On September 24 I completed the 21st running of the TOBAY sprint triathlon in Oyster Bay, New York.
This was my first triathlon in 2006, and I like to do it every year just to gauge my improvement, if any, from season to season. This season I have been concentrating on Half Iron distance, so it wasn't clear how much gain I would show, but at least I'd get a good high intensity brick workout, and have some fun. This is the largest triathlon on long island with over 1,500 participants.
I arrived at the race location at 5 am for a 7:30 am start. I was not the first person there, i think i woke up a couple of people who had slept in their cars. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for my regular pre race routine, a medium coffee with milk only and a plain cruller. I rolled my bike into transition and racked it, went over to pick up my chip and got body marking, and paid a visit to the still pristine portosans. I then walked back to my car, got my gear bag, came back in and stretched and did trigger point and some yoga stretches and listened to Zero Seven Simple Things, kind of mellow and cool and relaxing. Around 6:45 I went over and got my stuff set up, shoes on pedals, helmet, gloves and glasses on aerobars, running shoes and hat on towel below bike. No socks. Simple, straightforward, transitions should be fast.
I was in wave 4, Clydesdale and Athena, and each wave was separated by 5 minutes. i got a little splash around in, feeling very calm and comfortable, and just hung out and shat the shot with some of the guys i have met around at races over the last few years, talking mostly about the upcoming Half Ironman in Montauk.
The swim geometry needs some adjustment. I am not sure why, it may be some restriction due to local boat traffic, but the base of the triangle for this swim is too short. In other words, we swam out to the far buoy, turned left and swan only about 20 yards before turning back to shore and the boat ramp exit. The problem with this is we were running into swimmers from later waves who had encroached into the area between the out and the back parts of the swim route. To compound this, I was now catching the back strokers in the waves that went off ahead of me, and they weren't able to sight very well, doing the back stroke and all. And I was following them. So the second half of my swim was serpentine at best.
Swim 22.44 (2007 24:25)
I ran pretty well from the water. I focused on kicking more for the final 100 yards of the swim, and i felt my leg turnover was very quick. As always, my wetsuit came off easily. I found myself fumbling wit my gloves, actually put the left one on my rigth hand and lost some time switching that. I wonder if its really worth it to wear the gloves. I thought maybe because of the large percentage of inexperienced riders and greater chance for a wreck.
T1 3:51 (2007 3:24)
Having the shoes already on the pedals saved me a bunch of time in T1 (which i wasted with the gloves), but i think i need to work on this a little more. The Velcro straps on my shoes had come out of the little metal loop thingies and so i took some time as i rode out of the park getting the straps all properly fixed and tightened. Still, it was faster than sitting down in T1.
i got that all settled before i left the park and started working. my goal is to maintain my cadence near 90, which i did pretty well with speeds up to 27 mph, until reaching Moores Hill Road, at which point I am down to the 60s and 7mph. That hill is short enough, i think .3 miles, and I did manage to get my speed up around 30mph on the big downhill on 25A. You may have heard me screaming "STAY TO YOUR RIGHT", as several fellers on mountain bikes had a leisurely coast all over the road there. Scary as hell.
On the next up hill I dropped my chain downshifting. After stopping to reset it I got my speed back up and promptly had a puncture on my rear tire. That was it then, my race as over, and so I would get some practice changing rear flats on the road. But before that I alked back and cleaned up what appear to be some construction debris, a metal bracket and some sheet metal screws and plastic lags, that littered the shoulder. I estimate the whole process took me 10-12 minutes. I was able to make up some time on Berry Hill Rd with speeds up to 37mph.
I took my feet out of the shoes and pedaled with feet on top for the last half mile or so. I really like doing this, passing all the guys running in cycling shoes. I dont get much chance to pass people any other time.
Bike 43:38 (2007 35:19)
Emptied the spent CO2 cart, levers and bad tube out of my back pockets, sat down and tied my shoes (got to get yanks with the next pair) and headed out for the run. Grabbed a bottle of water from my xlab, noting I hadn't drank at all on the bike. Had a Power Gel as I left T2, mostly for the caffeine.
