Race Report: First-Time Triathlete Does the New York City Triathlon

Bike: My way or the West Side Highway
We headed out of the park and up a ramp onto the highway, which we rode up into the hilly Bronx, through tollbooths, around steep curves, and back down into Manhattan. I passed a lot of people changing flat tires along the side of the road, but I did my best to avoid potholes and thankfully did not have to join them.

I had a great time on my bike: I made sure to stay in a low gear as to not irritate my bad knee, and so I was able to speed up some of the steeper hills past people stuck in a higher, harder gear. I also took time to drink plenty of water and, since my stomach was starting to grumble, eat an energy Gu before heading back into the park for my second transition.

Run: Two down, one to go
After reracking my bike and retying my shoes, I headed out of the park at a nice, easy jogging pace. Running 6.2 miles is still challenging for me by itself, let alone after a 26-mile bike ride, so I knew I would have to conserve my energy.

Running through Manhattan, though, with people lining the street was a huge motivator, and it definitely helped me pick up speed—especially when I spotted my parents, friends, and coaches who had come out to cheer. Wearing a Team in Training jersey was a huge help too: So many strangers cheered me on, thanked me for running, and yelled my name along the course. (I'd seriously consider wearing that jersey for future races, whether I raise money for TNT or not. Is that cheating?)
Pushing through to finish strong—in under an hour!

Still, by mile 5 I was beat and definitely slowing down. Then, as if by magic, my friend Sharon appeared behind me! She'd had a start time six minutes after mine and had narrowed the gap between us during the run. We decided to finish the last mile together, even though she's considerably faster than I am; I almost told her several times to go ahead without me.

The combination of Sharon trucking along just ahead of me and the increasing crowds and cheering toward the finish line pushed me through to the end. I think up until the last half mile or so, I'd been scared to really give it 100%—but once people started yelling that the end was "just over this hill" or "just around this bend" (they were all lying) I sped up and didn't stop. And I crossed the finish line in under an hour—even faster than my regular running pace!

Post-triathlon realizations
Even though the last mile was absolute hell, I felt instantly better as soon as I crossed the finish line—invigorated by a mix of pride, excitement, amazement, and relief. I finished so much stronger and faster than I'd ever thought possible, and my training buddies all did equally well.

We were so well-trained and prepared, I wasn't even that sore, except for the awful chafing where the ankle band holding my official race-time chip had rubbed against my leg, and from the extra pack of Gu I'd impulsively stuffed in my sports bra before the run. (Note to self: Don't do that again!)

My first thought upon crossing the finish line: Must have water/bathroom/comfy flip-flops. My second thought: When's the next race? They say that triathlons are addicting, and all through my training I was skeptical. But I have to admit it: I might be hooked.
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