Sunday, September 28, 2008

Westchester Toughman Triathlon

Last Sunday I participated in the Westchester Toughman Half Iron distance triathlon. This was the first running of this hopefully annual event and I was particularly looking forward to it as a portion of the bike course overlapped some of my favorite training routes. True Motion were also sponsors of the Age Group Awards so we were involved at the expo with a booth to sell our goods as well as providing gift certificates for the top three in each age group.

The race was set to start at 7am but a little fog over the water created a 10min delay until the course became visible and the race organizers blew the horn to send off the first wave which included my age group (M35-39). Unfortunately, the fog then really came in quite thick and it became impossible to see any of the turn buoys. Instead we had to take cues off the supporting Kayakers and after managing to successfully navigate to the first turn buoy the kayaker I was following seemed to lose track of the course and I ended up going way past the 2nd turn only to come across a police boat stopping us from going further afield. Fortunately I could just about make out a silhouette of the shoreline so I decided to swim straight for it, figuring if I missed the official exit I could at least find my way to it along the shore. Luckily my directional sense paid off and I ended up swimming straight to the exit but by this time I had lost around 10mins to what I expected. However, I expected many others to have been in the same predicament so I just got on with getting my bike gear on and set off on the bike.
Swim 43:14
T1 1:47

The weather was a little chilly first thing – about 50F so the first few miles took some warming up. Hitting the first hill I ran into issues with my gears slipping when in the small ring so I stopped a couple of times to see if I could make a quick adjustment. No joy there so I figured I’d just have to use the big ring for the majority of the ride and use the small ring for only the steepest of climbs (luckily, the lowest gear was the only one not slipping!). After about 10miles I found myself going back and forth with 3 or 4 other guys. Typically they would pass me on the uphills and I would pass them back on the down hills and stay ahead until the next climb. The course itself was on open roads but traffic was light so cars didn’t present a problem. Mid way through the bike I noted how strong I felt yet my breathing was extremely easy. I had not been doing a great deal of long training sessions so I was concerned if the bike took too much out of me, the run would be a disaster so this was a good sign. I kept on at the same intensity through the remainder of the 56miles eventually dropping the group of guys before mile 50.

Bike 2:45:41

Transition was very quick. True Motion Marketing Director Mimi Boyle was volunteering in the transition area and her cheers spurred me onto a race best 23 second T2 split and out I went onto the run course.

Aerobically I felt very strong on the run but early on I felt the onset of cramping in my lower quads. I had probably consumed a little less fluid on the bike than I would prefer so I was a little anxious the cramps would worsen and I could end up walking at any moment. I diligently took on water and Gatorade through the aid stations and managed to stave off the cramps but as the course took a turn into the hills the leg pain certainly didn’t go away! While also challenging, the run course was really beautiful, with road sections through residential parts of Croton, trail sections through the woods and a section across the top of the dam. Finally by mile 11 the pounding up and down the hills got the better of me and my pace really slowed as my legs seemed to fall apart. Having passed a few until this point and been running relatively solo I was now passed by 4 or 5 other athletes as I ran into the last mile. I did managed to eek out a little more speed down the finishing chute as the race announcer called out my name.
Run 1:46:01

I later found out I had managed to hold on for 3rd place in my age group and that two of the guys passing me in the last mile had actually knocked me down from the 1st place spot!

All in all, a very challenging but fun triathlon. The Toughman was an exceptionally well run event and I look forward to being a part of it in the future.