I can’t believe I never got around to posting this race recap. I really hit the post-race slump hard and have had a difficult time getting out of it. But more on that in another post. The race was here and gone before I knew it. Race day, and the whole weekend for that matter, was a whirlwind and I can’t wait to do another triathlon. But now, my race recap (finally).
Saturday, the day before the race, turned out to be surprisingly more hectic than I anticipated. My parents were coming down on Saturday to cheer me on during the race, so I set about doing laundry and cleaning the apartment before they got there. My mom doesn’t need to know how messy I still am! I spent the morning cleaning, and then it was off to the hotel to check-in for registration, get my bib and numbers, and listen to the pre-race briefing. I grabbed my bike, and walked to the Metro station to metro over to check-in. However, being the epitome of government efficiency, the Metro wasn’t running on my line due to some unforeseen issue. Crap. So, I hustled back home, grabbed my bike shoes and some water, and I biked my way through DC to the hotel. It was not the most stress-free way to get to check-in. Try biking in DC traffic going someplace you’ve never been before. I got checked-in and had just sat down with minutes to spare before the race briefing began, when I got a travel update from my parents. They had made great time traveling and I could expect them earlier than expected! So, there went my time for the race briefing. I got back on my bike, slapped the numbers on it, and rode it down to the transition area. All in all, I biked 6+ stressful miles on Saturday. Not the pre-race relaxation I had planned! I found my transition spot fairly easily, and left my bike there overnight. My parents picked me up near the transition area and we headed back to my semi-clean apartment to finally relax.
I woke up around 5:45 after a fitful night of sleep. I ate my usual breakfast of toast and coffee, made sure I started hydrating early, and the boyfriend and I headed over to the transition area around 6:30. Transition was packed! Seeing all those people there, so early in the morning, made me even more excited to race. I set up my transition area sheepishly, trying not to take up much space. The transition area closed at 7am as the first heats of the Olympic race were getting ready. I, unfortunately, ended up being the very last heat of the day to go. Me and the other sprint females, age 18-24, went off around 9:30 I think. However, that gave me plenty of time to mill around, calm my nerves, and watch the Elites kill it. The morning was relatively chilly, and I’m glad I brought sweats and a boyfriend to hold all my stuff when it was my turn to race. My parents met up with us shortly before it was my time to go, and after a few good luck kisses I was off with the other girls.
We filed down the ramp to race dock and lined up. At this point I was all prepared. Goggles on, swim cap on over top of the goggles, and my heart was in my throat. I have a solid fear of open water, and the things that live and thrive in open water, so that was something to contend with. It was our turn, we sat down on the edge of the dock, they blew the horn and we were off. I was so excited, and although I had read so many articles telling me to start slow, I still came out way too hot. I made it about 100 meters before my heart rate went through the roof. And, my goggles were fogging quickly. I switched to breast stroke to calm my breathing and give me a chance to clear my goggles. After breast stroking 100m, I switched back to freestyle for some time. And that’s unfortunately how the entire swim went. It was my very first open water swim during a race, so I was jittery and had a hard time calming down. I was kind of like this. For the entire swim.
I passed some people here and there, managed to poke some girl in the back (I’m sorry!), and got out of the water 4 minutes slower than I had expected to. The wind was substantial that morning, and I didn’t expect it to impact the swim as much as it did. I jogged up the dock to transition, tired but glad I survived the swim. Swim time: 850m in 26 minutes. A.k.a. struggle city.
I took my time in the first transition, almost forgetting about the running clock. I toweled off substantially, because it was a windier day. I took a Gu, hydrated well, saw my family watching, and took off with my bike.
I really enjoyed the bike portion of the race. My legs were a little tired from the stressful biking the day before, but it was so invigorating to race on roads that normally are packed with cars. The course was relatively flat, with a few inclines here and there. I passed a lot of people during the bike, and didn’t have many pass me. That was also because I started in the last heat of the race and the only place to go was forward. I hydrated well on the bike, and took another Gu that I taped to my bike frame. The course was really scenic and I should have enjoyed it more but I was settling into the race mentality and finally lost my jitters. I started to feel like I was pushing too hard on the bike, and that I wouldn’t have anything left for the run, but I kept pushing because it felt good! The 16 miles went by quickly, and I really enjoyed myself. The wind also played a factor in the bike portion; in certain sections of the course it would pound down on you and push you around a little. My legs cried out a little during those moments but I just tucked my head a little more and focused. I saw my family again as I was coming to the end of the bike route, and that put the biggest smile on my face.
This time I didn’t forget that it was a race, and I replaced my bike, changed my shoes and took off. I thankfully remembered to take my helmet off (hallelujah). I took another Gu in transition and some water while I had it.
The post-bike legs hit me hard for the first half a mile of the run. I was shuffling here and there, but I felt like I was running a lot quicker than I actually was. The amount of effort it took to keep running was different from my brick workouts during training. I’m not sure if it was just the race day jitters or because I really pushed it on the run, but I struggled. After the first half a mile though, I finally loosened up and hit my stride (hah). I saw my family around mile 2.75, and they cheered me on as I took what energy I had left and crushed it through the finish line. I was so excited to have finished my first triathlon! The joy and endorphin high from competing had me in the best mood for days after.
And now, after I drug myself out of my post race slump, I’m looking to do my next one!