Great race. Highly recommended.Saturday June 26, 2004The weekend began with the check in, which was very well run. After watching a video on the course and race rules, participants received race materials (i.e. swim caps, start times etc.) and the required bracelet that allowed entrance into the bike parking. Unfortunately, riding one’s bike from check-in (Times Square – Marriot Marquis) to bike parking (Riverside Park / 79th Street) was not tremendously convenient. Nonetheless, I did not encounter any difficulty when I actually arrived into bike parking – I showed the wristband and found my pre-labeled spot. From start to beginning (note, I did get to check in for the first session, avoiding the crowds and, no doubt, making the process painless), the entire process took about 1.5 hours, which left all of Saturday to relax.Sunday June 27, 2004A friend, also participating in the race, stayed over in my apartment the night before. We woke up around 3:40AM. She combed her hair, got all lady-like, and we were off. Luckily, and expectedly, we were able to find a cab with relative ease.Arrival at bike parking: 4:45AM.Another unfortunate logistic detail of the race was that the bike parking and swim start was separated by a little over a mile. So, unwilling to spend $$$ on another cab, I walked with a group. Although there was an option to place clothing in a pre-marked bag, at the swim start, for transport and pickup at the finish line, I opted to not bring any additional clothing, including footwear.Walking next to the water, the only direct path, I was comforted knowing that other people were with me on this “path” but somewhat disturbed by the bits of broken glass, beer bottles and one syringe—not to mention the rocks that made walking a semi-painful experience. Nonetheless, I made it to the swim start with enough time to spare for a little Adam-time inside the conveniently located port potty.
SwimMy wave was the third wave (6:08AM). After the previous wave departed, my age group was allowed to walk onto the barge and enter the water. Although I was not the first racer in the holding area, I was certainly not the last but found myself struggling to find a spot in the start. Luckily, after jumping in the water, I found a vacant piece of rope to hold onto.One of my fears, besides the radioactive material content of the Hudson River, was the water temperature. I found the water was much warmer as I inched closer to the holding dock. Jokingly, I looked at the woman next to me and remarked, “The water is suspiciously warm. Was that you?” All I was looking for was a nervous laugh, I was not prepared for the response. “Yeah, I can take some credit for that.” Not to be one-upped, “Two can play that game.”And with that, we were told our swim would begin in on minute. Before I knew it, we were off.The water was disgusting. Make no mistake about it. Besides being a horrible swimmer and swimming in every direction but straight (a woman in a canoe cautioned me two times for swimming in the direction of the water wall), I came across items no swimmer should see, namely an actual condom, remnants of a t-shirt and a grocery store bag.Nonetheless, being in an early wave was great! Usually my wave is toward the tail end of all waves and maneuvering through packs of swimmers is difficult with a non-aggressive person such as myself. During this race, people would pass me with little touching or “swimming-over”, because of the swim course width. The end of the swim took place after climbing onto a barge that required swimmers to crawl. T1 went well – not many people to dodge while I entered, nor did I have to avoid crazed cyclists who seem to place precious seconds ahead of human life.
BikeHowever, there was one semi-unpleasant experience. As I got out of the transition area, I was having difficulty clipping into my pedals. Apparently some man, positioned behind me, did not appreciate my being an obstacle to his quest to rewrite the records books with a new course record. “Stop riding like a #%#$%! Race started an hour ago.”Still not having mastered the art of clipping into my pedals, I let this one go…for now.Bike course ran along the West Side highway. Roads were smooth and there were a couple of minor hills, making for a pleasant ride. Riders were friendly and encouraging, which was a first. There was some occasional discussion amongst riders, and even some friendly trash talking involving yours truly.At mile 9 I noticed some woman continued passing me on uphill climbs, but I would pass her on the downhill. On the flats, we would trade positions with regularity. All is fair in love, war and racing right? As she passed me at mile 9, I looked to my left and said, “You again?! We’ve got to stop meeting like this!” I received a smile, which is always a good thing. This got me thinking about what my coach always tells me. He says I need to get used to the pain associated with “racing”, really “racing”, that I have much more ability than the race times indicate because I do not push myself to exhaustion. Talking with this woman made me realize he was right. So I made my move…I called ON YOUR LEFT and as I was passing her, I said, “Sorry love, got to go.” And with that, like too many women in my life, she was gone.
