Sunday, July 13, 2008

Aquathlon race report

That word is virtually unpronounceable by human tongue, by the way.

It was haphazard, it was enjoyable, it was educational, it was slow but satisfying!

The exact dimensions of slowness I cannot tell you, because I forgot to turn on my watch at the beginning (the whole race was a little bit like this, I was not really racing!).

I believe the swim (1.5km plus a LOT of extra meters of try-and-get-back-nearer-to-the-seawall type maneuvering - I would say I must have swum at least 200m extra, maybe more!) was roughly 38 minutes plus; I did time the run bit (5K plus a bit in transition), it was 27:something; I momentarily registered the time at ending and then promptly forgot it but it was perhaps 1:06.

Not bad: steady and strong throughout, and I am sorry to say I could not have run much faster under the circumstances. Will link once results and photos are up at the Manhattan Island Foundation site...

I had barely slept - I am an epically poor sleeper in any case, both Thursday and Friday nights were sleep-disastrous so I took a pill and hoped for the best last night. Popped off easily around 11 but woke up at 1 when the smoke alarm started making an evil yelp every twenty seconds to alert me to the impending demise of its battery! Which is a mystery, because this happened a month ago, just before I went away, and my catsitter kindly arranged for the super to come & replace what turned out to be not just batteries but both the smoke and the carbon monoxide detectors. The mysteries of life? Never really went back to sleep: too anxious about 5:45 alarm, too irked by yelping...

The start was about a mile away from the transition area.

Insight #1: it was not that I was almost the only person wearing a wetsuit, in fact a lot of people did; but I was the only person foolish enough to don my wetsuit at 56th St. and then walk in it up to the pier at 72nd where we were actually starting! That was a strange mile of walking - I did not feel at all bad, but I did feel like a person with only two hours of sleep walking under a hot sun in a slightly rigor-mortisy wetsuit...

(The wetsuit is good. I've got a sore spot on my neck, but it really fits well, and now I've cut a bit off the ankles it is slightly implausibly easy to get on and off. I was contemplating not wearing it, but in fact I was very glad of it during the swim, not for temperature but for floatiness and hygiene! The way it keeps your legs high up in the water is amazing - a modest sacrifice on front-end power [and really it is very comfortable, I have narrow shoulders so I don't feel it limits my range of movement much] is well worth it for the improvement in streamline...)

These summer morning southerly Hudson swims are supposed to be very fast, but in fact the race start was held back about twenty minutes because - worryingly! - the current actually seemed to be going the wrong way! Hmmm....

Strong and enjoyable swim (wetsuit and greater spacing-out of swimmers made it better technique-wise than the Florida one in May), but I have much to work on in terms of sighting and staying where I want to be. We had been initially advised to stay 5m inside the buoys, and then when the current turned out to be problematic the announcer recommended 10m. But do what I might - and it is not sighting per se, I had a fair sense of where I was and which direction I was pointing in - I went too far out right at the beginning, and I kept on finding myself almost right up against the buoys! There was a ton of chop and quite a bit of current going not really so much in the direction I was trying to go in.

Interesting - sort of fun, in a way, and I think I would have been fine without the wetsuit, but it certainly is pleasant thinking that really you could just float along indefinitely in one of those things if you needed to! I have not swum in so much chop before, the suit is beneficial.

At transition I realized I had barely contemplated my practical arrangements. Why had I drunk every drop of my water before the race, so that there was nothing to be done about my disgustingly sea-salty mouth? Why hadn't I even thought to untie my running shoes to save a few seconds?!? Ah well, whatever, I was off on the run with reasonable promptness, and I was reassured to see quite a few pairs of running shoes still in the area when I left...

The run was enjoyable, with the proviso that I felt mildly queasy throughout - I thought about stepping up the pace, but I didn't really have it in me. It was a combination of mouth being very salty with tidal river water (I had to spit a few times, I never do that, I just kind of forgot that in a small race like that - capped at 150 for run-swim and another 150, I think, just doing the swim - there will not be any water on the course - could have stopped at a water-fountain but was worried about effects on morale of stopping and having to start again!) and stomach just lightly unsettled, in some small part due to aforesaid water but more, I think, because of (I love this phrase, I have recently learned it from one of the most accurate language-users I know!) a degraded lactate threshold! I must desensitize myself to the effects of lactate in coming weeks, that is my specific goal for the first part of marathon training...

Anyway I passed a few people on the run, was passed by a few myself, it was all pretty good. And while waiting at the swim start, people were talking quite a bit about previous years' experience in the NYC tri and giving tips of one kind and another, so that was good too. A worthwhile morning all round, although it has left me in a daze that has only been slightly dissipated by a mid-afternoon Starbucks cappuccino...

3 comments:

Wendy said...

Aquathlon -- no, it just won't roll easily off the tongue!

Glad it was a good experience, Evil Smoke Detector notwithstanding.

Brent Buckner said...

Good day out there!

A-kwathlon
OK, maybe others don't pronounce it that way, but it works for me!

Leah said...

Congrats on getting it done! Very impressive!