Giving it Another Tri: NYC Triathlon

Name of the race: NYC Triathlon

Where: New York City, NY

Date: August 3, 2014

Time: 6:00 am

Distance: Olympic (1500 meters swim, 40K cycle, 10K run)

Terrain: Swim down the Hudson River (fast current with you), bike up the Henry Hudson Parkway to the Bronx and back down again (rolling hills), 10K in Central Park (rolling hills)

Entry free: $10 to enter the lottery, $285 (entry fee) + $17.50 (processing fee); I got a free entry

Swag: Technical t shirt

Post-race Food: Bagels, Muscle Milk, water, sports drink, apples, and bananas

Time: 3:44:28 (Swim: 22:26; T1: 12:56; Bike: 2:08:24; T2: 3:17; Run: 57:30

Performance: Overall 3182/3400; Age Group (35-39) 149/170

Weather: 71 degrees with 77% humidity

I did another triathlon! Am I going to be a tri girl now? NOT AT ALL.

Ben gave me his free entry to the NYC Tri. He earned it a few years ago when he was volunteer team captain for the Mile 4 water station. He hadn’t been able to use it himself because for the last few years, the NYC Tri coincided with Musselman. This year it was finally on a different date. I think Ben secretly hoped that I would end up loving triathlons, so we would go travel and do tris together. While Musselman and the NYC Tri were very beginner friendly triathlons for me (because they have easy swims), I unfortunately just do not like swimming or cycling. Splashing around the water on a hot day? Yes. Slow leisurely bike ride? Yes. Actually swimming to a destination and mad pedaling with burning quads and aching back? No, thank you.

Because I don’t like swimming, I was rather anxious about the swim portion. Anxious enough that it actually compelled me to go to a pool and swim a few laps. As we were walking early in the morning (me to the transition area and Ben to his volunteer spot – he was again volunteer team captain for the Mile 4 water station), Ben tried to calm me down by talking to me. When I get really anxious, I want to be quiet and not talk, which is the exact opposite of how Ben calms down. He gets anxious when things are too quiet. I wanted some quiet time alone, so we parted ways. I knew I would see him in a few hours. I made it into transition to dump my stuff five minutes before closing. Then I started the walk to the swim start, which was a mile north. I had plenty of time. It was 5:20 am and my swim start didn’t start until 6:30 at the earliest. There are so many people doing the tri that there are several waves. If you’re in the last few waves, you don’t start until a couple hours AFTER the elites have gone (and they’re done by the time the wave starts).

I decided to stand in line and use a proper restroom, rather than the port-o-johns at the start. I didn’t feel all that well and as soon as I went inside a stall, I threw up the previous night’s dinner. Ironically vomiting actually made me feel much better and calmer. My fears of needing to throw up during the swim vanished because my stomach was nice and empty.

I walked up to the start and did a bag check. I forgot to take off a shirt that was I wearing. I thought about throwing it away, but it was my Musselman shirt and I didn’t want to lose it. Since it was a technical shirt, I decided to keep it on under my wetsuit. As I was waiting in my corral, I got a bit anxious again. I watched elites and various age groupers swim. Everyone remarked how fast  the current was going. A woman noticed that I was nervous, so she reassured me and talked to me about the course. She offered me body glide to rub on the lower legs of the wetsuit so it would be easier to take off. She was really nice. Moments before our corral was going to start, she found me again to offer more reassurance and to tell me to have fun.

For the swim start, you walk out onto a barge. They only let 15 people go at a time, 20 seconds apart. You sit on the edge. A whistle (or alarm) blows and you jump in. Ben advised me to stay on the outside as much as possible because that’s where the current was the strongest. I felt the difference. I had drifted toward the middle and I wasn’t moving as fast, so I swam out again. Like in Musselman, I flipped over to my back and swam the entire distance. I know I looked ridiculous, but I’m a lot safer on my back. The volunteers saw that I was fine and left me alone. Because of the current, even though I swam almost twice the distance in Musselman, I finished in a much faster time.

The river has a reputation for being dirty (probably for good reason), but I didn’t see any scum or debris while swimming. It was murky, but the water was calm so I had no problem spotting.

My time for T1 was quite long because it’s a half mile between the swim finish and T1. When I got out, I pulled off the arms of my wetsuit and got it down to my waist. I then jogged to T1 as fast as I could. Although normally I don’t use the restroom in races, I decided to this time because it was going to be a long day.

NYC_Tri_bike

We rented a road bike for me. Because it had no place to hold water, I decided to use my Camelpak for water. I also used my SpiBelt to hold a protein bar and ShotBlocks, for when I wanted to eat. I ate some of the protein bar while out cycling, but I didn’t finish it because I got tired of chewing. Yeah, I was so tired that chewing was work.

