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2009 Washington DC Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Race Report
The first order of business in any triathlon is packet pickup, which I accomplished the day before downtown at the Hyatt. It as pretty cool seeing a number of the pro’s hanging out in the lobby, preparing for their race the next day as well – all part of the Washington DC Dextro Energy Triathlon. I don’t know what actually to call the official name of the race the age groupers were in compared to the pro’s, but the medal we got says “Washington DC Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championships”…so, we’ll go with that. Anyway, we had a small race briefing (more on that in a minute), and then also a nice little expo which had pretty much all the essentials you’d ever need. Not a huge selection of venders per se, but if you were from out of town, they could cover basically anything you forgot.
Oh, and by anything… I mean ANYTHING. These were being given away at one of the booths that specialize in compression technology…
Along the way you picked up a nifty little bag with the ITU logo as well as a nice t-shirt to boot.
The t-shirt is pretty nice, as originally they had asked for your sock size to give you a free pair of socks (with a $160 registration fee), so the nice t-shirt instead of socks is much appreciated.
[Minor annoyance section start]
I try not to complain too much (aside from classic Rainmaker Rants of course), but there’s been something that’s been bugging me a bit about this race – and it has NOTHING to do with race day. I actually formed this opinion pre-race day during the briefings and it bothered me a fair bit by the end of the day prior to the race. The short race briefing was delivered by an ITU official that wasn’t from the DC area, which is fine. But his attitude was fairly condescending towards the non-pro’s (we were all non-pros in the briefing). The general feeling I got from the briefing from him would be summed up with ‘You age groupers are nice and all, but you ain’t nothing compared to the Pro’s, just remember that’. That’s not a direct quote of course, but he would imply it multiple times during the briefing, as well as I would hear it the next day during the Pro race (he was the announcer). It wasn’t until long after the race that I figured out why I was kinda annoyed. The race felt like it was all about ‘the business’, as opposed to being about the sport. Age groupers seemed to just be a list of names (and money) as opposed to a vital and central part of the race. Even the most ‘corporate’ of all races – the Ironman by the World Triathlon Corporation – really celebrates the race and the athletic achievements associated with it all day long until midnight, whereas this was seemingly just…corporate and uninviting as an age group racer. I wonder how this will carry over to the Nation’s Tri later this year, now that it has expanded to 6,000 racers (same company runs that race).
Now, don’t get me wrong – having the chance to race on the same day as the Pro’s is incredible. And the volunteers on race day and packet pickup were amazing. But I feel as though somewhere along the way the spirit of triathlon got lost in translation between the ITU organizers and the even itself. Just my two cents.
[Minor annoyance section complete]
Anyway – after packet pickup, you went on down to drop-off your bike near the river, this had to be done the day before. While I just simply left my poor little bike out in the (secured) transition area, some folks went the distance with their ‘coverings’. Mine’s to the left there, not the red one…
Prior to that I knocked out a short but nice brick workout before heading out and grabbing a very late lunch at Ray’s Hell Burger (a well known local burger place where Obama and Biden recently ate). More on that..ummm…later.
Nothing like a 6AM swim start (yup, six AM) to get things going early. Thus I was up at about 4AM to get downtown and all set up. We actually ended up parking our car near the finish with a second set of mountain bikes for later in the day, and then caught a ride over with some friends that had come up to watch. From there, it was your typical transition area setup routine:
1) Body Marking 2) Pick up chip (day of) 3) Setup transition space 4) Spend quality time in bathroom 5) ‘Migrate’ to water
That’s my stuff above on the orange towel, with my bike to the left. Pretty minimal setup as usual. Just my shoes, Garmin 305, socks and race belt along with a small bottle of gel for the run. I have the Garmin 705 mounted on my bike already.
With all those details set…it was time for a little dip into the Potomac.
Recent rains in the DC area threw the possibility of a swim cancellation into many people’s mind, some noting how dirty the Potomac looked. In my opinion it looks pretty crappy 365 days a year, so really – you kinda know what you’re getting into when you signup for any race in it. The good news is that the race organization worked tirelessly to clean up the river as much as possible in the preceding hours. They even had one of those nifty surface skimmers out there right up until the first race horn went off, pulling debris from the surface.
Anyway, off into the water I went. Plop.
It was an in water start, just in front of the platform where the Pro’s would jump into the river a short bit later. Within a minute or two of jumping in the river, we were off!
I’m above in the middle with the dark goggles looking towards the left of the picture, and below my arm is the one up with the arm in a less than perfect swim form for the first two strokes.
The swim course was a fairly straight forward single loop course upriver and then back downriver.
As usual I started on the front line, got pummeled about 10-15 seconds later, and then slowly regained my ground. I tend to be a pretty steady swimmer on pace, and a short bit later I was passing the majority of the folks who started off too fast.
I would come out of the water 4th in my age group, in 24:10. Not too bad at all. Though I’m relatively certain I’m still not pushing hard enough on my swim’s during races.
Transition was also fairly quick and pretty much without note. Though actually on second though, one minor change I made after picking it up from a friends blog, who in turn picked it up from a Pro (Chris McCormack) – was to put your helmet/glasses on BEFORE taking off your wetsuit as it gives you an additional second or so to compose yourself. It made the whole wetsuit removal process go much quicker and smoother.
