Wednesday, September 26. 2012
This race has been on my bucket list for a while. I'm from Denver and regarding destination races I've mostly gone west, La Jolla Rough Water, Waikiki, Alcatraz etc., have hit the Midwest twice with Big Shoulders and the USMS championship in Noblesville, Indiana. This is the first time I've raced on the East coast and New York City no less.
First a salute to the NYCSWIM organizers & volunteers, a race like this takes a tremendous amount of man hours and logistical support to pull it off, Thanks!
I worked a half day on Friday morning (negotiation with the boss and had a afternoon flight), blew out there and headed to the airport all went as planned arrived at my departure gate just minutes before they started boarding the plane. I was a bit worried about this as I wouldn’t get in to NYC until after 8 pm, and my Hotel near Times Square not until 10 pm. Along with the two time zone changes which studies show west to east not so conducive to athletic performance. Race start was for 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
I had pre-planned my subway trip from my hotel to the race start & finish via the MTA website, for someone who hasn't been to the Big Apple in over 25 years this went off without a hitch, thanks for the tip Dave Barra.
Was in the 7th out of 9 waves for the start, waves started from slow to fast about 5 minutes apart. I had minor goggle leak right at the start that I stopped and fixed putting me in the tail end of my wave but I felt strong right out of the gate and passed my entire wave within a half mile, I had a feeling I might be under seeded and was correct. I continued to feel strong, loose in the calm water and played my favorite motivational game of pass the person ahead of me, since there were at least 200 swimmers in front of me I was able to play this game for a while. A couple of things changed as I closed in on the George Washington bridge, most of swimmers disappeared as I had passed them, except a few orange hats (speedsters in the last wave) showed up, but it became kinda lonely. I started to bonk just a bit, I was assuming a race time of around hour and half based on previous years times and did not feed, thinking I could do entire course on good pre-race nutrition/hydration. Apparently if I had participated in the webinar presentation a couple of days prior to the race, I would have learned they expected a longer swim time this year due to an expected weaker assisting current. Not that it would have mattered much, as I had forgotten to pack a gel. Finally the water became noticeably rougher as we approached the bridge, post race many swimmers commented on this. I didn't find it to big of a deal as I had done many laps in July with English Channel swimmers Sarah Thomas and Joe Bakel rocking & rolling along the north wall of the Dover Harbor which more then prepared me for this, plus I had done the 1 and 3 mile races at La Jolla just two weeks before. Once past the bridge, water calmed considerably and cruised the last mile, but becoming aware that even though I didn't have a watch on this was going well past an my expectation of an hour and a half, I finished just under two hours. Yes I did do a couple of backstrokes going under the bridge.
Regarding navigation, per the pre-race instruction I concentrated on the East Stanchion of the George Washington bridge however this was a bit problematic with my typical gator style sighting, most of the time I had the stanchion directly in front of me but was not getting a good east/west side perspective. On more then one occasion I was admonished by the patrolling kayaks I was out of the five yard range of the course buoys that I suppose to be in. My greatest frustration and issue in all of my races this year was my swim cap kept coming off, after twice stopping to put it back on I finally stuffed it in my suit but put it back just before the race finish as I wasn't sure of the rule. I need to cure this problem, don't normally train with a cap. Water temp around 70F, I prefer a bit cooler but I think for most folks this is a good temp.
Nice area for the finish, camped out on the patio with a young triathlete named Mark had a fun conversation while waiting for the awards. There was a shower at the finish, plenty of snack foods and a decent goody bag. Very much like the long sleeve event shirt, nice finish medal and a award to boot, first place in my age group about 13th overall. Overall two thumbs up! Do this race, it's a good one!