On Sunday August 3rd 2014 I competed in my first New York City Triathlon (@nyctriathlon) and won!
OK, so I didn’t win the race itself, but then that was never the purpose, instead I won by setting a personal record for an Olympic distance triathlon of 2 hrs 37 mins, versus my previous best of 2 hrs 57 min at the Pacific Grove Triathlon a few years ago. I’d set out to finish in under 3 hrs and blew that away by 23 minutes and since you should never leave the scene of accomplishing a goal without setting a new one my focus is now on 2 hrs 30 mins and then 2hrs 20 mins.
This really was an enjoyable and well put together race, especially as there were 40+ other paratriathletes racing…and boy are they fast. These guys inspire me to push harder given some are clocking in at 2 hrs 4 mins and placing in the top 50 athletes overall…NO EXCUSES!
Accenture sponsors and puts up the only prize purse for paratriathletes in the US and the race organizers in partnership with Accenture really roll out the red carpet for us paratriathletes, love it…I got to be part of the 2014 Accenture Challenged Athletes International Championships (#AccentureCAC).
Up at 4am, got dressed and onto the bus to transition to set everything up. By 5:30am most people are walking the mile along the Hudson River from transition to the swim start. The river is starting to flow pretty fast as the pros set off followed by the first wave of age group athletes. For the paratriathletes, our race starts at 7am. Standing/sitting out onto the pontoon are a bunch of athletes missing upper or lower limbs, that are partially blind/blind or paralyzed…all ready to jump into the Hudson River to start the race. Can you imagine being blind and standing there about to jump into a fast flowing river? Respect!
It’d usually take me about 36 mins to swim the 1.5km…with a little assist from the Hudson I was done in 18 mins! And that was despite the fact I had to catch my breath for a minute after trying (unsuccessfully) to keep up with a 26-year-old upper limb amputee…good lesson learnt, you’ve got to swim at your own pace, not someone elses.
Out of the water and a quick jog 400m to the bike transition. It had started to drizzle as we jumped in for the swim, now it was definitely raining. At least it saved time in transition as there wasn’t much point drying myself off for the bike ride.
The bike course is a rolling course along the West Highway, there’s very little that’s flat. Admittedly compared to the climbs back in Northern California the hills are pretty gentle, but it still meant I had to push hard on the bike. I wanted to try and average 20 mph but couldn’t quite keep that pace with the hills and rain and there just not being enough umph in my legs. So after 1 hr 20 min I finished the 40km ride, averaging 18.6 mph (definite room for improvement).
Which left my least favorite part, the 10km run around Central Park. The atmosphere and the crowd was just electric, this is such a spectator-friendly event and so many people line the run course that you can’t help but keep smiling.
I didn’t know what my overall time was, I just knew I had to push. I’m normally happy if I can manage a 8:45 min / mile pace, but for this race I wanted to get closer to 8 min / mile. It’s also a rolling course with very little flat, you’re either climbing or going downhill all the time, which spikes the heart rate. I ended up running with an Israeli guy who ran Central Park all the time and he paced me and pushed me, describing each hill in advance, my thanks to this man for helping me achieve a 8 min / mile pace and finishing the run in under 50 mins for an overall time of 2 hrs 37 min 55 secs.
What a fun and exhilarating day. I can honestly say I felt as much of a sense of achievement from this 2 hrs 37 mins of effort as I did from the 15 hrs 41 mins it took me to complete Ironman Lake Tahoe last year! It’s never about the destination, it’s how you show up for the journey that counts and racing with 40 other paratriathletes reminded me why I fundraise each year for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). Many of my fellow paratriathletes wouldn’t have been there alongside me if it wasn’t for the grants they got from CAF to buy the specialised prosthetics and equipment they were using that day – and in my small way I played a part in that and for those that have supported me through the years so did you too, so thank you, it means a tremendous amount to me.
The race will be aired on Saturday, August 16, 2014 @ 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Fox/WWOR.
If you’d like to support my efforts and donate you can click the button below, the money I raise goes to help those with disabilities continue to lead even more active lives with the aid of prosthetics and adaptive devices that often aren’t covered by medical insurance.
Help me raise $2000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation