Nation’s Triathlon, Olympic Distance. Sept 12, 2010
Pre-race Highlights: Tri Gods were smiling on me: a delayed race start allowed me 30 “bonus” minutes to completely set-up and tear-down my “tri space” 3X before finally being flushed out of the “TA” by jack-booted thugs at 7:15 AM. Rather than sit in steady rain / drizzle, strolled to Starbucks on the GW campus with some late-wave tri pals and nursed a Grand Latte until my wave (31 of 33) finally launched at 9:25 AM. Grade: B+ (latte + warm, dry Starbucks rescued it from B-)
1.5K Swim: Zipped into my suit with seconds to spare. While treading water waiting for the horn, exchanged a few kicks and pleasantries with fellow triathletes. The horn blew and the churning began in earnest: 1500m to go! I made it past the 200M buoy maintaining a steady pace and grew stronger with each passing buoy. On my return leg past Memorial Bridge, I began to swim through multi-colored swim caps from earlier waves. With about 200m to go, I began to turn my arms over faster, but congestion near the swim exit and a wider turn than I wanted “watered down” my effort. But as I clambered up the exit ramp – shoulders a little tired – I was ecstatic. Goal: 30:00 (a bit of a stretch goal). Actual Time 32:09, Pace 34:29/mi. Did not hyperventilate, and did not break my stroke through the entire swim. Grade: B+ (AG Position = 144/315 Overall: 1843/4563)
T1: Location on the left edge of the transition area furthest (think “Pentagon City”) from the Bike Out added 100 meters to my route. But leaked precious seconds removing my wetsuit due to trouble pulling it down as I exited the water. Then my socks were inside out – I can’t wear socks unless they are right side-in, that’s one of my rules. Another 5 seconds. I made good time running from the swim area, but had to get around a few slow people. Goal: 3:30 Time: 4:40
Grade: B- (AG Position:114 / Overall: 1592)
40K Bike: Under sub-par conditions, I was careful to navigate the tricky turns leading to Whitehurst Freeway, then weaved through a phalanx of riders along the narrow stretches of Canal Road. But once I hit Clara Barton past Chain Bridge, I opened it up and hammered in aero position 16 steady miles, clocking 26~27MPH, but going even faster (30+) on the slight down hills coming back toward Georgetown and onto Rock Creek Parkway. To be honest, I’ve had tougher rides to work with the climb up Fernwood, but I’ve never ridden so fast for so long in my life. I went from 144th in my group after T1 to 20th. Time: 1:00:31. Pace 24.6 MPH (Goal: 23 MPH). Grade: A+ (AG Position: 20 / Overall: 294)
T2: As I reached the end of my bike, I stretched out my hip flexors, lower back, and calves. I had hydrated well during my ride and the cool, damp weather reduced the cramping effects of the ride. Took one last swig of Gatorade, slipped on my running shoes, and took off. Goal: 1:30 Time: 1:31. Grade: A (AG position: 18 / Overall: 286)
10K Run: For the first mile, my feet felt a little numb, but my quads and hamstrings responded much better since the first 400 meters was over grass. I ran the first 2 miles in 14:30, on my goal pace of 7:15/mi. At Hains Point I was under my goal pace (~7:10/mi.). As I by-passed the final aid station around mile 4, I was burning the boats as I calibrated my finish line approach.
At the 14th St Bridge I mentally put myself on the WJ Track, counting down the laps: 3, 2, 1… I passed the Jefferson Memorial and up over the short span of the Tidal Basin bridge and spotted the surging crowds by the Finish Area. I was thinking “Top Ten” when I noticed a guy on my right shoulder:: no one had passed me since Mile 1, and I noticed a “45” on his calf: it was a Stalking Horse!
I answered his stride, and he sensed my fight! I matched him kick for kick in a dead sprint with 50m to go. I felt my legs and lungs screaming out, but he didn’t let up. He nosed me out by 2 seconds at the finish line, taking 12th place. Ultimately, there was no Top 10 finish at stake, no podium – just pride. I told him “Good Race” as we both doubled-over at the finish, catching our breath. 6 seconds separated me from the top 10. We didn’t know it then, but had neither one of us pushed the Top 10 would have appeared further out of reach for both of us.
6 seconds out of a 32:09 swim…
6 seconds out of a 4:40 T1…
6 seconds… to Top 10
Run Goal: 7:15 Pace. Actual 7:03 / 43:39 Grade: A
Final Time: 2:22:59
Final AG: 13
Final Overall 264
My Overall Grade: A
Triathlon: Live it. Love it. Earn it.