Category Archives: triathlon

Washington DC Triathlon

Washington DC Triathlon
Start time: 6/19/11, 7:30am
Location: Potomac River, National Mall, Whitehurst Freeway
Distance: 800m swim / 20k bike / 7.5k run
Splits: 17:42 / 46:10 / 48:00
Total time: 2:04:00
Total Miles For June: 47 miles
Total Miles For 2011: 354 miles

I signed up for the Washington DC Triathlon… well, not on a whim, but almost a spur-of-the-moment. I’d had to cancel running the Columbia Triathlon this May due to illness, so I started thinking about the DC Tri in June as a replacement. Here’s the funny thing; I was signed up for both races last year and ended up running Columbia but canceled the DC Tri due to, yes, illness. I also remembed that last year the DC Tri was blazing hot that day. So instead of signing up for the Olympic/International distance, I went for the Sprint course. That way if it was baking outside, I’d at least be done a little earlier, right?

I almost had to sit around pre-race longer than my race itself (it was awfully close). The transition area closed at 5:45, and my swim wave was the absolute last to go in, around 7:30. Come to think of it, I probbaly did sit around longer than I raced. (Yeesh.) The swim, once I finally got there, was an interesting experience. I’d neer had a “jump in off a dock” start before, and the water was less than a degree under the maximum temperature for a wetsuit. I finally decided not to use mine, figuring what I’d gain in boyancy I’d lose in transition removing it. The water was indeed just fine, temperature-wise. A lot of people swimming sideways and hanging onto buoys right off the bat, though, which was odd. I knew my swim time would be subpar for me (I have not been good about keeping up with my swims this year) and sure enough, I was about two minutes off of where I should’ve been. I also managed to scrape my knee on the ramp as I was exiting the water. Potomac River water, yuck. (I used a lot of antibiotic cream on it for the next few days and that thankfully did the trick.)

The bike was not fast for most, but it was fast for me. It helped that it was a mostly flat course, but all in all I was really pleased with my performance there. A real improvement from Columbia (and its hills) the previous year.

As for the run? Well, I did the same thing I did in Columbia. In other words, bombed out around the 2/3rds mark. I need to work on pacing myself throughout the race a bit better to try and avoid this in the future. It probably didn’t help that a week before the race, they changed the course from a 6.7k to a 7.5k. Not a huge distance, I know, but I could have used that slightly shorter distance. I might’ve rallied a bit more at the end. Or maybe not, who knows?

All in all, a nice replacement for Columbia. I’m signed up for the International distance for next year. Now that I know the course, I wouldn’t mind tackling it again. Just with some better training under my belt, next time.

Wetness Everywhere

Columbia Triathlon
Start time: 5/23/10, 7:00am
Location: Columbia, MD
Distance: 1.5k swim / 41k bike / 10k run
Splits: 32:16 / 1:45:44 / 1:05:12
Total time: 3:36:12
Total Miles For May: 33 miles
Total Miles For 2010: 272 miles

The Columbia Triathlon was my first olympic-distance triathlon; I ran a sprint triathlon in July 2009 to see if I liked the idea of a triathlon, and it was good enough an experience to sign up for two olympic tris in 2010. This was the first one, and I must say that I hope the second one is easier in all regards, because this was definitely a hard one. It didn’t help that there was heavy rain and thunderstorms all night before; I got maybe 3 hours of sleep, and from there it was a very early drive up to Columbia. Once there, I set up my gear as best I could (my bike was already there), met up with Moose, and then headed into the water at 7am for the start of my swim wave. The rain had fortunately stopped a few minutes earlier, and the weather in general only pushed back the start by 15 minutes.

The swim was the first open-water distance I’d done since Boy Scout Camp (and the mile swim) back in the 1980s. This meant I had to learn “sighting” (aka keeping your eyes on where you are supposed to be going) on the fly; the first turn ended up being a little wide, but after that it sorted itself out. (When I got to that turn and realized I should be making a much tighter turn, another swimmer next to me stopped, looked, and said, “I think we need to start turning a little tighter.” At least I was not alone.) On the bright side, I never did get kicked in the head, something I was expecting. On the down side, the water was disgusting and at the end you actually swam through weeds. Ugh. Still, I was happy with my finishing time for this leg; it was actually the one out of the three where I ended almost exactly where I had thought I would.

After a really slow transition (I was mentally in “all done!” mode for too much of it), I headed out onto the bike course, which is pure hill from start to finish. Biking is still my weakest part of a triathlon, and this was a struggle. It didn’t help matters that the road was still wet and slick from all of the rain. I did pass one person who had wiped out on the course, badly; adding to the experience was that just earlier on that very steep downhill stretch, I’d felt my own bike slide a tiny bit on the course, but I had regained control almost immediately. I spent the entire bike ride eating spray from other bikes as they passed me (ugh), hoping I wouldn’t wipe out, and wondering how far along the course I was. I hadn’t brought my Garmin GPS, which was a mistake; next time I’ll just switch watches and call it a day. (It can’t go in the water.) I’d convinced myself that I was barely more than halfway through (and inching through the course) when I suddenly made a turn and realized I had about three miles to go. Oh, what a wonderful moment that was. I came in on the bike about half an hour faster than I’d expected, which was a really nice surprise.

The one downside to doing better on the bike than expected was that I didn’t have as much energy left for the run as I needed. If the course was flatter I might’ve been all right, but just like the bike course, it had large and steep rolling hills, and I’ll admit that I ended up walking a few of them because I just didn’t have the power left to move any faster. It was a disappointment, and while it wasn’t a bad finish time, it was the part of the race where I came in slower than I’d wanted.

I’m looking forward to my next race (the Washington DC Triathlon on June 20th) being a much flatter course, though!