Colonial Beach International Race Report

It’s Monday, so that means it’s time for another race report!

On July 10, I raced the Colonial Beach International Triathlon, held in Colonial Beach, Virginia. It was an hour and a half ride from the D.C. area, but it went by quickly at 4 in the morning. My pre-race jitters mainly consisted of worrying about jellyfish in the water. Sections of the Chesapeake Bay in the summer are known for these “sea nettles,” and Colonial Beach is no exception.

We arrived by 5:30 am, parked nearby, checked in easily, and had transition set up by 6. Overall the race had approximately 300 competitors, and transition was very nicely laid out. Not too far to run out of the water, and not too far to run the bike out/in. I finished my pre-race “meal,” a banana and a clif bar, by 6:15, and sipped on some water and sat on the truck tailgate watching the sunrise. Transition closed around 6:35, and we headed down to the water for a warm up swim. The water was luke warm. Checking the NOAA information on the ride down, I saw the water temp was around 83 degrees. By far the warmest water I’ve swam in during a triathlon. But, to aid in my jellyfish fears, warmer water = higher probability of sea nettles. And, lack of rain (no rain for five days) means higher salinity = higher probability of sea nettles. I was driving myself crazy with this jellyfish fear. Honestly, it wasn’t about getting stung, it was simply about accidentally grabbing one on my stroke and feeling that squishy-ness between my fingers. Gross.

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(Isn’t that gorgeous?)

Swim

The first half of the swim went well. They had the swim waves separated out M39 and under, M40 and over, W39 and under, W40 and over, etc. Thankfully I got to watch the guy I’m seeing swim in the first wave for a couple minutes. He is a notoriously poor swimmer, so watching him manage it made me realize my fears were basically unfounded. I also just tried to focus on catching him in the water, since he had an eight minute head start on me. Off into the slightly salty, warm water, thrashing around with the other girls. I don’t know what it was about this race, maybe everyone had the same jellyfish fears, but I got jostled so much during this race, throughout the whole course. Constant arms, people accidentally grabbing my feet, bumping into me. It didn’t really bother me; it was almost nice knowing someone else was there. I latched onto a girl to draft off of, and while she didn’t do the best job at sighting, it was better than having to sight for myself. The orange buoys that they had to mark the straightaways were somewhat difficult to see. She also had a slightly quicker pace than me, so I had to really focus to keep up with her. The second half of the swim was fairly choppy. It was against the current, and against the waves, and although I felt like I made good time, I exited the water a little disappointed when I looked at my watch. Thankfully, I didn’t encounter any jellyfish though, although I heard a few people mention getting stung.

Swim split: 39:59

T1

Up the pebbled beach, up the small hill into transition. Goggles and cap off, helmet, shoes, sunglasses on, wiped my face off because people mentioned the water was filthy. And off I went. I’ve stopped drying myself off in T1 at all because I’ve realized I basically dry off on the bike.

T1: 2:10

Bike

The bike course was an out-and-back of 12 miles each way. Thankfully, parts of the bike course were shaded and it was actually a very comfortable ride compared to the heat our area has been dealing with lately. Within the first two miles of the bike, I felt my foot and calf start to get all crampy, so I quickly took some salt, which made things all better. While the website for the course stated that the bike course was flat, it was not entirely flat. There were a few hills, some shorter, some longer, that made the course more interesting. It was hard to stay in aero for some of it, and I was sucking wind on a few hills. In total I ate four Clif Shot Bloks (the cran-raspberry flavor is amazing), and drank a bottle of water. I felt like I was riding faster than I actually was. I need to get my bike fixed; my front derailleur will overshift from the small ring to big ring, and shift the chain right off the bike. Hence, I’m limited in that, if I start in the small ring, I have to stay in the small ring. Somewhat limits being able to put the hammer down when possible. But I will be taking my bike for a tune-up sometime soon. If I was a bike stud, I’d fix it myself, but I don’t want to accidentally make it worse.

Bike split: 1:26:33

T2

T2 was alright, not as fast as it could have been because my foot cramped putting my sneaker on. Stretched that out a bit as I tied my other shoelace, put on my hat, wiped the rest of the swim muck off of me (gross), and off I went.

T2: 2:22

Run

The run was beautiful. It was an out-and-back course as well, paralleling the beach for a while before turning into a neighborhood on a bay. They had aid stations every mile or so, with Gatorade, sprite, and water. I took some water every other aid station, and tried to power through. At the turnaround, I was running 9-ish minute miles. On the back half of the run though, I was really starting to feel my legs and ended up slowing to a 10:30-ish pace. Not my best run time, but mentally I was all there. So that’s a win in it of itself. There were no moments of self-doubt or self-pity, and it didn’t hurt that my guy was somewhere behind me, trying to catch me.

Run split: 59:01

Overall: 3:10:36

Although the time was a little disappointing for me, I actually felt really strong during this race. This was my second Olympic, and I PR’ed by three minutes. I also beat the guy I’m seeing by 10 minutes, so that feels good because he’s such a stud in every other aspect of fitness.

I do attribute my lack of a better result to the all-day soccer tournament I played in the day before. I know it was stupid to do, but I really wanted to play some fussball and I thoroughly enjoyed sprinting around the field for hours. I ended the soccer-filled day with some sore feet, two serious blisters on my pinky toes, four shots on goal, sunburnt, but tired and happy. Again, not the smartest thing to do the day before a race, but you live and learn. It does make me wonder what my race would have been like had my legs been fresh. I would definitely race Colonial Beach again, and would jump at the opportunity to do it when I know there will be no jellyfish present.

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