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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Westchester Triathlon

I had a very difficult training week leading up to today’s Westchester Triathlon (WT). Actually, it is hard to say it was difficult, since I hardly did any training at all. I had a slow Active Recovery run on Monday and a mellow bike ride on Tuesday, but on Wednesday I completely fell apart. I started out to run 6 miles, but barely made it a half mile, before I turned around and went home. My legs were slow, dull and achy.

I took off Thursday and Friday. On Saturday I rode 10 miles followed by a 2 mile run just to make sure I still knew how to do both. I felt completely rusty and unprepared for the Westchester Triathlon. Several times during the week, I dreamt that I was walking to the swim start and realized I didn’t have my goggles. As I started back to my car to get them, I also realized that I didn’t have my bike or my sneakers. Leading up to this race, I felt unprepared on both the conscience and subconscious levels.

The WT is the first official Olympic distance triathlon that I have done. My only previous attempt at this distance was the 2003 NYC Triathlon, which was turned into a Duathlon due to polluted water. Since the distance is much shorter than I am accustomed, so I decided to go as fast as I could for the duration of the race.

The swim was a dry start. I found this inconvenient, because it didn’t allow me to piss in the water while waiting for the gun to go off. Since I was already a bit chilly, I decided to pee in my wetsuit despite standing on the beach. The warmth of it being transferred into my legs as it traveled down to my ankles struck me as the ultimate application of the Conservation of Energy Theory.

Other than swimming about 30 yards earlier in the morning, the start of the race would be the first time I swam in over 3 weeks. Fortunately, I remembered how to crawl and felt good once I got underway. I am sure I didn’t swim in the straightest of lines to the turnaround buoy, but it seemed as though I arrived to it soon enough. The turnaround was the furthest point from shore. The water at this location had a substantial amount of chop. This race is a very popular Team in Training race and a lot of first timers do it. When I hit the chop, I could imagine a fair amount of these first timers developing a case of anxiety.

Heading back to shore, it seemed I kept veering off course. Eventually, I got onto someone’s toes and settled into a smooth steady stroke back to the beach. I just started to get into a good rhythm when the swim portion was over. My approximate time in the water for the .9 mile swim was 17:30.

Unfortunately, when I exited the water, I noticed that my HR monitor was no longer picking up my HR. I had to stop and reset my watch, which meant that I would not have a personal measurement for my race duration.

The bike started easy enough and I quickly got up to pace. I maintained a 91% average heart rate throughout the bike and passed many other riders. I think for the entire 24 miles, I may have only been passed by two other athletes. The first twelve miles of the ride saw you ascend several inclines. The second half was a gradual decline back to the Transition area.

During the return to Transition, I spent large portions of time where I didn’t see any other riders. This was disconcerting as I began to think I was heading in the wrong direction. This feeling reached a peak when I saw a rider headed in the opposite direction of me. I thought for sure he was another racer who had to turn around because he went the wrong way. I resisted the urge to slow down or turn around and soon enough I saw some course markings. I finally caught up to another bunch of riders as I got within a mile of transition.

I didn’t know how I would do on the run. I feared that my legs would break down within the first 5K. When I started out my HR was high, but my pace felt slow. I didn’t see the 1 mile marker, so I had no idea how I was doing until mile 2. Surprisingly, I was running sub 8’s and my legs were beginning to settle into a comfortable stride. I survived in good form past the first 3 miles and managed to pick up some speed as I approached mile 4.

It was at this point that I heard someone coming up from behind me. I decided to try to make it difficult for him to pass. He kept pressing, but I kept a step ahead of him. I masked my breathing to make it appear as though I were running effortlessly. In a way that I was running effortless, but my HR was running around 93%. In a longer course, I would have let this person pass me, but I wanted to see how long I could keep him at bay.

After running stride for stride with this fellow Age Grouper for over half a mile, I asked him if we were going to keep this up for the next 2.2 miles. He was game for the competition and we each pushed each other for the next two miles. I wish I could say I out kicked him to the finish, but he got a few steps ahead of me and was able to pull ahead as the race turned onto uneven surface through grass, dirt and gravel.

When the run was over, my watch told me it took 45:12 complete the10k. This was the fastest I’ve run (7:16 pace) in quite some time and gave me hopes that the speed hasn’t completely left my legs. Now I just have to see if I can run this speed for anything over 11 miles. Perhaps I can still have a decent marathon.

For the record, I did the race in 2:14:44 and came in 95th overall.


Blogger Brooklyn said...

Hey, good race! I'd been wondering if maybe you did the Fifth Avenue Mile, but I guess you were gearing up for the tri instead. thanks for sharing.

10:04 PM  

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