Saturday, October 18, 2014

Over the River and into the Woods

Did you know that there is more to Washington, DC, than the northwest quadrant? Or that one can mountain bike within city limits? And that deer sometimes outnumber people? Welcome to my neighborhood.

Since the usual DC training hotspots of Hains Point, Rock Creek Park, and Poolesville can become crowded or just boring after awhile, here are a few alternatives:

  • Anacostia Park: Flat stretches with very little traffic--check. Outdoor pool--check. Free and easy parking--check. Sounds like Hains Point, right? Even better: no tour buses, no park service police ticketing people at stop signs, no flooding, and the roads are open 24/7. Plus, you can mix things up a bit by riding on the parallel trail west of the river. I like to do a route that involves crossing each of the four bridges. Oh, and there's also a pirate ship! 
  • They Don't Call it Hillcrest for Nothing: Want to train on some steep hills? Behold Ward 7. The Penn Ave SE climb is just the beginning. Try Naylor Road, Fort Baker Drive, 31st Street, or Park Drive. If you'd rather stick with a group, Bicycle Space offers a Hills of Anacostia ride on Saturdays.
Why hello there, neighbor! Also notice the steepness.

  • The Great Escape: The Fort Circle hiker-biker trail is city's best kept secret (or it was...oops). Think single track mountain biking amidst Civil War forts. I once went for a trail run here and saw nine deer and zero humans (present company excluded). 
No humans were harmed (or seen) in the making of this photo.

  • No Cue Sheet Required: Want to go for a decent ride without writing down directions...or even turning? Just take Mass Ave the whollllle way, Goldsboro Road to Southern Avenue. It's nearly 15 miles and transverses almost all of DC, from the mansions of Palisades to the PG County border. 
Have you tried these? Any others I should include? 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I'm Number..Cough Cough...One!

Ironman 70.3 World Championships, Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Where the best of the best come to duke it out over 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running, then make up the calorie deficit via vast quantities of poutine. Qualifying for this race was my big, hairy, audacious goal of 2014, so I was thrilled and a little nervous to be there. If you've never been to Mont Tremblant, it's kind of like a Disneyland + ski resort - costumed creatures (and in this case + a few thousand spandex-clad triathletes). The town is located next to a lake and at the foot of some ski lifts. As a result, the views are picturesque and there's even an adorable gondola between the bottom part of town (including the finish line) and some of the hotels. This also means the run course included some 25% inclines. Oh yes. How did I do? Well, if your unit of measurement is the amount of fun a person can have and quantity of joy at the finish line, then I probably won. If you're into actual numbers and placement, I was 101st in my age group. While that's slightly off the podium, if you think of all the 30-34 year old women there are IN THE WORLD, I'm pretty pleased with myself.

Probably the only time I'll take a bike on a gondola.

Keeping with the theme of fun vs. facts, rather than a traditional race report, here are some things that surprised and/or amused me. May they do the same for you:

  • For some reason, I was originally placed in the women's 65-69 age group and got some really shady looks from the other women in my bike rack. ("What's my secret? Sunscreen, drinking lots of water...and actually being 35 years younger than you.")
  • You know you've made it when a Japanese tourist wants to take a photo with you. In this case, however, it was my bike's water bottle setup that he cared about. 
  • While there were volunteers with sharpies doing body marking, nobody actually had their age on their calf. Except me. No wonder there was no line. 
  • The swim start included a Royal Air Force fighter jet flyover, though I think people enjoyed posing for photos with the Mounties more.
  • The lake was eerily clear and I could see the bottom for a ways offshore. rocks... SHIPWRECK! Actually, it was maybe an old dock or construction or something (I was too busy actually swimming to investigate) but it was definitely unusual.
  • The level of competition was just incredible, and definitely a kick in the butt to get faster next year. I was holding the same watts as in a normal race and getting passed like I was standing 50 year old women. 
  • One year of college-level French is apparently enough to negotiate for a space blanket post-race. (Then again, as we know from Panama, my foreign language skills are apparently heightened by dehydration. Wish I'd known this in college.) 
  • If your flight is delayed, delayed some more, and then ultimately canceled, be sure to ask for food vouchers from every employee you encounter. Bonjour, CAD $96 steak-stravaganza

Many thanks to my family and friends for the cheers, Elliott for sherpa-ing, Coach Kerri for getting me there (and beating me by 0:30--ouch!), and Rose PT for keeping me healthy and strong. Here's to a fun off season!

Mission Accompli