Tag Archives: New York City Triathlon

My 2017 Triathlon Life: Race Schedule

The time has arrived: let’s talk about the 2017 triathlon racing season.

The 2016 campaign seems like another lifetime, and although I thoroughly enjoyed the off-season, I’m ready to start laying the groundwork for a successful 2017. Overall, I made a lot of progress during the 2016 season—it was my first year training with a coach instead of putting together my own “piecemeal” plan—and I’m excited to continue this journey: growing, maturing, and becoming a better endurance athlete.

Favorite time, favorite place: dawn patrol in Central Park

As my fifth official tri season (wow!), this year will center on expanding my endurance portfolio. Multisport has become my lifestyle, and I love being a student of the sport; continuing to learn, grow, and challenge myself will be the overarching objectives this year. Therefore, in addition to a handful of “normal” Olympic-distance races, we’ll do events that take me outside my comfort zone—like swim meets and stage races.

My long-term triathlon goals have also prompted the diversification of my endurance portfolio, mainly because long-course events, specifically a 70.3 (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run) now seem feasible. I’ve been around the sport for a good amount of time, and I’ve also seen and trained with friends who have tackled this distance; this experience has demystified the distance, and it has also showed me what is necessary to string together a solid outing. My mindset has gone from ‘someday, a long time from now’ to ‘maybe in a few years’ to ‘I want to do it.’

cRUNch, cRUNch

With this in mind, the primary focus of the 2017 season will be building a base for making the jump to long-course racing—specifically racing a 70.3—in 2018.

New England Short-Course Meters Championships

Boston, MA

March 17-19

Can’t stop, won’t stop: swim meet number three is going down in March.  The New England Short-Course Yards Championship draws tons of regional teams and promises solid competition.  Not that I’ll be “competing” against anyone else.  My only goals are to further expand my race experience portfolio and have fun.  Hopefully I can string together decent swims, and since my masters team goes every year, I know we’ll have a blast. When registration opens, I’ll sign up for all the freestyle events (50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free), plus the 100 IM. My masters team will race relays, so I’ll probably end up swimming the 200 free relay, 200 medley relay, 400 medley relay, and/or 400 free relay. And yes, I know this is an aggressive schedule for three days, but it’s all about gaining experience.

Queens Marathon

Queens, NY

March 26

For the past month or so, I’ve been guiding with Achilles, and for the most part, I’ve been running with the same athlete. He was the second person I was paired with, and we hit it off. He’s also a triathlele, and we have a lot of mutual friends in the community. Because of this connection, during our third or fourth time running together, he asked me to guide him for the Queens Marathon.

I have never run a marathon—but this is not about me.

My coach and I have talked about it, and I’m taking the necessary measures to prepare myself for tackling 26.2 miles. If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you’ve seen my long run increasing throughout the past few weeks as well as my weekly mileage. While covering the distance will be a mental challenge for me, I am also cognizant of the time on my feet. Thus far, it looks like our target marathon pace will be about a minute slower than what would be “my” projected marathon pace so muscle fatigue will be an issue for me once we get to the later miles.

All in all, I’m very excited and humbled by this opportunity. My triathlon racing season doesn’t start until June, so the timing of this race works. I’m looking forward to experiencing a race from a new perspective, and this will be an extremely memorable way to complete my first 26.2 miler. (Did I just say first?) I never thought 2017 would be the year of the marathon, but it’s happening!

Seneca7

Making the rounds through my old stomping grounds

Geneva, NY

April 30

Worlds will collide again this year when my NYC runner friends and I make the five-hour drive to the Finger Lakes.  The core of last year’s team will return, but there are a few of us who will be running this day-long relay for the first time.  And since I’m not starting a new job, we’ll spend Sunday night in Geneva after the race instead of driving back immediately after finishing. Like last year, I plan to view my three legs as workouts and use each as an opportunity to execute a slightly faster pace than what I hit running off the bike.

