If you are following on Twitter and Facebook, then you have seen the posts regarding certain developments that have taken place. I didn’t want anything to sully my race reporting because it was really a fantastic race, so I held off a bit so I could cool my jets. More on those developments later, but first let me bring you through race day.
I woke up early, groggy and already making note that I really need to be more responsible when it comes to race prep. I didn’t really gain a lot of good sleep over the last two nights with all the excitement of seeing my friends and being in my favorite city.
My normal ritual took place; fuel up, double-check my race bags, dawn my tri kit, apply the race tats, and head on down to transition. Even though it was still dark at 5:15am, it was warm with just a slight breeze coming off the Hudson. As I mentioned in my recent post, the only bags allowed into transition were these drawstring plastic bags, but my regular transition bag was allowed, empty and inside the transparent ones. I kept thinking about carrying them to transition and then, of course later, out of transition, I put the plastic ones in my personal transition backpack on the way to transition and when I arrived I removed them and dropped my backpack in the plastic bags until after the race. This later turned out to be a smart move.
Transition was already crowded with athletes all jazzed up for the race. I was lucky to have the end of the row so I had plenty of room for my gear. Commercial, outside lights on generators, gave us plenty of illumination to set up our own transition areas. I have been getting better and better about my transition area and only bringing in what is needed and not what I think I may need, therefore making my setup easier and faster. I have yet to leave anything behind that is actually needed. (Knock on wood.) After making sure that everything was ready to go, I knew I still had a mile or so to walk to get to the start, and it was getting warmer. Donning my wet suit at this point whether I put it on halfway or not would be a mistake so I through it over my shoulder and started walking up the path to the swim start which was around 110th St and the West Side Highway.
It was nice to start seeing the sunrise and chit-chat with some athletes both experienced and not. I do not really like to mention that I have completed an Ironman, but it does come up sometimes. I was reminded on this occasion why I don’t. Upon completing an Ironman distance triathlon, there is a level of expertise and speed assumed. These assumptions occur only from those who have not completed one, because those that have, understand that it can be just as slow as any other distance. I, of course, fall into that slow category. I met a newer triathlete whom was competing in her first Olympic triathlon whom automatically assumed I was a pro because I finished an IM. Even though I gave her the whole scoop of finishing pretty slow, I believe she thought I was being modest, but it met for good conversation. We parted at the corrals at the swim start while she met up with her friends and I stepped off to take off my shoes, drop them into the clothing bag provided, which was taken one of 10 trucks to be available at the finish. I halfway, put my wet suit on and headed into my corral.
The start was a time trial start which was actually pretty nice. They lined about thirty of us up on the edge of a pier and every twenty seconds would send us off. It kept the waves from bunching up during the swim. When it was my turn, with the butterflies in my stomach, I stepped forward like I was about to walk the plank, and waited for the count down. I heard the beep of my timing chip hit the timing mat, the announcer counting from ten and at one I stepped off into the 75 degree filth..uh…I mean water, of the Hudson River.
By now you must know, that of the three events I am not as fond of the swim as I am of the bike and run, but this one wasn’t so bad. Why? The NYC Tri, is definitely a non-swimmers triathlon. The current was incredibly fast. It made the Augusta Ironman 70.3 seem like there was no current at all. I surmise that if I would have just put my arms and floated I could have made it through the whole 1500 meters in around 35-40 minutes. Instead, I decided to swim a little and I made it in 22 minutes. WooHoo! Swim PR for me.
T-1 was around 800 meters from the swim finish so I ran and was feeling pretty good, until I stopped paying attention and ran into the bike out and had to get detoured around the outside of transition. What a goofball. I guess that goes without saying. Anyway, between that and struggling to get my wet suit off, I just about ate up the time I gained on the swim.
One thing the previous day’s race briefing was adamant about was to leave the bike in a higher gear in transition because of a sizable incline at the very start of the bike and this they were not kidding about. I must have passed six or seven people on that hill and I am from Florida. I don’t even know what a hill looks like. I did find out though.
The bike course starts at 79th st and runs up the West Side Highway into the Bronx to the George Washington Bridge and then turns around and comes back south to 57th street where it then does another U-turn and heads back to transition. Pete had mentioned it was a little hilly, but I thought I would be ok with the training rides we had completed in San Antonio. Well, no such luck. It was not that the hills were steep, they weren’t that bad, but they were long. That is where I came into trouble. I was averaging a pretty good pace going up to the Bronx until we started this amazing decline. I was coasting at 30+ mph for what seemed like forever. At first I was thinking, “this is great. I can make up some time.”, but the more I kept going without pedaling I realized, I was going to have to actually pedal back up that monster. What didn’t help was the fact that there were a few hills on the way to the GW Bridge and then I was going to have to turn around and go up that monster. When I did, I lost all momentum and literally was in a crawl on the way up and when I did finally make it, I was exhausted so I couldn’t get my speed up for a few miles. It sounds negative, but it was kind of fun.
