This is long because I wanted to write everything that happened but, I’ve emphasized where I thought might be useful for any newbies who attempts the NYC Triathlon.
I woke up basically pinching myself about how well this race went. I enjoyed every moment.
I completed the NYC triathlon on Sunday. A 1500m swim, 40K bike ride and a 10k (shortened to 8 for heat-related concerns). I haven’t felt so great about a race before but understandably it took awhile to get here.
I wrote about completing the Sleepy Hollow Triathlon awhile back and being stuck in the water (if you want to read a recap go here). So you can say that I had lots of concerns for this Olympic distance that emerged from lack of confidence and my need to be perfectly disciplined—if that exists.
I attended the pre-events such as the mandatory course preview prior to picking up my race number, did all due-diligence as to getting my gear ready. Even with that, I almost did the newbie thing of leaving all my gear at the overnight bike checkin.
My boyfriend quickly dissuaded me with concerns that my race gear would’ve been swiped (unfortunately 6 bikes were stolen overnight unbeknownst to me until after the race). He also told me to deflate my tires. While NYC’s was hotter than his Puerto Rico Half ironman, he had experienced expansion of his tires (this can cause the tires to pop). The last thing I wanted was to replace a tire on race morning.
On race day Mike, my lone triathlon support crew, dropped me off close enough to prep my area. I inflated my tires, moved the pump out of everyone’s way but wrapped in one of my bags (this is important only because after the race I almost couldn’t find the darn thing. Someone must’ve used it and not replaced it in the bag. It was a few feet over from the emptied bag, thankfully no need to replace—these bike accessories are getting expensive). Then I laid every item under my front wheel.
I made my way out of transition prior to its closing and joined Mike along the path to the swim start. I was so thankful that it was wetsuit legal (the night before the temperature was over 79 degrees. On race morning it was marginally 76.3). I tucked my spare sneakers under the fence near a recognizable landmark (to run from swim end through transition 1). I drank a bit of the water that he had in his book-bag and did my last bathroom duties before I put on my wetsuit. After, I handed him my wetsuit booties and gloves while we chatted a bit before the race started (see why supportive crews are awesome). I received a text from my teammates Daniil and Sarah that they were on their way to see me (gosh these guys are incredible—the race started at 6am who comes out to see these?!).
When it got near the time for the pros to start, Mike went off to prepare to see me and I got into my corral. I chatted with some women in my age group and unfortunately I started getting thirsty again. It was a hot day and I wasn’t excited about the temperature getting any worse. However, not before long, the pros and elites started and the corrals started moving quickly (There were 15 people jumping into the water every 20 seconds). When it was time for us to move up to the start, I saw Daniil and Sarah. I wave to them! I was so happy to see them.
I was also really happy to see a stream of water ahead of me. I was concerned that my thirst would affect my race.
As soon as the water showered over me and touched my lips, I licked it. Salty. Drats! It was probably water directly from the Hudson. Stupid me.
I went to the start line. The volunteers quickly lined us up. I adjusted my goggles. I was so afraid that water would get into it. Something felt wrong. Nothing else I could do. I was guided to the edge and I was already jumping into the river.
Darkness—yet, I wasn’t afraid. I swam upward and positioned my body. I assured myself that I could breathe every stroke like I had at the last triathlon. I knew how to swim, I just had to make sure I got it together mentally—I respect the water, it’s not my sanctuary.
The people who had done this triathlon before weren’t lying about the currents. The swim felt smooth—disgusting, but smooth. I paused around 900m on a kayak to gauge myself. It was then that I realized that the markers were above to my left. Then I swam off to do the rest. I was almost there. Then the unimaginable. I hadn’t been swimming in proper posture so I attempted to do the stroke, stroke, stroke breathe and…
… I breathed and swallowed water.
Gross. No time to think about it now. I looked up and saw 1050, 1200, 1350. Don’t get me wrong, my swim wasn’t all that great as you can see:
With all the training and practice I had. I just couldn’t get my face into the water into the darkness and calm myself down. Well, at least I was moving. I don’t remember being like that for the Sleepy Hollow race.
Then, I touched something. What was that? It felt soft. If there was something alive in there, then I couldn’t be the only casualty I just have to out-swim the person near me (ha don’t you just love my rational?). I kept going. A few yards later, felt the same terrain. By this time, I knew it was the river bed. The bank must’ve been low in that area and I knew I was getting closer to the end as I looked up. People were helping the swimmers in. I put one of my foot down and felt something gross. I remembered that Mike had let me practice swimming very close to shore I decided to keep wading in until someone reached down to me.
Wobbly, I got up, rinsed a little on the way. I waved to Mike as I passed by and retrieved my old pair of Nike frees that I had tucked away. Great! I jogged to transition while pulling my wetsuit halfway down. It seemed like a few swimmers had the great idea of getting their suits off before going in near the benches so I did that. It was a good call being that the space is so small between each spot in transition.
When I got to my section, I tucked my wetsuit under my bike. I ran into one of the girls, found out her name was Zoe, that I was chatting with that morning. I rinsed my feet and poured the rest of the water on me (and peed a little *wink*). I started drinking my water with Nuun immediately. I had frozen the bottles of water overnight and as expected, they were almost melted. I was grateful that they weren’t lukewarm. I noted that I had everything on: singlet with number, helmet, gloves, sunglasses and running shoes (yea I don’t have clips). I attempted to put on some sunscreen but was failing with the moisture from the Hudson River. I downed some leftover Generation Ucan from the morning for fuel.
I was ready.
I took my bike and ran to “bike out.” I followed the line to mount my bike and tried to pedal. They suggested that the bike should be in the lowest gear because the steep climb out of the park is deceiving.
