I completed my first triathlon since 2008 yesterday. Why I chose to start with the Columbia Triathlon in Columbia, MD I have no idea. It is one of the tougher Olympic Distance races around here. I guess because it bills itself as the “Right of Spring” in the Mid Atlantic and I am sucker for marketing.
I told the Bride that I would stay close to home this triathlon season. Other than a late summer trek to Dewey Beach, DE for the Dewey Sprint Tri, Richmond, VA is my farthest trip. The trip to Dewey is a long weekend trip with for us and some friends. So we just rent a house and enjoy the weekend.
I was up early on Sunday morning for the 50 mile drive to Columbia. I arrived just after 0500 and set up my transition area. The weather Sunday morning was just about perfect for a race. This is the first time I have done this race or even a bike ride on the course that it hasn’t rained.
My wave went off at 0718 and would you believe that the men aged 40-44 was the seconded largest wave? Men 35-39 was the largest. What is it with us old guys? The start of the swim was about what you expect. There was plenty of kicking and jockeying for position. After about 5 minute it all settled down and I got in a nice groove. I made the turn at the dam and then made the turn back to the swim exit. I was feeling good, my strokes were strong, I was in a good zone, and started to get a little cocky. As I was sighting on the buoys, I started to hear the announcer getting louder and louder. This wasn’t a surprise since you swim by at a greater distance in front of the start/announcer. Then I realized I had been sighting in on the wrong buoy. So I had to turn to the right to get back on track. I probably wasted 3-4 minutes due to my sighting error. However, I came out of the water at 32:04. Without the sighting problem I am comfortable I would have gone under 30 minutes for the swim which was my goal.
I took my time in transition. This was just a long training day for me. I pushed the bike to the top of the hill outside of transition, mounted up and I was off. The course is a hilly 41k (25.4 miles) that I had two weeks earlier with a friend of mine. I am glad I had done the practice ride, because I had forgotten how tough it was. I warmed up my legs during the first couple of miles and then it was down hill for a little ways. The first 10-12 miles of the race has some downhills, but it is a net uphill. OUCH. The middle part of the bike is more rolling hills. I was cruising a long on the rolling hills and flat land. Very pleased with my progress in just two weeks. Then it was back up the final big hills and the transition to run.
As I started to run I realized how much my shoulders and lower back were hurting from the bike. I have made myself a promise to do more upper body/back workouts and much more core exercises in the coming days. I have to strengthen that part of this old body. As with the bike, the run is hilly. I told myself I would run the flats, downhills, and I would walk up the hills. I did more walking than I wanted. I legs did not cramp like I thought they would, but the shoulder and lower back were just hurting. By about mile 4 I had loosened up enough to get in a good trot. By the time I was crossing the dam, I had a pretty decent pace. But then you have only a half mile to go before the finish, so I am sure that had something to do with it. You have to love triathlons. The announcer is always calling out the names of the finishers (got to wear those numbers). I typically don’t hear my name called, but this time I was directly in front of a speaker when he called out my name. I gave some kids some high fives, low fives, and middle fives as I came down the chute.
It was good to get a hard race out of the way. Made me feel much better, gave me an idea of what I need to work on, and made my muscles that good sore.