I was really pumped for this race. I had my new wetsuit and actually had tried it on in my backyard pool..having the wife and kids laughing wasn’t helpful, but was worth it….I’ll spare you the pictures on this. I had my anti-fog goggles ready and was actually going to swim while having visibility, unlike the last triathlon. I had gone out to Oyster Bay and practiced the bike course 3 times. I had bought halogen lights and was biking there at 5AM. My knee was finally not hurting and had done a couple of runs with no problem. I even started biking and running sans socks and had practiced dismounting and running with the bike.
I was ready for this race! Swim-Bike-Run. I was ready for transitions. I was aiming for under 1hr 30mins, but to myself I thought I could even do 1hr 20mins. I had even achieved my fastest bike time on this course. I was ready to kick ass!
It’s interesting how reality will smack you around, play with you and smash you like a rag doll and basically beat your confidence and cockiness down to a level where you are just happy all you got is tons of bruises. I have already learned this lesson from life, reality…WTF? I don’t need this from you!!
This triathlon taught me a lot. The major lesson learned was: Don’t hit trees
My heat was scheduled to start at 8:00 AM EST. My wife was working all day at the hospital, so my in-laws were watching the kids. My goal was to finish by 9:30 AM, then pick up my kids at my in-laws and then take them to a birthday party. I was so confident, I was going to bring all three kids, including the baby, to the party. The party was at 12:00 PM, so I may have time to take a shower. 35 minutes to Oyster bay, 35 minutes back home, 15 minutes to my in-laws, 45 minutes to the birthday party.
The night before, I had everything ready (last time, I forgot my second pair of goggles and my HELMET!). I couldn’t find my tri-top, so I had to use a second one, which was kind of tight. I spent about an hour stretching it out and left it with a chair inside overnight so it will be really stretched out. It fit fine the next morning :).
I have been to that area of Long Island many times, and had gone to the course 4 times (3 to bike, first one I drove around, realized I needed some halogen lights). For those of you that have gone to triathlons, you will see tons of cars with bikes strapped to them going the same way. Basically no other traffic. My race started then. “Get used to it, biotch!” I would say to myself as I passed people. I know..very childish. I knew it myself and was actually laughing, similar to Wallace Shawn in the princess bride just before his character, Vizzini, dies from the iocane powder. A hard, forced, face turning red, evil master mind kind of laugh. “Get used to it biotches!”. You think I was a kid, not some guy married for 10 years with 3 kids, one more on the way…Anyway, I get there, 6:30 AM EST, plenty of time to setup, get my number and chip and warm up on the bike and the water. Also, get someone to help me with zipping up the wetsuit.
My wave started right at 8:00 AM EST. I stayed towards the back and let the crowd move forward. The first half felt kind of slow, lots of people around me. Swallowing salt water is different than the lake water from the last tri. I kept on telling myself that once I get to the bike, I’ll get some fluids. I got to the halfway mark around 14:00. This was a LOT slower than the NJ triathlon..I was about two minutes slower at the 500 meter mark. My wetsuit’s velcro was off by a bit and it started scratching my neck…by the time I finished, most of the left side of my neck was raw. Anyway, the second half, i started going a lot faster.. I knew that I could pass most people and had lots of energy. I started freestyling, not concerned about where I was going. 6 minutes in, a lifeguard tells me that I was off-course. So much for that strategy :). I saw a guy struggling. “You are doing great” I said. “All downhill from here”. I told him that he was almost finished, which he was. I caught up to a lot of people from the wave in front of me and about half of my wave was still behind me. I got out of the water at 25:25 officially, although my watch told me 23 mins, which meant the second half was 10-11 minutes. Very good so far.
Lesson for next time: Make sure the suit is on tight, feel for the velcro on your neck. Go faster, I conserved too much energy here.
