||Sunday, May 23, 2004
||Ellicott City, MD
||Triathlon - International Distance
||Male 30 - 34
||619 / 1165
|Age Group Place:
||114 / 170
||VERY much improved over 2003 :)
Every since I completed Columbia in 2003 as my first Olympic triathlon in >10 years I have been focused on showing significant improvement this year – the result was my first "race" in a triathlon – and an improvement of 24.4% over last year – I could not possibly be happier :)
1.5K swim – 41K bike – 10K run
RESULTS – [goal] – (2003 results)
S = 29:22 [32:00] (36:10)
T1 = 4:26 [4:00] (8:11)
B = 1:22:29 [1:28] (1:52:06)
T2 = 1:31 [3:00] (6:37)
R = 1:00:19 [58:00] (1:12:31)
Total = 2:58:05 [3:05:00] (3:55:33)
OA = 619/1,165 (978/1,026)
AG = 114/170 (136/139)
Improvement = 24.4% [20%]
Weight = 204 lbs (224 lbs)
*Won my first hardware - "2004 Most Improved" by an almost embarassing 58 minute margin:
My preparation for this race began last year after I completed Columbia as part of my overall fitness plan to lose weight and get in shape. Over the last year I’ve had success in achieving most of my goals – including the completion of my first Ironman at GFT, losing 20 lbs, and finally competing (rather than completing) a triathlon this year at Columbia.
I credit my preparation for GFT last year, and for IM CDA next month, for my conditioning that allowed me to improve for Columbia 2004. Needless to say, having biked 4 centuries in 4 consecutive weeks before this race was a whole lot more than I did to prepare for Columbia 2003.
SWIM – the water was warm, weather clear, and the humidity high. I started out in the middle of the pack and didn’t get slugged nearly as much as I expected. I got into a comfortable race pace, my sighting was good, and every so often I was able to draft off someone in front of me. Near the turnaround I felt a pain in my right rib cage, I hoped it was only a stitch, but my worst fear was that it could be a spasm. I’d been having several spasm problems throughout my back due to my long rides, and only last week did I finally get a massage (which I will now do on at least a bi-monthly basis). Luckily it was stitch, I slowed down a bit, breathed deeper, and after ~5 minutes I resumed my speed and finished strong. I exited the water with no idea of my time, but I could sense that it was my fastest swimming yet in a triathlon. To finish under 30 minutes and know I could have gone faster was a great feeling.
T1 – Having decided that today would be a race day I went all out and took several transition steps I had not used previously. I went sockless for the bike and run – which wasn’t that bad, no blisters, saved some time. I went without my riding gloves, no big deal for a short ride. My Desoto 2-piece wetsuit came off effortlessly even though it is at least one size too small. Only problem was that I stuffed some salt tabs, goo, and reeses pieces in my bike jersey, and when I threw it over my head everything went flying out (Marsha got a kick out of watching this). No worries, turns out I didn’t need those things anyway.
BIKE – Having practiced this route twice over the past two months, I knew I was going to go much faster than 2003. The bike has always been hard for me because it seems like I’m getting passed non-stop, especially on the hills. This bike ride was quite a bit different. I had so much energy that I was out of my seat pumping up every hill, and on the downhills – with gravity on my side – I used my momentum to blow by many of the folks that breezed by me on the uphills. And so this went, for the whole ride, I would lose ground up the hills, and make it back on the way down. Thankfully I did NOT use my heart rate monitor for this race – I’m sure I was maxing out on several hills – but somehow I kept finding more energy to push harder. I could tell I was having a great ride – to finish 102nd in my age group, my highest place of the 3 events – was something I never expected prior to the race.
T2 – In and out in no time. I used shoelace cinches for the first time, much better than trying to coordinate tying after the bike. Decided to leave my hat behind (probably a mistake), ran in my postal bike jersey, grabbed a goo and water bottle, and I was off. I transitioned so fast that after Marsha greeted me at the Bike entrance, she hardly had time to get to the run exit to say good-bye. Although I felt sorry for her, I was now deeply perma-grinned, knowing that my day was going better than my best case.
RUN – Almost seemed that the bike didn’t take anything out of my legs?! I was able to run at a decent pace and drink lots of water. The heat was brutal, and because I left my hat behind, I was having to manage the sweat dripping into my sun glasses and eyes, and of course I had nothing to wipe with other than my hand. I took it a little easy on the steep hills, taking shorter strides, making sure not ruin my day with an injury. I probably got a bit too conservative on the run – it was the only leg where I did not beat my goal – and as I finished I definitely had some energy left. Because of the heat, and the great race I’d already had, I didn’t want to risk it, especially since I have not run this hard in 10+ years – my HR must have been going through the roof! I finished strong, was greeted by Marsha at the finish line, and of course the second smiley face I saw was Stv – congratulating me on my finish.
