Helloooo! Here is where I delude myself into thinking that the readers of PB Is My BF have been waiting with bated breathe for my TOBAY Triathlon race recap.
I love writing race recaps for something to look back on. Sometimes they are reminders of a well-organized, fun race that I'd like to do again. And sometimes they're reminders that "I WILL NEVER RUN THE BROOKLYN HALF MARATHON EVER AGAIN..." (lies).
Saturday morning Callie and I walked our bikes and backpacks across Central Park and hopped on the subway down to Penn Station. We met our friend Abby and the joys of traveling on the Long Island Railroad began. Let's just say that LIRR cars are not bike-friendly and we had to create some interesting bike sculptures in order to keep our bikes out of the aisles.
2 hours later we were at my house and shortly thereafter, headed to pick up bagels for some relaxation at the beach.
Abby and Callie get major points for loving my North Shore beach despite it's rocks and for happily floating around for a little bit in the Sound to test out the temperatures. We were pleasantly surprised that it was so warm!
I was happy as a clam eating my egg bagel with egg salad, lettuce and tomato while soaking up the sun and chatting. We stayed a few hours, changed back at my house, and accompanied my parents to the yacht club for a drink on the deck.
Surprisingly, I was feeling pretty zen every time the tri came up - I think part of me couldn't believe it was actually going to happen. Throughout the day we would vocalize our fears - mine being drowning, Callie's being getting a flat but overall we were confident that it would be a fun day no matter what happened.
After a beer at the yacht club (it was a struggle to keep it to 1 - Monkey's Fist IPA by Shipyard is fab) my parents dropped the three of us off at Mavi - a Mediterranean and Turkish restaurant near my house.
We went to town on pita with hummus, babaganoush, white bean salad, and olives before entrees of chicken shishkabob with bulgar, rice, grilled veggies and tzatziki sauce. I still don't have a "go-to" pre-race meal but after reading my nutritionist Julie's advice, I thought Mediterranean was a good choice. I'm used to eating it, it's fairly simple, and my meal had protein and carbohydrates along with some veggies. Bonus points: delicious and such a cute little restaurant!
We got home and were all shocked at how exhausted we were considering it was only 7:30 at night. We got our things organized for the morning and I did a little Addaday and lacrosse ball rolling while we watched Mean Girls. That movie will truly never get old.
Obviously I couldn't go to bed without the dessert my mom had picked up for me - Tate's White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies! If you've never had a Tate's cookie (Long Island made!) you need to get on that. They have tons of Gluten Free options too.
I took a Melatonin before bed because I expected to have trouble sleeping due to nerves, excitement, and sleeping on the couch but I'm constantly surprising myself with my ability to sleep - I didn't have any trouble at all.
WHAT I PACKED
I've got my pre road race packing down to a science but with a triathlon, damn is there a lot to think about!
Tri-Shorts - I found mine on clearance at Marshall's well over a year ago, when doing a triathlon was just a tiny little thought in the back of my mind. Impulse buy for the win! I saw tons of people wearing Orca shorts and they worked perfectly for me. I trained in them too, because no new things on race day!
They're fast drying, have leg grips that keep your shorts from riding up your quads during the bike, and a quick drying pad between the legs that helps make up for the fact that you're not wearing fully padded bike shorts.
The tie in the front kind of bothered me, but for $15, they were great. Another brand I saw out on the course a lot was Zoot.
Flip-Flops- Before the race, I walked around in flip-flops and left them at my transition area when we walked down to the water for the start of the swim.
Road I.D. - I finally got a road I.D. and I've been wearing it on all of my bike rides and runs - especially with so many awful stories in the news about runner's being attacked.
Nutrition- Since working with Julie from The Athlete's Palate, I've been trying to be better about fueling during workouts and now, races. I've been using Clif Bloks and have always had success with Clif Shot gels so I packed one of each.
Water Bottle- I'm very bad at hydrating, but I kept a water bottle at transition to remind myself to drink!
