4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Triathlon Race Report

with 5 comments

Sunday was the 24th annual New York Tri/Bi-athlon Series at Harriman State Park, run by New York Triathlon Club.  This sprint tri consisted of a 1/2 mile swim, 16 mile bike ride and 3 mile run.  All in all, I did really well (for me), finishing in 1:54:41.  I felt like my time was great, but, in sharp contrast to running races, it is a little hard to compare the time directly between races.  This is because the distances in sprint tri’s are always slightly different.  For instance, the race I did last year was a .9 k swim (more than a half mile), the bike was 24k (little less than 15 miles) and the run was 3.1 miles.

What makes me most proud about this race was that it was very hilly, at least for me!  The bike course had it’s fair share of hills, including a 3 mile uphill in the middle, and, the out and back run was up and down hill.  Passed lots of people on the bike uphills, and ran very strongly throughout the entire 3 mile run.  This was a great tuneup for the New York City Triathlon, 5 weeks from this upcoming Sunday.  Now I need to double the swim and run, and add 8 miles to the bike ride.

Anyway, back to the race and day.  I always like to get to races really early, so I have plenty of time to calmly get myself ready to go.  Race was at  8am, wanted to get there by 6:30, which meant leaving the house at 5:30.  Problem was that I picked up my visiting sister-in-law and family from JFK on Saturday night.  Knowing that, I took a 2+ hour nap on Saturday.  So, when I got back from the airport after midnight Sat night, I had a hard time falling asleep.  Probably ended up with 3 hours of broken sleep.  Considering the nap on Saturday, and just being generally pumped up, I was feeling better than expected, but I know my body wasn’t as rested as it should be.

At 6:30, there were already lots of people at the park.  Joined the crowd in picking up my number, and getting my bike and all my stuff to the transition area.  Had lots of time, so was able to leisurely eat, change, use the bathroom, and place out the items I’d need at the various transitions.  Swim cap and goggles for the start.  Bike helmet, socks and sneakers for the bike, and then my running cap and Gatorade for the run.  With about 20 minutes to go, got my wetsuit on and headed out to the lake for the start.

Wave start was about 100 people per wave.  My number put me in the 2nd wave, with at least 2 waves behind me.  Good in the sense that there would be people behind me coming out of the swim, but bad in the sense that I’d be passed by a lot of people as the later waves got started.  I made sure to start at the back of the wave, since I would not be going fast.  The horn sounded, and we were in the water.

The swim turnaround was a giant orange buoy a quarter mile out in the lake.  It seemed really far away.  As I settled into my ugly swim, ran into problem number one.  I found that I had a very hard time seeing in my goggles.  I had blue tinted goggles, which I thought would be good for an outdoor swim.  Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day, and the water was kind of dark.  As a result, I could not see at all, and the goggles seemed to somehow get fogged up.  After about 1/10 of a mile, I decided to ditch the goggles.  I thought it would be better to see clearly with no goggles, than to not be able see with the goggles on.  Then, the problem would be keeping my eyes as dry as possible.  I wear contact lenses, and was very afraid of losing one, or both.  At one point, I almost lost one of them.  So, I did a breast stroke and back float to get through most of the swim.  Once all the fast people passed us by, I was able to hold my own among the slower people out there.  Eventually, I found a nice rhythm, and was able to comfortably finish the swim portion.  Was also very thankful to retain both contact lenses.

Swim – 24:39

My biggest goal of this race was not to finish last in the swim, and I did not!  About 16 people had slower swim times than me.  It will have to do for now, but clearly that can be improved over time.  Transitioning was a little rough.  It was about 100 yards from the beach to the transition area,  on pavement.  The trip could best be called a lumber.  During said lumber, I was able to get halfway out of the wetsuit.  Once I got to my bike rack, got the rest of the wetsuit off pretty quickly and got my socks, shoes and helmet on.  Then, on the bike course.

