Triathlon Distances today - 0.5 mile swim, 17.9 mile bike, 4 mile run
I picked this race because my friend MH did this race about 6 or 7 years ago and he recommended it. We both did the race today. It was great - he drove and knew where to go, so I got to enjoy the ride (which was much more pleasant than driving an hour and 10 minutes north by myself). I was up at 4:59 A.M, MH picked my up at 5:48 A.M. and we arrived at the race site around 7:00 A.M. The race started at 8:30 A.M. and we were home by 12:30 P.M.
When we arrived, we registered and picked up our numbers. Some volunteers were there to write out numbers on our shoulders. Mine lifted up my shirt and wrote my number (138) under my short sleeve. I told her that I was going to wear the shirt I had on for the race, so nobody would see my number. I asked if she wanted to write it somewhere visible. She said no. Did I really need the number on me in the first place? I guess it is there in case something bad happens to me and they need to identify me.
I did no research on this race beforehand. When I signed up, the registration said that the bike was 16 miles, but when we arrived, it said 17.9. The rules were handwritten (see the pictures below). I joked to my friend "you better memorize that bike and run course". Note the rule "must have # on arms". I failed to mention above that I was also wore a wetsuit during the swim (like almost everybody else).
Click here for the race results, which showed 153 participants. It was exactly what I was looking for. A shorter race, with distances sort of in the middle of a sprint and an Olympic triathlon. The swim only had 1 wave (i.e., everybody went out at the same time). When we arrived, I noticed that everybody had the same color swim cap (yellow). 153 people in one wave, I thought. Oh no! MH and I put ourselves in the middle of the pack before the race, and I was nervous about the "war" I was about to endeavor upon. The horn went off, and the fast swimmers took off. The water was shallow for the first 20 feet or so and extremely rocky, so I, along with everybody else, struggled to get beyond the rocks. Once again, I thought to myself "am I going to hurt my ankle during the swim", which is what I thought for my first tri, but it turned out to be ok, I got into the deep quickly and was off. I felt pretty good to start. The swim course was set up like a triangle - swim out to a buoy, make a right, swim for a while, and make another right and swim to shore (all swimming clockwise). I didn't have much pulling, kicking, bumping early on, but there was some. I figured out today that people aren't trying to bump into you, grab you, etc;, but rather, they simply have no choice - too many competitive people in a confined space all trying to get to the same place. The water was extremely murky with a lot of seaweed, so I couldn't see anything in the water, which was a bummer. As I had my head in the water, I thought to myself "this water is green, totally green. I wonder if that is why they call it Greenwood Lake!" I was able to get in a rhythm and felt ok. I got very tired at around 200 meters and dreaded swimming the rest of the way. I didn't panic this time, I just came up to sight and take a breath and made sure that I was moving forward. I looked around and was keeping up with others, which was good enough for me. I thought to myself "how the hell am I going to swim 2.4 miles in my Ironman race next year, that is really going to suck?" There was one guy who was laying on his back in the water and using his arms to propel him forward - not a backstroke, but like a butterfly - it looked really hard to do and he was going as fast as me! Others were doing the backstroke, some the side stroke, some the butterfly, etc. During the bike and the run, most people look the same, but during the swim, I was really surprised by how every single swimmer I watched looked different. I looked around a lot and saw people doing all kinds of strokes to get through the swim, probably thinking exactly what I was thinking "please let me just get through this and let the swim be over". As I moved along in the swim, my goggles became very fogged up and I had a hard time seeing. I should have stopped and put some water/saliva in the goggles to get rid of the fog, but I didn't want to stop. Next time I will stop. My swim cap also came off for about the last 200 meters and my hair is long, so that added to the fun!
0.5 mile swim split = 22 minutes. Unfortunately, they didn't give list out my swim place, but I suspect that I was well below the middle. It is really amazing how the swim feels so much longer than it really is.
Transition 1 (T1): 3:10, 104 out of 153. I felt a little dizzy after the swim and had a tough time getting off my wetsuit and an even tougher time putting on my socks! I took my time, but this is definitely an area I can improve in.
