Sunday, October 18, 2015

Race Recap: Nations Triathlon 2015

I decided to do the Nation's Triathlon after completing the race last fall as my first triathlon.  You can read that recap here.  I had a great time last year and surprisingly walked away with first in my Age Group.  I wanted to see if I could recreate that this year so I stuck with the sprint distance.  We made it down to the expo at the Washington Hilton with my hubby and little in tow.  It had been raining all day and I was starting to get nervous that they would cancel the swim again this year, or worse that they wouldn't and the water would be really bad.  Got my packet and posed for a picture with my tiny cheerleader who always has my back...."You've got this mom.  Don't be scared".  

We picked up everything we needed and then headed down to the tidal basin to rack my bike to be ready for the morning.  When we were down there I ran into Sarah of @AthleteMoms (IG).   Was good to see her and let our girls play.  We stayed for a long time because the girls did not want to leave!  

We went home, had dinner and it was time to lay out all my things and make sure I was ready for that very early alarm clock.  I kept checking the updates on social media regarding the cancellation of the swim and nothing.  It must be on was my thought.  I also kept checking regarding water temperature to see if it would be wetsuit legal.  Since I dont have a wetsuit anymore (got rid of my one from my San Diego days) I was hoping that the water temp would stay warm.  Packing for a triathlon is so much work!  So much more "stuff" that a running race.  I was very excited to wear my SOAS racing kit that I had bought online just a few weeks earlier.  

Race Morning:  The whole family woke up early and drove downtown for the race.  On the drive down, I checked for updates again.  Swim was definitely on and overnight they made the race wetsuit legal.  Oh well, I didnt have one and no way to get one now.  I knew the water was still warm enough that I wouldn't freeze but the wetsuit does give a bit of a performance advantage.  Last year, I had my hubby drop me off right in front of Lincoln Memorial in the morning and then I walk over to the transition area.  He went off to park on C street and Virginia.  That plan worked out perfectly again this year.  What a gorgeous morning for a walk!  

I got into transition and laid out all the gear that I had packed.  I hung out outside the transition area waiting for my family to arrive to hang out with them.  My race wouldn't start for a while since I was the sprint distance.  We found each other, took a quick picture and headed down to the waterfront.  Since this would be my first swim (it was cancelled last year) I wanted to go down and watch the waves start into the water.  I had no idea how that would all work.  Watching it happen gave me a little bit more confidence, but I was still terrified.  

We watched from the waterfront as the sun began to rise and the first elite waves took to the water.  As the sun came out, a rainbow appeared between the dark clouds!  It was amazing and beautiful!  I started to get ready to get ready for my own swim start.  I was still very nervous.  Everyone around me seemed to have a wetsuit and I didn't.  As we were heading closer to the start, Jim and Avery took my picture.  Here goes nothing!  

Once I was in the water, Jim was able to get a picture of me during the swim.  I am the one with my arm coming out of the water just above the end of the kayak.  I am amazed he was able to get that shot.   The swim was interesting.  The water was nice and warm and very comfortable but the visibility was very poor.  It was hard to see anything in front of me or to the side in the water.  With the swim being so crowded, there were times that I would not realize I was swimming on someone until I was touching them.  The black wetsuits were very hard to see in the water.  The crowded conditions and the choppy water made for a tough swim.  I got too close to another swimmer who was doing the breastroke instead of front crawl and since the frog kick has a lot more push back power, I got a forceful kick right to the chest.  It knocked the wind out of me a little bit and I swallowed some water.  I had to take a break and tread water for a minute to cough out the water, catch my breath and get back in the zone.  Since the Potomac does have a current, cutting across the river was also difficult....I kept drifting and had to lift my head to get the buoys in my sights and get on track again.   I got excited as we got closer to the end of the swim because I knew that we were moving into my much stronger legs...the bike and the run.  I excited the water of the swim and ran as fast as I could into transition to make up some time.  I was able to pass a lot of people on this run to transition!  I threw on my helmet, changed my shoes, drank some nuun, grabbed my bike and I was off. 
 I warmed up and dried off from the swim pretty quickly.  The wind made for a pretty rough headwind during the bike.  A few of us were talking as we were riding and saying how we felt like we weren't going anywhere!  What a difference from last year were I felt like I was flying on the bike segment.  I still need to work on my bike positioning because my hands get numb when I ride for more than 10 mins.  

I was pretty happy once the bike was over and I could just run.  I racked my bike, drank some more nuun and a gel.  Changed my shoes and threw on a hat to try and hide the terrible swim cap and bike helmet hair.  The run felt good.  I always feel like I am going much slower than I am when running after coming off the bike.  I was able to pass a lot of people here.  I kept looking at people's calfs to see their age group.  I crossed the finish line feeling happy about my performance.  I was hoping for a podium placement, but it wasn't meant to be.  I got 8th this year.  The swim portion really set me back.  Time to get stronger and work on the swim!  

In the finish area, I met up again with Sarah of AthleteMoms who ended up getting first overall in the sprint distance.  She is a rockstar!  We also ran into Cynthia of and she had finished the Olympic distance.  Another rockstar!  

We watched Sarah get her award and then went over to transition to pick up my bike.  I hadn't gotten podium this year, but I was still very proud of myself!  We went out for a celebratory brunch, then home to relax in the hammock with my feline friend!
After Nations Triathlon, I was on a tri high.  I just kept looking for other triathlons I can do. (IronGirl Tri, Lobsterman Tri)  I am excited to get stronger in the swim and work on that this next year.  I much prefer swimming in a lake to a pool, but here in DC- pools it has to be!  Looking forward to more visits to New England next summer to get in more open water swimming in the beautiful lakes.


  1. Congrats on completing the race, swim and all! I don't really care for the big city tri courses. The waiting forever to start and crowded bike courses don't sit well with me. I would suggest finding a Masters group to train with if you are serious about improving the swim. It is intimidating at first, but they are very welcoming and I have found it to make a HUGE difference in my swim performance.

  2. Great showing! Swimming in the Potomac sounds so hard! Love how your daughter is your cheerleader.

  3. Great recap, I love all the details you provided! The swim in the Potomac with all those people sounds really tough.

  4. Great Job Colleen!!! Love all your pictures :) 8th is definitely something to be proud of for sure!!! Definitely come visit NH and swim in Bow Lake :) Would love to have you!!!