5 Critical Race Tips For The Grand Columbian Half-Ironman

Welcome to the second part of Grand Columbian Race Course Tips, from triathlon coach Ben Greenfield! Here’s what you’re going to get in this three-part series that will be released over the next few weeks:

Part 1: 7 Tips To Execute A Perfect Grand Columbian Race Week 

Part 2: 5 Critical Race Tips For The Grand Columbian Half-Ironman

Part 3: 5 Critical Race Tips For The Grand Columbian Olympic Distance

So let’s jump right in (and be sure to check out the end of this article, where you’ll learn how to get a free video entitled “6 Grand Columbian Race Day Domination Secrets”).

#1: The Swim – “Sight The White Line Underwater”

Ben Greenfield Swim Photo
Ben Greenfield at the Grand Columbian Triathlon

Most of the Grand Columbian swim has a white rope underwater that forms a straight line from buoy to buoy. Conveniently, this means you won’t have to sight much during the race, and you can instead keep your head buried and your body streamlined in the water as you focus on that white line and only occasionally look up to see how far you have to go until the next turn. On the other hand, because most people are going to know about that white line, there’s going to be a “free-for-all” when the swim first starts, during which everybody tries to get on top of that line. So be mentally prepared to be just another bowling ball in a washing machine for those first few hundred yards.

#2: Transition One – Be Ready To Climb

Very quickly out of transition, you’re going to have a significant climb on your bike. Be sure to leave your bike in transition in a gear that enables you to effectively climb, and also consider waiting to get much water until that first aid station, since whatever water you have on your bike is water you’re going to have to tow up that hill!

#3: The Bike – Attack Early, Then Let the Legs Spin As You Descend

I’ve seen many folks hold back and be way too conservative for the climb coming out of Grand Coulee, not wanting to “blow up” the legs for the rest of the ride. But the fact is that early in the bike ride, and throughout most of the flats and rollers on top, you can ride somewhat aggressively, because there is a long descent at the end of the course during which you are going to be able to rest your legs significantly, and “spin out” much of the burn.

Ben Greenfield Running
Ben Greenfield Running

#4: Transition Two: Cool-Down

The Grand Columbian run is tough, hot and deceptively hilly, and you don’t want to go in unprepared or too hasty. Take your time in transition, take a few deep breaths, gather up your fuel and hydration, then head out. You may even want to dose some cold water on your head to let yourself cool before starting the tough run course. Especially on the long course, it will pay to stick to your plan and be prepared on the run.

#5: The Run: Think About Form & Cadence

You’ll find yourself frequently running uphill on the Grand Columbian run course, and it’s very easy to let your form fall to pieces when climbing. To remedy this, try to think robotically – lean forward using small, powerful steps with precise arm strokes, deep, controlled breathing and an elbow bend of about 90 degrees. You can then let your body fly on the downhills, taking longer strides, and allowing your arms to swing more. But on the uphills, have an intense focus on form and cadence.

If you found this article helpful, then you must check out Grand Columbian on Facebook, where I will be releasing a video to Grand Columbian Facebook fans only, entitled “6 Grand Columbian Race Day Domination Secrets”. The video will be released in those last crucial weeks leading up to the race, so be sure to get over to Grand Columbian on Facebook now!

Image: Ben Greenfield
Ben Greenfield

About The Author: Ben Greenfield (pictured left) is a sports nutritionist and triathlon coach. Check out his helpful websites below, and look for Ben at the Grand Columbian event to get any last minute race tips!

Free Blog & Podcast From BenGreenfieldFitness.com 
Ben’s triathlon coaching at PacificFit.net
Group coaching options with Ben at the Rock Star Triathlete Academy