RunFor the first time in a while, upon getting off the bike, I felt good. My legs felt fresh and I was excited to start the final portion of the race. So I started the run with a 7:38 first mile pace. Then comes a woman who verbally committed to keeping pace with me. Around mile 2, my knee starts hurting (reoccurring IT band issue) and my pace drops significantly to approximately 8:15ish.Thankfully, she was a talker so we chatted a bit. I learned of her previous races, marital status and birthday before, again, replaying the conversation I had with my coach about leaving “it all on the course”. So I politely bid 'adieu' and sped up around mile 4 when I saw the biggest motivation I could see at that time…him.That man who lashed out at me, during the bike start, for not getting into my bike at a pace to his liking – his ugly, faded dragon tattoo will no doubt stay with me and all others with the misfortune of seeing it. Lucidly, this was a marker that reminded me of his rude behavior earlier in the race and I sped up to close the 50 yards between us. By this time, we were approaching the 5 mile marker and I was determined to teach this slap-nut a lesson.I get side by side and look over to my right. He had no idea who I was, I would imagine, but speeds up nonetheless. Maybe it was an ego thing or maybe he actually did remember me as that guy who slept through CLIPPING INTO PEDALS 101 – a course he obviously ACE’ed. So, I sped up as well and decided to make my move – not before uttering the following, “You were wrong before. Race starts NOW #%#$%!”I could barely keep a straight face as our pace became noticeably faster. Once the adrenaline wore off, I was only a few feet ahead when all of a sudden, I no longer saw him. I no longer heard his breathing and turned around to see he had given up this battle, layed down his ego and accepted defeat.I crossed the finish line having completed my first Olympic triathlon.Besides the organization, course route and experiences with other racers, that day was very special for me for two other reasons. First, my brother, a testimony to hard work and dedication and a true inspiration, was part of a relay team and completed the run portion. Doesn’t sound like such a big accomplishment to most but a little history is needed to appreciate his experience. As late as 2000, he was approximately 50 pounds heavier, of pure fat. With weight training and a greater awareness of reasonable eating habits, he was able to trim that down to a lean 200lb frame. Not known for aerobic ability, he entered into the race knowing that this was more than twice as long as any distance he’d even run. Yet he completed the race and did so to the cheers of both my parents who saw him cross.Second, this was the first and last race my mother saw. On July 9th, she passed away. I tried writing about how and why her presence at the race meant so much, but that is a story that cannot be abbreviated. Thankfully there is a quotation that instantaneously reminded me of her that sums up her influence on my life:Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around us.We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.It’s not just in some of us; it’s in every one of us.And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.- Marianne Williamson from A Return to Love The 2004 Ford NYC Triathlon was my last race of 2004. Mentally, I am unable to commit to training, let alone racing. Not having her in my life is a tragedy that burns deeper each day. As the reality sets in, I have no choice but to accept my current reality. Yet, one of the many lessons I learned was how to fight, if not for myself, then for those I care about. And that is the fuel and the legacy that allows me to get out of bed each morning, to continue smiling – to keep going.The day after my Half-Ironman, I told her that I could not help but feel like there was more to accomplish. It was hard but I felt like I could’ve gone further. She said, "So do more.” Toying with the idea until that point, this put me over the edge. I spent the next few weeks trying to convince myself against it but after her passing, “it” became clear.There will be no more race reports for the remainder of this year but what you will see are the training journals in my quest to complete the 2005 Lake Placid Ironman— a journey that will be filled with a conundrum of emotions, from pain (physical and mental) to elation, and everything in between. A journey I hope we can travel together….
Personal apple pies, loaves of banana bread and stacks of pancakes and/or french toast. Not withstanding these weaknesses, 05 Lake Placid Ironman or bust!