Colonial Beach Sprint Triathlon

Doran | July 13th, 2011 - 1:50 am

This weekend the co-founders/authors of Qwickness raced the same triathlon for the first time since Ironman Florida in November 2009.  Needless to say, we were both pretty excited.  As our readers know, I’ve been racing regularly over the past few years.  Since IMF 2009, Fred has been busy trying to get his company off the ground, and hasnt done any triathlons.  He happened to be in Virginia for a few weeks, and somebody (wonder who???) managed to convince him to race Colonial Beach Sprint Triathlon just for fun.  I wont speak for Fred, but it was really fun. 

Pre-Race and the New Strategy:

I left the house at 3:30am and was one of the first to arrive at the race site; it was about 5:15.  As I took my bike out of the car, I realized that overnight my back tire had gone flat.  Luckily, I had plenty of time and it didnt take the bike support tent long to change the tire and get me back on my way.  Other than that it was just your standard race morning.  Perfect weather, temps in the 70’s and sunny.  Unlike most days, my race plan was to stay with the front group at all costs, and risk completely blowing up on the bike or run.  Now that I’ve done several sprint-distance races and always finished fairly well, I was really looking for a breakthrough performance where I actually “raced” rather than just kind of staying within myself, pacing everything, and being too conservative.  I’ve been reading Macca‘s book, “I’m Here to Win” and its really inspired me to race a lot harder, especially now that I am sometimes within reach of placing top-10. 


As I said, my goal for the swim was definitely to stay with the lead pack, and I sort of considered this the easy part of my new strategy.  Well, it didnt quite go that way.  The swim was in  the roughest water of any triathlon I’ve ever entered.  Although technically in the Potomac River, the area much more resembled the ocean.  It was a beach start, we lined up in the sand at the waters edge and sprinted in.  I was in the second row of racers to enter the water, and heading out to the first buoy I was immediately punished by the incoming waves.  Granted, it wasnt horrible, but made it hard to hold a line and often the swells were so large that you could not see the buoy when sighting.  I ended up losing the first few swimmers fairly quickly, and found myself veering a little off-course, which is uncharacteristic.  By the first turn, I knew I was out of it, so I worked really hard to stay as close to the leaders as possible.  With the swells and rough water, it was hard to tell exactly how the race was unfolding, but I knew I wasn’t up front and I was swimming extremely hard.  Making the turn towards the beach and swim exit I gained a better feel for the situation and realized I was probably only a minute or so behind the first few guys, not ideal, but not terrible (race results show I was only about 30 seconds back).  I know I’m not a great biker, but I told myself I would again push myself as hard as possible to stay close to the front of the race.   I made it through T1 as fast as I could, ready to attack on the bike.


I’ve never started off the bike with such a high heart rate.  I was a little concerned at how hard I swam, but I reminded myself of the strategy of the day, “go big or go home”.  After the first mile or so on the bike we reached a long straightaway; up ahead I could make out  police car escorting the leader, and a few people in between.  The leader was quite a distance out, but I thought I could count four or five riders, making me fifth or sixth.  For the first few miles I pedaled intensely to catch up to the others.  Soon I was sitting directy behind two people, with a third not too far up the road.  My strategy was paying dividends.  I remained weary of my new plan, because I have definitely never pushed so hard in the first five miles of th bike ride.  Usually thats the time to settle into a rythm and start to feel comfortable after the swim, but not today. Also, I usually just hope to defend on the bike, not attack and actually catch people.  In the middle miles I passed them and was again on my own.  At about the 10 mile mark two bikers came past me, so I picked up the pace and began to follow them.  With about two miles left another racer came flying by our group of three.  Normally, I would say its ok, there are only two miles left in the bike leg and I should be easing up to prepare for the run.  Not today.  So I dropped the two I had been riding with and followed the faster cyclist all the way to transition. 


I had a faster transition than the guy I came off the bike behind, and entering the out-and back 5k run course I was in 4th place.  The new plan was still working quite well, I just hoped my tired legs would hold out during the run.  The top 3 must have been pretty far up the road, I couldnt see them ahead.  At about the half mile mark, the same guy I had passed in transition came by me on the run.  Again, he was holding a much faster pace than me.  However, I picked up the speed and tried to stay right behind him.  I was successful for only a few minutes; right around the 1 mile mark he started putting some distance between us.  I knew I couldnt keep up that pace and still finish the race, so I let him go.  Looking down at my watch, I had run the first mile in about 6:35, right about the pace I expected.  Glancing back, I couldnt see anyone behind me, so now the goal was to keep a good steady pace and hold on for 5th place (knowing that my wave was Men 44 and Under, and I’d probably get beat by a few older guys, but I could hope for the best).  The second mile was extremely painful, and at the turnaround (half way), I saw several competitors had made up time and were hunting me down.  I tried to pick it up and look strong, but I was scared that any minute I’d bonk and be cooked.  With only a half mile to go, another racer passed me and again I put up the best fight I could.  I hung with him all the way to the finish, but in the end he edged my by 4 secounds.  Ouch. 


Overall, I was very happy with how the race went.  I had a plan to really be aggressive and push myself harder than I’ve gone before, in hopes of placing better and reaching a new level.  I’m not sure this was a “breakthrough performance” but I did feel much more in the mix and definitely gave it my all.  Coming away from this race I’m very happy with my bike split and run split (considering the hard riding), but will look to really improve my swimming.  With my swim background, there is no excuse for not staying with the front group.  Most importantly though, I spent some quality time with Fred after the race, catching up on life.  Triathlon is great, but ultimately relationships are more important.

Post race photo opp for the Qwickness Boys

Colonial Beach Sprint Triathlon Splits

Swim – 750m (820 yard):  12:56 (1:34 per 100 yard pace)

T1: 1:16

Bike – 14 miles:  38:30 (21.8 mph avg)

T2: 1:12

Run – 5k (3.1 miles): 20:48 (6:41 per mile pace)

Total: 1:14:39 (9 of 258 Overall , 1 of 10 in 25-29 Age Group)

One Response to “Colonial Beach Sprint Triathlon”

  1. Emily says:

    Great post! I am doing the Olympic this summer. Go hokies!

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