We’ve reached an all-time low in our expectations for celebrities singing the National Anthem: We don’t care if you can sing, just get the words right. Saturday night, Cyndi Lauper got most of the words right when she “sang” The Star-Spangled Banner at The US Open 9/11 tribute. There is some debate that she may have deliberately changed the words, but in light of recent celebrity flubs, you’d think she’d know better than to mess with the lyrics to this song. And…she sounded terrible. It seemed, really, like a half-hearted effort. Maybe she had somewhere to get to and just wanted to get the thing over with. She did seem to have forgotten her skirt/pants so maybe she was caught off-guard and hadn’t had time to practice.

In stark contrast, Sunday morning, just before the start of the Reston Triathlon Duathon, we were treated to a violin rendition of the National Anthem by Pavel Pekarsky, first violinist in the National Symphony Orchestra and a member of Reston Area Triathletes (RATs). Obviously, he plays impeccably, but his playing garnered so much emotion that my spine was tingling. OK, so he didn’t have to remember the words, but he DID remember the music.

Racing on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 was a conscious decision. I can’t think of a better way to honor those who died in the horrific attacks than by embracing life and doing what I would have been doing anyway. This seemed to be the consensus of feeling Sunday. Terrorists tried to take away our sense of normal, and people everywhere have fought to get it back. Check out this fantastic video from Nations Triathlon featuring my training partner Monique Rico, who won the First Responder race-within-a-race and was interviewed by USA Today.

Like Nations, the swim at Reston was cancelled due to post-storm lake conditions. There was a lot of confusion about how far the first run would be, where we were going, how far apart the waves would start, etc. I think the Reston Triathlon Board of Directors could have done everyone a huge favor and sent out an informational e-mail the day before the race. At packet pickup we were handed a slip of paper with some info but I didn’t read it until I got home, and I then realized that it didn’t answer all my questions. Because we were no longer swimming in the lake, there was only one transition area and so the bike out onto the course was completely different from the one on the web site, but no-one knew where we’d be going. That question was answered about 2 minutes before my wave started the first run.

So we ran 2.3 miles and then got on the bike for an approx. 8 mile loop that we rode 3 times, and then we ran 10k. Duathlons give me a huge advantage because the swim is my weakest sport, and at Reston the swim is a mile so good swimmers can get a good lead on us lousy swimmers. I heard that several people didn’t show up for the race because, without the swim, they didn’t fancy their chances. I had a bit of a dilemma as this was supposed to be a “B” race for me, but with the swim out I knew I could do well if I raced it right.

I think I raced fairly smart. I didn’t hammer the first run, just went comfortably hard, stayed alive on the bike – which featured a very narrow lane to ride in, extremely tightly coned turns, and a good deal of debris – ร‚ย and gradually increased my pace on the run from a 7:56 first mile to a 7:20 final mile. My performance was good enough for 7th female overall and 1st in my age group. ๐Ÿ™‚

Feels so Damn Good to Finish

Meanwhile, across the pond, my sister was competing in her first triathlon – Cheltenham Triathlon. She had been nursing an injured calf muscle and we had been going back and forth during the week with ideas on how she should treat it. The day before the race she e-mailed me several times and then I missed her phone call because I was at packet pickup for Reston, and when I got back it was too late to call her. Her last e-mail said “I am sooooo nervous” and I was so worried for her! I e-mailed and told her that she would be fine, and should just do what she’d done in training, and hoped she’d check her e-mail before she left for the race. Thankfully she did, and she also checked facebook, where I’d left her a good luck message.

Races in England are different from races here in the USA. They’re generally a little more low-key and informal, and often involve lots of tea and chocolate biscuits. I’ve never raced a triathlon in the UK, so I have no frame of reference, but it seems Cheltenham Triathlon was severely low key. It wasn’t chip timed so my sister’s wave had a hard start time of 8am. For the swim, athletes were to stay in one lane and swim back and forth until they’d completed 500m. But the woman monitoring my sister’s lane told her she couldn’t get in because a swimmer from the previous heat was still in the water. My sister basically said, “screw that” (knew I’d taught her something about racing), and got in and started swimming when the whistle blew for her start time. Good for her.

So the swim goes well and she gets into transition and has to maneuver around people who are setting up in transition. Do I hear a collective WTF?! Yes, people were allowed to set up transition whenever they felt like it. But wait, it gets better. So off she goes on the bike and hasn’t even gone 2 minutes when she has to stop at a red light. I am not kidding. Bikers were required to stop if they came to a red light. Actually, this worked well for her because she hadn’t practiced drinking on the bike much so was able to get a drink while stopped. The route went close by her house and her eldest daughter, Fiona, was cheering at a roundabout nearby. Good thing she was there, too, because one of the bikers got lost and had to ask Fiona which way to go. Seriously.

Must tell her not to have so much fun next time...

Like this buff-looking pic although I'd tell her to ditch the bottle...

The run was uneventful, the calf gave her no troubles, and she was very pleased with her finish! Now she’s ready for her next race. I’m thinking she should come over here and do one just to see the difference.




  1. I’d have to do some SERIOUS training to do a triathlon in the States – not ruling it out though!

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