Saturday, August 8, 2015

2015 NYC Triathlon

It has been a very busy few weeks, causing me to fall behind on my race reports. I'll try to get myself caught up before my next race, which is 70.3 Timberman on August 16...

On July 19 I raced the NYC Triathlon. I hadn't raced an Olympic distance triathlon since I did this race in 2013, so it would be a bit of a different test for me. I'm used to grinding it out over longer distances. It's pretty rare that I race at or near threshold like Olympic distance racing requires. It is good for me to mix it up occasionally and the speed work was part of the plan for the build up to 70.3 Calgary the following week.

I headed down to NYC with my family and Becky on Friday before the race. It was a pretty uneventful trip down. Saturday morning I went for an easy run in Central Park because there is no opportunity to get in the swim venue (because it's the Hudson River) and I didn't want to ride in the Park with it being as busy as it always is. I don't love running the day before a race, but I don't like doing nothing even less. So a run it was. After running I really just spent the day with my feet up and trying to relax. At 4pm I had to go to the required pro athlete meeting where we got briefed on the course and rules. After that we went out for an early dinner and then it was an early bedtime because it was a very, very early start Sunday morning.

Race morning I rode my bike over to transition from the hotel. It was strange to ride through the dark streets in what was essentially still the middle of the night (somewhere around 4:30am), but I made it safely and it was easier than getting shuttled over. As I racked my bike and got my gear set up I was a bit frustrated because in the giant, grassy lawn that was transition, my spot landed right in the only dirt spot where there wasn't any grass. I've had bad experiences in the past with dirt being on my the bottom of my feet while riding and didn't want that to happen again. There wasn't much I could do about it, so I hoped for the best. After setting everything up I started the long walk down to swim start. Since it's a point to point swim in the Hudson River, you have to walk over a mile to get up to the start. Once I got there I hung out in the tent for pros until it was time to hit the water.

This race uses a gender equalizer where there is additional prize money for the overall first place finisher between the males and females, so the women started first. The equalizer was 11:36, so the women were spotted that much time before the men started. There was a slight delay before the start as the organizers needed some extra time getting water safety personnel in position. The women ended up starting at roughly 6am, with us following after. I was hoping to have a solid swim since my pool sessions had been improving and with the aid of the current I hoped to come out not too far behind the leaders. Unfortunately, it didn't go that way and I had another crap swim. I didn't feel comfortable and I don't think I swam straight. My pool speed has not been transferring to the open water. (After reflecting on this race I decided that I needed to get to Kershaw Park in Canandaigua and get more open water practice in, which I have done.) I came out of the water about four minutes back to the lead males. More frustration.

As I made the long run to transition I decided I was going to take that frustration out on the pedals of my bike. I threw on my helmet, grabbed my bike, and headed out. I made a quick pass of one guy before we hit the West Side Highway. Immediately I could feel the dirt on the bottom of my feet and in my cycling shoes though. That didn't bode well. Since I figured the ride would be about an hour, I decided to push towards my threshold and hope I would be able to run off the bike. I knew there was potential for cracking hard on the run with this strategy, but figured I'd gamble. When I did this race two years ago the highway was in terrible condition. It was concrete that was falling apart. This year, though, about 85 percent of it had been resurfaced and was asphalt, so the ride was much less bumpy. I kept picking guys off on bike and slowly moved up to 9th place by the end of the ride. I averaged 334 watts and rode a 59:29. Only six people broke an hour on the day, so I had a solid ride, especially considering that course is a mile long. The hope was that I could run well for 10K. I should mention that after the turnaround in the Bronx my toes had had enough of the dirt in my shoes. As I descended down a hill I took my left foot out of my shoe and could feel that the blister had already ripped open from the rubbing. I ripped the skin off, brushed off the dirt as best I could, put my shoe back on, and got back to riding. That was going to feel great for the rest of the day.

In T2 I made a poor choice. My coach and I had talked about ways to save time in transition since they tend to make more of a difference in short course racing. I decided to run without socks for the first time ever. It turned out to be an awful decision.

My poor toes...
Anyway... exiting T2 I was quickly passed by the last guy I had passed on the bike. I could immediately tell he had a running background and knew there was no way I could stay with him. At about mile 2, once we were in Central Park, another guy came up and passed me, which put me out of the top 10. I tried to hang with him for a while, but the pace was a bit too much. However, as I climbed the last big hill in the northeast part of the park I was able to make a pass and move back into 10th, which is where I would ultimately end up, posting a run split of 35:31, which is 5:42 per mile. I was pleased with that. The last three miles were killer on my feet though. Every step I took I could feel blisters forming on the outside of my little toes. When I finally crossed the finish line, the first thing I did was take my shoes off. There was blood from the blisters all over my toes. It was pretty bad. I ended up heading into the medical tent to have them cleaned up and bandaged.

After that I met up with my family. I finished in 10th place with a time of 1:55:25, which I was generally happy with. Being a minute or two faster in the water is the only thing that could have really made me happier with the day. That and not having blisters all over my feet. The 11th place guy finished only 12 seconds behind me though, so I think the time saved from not putting socks on kept me in the top 10. Was it worth it? If you asked me the afternoon after the race I would've said "no way." If you asked me today, now that the blisters are mostly healed up, I'd probably say "I'm not sure."

That afternoon I was able to have lunch with one of my former students, Ryan, who is now living in New York City and working at the Lincoln Center for The King and I. It was great to get to catch up with him and hear about how well he has done since moving to NYC and pursuing his passion. It's not often that I have gotten to see such a wonderful success story and as a teacher it reminded me why our profession is important. I wish him the best of luck as he keeps working and I know that he will continue to achieve great things.

That night we went to see Something Rotten on Broadway. It was hysterical! Despite it being a long day and a late show (maybe 7:30pm isn't late to most people, but in my world it is), I had no trouble staying awake. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has the chance to see it.

Swim - 15:55
Bike - 59:29
Run - 35:31
Total Time - 1:55:25 (10th overall)

We recreated the picture we took two years ago. Two weeks
until the wedding!