The NYC Triathlon would be my 4th triathlon completed and the 1st attempt at an Olympic Distance.
Gotta love those even numbers…
The day before the race, Erika and I volunteered at the Run for Central Park. We were bike marshals and got to ride in front of the race clearing the path for the leaders. It was very cool and totally fun!
That night I dropped my bike off into transition. That’s a mandatory rule. No way can you roll in with your bike the next day, think of the chaos! SIDENOTE: I have never been to a triathlon with this many racers. There were like 3,000 bikes!
Erika and I had a really nice dinner, mine consisting of pasta and shellfish of course! I think I was asleep by 10:30PM which was great because I needed some rest.
My alarm went off at 5AM and wow was I ever ready to get this day going! I was so excited, mainly because the most stressful part of any race for me is the night before and that had passed. It was game time.
I met Brandon down in transition and after a quick setup we headed off to watch the Pros come in.
There would be something like 20 waves of people, starting at 6AM with the Pros and finishing at 8AM. Since he and I were at the tail end, we had 2 hours to kill.
We stationed ourselves right where the swimmers come out and run to T1. It was awesome! The Pros make it look so easy and they are also nasty fast right out of the soup!
Once that excitement was over we walked up towards the swim start and met up with Daniel, Alex and Alex’s wife. We hung out watching the swimmers go by. I had a rice and bean burrito for breakfast followed by a banana.
One of the things I enjoyed about this race (and hated it at the same time for different reasons) is that with so many wave starts it makes for great race viewing, like watching 20 separate races!
As it got closer to the 7:39-7:45 start times we all made our way into the age corrals. I made a few friends there by being silly trying to convince them of the existence of the notorious ‘Hudson River Shark’ to which they replied “So you’re saying we’re gonna need a bigger boat?” Good people at the triathlons.
As our wave came up we walked out onto the pier and waited. I stood on the pier while there was a line of guys in the water floating. The current was moving with us at maybe 1-1.5 knots! As the gun sounded I waited a hot second for the first line to go then I lunged in and started plowing through the water!
I have swam the Hudson 6 times or so and have lost all fears of swimming in it. I do however have a fear of getting elbowed in the face. So of course, 100 meters out it was still pretty chaotic and I got elbowed in the side of my head. Not much you can really do as it’s all part of the game, so I just kept pushing forward. It was a really enjoyable swim thanks to the speedy current. I also probably only drank 1 gallon of it this time which, um, either helped or hindered my race, not sure. Does the Hudson count as electrolytes?
Coming out of the water in 18:23 I quickly made my way to T1. As I was passing a water station I heard “Hi Chris.” It was my co-worker Kathy from Rolex volunteering at the water station! I dumped a cup on my head and said “Kathy! Hi! Later!”
My wetsuit slipped off, I donned my crappy bike shoes, clipped on my aero helmet, grabbed my nautical star wristband and bike, and took off running towards the exit.
There were a few narrow turns getting onto the West Side Highway, but once there I dropped to my low gears and started cranking!
It felt great to be out riding, especially since I have really started getting comfortable on my new bike. I have to thank my friend Allen who let me borrow his race wheels! They are really sweet and increased my aerodynamics a lot!
I was trying to ride “smart” but at the same time, I wanted to give it my all since it was a race. So I thought to myself “Time to go into the pain box.” Which is a quote from a female triathlete I follow.
Little did I know… there were some serious bomb drop hills on the course! I had no idea! It was awesome! I tucked in and flew, spinning out my top gears!
I was passing lots of people and just trying to make up for any time I lost on my swim, which is a common theme in my triathlon world. For Christmas this year I’m asking for faster swim times.
I was yelled at a few times by riders when I didn’t announce I was “Passing on your left!” Whatever guys.
For hydration, I was drinking this new (secret) race formula I mixed up and it was very effective! Hint: It has a packet of Emergen-C in it among other easy to find household ingredients.
The mythical toll booths up in the north were not as bumpy as I had heard. We all cruised over them with no problems. I hit the turnaround point in what I thought was a great time. SIDENOTE: I’m really bad with Garmins. Mine was going, but had gotten locked into ‘Compass Mode”.
Barreling back down the highway I was really excited and pushing hard. It was at this point I got in my head. “You have been looking forward to this race for a few weeks now. Don’t just race through it, enjoy it!” I did just that. I was still rocketing down the highway, but I was now a little more relaxed and smiling.
At T2 I ripped off my bike shoes and laced up my racing flats, taking off, almost forgetting to remove my aero helmet. That would have been hilarious, BUT would it have helped my time being that aerodynamic… perhaps?
Crossing 72nd Street was a little bit like the NYC Marathon. People were out in bulk, cheering and yelling, cowbells, music, etc. It was awesome. I focused my sites on the tree line in the distance.
As I entered the Park there was a huge contingency of cheerers as well! I made the left and started on the all-too-familiar trek around the northern tip of Central Park. Once again I found myself thinking, “Baker, you once ran 9 loops around the Park. If you can do that, this should be no problem.” True, but it was now 100 degrees and I kinda wanted to turn around and go swim the Hudson again.
The aid stations had hoses which dramatically helped. At every one, I ran through, and/or had someone hose me down. Puzzling to me, were the numerous people who opted OUT of the sprinkler fun.
At Mile 2 I looked at my Garmin and YES, I was heading N, NE. Wonderful. I yelled to a volunteer “What time is it?” so I could properly gauge my time. “9:35!” she yelled. Hmmm, my finish goal of 2:15 was slowly slipping away. I better speed up.
The last mile or 2 were great as I know the terrain well and the infamous Harlem Hill was behind me.
Rounding the turn to the homestretch on 72nd street and heading uphill I caught Erika and Michelle cheering! They took photos and Erika made me this sign! It helped out a lot and as you can see from the pictures I was in good spirits.
I rounded Cherry Hill and entered the finish chute, picking up my pace and getting overly excited! I blasted through and was immediately handed a water and an ice cold towel.
My time was 2:17:17 (what’s up with my strange finish times?). It wasn’t 2:15, but I was happy with the results.
I got my medal and then wandered off into the chaos looking for a way out. Then I heard “Hello Baker…”
It was Erika. She was hanging out on the fence line waving at me. She gave me a congratulatory kiss and then told me where to meet her.
We watched the finishers for another 10-15 minutes hoping to see some of the gang come through to no avail. I needed food and a shower so we made our way back to transition to collect my bike.
What a fantastic race! Props to all my friends who raced. Everyone did so well!
Erika and I met our friend Allen for brunch at 44 1/2 (after I showered of course). We then headed over to see A Little Night Music with the new cast, featuring Elaine Stritch and Bernadette Peters. It was amazing and a perfect end to the weekend.