On my way I had to pass a cyclist who was in the way and I made it without stopping (but did struggle a bit). A woman behind me cheered me on. I thanked her without looking back. As soon as I got to the roundabout, I was off. I caught up with Zoe again. She must’ve got out of transition before I did. I cheered her on and went on my way. This leg was my favorite.
“On your left!”
I kept screaming as I flew by. Some people were respectful about the 3 bike lengths and others weren’t. Most kept occupying the left path and I did quite a bit of calling out. Each time I passed someone I made my way over to the right welcoming the hills to keep hydrating. A few times I mistakenly had my gear too high causing me to have a workout. I pushed on. The UTurn was upon us before I knew it (after some challenging hills). Then I heard someone screaming and cheering. Omg it was a girl that I met at Lake Tiorati and who had won her age group at the Sleepy Hollow triathlon (Saudy Tejada)!
“Omg I love you!” I screamed out. She’s definitely an incredible athlete.
“I love you too!!!” She screamed back.
As I cycled onward. A cyclist passed me and said in a British accent, “Just so you know, I also love you!”
I laughed (Hey I welcome highlights). I felt incredible. Onward. I passed that cyclist (kind of wish I remembered her number).
I made my way back trying to remember the route in reverse. I couldn’t figure out if I had passed all those areas and wished that I was able to enjoy it. I passed over bridges and I was soaking in the vegetation. That thought slowed me down a bit and I refocused. I tried to overtake some other cyclists and they were crowding the path.
“ON YOUR LEFT!” I screamed repeatedly and someone said they were sorry. Apparently they hadn’t adhered to the 15 seconds to pass someone rule.
I kept going. Finally I knew I was coming to the path where we’d had to make another UTurn to get back into the park for transition. I sped up for the final mile prior to the slow down signs. Then I took off again where I could, passed people where I could. I wasn’t on clips, I had an advantage. I saw Daniil and Sarah again. Wow those guys are troopers for spectating.
Briefly slowed down by people in front of me, I dismounted and ran towards “bike in.”
I didn’t take long in transition but was baffled by a wetsuit that covered my number where I had to remount my bike. I tossed it away (sorry! Well, not really, it shouldn’t have been covering my spot. I was utilizing my small space, the other athlete should have been doing the same). I removed my helmet, put on my Yankees visor, picked up my Strava water bottle. Downed a little more remaining Ucan and jogged out.
Unfortunately I felt that I needed to pee. I could potentially hold it for an 8k right? I ran the first mile. Bricks! I welcomed it. This was a feeling that I was getting used to. Wasn’t the first time. Don’t stop. I was doing fine. I looked at my watch. 7’15ish pace. Ok, I think I can maintained.
Well, not really. My body wanted to fail me. “Better find a porto-potty.”
I visualized the park. I knew where one might be. I heard Briggette, another teammate, call out as I completed mile 1. I waved and smiled. I turned into the park and saw the potties along the path. Now or never.
Just my luck, none were empty so I had to wait. Someone called out to me when I went on my way (my vision was too impaired at the moment). Was I fading? Well, it was hot.
I was so relieved when I relieved myself. I made it up the hills. I knew the park but that wasn’t helping me enjoy the route any more than it were. Thankfully they were having us skip the Harlem Hill section. Despite the initial course’s downhill version, the removal of 2km didn’t seem to matter to me. My legs would’ve felt the same. I couldn’t trick my body into thinking that this was what it should be good at—running. I intentionally ran the hills because I could hear Mike in my head. Now if only I could prevent myself from walking on the flats. I did. A few times. Gah. It’s always my downfall. I can never convince myself.
I saw Jim, who gave me his entry to run this race at mile 2 water station. I almost didn’t recognize him even if I knew he would’ve been there!
A fellow triathlete on the course tried to call out some encouragement. Although I knew she meant well, I wanted to tell her, “run your own race.” I ignored that anger. I just wanted to be done, showered and in air condition. I hate running in the heat. I started jogging again. One leg in front of the other. I hummed.
When I finally saw Fred’s statue on the stretch I figured I could trick myself to not stop until the end. I was jogging, it’s not like this was an all out sprint. I knew this park. I can do it. Just make it to Cat Hill. I visualized myself coasting downhill. I’m always fond of running Central Park clockwise and making it to Cat Hill. From my early races I always remembered how easy it was to gain the momentum that I needed to do my personal best. I definitely can’t say that for the reverse though. I mean, these days it’s ok. We have a love-hate relationship.
I ran towards 72nd and made the right turn to run up to the area that overlooked Bethesda fountain. The whippets (my team) meet there for the Tuesday workouts I thought. Fondness in my mind, was I burning out? Mike called out. It was great seeing him. As usual I ignored if he said don’t stop or something like that (love you babe!). We have very different ways of racing. He’s such an exceptional runner. I wish I could bottle his talents and use it for my races. I figured I’d listen a bit this time though. I figured the end couldn’t be that far.
I was wrong.
The night before I had attended the Gildan Underwear Run and the finish was straight and a quick left turn to the bandshell. This time, they made us loop to the right where the meetup was and then make a left to the finish.
Thankfully I had no time to fathom stopping to walk. There was Daniil and Sarah again! Gosh I love this guys! I waved, smiled and continued. I knew how far away I was and realized that I had lots of energy reserved. Where was that prior?
I sped up. I’m going to end this right! I coasted into the finish. My name was called, hands in the air! I made it!
I already thanked numerous people for the opportunity to do this race on Facebook. You all know who you are and I’m really fortunate for having had this opportunity. I will always remember it and never take it for granted.
02:47:57 | 1601st overall out of 3,377 and 295th female out of 1,010
Photos by Sarah, Mike, Will and NYC Tri