NYC Triathlon: Part II – Race Recap

First part: last week of training, race expo, etc. here.

I got up around 3:35am as scheduled.  Walked around in the dark looking for random things in my apartment and ran out the door around 3:50am.  I ended up running into my friend, Kress, who was doing the bike portion of the relay at the subway platform. I ended up eating a mini clif bar and a banana on the way to the start.

Because all the trains were messed up (because that’s the MTA on the weekends), we ended up getting to transition after sprinting from the 72nd 1 train stop right in time before the transition closed . Right at 5:15am, the area closed. Everyone ran out. They really mean business here. Apparently you get a time penalty if you aren’t out.

I walked up to the start and it was packed. I dropped flip flops off underneath one of the benches by the exit. Drank my cold brew coffee on the way up and chatted with an older relay swimmer about training and such. At the start, I got in line for the bathroom and started pulling my hair together (I just learned out to french braid and my hair never fits in my cap and always gets in my face). Unlike other triathletes I didn’t buy a tri top (like a tank made to swim, bike, run in and made to fit underneath a wetsuit), so I took my shirt off and put the wetsuit on. My bottoms were especially made for triathlons and had bike padding so I was good there. I put all my clothes into the clear bag and dropped it off at baggage that was later transported to the finish.

The Swim – 1500m/24:43 mins
All the age groups are split depending on the amount of people I think.  So I was in the first group of women age 25-29 to go (pearl swim caps) then the same age group right after in purple swim caps.

Because you line up right along the river, we got to see the pros start and every group in front of us go.  We also got to see some dead fish along the sea wall so that was fun. I made small talk with some ladies around me. A few haven’t done a tri ever so that made me feel better. One girl had never even done an open water swim before so there’s that.

There’s showers right before you enter the ramp to get to the barge to jump off. So you get used to the water before actually going in.  As soon as I got under the showers, it was so real. I was trying to position myself so I’d be near the edge of the current. The farther out you are from the wall the better the current. Also no dead fish.

{these pics taken the day before!}

where you jump off! that black timing mat

I was maybe 8th or 9th from the sea wall.  Since you can’t dive in, you have to hop off into the water in groups of 15 swimmers. Right as we sat down, I wished the ladies good luck and the horn went off.   I jumped in and it felt like I went 10 feet under the water.

I tried to hang back as the swim started because it really is a hot mess of swimmers kicking each other in the face to start swimming. I was finally in a good spot in the current far from the seawall. But I was getting tired the first 5 minutes and I was freaking a bit so I did some backstroke sighting to my right (NYC side) to make sure I was on point. I think maybe 30 strokes went by when I didn’t sight and I ended up closer to the seawall. I basically did a full 90 degree turn in the water. fail. Since that happened, I was sighting during backstroke every 10 strokes.

Also, in case you’re wondering, the Hudson River tastes like cigarette/cigar after taste.  So delicious. #sarcasm.

swim exit – funnels you into the ramp

My heart rate finally went down a bit when we hit the 600 meter mark (marked on the NYC side). The NYC side is my left during freestyle and I don’t breathe to my left.  So the sighting skills I learned during the open water clinic was super helpful. I was looking for the 900 meter mark and didn’t see it. I was finally doing freestyle comfortably which was good because it funneled in towards the end and it just got more packed the last 250m.  The ramp looked so close but so far.

That part of the Hudson River is shallow so they say don’t stand up because it’s all silt and mud underneath. So you get close enough that volunteers pull you up as soon as your feet hit the ramp underneath the water.

T1: 12:41

I grabbed my flip flops that I left before the start and started jogging. My legs were already tired (or just very constricted by the wetsuit). The yellow transition is much farther than the red so we had to run 700 yards or so to transition. I popped into the porta potty for a bathroom break with my wet suit still on so that was hard to take off.

I slathered some sunscreen on and grabbed my bike and put my shirt and hydration pack on. And mounted my bike outside transition.

Photo cred: NYC Tri website

Bike – 40k/24.8 miles: 2:01:57

I was really worried about getting a flat tire and finally learned how to change a flat.  But in case I didn’t remember I had my phone stashed in my hydration pack.  Seriously best purchase ever.

The bike course was crazy hilly. I mean look at this elevation chart.

Photo Credit: NYC Triathlon website

The first few miles felt kinda painful. Especially the first mile was straight up hill and curvy too.  The whole race was just crazy hills.  I finally got into my groove half-way through.

T2: 3:31

Quite saddened that majority of the yellow transition was already back and their bikes were racked. I checked my cell and I was well off my time goal. I stopped for a potty break, slathered on some sunscreen again and accidentally ripped off my bib number.

Run – 10k/6.2. miles: 1:20:33

One would think this would be the easiest part for me but in fact it epically sucked.

I’m in the orange

Headphones weren’t allowed and I hate running sans music so I had my cell phone blasting the whole time.  The crowd support was amazing.  I heard a lot of “you go girl” from the ladies in the crowd.  By the time I got the run, the men had caught up so there weren’t a ton of women around me.

They weren’t kidding when they say your legs will absolutely feel like bricks.  My calves were so tight. I stopped a few times to stretch it out.

the end

It was so hot, even the hardcore athletes around me were walking.  Hot and hilly make for a miserable experience.  {I later found out that they had cut the run course down to a mile because of the heat, which made a lot of sense.}

I was feeling so good during the swim and bike although tired. Now I was miserable. I think it was 90 degrees by the time I finished. I didn’t expect one last out and back at the very end and there it was.  That sucked. I basically had nothing left at the end. Completely depleted.


I kinda thought I was going to faint at the end. I think I was just hot because they gave us these amazing wet cold towels to place on our bodies. Amazing.

There was a ton of water bottles and gatorade around. Boxes of food like apples, bananas, Terra blue chips.  I grabbed extra water bottles to rinse my hair out. Because the Hudson River. Also lots of sweat.

Not pictured = when I hugged my sister all sweat and gross from the hudson and the heat and she started screaming ha

On the way to brunch at Isabella’s, we walked past a fueling station that was picking up.  We asked if we could have the gels so I stuffed my bag full of gels. It was amazing.

amazing steak eggs benedict 

The cheer squad and I got some brunch after and picked up my stuff in transition, which I had to do before 2pm.  It was so hot, my bike was so hot, everything was so hot.

Final thoughts
I was hardcore freaking out before this race. Mostly about the swim. The goal was to finish which I did. But being the person I am, I had a secret time goal and I was way off.  The race went by faster than expected which is great.

Despite this being a logistical nightmare for a first-timer (there are so many parts to a triathlon!), I absolutely want to do this race again next year and thanks to my sister, I can.  If one volunteers at the race, you get guaranteed entry and you can also transfer your guaranteed entry.

When I do this race next year, I definitely need a road bike and clipped bike shoes.  I will never do a bike race again with a hybrid, just so slow. Also more bricks in 90 degree heat. That might help me.

This whole training period could be summed up into “how many life changes can one go through in one 12 week period?” I considered deferring multiple times over this race because studying for finals, going through a break up, taking leave from a job and starting a judicial internship all at the same time doesn’t make for great timing and great training. I’m elated I finished despite everything and very happy about the swim (despite making a 90 degree turn in the middle).

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