Sunday, August 3 was the NYC Triathlon. This was my third time racing it, so I knew what to expect: a faster-than-usual swim, rollers on a bike course that suits me well, and a hilly home-town run. And plenty of people I know. I was excited so many teammates from Empire Tri Club were doing the race – we had nearly 40 athletes show up to our Run The Course transition clinic earlier in race week, so I knew we’d have a good showing.
As mentioned before, the plan was to race this one at around 80% to save my full effort for this weekend’s race in Cleveland. How does one do that? I wasn’t really sure until race morning.
On Saturday, I made a trip to the expo to do my mandatory race briefing and get my packet, race bib, and timing chip. Then I went home and got my tri bike to bring to transition for the mandatory check in on Saturday. At transition, I saw Doug, AM, Ali, Iris, Cindy, Omar, Michaele, and a few other ETC folks. The perks of local racing!
I was up at 4:15 am and out of my door by 4:50 am. I packed a bagel and cream cheese, as well as some First Endurance EFS drink with a little Pre Race mixed in. I took my commuter bike to Pier i, and then walked up to transition, arriving with 20 minutes to set up. I set up my area in a bit of a drizzling rain, so I left my shoes in the clear plastic bags they provided.
As a side note, every year I’ve raced this race, it has rained in the morning. Every year I’m wet, my stuff is wet, the road is wet, and then it gets hot and gross on the run. Same this year, minus the hot and gross. Wet to start, fine later on.
Transition closed at 5:40 am. I saw a few more people I know in transition, and walked the mile to the race start with Doug, Jaime, and Omar.
The pros went off at 6:05 am. Then elites, then women, then a break. Then it was time for the red transition to line up and go. From about 6 am to 7 am, I stood near the wall to watch some of the early waves, then sat in the grass under a tree with Doug to try to avoid the rain, then chatted with Harry for a while. I made a trip up to the bathrooms and saw my November Project friends Matt and Evan, who were racing NYC for the first time. I came back to the tree area to chat a little more, and then we lined up in our transition corrals. I was the last of everyone else I knew racing, with my number 4816. I waited for at least 20 minutes in the line to get to the start.
As a side note, I was thrilled to get to hang out with Doug so much pre-race. He and his wife were back from California to race. They are two of my favorite people, so I appreciate the in-person time.
Rumor was that the swim would be faster for the later waves, which is not typical of when I had previously raced the race. I got up to the start and jumped in closer to the center of the river than the wall. Because of the rain, the water seemed less gross than usual – which I know is not really the case because of the amount of shit the rain washes in the water. I made a strong effort to not drink any of the Hudson River; I’m happy to report that I succeeded. I don’t at all remember the salty water in my mouth.
I drafted a stronger swimmer for a bit, but stopped to adjust my right goggle piece and lost him. My right goggle on every pair I have seems to fill with water every time I swim. I knew the fast current would be helpful in knocking some time off, and my strategy for the 80% did not apply to the swim: I wanted to crush it. I kicked hard, sited to the left and kept my right eye closed the whole way. Not ideal, but good enough to feel fast until the pile up of people at the end. People see the finish and stop swimming, which I don’t understand. It left me waiting to get out for a few moments. My swim was 17:01, good for a four minute drop from my last attempt in NYC.
This year, red transition was closer to the water. I’ve only done it far away, so this was a nice change. I ran past Matt and Alex in transition. They were both doing great.
I hammered out of T1 and said hi to Howard, Luke, and another teammate getting onto the West Side Highway. I did not get passed by any cyclists when I was riding. I passed a lot of people on the way out, through the toll booth and up to the turnaround. The roads were wet and bumpy, so it was a little sketchy. I felt good; never breathless or red lining. I cheered on a few ETC teammates as I passed them.
