New York City Triathlon ’03

Ok, so maybe “downsized” was the wrong word choice. I wrote yesterday that the NYC Triathlon had been “downsized” to a biathlon due to water conditions in the Hudson. But now, as I bask here in the aching afterglow, running nine miles and riding 25 miles seems sufficiently sizeable to me.

If I weren’t so exhausted, I’d tell you all about it. But there’s a six of Stella, two bags of Hungry Herbert’s Oat Bran Pretzels, an Amy’s vegetarian pizza (yeah, that’s right: the one with the honey wheat crust), and 176 minutes of “Gangs of New York” waiting for me in the other room.

The deal is this: we ran from 79th Street to 56th and back on the West Side Highway. Then we got on our bikes and rode up to Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, and back. Then we ran into Central park and did three laps of the lower loop.

I started the first run with Chris at 6:35. I could tell we were running too fast, but we were chattin’ about stuff, felt strong, and everyone else was cookin’. We did 3.1 miles in about 23 minutes.

Then the bike. Chris lost me almost immediately — he’s a really strong rider. Now, we both have Cannondale M900s, which is to say, mountain bike frames with racing slicks, or thinner, knobless tires. We’re at a considerable disadvantage — less gears, less optimal geometry, heavier frames more surface area (hence, more friction and this more resistance) on the tires — against all the tricked out triathlon bikes. (I know, I know — you’ve heard this rant from me before). Nonetheless, we remain fairly competitive with the guys on tricked out bikes, and that’s kinda’ exciting in a defiant sorta’ way. The cool part about today is, four different tri bike riders — tricked out all — complimented me on how competitively I was riding. A coupla’ little “Nice showing mountain” comments went a long way. And I was cruising. I had to remind myself to save strength for the final run. But most of the ride, I was having too much fun passing road bikers and digging into downhills. Not that it wasn’t miserable at times: the course is pretty hilly, especially the climb up from the GWB to the bridge into Yonkers. But I finished respectably in about 1:10.

The first part of the final 10k is a steep ascent out of Riverside Park — which is excrutiating, but familiar — followed by a straight shot across 72d Street into the park. I run 72d all the time, but always relish running down the middle of it; looking up at the building unobstructed or distracted by busses and pedestrians. Once in the park, I just tried to maintain a cautious pace. Three loops of the same course is pretty uncool, and unfun, and today proved no differently. The only entertainment was the watching the spectators (read: the women) watching you, drinking water (and splashing it on my freshly shorn head), and talking yourself through it. The site of fellow marathoner Matt Patrick at every mile made a huge difference as well. I finished the third run in about 51 minutes, for an overall time of 2:37:15. Chris, as it ends up, was only about two minutes ahead.

In the moments that followed, I drank two Cokes, one Gatorade, a water, and a thermos of coffee, and ate a banana, a bagel, and two yogurts. And I kept right on sweating.

I’ve spent the rest of the day moving. I went to “Winged Migration,” which is great and worthy of a post of its own. Then hopped the express to 72d, where I walked up to my new favorite store, Fish’s Eddy, where I picked up some new glasses (the kind you put vodka and tonic in), and a set of wine glasses for Chris and Jen. I dropped ’em off at West 80th, snacked a little, played with little Ethan. Then I wallked down to 50th Street where I hit Westerly Market, Rite Aid, and Blockbuster, then finished up at D’Agastino. Phew. There. I told you all about it anyhow.

Thing is, yeah my head aches a little. And truth is, I wish I ran a stronger race (for some inexplicable reason). But everything’s cool. It was a great, all be it exhausting weekend, and I’m stronger for it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with an ice cold bottle of Stella.

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