Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Nation's Triathlon 2011 Race Report

This year The Nation's Triathlon fell on 9/11 - giving everyone the opportunity to race through the Nation's capital on the 10th anniversary alongside veteran's, cadets, active duty, and first responders.  I was fortunate enough to have family and friends around all weekend.  My mom and our family friend Christie came into town on Friday and Ryan came in on Friday evening.  My brother and Ryan also raced while Mom, Christie, and brother's friend Kara were super fans all weekend long.

Despite the horrible weather all week leading up to race weekend Saturday turned out to be gorgeous.  We ventured up to Woodley Park to the host hotel for the Race Expo.  As we exited the metro you could see large groups of triathletes heading to and from the expo.  We had to play a little frogger with a massive group of Team In Training athletes all boarding buses to go to the transition area as they were flowing strong out of every door to the hotel.  Once inside it was organized chaos.  People were everywhere - athletes, fans, volunteers, vendors, kids.  For some reason I love and thrive in this environment.  My brother and Ryan and I set about signing our waivers, picking up our race #'s, and getting our mug shots taken while my mom and Christie started exploring the expo floor.  After finishing the business we set about trying free samples of Cliff products, Muscle Milk, cheese, and some other goodies.  I was even lucky enough to win The Evolution of Running DVD from the DC Tri Club tent.  My brother learned a lesson the hard way last year but my biggest pet peeve with the setup is the fact that you have to venture to the back corner of the expo to pick up you race shirt and swag.  I understand they want you to venture through all the vendors and spend money and what not but as I'm sure many did this year, my brother easily missed this last year.  Once you've finished with getting your packet and and get sucked into all the vendors of the expo it's easy to forget that you still have more to pick up.  Maybe the entire packet should just be in the back if they want you to see all the vendors.

After taking a break for lunch and stopping at my brother's house for some R&R we headed down to transition to rack our bikes.  It was muddy but not horrible.  Due to the weather leading up to the race the racks were not specifically marked for numbers so it was first come first serve withing the rows designated for your start wave.  I was lucky enough to grab a spot on the end of the rack near the main aisle - prime transition location achieved.  Transition was one very long rectangle with 1 entrance (swim in and bike in) and 1 exit (bike out and run out).  Ideally we were going to rack our bikes and meet mom and Christie along the other side of transition.  As we headed out towards the bike out and run out exit we opted to get body marked on race morning and continued toward the exit.  When we got to bike out/run out we were told my the security personnel manning the exit that you couldn't get out that way because they were trying to discourage people from jumping fences.  This reasoning made no sense to me, I said were leaving this way tomorrow right so there's an exit up there, to which he told us they had just blocked it off.  Why in the world would the race organizer's do this?  You've completely just encourage me to jump a fence instead of walking all the way back across transition just to turn around and walk all the way across transition again but on the other side of the fence.  Stupid if you ask me, you've already employed security to be there, let the people use the exit!

We checked out the MLK memorial and the Vietnam wall before grabbing a cab back to Mom and Christie's hotel and resting up before dinner.  I filled a hotel recycle bin with ice water and had a nice ice soak for my legs.  Felt awesome!  After a bit a recuperation we went to Bucca di Beppo for dinner with Kara.  Awesome dinner with awesome company and card loading success!  Ryan and I returned home after a post dinner walk and made final race preparations - transition bag packed, numbers on helmet and race belt, etc.

I started off the morning right with Red Berries and Almond milk - like I've said before the breakfast of champions!  Slightly cool and great weather allowed us to walk down to transition.  We arrived with plenty of time to set up our transition areas, get body marked, pick up our timing chips, find the port-o john's and relax.   As Ryan and I both compete in the 24 and under division we were in the last 2 start waves.  The race got off to a great start with a member of DC Tri singing the National Anthem and the start waves heading off in small groups every 8-12 seconds.  Ryan and I were able to find my brother's start wave and admire is pre-race haircut and wish him well before he was ushered to the starting pen.  We then waited and waited and waited for what seemed like ever, at least for me to start our races.  My group started about an hour and twenty minutes after the initial start of the race and Ryan's group only shortly before that.

Do you have any tips to stay occupied and warm when you have to wait for the race start?

THE SWIM - 1500m - 0:00
My fastest swim yet. Actually it was cancelled due to the currents and debris in the Potomac from the constant rain we had leading up to race weekend.

T1 - 1:31
This was the start of the race.  We ran into transition got our bikes and off we went.  I chose to start the race in helmet, sunglasses and barefoot.  I put on socks and cycling shoes, grabbed my bike and headed out of transition   Due to a large mud pit shortly before the mount line a bottle neck occurred, slightly irritating but not a game changer.  I noticed others ran into transition in cycling shoes and just grabbed their bikes.  I was attempting to keep my nice white shoes nice and white and they pretty much still are after a little cleaning.

