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Race Result

Racer: Ted Purnell
Race: Columbia Triathlon
Date: Sunday, May 22, 2005
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 2:47:33
Overall Place: 461 / 1245
Age Group Place: 8 / 24
Comment: LONG Report, PR by 18:41!

Race Report:

Race Week:

Although Columbia is not an A race, it falls at the end of a recovery week which comes on the tail of a hard 6 week training cycle in preparation for Eagleman and Ironman Wisconsin. As my volume reduced this week my legs started to feel fresher on Wednesday and I started to really look forward to Columbia and my first Tri of the year, I began thinking about setting a PR and finally breaking the three hour mark at Columbia, maybe even 2:50. Then in an airport on Thursday my back started to spasm. This season I have had challenges with my Achilles Tendon, and have been receiving treatment on it for 8 weeks, and now my back, which hadnít acted up in 2 Ĺ years comes back to haunt me. So as of Thursday afternoon my race status became questionable.

Friday morning I already had an appointment with Neil McLaughlin for an adjustment and treatment on my Achilles, he also worked on my back, yet the back was still tight as a vice. Dr. McLaughlin has been a season saver for me this year, having only missed two weeks of running and no swimming or riding under his care, can he help me save Columbia? He did give me the go ahead to get in the pool and stretch out, so off to an afternoon swim at the Reston Recreation Center. The swim went fairly well, save wrenching pain on a couple of turns. As of Friday afternoon, race status probable, racing well, doubtful.

Saturday brought the AM shake down cruise, 30 minute ride at a high cadence to test out the gearing and more importantly the feel of my back in the aero position. Ride went fairly well but my legs were surprising sluggish. So off to Columbia it is for bike inspection, packet pickup and bike racking. Vigorito does a great job with the Columbia Triathlon but it is nearly as involved a check in process as an Ironman race. Advil and the traditional Chicken Parmigiana dinner capped the day. Went to sleep wondering how the back would feel in the morning.

Race Morning:

Woke up before my alarm at 4:55 and the back felt pretty good, had some eggs for breakfast, with my wave not going off until 8:21, I knew I had plenty of time to kill at the park since we had to be out of transition by 7:00 so that the likes of the fast people like STV could have a clear transition area after there 6:45 swim start. Now the question would be could I get out of the water before STV and Susan Williams finished their races? You see with all that time between finishing setting up and actually starting you have time for a lot of higher math, giving the fast group 2:05 as a target, that would put them across the line at 8:50, or some twenty nine minutes after my start.

Swim: PR: 32:34, Goal: 30:00, Actual 28:43

The water wasnít bad, at least not after an OW swim without a wetsuit on Wednesday in 66 degree water. At least I had a wetsuit for this one, it would be my first swim in a new wetsuit, and the first time swimming with a sleeved wetsuit. Which brings to question, should it feel like I have pockets of water under my arms? I felt sluggish throughout the swim, arms felt heavy and slow but based on my time I think this was largely a factor of the feel of the new wetsuit. I spent the swim hoping I was ahead of the guys pulling the buoys out of the water as I passed each one, made one false turn, a left at the first yellow triangular buoy and quickly realized the error of my ways as open water was in front of me, slight adjustment and back on track. The benefit of being in the last wave, no fast swimmers coming up on me, and I actually caught a few people from one and two waves in front of me, I think that may be a first in my triathlon career, came out of the water 13th of 25 Clydesdale under 39. And set a PR in the swim. So far so good could this be my day?

T1: Goal: 3:00, Actual: 2:51

T1 was pretty smooth, the breakaway zipper on my new QR worked pretty well, except when I broke it away before the swim start, hey, I was just practicing. Ran to my rack pulled the shirt on, sunglasses, helmet, socks, shoes and off I went. Somehow I managed to move into 10th place passing 3 of my brethren in transition.

Bike: PR: 1:23, Goal: 1:22, Actual: 1:19:55

Another benefit of starting in the last wave, lots of people to try and catch on the bike as pretty much the whole field was in front of me and since my bike computer decided to no longer function I needed something to keep me motivated and fast. I was quickly and definitively passed by two in my age group dropping me back to 12th position. Without a computer and passing a number of people from other age groups, and a surprising number of mountain bikes and hybrids, I was hoping to rattle off 5 mile sections in 16 minutes a piece which would put me ahead of schedule at 1:20, problem is I never seemed to see a single 5 mile marker which I had heard were supposed to be out there. The good news is racing on feel seems to work, I passed a few more people in my group, moving into 8th position by the end of the ride.

T2: Goal: 1:00, Actual 2:22 (1:19 by my watch?)

I pulled my feet out of the shoes just before the entrance to the park and executed a flawless dismount, I distinctly heard a spectator say ďthatís how your supposed to do itĒ and a little kid say ďhe has no shoesĒ as I ran by. Hey, maybe Iím finally getting a handle on this triathlon thing. Easy T2 passed no one, which would be a recurring theme from here on out.

Run: PR: 1:06, Goal: 0:56, Actual: 53:43 (54:45 by my watch?)
It seems the times may be a little off but Iíll take the official times, chips donít lie, or do they? The legs felt surprisingly good as I headed out on the run, anticipating the hairpin turn of death I felt confident, at the top of the hill my fan club was waiting and cheering, the wife, 2 Ĺ year old and 14 month old, actually they were to busy playing on the playground to really care and Mom didnít think Iíd be there yet. She did notice me and asked how the back was doing, I said fine, but I donít know about my legs, which was a true statement after the hill at the hairpin turn of death. But somehow, my first mile split was, 8:04, at this rate Iím thinking Iíve got to catch some people in my category, after all we are talking about Clydesdales.

The second mile was uneventful passed a few non Clydesdales, got passed by a couple of Military racers, up and down on the rollers we go. Second mile slowed to a 8:59, back starting to act up a bit, or was it just tired legs?

Third mile is the tough one, up and out of the park, walked to get some fluids in and not spike my heart rate to high on the climb out of the park, my heart rate was at or above 155 all day mainly in the 160 range, so I didnít want to spike into the 170ís getting out of the park. Came down the hill in the neighborhood and crossed the 3 mile mark with a 9:28 split, alright Iím slowing down, but I still have got to be able to catch some Clydesdales, where could they all be?

Up and down we continue through the neighborhood, pass someone who appears to be a Clydesdale, but probably isnít based on the results, who comments, ďyouíve got to stop moving so fast, youíre a big guy.Ē Iím thinking these hills are murder and Iím crawling but that being said, it is the first time in my tri career Iíve received a comment like that. Mile 4 came with a 9:22 split.

Hereís when I start doing math again, If I blow up I can still break 3 hours, if I can run 9 minute miles in I may be able to break 2:50, letís see if there is anything in the reserve tank, only two climbs to go. Then what feels like a big climb back out of the neighborhood, walk to try and get some water down for 5 seconds, pick it back up, dig and see what I got. Mile 5 came with a 8:31 split. More math and convincing myself that I will never forgive myself if I donít break 2:50 even with the big climb back into the park.

Up and over into the park, run downhill and see what I cam capable of. Out of the woods and along the lake, shocking all the buoys have been long since pulled from the water, no one would no 1300 of us were swimming in their hours before. Mile 6 with an 8:41 split, 2:45:33 total time, 2:50 here I come.

I actually had some kick left, or maybe it was pure adrenaline, crossed the line at 2:47:33, an 18:41 improvement off my best time at Columbia set in 2000 of 3:06:14. Held onto 8th place in the Clydesdale under 39 category, I guess they were all too far in front to catch on the run. Eagleman and my first A race here I come and thank you Dr. McLaughlin, no back or Achilles problems.