Last month I raced in Washington DC’s premier multisport race the Events DC Nation’s Triathlon. It was a weekend long event with an expo, clinics, and post-race activities. I was not able to attend everything, but there was plenty to do in addition to the typical DC sightseeing.
I headed down to the race expo to pick up my packet and see all the vendors at the expo at the Washington Hilton. I figured I’d hit the expo up a day early and try to skip dealing with the crowd that would surely happen on Saturday.
As I entered I ran into my friend Christine at the Information Booth. She was helping out with getting people information about the expo and how they could navigate everything on race weekend. Things like timing of events, bike racking down at Transition, and shuttle service questions.
I headed into the expo and straight away I was greeted by the Etihad Airways Flight Attendants. They welcomed me and directed me towards the Registration table where I had my registration confirmed and was sent along to pick up my packet. The volunteers were very helpful and explained everything to me. The process from start to finish took all of 5 minutes and went super smooth (thank you volunteers!).
I walked around a bit and looked at some of the vendors. Walking through, I stopped by the Xterra Wetsuits booth to chat it up about the possibility of a wetsuit legal swim on race day. Moving along I hit up the Herbalife booth. They were having taste tests of their Herbalife24 Formula 1 Sport (chocolate) drink and talking with athletes about their nutrition plan. The product tasted great, and would have been fantastic blended with a banana.
I looked just a little bit more, but this not being my first rodeo, I headed out for the evening. All in all, I enjoyed the expo and was looking forward to the open water swim in the morning and getting my stuff ready for race day.
The day before the race this year, Events DC Nation’s Triathlon teamed up with a local open water swimming group WaveOne Swimming which had an open water swim down at the National Harbor for those who wanted to get into the Potomac prior to race day. I headed down to check it out. Unfortunately, that morning it was raining, not hard, but still raining.
There was a nice little group that was down there ready to brave the water (and the weather). Due to the rain, I didn’t get in, but hung around and talked with friends. I had a good time down there, and the WaveOne personnel were very helpful with explaining open water swimming and how the river may be on Sunday as far the race goes. After about an hour or so, I jumped on my bike and headed towards Transition.
Once at Transition, I headed to the mechanics tent (manned by Revolution Cycles) to have them take a quick look at my bike and make sure everything was in racing order. I was having an issue with my rear brake rubbing so they threw it up on their bike stand and took a look. In a few minutes everything was set. I removed some air from my tires, like I usually do, racked my bike, and headed over to take the shuttle back to the Hilton. From there I headed home for a night of relaxation.
Beep beep beep, the alarm went off at 4:00 in the morning to get me started on my trek down to Transition. I checked the Nation’s Tri Facebook page to see what the verdict was about wetsuits. To my surprise, it seemed that overnight it cooled enough for it to be wetsuit legal! So I brought my Xterra LAVA PANTS since it was legal but not cold.
I ate my breakfast, finished packing my gear, and headed out to the bus stop to head down to the race hotel to take the shuttle over to Transition.
Once I arrived down at West Potomac Park, I headed into Transition and began setting everything up. Firstly, I took my bike over to the mechanic’s area to fill up my tires. That was easy enough, so, went on with setting up transition. This time around I was only doing the Aquabike, no running for me today.
After I had everything set up, I headed out to meet up for the Team RWB prerace photo they had planned, and to chat it up prior to my warmup. I was in Wave 20 today the last wave of the Olympic distance race. After some simple short runs back and forth and light stretching I was feeling pretty good. I then turned my attention to the race course and the mental game.
The water looked a little fierce today. It looked choppy since there was a nice wind heading north up the river. I was hoping that would help get me into a rhythm on the way out on the swim and be fully warmed up heading back towards the dock. I tried not to think about it any other way. No reason to psych myself out prior to the race. I have been in open water a lot this season and every time I swam I felt great afterwards. Today should be the same.
Met up with some friends prior to checking into my coral. Said my hellos and good luck to my buddies that were there and racing, checked my dry clothes at the Bag Check, and headed into the coral.
Walking down the dock to the start, I saw my last friend before racing and gave her a hug, adrenaline was starting to kick in now. This was happening. They lined us up on the dock for the time trial start they have been doing now for years. Queued up, there was a swimmer sitting, one standing behind them, and then me. The first went off, the second sat down, and stepped up. The next group of ten went off, I sat down, and waited for my send off. GO!
