On September 11th, 2011 I was fortunate enough to be able to safely race in the Capital of the United States. This race had more significance than other triathlons because of the dedication to the troops, first responders, and everybody that was affected by this day ten years prior.
The race itself was bittersweet as I had the best bike/run combo I've ever had, but was penalized for drafting after the fact. The race started with no swim due to the monsoon that had passed through the mid atlantic area the previous week. The start of the race became a TT style start with 15 athletes starting every 15 seconds running through transition, hopping on their bike and going. While this led to a lot of congestion on the bike course, (the entire elite field was in a peloton save one guy who had a phenomenal solo TT) the course was still blazing fast. I did my best to not be drafting by trying to split up the field at the front, staying to the side or back, but there were a solid 30 riders together and we all were certainly closer than 3 bike lengths. Bike splits: 57:34 (25.8mph!)
After dismounting the bike, I was able to run through the now very muddy transition area, and start the run. I like to get out hard in runs, and this was no exception. I grabbed the overall lead by the 0.5 mile mark and tried to maintain high cadence and I passed. Slightly before 2 miles, somebody told me I had 15 seconds on second. I made sure to not look back but tried to slowly push down on the gas and by 5k (where there was a chip sensor) I listened for the sound of a runner crossing behind me, but I did not hear one. I still tried to maintain my cadence and form as I had bad memories of age group nationals, so I really wanted a good run split today. With about 400 meters to go, I was handed an American Flag which I was able to hold over my head to finish. This was a huge honor- and something I have always envied of the Olympic athletes you see on tv, etc. Upon finishing, my Mom thought I had run 5:15's, which I would have been happy with. The official results had my splits at 32:09 (5:11s) which is great! Also my Aunt, Uncle, and Grandpop were able to make it there to see me race and win, which was another great part of the day.