When I arrived in T-2, I had recovered from that monster hill and was moving pretty good. I made it out of transition as expected and ran across Manhattan into Central Park. What a fun run course! It was full of spectators cheering like crazy, plenty of aid stations and volunteers. It had some shade since the temperature had increased into the mid 80’s, so I could feel a nice difference and pick-me-up when I dumped water over my head.
As of yet I didn’t mention that I debuted my new IronGoof Tri Kit at this race. While I didn’t hear anyone mention anything on the walk to the swim, or on the bike (probably because I was just a blur….LOL), on the run it seemed like everyone was noticing my logo. Ever few spectators and/or volunteers I passed someone would yell “Go Goof!” or “You got this Iron Goof!” It was really amazing. I did hear a couple of people laugh, snickering “Iron…..Goo….Goof? Is that what it said? IronGoof?” Whether or not they remember the website afterward, doesn’t really matter, but it was nice to hear and was very amusing and motivating.
Overall the run was tough, but again a lot of fun. I ran into the finish shoot feeling drained, but exhilarated. They handed me the medal, a pair of Aquaphor flip-flops, a towel and some water all the while moving us to the finish activities. I was excited to have completed it, but there was something missing. Even though I had met some very interesting people during the experience, they had their own support crew there. I didn’t really have anyone. Sure, I had people come up to me while I walked around asking how I did, and what the story behind the Iron Goof, but on the whole there was no one there to share it with. It made me remember one of the best things about completing these challenges. It’s the bonds we share in training and in competition. While it was fun, it was also a little depressing. I like the feeling of sharing my experiences with my friends. I like heading to the finish line afterwards and waiting on others to finish and cheering them on. Heck, I even enjoy being a spectathlete and being at a race just to cheer others on. I am not saying that I won’t do another race without having friends there, but it sure does make the experience more enjoyable.
I had a limited amount of time after I finished because I was flying out that night. I couldn’t retrieve my bike and gear from transition for almost two hours, so I received a foot massage, tried some “healthy” ice cream called Eatenlightened, which was awesome by the way, and headed back to the hotel to shower and pack before retrieving my bike. It was perfect that Hotel Belleclaire was positioned equidistant from the finish line and transition. When I compete in this triathlon again, I hope have a return stay there as well.
After a long shower and packing up my suitcase, I headed over to transition and grabbed my bike and gear. As, I watched the majority of competitors try to balance their plastic bag on their bikes while going up the hill to their cars and cabs, I was comfortably riding my bike with my transition bag on my back. I was very happy I figured that out early. After the short ride back to the hotel, I pulled out the bike stem, dropped the aero bars, and took off the front wheel. I then packed the bike back in the box, secured the bike stem and saddle to the box, packed and secured the race wheels, taped the box back up, and secured the FedEx slip to the top. My bike and I were ready to head home.
I called FedEx to give them the info for the pick-up, notified the front desk (whom were more than accommodating to make sure that it would get where it needed to go), and hailed a cab home. From there on out it was uneventful. Monday afternoon I checked my tracking number online and saw that my bike had been picked up from the hotel as expected. I logged on and checked again the next day where the tracking info stated it had left the FedEx Brooklyn location. It wasn’t until Wednesday when I loaded up the website that I noticed something peculiar. The tracking had stopped. I expected to see another scan somewhere between Brooklyn and Tampa but there wasn’t, but it did state it was expected to be at my home on Thursday. When it didn’t show up I started to get a little concerned, therefore on Friday I called and had a trace put on it. Monday when I called back, due to the fact I had not received the promised communication, I was told that it was nowhere to be found but they were looking. I was dumbfounded. I had no idea how a package that big could get lost.
To make a long story short. It still has not been found, and due to a weird typo in the declared value versus insurance purchased fields in the online form, FedEx is fighting paying me the amount needed to purchase another bike. At this point Misty is gone. I will continue to converse with FedEx in the hopes they either find her or they reimburse me, but at this point I have no idea what is going to happen.
It is too bad something like that has to dampen a great experience. I would highly recommend the New York City Triathlon to anyone to include first-timers. It was a fantastic course, that was well supported by the public and the corporate vendors. I would just take your bike with you.