Reston Triathlon Race Recap 2014
I’ve now completed two Olympic-distance triathlons this season – the NYC Triathlon in early August, and now the Reston Triathlon this past Sunday. It’s been a joy to participate in these races, the Iron Girl Columbia, and the other races I’ve done this year – I’m thankful to be able to do all these amazing things physically after having major surgery last December. Truly thankful. This was my first time doing the Reston Tri, which I had heard about from two colleagues at work. Apparently it’s a local Northern Virginia triathlete favorite, and people do it year after year – they both said “you have to sign up for Reston!” back when it opened many months ago.
So I did.
Because that’s what I do, I sign up for all the things.
From what I understand, it hadn’t been exactly Olympic distance in the past – the swim was slightly longer and there were minor differences in the exact mileage of the bike and run legs. This year they trued it up to exactly Olympic distance, because they are hosting the 2015 World Police and Fire Games next year. Not having done it before, the course changes didn’t bother me since I don’t know the previous course.
I have to admit, I wasn’t that motivated for this race. Maybe it was hard to come off the high of the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon, or maybe it was because my other Olympic was so epic and meaningful. Or maybe I’m just focused on Ironman 70.3 Augusta in 3 weeks. But there you have it – I was not that motivated but of course I still wanted to do my best. I didn’t have any time goals and decided to treat it as a training race for Augusta. I hadn’t gotten enough sleep leading up to race day – some late nights and early mornings in the days prior. That was a good learning experience for the big race week coming up.
Packet pickup was at the high school where the finish line is, outside of the school at various tables and was super easy.
No pre-race bike racking for this race, just bring your helmet for an inspection. Pick up packet, get helmet checked and stickered, get your swag. That’s it. REALLY nice volunteers – everyone was so helpful for a newbie to the race like me.
Speaking of the swag, I was extremely impressed with the stuff they dish out to participants. A magnet, long-sleeved technical shirt, socks that said Reston Triathlon, a quick-dry towel, and a custom Reston Triathlon race belt – all in a drawstring bag. That’s a lot of stuff! The only problem was the sizing of the shirts – they only had gigantic shirts (a problem with the supplier, I was told the next morning).
They had race course talks three times in the mid-day, but I only caught the end of one of them.
I woke up at 4am from a bad dream, and was pretty bummed to have screwed up my sleep like that after having barely any sleep the night before. I went back to sleep until the alarm went off at 4:45am, and then got ready quickly. The drive was just under 40 minutes and I wanted to have enough time to set up both transition areas. Yes, two transition areas. More on that now…
TRANSITION SETUP – 2 TRANSITION AREAS:
I had been a bit stressed about the logistics of the two transition areas and having to bike between them in the pitch dark on race morning, but it worked out way easier than I expected!
Here’s how it works: you park your car at the high school and set up your bike-to-run T2 gear. Then you bike to the lake and set up T1 swim-to-bike stuff. You pick up your timing chip and get body marked at the lake.
At the T2 setup, I spent too long making sure I had everything I needed – I could have streamlined this or separated my gear the night before. I had plenty of time since parking was easy and my car was really close. I decided to leave my transition bag at the T2 rack since there seemed to be enough space in my rack and I was at the end – that way I didn’t lose my car key over at the lake transition area.
I jogged back to my car and grabbed my bike off the car bike rack, then rode over to T2 with the drawstring backpack on my back. You’re given a clear plastic bag for your T2 stuff and they transport it to the high school after T1, so that was stuffed inside. I realized I had left my flashlight in my transition bag, but the sky was getting brighter and I didn’t need it.
I arrived at the lake area and there was a giant line of cyclists waiting to get in. An awesome volunteer came out and said that we should go in and rack our bikes, that the line was for body marking and we could do that after. Excellent! I racked the bike, got body marked, and picked up the timing chip. Easy!
They gave athletes the opportunity to warm up in the pool right next to T1, but I opted not to. I still had enough time to chat with a friend and use the portapottie – the low-key feel of this race was really relaxing and I wasn’t stressed or anxious about the race.
After the National Anthem played by a violinist from the National Symphony Orchestra who was also competing, played on an electric violin (very cool!), they started arranging the first few swim waves.
I finally started to get that race day butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling as the swim waves went one by one. I was in wave 7.
The start was an in-water start, treading water. When it was my wave’s turn, we walked down the sloped water’s edge and waded in – the water felt warm! It turned out to be wetsuit-legal but if you had a wetsuit you weren’t eligible for an award, so there was a separate entrance with a timing mat to mark the entry of those individuals. I had opted to leave my wetsuit in my transition bag and was fine without it at that water temperature.
I found the swim start for my wave slightly confusing – people were chatting and treading water, and I guess they were telling us to move back a bit in the water, so we did. Then someone said GO, but I didn’t really hear until others said “Go? Did they say go?” Yep, go. So we did. I think a whistle could have been clearer but it wasn’t that big of a deal.
THE SWIM: Distance = 1500 meters.
Time = 40:22. Pace = 2:41/100 meters. 20/30 in age group.
I’m not sure how the swim waves were arranged, but it wasn’t by gender/age. Someone told me it was by expected swim time that we submitted when we registered. If that’s the case, I completely overestimated my swimming abilities months ago when I registered, because my swim wave dusted me. I thought I was an adequate swimmer until Sunday morning and I totally lost my confidence as they left me behind.