Sports Bra- Duh.
Shirt- My original plan was to take off my wetsuit after the swim and finish the tri wearing my tri-shorts and a sports bra. But then I realized I needed to pin on a bib for the bike and run! I pre-pinned my bib to one of my favorite shirts - my blue Sugoi one - it's so light and soft!
Necklace- Yes, I wore my necklace for the entire race! I'm so used to working out in it that I didn't notice it once.
Wetsuit- I don't know if I would have made it through the swim without wearing a wetsuit. It provided so much buoyancy and gave me a little extra confidence. It didn't fit me perfectly, it's my mom's, but I'm glad I had it as my security blanket.
Swim Cap- We were the white swim cap wave and we had to wear the swim cap provided by the race. I was nervous it wouldn't fit my head, but it was actually perfect.
Ear Plugs- I had a slight scare while setting up my transition area when I realized that my ear plugs were in my dad's truck. Luckily, he was able to go and grab them. I've never swam without them, and constantly get swimmer's ear, so that would have been a disaster.
Goggles- Self-explanatory. I like the pair I use. Callie found them and I'm not sure of the brand, but they stay fog-free for the most part and are pretty comfortable.
Helmet - Also important. Safety first!
Flat Repair Kit- I keep this in a little pouch under my seat, though if I had gotten a flat during the race I'm not sure I would have been able to repair it on my own.
Cycling Shoes- I love mine because they're teal and they're actually tri shoes! Again, I bought these a long long time ago before I even owned a bike, and they ended up working really well. They slide on super easily, which is what makes them great for tris. That being said, they're very open and my feet freeze in the winter.
Feetures Socks - I love the pull tab on these. No blisters!
Garmin Forerunner- I didn't want to down my Garmin on the swim, so I put it on when I got out of the water and wore it for the bike and run.
Sneakers- For the run portion I wore my Asics GT-2000. I haven't been loving any of my sneaker options lately, but that might be because everything hurts regardless of what shoe I choose to wear. I like these Asics because they're very cushioned.
Our alarms went off in perfect synchronization on Sunday morning at 4:45 a.m. I shockingly wasn't all that exhausted due to the 9:30 bed time.
The first thing I saw was a text from my sister, who had also set her alarm for 4:45 a.m. so she could wish me good luck. AW!
We quickly dressed while my dad loaded the bikes onto the rack on his truck. My mom thought it was so weird that Abby, Callie and myself all wanted the same thing for our pre-race meal:
2 Pieces of Whole Wheat Toast
Callie and I also had coffee.
The car ride was uneventful as we ate and made comments like, "I can't believe this is about to happen," and, "Just going for a lovely swim in the Sound." We enjoyed pump up music like Shots! and Yeah! Nothing says "IM ABOUT TO RACE MY FIRST TRIATHLON" like Lil Jon at 5:30 a.m.
My dad pulled over near the entrance and we took our bikes off the rack. After a short meltdown where I couldn't work the tire pump and was convinced I had a flat, we walked over to packet pick up (super easy) and started to set up our transition areas.
I racked my bike without incident and laid out my towel while attempting to organize things on it in some type of order. I didn't have a chart or layout, but I imagine that one day I might very well be that anal triathlete who has checklists and balloons for my transition area.
For now, I just tried laying everything out in the order I thought I would need them. That's when I realized my ear plugs were missing and frantically told my mom through the fence that my dad had to look for them in the truck. I also handed her my bag - something I would miss when it came time to pack up all my things at the end of the race....rookie.
Next stop was "Body Markings" which might have been my favorite part. While the lady wrote my number and age on my arms and legs she told me it was so I could see someone in my age group and try to pass them. Gotta love that competitive spirit! I felt like a badass with my new tattoos.
But this badass realllllly needed to pee. So we hopped on the porta potty line which was long, but not too awful.
