The Nation’s Triathlon

Race 1 of 4, in 4 weekends The 2008 Nation’s Triathlon was my very first triathlon ever. One year later, I’m hooked and actually say “yes” when someone asks me if I am a triathlete.

I’ve trained harder, faster and stronger in 2009 than I ever did in 2008.

So, you better believe that 2009 wanted to kick 2008’s @$$!

Rematch: The Nation’s Triathlon 2009.

Since said training, I was really hoping for my best race of the year – namely a PR and a couple of margaritas. Unfortunately the race didn’t go quite as well as I would have liked…

6,000 athletes registered for The Nation’s Triathlon – doubling the size in one year. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that many athletes – but I’m leaning toward “I don’t like it”. The transition area was huge – 240,000 square feet to be exact. So big in fact that the “Bike In – Bike Out” was at least 800m from my transition area. Yes, that’s 2 laps around a track or half a mile. The swim waves were equally as huge – each age group was a wave within a wave. For example, the F25-29 age group (the AG I fall under) had 3 waves, A, B and C, with approximately 120 athletes per wave. Bottom line: too many people!

Pre – Race:
The best part about doing a race so close to come is the convenience of race morning. We woke up at 5:00am, hopped in the cab at 5:45am and we were in transition by 6:00am. BJ and I love races that are close to home – especially triathlons because typically, they aren’t close to home! Race day weather was awesome – almost perfect for a race: partly sunny and a high of 81. It was just starting to get hot when I finished the race. Race Start: 7:00am
Wave 20: 8:00am

Swim: The swim waves were approximately 3 minutes apart. I was in the 3rd to last wave – so there were already a lot of swimmers in the water when our wave jumped in. I positioned myself in a great location for swimming straight out, under the bridge and back. I felt really strong on the way out – passing other waves that had started before me. But, the way back was a bit of a different story. At one point the Potomac looked like a rainbow river: red caps, pinks caps, green caps, yellow caps, blue caps and white caps e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. Too many swimmers! My other beef with the swim (and I complained about it last year, too) is the fact that the sun is coming out at the same exact time that we are swimming back. Bright, rising sun + bright yellow buoys = can not see anything! Now, I know that I’m not the only triathlete affected – it jacks us all up – but C-O-M-E O-N! [If any Nation’s Triathlon officials are reading, here are a few tips: more buoys, different colors!] I was literally swimming blindly for the last ½ mile. The last ¼ mile is a cluster of madness: people swimming on top of people swimming on top of people swimming on top of more people. I was glad to be out of the water! Time: 33:29

T1: I felt good coming out of the water – but had a little difficulty getting my wetsuit off in T1. It was pretty uneventful – but had to prep myself for the longest run to “Bike Out” e-v-e-r. Time: 2:18

: Initially I did not feel strong on the bike. Since we live so close to the race, BJ wanted to bike into DC the day before to attend the mandatory briefing and bike racking. Logistically, we ended up biking and walking way more than we should have the day before a race. Oh well, now we know future race day endeavors. The course is flat and fast so by mile 5 my legs started to feel better and I was in a good grove. Then, mile 10 happened – and I lost my chain while attempting to shift to the big ring. (Of course I did) I slowed down, tried to pedal slowly and shift, in hopes that my chain would work its way back on. No luck. I pulled over to the side, got off, played around with the chain, accidently dropped my bike, had to pick it back up, played around with the chain some more and finally, got my chain back on. That was a 2.5 minute penalty. I felt like crying once I was back on the bike – and mentally it took me awhile to recover. For half a second I thought about quitting since the chain cost me a PR – but I wanted to get my $165 worth (plus, I don’t quit)! My attitude improved at the turn around point and I was fired up – I wanted to crank it out on the bike – 10 more miles to go.

