alright! the race is done and i'm pretty pleased with how things went. here's a summary i wrote up for some friends who don't race, so it might be a little oversimplified for this forum. oh, and it's long! sorry for being windy.
so my first triathlon is out of the way and i had a great time.
i tried to go to bed around 11 last night but didn't nod off until around midnight. i then managed to wake up every 30 minutes or so for the rest of the night, until 4am when i stayed awake until the alarm went off at 4:30. got up, michele put some coffee on, and i had a pb&j on an english muffin with a banana. then i began to worry about pooping. on a normal day i poop like clockwork, about 15 minutes after i wake up. when i wake up this early though, who knows when it will happen. of course this isn't a big deal on a normal day, but that was some extra weight i didn't wanna have to worry about needing to drop in the middle of the race. i danced around a bit, drank the coffee, and still didn't have any luck. after a final check for everything i needed we descended the stairs.
on the way out the door one of the tenants from the 3rd floor was sitting in the stairwell, at 5am, on her laptop. she looked up and said "you're doing to ride your bike, now?" i didn't point out that she was sitting in the stairwell on her laptop at 5am and simply said "i have a triathlon this morning." "oh, good luck."
we were out the door on time and headed to long island. traffic at this hour was of course minimal so we were out there by 5:45 easy. now, my cycling exposure to long island up to this point was riding along the south shore at to montauk so i expected this to be a totally flat course, nice and easy for my first race. as we neared the end of out directions though it became more and more hilly. crap. just about a quarter mile away from the race site there was what seemed to be around a 9% grade descent. i knew they'd send us up and down that during the race and wasn't looking forward to it.
so we get to the site and it's around 6am. not too many people are around yet and i'm looking around and everyone there seems very serious about things. i based this evaluation on a few things: the expense of their bikes, the number of bike/run/swim/tri related stickers on their cars, and the tightness of their clothes. we rolled over to the transition area and i set everything up. then i shuffled everything around. then i shuffled it all around again and decided everything was in the perfect order and the transitions would be as smooth as possible.
then... it was finally time to poop. that out of the way i decided to warm up and did a quick little run followed by a short bike. as i went to re-rack my bike after warming up i lifted it to put the seat over the rack and the rear wheel fell off. guess riding a track bike exclusively for the last few years has made me pretty rusty with the quick-release. i turned to the guy next to me with the very very expensive quintana roo and said "oops, glad that happened now." he gave me a look of contempt and went back to rubbing bodyglide on himself.
it was getting close to 7:15 and all the racers were called to the beach. i wanted to try and get in a warm up swim but as soon as i got the water they told everyone to get out. the swim was in a harbour of the long island sound and the water was very calm. despite the huge industrial facility looming over us and my thoughts about the chemical make up of what we'd be swimming in, it seemed like it'd be a nice swim. i was in the 4th wave of 8, so i stood back a bit and watched as the first three waves went. each wave seemed to have about 100 people, and as they each began people were swimming over each other, face first into each other's feet, and a few people in each wave went totally astray, heading west or east instead of north. a few people got about 100 yards out and called it quits. one person was missing a leg below the knee, and i realized i couldn't complain regardless of what happened. the beach was mostly composed of shells and rocks, and i cut my big toe and the arch of my foot before even entering the water, but i couldn't complain.
as my wave was called up i decided to hang to the back initially, as i'd been advised by a few people, and let those up front sort out the insanity before i got to em. the got the whistle and a surge of green swim caps spilled forward. i ran out waist deep and the dove in. the swim is my strength and i was tempted to go all out, but i this being my first triathlon i wanted to ensure that i'd have enough gas to get me through the run, my weakest leg, so my game plan was to conserve as much energy as possible on the swim and bike. i focused on my form, made sure i was going straight, and just did my own thing. i wasn't going to worry about the other racers. as i closed on the first bouy though i noticed that there were very few people around me. i looked back and most of my wave was a good bit behind me which was a nice confidence boost. it seemed like i was to the first bouy in no time and i made the turn to the second bouy. about halfway to that boy my goggles began to fog and i started having trouble spotting the bouy but thought i was holding a pretty straight line. again, i felt like i was to that bouy pretty quickly, and about halfway there i was surrounded by pink swim caps - i'd caught the third wave.
making the turn after the second bouy it was time to head to shore and i was feeling strong, but as i looked up to spot the bouys marking the water exit i couldn't see a damn thing. i decided to just put my head down and swim, and swam up on top of a few pink caps. oops. as i got closer i had a bit of a better idea where i was going but realized my lines weren't nearly as straight as they had been. i finally reached the shore and stood up. now, every time i swim, even if i don't tire myself too much, i lose all balance when i stand upright. as i began to walk up the beach and pull off my wetsuit i was dizzy as hell and thought i was going to faceplant onto the beach. i took it slow, looked back and saw a good bit of pink and lots of green behind me, and walked to the bike transition. michele says i was the third or fourth person from my wave out of the water and everyone else looked like *this* (michele flexing and looking tough).
