Flat as a Pancake

Posted: June 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today I completed my first open-water triathlon. Here’s how the race broke down-

.25 mile Swim: The venue for this triathlon was Staten Island’s Raritan Bay. The water was COLD!! The water at the start was only 60 degrees! It was made bearable only by my wetsuit, and I really wished I had a full wellsuit (mine is sleeveless). Once it started though, I didn’t really think about the temperature. My major concern was the conditions- it was very choppy and I felt like I inhaled a couple of cups of murky saltwater by the time I got to the finish.

I let the rush of being in a mass start get to me and I went out faster than I intended & with a different stroke than I planned (freestyle, head above water). This tired me out pretty quick and I had to resort to breaststroke for a little while. Getting kicked by other swimmers while bouncing around in low-visibility, salty, 60-degree water was definitely much different than swimming laps in a heated 25 yard pool!

I finally got comfortable and settled into my normal freestyle stroke, but I know I could have done a lot better. I didn’t anticipate that sighting (periodically checking your position & course) was as important as it turned out to be, so that’s something I’ll have to work on for next time.

I was very surprised (and dismayed) that a large number of people were running chest-deep near the shore as their “swim” and that the race director allowed it! While running in water is definitely not easy, it didn’t feel fair that they were allowed to to do this…

In any case, I was happy to feel sand beneath my toes again .25 miles later, and stumbled out of the water in just about 10.5  minutes.

12 mile Bike: Just like the race director promised, the bike course was flat and fast. It was three, four-mile loops on a wide boulevard running parallel to the beach. Lots of bikers brought their $5,000 rides, and I definitely was envious of the pretty machines!

Even so, and with a nagging IT band, I was competitive, finishing the course in just over 37 minutes at an average pace of 19.5mph.

5k Run: The 5k run was an out and back that had us finishing on the boardwalk to lots of cheering fans. It turned out that this was my strongest performance- after choking through 60-degree salt water and hammering the bike for 12 miles, I recorded my fastest 5k ever– 00:21:57, an average pace of 7:05 minute miles!

For some reason I’m always able to dig deep during the last leg of any competition and gut it out. Although my legs were dead, I was able to just order them to keep pumping till I said they could rest, lol. Once I had about a mile left, I turned it up and advanced through the pack. I sprinted the final 200 yards and finished strong. Overall, I finished the race in just under an hour and fifteen minutes: #154 out of 484  (#131 out of 288 men, and #19 out of 36 in my division). Flat as a Pancake Results

Other thoughts:

An interesting feature of this race is that in addition to being marked with our number, each of us had our age & event (triathlon or duathlon) marked on our right calf. This provided a consistent visual check of how we were doing  relative to others in our division, and it motivated me throughout.

I was also very lucky to have the support of my uncle & his wife throughout the race. From walking along and cheering me on from the beach as I swam, to snapping photos & encouraging me during the bike, it was nice to have a fan section. There’s something about knowing someone is watching and cheering you on that makes you give a little bit more.

Overall, the race experience was a good one, and I’m happy with my performance. I know what areas I can improve in, and I’m glad I’ve finally completed an open water swim- it was a valuable experience that will help me prep for my August triathlon.



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