Thursday, September 15, 2005

A stroll down memory lane. 21 years of the Westchester Triathlon

Next on my schedule is the Westchester Triathlon. That race is a little over a week away. This race is practically in my backyard. This will be the 16th year I've done this race. This is the 21st running of the race. It's nice to be part of a race that has gone on for that many years. I actually did numbers 2 through 14 in a row. Number 14 was the first year they changed it from sprint to Olympic, and I was doing it as a relay. I was having shoulder surgery a week after the race so swimming was out of the question. I wanted to keep my streak intact so doing the relay was my compromise. As it turned out the streak would come to an end the following season anyway. I wouldn't make it back to the race until 2003.

Through out the years I've done this particular race my age group results have always been good. There were a few times that I didn't podium, including the year I broke my PR on the sprint course and placed Top 10 female OA. Unfortunately for me a good portion of those women in the Top 10 were also in my age group. That was back in my "youth" when I was part of a very competitive 35-39 age group. That was also back in the days of BTC. (before timing chips) We would wait around forever it seemed while they tried to sort it all out, and half the time they still managed to mess it up. You never really knew where you finished, and you didn't know whether you were getting an award until you heard the 3rd place time in your age group. Sometimes the awards ceramony didn't start until 2 hours after the last person finished. I don't miss those days!!

The other interesting thing about BTC days was the number of volunteers that were needed to track splits. The Westchester Triathlon was one of the few races I did back then that actually did all 5 splits. Most races I did combined transitions with either the swim and the bike, or bike and the run. (Come to think of it, some races still don't do all 5 splits, even with chips.) Some races did no splits what so ever. I did the 1989 National Sprint Championships and there were no splits. That's too bad. I'd love to see what Lance's bike split was in that race. (Yes, that Lance! 17 years old at the time and smacked all the pros in that race.)

Back then body marking was the way for volunteers to record the numbers of all the athletes as they came out of the water. If you were one of those rare people who used a wetsuit BTC you would have to tell the volunteers your number. I was amazed that they actually managed to get every athlete's number, and that the splits actually made sense.

The other interesting thing about this race is thinking about how much my equipment has changed over the years. Here's a picture of me with the bike from that first Westchester in 1984. Notice the old style Bell Helmet, and I'm actually wearing the race shirt from the event too. It's hard to see the bike completely, but it was an Austro-Daimler mixte frame. (girl's bike with sloped down tube.) I don't remember if I had the handlebar bag on during the race or not!

By the next year I was riding a road bike and as the years went by; my bikes got lighter, and more expensive. It seemed like for awhile every time I got a bike the price doubled. The other thing that happened as my bikes got more expensive was my bike splits got faster. Let's fast forward 21 years and look at my current setup. This picture was taken at Timberman, but this is what I'll be riding. Carbon fiber bike, Zipp 404s, time trial helmet, aero-bars with bar end shifters, aero bottle, etc. Ahhhh how things have changed in 21 years. Though as I look at these two pictures side by side, I think I've aged quite nicely. I like my legs much better at 51 then I did at 30. Thank you very much!

2003 was my first time doing the entire race in the Olympic distance format. I had gotten so stoked by my return to Olympic distance racing with Team in Training at 2003 Saint Anthony's, I decided I'd do another Olympic distance event with them. The Westchester Triathlon is our local TNT Chapter's race. Last year for the first time we actually had other TNT Chapters come for the race, so there was a lot more purple. This year there will be even more purple as we have 6 different chapters participating.

In 2003 I came in 3rd in the 45-49 age group. I got passed on the run first by my long time rival and current massage therapist; Lisa, and then by an unknown ringer from New Jersey. Last year Lisa and Linda did not do the race, and I had aged up. I smoked the 50-54 age group, and beat the other Polly in the race by 8 minutes. Polly is an unusual name these days. So what's the chance that there are going to be two of them in the same race, and finishing 1,2 in the same age group? She didn't stay for the awrds ceramony so I didn't even get to meet the other tri-ing Polly.

Lisa and Linda aren't do the race this year either so I figured I had a decent chance of defending my title. That was until I got talking to one of my bike club teammates who told me about Amy. She's a pretty strong cyclist, excellent runner, but not such a great swimmer. So my challenge will be to totally beat her on the swim, increase my lead on the bike, and then run like hell and hope to hold her off.

A terrific plan until I looked at the entry list, and spotted a ringer from Florida who is coming to do the race. I recognized the name as one of the top ranked women in the nation in the 50-54 age group. Damn what's she doing coming up to do "my race"? My guess is she wants the Alcatraz qualifying spot that age group winners are entitled to. She did a 2:29 at Memphis in May. Her swim time seemed rather average, but she had a smoking fast bike split, and a decent run. I guess I can hope that since she's a flatlander from Florida, that she sucks at hills, and that I can beat her on the hills.

I really shouldn't be making myself crazy over this race since it's supposed to be a tune up for the World Championships two weeks later. But as last week demonstrated I can't be totally casual about a race. Besides I want to put on a good show for my Team in Training mentees. :-)

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