The Columbia Triathlon is one of my favorite races of the year. We have only met twice now, but it was love at first sight. With the tough hilly, technical bike, and a strength run that screams slow times, we were a match made it heaven. After taking the course record this last year in my first go I was hoping for another strong performance for the 30th addition of the race. As a side note, it is AMAZING that a race can go for 30 years without a hiccup and drum up such great community support and solid following. Not often I get to do a race that is older than I am, but both Columbia and St Anthony’s turned 30 this year, and I will be 29 in June.
Anyway, the weekend started off getting in Friday evening and having a great homestay with Matt and his family. They were great hosts, got me everywhere I needed to go and provided some really solid entertainment. Saturday was a chilly rainy day, but we were able to get in some easy shake outs in all 3 disciplines before the real rain started and then it was off the the Pro Panel Q&A at the expo before the meeting. Now I will say honestly that these can either be really good with lots of people and good questions or they can be crickets, with us staring at a couple people and everyone checking their watches. Luckily, this was the first, and alongside 3 world champions on the panel we had a great chat with a ton of people. My sponsors, mainly First Endurance and Rudy Project were good enough to give me some stuff to give away so anyone that had a decent question got some shwag as a bonus. The best part was the few kids in the crowd, that were stoked to be there and excited about the sport. If they are any indication triathlon has a bright future!
On to race day, the weather was a bit chilly but the rain was holding off. The hope was that the sun would come out and dry off the roads but in the end everything just stayed nice and damp all the way through. I got up early and had my standard breakfast before getting to the race early so I could get in a good ride and warm up. I always find its better to do more than you think necessary than too little. After a good ride and run, set up transition and headed to the swim start. It was non wet suit, which I like as a good swimmer, but it makes for some cold race starts when the sun isn’t out.
Once in the water I got in a good position at the front of the group and right on the feet of a speedy swimmer, but after a small miscalculation in direction I was on my own and watching this dude swim away. I led for the first half before trading places with Jimmy and we got into T1 in relatively good shape or so we thought. However, as we ran up to the bikes someone was yelling that we were 90 seconds down to the leader and coming out of the water in that shape could be an issue if this guy could ride. Not knowing who he was I hammered through transition and tore up the first couple miles on the bike. Luckily, I caught the guy in a couple miles so I knew he wasn’t going to be the big problem of the day, but with guys like Bevan and Chris chasing I knew I needed another strong ride like I had in Knoxville.
We ripped up the hills and did what we could on the slippery descents and about half way through I was on my own with Andrew just a bit back. It was good to have the constant pressure from him as my legs were screaming at me the whole way. I did my best Jen’s Voight, “shut up legs” routine and hammered on. By the time we got back to T2 I had 30 seconds on Andrew, but no idea about the rest of the field. For you number people my Stages power meter showed a normalized power of 363 for the 42k. Its the good and bad parts of hide & seek courses, that the chasers don’t know where I am, but I never know where they are either. I ran scared for the first 4 miles constantly looking over my shoulder as we rounded corner after corner and climbed and tore down hill after hill. My back was starting to get really tight from the descents so I did my best to keep my form in tact and ticked off the miles. The legs didn’t feel good, but they were moving alright and I did my best to stay hidden around the next corner from the chasers.
As I got back out of the trees and rounded the last bit of the lake I knew I had done it. I had gone back to back on what I would consider one of the hardest courses in short course racing. I was stoked to be able to back up my performance from last year against a stellar field and excited to have kept some good form since my race in Knoxville 2 weeks ago.
Now I turn my attention to Captex in Austin on Memorial Day. Historically it has been a solid race for me with a good bike course but coming off these 3 races in May so far we will see if the legs have another good one in them. I am guessing the weather won’t be cold and rainy so hopefully I can get in some warmer weather training this week leading in.
“On to the next one, on to the next one…” – Jay-Z