This past weekend was the third time that I had raced in the New York City Triathlon. The first time ended in a flat tire a mile or so into the bike. Last year was an epic wire to wire battle with Ben Collins, of which I ended up on the short end. This year had all the makings of a great rematch from last years battle with both Ben and I coming into the race more or less healthy and coming off a few early season victories.
During the pre race interviews with the TV crew that filmed the race, Ben and I both said that we expected much the same as last year. Obviously I was hoping to get on the right end of the equation but was excited for the chance at another great race battle. Going into the race I felt good, having put in some really good weeks of training after Alcatraz. I knew that I was swimming well and riding strong and that the run would probably come down to who had done the best with hydration on the bike, and who was the tougher one on the hills in Central Park.
The night before the race I was pounding my First Endurace EFS PRO to try and get as hydrated as possible before the race. The organizers had already shortened the run for the age groupers in response to the heat warning that had been issued. So along with my standard hawaiian pizza dinner, you know for the salt, I relaxed in the hotel and tried to get to bed as early as possible. Since the race starts at 5:50am I usually wake up about 3:15am. Seeing as I live in the mountain time zone that is like waking up at 1:15am to get ready to race. Its definitely not one of the highlights of the race, but there is something cool about riding through a major city in the dark on the way to the race.
After a solid warm up I felt ready to go. The other interesting part of this race is that they do a men vs women competition as well sending off the women a set time ahead, and the first person across the line gets a bonus. This year the equalizer was 11:34, which is an eternity when you are standing on the pontoon watching the women almost exiting the water before we get to start.
Once the gun went off I hit the front and tried to stay as far to the center of the river as the kayak’s would let me. The mighty Hudson is always ripping at a pretty good clip that time of the morning but the farther out you can get the more water you have pushing you along. After negotiating the 1500m swim in a solid 12:01 I hit the bike path for the 800 or so meter run to transition. I had seen that I created a little space to Ben in the water and wanted to make sure I kept that gap before mounting the bike. Unfortunately I got a bit tangled taking off my Blue Seventy PZ4TX, but luckily the thing is so fast in the water I still made it out just ahead of Ben to the mount line.
Once aboard my Ventum One, it was full gas. I guess I always say that, and its hard to say whether you are really going as fast as possible knowing the distances you still have to cover but it always feels like my heart is in my mouth that first 5k or so on the bike. In NYC the bike course is a hilly out and back with two U-turns. That is really the only place where you can see how everyone is looking and what the gaps are. As I approached the first turnaround I knew Helle and Sarah had still got a comfortable lead, but as I went around the turn I could see that I had some significant daylight between myself and Ben. Instantly you get that little shot of adrenaline and I hammered for the next 5 or so minutes to try and make that gap grow, which shrinking the girls lead.
At the second turnaround I was still more than 3 minutes back of the ladies, but I also had put almost 3 minutes into Ben. I did my best to stay smooth the last little bit and have a fast transition. After a quick T2, I was headed away from the river and over toward Central Park. I felt like I had done a good job with my hydration on the bike but could still feel some tightness in my quads and I headed down the street. When I got to Central Park I heard that the gap to the girls was right about 3 minutes, which with only 5 miles to go was going to be a very big ask. I tried to really keep the pressure on, but after having blown myself up on the hills in the park last year I tried to be a little bit more calculated with my efforts.
As I hit the final mile I girls were still just ghosts up the road, and I knew that Ben hadn’t made up much ground. Breaking the tape is always an amazing sensation, and honestly the more races I win, the more I want to win races. But it is a little odd to break that tape and then realize you are the third person to have finished the race. Helle and Sarah had pushed each other to the limit, and with that kind of battle you can always go a little bit faster than when you are by yourself like I was. It was a bummer to not have been able to make that part of the race closer but I was ecstatic to finally have put together a good race in Central Park.
That whole quote about if you can make it in NYC, you can make it anywhere may not really apply to triathlon, but its a nice thought!
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Now I am getting ready for Rev3 Pocono’s in a week and then I will have a month till one of my A races for the year at Beijing International.