T1 – 2:59

Started out with a pretty easy pace, without pushing too hard.  The early part of the bike is where I hit my second problem – trying to get rid of the excess air I accumulated in my body in the swim.  When I swim, I know I don’t breathe properly, and eventually feel like I need to let out an enormous burp.  I noticed this in my triathlon last year, and then again this time.  All of a sudden, I felt a big urge to burp, but couldn’t actually get it out.  Of course, I didn’t want to stop and get off the bike to burp, so tried to slow down, adjust my position, and figure out how to make the burp come.  I even tried patting my back (as best as one can pat themselves on the back) as one would do to burp a baby.  Eventually, in about the 2nd mile, on a downhill stretch, the burp did come.  Then, I was off to the races.  Eventually, I will hire a swim coach and learn to breathe the right way, to hopefully avoid this issue.

With the burp behind me, I started to push on the bike.  Early miles are flat to manageable hills, then about 4 miles in, there is a long downhill stretch, following by a 3 mile uphill.  To make matters worse, at the bottom of the long, and steep downhill, was a very tight u turn which takes you uphill.  I had been warned about this and so was able to downshift prior to hitting the turnaround.  If you forget to downshift, it will be really hard to get going up the hill, and some people lose their chain and have to stop to fix.  In extreme cases, people that don’t realize the turn is coming take it too fast, and wipe out on the turn.  As I said, I was prepared for the turn and did it really well.  The next portion, the 3 mile uphill was really, really hard.  As hard as it was for me, it was hard for everyone else too, and I was even able to pass a few people that really had a hard time with the hills.

I tried to take some time to simply enjoy the scenery in the park.  Parts of the ride were through wooded areas, with nice views of streams and rapids.  Lots of wild life about, and a deer actually crossed the road in front of me at one point.  Also passed several lakes, one of which was completely fogged over.  Just a beautiful scene all around.  The last few miles were mostly straight, and not so hilly, so was able to keep a nice pace to the end of the bike ride.

Bike – 1:01:10

Had a very fast transition to the run because my bike rack was very close to the entrance to the transition area.  Got my bike back on the rack, traded my helmet for cap, took a large swig of Gatorade, and was then off on the run.

T2 – :41

The start of the run was tough on the muscles.  Hurt for about the first 50 steps.    Then stopped at the water stop for water, and when I started up again, my legs felt OK.  Heavy, but OK.  First half mile of the run was a pretty steep uphill.  I like uphills, and do pretty well on them, so this didn’t phase me too badly.  Pushed up to the top of the hill, and then entered a bit of a downhill.  On the downhill, settled into a very steady pace.  Held back even a little bit, because it seemed like the rest of the run out was downhill to the turnaround point and I expected an uphill after the turn around.  Funny thing was, when I got to the turnaround point, we were actually going downhill.  Somehow I was confused, and thought we were going downhill approaching the turnaround, when in fact, we were uphill!  Wild.  With the mind playing tricks on me at a little sprint tri, I’d hate to see what kind of crazy things the mind will do when doing ironman distance races.  Anyway, the return trip was pretty easy, especially with the steep downhill the last half mile.

Run: 25:50

Felt great after the race.  After drinking some more Gatorade and eating a banana, cheered in a bunch of the people still finishing up.  Then the long drive back to the city, and a well deserved 2 hour nap in the afternoon.

Again, I was very happy overall with my time and experience.  I’m starting to become hooked.  I can see myself doing 2-3 tri’s per year.  Next priority is to work harder on the bike and practice uphills.

Transition Area
Transition Area
Lake at Harriman State Park
Lake at Harriman State Park



Written by SCL

June 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Woo Hoo, awesome job:)!! I am so afraid of open water (I so don’t like swimming with the fishies), that I don’t think I’ll ever do a tri.

    Again, congrats and great time:)!!!


    June 19, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    • Don’t know if there are any fishes in the lake (didn’t see any), but the seaweed was a little slimy at the start and finish! I hear that at the New York City Triathlon last year there were lots of jellyfish in the Hudson River. I’m a little worried about that!


      June 19, 2009 at 4:17 pm

  2. Thank you for share.


    June 20, 2009 at 3:00 am

  3. […] really high on triathlons after having a great time at Harriman State Park 2 weeks ago.  I WILL do a half ironman some day – they seem so […]

  4. […] up for a warm up triathlon at Harriman State Park in June.  That also ended up being another spectacular race and day, and it was during the 3 mile run portion, which was quite hilly, and which I nailed in 25:50 where […]

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