Thursday, July 18, 2013

The New York City Triathlon Race Recap

There really was no better way for me to celebrate my 3rd anniversary of living in New York City.

But before the happy end of the race came, I was a ball of nerves.

I’ve never had more mixed feelings about a race before. I was feeling the normal, equal balance of nervous and excitement. But I was also wondering, am I really ready for this? There was a part of me that had serious concerns about my ability to finish. Would I get a flat tire on the bike? Could I handle the Central Park hills? Would I look really awesome, or close to death in my race photos? (all questions will be answered in-depth later)

Meggie and I went to the Tri expo Friday afternoon and picked up some goodies before our final Team in Training dinner. We had a casual photoshoot as well.

We made our way to the dinner, only to find the entrance lined with a red carpet. As we walked in, our mentors were waiting for us, cheering us on with insane enthusiasm. I felt like a total rock star.

Cheering mentors!
The dinner was bittersweet. It was amazing to see the entire NYC chapter of TNT together, and hearing how much money we raised for LLS (over $1 million!!!!). We heard really sweet speeches from our head coach, and one TNT participant who is a Stage 4 Lymphoma survivor. It was a really great way to bring my TNT experience to a close, and got me super psyched for race day.

Megs and me carbo-loading.
My awesome mentor, Andy!

I woke up early Saturday morning to put together my race day necessities. I felt like a crazy person checking and re-checking all my stuff. Between three sports, there is a lot of random ish to remember.

I met Meggie for our long trek to the west side to drop off our bikes at transition. We were “those people” you hate on the subway because we clogged up all entry ways with our bikes AND got our bikes tangled up in each other so you REALLY couldn’t get off.

After a sweaty subway ride, we made it to transition. Huzzah!

My transition spot, with inspirational quote/pick-up line.

We took a quick tour of the transition area, and figured out where we would be entering and exiting for the swim, bike and run. After walking around most of the afternoon, we finally took our coaches’ advice and went to dinner and a movie to stay off our feet. We also lucked out and stayed at Meggie’s boyfriend’s Aunt’s house (are you still with me? ) on the Upper West Side. It was a real treat not to have to go all the way back to Brooklyn after our long afternoon. We body marked, painted nails, and settled in for the night by watching Sex and the City. We agreed that Samantha is much more outrageous and sexual in the movie than in the show.

At 3:30AM IN THE MORNING, we woke up for the big day.

Really beautiful shot of us.
We laid out our items at transition, and walked to the swim start. It was very cool watching the sun rise over the Hudson, when most of the city was just about to go to sleep. It was one of those rare New York moments.

I got to my corral with Meggie, and the race officially started. While the logistics of bike drop-off and walking to the swim were a hassle, it was exciting to watch everyone jump in and start their race. Here I am AMPED AND NERVOUS. (also, don't mind the next several shots that say "proof" across them. Stolen from marathon foto).

As we got closer to the dock, my hands began to shake. Meggie and I finally stepped up to the starting line, hand in hand, and jumped in to start our race.

All of the nervousness I felt that morning disappeared as soon as I got in the water. It felt really refreshing, and I kept reminding myself to enjoy every moment. Every time I turned my head to breathe, I saw the sun shining on the water. I was having a total blast.

SIDE NOTE: To answer your burning question – the Hudson was not gross (I KNOW! I was just as delightfully surprised by this fact as you). In fact, the first ¾ of the swim the current was pretty quick, and the water felt great. But as we got closer to the boat basin, where the swim exit was, the only thing I noticed was the smell of gasoline. A lot of boats + slow current = gasoline smell. Kinda gross but perhaps understandable.

By the time I neared the finish, my arms started to tire a bit. The current slowed, and each stroke took more effort. I started counting down the strokes to the finish, which helped. Then it was time to get out!

Swim time: 22:27

Best shot of the day?
I was prepared for the fact that the distance between the swim exit and transition was about a half mile run. I slowly jogged to my bike, and started the leg of the race I was most nervous about (Cue my serious, irrational fear that I was going to get a flat tire).

