New York City Triathlon ’02

I should be in the studio, but after this morning’s triathlon, I called Kevin and begged off. It goes like this…

I woke up at 4:55, showered, and walked to the 79th Street Boat Basin transition area, dropped my gear (helmet, gloves, shoes, backpack, PowerGels, Vaseline) at my bike. Then I followed the line of 1500 competitors a mile upriver to the swim start. My wave was near the last of some 12 or so age groups, so I sat a round stretching, hydrating, and forcing a Pure Protein bar down my throat. Not tasty. Then they marked me up (age on calf, race number — 1104 — on each bicept), strapped a chip on my ankle (for official timing), and approached the start barge. I was smiling to myself there on the barge looking downriver, laughing at both the predicament, and courage (or stupidity) with which I approached it. Around 7:15, just before climbing into the river, some guy behind me said “We could be home asleep.” And I said, “Yeah, but those people have nothing to talk about come Monday.”

Then the horn, and we were off…

The first few hundred yards out of the start were gnarly: guys swimming all over me, raking their hands over my back and legs, elbowing me in the head. But it thinned out, and we swam and swam and swam. I focussed on minimizing my motion up and out of the water. And I tried not to swallow too much of the Hudson. All the while I kept thinking of California…

I pulled myself out of the river some 29 minutes later, and ran the 200 or so yards towards the transition feeling as if I weighed 300 pounds. I strapped on my Camelback, climbed on my Cannondale, and headed to the West Side Highway. I’ll spare you the mile-by-mile, but there’s a real psychology to these multi-sport distance things. As I’ve written before, it’s about persistence, and conservation, and finding this Zen spot where your body — where you — are almost being pulled by the process. I talk to myself the whole time, and dole out water and Gel and gum as rewards for distance covered. And this ride was no different. On my 10-year-old Cannondale mountain bike, as always, I fought to challenge the riders with tricked out $4000 bikes, and gave many of them a ride for their money. Up through Mannhattan, into Yonkers, the Bronx and back, I covered 25 miled in about 1:07, “siniging “California” all the way.

And then the run. Up and out of Riverside Park was punishing. 72d Street was empty, save for the few runners in my wave. My brother and I ran a while together, then I pulled ahead, then he finally passed me (finishing some 2 minutes prior to me). It was excruciatingly hot. Every muscle ached. And I thought about walking more than once. It became a water stop to water stop race, motivated by the spectre of a cool cup of water over my head. I had swam, ridden, and then run alongside that dude from MSNBC — he has dreads and was Soledad O’Brian’s male counterpart there for a minute in the Internet age — and during the final miles of the run kept him constantly in my sites. I always use other runner’s for motivation, and today, he was my target. I kicked it in for the last .1 mile, and he had nothing left. I finished fast and hard with long strides and a great burst of endorphins, threw up the High Jovi, and went straight for the water. Total elapsed time: 2:49:52.

In the end, by the way (per last night’s entry), I’m not sure persistence alone is enough. Preparation helps. Psychology helps. And conditioning certainly matters. But it really does just boil down to keeping yourself moving forward.

So what have I done since finishing the race? Well, not much. I picked up all my gear from transition and rode home, ate a bunch, did research on triathlons in the L.A. area (Catalina Island on November 2 is my current fave) and just finished my Aimee Mann article for Now I’m gonna’ play a bit of guitar, and go back to sleep. My body needs it. It’s been a long day.

Related Posts