T2 3:00 (2007 3:08)
This year they moved the first water stop from right outside of transition to a little further down the course, good idea. There are plenty of spectators lining this section and that's always a big help. I noticed, as usual, I was going too fast, around a 7:00 pace. Slow down. After a short flat section I came on the first hill, a short but steep climb leading to another flat section. i struggled up and around the corner and soon enough I started to find my groove, around 8:45 pace.
At the end of this flat section we turned right up a long challenging climb up Underhill Rd toward Planting Fields Arboretum. The course is an out and back and you see the people finishing before you coming down the hill you are climbing. The road is crowned and alot of people run the double yellow because its flattest. I am one of those people.
At that corner the grade steepens, and i walked about 30 yards, then ran up to the turnaround, and now back down, FUN! I was cooking along around 6:30 to 7:15 pace.
About half way down the hill I heard a car coming up behind me, some distance back but you know how you can kind of tell from the sound how fast a car is coming. I looked back and confirmed this white car was coming down the center of the road, straddling the yellow double lines, about 20 miles an hour. People were moving off toward the shoulders to avoid getting hit.As the car passed me I moved off slightly and struck the driver side door with an open hand and shouted "slow down!".
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see the woman slow slightly so that I could look her right in the eye as she gave me the finger and Yelled "F* YOU".
In retrospect this might have been a good time for me to drop it.
Instead, as she drove off I struck the driver side rear door. Now she stopped and rolled down the window and unleashed a tirade.
Come to think of it this would have been another chance for me to keep running and forget this crazy bitch.
If you know me, you know this stuff happens to me all the time and I suppose I have to take some responsibility for it. So at this point, don't ask me why, I reached down and opened her door. I think this might have been a mistake on my part.
She tried to get out of the car to get at me, clearly agitated. Fortunately she had her seat belt on and so she couldn't get out. Fortunate for me, and also for the several hundred runners in front of her, because the car was still in drive.
I yelled at her "Put it in park! Put it in park!". Alright this was good she was fumbling with the gear shift and we were actually working together toward a common goal. I once took a course in conflict resolution so I knew this was a positive step. As she got it in park, she finally also got her seat belt off and lept out of the car at me.
"You want a piece of me? Come and get it!"
I backed up quickly toward the front of her car and she started to chase me. I figure she was about 5'5" and 180 pounds, and she looked like she could probably pummel me pretty good before I knocked her out. She quickly realized we were going to run in circles around the car, I was not interested in wrestling. I was yelling for a cop and calling out her plate number (New York CES 7369).
A woman running up the hill yells to the driver "cant you see there is a race going on?".
"Oh shut up, you dont even look good in that outfit!"
She got in her car, yelled a few more choice curses and drove off, still too fast, down the course.
I turned left on Lake Ave, running hard now because I was kind of riled up. At the end of lake I found a couple fo Nassau County cops and announced "I want to report a crime". I gave the officer the plate number and told him what happened, and he agreed "She is not allowed to do that". He didnt take my name, but I now felt released of my obligation and starting sprinting the last half mile, at around a 7:00 pace.
Run 27:40 (2007 27:02)
At the finish line I saw a guy vomit! While his effort at the end of the run was obviously impressive, I wonder if he should have eaten all them pretzels.
On my way over to transition I saw a couple of race officials and relayed the story to them as well, and so hopefully someone will be paying that lady a visit.
One of the great things about this race is the free beer from Blue Point Brewery. I had a Hoptical Illusion, a Toasted Lager and an Oatmeal Stout. Oh yeah, and a bagel. I had a nice chat with Teddy Roosevelt and a new friend, Franco Zuccoli.
Awesome day. I would have had a PR for sure without the flat, and my run was great considering the shenanigans. Thinking about a family relay next year. Maybe they will keep me confined to the swim.