Once I got on the bike, I felt pretty good. Of course, right out of the transition, there was what seemed to me like a steep uphill. Great, I thought to myself, I'm going to fall off my bike before the bike ride even starts. I still haven't mastered clipping into my pedals, and doing it while going uphill certainly isn't my strength. It took me 15 seconds or so to clip in and somehow I managed to stay on my bike. My friend MH told me that the bike course wasn't bad, that it had some "rolling hills", but nothing too tough. However, out of the gate, it sure felt hilly to me. I didn't feel tired from the swim, but the hills made my legs feel tired, and I was struggling to get into my biking groove. My bike also sounded like something was rubbing. I thought to myself "maybe I didn't put my front tire on properly?". I felt down to move the brake around and it wasn't rubbing. I'll have to get a bike tune up to see if anything is wrong. My Garmin watch showed me at around 15 mph for the first mile, slow for me. I heard the mile 1 lap beep on my watch, then I heard a bunch of beeps. WHAT?? I thought to myself. Yes, my watch died. I fully charged it last night, but I have been having problems with the watch, and that was that. Great, I'll have no way to pace myself or to know my speed. While I initially thought that was a problem, I came to enjoy it. I got into my groove and started passing a lot of bikers, and only a handful of people passed me, some of which I passed later on. The thrill of the race was very fun, I enjoyed it very much. Naturally, I said hello to everybody I passed and everybody said hello back. It was very cool. As I got farther along, I started asking people "how far have we gone?" At one point, I took a sip of Gatorade and almost crashed putting the water bottle back in place. Overall, the course was very hilly for me. I finished strong and felt good. I took my friend's advice to increase my cadence for the last few miles and I stood to stretch a few times which felt good, but when I got into the transition area, my feet were numb and my glutes were tired. My friend's Garmin watch said that there was approximately 518 feet of elevation gain during the 17.9 mile ride. Not too bad, but not flat either.
17.9 mile Bike split = 57:25 (18.71 mph), 48 out of 153. I was very happy with this time and feel that I can improve more here. As I progressed, I increased my cadence and really focused on getting the most out of my pedal stroke. I counted 30 strokes on my left leg, then 30 on my right, then 30 overall and this seemed to help make me faster.
Transition 2 (T2) - 1:27, 75 out of 153. When I arrived to rack my bike, I aerobically felt good. I didn't feel tired. However, my legs and glutes were fatigued. I changed into my shoes (I used Yankz so I didn't have to tie them), took off my heart rate monitor since my watch died, grabbed a powergel and took off. When I looked at the clock, it said 1:24:46. I memorized this time since I wasn't wearing a watch.
When I started running, I really couldn't feel my feet or my legs. It is such a weird feeling. My glutes felt exhausted, almost exactly like they feel after a leg strengthening physical therapy workout. Despite this feeling, I felt like I was running well, and almost immediately I started passing people. I started talking to the first guy I passed (which was uphill) and said "any idea how fast we are running, my watch is dead?" and he said "I don't know, but you are running really fast". I decided that I didn't need a powergel yet (I haven't been training with powergels lately as I've been trying to get my body used to being a little deprived, plus I had Gatorade during the bike so I felt ok. In fact, I ended up running all 4 miles with the powergel in my hand, I never needed it). So I held the powergel in my hand where I usually hold my iphone or xm radio (this race said no headphones allowed, so I had to run without music). After about a mile, my legs loosed up and I still felt good. I knew that I was moving pretty fast, as I continued to pass people. There was a killer uphill early on (worse than the Harlem Hill in Central Park). When I saw the hill, first I thought "damn, I gotta run that hill, that sucks". Then I cursed my friend MH in my head for saying that the run course was flat, then I thought to myself "at least I'll get the benefit of running down that hill on the way back". I continued to pass a lot of people and started to see the strong triathletes run by me on the out and back run course. There were many Ironman athletes participating today and most of them were in front of me. We ran into a french couple that have done over 18 ironman races (husband and wife). I admire them. Their son was also in the race today and has done 2 Ironmans. Totally awesome. As I kept running, I said hi to every single runner I ran by. I felt strong the entire run and probably ran at about 80% effort. I definitely had more to give but I wanted to finish the race injury free. As I was finishing, there was a woman who looked strong at the end that I was able to catch up to and sprint by, finishing the race at 1:53:49.
4 mile run split: 29:03 (7:15 per mile), 29 out of 153. I was very happy with this run, as I felt strong, still had more to give, and didn't get hurt. The best 4 mile race that I have run in Central Park is 7:11 per mile (I'm sure that I could run in the high 6s if I ran a flat race), so I'm proud that I was able to come close to my PR as the run portion of a triathlon.
Overall Time: 1:53:49, 61 out of 153. I'm very happy with this time and feel like I improved a lot from my first triathlon and still can improve in the future! Going into this race I thought that I was a stronger biker than runner, but my times didn't support that today. I'm excited to continue to improve my bike times and am looking into joining a masters swimming group to improve my swimming technique.
Overall, I enjoyed the race. There were tons of volunteers and the cops did a good job directing the traffic away from us (the road were open for the bike and run). I would like to have seen some clocks on the course and it would have been nice to see mile markers on the run course. Overall, I would recommend this race.