dire straights as some people seemed to be. I existed the water in 20:35 slightly disappointed in my time, but still happy to have that part behind me.

Into transition I sprinted to my bike hanging on the Clydesdale rack. All my warm gear was sitting there. There are my gloves!!! And my arm warmers!! And my little hat!! I learned my lesson from last year that gloves were a must! I was so cold that I wasn’t able to shift my gears with my fingers—I had to use my palms. I put on my glasses, helmet and shoes. I got everything right and ran out of transition. I mounted my bike and I was away! Wait….hmm…where are my gloves….and my arm warmers? There were sitting back in my transition area : (

So I continued in the rain on my bike without some of my key warm gear (what have I done!!!??). I am zipping along feeling good. As we approach the first right hand turn there was some confusion and I thought I was supposed to go straight. At the last minute the guy yells “Go Right!” I try to brake and then bazowi! I hit the ground. I felt like the opening credits of Wild World of Sports when they announcer says “…and the agony of defeat….” And they show the down hill slalom guy wipe out and go zipping down the mountain out of control on his back. I just slid on my side right through the intersection. I got up. The bike seemed ok and although I was going pretty fast it was probably about as “easy” of a wipe out as you could have. I got a bruise and some scrapping on my hip and elbow but that’s basically it. I put the chain back on a headed off…..to the right this time!

Like everyone, I was cautious on turns and down hills. I was constantly stuck behind log jams of riders and even worse…the dreaded car. I’d get stuck behind a car who was behind a slower rider and other cyclists would bunch up there with me. It’s pretty frustrating, but what can you do. About mile 22ish I got “Yosted.” Kyle Yost came zipping by me. He ended up winning the Clydedale division. Since we were the last wave there wasn’t really anyone coming from behind me so it was pretty noticeable to see another “fat guy” flying around the course. When I got passed I thought “did I just get Yosted?” Race results would later confirm that I did in fact get Yosted.

I completed the bike in 1:13:30. Into transition I struggled like many others to try to get my fingers strong enough to undo my bike helmet clip and my get my zip laces on. My legs felt as if they had no feet attached to them….they felt like legs that just stopped somewhere beneath my knee. I couldn’t feel anything. With a good deal of effort I crammed my numb feet into my running shoe and started running out. I was happy to notice that (besides the fact that I had no feet) I felt really good! As I left transition I saw Steve and Aaron spectating with huge grins on….I mean big grins!! I think they were just laughing at all the suckers running around in the mud. They shouted some words of encouragement and I was off.

(These next sentences are relative to me….adjectives describing speed and pace pertain only to my relative history of running. These are in no way relative to other runners or runner’s times at this race. Your results may vary).

I zipped up the first hill and was starting to get excited. I was marginally disappointed up to this point in that my swim was so-so and it appeared my bike was too. It was nice to feel like I could make some improvements on the run. The hills were taking gigantic bites out of my legs but I managed to keep up a solid pace. There was some guy…and he looked like he could run who was wearing a navy outfit (a tri jersey navy outfit…not their dress up blue uniforms) and I tried to hang with him. And I did!! I was elated. At one point when he stopped to adjust his shoe, I slipped ahead of him and I was proud. With about a mile to go he had enough and accelerated and finished about 30 seconds ahead of he, but he had done more than enough to help me out. I crossed the line with a 44:10 run which I was more than happy with. I was second to Yost in the Clydesdale division and 46th overall.

I did the normal post race chatter and caught up with Brady who was on his second cup of Aaron’s tea by that point and a ton of other folks. My girlfriend Melanie did a fantastic job as always and was voted “Fan of the Race” by the offical Fan of the Race Committee (me). She had a sweatshirt ready for me at the finish! Go Mel!

This race provided the most challenging conditions for any race I have done. The course is hard enough, but the weather yesterday made it extremely tough. Not only did you have to be physically strong but you also had to be mentally tough as well. Riding in the rain requires you to be on point at all times and that’s extremely draining and it’s also very hard to do when you are cold and tired. Everyone who finished should feel extremely proud of that accomplishment alone.