The Columbia Triathlon

(Clearly these were taken before the tri)

Part of me wanted to write this review immediately after finishing The Columbia Triathlon and part of me knew I should wait a few days to calm down and re-group. I’m glad I did – or else you would be reading the most negative review I’ve ever written! Don’t be fooled, I didn’t have a good race so this post is a little biased – but since my attitude has changed (even if just a little) I feel comfortable writing about the good and bad of this race.

I can sum up my “race day feeling” in five words: I did not have fun!

Two days later my feelings have changed: my disaster on Sunday is all part of the sport – you have to be ready for kicks in the face, losing a chain and calves that cramp for 6.2 miles.

But, none of that makes sense on race day and I have a hard time accepting that fact that I let myself down. Bottom line: I was in a bad mood from 11am on.

The weather wasn’t great – rain was in the forecast and because it had rained the night before, the transition area looked more like a mud pit than a grassy field. Thanks to BJ’s urging, I bought heavy duty trash bags for our gear and made them a staple at my transition area. I’m a very organized transition athlete – everything is laid out perfectly, in the exact spot and ready to go. One hour before my wave start I felt very comfortable about the coming events.

7:47am – Wave 8: Women 25-29 & 30-34 (FYI: I’m in the 25-29 age group). Thanks to my full-body Zoot wetsuit I was only chilly for the initial shock of getting into the water – a minute later I was fine. It started to rain about 30 seconds before my wave start and my goggles started to fog – but thanks to my adrenaline infused nerves, I barely noticed. Normally I hate the swim – it’s my least favorite and the one I am worst at – but I felt really good (minus the occasional kick in the face)! It was an easy course, really well marked and I felt comfortable. You will most likely never hear me say this again but I *loved* the swim – plus it was a PR for me.

I felt really good coming out of the water. I ran to transition and started changing: wet suit off, quick towel dry, Zoot top on, socks, Sidi bike shoes on, helmet, glasses, bike… and just like that I was off. My bike is still very new to me and despite a wet butt and soaking bike shoes I felt really relaxed. Until….about 15 minutes into the bike, going slightly downhill, I shifted to the big ring – or at least I attempted to. All I remember is not being able to pedal and looking down to see that my chain was off – dagger! Honestly, I didn’t have a clue what to do. I got off of my bike and unsuccessfully tried to put my chain back on. That continued for about 3 minutes; after that, I was extremely frustrated, standing there, waiting for someone to help me and watching everyone else pass me. Ten minutes later (from the time my chain came off), race support was by my side, helping me with my chain. It took John, the race support guru, 3 tries before he could get my chain back on – so I didn’t feel so bad not being able to do it myself. I thanked him, got on my bike and felt like crying. I was so mad – and from that point on, my attitude drastically changed – and I really couldn’t help it. I tried thinking about other things, tried to feel good about the people I passed or the hills I dominated – but I couldn’t. Plus, the bike course was extremely hilly – more than I was ever expecting (the Conte’s bike ride did not prepare me for this race) – and that started to get to me, too. I was too happy when the bike was over.

My transition from bike to run was decent. I had to change my socks because they were soaking wet from the bike ride but other than that, I was in and out. I was trying to change my attitude because I love to run but from the second my running shoes hit the pavement, my calves cramped up. One of the worst pains I have ever felt. It was a combination of major cramping, lactic acid and a Charlie horse – for 6.2 miles. I’m just guessing that the cramps had something to do with my start/stop/start on the bike and it manifested itself on the run (thanks bike chain!). I tried to run through the pain but going uphill was extremely painful. I ran up the first 4 hills (yes, there was more than 1 major hill) but the 5th hill looked like a mountain, and as I started to run up, the pain was so intense that I started to cry. Have you ever tried crying while exerting your body at 100%? Well, I don’t suggest trying it because the outcome is hyperventilation. Yes, I started to hyperventilate – and its happened to me before so I know exactly what it feels like – not fun!! So, I stopped on the side of the road, wheezing, and attempted to get my breathing back to normal. I am so competitive that I was still (slightly) wheezing when I started to run again. A fellow athlete asked, “Are you okay??!!” My response was “NO! But thanks for asking.” For the remainder of the run I walked up the hills and ran when it was flat. The last mile was pretty flat so I was able to really push it in and run through the pain, sprinting the last 800m – but it still felt like a disaster. Funny thing is, the run was a PR for me…

I crossed the finish line in 3:08:18. And never in my life have I wanted a race to be over as badly as I did The Columbia Triathlon. I was pretty upset on race day, but like I said, I’m glad I waited 2 days to write this because my perspective has slightly changed.

I have to be honest, it wasn’t all bad – and here’s why:
a) The race was close to home (1 hour away)
b) Race Support was awesome! There were volunteers everywhere, cheering the athletes on and directing the bikers/runners on each respective route.
c) The triathlon was really well marked – there was never a question as to where I needed to go.
d) Plenty of water stations
e) Chrissie Wellington competed (yea, that’s right, the Ironman Triathlon World Champion) – she’s a bad-ass!
f) I had a swim PR and a run PR!
g) I got to do the race with my boyfriend and his sister – and we all finished, injury-free.

Areas for Improvement:
a) More kayaks in the water
b) Transition areas – bike in and out. Due to the rain, the bike out was a steep uphill covered in slippery grass and mud; and the bike in was a steep downhill covered in slippery grass and mud. Not a good combination.
c) Description of the course needs to be a little more specific/detailed. I knew there were hills but I did not know that there were HILLS!

Swim: 31:32
Bike: 1:41:37 (The swim to bike transition time is included in the bike splits. Technical problems prevented the equipment from recording the bike start time data.)
T2: 2:11
Run: 52:59
Place: 967 (out of 1568)

Verdict: I can not give this race a fair overall rating – because I’m still disappointed in myself for not achieving my goal and frustrated that I lost 10 minutes on the bike. But, you better believe I am doing this race again next year! There’s no reason not to – I can only do better!!!

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  1. Oh Melody….
    For starters I love the pictures very nice touch to open up your “awesome” race. I almost feel like I do not need to ask you about it since I just got a play by play. Anyways you still made me laugh despite all the hiccups along the way. Really bike chain?

    Ok I promise I am calling you tonight. I love you and your blog it makes me smile:) xoxo

  2. I have seen that look of frustration on your face before! Right before your hand connected with my FACE!

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