Sunday, September 04, 2016

2016 Tobay (Sprint) Triathlon, August

2016 Tobay (Sprint) Triathlon, August

Highlights -
Weather: Ideal, clear, no winds, between 70 and 80 degrees.
Atmosphere: Jubilant, contagiously energetic.
Volunteers: Very attentive at all times
Course: Calm waters. Hilly for bike and run portions.
Result: Same time as last year.

Morning of -
I had everything for each leg of the event prepared in the same order: swim/bike/run. I woke up a little after 4:00 a.m., made some coffee. Managed to quickly read headlines of the home delivered NYTIMES. I forced myself to eat one slice of whole wheat bread with smooth peanut butter and raspberry jam. I managed to take care of the personal, daily, regular, morning business. I thought I was arriving early enough to park next to the Oyster Bay LIRR track parking lot. To my surpise, I had to park a few blocks away (boo hoo, the poor athlete has to walk - the irony). In the transition area, there was no space on the bike rack or on the floor to place my belongings. I managed to discretly make some space, and settle at the end of my assigned bike rack. I had some time to walk the grounds, see other athletes, and check out the water conditions. I took some "before" photos and some "selfies".

Swim -
Weeks leading into this event, I did laps at Echo Pool, and, recently, in the open waters of Falmouth and Oak Bluffs (Martha's Vineyard). I still can't say that I am comfortable swimming in open water and looking for bouys while trying to stay in course. This year I wasn't out-of-it like last time. I positioned myself to the head of my age group. There were two starting areas for all the swimmers. I figured that I swim the inside track to minimize distance and aim for the buoys better. The announcer did warn the swimmers that at some point in the swim that the sun would be staring into our eyes. And yes, it was blinding. I focused on swimming mechanics, mostly on the pull under water. The swim start was a little chaotic like all triathlons, with bodies clashing against each other, catching feet of one, unintentionally swallowing water. There were times I was able to swim unimpeded and tried to make progress by aiming forward. Three quarters or so, of the swim portion, I kept looking for the last buoys, and I swam and swam, and it felt like I wasn't getting there at all. Eventually, I lifted my head and saw that I was getting closer, I swam until my hand scraped the bottom of the bay. That's when I got up, and made a sprint to the transition area. Without seeing what time had elapsed, I had a feeling that something was not the same as last year. The transition last year was onto the slimy concrete boating ramp. This year the transition area was onto the sandy beach, covered by a burlap mat.

Biking -
My mind was literally running fast, and for a second, I thought I had already finished the biking and was looking for my sneakers. I quickly realized, and I put on my Team Colombia cycling jersey, and put in the back pockets a spare tube and portable pump. I thought of putting on socks, but I didn't want to waste time putting them on. I didn't waste time putting on bike gloves for a short triathlon, although my hands sweat a lot, making the grip of the handlebar a little perilous when hitting bumps on the road. Unlike the pros, I didn't have the bike shoes on the bike pedals. I haven't practiced enough the move of putting in the foot while in motion. I quickly put on the helmet, and belt with the race bib. I made it out of the transition area onto the streets of Oyster Bay. At first there were mild hills, and then one hill made most cyclist disembark. Last year on this same hill, I lost valuable time with mechanical problems that I had to walk the bike to the top of the hill (a cycling cardinal sin). Although this year I didn't have to get off the bike, I had to put the gear on the largest rear chainring, and pedal standing up to propel up the hill 200 pounds of flesh and bones, with my heart literally pounding all the way into the throat. Once I cleared this hill, as with life, the rest of the course was downhill, with some sharp turns. I managed to bring the heart rate down, and rinsed my mouth all the salt water from the bay, and then hydrate for what was coming.

Running -
The last few blocks on the bike before the transition, I drank more to stay hydrated. I placed the bike and helmet on the rack, and decided to run without socks. The Saucony sneakers are extremely comfortable, and I was willing to pay the price if blisters later decided to make a presence. The first half of the run is on a varying course peaking at a hill near the Arboterum State Park. My stride was extremely stiff, and I didn't want to shoot the heart rate up like last year that forced me to walk (another cardinal sin). This year, I managed to keep a slow and steady pace all the way up to the midpoint. Once I've reached the last hill, and it was all of a descent onto the Finish Line, I picked up the pace and was able to get energized, and started to pass other runners. From their markings on their calves, I knew that I was passing athletes that started ahead, based on their age group. This made me feel good, specially if I was passing younger male athletes, as everyday, I feel my body not having the same strength as in the past years. I was passing men 20 years younger than I. Obviously, I don't read too much into this fact, as there are a million of circumstances why a younger person may be slower than I, like perhaps, they just got into sports, or are recovering from an illness. Seeing the Finish Line in the horizon gave me the last boost that I needed, and unleashed all I had left in the proverbial gas tank. I knew better not to grimace or make that awful face when I an suffering. I tried to smile and also, keep a neutral face for the cameras. Total strangers congratulated me, I placed the Finishers medal over my head, and walked around very proud of this physical accomplishment. Then, it was time to hydrate some more, and eat whatever was being provided by the organizers of the event, the Greater Long Island Road Runners Club (GLIRRC).

Let's see what happens next year. Hopefully, stronger, leaner, and faster.


Post a Comment

<< Home