The Squirrels are out to get me

This weekend was chalk full of stuff. Let’s begin where all weekends begin…


A few weeks prior a local race director/triathlete (really good one) had e-mailed me asking if I wanted either into either the National Marathon or a local sprint tri. Unfortunately I was at Oceanside the same weekend as National, and the sprint tri didn’t fit my training schedule too well. But instead – I opted to volunteer at his Sprint Tri (which he running). So Saturday morning I got up at my semi-early normal running time and instead sped into the city to help out. The course started off with a 480 meter swim in a 40m pool, and then went for a 14 mile bike ride before finishing up with a 5K run. All of this was accomplished on the grounds of the university. In total the race was about 60 people. Oh, and the race was the “Catholic University of America Triathlon“, but it was open to anybody and was basically a fundraiser for their swim team.


(Me with my awesome bright-yellow volunteer shirt…although it actually had some other event name on it….it did have STAFF on the back in 96 point font)

My first duty was helping to break apart a gazillion granola bars for the athletes. After that, myself and a few others did some work moving around peoples stuff in transition area to make aisles. We then went about creating a Bike Out/In, Run Out/In lanes. Some of the folks from DC Tri were there, so I made some friends there too. I ended up taking splits for the athletes coming out of the pool. Which got a bit tricky after a while because you had about 1 second to figure out their number and then get a time. But we got it for most people…give or take a second (there were no chips).


(The pool. People started on the right and then snaked up and down each lane, eventually ending up in the lower left where I got their splits)

Once all that was done, I helped direct both traffic (cars/busses/trucks) as well as racers into/out of the transition area. Overall I had a good time. It would have been a superb race for a first timer – easy pool swim, and low-pressure race. It was the first year of it, and hopefully it will grow over time.


(Here’s a photo I took shortly after the race, on campus – complete with Cherry Blossoms)

Moving on…

At that point it was about 1PM and I had to make a beeline across town to Gravelly park to meet up my running mates for our usual Saturday run. Because of the Cherry Blossom’s we decided to take the scenic route through and around downtown. Well worth it! The weather was FANTASTIC on Saturday. I even got a wee bit of sun. It was a ton of fun as the three of us weaved in and out of tourists all over the place. Like Peter’s Cherry Blossom Run, we had to implement a bit of a point system. And the scenery & “scenery” was great! Here’s a photo I took right before my run.


Following that, it was a slow hour on the bike and then a few thousand yard swim (who knew the pool closed earlier than I thought, doh?!?). Then off to enjoy the night!


The best laid plans are always foiled. I had planned to go out early (like 7AM early) and watch the Cherry Blossom Run and then take photos of the cherry blossoms – the race is a very popular 10 miler in DC. It sells out every year within weeks of opening for registration, and it also attracts the worlds top talent. However, at around 7AM I peered out the window and it was pouring. At 7:30, the same. My plan was all messy. So I went back to bed for a few hours. I probably needed it anyway.

At around 1PM I set off westwards in the cold rain from Reston (I drove out further on purpose) on the W&OD for a roughly 60 mile run. In the process I found the end of the W&OD trail. Go figure! I just thought it went on forever.


Over the course of my three hour ride, I nearly hit half a dozen squirrels, a porcupine looking thing, a cat and one young deer. Seriously – the animals were teaming against me…especially the squirrels. This one big fat one nearly put me in cardiac arrest, especially with my reduced braking capabilities on the wet pavement. But I did take a photo of the deer with my cell camera.


After all cycling I made a bee line back downtown. I was determined to get some darn Cherry Blossom photos – crappy weather or not.

But I had a secret weapon for the crappy weather. HDR. What’s HDR? HDR is a type of photography where you take three photos in quick succession. One photo is overexposed, one is underexposed and one is neutral. Once combined together, the result can be fairly stunning. In fact, the photo above on the campus with the church I did with HDR. Here’s a quick 5 minute YouTube video if you want to learn more.

So, secret weapon armed – I headed off into the rain and storm clouds for a few mile walk around the tidal basin and surrounding areas. Normally with this weather photos would turn out crappy (I didn’t mention that to the still flocking tourists though). Here’s some of what I took. Fairly acceptable given the weather.


(The Washington Monument)


(A dude painting what I was talking a photo of)


(The Jefferson Monument)


(Jefferson again)

And with that, the I’m done with the Cherry Blossoms till next year. They’re just about gone anyway, at most another day or two.

Have a good week!


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  1. Nice photos!

    And a 40m pool – who knew such things existed!

  2. Wow, I feel lazy not doing any big workouts after my half last week and you did all sorts of crap. I will just chalk it up to the fact that I am much older than you are and my coach works in extra recovery time for me.

    Great photos! I will take some of the Texas Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brushes next weekend for you.

  3. You’re lucky we’re not in bear country.

    Yes, perhaps you should rest after your half …

  4. Very nice photos. Seeing the cherry blossoms is definitely on the list for some of us on the left coast.

  5. I’m happy you took the oppurtunity to volunteer at a local triathlon… giving back is always good 🙂

    And those cherry blossoms… oh how I miss them! Could you do me a favor and send some down to Texas?

  6. Fabulous photos! It’s often hard to get the colors of the cherry blossoms right.

  7. DC is an incredible place to start with but the Cherry Blossoms really make it special.

    Nice job on the volunteering, amazing how many people it takes to make a race work. Gosh, you really accomplished a lot over the weekend. Enjoy your week.

  8. So…the W&OD trail has an end? Who knew? How far out did you go? I thought it continued to Purceville, which I was under the impression was more than 30 miles from Reston (assuming you did 30 miles out and back for 60 total). My longest ride has taken me from Arlington to just outside of Leesburg and I always wondered how much further till the end. Maybe this year, I’ll have to find out.

  9. What kind of camera are you shooting with?

    I was rather lazy. I had to play army and the weather did not cooperate for a run or a ride during my free time. But I have felt the attack of the squirrels in the Alexandria neighborhoods. I actually saw a doe in Del Rey last fall.

  10. Those pictures are so beautiful. I need to get down to D.C. during cherry blossom time one of these years. The last time I was there at the time of year was in 4th grade!

    Sounds like it was fun to volunteer at the triathlon!

  11. Gorgeous photos. Never heard of that technique. Looks like it works pretty well!!

    Good for you for putting in some time to help. That is just adding more good race karma to the bank. 😉

  12. To answer a few of the questions:

    1) I shot with a Canon Digital Rebel XTi using the stock lens (one it comes with). The ones on the bike and at the tri though were with my little cell phone camera (Samsun Blackjack)

    2) It’s about 27 miles from Reston Town Center to Purceville. I had to take on some extra when I got back to Reston.

    Thanks for reading!

  13. awesome pics. i just got an olympus SW850(waterproof and shockproof) so need to take more artistic pics.

    at the Half last weekend i took my bike to the beach afterwards to hang out and a kid accidentally pushed it over and it got sand on the gears…

    any suggestions on how to best get it off? i was thinking a hard spray of water like from a car wash then apply more oil on it?

    or just take it to a bike shop, i think it’s free.

  14. Sounds like your fingers got quite a workout with the granola bars! All for a good cause.

    Great photographer you are! Where do you stash your camera on runs?

  15. SLB

    Oh I am liking the HDR thing, the cherry blossom looks great.

    PS don’t turn around but there’s a hamster with a switchblade standing right behind you!!!