Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Reflecting on my season so far. Part 2

One race in April, none in May, and one in June. Now it's July and I seem to be making up for lost time with races on three straight weekends. The 3rd of three was not originally planned upon, but I love the race, and couldn't bear the thought of not doing it. So this coming weekend I'll make my annual schlep to South Jersey to do this sprint. Maybe this year I won't get lost driving to the hotel.

Okay back to my recap of races done so far.

New York City Triathlon - July 10

I can find sprints in this area with no problem. They're a dime a dozen. Olympic distance is a whole different story. There are not many of them close by. I wanted to do another Oly before Nationals, so NYC became the race. The thought of swimming in the Hudson would have intimidated me a few years ago, but now it just seems like a cool thing to do. Last year I volunteered at the race. I hung out for the awards afterwards. When I heard the winning time I thought to myself, "Damn I can do that time in my sleep!" Also the winner was a woman that I raced against 3 times last season and beat by anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes. So I liked my chances in this years race.

I did have my anxious moments the week before with all the rain we had. Two years ago they had to make it into a duathlon because of high bacteria counts caused by all the rain. All I could think of was if I have to run an extra 5K I'm toast. With that mindset I didn't really taper right, and ended out doing a 45 mile bike ride the Thursday before the race. That was probably not a good thing to do, but it was all part of my "Nationals Rehearsal". *Note to self* "No 45 mile rides 3 days out from race."

The cool thing about this race is that the 45+ women are in the first wave. We get an uncluttered bike course, and the race clock time is really our time. On the other hand being in the first wave means making sure you have your shit together and being up at the swim start early. Many races I've been one of those people who gets booted out of transition right before the gun goes off for the first wave.

6:00 AM starts are brutal sleepwise but when else can you see the sun rise behind the George Washington Bridge? Also an early start like this means I'll be done before 9:00 AM and I'll miss the brutal heat of late morning. Some of the guys I know who were in those later waves complained about the heat.

I've lived in the NYC metro area since 1977. I never tire of the city skyline, the beautiful views of the Hudson, running in Central Park, and the energy that makes New York, New York. This is a race that lets one experience these things up close. I've driven up the Henry Hudson Parkway a million times, paid my toll, and crossed the bridge into the Bronx. In a car I don't have the time to appreciate the views. Riding a bike on these same roadways is very cool. Flaming through the tollbooth without having to stop is every driver's fantasy. "Damn, I forgot my E-ZPass!!!"

Easy passing was my modi operandi as I reeled in the fishies who had blown by me on the swim or the fleet of foot who ran past me on the long transition run from hell. Running over a 1/4 mile on concrete with bare feet sucks! I liked the bike ride, but the hills suprised me, and I didn't feel like I recovered well when I crested each hill. Maybe it was the 45 mile ride on Thursday, or maybe I didn't do enough hill work. Which ever it was I was a little disappointed in my 1:17:58 bike split.

I was happy to be in that first wave because for us the bike course was wide open. I watched the guys heading north as I was coming south. There was lots of yelling "On your left." and some newbie women who looked nervous with all these guys flaming up their butt, and past them. I've been in enough races where I've had the guys flaming up my butt, however training with roadies has made me used to the crowds.

Being in the first wave makes the run interesting. Running across 72nd St by myself was cool. I felt like hot stuff, but it didn't last long. At first there aren't a lot of people on the course. That changes as the youngsters come cruising by running their sub 7:30 minute miles. Then later comes the guys running their sub 6:30s. There I am "cranking out" my sub 8:30s. (barely, overall pace was 8:29). Unfortunately for me this run is 6.2 miles so when I get passed shortly before 5 miles by a 50 year old woman, I can kiss 1st in the age group goodbye. Losing the age group by 2 minutes is frustrating when I was off my usual 40K bike split by 3 minutes. Argh!!!!

2nd in my age group at NYC Triathlon sounds very impressive until one looks at the results closely and sees that there were only 8 women in the F50-54 age group. What's with that? Over 2000 people in this race and only 8 of them 50 year old women? The Pawling Triathlon with it's 450 finishers had 12 women in my age group. Maybe 50+ women are scared to swim in the Hudson. Who knows.

The good thing about doing this race is I got a chance to evaluate how things are going for me. Despite the disappointment in my bike split it was good rehearsal. I know I have to do some hill work in the next few weeks, and make sure I don't go crazy on the bike during race week. That will actually not be a problem since I'm visiting my sister for a few days before hand. I'll probably unpack the bike, and ride it around just to make sure it works.

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