I was really looking forward to this weekend… a lot.
Friday after work my boss (and friend) Brian, of the Brian Goss band, was playing at the Bitter End. Erika and I were joined by the happily engaged Joey D and Melissa, along with Todd. My ‘music’ friends were there too. I used to take piano lessons and became friends with my piano teacher’s friends who are all these super talented concert musicians. Walter, Daniella and Amanda (who sings in Brian’s band) to name a few. It was a great time! We all met up with Asher and Ilka after to have some dinner which then concluded our night.
Saturday, Erika and I rode down Summer Streets (the city closes off Park Avenue top to bottom so people can run and bike). I had to muster up all of my patience while riding, as its a really chaotic scene. I’m used to riding in traffic, which may seem dangerous but is actually way more organized! Erika was right about it being very cool to see everyone out taking advantage of the event.
That afternoon, I played some tag football with Todd and Cottom as Ila watched on. Soon after I met Erika for dinner on the Upper West Side. Her friends Jen and Josh joined us at La Vela, which is a great little Italian spot. Erika and Jen were running the Bronx Half Marathon the next morning so all of us needed carbo-loading. 2 bottles of white wine was evidently a part of that race strategy.
After saying goodbye to everyone, I walked over to my friend Annie’s roof party. She had gotten engaged the night before so I wanted to pop in and say congrats! I was quite responsible and only stayed for 1 beer. I was back home and asleep by 11. However, the secret irresponsible side to that is the fact that I rode my skateboard home through Central Park at high speeds in the dark. It seems I have not yet mastered this new device.
I was up at 5AM and had some Cafe Bustelo in hand by 5:05.
I rode a few blocks over to meet Ed and Jim from ‘Dad Posse’ so we could drive to the race. SIDENOTE: Ed, Jim and I all live on 83rd street just a few blocks down from each other. It’s pretty cool. After we geared up Ed’s SUV with the bikes, we took off. High fives to Ed for packing a thermos of ‘Rocket Fuel’ coffee for the 1 hour car trip! All of us were zingin’ when we got to Harriman State Park!
Walking through the parking lot we ran into my friends Cenk and Carla, who were with Nisso and Jamie. We were all super excited to be there and to race! Harriman really has a great vibe and I would recommend it to anyone.
At check-in it dawned on me (as some of the volunteers were going “Hey Lucky number 7!”) that I had a GREAT bib number! Perhaps this would help me out in the race? Or maybe I should have just bought a lottery ticket while wearing my bib number?
Ed was right next to me in transition, and as we were setting up, Amy came over to hang out! It was fun having so many friends around during the race, it was like a party.
10 minutes before the start Ed and I jumped in Lake Sebago to do some practice swimming. It’s always such a ‘refreshing’ change to swim in something other than the Hudson River. I also helped zip up the wetsuit of a 70 year old man. I looked at Ed and we both smiled and were like “Thats bad ass.” He would later win an award for his age group, of course.
Wave 1 (me) lined up on the beach and prepared for the attack. I was going to try a new approach. Since I’m a slow swimmer, the longer I can ‘run’ into the water the better off I will be. As soon as the gun sounded, I took off, running like a crazy baboon through knee deep water. Finesse, it was not.
Diving in and beginning my swim I was immediately reminded of the kelp that rises from the bottom eerily. If you didn’t already know this about me, I love horror movies, therefore I had visions of Jason Vorhees popping out of the kelp and pulling me under during the entire swim. It may have helped my time.
The course was an out-and-back 1/2 mile, and as we rounded the buoy to return to shore, I got into the zone. It was a great feeling, one I wished I had felt from the start of the swim.
Nearing the shore my heart-rate began to spike as I got excited to jump on my bike. Ever since I rode to meet the guys earlier I had been jonesing for some bike-time. Running out of the water, and nearly falling on my face because my legs were in ‘swim mode’ , I noticed all my friends were around me! You couldn’t plan it if you tried! Jim, Amy and I all popped out of the water together and ran into transition teasing each other, it was awesome!
You can see Jim and I were laughing about something, Amy is in the background in blue.
Transition always feels like an eternity to me, even though I’m pretty good about getting in and out in about a minute.
Jumping onto ‘Andraste’ and taking off, I would soon come to remember just how difficult this bike course is.
The first few miles are basically uphill. It’s really hard combination (swim-to-uphill-biking) because all you want to do is push, but your legs aren’t warmed up yet.
The easiest part of the course is the big bomb drop hill in the beginning. You seriously spin out your lowest gear for 10 minutes while tucked in aero. People were clocking 40+ MPH. Then, you get to the bottom. This is when the pain starts.
Confronted with a 180 degree turn around, you are forced to slow down to a crawl. Now you have to go back up that wonderful downhill you were so happy to bomb through. It’s not the same track, so you don’t see oncoming bikers, but it runs parallel.
It reminded me a lot of the Rev 3 Quassy bike course, just in a smaller scale. It’s a very technical ride with lots of ups and downs, along with wild turns. There were a few moments I jumped out of aero in fear as I was careening around a bend, not knowing what lay ahead. This is, of course, also what I look forward to anytime I ride a bike.
I was playing leapfrog with 2 or 3 really strong riders. It was killing me to keep up with them, but I did my best to trail them until the end.
Carla took all of the photos, thanks!!! Even though this one is blurry I still think it’s really cool.
Cruising down into transition, I could see a few runners out on the course already which pissed me off. Throwing my bike onto the rack and putting my flats on (no socks) I shot out of transition in a fury. SIDENOTE: I will never wear socks again! It was amazing running without them.
Once again, the first 1/2 mile is all uphill and my calves were ON FIRE! I thought they were going to pop out of my legs. Gross.
Once we got onto level ground they cooled off and I started increasing my pace big time. I picked off the 2 guys I was biking with earlier, and then set my sights on a guy 200 meters in front of me. This is my favorite part of any triathlon… the chase!
As I hit the turnaround, I could see that guy, plus one more that were in my range. We smiled at each other and saluted.
It was at this moment I realized that I felt amazing. It was one of those running moments where it all just clicked in and came together. I smiled big and kicked it up a notch.
1 mile to go I saw Jim coming the other way! Go Jim!
Coming down the home stretch I passed my targeted guy (saying hello and nodding) making my way towards the next fellow. As I passed him, I could start to see the finish come into sight and was half excited and half disappointed that it would be over. I looked to try and catch one more guy but he was too far ahead for me to bridge the gap.
Blazing through the finish I saw that my time was 1:25 and change. I was happy because I knew I had bested my previous time by a good 4 minutes.
I walked over to get some water and congratulated a few of the first guys in. They were all super cool, each of us trading pieces of our race.
Not wanting to miss any action, I hightailed it over to the finish line to wait for my friends to come through! It was then I saw Ed coming off the bike course. He didn’t see me, so I ran over to transition and gave him a shout.
At that moment Jim came bounding down the run course cruising through the finish! He also ran over to Ed, pacing him onto the run course.
Amy came in shortly after and I cheered her on, urging her to sprint it out, in which she did. Then came Cenk, followed by Ed and then finally Nisso.
We had a great cheering section and it was so fun being right at the finish chute. We all had a few laughs and watched the awards before taking off.
Once again Ed gets props. Getting to his car he pulls out a mini cooler with 3 ice cold beers inside! We cracked ’em and had a toast to our great races!
This race marks my 1 year anniversary of triathlons! It’s funny to look back at last year’s race to compare and contrast. I’ve improved in many areas, BUT, I’m still slow as molasses in the water!