Rev3 Quassy

Middlebury, CT

June 3

This is one course I can’t seem to crack, so why on earth am I going back?  Well, for that exact reason:  I have unfinished business.  A few years ago, I had a disastrous race at Pat Griskus, and although I tapered expectations for last year’s Rev3 Quassy, it was still a mentally tough day for a variety of reasons.  I’m hoping actually riding outside (woohoo for health insurance) before race day will solve those problems.  In all seriousness, though, this race will be increasingly important this year, even just from a confidence building perspective.  Quassy is hilly and technical course, much like the 70.3 I’m eying for 2018.  With Earl in charge of the training, I have full confidence we’ll be physically ready for a good day, and I feel like my mentally game has improved leaps and bounds.

HITS Hudson Valley

Hardware for all!

Kingston, NY

July 8

Aside from the training weekend in Lake Placid, my weekend “Upstate” was the highlight of the 2016 racing season.  The fact that it was a good outing was a pleasant surprise. I always want to do well at races, but this event has been about executing across the disciplines—stringing together the best possible race on that day (and seeing where the cards fall in terms podium spots)—and then spending the rest of the weekend hanging out with friends.  It’s so important to strike that balance, and this race weekend always makes me feel grateful for the people this sport has brought into my life.

New York City Triathlon

July 16

My experience volunteering for CAF at this race last year was ultimately the catalyst for me getting involved with Achilles, and this time around, I plan to participate in the race as a guide.  My role will be similar to what I do during the Queens Marathon–I will be with an athlete every step of the way–but I have not solidifying who I will be guiding yet.  Not to worry, though, as this will fall into place as the race approaches.

Cazenovia Triathlon

Chasing that first-out-of-the-water feeling

Cazenovia, NY

August 27

The first multisport event I completed, the Caz Tri holds a special place in my heart. In past years, this race has served as a capstone to my season: typically, I’d have a humbling experience at Nationals and return home with my competitive fire burning and crank out one last solid outing before heading into the off-season. Although this race will be my final triathlon of the season, it will more accurately mark a turning point in my training progression as I shift from a swim-bike-run focus to a swim-run mentality.

SwimRun VA

Richmond, VA

October 21

I am beyond pumped for this stage race!  Throughout the course of one day, my team—Two Stevens, because my training buddy’s first name is Steven, and that’s also my last name—will cover six swim legs totaling 3.3 miles and seven run legs totaling 14.95 miles for a total mileage of 18.32. This race will provide new challenges as far as training and racing go, but we’ll also need to iron out logistics and get comfortable with a few things—like running in wetsuits and swimming with in our running shoes.

It’s worth noting that for the first time in four years, I will not be going to Nationals.  Although I fully committed myself to the process, last year’s race itself left a lot to be desired from an experiential standpoint.  In turn, those feeling gave me pause to reflect: why has this event become a season staple?  Do I really want to go back to Omaha and do it again (even if parts of the course have been changed)?  How does it align with my goals as a triathlete? Also, I can usually swing one training trip and one “destination” race per year, and the Richmond SwimRun race simply made me so much more excited.

So that’s where we stand for 2017. I’m sure I’ll hop into a few road races throughout the year–and I will go to Lake Placid for a training camp–but these are the events we’re building my schedule and progression around.

Which event are you most exited for this year?

 

Volunteering for the Challenged Athletes Foundation at the New York City Triathlon

I’m no stranger to volunteering. From Syracuse 70.3 to countless stints at Ironman Lake Placid, I’ve embraced the spirit of giving back to triathlon. After all, it’s given me so much, brought some phenomenal people into my life, and ultimately shaped who I am; the least I can do is peel off wetsuits and manage transition bags for a few hours. A few weeks ago, though, I had an unparalleled experience when I volunteered with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) at the New York City Triathlon.

2016-nyc-triathlon-caf-paratriathlete-handler

Although several friends are involved with CAF and other likeminded non-profit organizations like Achilles, I had yet to volunteer for this type of group. The week of the race, my duties were routine:  I emailed my athlete, exchanged phone numbers, and answered a few questions he had about traveling from the airport to his hotel. Some of my responsibilities centered on these logistical uncertainties—how to get from the hotel to transition, how early to leave the hotel on race morning, etc.—and since I sort of did the race in 2013, I was able to answer course-specific questions.