Swim Time: 24:10 AG Place: 4/32
T1: 1:43 AG Place: 5/32
With that, I was off onto the bike. For those of us competing in the Olympic distance course, the bike was two loops, compared to one loop for the Sprint. The loop hit up the mall, past the Washington Monument and White House, before swinging up through Georgetown along the river for a ways and then turning back around towards transition. It’s a very similar course to previous courses for the Nation’s Triathlon, so I’m pretty familiar with most of the catches along the way (with the road roads in some sections being the primary concern).
I quickly settled into my HR zone for the first 7.5 miles, which was 157-162. It wasn’t too hard to maintain and my speed was holding fairly nicely. But around mile 4 I felt the first sign of trouble, a little bit of throw up feeling, along with an unhappy stomach. Sometimes this happens to me in the first few miles of the bike, so I tried to ignore it. But the throw-up feeling doesn’t usually happen – just some stomach cramps.
Nonetheless I motored on through and onto the second loop.
But by time I hit the second loop I just wasn’t outputting the HR numbers I needed to. My legs felt flat (even though I had an awesome taper), and I was far below my specified zones. At this stage I should have been holding 163-166, and I was just cruising along at 160bpm. The next specified jump up to 166-170 felt very similar as well, with my legs just not giving me what I wanted to get my HR up and push it harder. You can see the more or less flat line average around 160bpm. The two yellow lanes are where I should have been at 163-166 and then 167-170 respectively.
Though, the throw-up feeling returned a few more times. I decided at that point that if I had to throw up anywhere, I’d much rather it be on the bike – as I could keep on motoring along at 20-24MPH, as opposed to stopped bent over on the run. But at that point I just couldn’t seem to get my body to actually get the throw-up deed done (cause we all know that once you toss cookies, you’re good to go!).
With a lack of cookie tossing accomplished, I cruised into transition in 1:05:21, a fair bit slower than I realistically should have been. Though I did manage to negative split my bike loops by almost 2 minutes. Of additional note is that due to my feeling of throwing up, I actually ended up taking in only water – no nutrition. I took one sip of the nutrition and it made me feel worse, so I skipped on that…for the whole event.
Bike Time: 1:05:21 Bike Avg Speed: 22.8 Bike AG Place: 4/32
My T2 time was pretty nice though at 53 seconds.
T2: 53 T2 AG Place: 3/32
The Run (aka Throwing down while Throwing up):
Things started off quite well. Though I accidentally double-tapped my Garmin start/stop button so I missed my first mile split, though some complex reverse math I’ve deduced it was solidly sub-6, which was pretty sweet. I was passing people like it was going out of style (the fact that they may have been on the backend of the other sprint race, or earlier waves is entirely besides the point). Peep passage is peep passage.
But roughly around the one mile marker coming down a slight slope things started getting a bit unhappy in Rainmaker stomach land. My stomach was cramping up and a side-stich was developing, plus I was getting a bit woozy.
I headed up another slope on the first out and back section and things weren’t as bad going uphill. But back downhill suckage came back. I backed off the pace a bit to the mid-6’s but that realistically didn’t do much. I passed the waterstop, grabbed some water and then headed out for the next out and back section under the Mall through a tunnel.
It was in the tunnel that things started feeling much less ideal. At this point I knew something was going to happen soon. While still running I took off my HRM strap in hopes that it might alleviate some pressure or something, but alas, no help. I made the turnaround at the second out and back and started heading back down another slight slope.
And that time going down the slope…it was triggered. I spent the next 2 minutes and 9 seconds throwing up everything I had eaten or drank in the preceding 16 or so hours. Quite an impressive lot actually…including that Ray’s Hell Burger. I have now officially learned the lesson that my stomach is clearly not as agile as I thought it was. Note taken. Because I lack any photos of the event, I’ve recreated it using Paint:
Although we were in a remote section near no spectators, I do want to thank all the competing folks (either blog readers, DC Tri folks or Friends) who while passing by asked (by name) if I was all right and gave me words of encouragement in between hurls. I appreciate it.
After losing a lot of weight, I felt pretty good, and continued on. A guy passing me as I started walking gave me some encouragement, and with that… I left.
And…I cruised. Here were the next three miles (ignore the other numbers, as I missed starting it until the first mile marker):
I passed a fair number of folks who passed me, but those 2+ minutes lost (plus time slowing down leading up to it), meant that I wouldn’t be able to go cleanly under sub-40 on the run, which was a little goal. I’m fairly certain that without the stomach and cookie tossing I would have been closer to 38-39 or so. Nonetheless, I pushed it fairly hard in the last mile or so, trying to reel in as many people as I possibly could. Also as a note saw a ton of DC Tri folks out on the run, including Jeanne.
In the end I would finish up the run in 42:00, or a 6:46 average. In total, I would cross the line 2:14:05 after I started. Which is roughly a 2 minute PR. And perhaps even better – good enough to grab 3rd place in my age group. Woot!
Run: 42:00 Pace: 6:46 AG Place: 6/32
Time: 2:14:05 AG Place: 3/32 Overall Place: 35/363
In between watching loops of the pros, there was the award ceremony in a nearby tent. Quick and efficient.
The awards were actually really cool, the glass (well, Plexiglas) is pretty nice and all fancy. Very well done!
And with that, that’s all I’ve got. It’ll be interesting to see if this event is offered next year. On some of the logo’d gear being sold it noted it as Inaugural, so perhaps the age group event will continue even if the ITU race itself doesn’t make another stop here next year.
On that note, I’m off to bed. I’ll be posting a bunch of pics from the ITU Pro event in the next day or two, as I spent the whole rest of the day following that around for both the male and females. Oh, and lastly, thanks to my friend Bruce for providing the during-race photos of me, they’re always pretty awesome!
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