So there I was, swimming along kind of slowly, apparently. And then I started to feel really sick – nauseous and like I might throw up in the water. Great…
I felt so sick that I actually thought about swimming over to a kayak to see if I should stop the swim. It wasn’t a panicky feeling or nerves – it was simply nausea. This has never happened to me before in open water and it wasn’t choppy enough to give me motion sickness. I realized that I must be turning my head to breathe with too big a swing of the head, and maybe I was making myself motion sick!
I kept swimming, using breast stroke to balance out the freestyle, and I spaced out my breathing when doing freestyle – hooray – eventually the sick feeling passed.
It takes me a while to get in the groove when swimming on a normal day, so with the nausea it took longer. After a while I hit a decent groove and started to enjoy the swim. The swim wasn’t that crowded – a few people ran into or over me, but it wasn’t bad.
The wave behind me was catching up and after a lot of mental negativity about my slow swimming, I had to clear my head. I decided to just focus on myself and not let it get to me.
After the turn I realized how badly I need tinted goggles – the sun was right in my eyes!
T1: 2:24. 10/30 in age group.
I came out of the water as quickly as I could, depressed to see most f the bikes gone already in my wave and others around mine. I felt like I did pretty well in T1 – my transitions are getting better. Some things worked in my favor – my feet weren’t sandy, and I didn’t have a wetsuit to deal with. I spent a moment shoving my swim gear into the plastic bag so that the volunteers could transport my things and nothing would get lost, but I probably could have left it on top of the bag since they seemed pretty efficient.
I grabbed my bike and hit the exit.
THE BIKE: Distance = 40K
Time = 1:33:19. Average pace = 15.98mph. 22/30 in age group.
I had been curious how hilly this course was for a while. It’s a 3-loop course. So after one loop of the bike, I felt more confident knowing that it was rolling hills and nothing too major. However, I suppose my average pace still leaves a lot to be desired. I felt like everyone in this race was fast, fast, fast and I was getting passed a lot.
I had some good miles where, according to my Garmin data, I was up over 20mph for the mile, and then a lot of 15s and 17s. There were rolling hills and a few awesome downhills, but mostly I was just working really hard for the duration of the bike leg.
I tried to keep up with my fueling as a practice for the 70.3, even though I didn’t feel like I needed much. I stopped hydrating at one point because I had to use the restroom – that’s a hard balancing act!
T2: 1:59. 15/30 in age group.
I dismounted the bike, immediately looked around for a portapottie as I ran my bike to the transition spot. Didn’t see one but they probably existed somewhere in T2.
Grabbed my run stuff and changed shoes. Decided to start running without a potty stop. Thankfully I was saved…
THE RUN: Distance: 10K.
Time = 57:35. Pace = 9:16/mile. 13/30 in age group.
I ran out of transition and there was a water stop with really enthusiastic volunteers. Water? No thanks, I had to use the bathroom, water did not appeal to me. But I knew I needed to hydrate for the run. Then I saw a portapottie right there after the aid station! It didn’t have a lock but I used it anyhow – it really saved me for the run.
Anyhow, enough of that. The run. The run was so fun!
I felt strong and enjoyed the shaded course. It was really twisty and had a lot of small hills – it was never really flat for long, you were mostly going up, down, or turning a corner. It was an out-and-back, then another longer out-and-back type of course on a paved path through a park in the trees. I thought it was a fun course.
I passed a lot of people who had just passed me on the bike. I found the other athletes really supportive – lots of “you look great!” and “great job!” type of comments to each other.
My Garmin data says it was 6.22 miles, and that my time was 56:45, but I think it auto-paused for the potty stop. My average pace was really 9:08 without that stop.
- Mile 1 = 9:22/mile
- Mile 2 = 9:18/mile
- Mile 3 = 9:01/mile
- Mile 4 = 9:17/mile
- Mile 5 = 8:51/mile
- Mile 6 = 9:05/mile
- Mile 7 (partial) = 8:31/mile
Around miles 4-5 I realized I wasn’t pushing it as much as I could and I stepped up my game, as you can see from the pace data. I got a lot of comments from people as I passed them running, which boosted me and made me push it harder. People were so nice on that course! I yelled back “I’m trying to make up for my slow swim time!”
It felt amazing to get faster as the run went along and to finish really strong.
Immediately after crossing the finish line I was handed an ice cold, dripping wet towel and water bottle. It was awesome. And not just a throw-away water bottle, a “real” water bottle – more swag! The food area was amazing – pizza, granola bars, apples, bananas, and tons of other stuff. There was also a table set up by Great Harvest Bread Company with amazing fresh bread and honey – I didn’t know them and found it was perfect after the race!
OVERALL FINISH TIME: 3:15:36. 19/30 in age group.
I’m okay with my overall finish time, but thought that I’d do better on the bike leg and come in closer to 3 hours based on the training I’ve done. Overall I’m happy that my transitions are getting better and that I felt so strong on the run. I have some swimming and biking work to do now!
It was a nice race, and I can see why people do it year after year – if I lived closer I’d be set to do it again and test my improvement year after year. It’s not that far, but it’s not in my neighborhood like it is for many participants.
Don’t mind my crazy hair – I braided it myself at 5am. I really needed my daughter to do that for me! I need to bring her to every race to be my personal hair stylist.
What’s your favorite finish line food after a race?