The Nation’s Triathlon expo is open! I am not racing this weekend, but have lots of friends participating this year, including my Iron husband and I am super excited to be part of the organizing team! In anticipation of this weekend’s race I’m going to throw back to last year’s race, my 2nd Olympic distance Fall 2013 goal race!
My parents saw my first Sprint tri in 2009 and my first Ironman in 2014 and I was super lucky to have them with me last September for Nation’s as well.
We headed to the Expo on Saturday for packet pick-up, then over to transition to rack my bike. Nation’s is in the middle of DC and has tons of racers, so you rack your bike the day before. We walked around exploring transition and took a look at the water. As always people wondered about water temperature. Would it or wouldn’t it be wetsuit legal? Last year the water was right around the cut-off and it ended up being a non-wetsuit swim and personally I thought it was great! This year I think the water temps are warmer, so expect a non-wetsuit swim as well.
Race morning comes early for Nations. Transition opens at 5am and the metro does not open early, so driving and parking or being dropped off is probably the easiest thing to do. There is also a shuttle for athletes from 4:30am-6:15am that runs from the Washington Hilton down to transition. We drove into the city and parked right by the Washington Monument. We walked down to transition and caught a glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial and the MLK monument.
Transition was buzzing. I pumped air into my tires (whenever it’s hot always let some air out of your tires when you do an overnight rack), put nutrition on my bike and met up with some other DC Tri Clubbers and headed out.
Now the waiting started. As a Female in the 30-34 age group, I had quite a wait. I’m kind of jealous of the awesome DC Tri Club wave the club gets this year, where you are ineligible for age group awards, but get to start in the THIRD wave, with all your fellow club members! How cool is that?!?
I hung out with my parents and fellow Tri Clubbers and had a snack. If you’re in a later wave, bring a snack, with almost 4,000 people racing, you might be waiting a while to start.
The swim is a rolling wave start with about 8 jumping in the water at the same time. Besides the wait, I thought it was a great system and once I was in the water I had a great swim. The water was clear enough for me to see the person swimming ahead of me and the rolling start meant I had space to myself for quite a while. After the turnaround, it got a little crowded and I was whacked on the head by another swimmer, but in general it was a good swim.
Coming out of the water I saw my parents, waved and headed into transition. Transition is big, so make sure you know where to go! I found my bike, changed and headed out on the bike.
The bike course is fast and I thought it was pretty fun, although there were 2 things almost everyone, including myself, complained about: 1.no pass zones and 2. U-turns. I think the new course takes care of some of the u-turns, but the basics is that the course is in a city and there are only so many roads we can ride on. Honestly, the 2 complaints were only minor annoyances and all in all I had a great bike with my fastest race pace ever! I also thought the bike crowd support was great. My parents missed me (I always underestimate my bike speed, so they’re never ready for me), but I saw them and yelled out to them.
T2 was fast: drop off bike, change shoes, grab hat, head out.
I don’t know how I feel about Hains Point. I hate to love it, love to hate it and I know many people who feel the same way, but the reality is, it’s a beautiful flat place to run. By the time I was out on the course it was hot and there was no shade and I wish I’d had a hat or visor, but it was so much fun to be racing in my DC Tri Kit for the first time and getting lots of cheers from the crowd. You just can’t beat fun water stop volunteers and cheering crowds.
The finish line is always the best part and the Nation’s finish line didn’t disappoint either. I crossed the line in 3:07:46, a PR for the Olympic distance. I wish was racing again, so I could aim for a sub-3 hour Oly, but this year I am seeing the other side of the race, as I work as one of the volunteer coordinators.
Last year around this time I was contemplating what time my wave would finally get to start, freaking out about jumping into the Potomac and assessing how fast I could go on the bike. This year I am assessing volunteer numbers, making sure things are running smoothly so that all 2014 racers can have a successful race.
If you’re not racing come out and volunteer (sign up here) or cheer for racers on the course! If you’re racing, I hope you have a wonderful race!