A beautiful day and a beautiful race. I couldn’t have visualized a better outcome for my second triathlon. The week prior, I was very worried because I had reached the first stage of overtraining (or overreaching), due to excessive training volume without proper rest. It culminated in a 50 mile bike ride + 3 mile run on Saturday, followed by a 14 mile intense long run on Sunday. The heat and humidity amplified the effort and left me feeling exhausted. In the following days, I began experiencing heart palpitations, as well as general fatigue and lethargy. I took the rest of the week off, except for a few light exercises to keep the body loose. Fortunately, the rest helped immensely and I felt invigorated on race day.
I woke up at 3am with energy and excitement. The drive down the shore to Long Branch took about 1 ½ hours and I arrived shortly after 5 am to the beautiful view of the sun rising over the ocean.
I had plenty of time before the race start to rack my bike and organize my area. Transitions are still a learning process for me and I am trying to figure out strategies to reduce time in between segments.
Forty five minutes before race time, I applied Muscle Tonic to my legs and arms by massaging it into the muscles. The smell of peppermint and lemon was revitalizing and energizing.
I created and formulated this product to act as a topical supplement that compliments traditional warm up activities like dynamic stretching, while increasing performance potential by preventing cramps and reducing lactic acid buildup in the muscles. I am confident that it helped boost my performance during the race, as I did not experience any muscle cramps and was able to sustain high speed in the bike and run segments without muscle fatigue. Fifteen minutes before race start time, I had a difficult decision to make. Do I wear a wetsuit or not? The benefit is increased buoyancy in the water, but the drawback is time wasted during the transition because it is difficult to remove. Since I am a beginner swimmer and this was my first open water swim in the ocean, I made the smart decision to use the wetsuit, though many people chose not to wear them.
The typical chaos ensued as we entered the water and it was intensified by the ocean waves. It was extremely difficult to see, between the sun, waves and my goggles fogging up. Luckily, I didn’t get hit by other swimmers as much this time around because people were very spread out. However, I was unable to find any sort of rhythm in my breathing and began hyperventilating almost immediately. The current was moving horizontal, which made the swim even more difficult. Thankfully, the distance was short, but it felt longer due to the current and waves. Surprisingly, I finished 17th in the swim with a time of 7:14, which was much better than I had anticipated. Coming out of the swim, I was worried about my feet being sandy, but luckily the race organizers setup a kiddy pool, which we used to hop in quickly to wash our feet before heading into the transition area. I had a hard time getting the wetsuit off and paid the price with a long, 2:01 T1 time. Coordination is tricky when your heart is racing and you are under major pressure to move as fast as possible because the clock is always ticking. The mental challenge is just as difficult as the physical one during transitions. The problems mounted after T1, when I forgot to buckle my bike helmet and was held up by a race official until it was fixed. Then, I had major trouble locking my shoes into the bike cleats because my bike shoes were wet. In fact, I almost fell off the bike twice, so I was extremely relieved when I finally locked in after several tries, but angry for wasting time.
The bike route was straight and flat, though some of the roads were not very smooth, due to gravel and potholes. I didn’t have an average bike speed goal in mind, but felt confident that I could hold above 22 mph after reaching this initial pace. I quickly passed five or more cyclists and settled into sustained speed between 22 – 24 mph for the duration of the segment. It was quite intense, however, and my average heart rate was 158-165 on the bike, which was somewhat concerning because that is definitely my upper threshold limit. I don’t think I would have been able to sustain this rate if the bike segment was much longer. During the ride, I sipped water and consumed an energy gel with a caffeine pill. I passed several more riders along the way and finished 4th overall with a time of 29:54 and average speed of ~23.5mph. I did much better during the second transition, with a 0:57 T2 time.
Coming out of T2 and going into the run, I felt confident that I was doing well, but wasn’t sure what place I was in. The run was a down and back straight shot along the boardwalk, which was beautiful and meaningful because during the summer I do a lot of long runs in this area. I immediately saw several runners ahead of me and could not contain my excitement because running is my strength due to membership in NYRR the past last several years. Looking down at my watch, my pace was a little north of 6:00, which surprised me because it did not feel like I was running that fast. I decided at that point to try to hold it, even though I would have been happy with a 6:30 pace. The adrenaline kicked in when I saw how fast I was closing in on the runners ahead of me. I quickly passed approximately four of them. All the while, I was on the lookout for runners coming from the other direction because this would tell me what place I was in. I counted three of them and could just make out one in front of me. By the time I reached the turnaround point, I knew that I was in fourth place. I thought there was a chance that I’d catch him, but we were running about the same pace and I knew there was no way. I finished the run 2nd overall with a time of 18:28 and pace of 6:10. This result was extraordinary because I almost beat my record 5K time of 18:36 and this was after swimming and biking.
I crossed the finish line and was elated when the announcer confirmed that I was the 4th place finisher with a time of 58:32. Shortly after, I learned that I finished 1st place in my age group. I could not have dreamt a better result. Months of hard work paid off and I finally gained formal recognition with an individual reward.
Later that day, I used a foam roller and Muscle Wash to help expedite the recovery process. After a good night’s sleep, I woke up the next morning and had minimal soreness. I used Muscle Medicine on some residual tightness in my calves, which made them feel great.
I have a few fun races with the NYRR over the next several weeks. My next competitive race is the Pequannock Triathlon on August 20th, followed by one of my biggest races of the year, a 70.3 IRONMAN in Maine. Stay tuned!