Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nation's Triathlon Race Report... Finally

This wast he first time I had done a triathlon relay so I didn't know what to expect out of all of it. It was as always a crisp morning in Washington DC but it would warm up quickly once the sun came up. Race day conditions were perfect... lows the mid 60s for the start with a bunch of sunshine making its way over the Washington Monument.

Swim... 1.5k
Well before I could even think about getting in the water... I had to wait and wait and wait some more. The first wave... the Elites plus Mayor Fenty went off at 7 am... as for me... I didn't go off until almost 8:20. During the hour twenty minutes time I found my quiet place to visualize the swim and the run... talked to the worried first time newbies... and just tried to chill. Finally... 27 waves later... they called the Relays in Red Caps to stage in the swim pen. We still had about nine minutes or so but it was about time.

Soon enough I was jumping back into the creepy and ugly looking Potomac River... getting ready to show it who's the boss. I wasn't going to let the Potomac win. The annoucer told us we had thirty seconds and more like 2 minutes later the horn finally blew. I staged myself on the left side being the second person back since I am a pretty good swimmer and to avoid the craziness of what at swim start can be like.

My first thought swimming out was to pick a landmark since there were practically no buoys to go by... so I chose... like everyone else the Memorial Bridge. I was suprised that without buoys I followed the pack of swimmers from my wave and swam pretty straight. I felt like I had a good even pace throughout the first half of the swim. I felt strong and confident that I would have a good swim. Centuries later... or that's what it seemed like... I finally made it to the Memorial Bridge. It was time to get over my fear of bridges collapsing on top of me and the dark waters and swim under the thing. I was suprised that the water wasn't too dark untilt he later half of the bridge which gave me some relieft. Once under the bridge it was almost turnaround time.

Coming closer to the turnaround buoys was a mess. There were people beyond people with a multitude of different color swim caps all fighting for the turnaround. Things got pretty crazy at the bouy but I made it through. Coming back I thought would be easy but essentially it was pretty rough. I found a swim cap that was about my speed and decided to follow it. Well the next thing I knew we were going out to sea. I quickly thought to see where I was in relation to the buoys and headed the other way. I got to the point where I was passing so many swim caps it wasn't funny. And then there it was the final turnaround bouy to get to the pontoon to get out of the Potomac. I came out not knowing my time but finding out later on I made it in well under half an hour... twenty eight minutes to be exact. I ran through transition to my dad to hand off the the timing chip so he could go smoke it on two wheels.

Bike... 40k (from Dad... since he was the one who did this part)

This was the first time that I’ve ever participated in a triathlon, and Marci had put the pressure on! She told me that I should shoot to do the 40K (25 miles) in 1:15, which works out to 20 mph. I’d never averaged more than 19.0, and that was on a much shorter ride. I told her that it would take me at least 1:18, or maybe 1:17 if I had a tail wind in both directions! (Yeah, right!)

I was very aware of the need not to draft, and to pass quickly when I moved out. As soon as I started I moved out to the left as there were several rather slow triathlon newbies in the right lane. It seemed that every time I moved back to the right, I had to go right back out to keep from moving up on someone else in front of me. It was great to be able to ride north up Rock Creek Parkway with no cars, but I quickly found that none of the patches on the little potholes in the left lane were smoothed out very well. In a state of continual passing, I didn’t realize how fast I was going. When I made the turn at the north end of the first leg of the course I couldn’t believe that I had averaged over 20 mph!. Yeah, but I still had 20 miles to go.

After returning down the Rock Creek Parkway we made a fairly tight left turn and then climbed up to the Whitehurst Freeway which passes over Water Street in Georgetown (I commute to work on Water Street) and then onto Canal Road. The westboundride up Canal Road was what could be described as a “false flat”, but by now I was playing “tag” with one particular guy who would pass me, go to the right, and I would pass him. So I continued to move, almost oblivious to the fact that the road has several ups and downs. Just before the end of the 7 ½ mile outbound leg there was a very difficult uphill that lasted about 200 yards. I used that stretch to recover and drink. And as I made the turn I noticed that I was at 20.03 mph! I had to keep it above 20. Canal Road was narrower than Rock Creek Parkway and the ride back seemed very crowded. I continued to play tag with the guy on the yellow bicycle. Finally the last few miles after passing under the Capital Crescent Trail bridge are flat or downhill. I couldn’t believe I still had the energy to crank it up. I never noticed as I passed the Kennedy Center or the Lincoln Memorial. As the average speed on the computer said 20.9 I tried to push it up to 21 on Independence Avenue but there were too many other riders slowing for the dismount line. I finished in 1:12 and averaged just about 20.9. And a sweet victory--I passed my friend on the yellow bike (I owe him a thank you for spurring me on to speeds I didn’t think possible for me) in the last quarter mile. I couldn’t believe how fast I had ridden. And what made it most worthwhile was seeing Marci cheering like crazy for me as I ran my bike back into the transition area!

Run... 10k
As soon as dad came over with his bike... I took the timing chip and velcrod it around my ankle and was off. The first mile of the run was sweet and flipping fast. I was running at a seven thirty somethin pace... perfect... I was going to have a great run today. Not so much the truth. After running down Ohio Drive along the Potomac toward Hains Point... my muscles started to tighten up from just sitting around for almost an hour fifteen. My pace got slower and slower and I felt sluggish.

Once to Hains Point I thought I would be fine and crusing... such a different story. My pace was hitting the eight and a half minute mark... cruddy poop. I knew I would be in for a disasterous run. I was passing people left and right but was still going slower than imagined. I finally found my target for Hains Point and just kept up with her. We played cat and mouse for a while but she finally decided I was going to slow and knocked it up a bit. I wasn't able to keep up with her anymore. Once around Hains Point we made our way toward the bridge over the tidal basin where the crowds were out in full force cheering us on... telling us we looked fabulous... even though we looked far from that. Afer turning around at the cone and going back over the bridge we were on the homestretch. Once back onto the Ohio Drive feet from the finish... the crowds got thicker and thicker again... I knew I was almost home and in safely. I took in the last few yards of the run after hearing my name. I saw dad there cheering his head off for me and high fived him shortly before I crossed the finish line. I went over the timing mat and stopped my watch... 51:33 was my time... so much for a fabulous run.

Overall a funtabulous race. Next year I will be tackling the race on my own trying to better my own Olympic PR of 2:29. We'll just have to wait and see!

More to come...

5 comments:

Amy said...

LOVE that you showed that ugly river who's boss! Not sure what it is about open-water swim that makes us assign human characteristics to bodies of water, but I now see the Chesapeake Bay as an archnemesis to be treated with great respect.

And don't be so hard on yourself about the run — sure, it's not your best time, but 51:33 ain't too shabby, either!

Finally, the best part by far was the contribution from your dad, both in writing and in the race. I hope you appreciate how cool it is you got to do it together. :)

Heidi Austin said...

congrats! that is so cool that you did it with your dad :-) how fun! don't worry about your run... that will come with time!

TRI-james said...

Congrats! Sounds like you and your dad had a blast!

Rainmaker said...

Congrats to both of you! Nicely done!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

I love that you did this with your dad!!! Congrats on the relay! Well done :)