Cycling was my nemesis for this tri. So many people told me that the bike course was relatively flat. I describe the course as rolling hills, with two rather long sustained climbs in the middle. Ugh. I’m not a fast cyclist, so it took me over two hours to complete it. The cool part of the course was going through the toll bridge. Ben and I often use the Henry Hudson Parkway when we go up to see my cousin or when driving north. So it was fun seeing the route from a bike. The scenery was nice because it changes from city blocks to verdant trees. I was so happy when it was the turn around point because I was then cycling back to transition. But I was also a bit sad because it meant I had to be in the saddle for about another hour. Everything hurt. I had enough of cycling. You can tell by looking at the photo on the left.

I was in Wave 16, which is one of the last few waves in the Yellow Wave, which meant that I was part of the last group of women. Male cyclists from the Red Wave caught up and past me on the course. I got scared at times because they pass really close to you.

Ben said the  bike course is really crowded but I think it depends upon what kind of cyclist you are. As a slow cyclist in the back part of the Yellow Wave, for the most part I didn’t experience much traffic. I saw a few cyclists. Periodically waves of male cyclists would whiz past me. Other than that, I was pretty much alone.

NYC_Tri_runBy the time I hit transition I was so tired. My legs felt like rubber. I wanted to quit, but I willed myself to continue. I scarfed down half of the package of ShotBlocks. As I ran out of transition and onto 72nd St., there was a thick crowd of spectators roaring and cheering for all of us. It would have been electrifying and energizing if I hadn’t been so exhausted. I stumbled to Central Park. At this point I was counting down the miles until I saw Ben. I ate the rest of the ShotBlocks. At Mile 4, there was Ben. I croaked his name. He handed me my IPhone and ran a few yards with me. Two more miles until the end.

Finally after a strange labyrinth-like final half mile, I was done. I heard my name being announced over the loud speaker. After 3 hours 44 minutes and 28 seconds, I completed an Olympic distance triathlon. My only goal was to beat my sister’s Oly tri time. My sister did an Oly tri in CA several years ago. I met my goal. Ah, sibling rivalry!

I stopped for a few minutes to talk to a friend who was volunteering. He’s planning on doing this tri next year. He found it a lot of fun to volunteer, especially since he got to see them right after they finished. So many were so stoked at just finishing a tri.

I grabbed some food and sat on a bench for Ben to finish volunteering. Ben found me when he was done. He also had a lot of fun volunteering. As captain he was in charge of the water station and had the responsibility to making sure it ran smoothly. He positioned himself at the very end of the long line of volunteers to make sure runners got what they needed. About a half dozen runners missed getting a cup of Gatorade, so Ben chased them down with a cup. Personal valet service!

The NYC Tri is a cool way to see the city. I mean, how often do you get see the city from inside the Hudson River? Most people who see the city from the Hudson River are in a boat. We were swimming in the water. I’m glad to have completed this tri, but I think I doubt I will continue. Runners complain about race fees, but road race fees are nothing compared to triathlon fees. It’s a rather expensive hobby to do it lackadaisically.

Fall’s coming and I have several road races ahead of me. Hopefully a PR or two will be found in there.

NYC_Tri_finish

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12 thoughts on “Giving it Another Tri: NYC Triathlon

  1. Wow! I’m totally impressed. I would be way too scared to do a triathlon without training my guts out for months in advance and I’m still quite scared on race day. You are one tough girl! And to throw up before a race! The location sounds so cool too! Way to go!!!

  2. Congratulations! An Oly is a HUGE accomplishment, especially for a reluctant triathlete. I’ve done 5 sprints, but have yet to tackle a longer distance. Namely, because like you, 2 hours on a bike just sounds like torture. I’m glad you enjoyed the swim and got through it OK. So nice of that woman to reassure you beforehand. Great job on getting through it and checkin this off your bucket list. Seriously, I’m so impressed!!

  3. Cool! I’ll be doing my first Olympic tri tomorrow morning (but our bike portion is 24 miles… your description says it was 10K cycle, but I assume it was also 24 miles?).
    I am fine with the swim but not that cool on the bike. We’ll see how it goes :)

  4. Holy moly you are a rockstar! I can’t believe you did the NYC Tri and you like just started doing them so recently. I don’t think I would even make it through the swimming part.

    • Thanks! I do my best to have my readers live every agonizing moment of my races. ;)

      If Ben hadn’t been waiting at the Mile 4 water station, I think I would have been even more tempted to DNF.

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