This was my second time racing the Nation's Triathlon. I really enjoyed the course last year. I'm glad we get a chance to do our great sport in downtown DC, and hope the event has a long future. Last year was my first year back in the sport after about a decade of not racing. I have been able to train a bit more this year, and I feel like I'm making progress.
Did not sleep much at all the night before. I work in the evening and usually don't get to bed until 1am. I went to bed around 9 pm hoping to get some rest, woke up an hour later and barely slept any more the rest of the night. Thunderstorm around 3am didn't help. Up at 4:30 and parked across from the Reagan bldg. Was wearing a jogging suit, which was not so smart given that it was soaked by the time I got to transition. Started in wave 4 (originally scheduled for 7:12).
Last year I went a bit off course during the swim. For some reason I thought that the course went under the first arch of the Memorial bridge and I sighted off of that. Realized it a bit late and ended up adding to the course a bit. This year I knew the course, but I must say the buoys every 100 meters was a great idea. Made it much easier to stay on course, and I actually liked knowing how far I had to go. Felt really good during the swim, which surprised me since I'm only swimming 2-3 times a month. I come from a swimming background, so I try to spend more time on the the other 2 sports. Next year I will try to increase my swimming to 4-6 times a month though. Came out in 22:25, over a minute faster than last year. I attribute it half to better navigation and half to being in better shape (Weighed 225-230 then, and around 213 now). Running through T1 (3:18) I was huffing and puffing less than my last few races, which I guess is progress.
Took one gel in transition and got off to a pretty good start on the bike. Recently I've been suffering quite a bit in the early stages of bike courses, especially if there are hills early on the course. This time I felt like I was going pretty good after only 5 minutes or so. The buckle on my bike shoes came unscrewed about 15 miles in, got caught in my chain and ripped off. I just had the two velcro straps for the latter part of the ride. On the bright side, if it had happened while I was standing I probably would have ended up on the pavement. Finished the bike in 1:06:32 (22.4), which is about 2 minutes better than last year. Took one more gel at the 10 mile turn-around. Saw Mayor Fenty on the side of the road at around mile 5, he must have had a flat or mechanical. Looking at the results I saw he finished, good for him.
T2 was uneventful (1:41)
Tried to hold myself back early in the run, since I bonked hard last year. Ran mile 1 in 7:21 and mile 2 in 7:20, right around the pace I hoped to maintain. Had a side cramp at mile 3 or so, but it didn't last very long. I ran miles 5 and 6 at over an 8 minute pave. I was hurting a bit, but I also don't feel like I gave it 100%. I am way too good at talking myself into slowing down. I need to be more mentally tough. Perhaps if I was racing someone head to head that ran around my ability level it would help me. Since my swimming is fairly good, and my biking is decent, if anyone is anywhere near me on the run they are usually blowing by me like I'm walking. So when someone passes me, they do it at a pace that I have no hope of matching. All that notwithstanding I ran roughly 7 minutes faster than last year, finishing the run in 47:57 (7:44 pace).
Overall I am happy with my performance. I was nearly 11 minutes faster than last year, and improved in each event. Most of the time difference was on the run, and I still have gobs of time I can save on the run in the future. Looking forward to perhaps taking another 10+ minutes off my time next year.
Only downsides of the event is parking, which cannot be avoided in a city event. Perhaps also the bike course can get a bit crowded for the later waves. All in all, I think it is a great event, and I'll do it every year I'm able. Maybe in a year or two I can take on the folks in the Open division!
Garmin tracks for the race. splits aren't exact because I never hit the button on time.