Well, by the time I hit the turn around point, it seemed the other 5,999 athletes did too. Some points on the Rock Creek Parkway are narrow, one lane each way. You can imagine how crowded that can get with thousands of athletes on the course. Then, when you throw the typical M40-44 “I’m-too-cool-for-school-triathlete-because-I-ride-a-Cervelo-tri-bike” jerk into the mix, things get dicey. For full disclosure, I do not think that all M40-44 are jerks nor do they all ride Cervelo tri bikes – however, this is their last “hoorah” as strong, male athletes and I personally believe that some of them are they are trying to prove their awesomeness – or lack there of. Case in point: I was riding behind a F34 athlete and we were in the process of passing a fellow athlete. As we were passing, we started to hear: “On your left, on your left, on your left, ON YOUR LEFT!!!!” We didn’t have anywhere to go – nor were we in the wrong since we were passing before this “cool” tri-guy (age 43 – he was being followed by another guy, age 41) decided to pass us. WELL, as we got over, the “cool” tri-guy pushed the girl in front of me on her hip – as his way of saying we should have gotten over sooner. I was furious – and shouted profanities that are not appropriate for this blog. If he would have done that to me and/or I would have gotten his number “cool” tri-guy would have gotten reported. Here are my thoughts and what I would like to say to “cool” tri guy:

A) WTF – and who the F do you think you are!!!
B) Do you know how dangerous that is? That could have caused a MAJOR accident!
C) There are 6,000 athletes doing the race – what do you expect?
D) The road is extremely narrow – where do you want us to go?

This continued for the last 10 miles – and at one point I just stopped getting over for them! I didn’t have anywhere else to go! Plus I was doing my own weaving in and out of athletes – and I was getting tired.

Oh, and one last point: you know that there are too many triathletes in a race when everyone you pass or get passed by is drafting! Too many bikers! Time: 1:18

: Prepped myself for the long run back to my transition area. Bike shoes off – running shoes on – and out of T2. I felt strong and knew that the run would be flat! Time: 1:47

Run: The run course was super flat and fast. BJ and I ran the course the week before – and I’m glad we did because I knew exactly what to expect. Unfortunately, my calves cramped for the 1st 3 miles so I stopped to stretch them out. I’m glad I did because the last 3 miles seemed easier. Surprisingly (and thankfully), the run was over before I knew it! 400m out, I sprinted to the finish and was glad to be done!! Fastest run of the season – Time: 49:00 minutes (7:55/mile)!

Awesome things about the race:

1) Home Turf (!!!)
2) Insane weather
3) Super flat and fast course
4) Really well organized (especially given the number of athletes)
5) Awesome volunteers (!!!!)
6) Plenty of aid stations
7) 6 bikes/rack (as opposed to 8 bikes/rack in most races)

You need to fix some things, Mr. Nation’s Triathlon Founder:

1) TOO MANY ATHLETES – stop being money hungry, it’s dangerous.
2) 6,000 athletes = Yes, you still need more port-a-johns!
3) Buoys, water, sun – they all look the same. I’m talking orange buoys and more of them!
4) Post race festival: there were PBJ’s and fruit for free – but then there was food you had to pay for (the good stuff – like Skittles). I DO NOT WANT TO PAY FOR FOOD – I just spent $165 to do the race (that’s $990,000 total) and if I want Skittles, I should get them. For free.

Ok, now on to the Rematch results:

Overall Place: 1153/4500
Division Place: 37/353
Sex Place: 143/1459
Swim: 33:29
T1: 2:18
Bike: 1:18
T2: 1:47
Run: 49:00
Total: 2:44

Overall Place: 949/2200
Division Place: 47/233
Sex Place: 181/956
Swim: 35:45
T1: 3:46
Bike: 1:20
T2: 2:28
Run: 54:39
Total: 2:57

Congrats – 2009 is declared the winner of The Nation’s Triathlon rematch!

This is a great race because it’s close to home, flat and fast. But honestly, I’m not sure if I will do this race in 2010 – and I haven’t said that about any race this season. I hate to keep saying it, but 6,000 athletes is just TOO many (ask someone who did Chicago this year, too – they will say the same thing). I have 75 days before the 2010 sign-up: I’ve got to do some serious thinking!

P.S. I’d be lying if I didn’t disclose that my falling short of a PR didn’t influence this verdict, just a little. I’m bummed about my chain and upset that I couldn’t crank out a PR when I was more ready than I’ve ever been!