This is where “standard” volunteer duties ended and paratriathlete handler responsibilities began.

On Saturday, the day before the race, we met at the mandatory briefing, which was held in Midtown Manhattan. There was a separate presentation for paratriathletes and their handlers, and I did my best to absorb as much information as possible: the classifications, the scoring system, etc. We also reviewed rules and identified appropriate instances and protocol for an athlete asking for help, and we continued this conversation as we brought our athlete’s bikes to transition to Riverside Park.

2016-caf-walk-to-nyc-tri-transition

Racing chair on the left (for the run) and handcycle on the right (for the bike)

There are several areas on the NYC Triathlon course that are not ideal for paratriathletes.  Luckily, since both my fellow handler and I had done this race, we were able to pinpoint a few problematic points, and in some cases, we were able to scope them out. When our athlete arrived at these spots during the race itself, he had to clearly ask for assistance (i.e. “May I please have some help here?”) so he would not get DQ’ed for receiving unsolicited help. Anyway, after getting his handcycle and chair situated in transition, we talked through our race-day plan once more and agreed to meet the following morning at 5:30 a.m.

2016-nyc-tri-caf-race-morning

A unique aspect of the NYC Triathlon includes its transition setup: there are two (yellow and red) that run along the Hudson River, and your transition color dictates your swim wave. The yellow transition contained pro males and females, plus elite age groupers, all females, and a handful of dudes. After the final wave of the yellow transition was released into the Hudson, there was a 20-minute break, and then the paratriathletes were released at 7 a.m., which meant these folks had clear water. My fellow handler and I helped our athlete down the ramp to the swim start, and he simply exited his chair, and then we hightailed it 0.9 miles south to the swim exit and waited.

Now, I’ve worked swim exits many times. And yes, I am a total endurance sap who cries during every Ironman Lake Placid video. But I was on the verge of tears at the swim exit.

2016-nyc-tri-caf-swim-exit-2

Watching these strong, capable, absolutely relentless individuals swim 1K was incredibly humbling and inspiring. All too often, we get caught up in the data, paces, and accolades we chase while pursuing the perfect race. We worry about minutia: which goggles to wear, which ring to be in on a hill, when to take a gel. We analyze metrics. We obsess over those 15 seconds we lost in transition. And we take it for granted.

I’ve taken race experiences for granted. But seeing my athlete navigate this race in his chair—pushing him up the steel swim ramp exit, lifting him in his chair up four steps into transition, helping him back into his chair after he fell due to pockets of sand in transition—instilled a new sense of gratitude in me.  It also made me quite anxious. He entrusted me with parts of his race, and I wanted him to have the best day possible. This responsibility stressed me out—volunteering in this capacity allowed me to have a direct impact—but it gave me a greater emotional connection to his experience. And ultimately, this higher investment led to a greater “reward.”

If you have the opportunity to volunteer for one of these organizations, do not pass it up.

Triathlon Training Log – Week 34 (July 18)

So a little race occurred in my backyard today.

2016-nyc-triathlon-transition

Gear. Everywhere.

More than 4,000 triathletes took on the New York City Triathlon, an Olympic-distance race under normal circumstances. However, due to extreme projected heat, the run portion was shortened from 10-K to 8-K before the event began. The run course was also cut short last year, but it happened as the race was going on—meaning some folks did the entire 10-K loop while others did 8-K or even 5-K. Per usual, it was a blistering hot day … and it sounds like it’s currently a scorcher in Lake Placid too for the Ironman folks.

General training notes: Nationals is quickly approaching—t-minus three weeks!—so we will be doing a lot of race-specific preparation on the bike and run: wattages, paces, efforts, whatever you want to call it. The city experienced killer heat and humidity this week, but I really can’t complain because that’s what I’ll face in Omaha.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy 75-minute recovery ride that left me hungry for the rest of the day. I did not miss those hunger pangs that accompany zone two work.