The news of the day, as I am sure others will elaborate on, was when Marsha told me that “one of the rats had a baby!” Huh? "No, his wife, her water broke and they rushed her off to the hospital." Ooooh, o.k., now THAT is cool! Congrats Brady, I hope everything turned out fine! Gee, and I thought Aaron wrote the most interesting DNF race report I'd ever read....
Also congrats to Stv on another stellar performance, and to fellow MOPs Keith and Brad – glad to see Keith was able to run!
Second biggest news of the day for me was that I was able to get some advice for Kona from none other than... Peter Reid! I caught up with him at the water tent, we shot the sh*t for a few minutes, and then Marsha (Ms. Johnny-on-the-spot) caught a cool pict of me chatting it up with the champ himself. I told him I had won the lottery and that I’m looking to improve much more by October (I always say "lottery" before "Kona" to avoid awkward looks of bewilderment since I don’t much "look" like an Ironman triathlete). His advice to me was to simply enjoy the experience of Kona and don’t have any expectations for PRs or any time goals because its too unpredictable and it is brutal. I’ve received similar advice from others, but this time it REALLY sunk it, I mean heck, he should know, right? He told me he never has time goals for Kona, he races by feel. I kinda knew this because I’d read a story where he talked about using no bike computer in Kona – he goes as minimal as possible. I told him I did the same today at Columbia, and that I would also plan to do so in Kona. He was totally down-to-earth, in fact as he walked around the tent you might not notice him from the other athletes except for the #2 on his thigh. I found him to be very personable and humble and I look forward to seeing him again in Kona (although he’ll be biking by me in the opposite direction).
SEVEN LESSONS LEARNED (in no particular order)
(1) Shaved Legs – this was my first time, and although I can’t attest to the aero-effect, I do know that it made be "feel" faster, so it was a plus.
(2) Diet – as I did for GFT, I took a brake from my low-carb ways to fill my glycogen stores with complex carbs for about 2 days prior to the race. I know the topic is debated often on this board any elsewhere, but the fact is that I can bike at a moderate pace for 100+ miles without a carb in my system and I am still ready to go the next day. My theory is that low-carb allows the body to burn fat more efficiently, and when you add carbs at the last minute, your body can burn both more efficiently – and for me that’s what it felt like because I had the energy to push hard all day.
(3) Wetsuit Body Glide – did it for the first time on my wrists, shoulder, neck, and ankles, and it seemed to work well.
(4) Practice – this was the first time I actually biked and ran the course as a practice to the event, seems obvious to say, but if you can find the time it is a big help to know what’s coming next.
(5) Swim Drafting – first time I tried this, after hearing about it from others. I probably drafted about 15% of the time, and I "felt" like I was going faster, so I’ll do it again. The problem was that everyone I drafted off soon left me in the dust, or I passed them – very tough to find someone right at my pace. Plus, one guy I followed was horrible at sighting, he was all over the place, so I finally just passed him.
(6) No HRM – after much debate, I decided to leave my heart rate monitor/cycling computer at home. Although I love playing with the cool results on the computer, my focus today was to race, and I could have given up a lot of time and focus to be measuring everything. It was kinda fun to have to wait patiently for the splits to be released today. I don’t regret this in the least!
(7) Apparel – also after much debate, and after first being vetoed by Marsha, I decided to wear my shiny new retro-postal shirt and shorts to accommodate my postal Trek 5200. Marsha’s comment to me, and I say this in the most politically correct fashion possible, was that "you look gay!" I’m sorry, but I took this as a compliment, meaning that I looked sharp and fit – which I don’t often hear. Seriously, I’ve only been biking for real since last year, but objectively I think most skinny cyclists in their colorful outfits are not often complimented for their masculinity. No offense to anyone, but I wore my little outfit, and I received all kinds of fun responses, including:
"Go Lance Go!" (tongue securely in check)
"You’re not going to go postal on us are you?"
"It’s the mailman!"
"Way to go Mr. Postman"
"Shouldn’t you be delivering the mail today?"
CONCLUSION (yes, finally)
I had my best race yet, a great way to start the season, and I am looking forward to many more PRs this year. I am also looking forward to meeting more people – at least for the first 20 minutes of the Saturday RATS ride.
I want to conclude by thanking my fiance Marsha for her unwavering support, and especially for putting up with all of the demands of our trip to Kona (and IM CDA) later this year.