The start to the swim went easy enough. I was out quick and not swarmed by other athletes. I was on the outside near the river edge and began to try and make my way inward closer to the buoys but sighting was starting to get tough. Between the choppiness and the other swimmers migrating inside was difficult.
Finally I made up to Memorial Bridge. The first 300 or so was so hard today. Even this early into the swim I was starting to have difficulty. Not because of fitness, just all the extra sighting and navigation. Even though 300 is where I was, I am sure I swam a lot more to get to that point. I made the turns and headed back down river towards the dock.
The long swim back to the dock and transition seemed to go forever. The large buoys did come, but ever so slowly. I kept churning my arms and kicking. I told myself everyone is dealing with this, nature isn’t picking on me.
Finally, I got to the turn perpendicular to the river’s edge and if I thought it was tough to get there, it got even worse! Who knew the Potomac could be so chaotic? Picked out the Medical Tent on the shore and swam towards it. It was so much easier to spot than the next buoy.
I came up to the last buoy and headed back up river to the dock. DONE! (31:35)
Running up the dock was slippery at first, but that was fine as I needed to collect my legs. They felt tired and I used the excuse of safety to take my time to get to “dry” land before running a bit. Crossed Ohio Drive and began running down the chute. People everywhere were cheering athletes on. I gave out some high five to spectators lining the T1 chute and kept on moving. One eye forward, one eye on the ground. By the time I was running through enough wet athletes had come through so I didn’t want to slip on mud so I dialed it back a bit.
Finally, I was at my bike. I put on my sunglass, followed by my helmet, socks and shoes, and grabbed my bike and headed out of Transition. (3:13)
Once I was on my bike I was ready to lay it all out there. Being my hometown race, I knew all the streets we were racing on and knew when and where to push it. Heading north along the riverside into Rock Creek Park was tough. Today there was a wicked headwind. I know that as we enter RCP you are on a false flat and it is a little tougher than you would think, but today it was nasty. Push, push, and keep pushing is what I told myself. I hit the turnaround near the climb up to Calvert Street NW and proceeded to push it on my way down towards Georgetown, still in a headwind. Heading south it was a little more protected being directly on the tree line, but still not clear.
Once back near K Street NW, we were funneled up onto Whitehurst Freeway. Being completely exposed on the bridge was rough, but all of us had to deal it. I got to see some cheering teammates at the turnaround on the bridge and I used it as motivation to keep on trucking.
After the Georgetown spur, we wind around the Kennedy Center a bit on the roads which encircle it, hit the E Street Tunnel, back around onto the expressway past the Watergate, and back into Rock Creek for lap two.
After another lap of the same leg sapping wind, I finally was heading back south for the final part of the bike. Pushing past Transition along Independence Avenue SW, the street was lined with spectators cheering athletes on. We hit 14th Street SW and head across the Potomac River while riding the HOV Bridge towards the Pentagon. This is where the wind was the worst! People were getting backed up with the tough cross wind riding across the river. Again, I told myself we all are dealing with this and dig deep your almost done. After we did the turnaround to head back to Transition, the wicked headwind was back and it was almost defeating unless you knew there was only a few miles left. It was a tough ride across the bridge back into DC.
After getting back into the cover of the city, I pushed it up 14th Street and on through to Independence. Today there was no slowing down heading into T2. Once I crossed that timing mat I was done. So outside of safety, my concern was time and being spent when I hit that line. (1:05:15)
Crossing the timing mat ended my race. So I leisurely strolled back to my rack location trying to stay out of other athletes’ way. Once I arrived back at my spot, my Finisher Medal was waiting for me on my number. It was a cute gesture that they placed your medal for you while you were out on the bike.
I racked my bike, put on some sunscreen, and headed over to the Finish Line Festival.
Once I got over to the Finish Line, I grabbed some waters and walked around and mixed in with the other spectators. I ended up finding some of my Team RWB friends and cheered in some Eagles that were finishing up their races.
After that, I went over to the Festival to grab some grub and relax. I luckily was invited to the VIP Hospitality tent, so the spread there for the athletes was great.
I ran into to some more friends and we grabbed a table and sat around talking about our races. Some had victories, others struggles, but we all agreed it was a tough day to be out there. I had a great time out there racing and I can’t wait until next season and do it all over again (next time with the run…maybe).