4:15AM - Multiple alarms go off (It never hurts to be sure when you are night owl getting up as early as you've been known to go to bed.) Thankfully my 2am headache is gone. I dress, fill my water bottles, make some tea and try to figure out how I'm going to get my bike, gear and tea out of my hotel room and downstairs.
4:45AM - I'm downstairs to meet my ride. Heartzones coach Marty has graciously agreed to take me and another pal, Caroline, to the site so that neither of us have to ride our bikes on a highway in the dark of night. Sadly, I have spilled my tea on the lovely marble floor next to the lobby elevator. I am mad. Hauling my gear plus my bike plus a cup of tea in and out of an elevator is difficult. It took me two tries just to get into the elevator before it shut the doors on me. The cup was flimsy and the cap didn't fit. ARGHH! This is going to be the Worst Tri Ever!!!
4:46AM - Ever serene and lovely Caroline convinces me to leave my in the lobby with her and go up and make another cup of tea. Marty isn't quite there yet and Caroline swears I have time. I go up, make another cup of tea and get down to the lobby in time to help load up the car with our gear and bikes. This will no longer be the Worst Tri Ever.
5:00AM - We're in the parking lot of the race site. It's dark and mysterious and almost no one is there. (It's always better to be early especially for big races where alot of women are looking to set up their tri gear.) Marty, Caroline and I air up the tires of mine and Caroline's bike. We also ride the bikes a bit in the parking lot. It's IMPERATIVE to give your bike a test ride and check the gears when it's been traveling. Bikes feel great and everything is in working order.
5:30AM - I make it to the transition area, find my assigned rack and park my bike in the best spot available. My rack is in a good spot in the middle so I'm pretty close to all of the entrances exits (swim exit, bike entrance/exit, run entrance). This will hopefully give me a jump on better transition times when can really eat into an athlete's overall time. I eat my Oikos yogurt with Honey. People slowly start to arrive. There is an air of excitement and nervousness and a little bit of anticipatory fear. I'm trying not to think about how little I've trained this year.
6:00AM - My transition area is set up. We triathletes are treated to a spectacular sun rise. I end up body-marking a good deal of the participants because I brought my own sharpies. Body-marking is literally marking your body with a big black marker. You have to write your race number on your arms so that the race personnel and photographers can identify you. It's really the only way to identify you in the water. I really like the body marking bit. Some races also encourage you to include your age on your calf. There's nothing like seeing someone in your age range just ahead of you to give you that extra burst of energy. I include my race number on both arms, my age on my calf and also different designs and slogans if I can figure out how to do it (writing on your own back is difficult).
6:50AM - Swim cap, racing chip and body marking is on. The swim portion of the Trek New York City triathlon is in the gorgeous Because we are in this facility I am able to do a few warm up laps in the smaller pool (which is really larger than most pools in the New York City area). We have a specific start time and the triathlon is running a bit late. I expected this as it's the first time the race has been in this location. I'm a little nervous but then I think of the fish in Finding Nemo. If I just keep swimming I'll eventually be at the end. Many of the swimmers are discussing the swim exit. The pool is at least 15 feet deep at all points so are choices are to heave ourselves up or swim an additional 2 or 3 meters to the ladder. I am certain I will be using the ladder. I didn't train for that sort of heave up exit so I'm not going to even mess with it. I'm a big fan of staying true to your race plan.
7:05AM - I am in the pool. I think my first lap is pretty good. I'm trying to think slow and graceful with extension of the body instead of just trying to go fast fast fast. Because I haven't trained that much it takes me a few laps to figure out how to push off correctly. Pushing off is one of the boons of doing a race in the pool and I love pushing off. I do a pretty good job of regulating my breath so I can hold it for quite a bit which allows me to glide pretty well on a really good push off. It takes me at least 3 laps to remember that you push off on your back. Ahh yes! As I'm swimming it's both disconcerting and intriguing to see the pool below me. It looks pretty deep at every point and the lines are pretty intricate. I see at least one Trek swim cap on the water below me. I love swimming because it's low impact and it gives your mind permission to wander to interesting places. It feels like I'm in the water for ever but then all of the sudden I'm in the last lap and I'm wondering if I somehow managed to skip one...
7:18AM (ish)- The swim to bike transition is awesome because it's no more than a few dozen meters. I'm in transition and certain that I'm taking too much time but I just can't help myself. I'm so prepared (at least organization-wise) that I'm convinced I've forgotten something. I double and triple check (helmet-check, bike shoes-check, sunglasses-check, water-check and already on the bike) so I'm off for the bike.
7:20-8:00 (ish) - The coarse is a flat multiple loop course. We have to circle the course 4 times. Knowing me as I do (virtually longer than anybody) I realize I am really likely to lose track of the number of times I've been on the course. I really don't want to go too few, but I really don't want to go too many either. Fortunately one of our Heartzones New York teammates, "M" came up with a solution; stick four bits of post-its on your handlebars and take one off for each loop you complete. I love this idea espeially since M has enough post-its to share with everybody. I've been doing triathlons on my trusty bike. I love this bike and can't imagine ever selling it but it's built for day-tripping and not racing. One day I dream of getting a bike. Sigh. One day. Until then I will love my hybrid bike and get as much as I can. It's a bit overcast and the third and fourth loop are not as easy as I would like for a 9 mile jaunt, but I try to let all that gloom pass and enjoy the ride. I drink almost both of my water bottles. I suspect I was dehydrated last night and that may have added a bit to my sluggishness.
8:05-8:50 AM (ish) - I finish the bike and make way for the run. The run is typically my least favorite of the three. I've never been a good runner. I remember feeling like I was going to die every Wednesday in 7th grade when Coach Carroll used to make us run a mile. It was slow and painful. I know people (including probably the coach) thought it was because I was fat. It turns out it was because I had asthma. I wonder if I would have had a better attitude about sports and fitness if my asthma had been diagnosed earlier? Now that I've managed my "mild persistent asthma" for decades I don't mind running so much. I actually feel the release of the endorphins and get a kick out of it. Now, ironically, I hate running because I'm fat. Hauling this weight around really takes its toll.
I would really like to finish this run with a decent time. I also want to stay true to my race plan. I'm committed to staying at the top of my Zone 3/ bottom of my Zone 4 for the entirety of the race. So that means my time might suffer as I've not trained so much. I do find that while I hit my top number (middle of Zone 4) pretty quickly I also recover pretty quickly. This means I run for a bit slow down for a bit, run for a bit, slow down for a bit and so on and so on. I'm also convinced that the water stations aren't every mile as promised but further away with the final "mile" being really short but the first mile being really long. Maybe it's just me.
The weather has turned and is absolutely gorgeous. The run course is a series of twists and turns in picturesque Eisenhower Park. It's a good day to do a triathlon.
9:00AM (ish) - The Finish Line! Triathlon # 6 is in the history books for me. And the jewelry is lovely. (I'll try to post a pic of my newest medal soon.) It's a gorgeous day and I'm heartened to know I can do something like this with little training.
The finish line is a really cool place to hang out as well. There's food and water and the sponsors who sponsor the tri are also there to cheer on our victories. Now we wait for the Final Finisher. In a Sally Edwards supported triathlon, the Final Finisher is the most exulted. She's the one that likely had the most difficult race, the toughest hills to climb. I'm proud to share that this year's Final Finisher is part of our team. I'm even prouder to share our entire team went out to finish the race with her.