Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Race Recap: Nations Triathlon

I signed up for this triathlon back in January as part of my New Years resolution.  I was following Lululemons advice to "do something that scares you".  Well, this scared me.  I felt I had running down, knew what to expect in a road race but a Tri was all new (scary) territory!

I had so many other races and other things to focus on that I really put the whole thing out of my head until late summer.  Then it hit me....wow, I'm doing this and wow, I'm really unprepared.  I contemplated taking a DNS, did not start...but then miracously I was selected to represent Maryland, get refunded and use the VIP tent post race- okay I'm back in!  

I had only been in the pool twice leading up to the race and I bought a bike 2 weeks before the race.  I had only ridden the bike (or ridden on any roads at all) once for the bike test drive and a second time in our neighborhood getting my clip and unclipping down only hours before racking my bike!  In which I couldn't unclip fast enough as a garbage truck raced down our narrow street so I did a controlled fall into a neighbors yard.  This is going to go well, I thought.

Leading up to the race, people would ask me the distance I was going to swim, bike and run.  I knew the run length but honestly didn't know the other two.  It was laughable how unprepared I was!  

But I pressed on.  The whole day prior I was so nervous.  I headed to the expo and decided there to switch down to the sprint distance to be safe.  I was not prepared for an Olympic distance swim.  
I purchased a pair of Tri shorts at the expo to wear at the race (a first for me!) and some new swim goggles.  Mine were no where to be found.  I went to the course debriefing which I found very helpful as a Tri newbie.  I gathered all my things, cap, bib, ankle chip and headed to the waterfront to rack my bike.  On the way down I had second thoughts and we stopped in to a bike shop and I had new pedals installed that had clips on one side and a pedal on the other.  This way I had an option.  I racked my bike without much time to spare and headed home to agonize over what I had gotten myself into!  

That night, we got a big thunderstorm and I thought selfishly to myself...maybe they will cancel the swim.  Lo and behold, when I got up at 4am, the facebook page said they had cancelled the swim due to a sewage spill!  I got my bag together and had my hubby drop me off...but I left my water bottles in the car which meant I would have no personal water in transition.  No good.  
After heading out of the transition area, I found my family.  I had about two hours to wait until my wave so I watched each part of the race and the transitions to get a feel for what I was up against.  

I are an apple and hung out with my littlest cheerleader and huge trooper!  
My husband and daughter waited with me once we were in the corrals and Jim took this shot:
Only minutes to go....I was nervous!  Since the swim was cancelled, they still staggered it as if we were swimming.  No shoes, no helmets.  They had us step up 8 at a time on the line and would release us every 15 seconds.  I sprinted off the line (barefoot!) and caught up and passed girls from the wave ahead of me as we made our way into the transition area.  I grabbed my bike, tossed on my shoes and ran down the path out of transition as fast as I could.  I hopped on my bike and only hoped I would be able to clip in easily....I did and I was off!  I quickly picked up speed and fet Iike I was flying! I run this course all the time but to bike it was so different...I was going so fast!  

For most of the bike course I had plenty of room.  I felt like a broken record, "on your left", "passing", etc.  in a running race I don't pass so many other people because we are usually lined up by pace, this had us by age and gender only which there lots of differences in pace among each group.  I only had two riders pass me the whole course, which I felt very proud of!  I loved the course because I never normally would ride those streets for fear of traffic and definitely not at top speed.  The only downside was the bottle necks at the "no passing zones".  Those were hard because I didn't want to have to slow down and I felt stuck and trapped.  

I cruised into the bike finish line and saw my family.  I gave them a huge smile because I really was having a blast!  

As I approached the dismount area, I truly crossed my fingers that I'd be able to unclip without falling over!  My husband I joked the night before he could just lay out an air mattress that I could fall into if I couldn't unclip!  Luckily it didn't come to that and I was able to dismount quickly and run with my cycling shoes on (which was so wierd!) into transition.  At this point I was shaky, unclipping my shoes and helmet....lacing my running shoes...from adrenaline I'm sure, but also needing fuel and water.  I quickly are a Lara bar, pinned on my bib (forgot bib belt) and run to the water table.  I poured myself three mini glasses and then hit the road for the run.  I lost a lot of time in that transition not having my own water and not having my bib belt.  Lessons for next time!

I felt incredibly slow on the run.  My legs had a hard time changing activity and they felt heavy and tired.  I just kept plugging on and honestly the 5k was over so quickly!  I felt strong as I approached the finish line!  
As I crossed the finish line, the woman MCing the event said into the microphone, "cutest daughter ever" and pointed to me :-). I couldn't agree more and thought that was so awesome and such a personal touch!  When I saw her at the VIP tent later, she said she remembered my family from the expo yesterday :-). Too fun!  

I couldn't stop talking my hubby's ear off regarding how much fun I had!  I was beaming!  
It didn't even cross my mind to stay for the awards, so headed out to brunch to celebrate.  I keep checking the results and mine were no where to be found :-(. I didn't give up hope and enjoyed my celebrations!  
By late Sunday night, my results still weren't listed.  My husband being the math geek he is, pulled up all the photos he took and the time stamps and realized I probably was age group competitive....now I was getting really antsy!  I emailed Competitor Group and hoped for the best.  

On my walk to school Mon morning, I checked my email and Scott from Competitor Group had found my results!  
With it being my first Tri, I emailed Scott back to ask if I was reading it right and if I really was FIRST IN AG?  He said "yes indeed" and said they would mail me my award.  I was on cloud 9!  I couldn't believe it....and frankly still can't!  

I broke every rule in the book on this one.  Had only had my bike for two weeks and ridden it on my culdesac once, had brand new pedals I had never used, had not done one road ride (only spin), wore new Tri shorts I bought at the expo.  Everything said I shouldn't have been competitive...but I was!  My heart and spirit won out!  I was so proud of myself.

GRADE: A.  I would do this again for sure!  The price is steep, yes, but what an amazing opportunity to ride around DC.  Use code LIVEFREE to save $20 on registration. 


  1. Hey Colleen!

    Did you miss the rest of your recap? I don't see info about the race itself! I can't wait to hear about your experience :)


  2. Yeay!!! This sounds awesome! I've never done a tri before, but have wanted to... maybe next year!