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park

Another round of race-paced cruise intervals: 3×12 minutes with three minutes easy between each set. These feel better and better each week, so let’s hope the pace feels sustainable off the bike in Omaha.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

We repeated Sunday’s strength workout that centered on low cadence sets. Those intervals did not feel great, but they made the five-minute sweet spot blocks between each feel easy.

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park; p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Easy six miler in the morning and 2,500m of IM sets after work

Friday – p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Apparently masters is not the place to be on a Friday evening—there were just four of us in the pool! On the bright side, that gave the infamous Russian coach plenty of time to work with me on IM technique. It turns out my body position for freestyle is perfect, breaststroke is my second strongest stroke, and my butterfly needs a lot of work. In total, I swam 2,800m.

Saturday – a.m. brick (bike-swim-bike)

Another solid Sportz Saturday outing: twenty miles to the Palisades pool; about an hour in the water for a tech-based swim; and 20 miles back home to NYC. This was my third consecutive day in the pool (who am I?!), and it was noticeable in a good way. Thinking ahead to my post-Nationals life, I have decided this means I will do the exact opposite of avoiding the water during the off-season: I actually want to spend a lot of time splashing around.

Sunday – off/volunteered at the New York City Triathlon

After sort of doing the New York City Triathlon in 2013, I do not have the desire to do it again. However, I have volunteered in the past, and today, I put my Sherpa skills to good use as a paratriathlete handler for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

2016-nyc-triathlon-swim-exit

This deserves its own post, but it was an incredibly rewarding and humbling experience. Seeing what goes on behind the scenes to make sure these athletes have smooth experiences was eye-opening.

How often do you volunteer at races, events, etc.?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 28 (Week 29)

Woah. Where did this week go?

social-run-turnaround

Have you been running around in circles, too? Between playing catch-up from Lake Placid (recap to come, promise!) and working the New York City Triathlon expo this weekend, I’ve been go, go go—not that I’d want it any other way.

General training notes: So … it’s crunch time. As my last truly hard week before Nationals, this span centered on shorter, intense efforts. There’s nothing increased volume will do now; it’s about honing my paces and getting a feel for what can be maintained across the disciplines.

Monday – off

Totally unintentional. It was a travel day back from Lake Placid. I don’t remember the last time I’ve taken two days off in a row.

Tuesday – a.m. brick (bike and run)

Huge confidence booster. Absolutely huge. A few teammates and I met up in Central Park for three solid-ish loops on our tri bikes, and then I biked to the gym to run. And it went so well. I want to get better at dialing into my race pace immediately off the bike, which means maintaining a quick cadence—which means running on the treadmill (for now). My goal was to negative split three miles, and I did it! My average pace for the run was actually faster than my projected 10-K-off-the-bike, but it felt sustainable.

Wednesday – a.m. bike

Flatted for the first time this season. Womp, womp. But until that happened, the workout went well: one warm-up and two hard loops with one of my coaches. I was in the red for a good portion of the ride, but that’s what I needed.

Thursday – a.m. swim and run

Lots of race-paced efforts in the water (2,500 yards) and a progression run (five miles) on the treadmill. The swim went OK, but the run felt a lot harder than I hoped. You can’t felt great every day, but I wanted this final tough run to go better.

Friday – a.m. bike

Coming off a not-so-great workout the day before, I really, really wanted this ride to go well. And a solid-ish 40 miles later, I felt much more confident in my abilities and training.

Saturday – a.m. brick

Yes, I did two bricks in one week, but this second one was more for peace of mind—mainly to ensure Tuesday’s workout wasn’t a fluke. I rode an hour on my indoor trainer and then headed outside for three race-pace miles. Thankfully, it was a good workout.

Sunday – off

Volunteering and spectating the New York City Triathlon

All right, taper—let’s do this.  I’m coming for you, Milwaukee!