We’ve written a lot about this race and in all honesty, it deserves it. To me (Katie) it’s more nerve-wracking than a marathon just because there’s so many things to think about and that can go wrong. I felt almost every single emotion during the race: frustration, exhaustion, elation, excitement, bravado, pride, anger (a LOT of anger toward the heat and the run course) and eventually of triumph.
It was literally the hottest day of the year. I was sweating by the time I got into transition at 4:40am and had a bad experience even making it there. I stayed at a friend’s apartment near transition and could not for the life of me figure out how to open the dead bolt (taper brain is real guys!) for FIVE MINUTES. Eventually it worked, I headed down and my clear plastic bag to take into transition ripped. I cradled it to transition, my vivofit fell off in the struggle (luckily I picked it up), got my gear laid out and noticed my good luck shark tattoo had been rubbed off. I took this as a sign. I was on the brink of tears from being overwhelmed by what I was setting out to do. Even as I raced this feeling didn’t go away. I’m going to blame the heat and humidity for this. It was into the 90s with around 80% humidity by the time we started the run and I heard the heat index was around 100 degrees.
Besides the run, I had the greatest race I could have had. I absolutely loved the Hudson and changed up my breathing strategy to every stroke to keep it under control. I remember thinking how much better the Hudson was than every open water swim I had at Coney Island. I reached with my stoke and followed through sighting every few strokes. I did have someone graze and then grab my foot, which was weird and uncalled for, but that was the most bumping I had.
The run from the swim exit to the yellow transition is roughly .25mi on the asphalt and doing it barefoot is extremely painful. It hurt way more this year but it was motivation to get into T1 as fast as possible. I got to T1 to found out the sprinklers had gone off on our things at 5am. Everything was damp, so I did my best spraying sunscreen on a still-wet body and hoped for the best.
The bike is the best – long and tiring, but THE BEST. The hills were challenging, but didn’t feel unmanageable. Just keep breathing and you’ll get to the top, which means you can also reap the benefits of the downhill as well. Some participants wanted no part in the “no drafting or pack riding” rule. I would continuously have five or six riders on my left that wouldn’t quickly pass me sometimes causing me to slow down so I wouldn’t ride over the person directly in front of me. Also, a LOT of people wore headphones. Get it together guys and be safe. Craziest thing I saw by far was one bike with a kickstand THAT WAS ACCIDENTALLY DOWN. I immediately backed off and waited for an opportunity to pass. That was an accident waiting to happen.
The run was BRUTAL but I can proudly say I waited until mile 3-4 before I started cussing at the course. Almost every water stop had sprinklers for runners to run through to cool off, and the volunteers right before mile five even had pitchers of water to dump on people. They were my favorite.
Overall I think I destroyed this race. I PR’ed in the swim by 1:43, in T1 by 1:32 and the bike by 6:53. The run was slow and resulted in me missing my 2013 time by THREE SECONDS. Guess I have to keep coming back for more.
Race price: 3 The race is about $350, but a lot gets covered with that entry including West Side Highway closures, security, mechanics on the bike course and transition and all the swag. You can be frustrated, but not really mad at it.
Organization: 5: This was the NYC Triathlon’s 15th year and they are very good at hosting this event. Plenty of people to direct you at the expo, transition tours and the day of the race.
Level of communication: 5 Just enough communication so you remember you’re doing the race during the months between registration and go time and that you know what to do and when for race weekend.
Race course: 4 Besides the run, you’ll never experience anything like this race. You’ll never get to (be forced to?) swim in the Hudson nor bike along the WSH. You go through beautiful parts of the city that you may not see otherwise and see the green quiet spaces of NYC.
Swag: 3: My pre-race bag was full of goodies including samples, Men’s Health magazine, juice, and a swim cap. The cap is required for the race, but who doesn’t enjoy a free swim cap?!
Medal: 4 The medal itself doesn’t change from year to year (at least over the past 5 years or so) just the ribbon. This year’s included Lady Liberty and called out 15 years of Tri.
Spectator support: 3 There isn’t any support for the swim (you wouldn’t hear them anyway) and it’s very difficult to spectate on the bike. The ones that were out there were very supportive. Two of my favorites were a woman at the top of a hill in Manhattan screaming “it’s downhill now!” and a cheerleader at the Bronx U-Turn yelling “Welcome to the Bronx! Thanks for visiting!” The run had a good amount of support including some of my favorite people.
I also want to commend the race staff and medical teams that were present in all three legs. They reacted swiftly when a woman was in distress in the water and brought her out to safety, telling the cyclists to stop so they could cross safely. When a man’s legs gave out in the finisher chute and two other runners carried him across the finish line, they were alerted to be ready. Great job responding to situations.
Overall score: 3.875