Last time, I had a hell of a time taking off my swim cap. This time, no problem. Taking off the wetsuit was harder. I passed a lot of people, but then I couldn’t figure out where my bike was! I had to run to the other side of the transition area and go from there since this is how I got in. The rows weren’t marked right, imo, so from the left side of the area, you had no idea what was on the far right. Anyway, took of my wetsuit, put some anti-chafing cream on my feet, put on helmet, sunglasses, shoes and took off. Time 4:45. Could be better
Lesson: practice taking of the wetsuit more.
This is where I was going to make up most of the ground I lost in the swim. Although I did better in the swim compared to last race, I knew I took it easy. Not with the bike. I was going to kill it here. One person, a shirtless guy on a mountain bike, passed about 8 people right in the park area…I was drinking and eating a gel, pedaling easy w/o hands on the handle bars when he almost forced me to crash. (I should have seen the foreshadowing here). I made a mental note to catch this guy. Once we hit the road, outside the park, I started going. I knew this course…I passed about 6 people in the first few roads…2 just on the first turn…I was pacing myself, knowing that I can catch people on the hills and downhills. Moore’s hill Road was the first test. Moore’s hill Road is a small, but very steep hill. Right away, I saw 4 people off their bike that were walking up the hill. I was doing my best, back and forth standing and sitting. 3 people passed me here..I made a mental note about those guys…4 people I had to catch now :). At the end of the Hill, I took another drink and started coasting. The course turned in an area where I didn’t practice. This meant that a steep descent and hard climb was avoided. Good for me. Got into the Northern State and started climbing this hill. Again, feeling good, passing people, no one passing me. I saw some people struggling…I kept on talking to people “You can do it.”. “Big downhill coming.” “Almost there”. I sincerely meant it. I know it helps me when people talk to me. Now the downhill. I got into my aero position and started pedaling. I was mentally thinking of great cyclists. Armtrong, Lemond, Indurain, and, of course, Herrera and Parra. I passed about 30 people here. My computer said I was doing about 40mph! Once I reviewed this at home, I was doing over 35mph for about 4 minutes, topping at 40.5mph for 30secs. I passed the three guys that passed me on Moore’s hill and finally saw the shirtless guy on the mountain bike going up the next hill. I knew I had this guy. This hill was the last hill and then 2.5 miles of downhill. I felt great, had lots of energy, just a little fatigue on my thighs, but nothing major. Again, passing people on the last hill, no one passing me. “Last hill”. “Over this hump and all downhill”, I said. “Are you sure?” asked this girl. “Positive”, I said. “I trained here”. Highlight of the race for me at this point…
I turned on BerryHill Road. A little plateau and then the downhill. Shirtless guy was just ahead of me. Damn, this guy is good! on a mountain bike! (I have a trek 1000..road bike that I modded with aerobars) I let go of my handle bar, took a drink with one hand, gel with the other. Last one before the big downhill. I lose control…had just enough time to unclip one pedal before I go right into a tree. No hands, no breaks. Computer told me at home I was going about 14mph at this point. My thighs wrapped around the tree. I layed in the side road, seeing stars, thighs burning. One guy stopped. “Oh my God! Are you OK? Looks like you just lost it there”. Another guy stopped. “Stay still. I’ll get an ambulance”. I say I’m OK and wave them through. I tried to get up..lots of pain…holding on to the tree. My aerobars are bent. My wheel is bent and my stem/fork is 45 degrees off the handlebars. My waterbottle is still in my hand. My water cages are behind my saddle..one is completely bent. “Are you ok?”. I’m glad so many people are genuinely concerned. “I’m fine, thank you”. Same girl from before. Not too much time has passed, I tell myself. I take my tool out and start taking the stem/fork apart enough to straighten it. I take my first aid kit out and then put it back in. I decided not to look at my thighs. The pain is telling me that it’s not worth looking at this point. I try as hard as I can to straighten the wheel. Putting the wheel between my thighs was not a good idea. I put the waterbottle back on the broken cage. I have a few options at this point:
1) Be a wuss and quit
2) Be a man and quit
3) Be rational and quit
Somehow, all I thought about was..Where is that guy with the mountain bike?. I get on the bike, of course the chain was off, so I had to get back off. Finally, I start again. I start the downhill. My left break is not working now…my front wheel is shimming back and forth. Aerobars are too bent and I don’t trust using them, so I hold on to the drops, if only to ride the rear break. I started passing some people and kind of pedal a bit hard on the downhill, but not full out. I know the bike was unstable. My speed sensor and my cadence sensor stopped responding. I’m sure it was just not aligned, but that was the least of my worries.
