Friday, July 27, 2012

New York Podium

I finally made it on to the podium in a non-draft race!  Half way through my second year as a pro I was able to slate a top 3 finish in a non-draft race. Greg and I have been working hard so it was nice to have a great result to go with it.

Swim - The swim was in the Hudson River west of Central Park.  The current was extremely strong in the morning so I was looking forward to a fast swim.  I was hoping to get out of the water closer to the leaders than I normally do.  When the horn sounded at 6am we dove in the water and down the river we went.  The first 300m was a battle in the water.  Some guy kept knocking my in the face so I swam over him to the left side.  Once I did this I drifted a little too far and ended up alone, all by myself.  It was nice to not have someone bashing me in the face but now I was not getting the benefit of drafting in the water.  So I headed back to the right to try and get on feet.  I got close to the group and when I tried to get back into it and catch a draft I found my buddy again, and took a few more shots to the head.  I had had enough so I drifted back to the left and swam solo to swim exit.  It was fun swimming in the Hudson current other than the copious amounts of sticks I kept swimming into and over.  Once out of the water is was a long run to T1.  I could see some people in front of me and  ended up catching one person between swim exit and T1.  

Bike - Once out on the bike I wanted to make up as much time as I could.  I was riding hard and hitting my goal watts early on.  It was fun riding around New York City with no traffic.  The city is so busy and chaotic, but they shut down the north bound lanes of the Henry Hudson Parkway for the bike course.  We even got to go through the toll booth for the Hudson Bridge.  I couldn't help but smile and get a little chill as I rode by Van Cortlandt Park.  That was the location of the Big East cross country meet my senior year. The team won going away and that confidence carried us all the way to a 3rd place finish at NCAA Nationals, the best finish for the Men's team since winning the national title in 1957.  By the halfway point my legs were feeling the strain of the work I was putting in on the bike but I was in good position, so I had to push on.  With 1 mile to go we did one last flip and headed to the exit off the highway.  I got one last look at where everyone was ahead of me.  I was sitting in 5th place, but with a good run, felt I could get into 3rd.  Jordan Jones was way off the front and at the time, during the race, I had no idea who was so far ahead.  

Run - I got in and out of T2 as quick as possible and started chasing down the guys ahead of me.  We entered Central park just before a mile and I passed Chrabot for 4th place shortly after that.  Once around him it was a lonely run knowing Dave Thompson was ahead of me.  We finish within 20 seconds of each other all the time in races.  He is a great cyclist so it all comes down to whether or not I can catch him on the run.  I kept getting updates from runners in Central Park that I was close, or that he was right up the road, but at no point could I see him until around 4.5 miles.  I figured I could catch him at the point but nothing is ever guaranteed in a triathlon.  I finally caught him right around 5 miles.  We had a brief exchange of words and I was on my way.  I respect Dave as an athlete and I feel bad about passing him late in races, but he races his way and I race mine.  Sometimes he has enough of a lead coming off the bike to get across the finish line ahead of me and sometimes I am able to run him down.  It would make for great TV if triathlons were more mainstream!!  I was excited to cross the finish line in 3rd.  I am still fighting to hopefully win a race someday, but I will take third...for now.

Post race I got in a cool down and enjoyed my Hammer Recoverite before heading back to Central Park for awards.  On the podium they interviewed each of us.  I was not ready for this but my fiancee, Melissa, assured me I did not sound like a complete idiot!  And before leaving the men's and women's podium finishers got to enjoy a champagne toast.  I big thanks goes to all of my sponsors!  It was nice to finally get on the podium for them.  They give me a ton of support and make this lifestyle possible.  Thank you Greg!!  This result would not be possible without your guidance.  Sorry you were in Europe during the race and missed the live updates!  And a huge thank you to Melissa!!  She put up with me prerace and was there for me during the race.  She gave me split and place updates throughout the race, kept my family and friends updated, and cheered me on with a smile!!  

After a nap and food we headed out for some sight seeing.  We went to time square and fought through all the other tourists!  I thought the city as a whole was busy but this place is 100% nuts.  We went to Rockefeller Square and found where they tape the Today show adn went into the Nintendo store.  And then we finally made it to the south east corner of Central Park.  We went into FAO Schwarz and saw the giant piano and then walked by the famous Plaza Hotel, where Kevin McCallister stays in Home Alone 2!  

It was a great trip and I am glad I was able to do the race.  It was very well run and the scenic tour of New York added a little extra.  I would do it again next year but it is right around the time of my wedding so I will not be able to.  I look forward to doing it again in 2014!!

I've worked too hard and too long to let anything stand in the way of my goals.  I will not let my teammates [coach] down and I will not let myself down. ~Mia Hamm