Sitting here looking at my right hand, the upside down “477” smiles back at me and I can’t start off this report any other way than by thanking my hosts for a wonderful weekend. So…
Dear Dave and Tik, my newest and youngest Uncle-aunt team, thanks for a hospitable weekend filled with all I needed. Air conditioning that was too cold (which was perfect after a 2 mile hike back in the 90*), great food, great bed (I want one of those pillows), great company (you know what I’m talking about) and plenty of excitement.
Now on to the race. I wake up at 5:05 (not because my alarm went off, stupid Polar wristwatch, but rather because Diego came in and woke me up, kindly, at 5 in the morning. Crazy guy) and went about my morning business. Luckily, my bowels were moving freely, and so I got dressed, grabbed my bags, and went downstairs. By the time I was ready to sit down and eat the delectable-looking tuna wrap, Yehuda was already outside (he was staying around the corner), and so I wolfed down half of it, grabbed 2 bananas for the road, and we were on our way.
We pull up to the 1st gate at 6:10 and I wasn’t nervous yet, as the transition only opened at 6 AM. But it was the wrong gate. So we followed the cars, and found a spot. Pretty far away, as were all the spots, but a spot nonetheless. The instructions were to rack our bikes in transition first, then get marked, then pick up the timing chips.
When I saw that transition area, my first thought was something along the lines of, “holy cow. Now that’s a lot of racers.” As it turns out, after asking several other competitors, there were 1500 registered racers, apparently. That’s one thousand five hundred men, women and children who I was competing against. My largest race before this was 250! Suddenly, I needed to go. Again. Just my luck that the line for the 3 urinals was backed up something like 50 people or so, and so I decided to make my way to the public restrooms. Which were locked. And had a 10 person line.
I decided what the heck, I’ll get on this line, and they all seem to think that a park attendant will come open up the door (in fact, one of those in need of the lavatory did summon a park attendant, and the door was open before long. But not before a few people left from the line. And a few came. I was now number 3 in a 25 person line. Nice. No pressure.
I did what I had to do, then went back to transition to meet Yehudah and start getting ready. It was now 7, and my wave was scheduled to go off at 7:42. After getting acquainted with my age group, I shimmy into my wetsuit and make my way down to the beach.
The water was absolutely frigid, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get the swim over with. They say that it was a half mile swim, but there’s no way it could have been. It seemed to be at least 3/4, but that’s ok. As long as we’re all swimming the same distance, right? Wrong. I, my friends, can not swim. Wetsuit or not, I am aquatically challenged, and as a result, performed FAR below par for an athlete of any sort with a V02 max of 71.
As we all clumsily gathered on the beach, I watched as waves 1, 2 and 3 took off at full speed, and I empathized with the stragglers who walked in last – for in just a few moments, that would no doubt be my sentiments for myself. Lo and behold, Mike Larkin calls for us (wave 4) to approach the water, and get in to the frozen waters of Port Washington and before I knew what happened, we were off!
Well they were, at least. Along with a small gathering of 40-49 year olds, I huddled in the back of the pack and cautiously made my way into the waters. Where I swam freestyle (without sighting) for 2 minutes, and then sighted. Lucky I lifted my head too, because I was WAY off course. Time to do the breaststroke till I’m back in it. Why not just stay with the breaststroke? It’s so relaxed. So I did. Well I switched between breaststroke, sidestroke, and elementary backstroke. Pathetic, I know, but it’s like I says – I can’t swim. I placed 388 in the swim overall, and 16th in my age group. My pace? 34 sec/25 yds.
As I powered my way to the shore, I emerge, victorious in the war against the water, and look around me, slightly dumfounded at what I saw. The racers, all around me, were walking to T1. WALKING. No time for gawking, I told myself, and I hightailed it. I passed 8 or 9 of them, and dashed into the extra long transition area. After taking a minute and fifteen seconds to do Lord knows what in there, I was out of T1 with my bike nad my shoes already clipped in for the first time ever. Big mistake.