I ended the bike at 37:38. According to my watch, I had lost about 8 minutes due to the crash and, of course, a few more on the downhill and turns.
Lesson: Stop letting go of the handlebars. Don’t hit trees.
Update: I found the picture of the shirtless guy on a mountain bike. It wasn’t a mountain bike..it was a tribike. Made me feel a little better.
All I kept on saying to myself was how stupid I was. While I have been riding sans hands since I was like 12 (which means 22 yrs of experience :))…I shouldn’t have done it at that point. I should have dropped the bottle and hit the breaks…could have, should have…cest la vie…I was going through the motions here, took my bike shoes off, put my running sneakers on, took off my helmet, grabbed race belt and stretched. Started running. Time: 1:59. 1;59? What? that’s great! how did that happen?
Lesson: Do everything exactly the same way.
The run was painful. Thighs were burning….I knew I had lots of energy left. I wasn’t hurting like in NJ and knew I could have kept my 8 min or so target pace. Not now…the hills were tough (Although, nothing like the hills in Binghamton during track season). I walked and jogged. About 80 people passed me. My thighs were throbbing (literally..I put my hands there and felt them..weird..it wasn’t muscle spasms) I saw the best & worst of Oyster Bay here. First, this crazy lady was speeding her car through the run course! people were yelling for police! She was zigzagging through people. “Stop her!” someone yelled at me. “How?” I thought to myself. I just turned around and yelled “Watch out. Car!” to the people behind me. After this, many people were out in their front yard encouraging people. One guy had his hose and was watering people as they ran by. Many people that finished were already back and were cheering people on. Total time: 32:26.
Lesson: You can run with pain…3 miles go by quick if there are crazies around.
Final time: 1:42:10. I’m not going to calculate lost time…I can, however, know how much repairs are: $140.00. Mental note: Buy wheels on the cheap online at the end of the season and save them for next year.
I looked at my watch again. 9:43 AM EST. I run (or shimmy, more like it) over to the racer’s tent. I get two bananas, two waters and go. I call my in-laws, tell them I’m finished, I’m fine and I’m on my way. I go back into the transition area, get my things. So much pain right now…Finally get on the road..head home…take a shower..change quick. I put on some shorts, use my TOBAY t-shirt and go. Get to my in-laws at 11:30 AM EST. Party is at noon. I’m in Queens, I need to get to Suffolk county, north shore.
Somehow, I make it there at 12:10 PM. Not bad, I think. Lots of pain. The birthday party is an inflatable obstacle course! Great for the kids. Bad for daddy. Christopher (8) and Liliana (5) are self-sufficient. Johnathan (15 months) isn’t. He thinks he is a big kid, so he goes on all the inflatables, daddy behind him.
I’m diving, pushing, climbing…all with the bruised thighs…now I get skin burns from skidding on this equipment. Lili and Chris decide to challenge daddy to a race. They felt bad that daddy didn’t win (try explaining to little kids that coming in 850th place is not bad) and want to see how they can make daddy win. Lili thinks she is my trainer now, so she keeps on telling anyone that would listen that daddy needs to give up Dunkin Donuts. This is why I lost, she says. Overall, I had fun. Both at the race and at the party. My body, however, is still complaining, 3 days later. My thighs are completely purple at this point. Borat: Very nice!
Next Triathlon: Town of Hempstead, September 6th.
PS: Lili legitimately beat me 3 out of 4 times. Chris beat me once. JonJon tied me 😉