Columbia Race Report
Columbia Olympic Triathlon
1500m, 41k, 10k
May 23, 2004
Their sales pitch: Come preview our renowned championship race course that has been raced for two National Age Group Championships('94,'97). The Columbia Triathlon is famous both for its outstanding race organization and race management, attention to detail, and its high quality fun and extremely challenging Triathlon-distance course...,and by the way, enjoy our scenic HILLS!
“Extremely challenging hills”, Sounds like a good time, eh? This was a training race for me and I did a 3.5 hour brick Saturday morning before heading down to the race. Since I’m racing, it was 20 degrees above normal. Temps in the 90’s all weekend. It was very well organized and well staffed with volunteers to support about 1400 racers.
On to the good stuff. Car pooled down with Art (Nupper) and started meeting up with others in our tri club. Checked in and racked our bikes. Several tires had already blown in the heat and they suggested everyone let air out when you rack. Out to dinner and then an early bed for the usual pre-race night’s sleep or lack there of. Out the door at 6:00 and it is already 71 out. Setup transition and head down to the swim start.
Waves were 8 minutes apart. My wave queued up and got in the water after the previous wave went off. Very little time to warm up before they called us into the start corral. My wave started at 7:26 and we were heading directly into the rising sun. You couldn’t even see the first buoy and I had dark goggles on. Off we go and I had a little hyper-ventilation so two quick breaks and I settled down and got into a rhythm. 170 people signed up for my AG but only 133 started the race. Since you couldn’t see a buoy, I think I was a little off course but corrected it fairly quickly. Still managed a decent swim at 26 minutes.
T1 was a short hike to the racks. Smooth, top half of AG. On to the bike. You couldn’t even get out of the transition area without going up a hill. On the bike and had my first photo-op. It is getting warm already. For me, heat regulation and hydration will be the focus for the rest of the race. The bike is nothing but hills. Just trying to cool off enough on the down hills before the next uphill. Tried going to the big ring twice but a hill was always less then 1 minute away. So, I just ran up and down my gears as needed which was almost constant. Two decent descents where I hit 39 mph on one of them. Saw a few people drafting cars, grrrr. Plenty of officials around, maybe a few got caught.
Head into T2 dehydrated despite drinking 3.5 bottles on the bike. Had some more water that I had to rinse off my feet. Went out on the run which is just as hilly as the bike. Hit the first hill in the sun and that is when my core temp red-lined. This was not unexpected with the heat. And, the heat always catches up with you when you get off the bike because of much less wind. So, walk it out until I can cool down. No sense blowing up at the start of the run.
Walked a good portion of miles one and two until I could get several cups of water at the mile aid stations. Core temp coming down a hair and getting re-hydrated, I was able to pick up the pace. Just before mile 3 they had ice. Oh yeah, put that in my hat and then took 2 more cups of water. Several people passed out on the side of the road with various degrees of assistance and medical personnel. Feeling human again, I start passing people most of which passed me on the bike. My crisis management early paying off. Still lots of hills and not much shade. At mile 5.5, I thought it was a mirage; but it was actually a flat stretch. It was in full sun but a nice breeze coming off the lake. Time for another notch. Of course, at the 6 mile sign they gave you one more hill just for good measure. But with only a quarter mile to go there was no way it was slowing me down now. Came down the chutes feeling pretty good.
Lessons learned: Warm up in the swim as much as you can, continue to fine tune hydration issues (already improved from previous years), addressing issues early pays off.
At the end of the race, it was a blistering 94 degrees. So, I think this training race qualifies as a success. I was able to control my pacing to match the weather and take proper measures early in the run to finish strong. With the early walking I must have been holding a pretty good run pace the last 3-4 miles but I don’t have any splits.