Dad saved the day with the earplugs and after lots of hugs and "OMGS" we headed back to our bikes where I slipped on my wetsuit, grabbed my goggles, swim cap and earplugs and headed toward the water.
As we got closer, my eyes tracked the course and my stomach twisted. That looked far. We joked as we walked, "Look - it's like a minute walk from where to go into the water and wehre we get out - it must be really short!" But I could stop looking at all those buoys marking our route.
It helped when my parents popped up next to us near the water. They got this really great picture of us looking like athletic aliens. I gave them lots more hugs and my mom told me she would see me when I got out.
This was the part where I needed to start consciously breathing slowly and deeply to keep the nerves at bay and I was shocked that I was able to do it. I had an almost totally calm feeling as we stood knee deep in the water (somewhere, got the blue sky breeze and it don't seem fair...) which was a beautiful temperature.
Next thing I knew we were going! As I looked around, i saw that almost everyone still had their heads up and were slowly making their way towards the first buoy while the group naturally spread itself out a little bit.
My wetsuit, which I had promptly peed in, was helping me float fabulously and I didn't feel too much urgency to start freestyling - my doggy paddle technique was going just great. At one point, Callie and I looked up and were right next to each other doggy paddling along - we smiled and cracked up which are two things I did NOT think would happen during the swim portion of my first tri. Tears and stress? Yes. Smiles and laughing? Not so much.
Soon Callie started swimming for real but I was like, "Nah, this whole swimming with my head out/backstroke/doggy-paddle is extremely inefficient but it's also much more relaxing and enjoyable."
I swallowed a lot of water. A lot of times I just stopped and treaded water in place. The sun was very bright and I couldn't really see where I was going. It was very slow going. I veered off course more times than I can count. I ran into some people. Some people ran into me. A lot of times it seemed like I wasn't getting any closer to the end. But there was never a time when I thought, "I'M GOING TO DROWN OUT HERE!" In fact, I even remember thinking, "This is actually kind of cool that it's a gorgeous day and I'm going for a swim in the Sound." I probably stroked a total of 20 real swim strokes, but I traveled the half mile and emerged from the water with a smile on my face and that my friends was the first victory of the day.
SWIM TIME: 26:13 or 3 minutes/100 yards
My wetsuit was the one that was victorious, however, as I struggled to unzip it on my run from the water to my bike. People kept trying to help by shouting to me which shoulder it was over but heck if that helped. I was so frazzled from having just spent a half hour in the water with the sun in my eyes and earplugs in my ears. I was a little discombobulated. But I did hear my parents yell for me which made me happy, even if I couldn't focus on actually making eye contact with them!
I made it out of my wetsuit and since it doesn't fit me perfectly, it was really easy to peel it off. I put on my Garmin, drank some water (definitely not enough water), popped a Clif Blok in my mouth, wiped my feet off on the towel and put on my cycling socks and shoes, threw on my shirt, strapped my helmet, lifted my bike off the rack and wobbled my way to the bike start. I was actually surprised at how fast I ran in my cycling shoes - maybe not smart, but thankfully I didn't eat it.
I got on my bike without much trouble and was on my way to the bike portion.
TRANSITION ONE TIME: 3:04
I didn't know much about the course going into it other than there was one fairly large hill.
The course wasn't too crowded in the beginning which was nice, but soon I found myself surrounded by more people. For much of the bike, part or all of the street was open to traffic which I didn't love, but it didn't cause too many problems. The one part that sucked was when we were on a main road that was still open and we could only ride in the shoulder. I wanted to pass people on the up-hill but was forced to slow down at some points.
When I got to that one large hill - there was no question that it was "the one." It was a hill alright. My legs were screamin' and seeing people walking their bikes up it realllllly tempted me to do the same. But I shifted down to the lowest gear, grit my teeth, and made it up the hill even when I felt like the end would never come.
After that, the rest of the course was fairly flat and the end was downhill. None of the turns were too scary and though my legs were tired, I tried to give them pep talks that they still had to run 3 miles.
