Last November I learned that I did not receive an entry into the New York City Triathlon through the lottery process. I emailed the race director and told him I had never been to New York before and would really like to participate in the race....he let me in!
Almost a year later, I feel like I have been talking about this race forever and it was finally here this morning! I knew from the point of check in this would be a very organized race. We had to check in our bikes yesterday and be down to the race within a time frame as it closed 30 minutes before the race even begin. We woke up to rain this morning. It has been beautiful while we have been here but today brought rain. The roads were very wet and as I walked into transition I was very happy I had draped a plastic bag over my aerobars and handlebars the night before, everything was wet. I quickly set up my transition area and inflated the tire and hoped and prayed it would stop raining. Dave and I made our way down to the swim start. We learned the race would be delayed by 20 minutes due to a rollover accident on the bike course and weather conditions. LOVELY! I hate when I plan my race day nutrition and then the start time changes! It continued to rain and rain as we waited for the race to start.
This race is so big that there are two, yes two transition areas! 5000 people would swim in the Hudson! As we started lining up in our waves I looked out towards the Hudson and waited to see the tide and current change. I had looked forward to swimming in a river with the current, especially since the swim is my weak point. As the race being we watched 20 racers jump into the water every 10 seconds. I couldn't figure out while there were so many people looking up and not swimming. I had no idea what it was like when I would jump in! Our wave quickly approached and I walked down to the barge. They lined us up 4 deep, 20 across. My turn came. We sat on the barge and the whistle blew. I love jump start races, they are so fun! I started swimming and quickly felt like I was in the middle of the ocean. I thought that was really weird. I had planned to spot off the Jersey shoreline and buoys to the side as we swam to the other barge, so I really had no need to look up. (I am very grateful for my plan now!) After about 5 minutes of being tossed and turned and realizing I was catching up to other colored caps (which NEVER happens) I decided to look up. HOLY CRAP! I couldn't see the finish lines, just 6-8 inch swells coming towards me one after another. Who would have thought that we would not only have rain but wind and waves. This was the choppiest swim I have been in. I decided that there would be no reason to look up as I wouldn't be able to see the finish and just rely on the random buoys to the side and the other swimmers that were around me. As I caught up to other colors there were a lot of people to run into and to get around. The swim was such an adventure and I was so proud of myself that I held it together with waves. It was really funny because I decided to look up to see where I was and saw a crowd of people. I was at the barge to get out! YES!
The run to T1 was, let's say, a little long!! It was probably almost 1/2 mile to transition yellow. I took this time to shred my wetsuit down to my hips and just run! I got into transition and rinsed off my feet. I took my time in transition, not really slow but not my typical in and out. I would regret this later.
I got on my bike, which to be honest I was nervous about. The roads were REALLY wet and I have never rode on wet roads with drizzling rain. Luckily the rain had let up and we didn't have much rain on the course, just a little drizzle, but it was windy and hilly! Who would think that there would be so many hills in New York? Sheesh! The bike ride was beautiful. We crossed over a bridge, road through a very green and lush area and up and down hills. There was no flats, only hills. Yes, the entire way! Around mile 12 I had a girl pass me. I really hate when girls pass me. So I decided I would keep her in view. The last 12 miles two girls and I played musical bikes; it really made the miles go by quick.
T2 was a little quicker then T1. I had been really nervous about the run because I raced so hard last weekend. My legs were sore until Thursday this week and all I had done was swim before leaving for New York. Since being in New York all I'd done was walk, so I wasn't on the freshest legs.
Out of transition was about a mile of uphill, but there were crowds of people cheering so how can you walk? The run was in Central Park and I was so excited to have the opportunity to race in this park. However, I didn't realize until yesterday how hilly it was! So yes, hilly bike and hilly run, either up or down with no flats! The people in New York are awesome, I think they get a bad wrap, they were out running in Central Park too. As they went by they cheered and cheered. I felt like I had cheerleaders my entire run! I was running with men, not sure where all the girls were, but it was fun passing so many men! I enjoyed my run so much, as I came into the finish line I couldn't believe the amount of people there. It was amazing! It didn't hold a candle to the Oceanside Half Ironman.
So, what did I learn today? I am really glad I didn't have ideal race conditions. Up to this point I have been lucky to only be in races where the weather was great! Here is what I learned:
1. Swimming through waves can be fun!! It is OK if you don't see the finish, identify other landmarks and don't think about what you are swimming through.
2. New York has hilly races! Honestly I was thinking "I am at sea level, biking on a highway, running through a park, it is going to be a great, flat course." WRONG!!
3. Races in the rain are fun! I really loved riding through big puddles, but it makes for very dirty legs when you are done!
4. I love a great race that brings out crowds and I have never seen crowds of people like today. Not only did you have family of 5000 athletes, you had people who were just out enjoying New York cheering! It was so motivating and really gave me a boost throughout the run. Everyone I passed was cheering.
5. People from New York are friendly and helpful. It was really weird but for some reason, everyone I talked to this morning were locals. I really like people from here!
6. No matter what, you better leave everything on the course. I decided before I came out here that I was just going to do this race for fun and have no expectations for myself. I did a big race last week and decided I would just have fun on the course. This morning I decided that I would swim hard and bike hard and then just have a great run to enjoy Central Park. I had no idea that I would have a chance of placing, this is a HUGE race! There were between 200 and 400 people in my age group from all over the world. As I got my race results printed today, I learned I took 4th in my age group. I am kicking my butt that I didn't push it. I will never again do a race for "fun" again. If you race....race!
New York City Triathlon is my favorite triathlon I have done. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to race here. I am also so grateful for my loving and supportive husband who cheers me on and supports me through these crazy adventures. I couldnt do it without him. I am also grateful for the opportunity I had to have my mom here to cheer for me. It means a lot to have her at the finish line as well. And, it was so fun to have Dave here to share this great race with!
I think people sometimes wonder why I do this crazy sport. It is because I love it! It gives me an opportunity to push myself to my full potential, enjoy the beautiful place we live in, meet wonderful people, and I hope to inspire others to be the best they can be as well. My triathlon coach always tells me "enjoy the journey" and she's right. This great sport is such a journey; a journey of experience, learning and growth.