Sunday, June 26, 2011

Father's Day Weekend & Washington DC Triathlon

I am an Olympic distance triathlete!  After all of my hard work and training, I completed last Sunday's Washington DC Triathlon in 3:15:42.  The race was superbly organized and lots of fun.  It was also a fantastic way to kick off what would be quite an enjoyable Father's Day!

As I wrote in my previous entry, my dad and brother accompanied me to DC for a father/son weekend.  My dad and I departed South Carolina early in the morning on Friday to be sure we arrived at Reagan National Airport in time to pick up my brother, whose flight was to arrive in the early afternoon.  On the drive up, we listened to the second day of the U.S. Open on satellite radio.  I loved that my dad was so interested in the tournament because, unbeknownst to him at the time, we would be going to the final day of competition on Sunday!

Sunset at Nationals Park
After picking up my brother and checking into our hotel, we picked up my race packet at the Washington Convention Center, ate dinner at an Irish pub in Chinatown, and headed to Nationals Park for the Nats-Orioles game.  It was rain-delayed, but when the showers subsided, we were treated to a beautiful double rainbow over the Anacostia River, as well as a glorious sunset.  Despite being outhit 18-10, the Nats somehow managed to win the game 8-4.

Marine Corps War Memorial
On Saturday, we started off with a morning tour of the U.S. Capitol.  I always enjoy vising the seat of our federal legislature, but I must say I was disappointed with the length and scope of the tour.  We only toured the crypt, the rotunda, and Statuary Hall.  I recall giving longer, more detailed tours as a congressional intern in college; maybe the staff led tours are just better than the tour guide tours.  Anyway, afterwards, we paid visits to the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Archives.  In the afternoon, I checked my bike into the triathlon's transition area in West Potomac Park, stopping by the Marine Corps War Memorial on the way to snap a few photos.  Then my dad, brother, and I checked out the Lincoln Memorial, paid our respects at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and World War II Memorial, and circled the White House grounds before heading out to Cleveland Park to see Super 8 at the nostalgic Uptown Theater.

Sunday was the big day.  I was so paranoid about oversleeping that I set three alarms for 4:00 am and requested a wake-up call from our hotel's front desk for 4:10 am.  Needless to say, I awoke on time.  After eating a small breakfast, putting on my race suit, and gathering my gear, we headed to the transition area.  While setting up my spot, I was relieved to hear the Potomac River temperature was 77.2°F, meaning the race would be wetsuit legal!  I put my wetsuit on and before I knew it, the national anthem had been played and I was being herded down the dock to enter the water.  I started the race around 6:10 am.

Heading out onto the bike course
As expected, the Potomac River was dark and murky.  Thank goodness the race organizers put enormous sighting buoys in the water every 100 meters or it would have been incredibly easy to go off course!  I finished the swim, which took me under the Arlington Memorial Bridge, in a personal best time of 34:53.  After stripping off my wetsuit and putting on my helmet and bike shoes, I was out on the bike course.  It was incredible!  I got to ride my bike on completely closed roads past the Washington Monument, the White House, numerous cabinet department buildings, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Kennedy Center.  The course was flat and fast, helping me propel myself to a finish time of 1:17:41 and a personal record pace of 19.2 mph.  Before I knew it, I was putting my bike back on the rack and heading for the finish line on the run course.  Unfortunately, as soon as I started the run, I realized I was completely out of gas.  Try as I might, I was unable to run (rather than walk) more than about half the 10K distance, which I finished in 1:15:48.  My run time, which I had hoped would be around 1:00:00, kept me from beating my challenge goal of 3:00:00, but I had done so well on the swim and bike legs that I was still able to beat my regular goal of 3:20:00.

My dad, me, and my brother
I crossed the finish line waving an American flag over my head, eliciting cheers from the many, many people who had gathered to cheer on race participants.  My total time, as previously mentioned, was 3:15:42.  That's not too bad for my first race at this distance!  My dad and brother, who had been there cheering me on throughout all three legs, were there to greet me and celebrate my accomplishment.  What a memorable and rewarding experience!

Rory McIlroy (John Mummert/USGA)
After taking a few minutes for me to recover, we returned to our hotel, checked out, and headed up to Congressional Country Club to watch the final day of the 111th U.S. Open.  When we arrived, Phil Mickelson, who had a rough tournament, was teeing off on the 18th hole.  We cheered him on as he finished, then grabbed some lunch and headed over to the first green.  We found a spot at the rope and watched the final pairings play the first hole.  After the leaders, Rory McIlroy and Y.E. Yang, played through, we wound our way through the first nine holes and watched several notable players--including Jason Day, Lee Westwood, and Sergio Garcia--do their thing.  We then made our way to the 18th green, where we found a spot in the grandstands and watched two-by-two as the players finished.  By the time the final pair arrived, we were among at least 30,000 people in the area.  All of us were treated to an historic victory by Rory McIlory, the 22-year-old Irish phenom who many say is the next Tiger Woods.  He finished with a record score of 16-under-par.

Upon leaving Congressional, we found a local sports bar and caught the end of the Gamecock-Aggies baseball game in the first round of the College World Series.  The Yardcocks capped off an unforgettable Father's Day with a 5-4 victory, which was sealed with a walkoff double (which was almost a grand slam) by Scott Wingo in the bottom of the 9th inning.  All in all, it was an amazing weekend that my dad, my brother, and I will long remember!

Finally, for those of you still reading, here is a summary of my workouts for the week leading up to and including the race (I am foregoing a report for this past week, which I largely took off):
  • Monday - Rest day.
  • Tuesday - Ran 2.0 miles outside in 20:04.
  • Wednesday - Biked 10.3 miles outside in 34:20.
  • Thursday - Swam 750 yards (0.43 miles) in the pool in 19:06.
  • Friday - Rest day.
  • Saturday - Ran 1.5 miles on the treadmill in 15:00.
  • Sunday -  Swam 1500 meters (0.93 miles) in 34:53, biked 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) outside in 1:17:41, and ran 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) outside in 1:15:48.
Totals: Swam 1.36 miles, biked 35.1 miles, and ran 9.7 miles.

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