Sunday, July 18, 2010

New York City Triathlon

I got up this morning around 4, ate a Clif bar, drank some Gatorade, got dressed and jumped into a cab to get to transition. I got to transition around 5 and snapped this photo of how crazy and crowded our (yellow) transition area was. There are two transition areas, so this is only about half of the participants in the race.

I had to drop my bike off on Saturday and knew that transition was really crowded, so I packed really light for transition. That meant that I was able to set-up really quickly. I had also remembered that I hadn't put my bike in an easy gear, which they recommend for the bike out since there is a steep hill almost right away. Luckily, since your back wheel is hanging up in the air, it was really easy for me to spin my tires and change gears so I'd be all set for T1.

I wanted to take a picture of my transition area so that I could show you the girl next to me on the left. When I was setting up, I thought that maybe she was doing an Iron-distance race instead of an Olympic. It just seemed like an awful lot of bananas and Gu-related items for a total of 32 miles. Not to mention how much space she was taking up, which somehow only expanded over the course of the race. I'm sure she smelled good with her deodorant there, though!

After setting up, I found Laura and we chatted for a bit. We snapped this picture, where I think that I look totally asleep still. I'm not sure I was quite ready to do a triathlon quite yet!

Laura and I met up with Bruce, who was in the red transition area and the three of us walked the mile to the swim start. By the time we got there, I was ready for a bathroom break, so I went to find the port-a-potties and waited in line. Right after that, I heard the National Anthem, so I knew the race was just about to start. I was able to watch the pros and elites start their races. It was really awesome to see the pro men all swim together. They sort-of all formed a pack behind the leader (sort of like geese flying together).

After that, it was time to get my wetsuit on. I had worn some $2.50 flip-flops up to the race start, so I was able to just throw them away. Otherwise I would have had to collect my stuff at the end of the race and after San Francisco, I really wasn't in the mood for that. Once I had my suit on, I was almost regretting the fact that I had decided to wear one. The water was 76 degrees and it was at least that warm out of the water as well. As soon as I put the suit on, I was really hot and I couldn't wait to get into the water.

We were all lined up along the water's edge and moved up as the waves in front of us started their waves. There was a rope in the water that people were holding onto, while other people were sitting on the barge edge and jumped in once the gun went off. I saw that people who weren't holding onto the rope at the start were having trouble getting past the rope once they started. They sort-of got stuck in between the barge and the rope. Because the current was pretty strong, the people holding onto the rope were being pulled out pretty far into the water.

That meant that when I got out onto the barge for my wave, I was looking for the rope about a foot to two feet out in the water. Except that it was right against the barge. It was just the current that was pulling it out so far. One girl jumped in right away and did not hold onto the rope. She really had to struggle to get back to the barge and hold onto the rope. That seemed like a good sign for the swim downstream! I really made sure to grab onto the rope before I jumped into the water. I didn't want to be swept downstream too soon! This is my swim wave, I'm somewhere in the middle here, but you can see how far the current was pulling us away from the barge.

Pretty soon, the horn sounded and we were off. I thought the swim just went okay. Even though it's just a straight shot, there wasn't really anything to sight, so I had trouble with that. I felt like I was weaving a bit, but I finally was able to find a line and just stuck to that. About half-way through the swim, I felt my fingers on my left hand dig into something (non-human) in the river. I freaked out for about 5 seconds, stopped, and realized that it was a huge stick floating in the water. I mean, I was swimming in the Hudson River. I wasn't really scared, but I was hoping it wouldn't be anything too gross!

I felt good during the swim. I had passed a couple of the people in the wave ahead of me, so that felt like it was a good sign. When I got out of the water, I looked down at my watch and realized that I had pressed the wrong button at the start and had not started my watch. Oops. That was going to make it a more interesting day. Here's me looking at my watch realizing that nothing had happened.

