The NYRR Sprint Triathlon can be described in three ways: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This post has approximately 4,000 photos, so I’ll start with some spoilers.
The Good: I finished! (Sort of.)
The Bad: Unfortunately, there’s sort of a lot of bad, but I’ll start with the biggest things: I got a flat tire, and I don’t have official results.
The Ugly: I got really, really angry.
(Puppy photos make everything better, right? Even blurry puppy photos?)
My mom slept over last night so that she could watch my race, and this morning started with a 4am wakeup for us. “Are you sure you want to do this?” she asked.
“Yeah, I guess,” was my answer. I was incredibly nervous and dreading the heat.
I got up, put on my
jailbird Champion Chip anklet (it held the timing chip) and my club bracelet triathlon number bracelet and grabbed a Luna bar and a banana for the road. I took Bailey out for a 4:45am walk, and it was just me and the people pouring out of the Mexican restaurant/club on my corner.
My absolutely amazing friend Shannon picked us up at 4:55 (like the car service to the airport, she was there even before I asked her to be!) and we headed off to Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. It was the site of the 1939/1964 World’s Fairs, and it’s also home to Citi Field and the site of the U.S. Open. In other words, it’s a cool place.
And it was a gorgeous morning. (Good.)
Before I walked into the transition area, this kind gentleman wrote my bib number on both of my arms, and my age on my left calf.
(He wouldn’t let me lie to him. Bad?)
It couldn’t have been any later than 5:30 or 5:45 by the time we reached the transition area and I racked my bike. That early without coffee? Ugly.
Shannon and my mom, two of the best people in the world. (Good.)
Another Shannon! and me and Shannon (The triathlon-running Shannon had seen I was also doing this race and we quickly became e-mail buddies as we freaked out together.) (Good.)
The transition area filled up ridiculously quickly.
By a little after 6:45, they let us in to the aquatic center to line up for the swim. They had us line up by estimated time. To be honest, I had no idea what my estimated time was, so I just seeded myself smack in the middle of the pack. I swam strongly and passed some people, so, at best, I seeded myself too conservatively.
I’m not usually a stomach barer when not at the beach, but it was steamy in there, so I rolled my top up a bit. (Ugly ;))
Do you see the girl sort of in front of me to the left? Her name is Michelle, and she’d had quite a few tris under her belt, but was still afraid to jump into the water. We chatted most of the way from lining up until jumping in, and I encouraged her to go ahead of me and just get it over with.
Some people did dramatic, piked jump-ins. I eased myself in.
And pushed off!
I must not have taken two strokes before my timing anklet fell off in the water. I had to stop and the girl behind me grabbed it. (Bad. Very bad.) I swam with it in hand for one length of the pool before realizing how un-streamlined that would make my stroke. (Uuuugly.) I ended up stuffing it into my shirt, where it stayed for the duration of the race.
I actually really enjoyed the swim. They had us snake through eight 50-yard lanes in the pool, and I felt really, really strong the whole time. My mom and Shannon said that I looked really strong, too, and that I had great form until the last lane. That was when I decided to go balls to the wall, and just swim it out. (Ugly.)
As I said, I don’t have official results, but I felt like I was swimming fast for me, so I’m going to go with an awe:sm for my official swim time.
I ran out of the aquatic center to the transition area, dried my feet off, put on my Garmin, headband, helmet, socks and sneakers and took off on my bike.
The bike course was 13 miles, or 2 loops of the park. My goal was to keep my pace under a 4:30 mile (I know most cyclists go by MPH, but I rely on my Garmin and am too lazy to switch it back and forth), and I was! Some parts of the bike leg, I even saw my pace dip below 4:00, which made me really excited. I’d hoped to keep the 13-mile bike time under an hour…
…when I got a flat tire at 10.5. A few times when I’d been out on my bike before, I thought I’d had a flat tire. Let me tell you this: you know when you have a flat tire. All of a sudden, my bike just ground to a stop. I stared at it in shock when I realized what had happened.
