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Monday, July 20, 2015

NYC Tri- How to Lose a Race in 20 Seconds

The NYC triathlon is one of the most iconic triathlons in the USA and attracts 4000 competitors every year. On Friday I drove down to the city that never sleeps and was graciously allowed to stay at the apartment of Erik Reitinger.


The race starts at 5:50am which meant getting up at 3am and driving from Brooklyn to the race site (even at that time of morning there is traffic). Because we had to carry our transition and post-race stuff with us in the clear plastic bags provided, I soft-pedalled the mile to transition, and that was my bike warm-up. Even without carrying the stuff I don’t think I could have done a bike warm-up though, as it’s NYC and there is literally nowhere to ride. I did a short run warm-up, and swim warm-ups were not allowed. So at 5:45am I was as ready as I could be, but left much to be desired.


I’m sure we’ve all heard “you can’t win the race on the swim, but you can lose it.” I always thought this really referred to going out way too hard and then not being able to bike and run well. However, I found there is another way to do it too. The swim is a straight shot down the Hudson River, swimming with the current. This allows for very fast swim times, but you have to know how to play the game. We were lined up based on our bib numbers, and since I had a higher number I was on the left side (close to the side of the river). I didn’t think this would be an issue as presumably everyone would swim straight forward. Key words, I didn’t think. The gun went off, we dove in- my goggles didn’t come off (yay!) I do a couple dolphin kicks and come up to the surface. WHAM! Someone punches me in the back of the head. They didn’t stop there as they kept hitting me. I tried to move over to the right to get away, but then the person on that side was repeatedly trying to grab my shoulder and pull me back. So I’m being attacked from both sides, and although this would in the past have left me in extreme panic mode, my only thought was WTF! 

I extricated myself from the situation by jumping over to the left side of the person who seemed to want to beat me to death. By this time however, a lead group had already formed and created a gap, which I was in no way able to close. I ended up swimming solo and made the mistake of not moving over to the right side (towards the middle of the river) where the current was strongest. It’s a big river, and this would have made a huge difference to my swim time, but as it was, I came out of the water 2+ minutes behind those in front of me.

It’s a good thing we don’t really need skin on the bottom of our feet as it was a 600m run on asphalt from the swim exit to transition. Ouch.


If I had been able to get out of the water with those ahead of me, this would unequivocally been a very different race. Those in front of me were in small groups, and this not only offers a mental advantage, but due to the stagger rule used in the U.S. there is a small but significant drafting effect that occurs when riding with others. Alas, I was in no-man’s-land, so rode solo the whole way. I didn’t pass anyone and no-one passed me.


The run course went through Central Park, which was pretty cool, and offered a fairly challenging route of large rolling hills. Although I wasn’t exactly blazingly fast on the run, this is the first time this year that I wasn’t slowing down significantly on the uphills. I didn’t have the extra gear to go faster, but I feel I probably could have done another 5-10km at that pace. Again, I was in no-man’s-land and did not catch anyone or get caught.

So while not the result I was looking for, I learned a lot at this race and it will only make me better in the future. Thanks to everyone who is supporting me:    NineteenLouis GarneauBlade Carbon Wheels,SkechersC3MultisportCanada, and Kristen Pawlick from Wishbone Athletics.

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