Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Race Recap: Nation's Tri

Who doesn't love another awesome race in downtown Washington, DC?!?! I've been dying to do Nation's Tri ever since I first heard about, despite the Potomac swim, so I was really excited to register and make this the final hurrah for my season.

Here's how it went down:

Saturday afternoon K and I drove down from Baltimore to DC. One of my friends who was also racing was gracious enough to let us crash with her for the night, so I was all packed up with a weekend bag plus transition bag plus nutrition bag plus bike.....lots of stuff to carry around. We drove first to West Potomac Park and decided to park there by transition, then take the shuttle from there to the expo at the Hilton. There wasn't much info about parking during bike racking, just that there would be limited parking and lots of street blocks during the race, so we decided to take the chance.

When we got to the park, we had no problem parking on the street not too far from transition. It was blocked off and made a one way street for the weekend, and lots of people were coming in and out with their bikes. We left the car there, then took the Greyhound shuttle up to the expo. A lot of people were apparently riding their bikes to the expo, then to bike racking, and either taking the shuttle back to the Hilton or taking a bikeshare back to their homes, since the bikeshare right by transition was cleaned out.

The expo was a little tight, and kind of oddly laid out. On walking in, we kind of wandered around a little bit before finding the check in area. After standing in line to walk up to one of the three or four volunteers at check in, they asked for photo ID, USAT card, and two waivers. One of the waivers had been emailed out the week before, but the second one was all new, so the line was pretty backed up with people filling out the second waiver. After that, I took the waiver to pick up my race packet at one of the tables behind the checkin. There, I got my wristband, put my race number on my swim cap, and then was told to go activate the timing chip and pick up a strap at the back of the room. From there, apparently I was supposed to go pick up my shirt and bag, but that was on the other side of the expo. I saw a lot of people wandering around looking for it, and even met people in transition who still hadn't picked up their bags, so they had to go back to the expo just to get their shirts. Poor flow at the expo!!

After wandering around the expo a bit and picking up some new flavors of Gu, K and I stopped at a little French place outside the hotel for a late lunch. We then grabbed the shuttle back to the transition area to rack my bike. I put my stickers on (there was one big number for the bike, as usual, and a tony one for the stem. Looking around, though, people had this tiny one on some pretty random parts of the bike. The sticker sheet also include stickers for special needs bags and swim to bike bag....even though we clearly didn't need them) and then found my spot on the rack. Like Iron Girl, they had stickers on the racks so everyone had a designated spot.

Just as a side note, transition looked HUUUUGE! There were about 25+ rows of racks, and swim/bike in on one end and bike/run out at the other.....this looked like it was going to be a lot of running in transition.

After checking out the in/out portions of transition and the dock for the swim, we headed back to my friends' place for pizza and an early bedtime.

Race Day
Race day came bright and early, as it usually does. I checked my phone first thing to see the weather, and also saw an alert on facebook saying the swim was cancelled! Apparently the heavy rain over night had caused an unacceptable amount of sewage in the area we were supposed to be swimming....implying that there was merely an acceptable level normally. Awesome.

Whenever a major part of a race, or the whole race (see Iron Girl Atlanta 2013), is cancelled, I always have mixed feelings. On the one hand, that's one less thing I have to do! On the other, I trained for that swim! Oh well.....

We still showed up to transition a little after 6, and set everything up. I borrowed someone's pump to pump my own tires this time! Then, we went out to wait.

Apparently, the swim was scheduled to be a time trial start by wave, with the first wave around 7, and the first sprint wave around 9. Now, there were something like 36 waves, and I was in wave I wasn't starting anytime soon. My friend and I just hung out on the street outside our corral and waited with K. And waited some more. We finally got into our corral at about 8:10, and by that time, the announcement came out that the leader was already at mile 3. Of the run. CRAZY! We finally lined up, and we were off! I jumped on my bike, ran out with no problems, and attacked the bike course!

The bike course for Nation's Tri goes through a lot of downtown DC, so there's a lot of room, but some pretty tricky turns. For the most part, it's fairly flat and fast, which is great! I kept my cadence fairly high, and hit over my goal of 18mph for most of the course, except for the turns, which really did slow me down. There were a few moments where I felt comfortable and didn't really push the pace, but caught myself!
Bike: 1:24:32

The transition to the run was pretty fast, and before I knew it I was out on the run course. While I was hoping for a fairly fast run, I haven't ran more than a mile since Iron Girl three weeks ago, so my expectations weren't that high. I think I hit the first water point around 9 minutes, and my pace just went downhill from there. On the upside, I didn't feel drained, but I definitely didn't feel fast. I kept it around my steady ten minute pace going into the last mile, where I did have to stop a few times to shake out my quads.
Heading into the finish chute, I wasn't sure if I would be able to kick it up enough to run all the way through, but the crowd was great! It's hard to run slowly through so much cheering! K even got a real video of my finish this time!
Run: 1:03:26

Overall, I'd say this event was great, and I can't wait to do the whole thing!

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