I forgot to open up the velcro on the shoes and am not a proficient enough cyclist to open them while mashing gears, so I had to stop, get off the bike, open the shoes, get back on, slip my feet in, close the velcro, and then I was off! Only added 45 sec. or so. I told myself it was ok, and I would more than make up for it on the run and the bike. How wrong I was. The bike was decently flat, but zig-zagging in and out of parking lots to add miles to the stretch of our two-loop course. And bumpy! I hit one ditch and my handlebars rotated downward something like 20* – you can see how open my arms are in the pictures. I passed at least 3 pro-looking cyclists walking back with their (now flat) tubulars, and I felt really bad for them.
To make things interesting for myself on the 12 mile ride, I would shout words of encouragement to any and all who I passed, which was any and all I saw. Things like, “This is a race, not a training session! Pick it up!”, “My grandma rides faster than you!”, “Nice bike! (It was pink) Maybe we can trade saddles if you can catch me!”, my personal favorite – “Free draft for anyone who can catch me! Free draft! (Two older gentleman actually took me up on this, and I was pleasantly surprised by their cycling abilities.)”, and all other sorts of trash talk you can imagine. I finished the ride in 38:24 – a pace of 18.7 MPH. Decent, but not nearly what I was hoping to post. I was shooting for something 20+, but I think the shoe bit messed me up a bit in the beginning. And in the end! I couldn’t get out of those straps! They were open, but I ended up having to unclip my shoes and run in them nonetheless! What bogus…whatever.
T2 was as slow as T1, unfortunately.1:13. Again, I have no clue what I was doing in there but have to find some way to trim my time down. Maybe it’s because I was parked so far away from the run exit. But probably not.
The run was refreshing. My legs were hurting at times, but I was passing so many racers, I couldn’t even worry about that. I was dropped once, and he yelled something at me as he ran by, but I wasn’t sure what he said. Oh well. Again, on the run, I would yell words of encouragement at my fellow triathletes, “Pick up the pace!” or “(In a whiny voice) My feet hurt! My calves hurt! Grow up…they don’t call it a race for nothing!” and offer congratulatory fist-bumps for any and all who wanted them, just for making it thus far in such a short amount of time! I was happy with the run, but definitely could have ran faster. After rounding the last curve, I turned on the jets (apparently, I was keeping a good amount of fuel in the reserves) and sprinted, something out of Mission Impossible 3, past 5 runners. One 2nd AG female included, with her hands up for the pictures. But I snuck right underneath them, and clinched my final position. The run took 21:24, a 7 minute 8 second pace, and faster than my last 3 mile run. It was 78th overall in the entire race. What was elating however, was that it was top-ten in my age group, 9th to be specific, which put me at 11th place in my age group. Fantastic finish, if I do say so myself.
Overall finish: 149
Age Group finish: 11
Total time: 1:21:06
Some random thoughts:
- It was nice to see coach Cook and another coach (Mike?) who’s name I’m not familiar with, and especially nice to pass coach Cook on the ride 🙂
- All of the free GU (of which I now have 5 sitting right in front of me) was very generous.
- The post race nutri-grain bars really hit the spot. There were bananas and multi-grain bars as well, but when the race director only orderers blueberry and strawberry nutri-grain bars, how could I eat anything else?
- There were clif bars boxes, and I assume they ran out of bars before the 149th finalist finished.
- The swim caps were pretty lame. Maybe print a Long Island Gold Coast Insignia on them next year?
- The view was nice.
- The TriLatino volunteers were very friendly and encouraging.
- The bike and run paths were marked off very well, with no physical way of veering from the intended path. Kudos on that.
- The road itself was treacherously paved. Any way to improve on that for next year?
Overall, job well done. Thanks to all those who wished me well the night before when I was already sleeping (Mitchey, Kumar, Eliana, Grandpa – and the rest of you) and to all those who helped out in making today a great race.
Oh yeah, some pics:
And a link to LiGoldcoast’s website of official times (I’m number 477):