On one of the downhills I shakily grabbed my water bottle and took a sip and somehow managed to get it back in its cage without flipping over the handlebars.
The bike was probably the most enjoyable part of the race for me, but that's also because I was purposely taking it easy and trying to relax and enjoy.
Soon I was nearing the bike finish and gingerly dismounting while trying not to flop onto the ground. My legs were like jelly!
BIKE TIME: 32:24 or 17.6 mph
The run from bike back to transition was a lot slower. I switching socks and decided to go for it, putting on my Feetures followed by my Asics.
I should have already had my Garmin going, but alas, I did not.
I grabbed my Clif Shot gel and got to see my parents again as I went out for the run!
TRANSITION TWO TIME: 1:46
In my head, this was going to be the victory lap. The best part of the tri. Totally fun. Easy, breezy. I had practiced going from biking to running twice and both times was pleasantly surprised.
But the TOBAY Triathlon course had some serious hills in store that I was not mentally prepared for.
The entire first 1.5 miles of the run course was straight up up up. What made it even worse was that it was an out and back, and the entire time people who had already made it to the turn around were whizzing past me on the downhill. It sucked. Plain and simple.
My shins were absolutely screaming bloody murder.
At the second water station, I did something I RARELY do - I walked while drinking my cup of water. Even though I only had 1.5 miles to go, I ripped open my Clif Shot gel - I needed something, anything, to get me up the rest of this mountain.
When I finally made it to the turn around and started running downhill, things got marginally better. My legs were still in pain, but at least I knew I was in the home stretch.
Without around a mile left to go, someone near me on the course started joking with a friend about how crazy we are to do this stuff for fun and it made me smile and get out of my head for a second to realize "Hey, I'm doing this, I'm going to finish my first triathlon!"
When the finish line was in sight I was able to kick it into high gear and finish strong, bursting across the finish line and instantly chugggggging a water. I was definitely super dehydrated. Woops!
First I saw Callie and gave her a big sweaty hug and high five - WE DID IT! Then my parents came from the other side and got sweaty, wet, salty hugs too. It was so so so amazing to have them there since they have heard me bitching and moaning about swimming for over a year now.
They took some very flattering post race pictures and next thing we knew we were cheering Abby across the finish line too and WE WERE ALL DONE!
The run was actually so much faster than it felt at the time (unless the course was short!)
RUN TIME: 23:50 or 7:41 pace
We packed up our things (I forgot my wetsuit and had to go back for it later, fail) and went over to the post-race festivities for ice cream and beer. It was a really nice finish area and we sat out in the sun recapping the race and taking more pictures because heading to Huntington for brunch with our familias! Avocado bacon burger with a Bloody Mary was the perfect recovery meal!
I was asleep within 10 minutes of the train ride back to the city and a lazy blob the rest of the day!
The race was very well organized and the perfect size! It wasn't overwhelming at any point and everything went pretty seamlessly.
The swim, though many people said it was long, was very calm and warm.
Now that I know I don't need to be Michael Phelps to travel half a mile in the water, I'm much more comfortable with the idea of tris. The fact that I managed to do the whole swim without ACTUALLY swimming is comforting and also something that I now see as a challenge to improve on instead of an insurmountable hurdle.
Callie did the best braids!!!
Having my parents there for this was HUGE. They are my biggest supporters and the fact that they woke up at 4:45 a.m. and dealt with my stressed, overwhelmed, scared, anxious, crankiness all day means the world to me.
Every race should have beer afterwards.
I love the shirt that we got!
Most people have asked if I'm "hooked" on tris now. I definitely plan on doing more, and I still hope that I can make an Olympic Distance happen someday. But I wouldn't say I'm addicted. It's a lot more stressful and a lot more work than simply running a race - the logistics of traveling with my bike alone make me think this isn't something I'll be doing every weekend while I'm still living in NYC.
That being said, I had SO MUCH FUN doing this with Abby and Callie. That made all the difference in the world!
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