Race Prep -- Getting ready for a tri is always soooo much more complicated than a run. Even dealing with the layering and delayering of the NYC Marathon is nothing compared to the OCD inducing mania of making sure that you have your swim stuff, your bike stuff, and your run stuff, and your food. They give you three separate plastic bags: one for bike check-in; one for race day check-in; and one for swim start bag-drop. What goes where, and most importantly, how are you going to get it all home with your bike on the subway? Here's everything but the bike, the towel, the wetsuit, and the Maratona Di Roma backpack that I used to transport everything.
Bikes have to be racked the night before, so part of the pre race taper involved an easy ride up the West Side to transition.
With the bike racked, subway home and a quick date night with Vicki for pizza, beer, and and ice cream cone. I love carbo loading!!
The Swim -- The swim is always sketchy for me. I'm not fast, and I get nervous swimming in open water in a bunch. Just to give you some idea, sitting on the lawn, waiting for the start, my heart rate was elevated (up 20 beats). If I thought about it, I felt shortness of breath just sitting around. This is nonsense, obviously, but frustrating. Before putting on my wetsuit, I took a number of quick strides on a cinder track near the baggage trucks. It helped to get my heart rate up legitimately, and opened up my chest. When I lined up, my running friend Illya was stationed in our corral as a "swim spotter." While I waited, we chatted. Distraction was most welcome. It helped me to ignore the dead fish floating near where we were standing . . . The swim was fine. I took it nice and easy. My entire goal was to stay calm and steady. It worked. I got a bit nervous/out of breath a couple of times, and then eased back and was fine. Towards the end of the swim, things got rather bottled up. I did get kicked in the goggle once. That was annoying. For a second I couldn't see out of the eye because the goggle was holding the lid closed. I flipped onto my back, popped off the goggle, put it back on, and continued on my merry way to the swim exit which was a mob scene. You pretty much had to breast stroke until you got to the front of the crowd, to be pulled out of the water by a pair of friendly volunteers. I am always so happy when I get out of the water and the swim has gone relatively smoothly. This time I was so jazzed that I forgot to stop my watch, and ran about 250 yards before hitting the lap button. I wanted to sprint to transition, but they had us lined up single file on the way back to transition, so, again, things got a bit backed up. T1 went smoothly. There were actually bikes and people still at the racks when I got there. That is always a plus.
The Bike -- I love the bike course. It quickly kicks up out of Riverside park. Then you ride up the West Side/Henry Hudson Highway into the Bronx. It has a few rolling hills and a decent climb at the turnaround, but basically, you can just settle in and ride. This year there was a special treat: fresh pavement. For the first few miles the asphalt was super smooth. That said, there was a lot of traffic, so mostly I was passing the whole time. A few miles in a Brooklyn Tri-club guy went by me, and I decided to chase. I kept him in sight through the turnaround and the motivation really helped. I never got back to him, though (until drinks in the evening). Anyway, I rode hard without killing myself, drank all the Gatorade on my bike, and averaged a respectable 20.1 mph. Someday, I'd like to break 21 mph for 40k, but yesterday wasn't the day. I just stayed comfortable and motored along.
The Run -- A bit of conservatism on the bike paid off on the run. The run begins with that same nasty climb out of Riverside Park (from T1). I expected to really feel it. I didn't. Much to my surprise, T2 did not hurt that much, and I felt good as soon as I hit 72nd Street. My state of mind was captured by running buddy Bari, as I give a master class in: (1) mugging for the camera;
(2) what heel strike looks like; and
(3) settling back into form.
What can I say, I was happy! Not forever, though, because it was hot, hot, hot. I was very lucky to have my Garmin back up and running. I just locked in my heart rate, and settled in. I was hoping for 8:30s, and held them for a bit, but finished with an average pace of 9 minute miles. No complaints there. Again, I was passing people the whole way. The only folks who passed me were tall 30 somethings with hollow bones. Anyway, I felt fine the whole way, maintained steady form and cadence. I kept trying to lift my heart rate a bit, because I seemed to have a few beats to spare, but my legs and the heat wouldn't seem to allow it. The worst moment was at the last water stop, I poured the water over my head and it was tepid. Then I drank my second cup, and it was tepid too. Yuck!! But, if that's the worst that happens . . . At the end, I still had a bit left for a kick.
All in all, a good day, and a great return to Triathlon!!
Congrats to Cassandra (center) for a great first NYC Tri, and thanks to Richard (left) for company, conversation and encouragement on the way home (the hardest part). Special thanks to Illya (next to Cassandra) for the swim start encouragement, and Bari (right) for the photos. The training was made much more fun by the folks at SBRC (running, swimming and coffee) and BTC (bike, brick and beer (I get the next one Scott)).