Score: 7.75

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  1. That's a great race report and congrats on kicking 2008's butt. I know what you mean about too many people. I waste SO much energy white-knuckling it when it's so crowded.

  2. WOW! you are amazing. regardless of all the other races and how crowded it was, you still beat your time in every transition and stretch. Way to go… and 49 min for 6 miles after a swim and bike is insane… you are speedy. Good job. I have been thiking maybe 2010 is the year for my first sprint tri… I am addicted to the marathon and I am having a hard time adjusting my thinking. 🙂 You are amazing.. and BTW… I love your smile.

  3. Great job! I can't believe someone would be such a jerk to shove on someone else for not getting over! Give me a break!

  4. You did an amazing job!! I would have been so mad at the M40-44 guy too!
    You really did kick 2008's A$$!! So you should be proud!
    Don't fret about the things you can't control (bike chain & too many racers)! Just know that you gave it your everything given the cirmcumstances you were faced with and that , my dear, is all you can do! Be proud! You rocked it!!……did you get margaritas??? You left that part out???

  5. I am proud of you for finishing after all that mess! I would have been cussing that guy out too. I think that is just awful.

    However, you beat your 2008 race AND you ran the fastest run portion yet. The chain thing can happen to anyone. Just think how awesome it will be when you get that PR.

    Congrats girl. You did great!

  6. Congrats on the huge improvement!!!

    Bummer that it was so overcrowded. Definitely does not sound like that course cna handle so many participants.

    Also, I HATE when they sell food at finish lines. Like they haven't made enough money already. It should ALL BE FREE.

  7. Hi,

    My name is Charles Brodsky and I'm the founder and CEO of Nation's Tri. Thanks for writing so passionately about the event and for your feedback and comments. I enjoyed reading them, including all the comments from others. I'm working on changing the bike route next year so that there are two lanes in each direction at all times, also with no double-backing on the same roads. As for the PB&J;'s we thought folks would like them but have some feedback saying they didn't. We will change that next year for sure. Also I'm looking to get lane lines to line the entire swim route with buoy's that are NOT yellow. The lane lines will line the entire swim route in both directions so that sighting should not be a problem any more. We did sell food to spectators but never to athletes.

    Congrats on finishing faster this year than last. That's fantastic.

  8. hey you still turned out a good time for an oly. bike congestion aside it seemed like a good race. i can't believe there's no free food at the end! we get tons of free food and t-shirts/swag at the races down here. and it's a ton cheaper too. ouch.

  9. Thanks for all of the awesome comments!! Just to clarify, (some) food was free! However, they were also selling food – like Skittles, and that's what I wanted after the race (but didn't want to pay)! 🙂

  10. Great job girl! Even if it wasn't a PR you sure smashed your 2008 time!! Keep it up! And definitely tell those 40-something jerks off!

  11. Congratulations!!! Next year you can always run the Parks Half-Marathon if it's held on the same week as the Tri.

  12. Congratulations on your PR. You improved your times in all three! 6,000 people is a lot. Hopefully, the course will change a bit and some adjsutments will be made to better fit the athletes.

  13. Congrats on winning your rematch! Yes, it wasn't the best effort for you due to circumstances that are out of your control, but still, you did great! Since I don't tri because I can't (haven't learned the swim thing) I consider your exploits pretty awesome! So I hope you continue on your awesomeness and don't allow some jerks on the bikes or other stupid circumstances prevent you from giving it another try! Best of luck in your future tri endeavors!

  14. Great race report!! Congrats on a great time! Bummer about it being so crowded. And I totally agree about the Skittles!!

  15. GREAT JOB! Sorry abojut the chain thing, that totally sucks but you clobbbered your 2008 time in a major way so that accounts for something, right? What an AHOLE that guy was, I can't beleive that. Well, actually i can. It's amazing the sense of entitlement some people have…

  16. Great job, and AMAZING photos! I love those pre-dawn race photos — they conjure all the excitement and fear inherent to the countdown to the starting time of any race. Thanks for posting!

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