Saturday, September 29, 2007

Shue Finishes Strong at the Nation's Triathlon!

What a difference a week makes! I went into this race with zero expectations, bummed about last week's poor finish and podium miss. I was ready for the tri season to be over!

I awoke to a fantastically fabulous fall day. Not a cloud in the sky; cool, clear, crisp air and a definite electric charge all around! It was awesome to walk out my front door and ride my bike to the race site in Georgetown. The Georgetown waterfront was beautiful, clear blue skies--a perfect "San Diego morning".

THE SWIM (29:53)
Age group 10/31
The Potomac isn't the nastiest water I've ever been in. It was actually quite nice. Didn't smell bad, didn't taste bad, and it was actually better visibility UNDER-water than above. We jumped off the floating dock into the water, swam down to the Key Bridge, and then turned around for the down-stream, slightly longer leg back. Problem was that the sun was right in our face. It was a total white-out. The entire river seemed on fire with light. I couldn't see anything. I had to stop 3 or 4 times to try to hear others around me, and look backwards at the bouys to know where to swim forwards. Needless to say, it was a brutal swim!

T1 (3:12)
Age group 4/31
It was a fairly long run from the swim to the transition area--about the same as last week at General Smallwood.

THE BIKE (1:07:58)
Age group 3/31
I took off flying past the Kennedy Center, checked my computer and it said 24mph! WOW, I thought, this is going to be a good race! I was flying all the way until the tip of Hain's Point, and as I rode around "The Awakening" statue, I "awokened" to the fact that my 24mph was a result of a heady tailwind, which was now a full-on brutal headwind. It was all I could do to keep it in the 15-18mph range. Two loops, where 3/4 of each loop had the headwind or a nasty cross-wind. I was passing folks left and right, and really enjoyed the ride through all the Monuments. What a gorgeous course!

T2 (:56)
Age group 1/31 (Yeah!)
No cramping, no need for water, in and out, lickety-split!

THE RUN (46:42)
Age group 3/31
I had no idea where I was time-wise, but after last week's fiasco and my 5-second loss for 3rd place, I knew I needed to just run. Run, Forest, Run! The course took us up Whitehurst Fwy, then over a makeshift staircase to the other side of Whitehurst and back down again. The motorcycle camera caught up to me and I had a brief conversation with them, but then I was off! It was great seeing so many DC-Tri folks running, and we were all giving each other the "thumbs-up" as we passed; volunteers were shouting and encouraging, and the energy was unbelievable! Next thing I knew I was at mile 3. Completely afraid to look at my watch, I just kept on plowing, telling myself that I didn't have to do another run this year, so you better run your heart out and leave nothing in the bank! And then I saw the "Mile 5" marker. And I felt great! I picked up the speed again. Then some guy behind me actually asked me where the Smithsonian was; having told him there were numerous ones, but the Natural History Museum was right in front of us; he then asked which one was best!? Really. We had a total conversation while I was running a sub-8 minute pace; my fastest 10k run ever (triathlon or otherwise)!

THE FINISH (2:28:40)*Personal Best*
Age group 3/31
Overall 29/230 women (845 total participants)

As I turned onto 12th street from Constitution, I noticed that there were runners running in both directions. How long was Mile 5 anyway?!? Then I turned right onto Pennsylvania Avenue, running straight at the United States Capitol. WOW, what a sight! And then, at the foot of the Capitol, we did a U-turn around a red-hot new Porche, and it was a 4 block straight-shot to victory! I picked up the pace, saw a few folks ahead of me and kicked it in. There wasn't a chance that I was going to give up this week. This week I was going to FINISH STRONG!

It wasn't until I saw the finisher's clock (which was ~45 minutes ahead of my time) when I realized I might actually have run a sub 2:30 race. And then I looked down at my watch. I couldn't believe it! My watch said 2:29:17, and I started my watch about :40 seconds early before the swim (so I'm always a bit suprised by my "official" time). Not only did I finish strong, but I had CRUSHED my all-time-best, and finally made the "sub-2:30 club". I also managed to requalify for USAT Age Group Nationals again next year!

For all the nay-sayers, and folks who never thought it'd happen, the Nation's Tri is one of the all-time best triathlon experiences I've ever had! I can't wait till next year!

NBC News Coverage
Race Results

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