on went my socks, shoes, hat, helmet and shirt and i was on my way. no big hang-ups. i started spinning to loosen up my legs and then made the turn onto the roadway and geared up a bit. now, everything i had read and everyone i had talked to about tri-training advised me to do a brick work out (bike-run) once a week to adjust to doing these two things back to back. for some reason though, i had never gotten around to doing one. thus, i wasn't sure how that would go so i wanted to err on the side of caution and decided to take it pretty easy on the bike to make sure i had some legs to run on. the only real pace goal i set for myself was to not get passed by anyone who wasn't on a fancy tri-bike.
as the ride began i looked around and saw no one with race numbers near mine. i seemed to still be out in front of most of the pack of my wave. i rode off down the street we had entered on and feared the hill that i knew loomed in front of me. as it neared, i didn't see anyone climbing it, and just as i reached the base of the hill the cones marked a turn around. saved. the bike course wasn't flat though. it consisted of rolling hills and two steeper, but not too steep hills. i spun a pretty low gear and passed a good number of people. my rear wheel falling off after my warm up was in the back of my mind and i expected at any minute for something to fall off of my bike. these road bikes have a lot more parts than track bikes, and i'm a simple minded person. the sound of what seemed to be a belligerent cricket coming from my rear wheel didn't offer any comfort. i need a tune up.
every couple of minutes i would hear a whirring hiss flying up behind me, and someone on a full carbon frame, tucked low and riding carbon wheels, would zip by me. i was keeping my goal of not letting anyone other than these sorts pass me until a hulking beast on a track bike zipped by. DAMNIT! for one, there goes my race goal, and two - i had thought about riding my track frame but figured they wouldn't allow me without a rear brake. this guy had no rear brake though, and i realized that with 800 riders it was very unlikely anyone would notice such a thing. i couldn't be mad though and had to give this guy his props. he was moving too!
i realized i probably could have been pushing it a bit harder on the bike when i was able to strike up a conversation with a woman about her beautiful custom frame. it was a steel road frame built by chris _________ (a little help here?), a guy who had built under his own name before building for serotta then retiring. i spent a large amount of time during the ride and during the whole event gawking at beautiful bikes. we talked for about 6 minutes about her frame and racing in general, and then i finished my second loop of the bike route and pullled off to begin the run.
i pulled into the transition area, at a cliff energy block (the margarita ones are foul!), sipped some gatorade, and was off. the run was along the concrete path along side the beach, through the parking lot, out to the sidewalk along the roadway, and then we did it all a second time. about halfway through my first loop i realized i really had to piss. i began to look off into the woods, wondering how far back i'd have to go to make sure i didn't offend anyone. i contemplated pissing in my pants, mostly just to be able to say i did it. then i figured if i just held it, it would make me run a little faster. my legs were feeling good, and my breathing was steady. i knew if i stopped to take a leak i'd get lazy, so i pressed on. people passed me, i passed people, but i was feeling good and was happy with the way things were going.
soon enough the finish line was in sight and i picked it up a little bit. i saw the clock above the finish line and initially, through burning sunscreen laced sweat in my eyes, thought it said 1:13! my goal going into this was to finish somewhere near 1:30. 1:13 was much better than that! then i got closer. 1:31. damnit! still, pretty close to my goal and not all that bad. i crossed the line and didn't even feel the need to collapse! i made my way to the refueling area and grabbed a bagel and some water and found michele. soon the began posting results, and i headed over and found myself on a piece of paper. it was official! i finished! and not only that but my time was 1:19:56! better than 1:30! i realized that the 1:31 i had seen on the clock was the total time since the race started, and that since i was in the 4th wave i started 12 minutes after that, so i'd beat my goal by 11 minutes. i was happy about that.
in the end my times were:
swim: 14:54 - i could drop several minutes off of this in easy water without much problem. my best pool time is about 10:45 and this water wasn't much different than the pool. i'm definitely pushing the swim harder next time, and not getting in the water without some anti-fog goop on my goggles
bike: 37:15 (20.9mph avg) - again, i can do a lot better than this and i'm gonna push it harder next time, and also make sure i wire my cycle computer to this bike as i feel that would have helped me set a decent pace for myself.
run: 23:33 (7:35 min/mile avg) - this is where slacking on the swim and bike paid off. i suck at running, and when i started running in january i couldn't do a mile continuously, much less 3. i'm really happy with this time.
i finished 12th in my age group for males and 20th in my age group overall. i finished 189th out of 694 finishers. i can definitely live with these results, and i'm looking forward to my next triathlon!
you can check out some pics that michele took here
and overall race results are here