Sunday, July 14, 2013

Big City Racing: Philadelphia and NYC

Since I last blogged, I raced the Philadelphia and NYC Triathlons. Here, I’ll briefly recount both triathlons and the three weeks between the races.

Philadelphia Triathlon.
The highlight of the Philadelphia Triathlon was my incredible cheer squad. I felt so honored that Tim, my parents, my mom’s best college friend and her husband (who is a pharmacokineticist…it was really nice to be able to use words like lipophilic in normal conversations with him), and my college teammates Dana and Diana all got up very early to cheer for me (Dana also made a pretty spectacular sign for me). I had a lot of fun racing for many of my biggest fans, and I logged another fifth place finish. I was happy to finish fifth in a competitive field, but I felt like I could have done better in all three disciplines. Still, I left the race confident that I’m steadily improving in training and racing. 

The “In-Between” Weeks.
I thoroughly enjoyed the time between Philadelphia and NYC. First, my grandma and great aunt visited Richmond and took Tim and me out for one of our best meals of the year. Then, Tim and I finally took the romantic getaway my siblings gave us for our wedding, spending a long weekend at a B&B in the Northern Neck. The biking and kayaking in the region are both spectacular, although I did get stuck on a ferry that ran out of gas as I neared the end of my long ride on the Potomac Heritage Trail. Meanwhile, I made substantial progress on my summer research, spending many afternoons outside by the pool researching or coding on my computer. Every day I think, “how in the world am I getting paid for a job this awesome?”

NYC Triathlon
I have four really positive things to report from NYC:

1) The race director and race day crew did a remarkable job of running the event. How they manage to pull off a large event in a city as big as NYC baffles me. The volunteers were numerous and incredibly helpful, and the entire event was organized and efficient.  I give the race organizers two thumbs up/five stars/A+.

2) I finished in 3rd place! I came out of the water in sixth, fell back to eighth when I lost my water bottle right out of transition, caught several women on the bike, and started the run in fourth place. I knew the top three were well ahead of me on the bike and was just hoping to maintain my position on the run. Then, with only one mile left, I heard someone yell to me “you can catch her,” suggesting that I was within striking distance of third place. Sure enough, I was about 60 seconds behind third place with a mile remaining. I dug deeper and caught her with less than half a mile remaining.  My dad asked me after the race if it was cool to race in Central Park. Honestly, the run course was far more challenging than I anticipated, and I was so focused on trying to keep moving that I was hardly aware of my surroundings. In fact, I don’t even remember having a single thought during the entire race other than “I’m in millionaire zone” as I ran down 72nd street amidst luxury condominium sky rises.

3)  I got to pop a champagne bottle while on the podium with the other top finishers. This experience was a “bucket list” item for me, so it was definitely the highlight of the trip. The last bucket list item that I completed was SCUBA diving at the Great Barrier Reef. That experience cost me a chunk of my balance and hearing, so the cost of this bucket list item ($500 in traveling expenses and the logistical challenges discussed below) was thankfully lower and much less permanent.

4) My host on Friday night was phenomenal. After a long, fruitless search for a friend in NYC to host me on Friday night, I put out a plea for help on Facebook. I was overwhelmed by the number of people willing to help connect me with a host. I ended up staying with a stranger, the friend of a friend and fellow UR alumna, Lauren. Lauren really went above and beyond. She met me when my Greyhound bus arrived to escort me to her Washington Heights apartment and made me feel right at home. I am so thankful to Lauren for her willingness to host me (a stranger, on incredibly short notice) and for making me feel so welcome. Side note: Greyhound has an express route from Richmond to NYC with only two stops. I was skeptical, but it’s actually a pretty decent way to travel.

My trip to NYC had a lot of positives, but amidst those positives, I encountered a stream of what felt like relentless hurdles. To put it briefly, all of my personal pre-race day and race day logistics were a disaster. For three days, I hauled a 49-pound, oddly shaped bike box around the city (at one point a 10 minute walk turned into 50 when I got lost), through multiple modes of public transportation, and up and down dozens of sets of stairs. This was overwhelming and exhausting, and I woke up race morning sore in every muscle of my body. By the end of the weekend, both of the handles on the bike box were broken, leaving me to push the box around the crowded city (including Times Square) with little to no steering capability. Additionally, for a number of reasons, I ended up getting three hours of sleep the night before the race. I did a good job of banishing thoughts surrounding my lack of sleep prior to and during the race, but there were times when I could feel that body wanted nothing more than to curl up and fall asleep. I also had some misfortunes during the race. My water bottle fell off my bike within the first quarter mile of the bike course. By the time I got off my bike and recovered it, all of my electrolyte mix was gone. I managed to take a few swigs of water from the triangle-shaped water bottle on the back of my Felt TT bike, but the water bottle is hard to reach and drink from, so I lost a fair amount of wattage from my average power every time I tried to drink. The lack of electrolytes on the bike had serious leg cramping consequences on both the end of the ride and on the run. Thus, I was disappointed in both my bike and run splits.

All in all, the weekend in NYC was quite the experience. Many thanks to the strangers who helped me out this weekend (especially the man took pictures on my camera of my podium experience), Rianna for hooking me up with my host Lauren, Lauren, Tim because he's the best, my Dad for getting my website ready to go live, Jill for lending me her speed suit, Courtney for helping me with open water swimming, Elizabeth and Dana for always remembering to say good luck, EF's Dane and Andy for helping me out with all my last minute bike needs, and Michael for believing in me even when I don't believe in myself. I'm so happy about my 3rd place finish, and I’m incredibly relieved that my next race will be in my hometown. Logistics for that race will be substantially easier, and I’ll have the luxury of a battle-ready support crew who is already stocking up on all of my favorite foods. I can’t wait!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Julie! I found your blog through Jenn at Runnderlust... I'm another RVA blogger and wannabe runner at!