Transition 1 Time: 7:49

Once I got on my bike, I decided to just enjoy myself. I started out slow, and then picked it up to a sustainable effort. I caught up to Meggie, and by the best coincidence, we passed a set of photographers. 

The bike was my favorite part of the race. I had an ongoing passing game with a 70-year-old woman, tried with all my might to stay well-hydrated yet NOT drop my water bottles, and smiled the entire time (there is a hilarious set of photos of me trying to put my water bottle back in its cage. Is this also hard for other people? Please tell me I am not alone. Or maybe I am. Whatever).

The toughest part was figuring out what “race pace” was. I pushed it pretty hard on the hills, and then took it a bit easier during the last quarter of the course. I wanted to make sure I had some fuel left in me for the run.

By the time we got to the last turnaround, I didn’t want the bike to end. I can honestly say I never felt that way during training. I was always ready to be done. But this was a really cool course, with lots of racers around you to keep you going fast.

Bike time: 1:34:52

I dropped my bike in transition, threw on my running hat, and headed out for the last part of my first official triathlon.

Transition 2 Time: 1:34

The beginning of the run course is on 72nd street, lined with energetic spectators. I felt like I was going really slow, but hearing everyone yell “Go Team In Training!” made me pick it up a bit. Not to mention, I saw Keith, which always perks me up!

I turned to go into the Park, preparing for the beastly hills. My legs felt really, really heavy. I noticed before the start that my quads felt sore, I think from all the walking the day before. And I had to pee. I was off to a good start.

I reminded myself that this was my strongest part of the race. I’ve pushed through worse, and I should enjoy this as much as possible. When we got to the first hill, I noticed other people starting to walk. I decided that was not going to be me, and it fueled me to go faster.

NOT smiling because I am running up a hill.

Despite the heat and humidity, and my lead-filled legs, I felt really energized by the spectators. So many people had a connection with my purple TNT shirt, and their words of encouragement kept me going. The TNT coaches were lined throughout the park, yelling words of advice. Two coaches even ran with me, saying how strong I looked and that I was almost done. I’ve never felt such support during a race, and it made all the difference in the world.

I started my garmin later than where the run technically started, so while I had my mile times, I was mostly running on feel. I knew I was pushing myself because my mile times were faster than how incredibly fatigued I felt. I wanted to enjoy it, but I was seriously counting down the steps by the last two miles. I was tired and ready to finish.

The crowds started to get bigger, and I knew I was close to the finish. I tried to sprint it out, and work hard to the last second. I crossed that finish line, and was so happy!!!

Run Time: 53:09 (8:34 Pace)

Exhausted, but still throwing some peace signs.
As soon as I crossed the finish line, I was given a cold, wet towel for my neck, water, gatorade, and my choice of excellent post-race food. A wet towel will never mean more to me than it did at that moment.

Keith found me right away, and I was beyond happy to see him. After an immediate trip to the porta-potties, we browsed the finish line festival, and I stopped to get my official time…

WHICH WAS 2:59:49 !!!

I had a top secret goal time of beating 3 hours. I had heard from other TNTers that 3 hours was a threshold to beat. I crushed it with 11 seconds to spare.

Keith treated me to breakfast, and my exhausted body caught up with me. I was ready for a day of napping, eating, and watching Scandal. And Corona.

I have a lot more thoughts about this experience, both good and bad. But for now, I’ll let this recap stand on its own. What an amazing, fantastic day. I wish I could do it again.


  1. Hey Kate, wanted to email you but couldn't find one. Great recap, would love to include it on a new site dedicated to race recaps I'm starting. If you could email me that would be great!


  2. Congrats! Congrats! Congrats! What an accomplishment and I cannot tell you that the smiles on your photos certainly matched the smile I imagined when I talked to you that Sunday AM. You were so happy and it was great to hear.