Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Columbia Race Report"

The 2012 Columbia Triathlon was a great kick-off to my season.  Hats-off once again to the people at Tricolumbia who put on a wonderful weekend of triathlon.  For me, this weekend was a chance to put all the winter training to the test on one of the most challenging Olympic courses in the country.  Furthermore, it was my official race debut as a member of the Ballou Skies Triathlon Team.

Saturday morning started early as I left my house at 4:26 to start the drive down to Columbia.  I was looking forward to meeting up with Chad and a few others to ride the bike course.  Driving before sunrise is the best!  First, NO TRAFFIC.  Second, it's cool.  Not hip or popular, but temperature cool.  Third, by the time the sun rises, it's like your trip has just started and its that much shorter.  I'm sure some people would disagree with me on this, but that's how I see it. :)  I arrived at Centennial Park about 8:30 and met up with Chad, Brandon, Eric, and Darren (who was doing his very first triathlon).  Chad and I ended up riding for a little over 2 hrs.  I was happy to get a longer pre-race ride because most of my rides this spring have been on the trainer due to a busy track coaching schedule (riding on the trainer is efficient and can be done in the dark at 4 am).  We followed the ride up with lunch at Noodles & Co.  I got the chance to formally congratulate Chad and Jen on their first pregnancy.  I felt very useful as I answered their questions with my abundance of parenting experience (almost 13 months and counting).  I know the challenges of finding the time and energy to fulfill work, family, and triathlon responsibilities.  I know Chad and Jen will be great parents.  My best advice to them was, "change them, feed them, and love them and you're doing a good job."  After lunch it was race registration, drop the bike off at transition and check-in to the hotel for an afternoon nap. zzzzzzzzzzzz... :)

Race Morning:
Of course I awoke 10 minutes before my alarm went off.  I swear alarm clocks (or alarms on your phone if you're like me) are overrated.  All you really need is a young child (Luke) or a dog (Porter) and you're body will know exactly when to wake up each morning.  The morning race preparations went according to plan and it's always nice to walk to transition with Beth and Oscar.  Since I was racing in the elite amateur division, I didn't have to wait long start racing.

Eric, pull up your wetsuit for goodness sake!
As many of you know, the swim is usually my weakest of the three disciplines.  It was no different on this day.  However, I'm going to blame it more on a tactical error than a poor performance.  I have worked hard over the winter to improve my swimming, but I know I cannot keep up with the better swimmers, especially in the elite division.  Well, I tried to...  After just a couple minutes, I found my self on the verge of hyper-ventilating and had to revert to the breast stroke for several minutes until I could catch my breath and find a rythm I was more accostumed to swimming.  I'm sure I cost myself several minutes, but did feel good once I found my rythm.  Believe it or not, I swam slightly faster than last year.  Perhaps the winter swim workouts have paid off!

Elite Division entering the water for the swim start.
I love the bike leg of a triathlon!  Especially at Columbia, with all the hills.  It plays to my strength and power on the bike.  I rode most the way by myself this year since the elite division starts earlier, you don't have to contend with all the other age groups before you.  It's the other elite athletes and the pros.  So if you're catching someone on the bike, you are moving.  I passed several of the female elites, but didn't manage to pass any males.  This didn't bother me.  It was my own little time-trial.  I finished the bike with a split of 1:05:38.  A rate of 23.3 mph.  I'll take it!

The Columbia run course is tough!  Lots of hills.  It is a nice course through Centennial Park and the nearby residential area, but there really is no flats for any relief.  Again, I ran the course alone.  No one up ahead and no one behind.  I tried to stay as comfortable as possible on the uphills and as relaxed and smooth as possible on the downhills.  When it was all said and done, I finished about two minutes faster than last year with a split of 40:54 (6:36 pace).  I am very pleased with this considering the challenging course.

The Columbia Triathlon has once again kicked off the triathlon season.  Overall, it was an enjoyable race that provided a lot of feedback for what's next.  It is an Olympic distance that served as a good reminder of how physically hard it is to go fast and the training that is necessary to keep up with the elite amateurs in the field.  Next up is Eagleman and some unfinished business with that course.  More about that later...


  1. Great job Ben!! As always I appreciate your very positive outlook on the weekend! I won't forget about your 1 min victory though!! Rematch in Columbus!! :-)

  2. Great job out there! Looking forward to seeing you rock races this summer.