Life in the Capital, The District, The Features

Nation’s Tri Recap

Photo courtesy of
‘Nation’s Triathlon’
courtesy of ‘drewsaunders’

You won’t believe me, but triathlons are ridiculously fun.  Swimming, biking, and running back to back to back for 32 miles sounds exhausting and painful to the uninitiated, but yesterday at the Nation’s Triathlon I had the time of my life.  And let’s put this in perspective, a year ago I could barely run a mile.  But with the great resources that our city has to offer, from free pools, great biking trails and an active triathlon community, DC has made a triathlete out of me.

The Nation’s Tri, which marked its fourth year yesterday, was a fantastic event from start to finish.  It has grown from 500 competitors in its first year to 6,000 registered competitors today, and it’s easy to see why: it’s professionally managed, takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of the city, and well, where else can you swim the Potomac with the mayor?

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The Daily Feed

Want to go for a Swim?

Photo courtesy of
‘My feet in the pool’
courtesy of ‘jc.westbrook’

Well, you’re not alone.  Word has gotten out about DC’s free public swimming pools, and (anecdotally at least) they seem particularly more crowded than in previous years.  This past Sunday, East Potomac Park at Hains Point (home of an Olympic-size pool and favorite location of triathletes in training) had to turn people away because the pool was over capacity. 

The Department of Parks and Recreation keeps an updated list of pool attendance for the summer, and it turns out that my two favorite swimming pools, East Potomac Park and Francis (at 25th and N in West End) are everyone else’s favorites too, with by far the highest attendance this summer.  East Potomac Park has logged more than 8,700 visitors as of June 25, and Francis has logged more than 7,000 visitors, while most other pools are in the 2,000-3,000 visitor range.  So what do you think– have you noticed your favorite pool becoming more crowded this summer?

The Daily Feed

We suggest the pool

Photo courtesy of
‘Washington, DC – 113′
courtesy of ‘giantminispacegoat’

Buried on the 4th page of the Health section yesterday was a Washington Post piece about the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Or the lack of quality, rather. A report released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation claims that all sorts of yuck awaits humans who choose to go in the bay, ranging from algae blooms to mercury to a particularly nasty bacteria, vibrio.

The story closes with an anecdote about one of Virginia’s 30 reported vibrio cases from last year, Ken Smith, vice president of the Virginia Waterman’s Association. The idea of picking up what looks like a mosquito bite that ends up turning into a swollen arm and a trip to the hospital is pretty ugly, so be mindful of any seemingly minor injuries you pick up in the water this summer: see a doctor if they start to get worse.

You can read the report yourself if you like; the CBF hosts Bad Water 2009: The Impact on Human Health in the Chesapeake Bay Region [pdf] on their website for anyone to download. If you don’t, please consider at least taking the advice of both the CDF and government officials who suggest you avoid swimming in the Chesapeake for at least 48 hours after a heavy rain in order to avoid unpleasant runoff.

In case you’re wondering: neither the WaPo or the CDF report expicitly definewhat makes for a  “heavy” rain but sample data in the report refers to samples after a 1″ rain, so you should probably consider anything over 1/2″ as “heavy” for this purpose.

Life in the Capital, The Features

Taking a Few Laps

 Photo courtesy of
‘Going for the Gold’
courtesy of ‘evoo73′

Before moving to DC, the last pool I frequented was that in my high school friend’s backyard. Though I took swimming lessons every summer day during my adolescence, in general “swimming” meant flopping around in water to cool off between tanning. Now I’ve come to embrace swimming as a really satisfying form of exercise thanks to my former collegiate swimmer roommate and DC’s free public swimming pools. 

Swimming is my new favorite winter-months mode of exercise. I’m a little too cash-strapped (read: cheap) to pony up a gym membership and often find working out in a gym, with its mirrored walls and flourescent lighting, to be a bit soul-crushing. Running outside is great, and I’ve been so pleased to find that DC is really a Running City. However, in January, when it is pitch dark both when you wake up in the morning and get out of work at night and below freezing, it’s a little hard to motivate. Plus, running is an alone activity; Swimming at the DC pools makes me feel like I’m part of the community. Something about a group of people all breathing into the same water really fosters bonding, you know? Continue reading

Featured Photo, Life in the Capital, Sports Fix, The District

Featured Photo

Nation’s Triathlon by Noah Devereaux

Last week our fine city hosted the annual Nation’s Triathlon where competitors are challenged to swim 1.5K through the murky Potomac, bike 40K, and run 10K.  It’s a feat so easy that even our very own Mayor Fenty can do it.  I’m kidding of course.  The only way I could compete in this race is if it were a 51.5K bike ride.

This amazing shot by Noah Devereaux takes the sweaty, strenuous, and sometimes painful event and strips away the grit, replacing it with grace and beauty.  The perfect lane lines and tree-lined street capture your eye and lead it toward the majestic Capitol at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue.  The warm morning sun glimmers off the newly paved road and creates a shadow for the runner to compete against.  It takes months of dedicated preparation to compete in a race like this, but this photo makes it look like a mere jog through the park.