On the way back, between the turnaround and the toll booth, I saw a woman on the other side of the road on her way out, standing with a sad look on her face. I yelled out to ask if she was okay, and she said she had a flat. Without a second thought, I crossed over and stopped by her. I changed her back tire while we talked. It was her second tri, first Olympic (I believe). She was incredibly grateful. As I was filling her tire with CO2, race support came by. I gave them the tire to pump and finish and I tried to cross back into the race. The stop lasted just over 6 minutes. (she found me after on instagram!)
From there, I cruised on, happy that this reality check put me back into the 80% effort range after blasting out there. I called out to everyone who was parked on the side, including Evan from NP, who flatted. He yelled back that he was fucked and waved me on – I didn’t know it was him until I saw him later in the day. A guy riding by me seemed annoyed that I kept asking people if they needed help. He asked me, “do you know all these people?” I said, “some of them” and then rode away from him.
At the bottom of 57th Street, at the 180 turnaround, I saw my wife, who was taking pictures and cheering on the team. She was sleeping when I left so it was a good surprise.
Fast. I was the first bike back on my rack.
Coming out of transition, I saw Alex again. I coached Alex to this race specifically, so it was nice to see him out of transition looking so strong. He flew up the hill and I ran the first mile with him into the park and chatted about the race so far. I told him I was taking photos and saying hi, so he took off once I hit the Empire Tri Club aid station, where I spent 45 seconds talking to Cam on video.
After that, I hit the November Project NYC cheering section. It was a definite highlight of my race! They were pumped, with great signs and super enthusiasm, all while rocking the #grassrootsgear. I jumped on the curb and Coach John snapped the best photo, and then I was off. They are awesome. #tribeisstrong
From there, I cruised through the westside hills, up and down and up Harlem Hill, and then to mile 4, where I ran up on Marie, the other athlete I coached to this race. We walked and talked through the aid station for about two minutes, and then I cruised through the rest of the run. Near Cat Hill, the only runner to pass me (when I was running) came up on me and we chatted for a minute about the impressive number of racers from Empire there. I saw Sondra and Ali (WHO WON HER AGE GROUP!!) cheering then kicked around the fountain, and through the shoot smiling.
After that, it’s wet towel to medal to chip return to food to gear bag to the finish festival. I saw a ton of ETC people in the after race area. I saw my favorite photographer from NYRR races and said hi to her. I saw Brad, the volunteer coordinator, and told him I’d see him next year. Then I went to the JetBlue finish area to get my race receipt and laughed when I saw it: after all that, I still beat my best time by 7 minutes.
By the numbers
Temperature: 75 start, 80 finish
Weather: rain, no wind
Bag of Cheetohs made it in: I don’t know if they did that this year!
Number of drinks of Hudson I took in swim: a shocking 0
Number of back strokers I passed on swim: 2 that I saw
Times I freaked out this time: 0
Gross things I hit while swimming: none!
People I kicked while swimming: 2 (or the same one 2x)
Times I got kicked: 0
Accidents I saw on the bike: 3
Gels consumed: 0
Bars consumed: 0
Water consumed: 2 sips on run
EFS consumed: almost 1 bottle
Number of stops in swim: 1
Number of stops on bike: 1
Number on stops on run: 3
Time I spent changing tire: 6 minutes
Time I spent making ETC video: 45 seconds
Time for NP photo: under 20 seconds
Time walking: about 2 minutes
Finish time: 2:21:44
7 minutes better than last time, EVEN WITH THE STOPS.
Division place: 33 of 353
Division rank: Top 9%
Gender place: 249 of 2294
Overall place: 274 of 3400
Overall rank: 8%
Bike: Average 20.4 mph (even with 6 min stop!)
SPECIAL SHOUT OUTS:
Doug, who put up a 2:11 and earned ELITE STATUS
Ali, who won her age group
Matt and Evan, who did their first NYC Triathlons
Alex, who crushed it
Marie, who did a great job with an injury
All of my Empire teammates for the support out there
Tuhina, for putting together a great NP cheering section
All of the volunteers
Zhen for waking up and surprising me, and taking great photos