THE BIKE - 25 miles -1:07:55
I felt great on the bike.  I was passing people pretty much the entire ride - I guess that's what happens when you are in the very last start wave.  The course was narrow and a bit congested a some points but other than that I loved it.  The bike course is one of the reasons I came back to the race after last year, it's one of the fastest and flatest courses in the area.  I stayed well hydrated on the ride with my aerodrink and was able to easily take my 2 gels since I put a small aero pack on my top tube.  I also took a bit of Heed with me.  I think staying hydrated on the bike helped me out a lot, in previous races I would opt to drink less so I wouldn't have to slow down.

T2 - 1:36
Not a bad transition time.  I ran in with the bike, re-racked, changed shoes, grabbed race belt and 2 Powergels and off I went.  This race was my first time wearing my new DC Tri Club tri top.  I thought I would utilize the 2 pockets on each side and store 1 gel in each.

THE RUN - 10k - 45:35
Another 10k PR - cha ching.  Though the course distance may have been about .15 miles short of a real 10k. Shortly into the run the nice pockets on each side of the tri top failed me - I lost both gels.  Lucky for me I hadn't even made it to mile 1 yet - where I knew they would be handing out cliff gels.  I gladly took 2 as I passed and put them away for safe keeping my sports bra.  I focused and reeling one person at a time in and passing them.  I was in a zone after about mile one and pushing it and I felt great.  It helps to have the run course be one you pretty much run at least weekly!  There were supporters along almost the entire route and water/gatorade stops every mile.  The crowd really grew as I approached the finish chute and it felt great running in hard know my mom, Christie, brother, and Kara were watching.

TOTAL TIME - 1:56:36

I received my medal and wandered down the finish chute area in search of my family.  Alas, I found them and soon after we were able to cheer for Ryan as he approached the finish line to his first Nation's Triathlon.  I was able to stop by and catch up with some DC Tri folk at the club tent.  Rory, Ryan and I loaded up with Muscle Milk, Gatorade and Water before heading over to get our timing print out.  I was unsure at this point what place I exactly was in.  I knew someone had passed me on the bike but I had no clue if I passed her on the run or if anyone else passed me on the run, though I did try to pay attention to the calf of anyone passing me.  We got the print out and I was elated to find out that I podiumed.  It had been somewhat of an unspoken goal for me, I knew a lot of pieces would have to come together for me to finish top 3 and I couldn't control some of them - such as a competitor's pace.  I nailed the bike and the run, PRing in both and transitioned well enough to earn 2nd in Females 18-24.

My brother and I got some athlete food, Qdoba, and joined the others at a shaded table near the stage.  A cover band entertained us and we all chatted about different aspects of the race experience.  We again waited for what seemed like ever for my award as they went in the same order we started, so my age group was last, again!  This was the first "big" (82 people in my AG) race I've finished well at.  I went from 28th in my AG last year to 2nd this year cutting off more than 12 minutes from my bike time and 8 minutes from my run time.  I am excited for what the future holds as I am pushed to higher standards as I age up to the 25-29 AG come January.

What is your ideal post race food?

I love this race.  Despite the swim being cancelled it was still great.  The atmosphere and the size are unmatched.  The man who does the course briefings and awards is also very entertaining.  I recommend this race to anyone.  How many chances do you get to bike and run the streets of Washington, DC without any cars or traffic signals?  I will be back, but not next year, as I have committed to the Tawas Triathlon Festival which is held the same weekend.  This year the Tawas Triathlon Festival honored my father who volunteered there last year and probably would have raced it next year with us.

What is your most favorite race?
Anyone know how/when to go about getting a sponsor or 2?

PS: I couldn't be more excited for Augusta 70.3 on 9/25!!!

Your Race Resultsview all results

Age GroupGenderOverall
2/82 top 2.4%45/1457 top 3.1%636/3884 top 16.4%


  1. Awesome girl, I just LOVE you and am so very, very proud of you!MOM

  2. Congrats on the poduim finish!!! That is awesome!!!

    Favorite post race food - Pizza
    Favorite Race - Tri for Joe - small local charity race, the swim is in a wave pool
    Sponsors - The thing with sponsors is what can you do for them, not what they can do for you. It is tough to find them, I would start with, what are favorite shoes, favorite nutrtion, etc and visit their websites and see if they sponsor age group atheltes, I know Brooks, GU Energy, Honey Stingers all sponsor AG'ers. You will more then likely just end up with discounted gear for the first couple of years, later on, you might get "some" free gear.

  3. great job on your podium finish. that's a quick bike time!