When I got up to the path to T1, I took off my swim caps and wiped off my mouth right away. Last year, there were lots of people with black icky stuff from the River all over their faces and I didn't want that to be in all my pictures. So, here's a picture of me wiping my face:

Drew, Ann and Eric were all waiting there to cheer me onto T1. The run to T1 really wasn't that bad. It's about 720 meters from the swim exit to T1, and I was worried that the concrete would hurt my feet, but I really didn't notice it at all.

T1 was fine. I took my wetsuit off the rest of the way and then put my helmet on right away. Then I put on some sunscreen. Drew was nice enough to get my the spray kind, so I sort-of sprayed and hoped for the best. I put on socks, shoes, sunglasses, grabbed my bike and was off.

I was glad that my bike was in the easier gear on the hill up to the road for the bike ride. There were definitely some people having trouble in front of me, but I didn't have any issues. I saw my Terrier coach, Robert, right after getting out of T1 and also our friend Matt. That Robert yelled at me to make sure I was smiling and that was a good reminder to just have fun out there.

The bike ride was fine. I didn't know what to expect, but it was mostly rollers. It actually was nice that it was an out and back course so you knew where the uphills would be on the way back. I got up to 32.4 MPH as my max speed and I definitely got close to that a couple of other times as well. The rollers made for really good downhills and long uphills. Even though I went really fast a few times, I spent a lot of time going a lot slower than that, too!

The course was really crowded. There was one lane for each direction and it was packed. I felt like I was drafting the entire ride, but so was everyone else. I wasn't worried about getting a penalty, because it seemed like I wasn't the only person out there having this problem. Maybe the pros had a clear field, but us middle-of-the-packers certainly did not!

Somewhere around Mile 12 I realized that I had perhaps over-hydrated for the race and I really had to pee. I really had to think about peeing on the bike, but decided against it. I really, really thought about it. If only I didn't have a white bike seat, I think I probably would have. That's probably a good reason to keep the white seat.

It was somewhere around Mile 18 that I was about ready to be off the bike. I haven't ridden 25 miles in quite a while and I was realizing that it's longer than you think it is (it might be bad to realize that in the middle of a triathlon!). The bike course wasn't the most exciting and it's usually on the bike that I wonder why in the heck I sign up for these types of these things. I was really surprised to see Drew and Eric as I was heading back on the bike. It was somewhere around 79th Street (before the turn-around at 57th Street). I was really excited to see them there as it was a total surprise.

When I got to the turn-around point, which the guy at the meeting had said was about a mile from transition, I was getting really annoyed. I realized that I was almost to 25 miles and that I think the bike course was long. Plus, by this point, I really had to pee.

When I got back to transition, my bike computer said 25.95 miles, so almost a mile long. I changed shoes, grabbed my hat and race belt, re-applied sunscreen and ran out. Or, almost out. I ran past the port-a-potties thinking I could hold it, but then decided that was a bad idea. I looked in two port-a-potties before realizing that none of them had toilet paper and since I had already peed in my wetsuit this morning what was going to be the difference now if I didn't use TP? (Oh the rationality of a triathlete).

Upon exiting T2, I grabbed a cup of Cytomax and headed out for the run. There was a big group of Terriers (not racing) at the run start on 72nd Street, which was awesome to have my team mates cheering for me! These are the pictures they snapped of me just starting the run.

The run was hot. I had noticed at some point on the bike that all of sudden it just got a lot hotter outside and I wasn't looking forward to the run in the heat. Right as I entered the Park on 72nd Street, I saw Ann and then not long after that, I saw Drew and Eric.

Right after seeing them, I saw Aaron Scheidies (a blind triathlete). I had seen him pass me on the bike and when I saw him on the run course, he was walking with his guide after finishing the race. I told him that he had a great race and we ended up chatting for a minute. He's an MSU grad (like me!) and he wished me well. I think that it's amazing that these athletes with disabilities have overcome so much and also do triathlons. Super inspirational. Especially when they beat you in the race!