And no, I didn’t have a bike repair kit. I’ve never bought one, because in Manhattan, you’re always within walking distance of a bike shop. And I assumed that I’d probably just muck things up more.
Well, guess what I’m buying really, really soon? (And probably should have bought in advance, I know.) A bike kit. I was totally and completely screwed out there. I walked back to the last course marshal I saw, told her what the situation was, and asked what she thought I should do. “I don’t know,” she said. “Walk it to the end?”
Every obscenity flew through my head. When I finally opened my mouth, though, all I said was “Really? There’s nothing you can do?”
After the race, Ashley asked if I thought the race was well-organized. I told her I thought it was fairly well-organized, and, on the surface, it was. There were plenty of volunteers, plenty of people telling you where to go, a course marshal probably every half mile or so. What this race was not prepared for, however, was things to go wrong.
I walked my bike probably about another half-mile or mile before finding a volunteer that told me that if I left the course and walked towards transition, I would find a bike repairperson. I must have passed 5-10 volunteers between where my bike broke down and transition. Each of them asked if I was okay, and it took everything in my power to not yell, “Yes!!!!!!! I’m *^*% fine. It’s my *^*%*^ bike that’s not.”
Instead, I said “Yup. I just have a flat tire. The bike repairperson is this way, right?” Not one person knew if there was, in fact, a bike repairperson that way.
I finally got to the end of the course and saw my mom, Shannon and Lacey, who had joined them. At this point, I was really trying not to cry. I was so incredibly frustrated. My mom saw me walking my bike and saw the upset look on my face and tried to come to my aid (nearly getting herself killed in the process.)
I went up to someone in a NYRR shirt, explained my situation, and asked where the bike repairperson was.
“Oh, he just left.”
“HE WHAT???? There’s still plenty of people out on the course.”
“Nope, he left. Some triathlons have biker assistance; some don’t.” (I took this to imply that this meant that having biker assistance at a triathlon is lucky. Whether it is usual or unusual, I have no idea. It was my first one. And really, all I cared about at that point was that there was nobody to help me and my bike.”
“Now what do I do?”
“I would just walk your bike over the mat and do the run.”
“Will I be disqualified? Will I still have an official time?”
“You’ll still have an official time, you’ll just have a long bike split.”
That I could handle. Fine. Off to run it was.
I was so upset at this point, that I racked my bike and went to take off for the run with my helmet and sunglasses still on. I also picked up the handlebars of my bike a few feet off the ground, and slammed them down. Letting a little aggression out felt really good. (Ugly. Sorry.) Lacey spotted my helmet, and ran over to me and grabbed it before I went off on my run.
Well, the bike may have been a MASSIVE FAIL, but I totally made up for it on the run.
Do you see how pissed I am? Well, it helped my run, because I ended up COMPLETELY CRUSHING my 5K pr, running the 5K portion in 24:33!!! (7:55 pace!) My previous 5K PR (I haven’t run many 5Ks) was 27:48, so I knocked more than three minutes off my PR, and achieved my long-time goal of a sub-25:00 5K.
Flat tire or not, I finished, and I was thrilled. (Good.)
I got a banana! (Good.)
That was my medal. There were no actual medals for this race. (Bad. Very bad. I’m totally making and ordering my own medal. A sprint tri deserves a medal.)
I just really love bananas, okay?
And sponge baths.
And toilets? We had no idea that we took this picture under the toilet sign. Oops.
I also love my friends and my mom for coming out to watch. (And Shannon for driving, and Lacey for hosting a Yay! Theodora Finished (Sort Of?) a Tri BBQ after.<– That will get its own post later. I’m lucky to have friends like you. And an awesome mom.)
Eff you, Bruiser. We’re not talking right now.
(Until I find my next sprint tri? I definitely need a redemption one.)
It’s funny: the things I worried most about–the heat, my stomach–didn’t bother me in the least. I only started feeling really hot towards the end of the run, but that also could have been the fury in my belly.
Either way, I’m a triathlete now. I think.