Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New York City Triathlon

I don't even know where to begin. With the heat, or the jellyfish, or the lack of current in the Hudson. Okay, let's start at the beginning. The night before the race my team got hotel rooms at the Beacon Hotel on Broadway a couple of blocks from the transition zone. First off, I'm still trying to figure out who's brilliant idea it was to put hotel rooms along Broadway. Great location maybe, but not exactly quiet nor dark at any hour of the night. I know this because I laid awake staring at the ceiling (yes, I could see the ceiling with the lights off it was so bright in the room) and listening to the shouts and catcalls of club-goers and partiers. It may have quieted down around 2:00 am so by 4:00 am I'd at least snuck in a couple of hours of sleep.

We started our walk over to the transition zone at 4:30 am in a heat that was not much cooler than it'd been before the sun went down. I didn't really feel ready for this race like I'd been for Worlds, but I also was less anxious than I'd been during previous years. I was just going to have to go out there and run my race. I was looking forward to the fast course, but to my surprise I had to work harder on the swim that I anticipated.

While we sat on the floating dock on the Hudson River waiting to be told to hop into the water for the official race start, a jellyfish popped out from under the dock, got stuck on the start rope, and floated off ahead of us. Wait, what? Yes, I know. I looked at Kati and she confirmed that I wasn't seeing things. It was indeed a jellyfish and it turned out that there was definitely more than one in the water. Not long after that the race horn went off and after a few seconds of confusion about whether or not the race had actually started (normally we do an in water start, but we were still sitting on the dock when the horn sounded) I started the swim.

This was not one of my better swims. The usual Hudson current was practically non-existent and the water was surprisingly choppy for so early in the morning. My goggles filled up with water twice forcing me to stop and rearrange them. My swim cap even started to slide up over my ears, pulling my goggles off with it. I had to stop for a third time. All in all, I should be thrilled that I was fifth overall and the second female out of the water.

The race was supposed to get easier after that, but the heat and humidity failed to cooperate causing performance levels to suffer. All I can say is that I left everything I had on the course. I was tanked as I crossed the finish line and couldn't down enough water and Gatorade fast enough to replenish the stores I'd sweated out. Not my best race, but I am content with the title 2008 National Champion for my category of disability. Oh, and I got a large pewter plate. And the largest Tiffany and Co. box I'm sure I'll ever get in my entire life (see pic above).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Riding through Central Park

I don't normally arrive at a race early enough to ride any of the course, but it was different this time. I'm in New York today (3 days before the New York City Triathlon) with nothing that I have to do so I put my bike together early and went out to ride the run course in Central Park. My sister warned me that there is a specific direction that you're supposed to the run/bike/rollerblade around the Park and unfortunately it's in the opposite direction to our race day course. Nonetheless, I heeded her advice and proceeded counter-clockwise around the Park. I was expecting a nice easy ride through the park, but within seconds I realized that there would be nothing relaxing about my ride today. I was dodging bikes, runners, baby strollers, and rollerbladers that were all coming at me not to mention cars, which, according to one sign, weren't allowed in the park today anyway. But after 3 taxis passed me, it was obvious that the sign either didn't apply or the drivers didn't care. The most interesting object in my path that forced me to swerve quickly off course was a cute little turtle crossing the street. Another rider dodged on my left and we both looked back as we passed the brave (or stupid) little turtle who was slowly making his way across the pavement. He reminded me of the true nature of Central Park and the little oasis it represents in the middle of New York City; a small refuge of protection for many little animals. For the remainder of my ride I paid more attention to the nature on either side of the road and noticed everything else a little less. Nearly missed the ramp back to 72nd street too.