After that, I just concentrated on executing my run plan. I walked through every single aid station and took a cup of water at each one. It was hot and I was running slow, but I was doing the best I could under the conditions. I was talking to Drew about it after the fact and I admitted that I did have to take a couple of walking breaks (mostly 5-20 seconds), so I feel like I went with my original plan and with the heat, I'm not sure I could have pushed myself much more. The main thing that I really concentrated on was to keep swinging my arms. I learned when I was doing all my power walking that if I swing my arms, I'm more likely to start running than if I just stop and walk regularly, so I don't think I lost that much ground by taking my walking breaks.

The biggest problem with the run was that by mile 1.5, I was chafing from my tri top. This happened to me at Westchester too, and I knew that I wasn't in the mood for it today. I ended up just taking off my top and running in my sports bra, not really caring how I looked. The only problem with that? No one really cheers for you when you're the girl in the pink sports bra (that totally clashes with your red running hat and fancy red manicure!).

I think that in miles 2-6, I really realized how nice it is to be a part of a team. Especially a NYC based team. Because I was getting a lot more cheers and encouragement when I appeared to be a part of Terrier. I have to say, though, that I ended up with nickel-sized circles (from the chafing) under my arms. I don't know that I could have stood anything more for a few more cheers here and there. I ended up seeing Ann and then Drew and Eric again almost at the finish line.

And before I knew it, I was done! I thought I might have finished in under 3:30, but I couldn't be sure because I hadn't started my watch at the swim and when I got to the finish line, the clock was broken (you can see them fixing it with the ladder in the photos below). That made it a lot harder to know my final time. I had to wait for the results to be posted online.

And I did it! I freaking did it! My total time: 3:22:00! Whoo hoo! I know I could have had a shorter T2 if I hadn't had to pee and if it had been 10 degrees cooler, I bet I could have had a faster run, but you know what? It doesn't matter! I totally smashed my goal. Plus, it's a PR! I know that I was pretty wishy-washy about whether or not I should do this race this year and I have no regrets. I'm so happy I did it. It was a blast. It's nice to not have to travel at all for a race.

I know that some people might say that it wasn't a real PR because the current in the Hudson is so helpful, but you know what? That's the race course. Every race is different and every year is different. I don't think that the fast swim takes away anything from my race. I finished smiling with no broken bones, so I think all of that makes it a huge success!

After the race, I met Drew and Eric at the family waiting area, ate my bagel and orange and then we headed out of the Park.

Drew and I headed back to transition, but I realized when we got there that we got there too early. Transition didn't open until 11 (because there were still people out on the course). We definitely saw a couple of people just entering transition (T2) while we were waiting. I know I was glad to be done and not starting the run around 11! Whew. That just sounds hot.

All in all, so happy to have done the race. I'm not really sure what the rest of the summer holds for me now that Timberman is out of the picture, but I've got some ideas up my sleeve! Plus, I'll be planning 2011 soon, I'm sure!

The official results:
Time: 19:25
Distance: 0.90 miles
Pace: 1:10/100
Time: 1:44:29
Distance: 25.0(+) miles
Pace: 14.3 MPH
Time: 1:06:16
Distance: 6.20 miles
Pace: 10:41/mile
Total Time


  1. Great RR! these are really some great shots your friends got.

    I am looking of the shot of you crossing the finish line and I see 3:38 and I get all excited because that is when I crossed the line too. I'm looking to see if I am in any of your shots. Then I see you wrote the clock was broken. I had no idea until just now, ha!!

    I race 'naked' so I didn't know my time either and the site was down for a long time. They had some bad luck between the clock and the site. It was worth the wait though.

    Well done!!

  2. Congrats! It looked BRUTAL out there on Sunday - I only saw the running portion in the park, but it was so hot. Awesome that you still rocked it and beat your goal in spite of the conditions!