I was going to be completing this race as a member of Achilles International and was quite excited at all the pre-race info I was receiving from them leading up to the race. There was a meal planned for the night prior to the race and even a swim session planned at the JCC. This would end being a great chance to meet some new members of the team. The team not only consists of us challenged athletes. There are numerous volunteers along with Kat, Ellie, and Andy and also a number of able-bodied racers who would be racing as charity runners to raise money for Achilles.
The ride down on Friday night was a breeze. I've now done the trip alone 3 times in the last year so it seems to go pretty fast. A couple of audio books to listen to and then of course, I love to tune into NYC sports radio, it is usually very entertaining.
I arrived around 3pm and found a free parking sport right at the corner where transition is for the race. I would leave my bike in the trunk until tomorrow and then go bring it down. I love races where bike check-in is the night before the race. Makes it that much easier on race morning to get your things organized. I got out my three bags and made my way to the train. Achilles had arranged a room at a nice place over in midtown called "The Union League Club". The gave me (along with 2 other athletes) a great rate for a two night weekend stay.
I walked the 3 blocks to the #1 train over at 78th Street and Broadway and made my way down to get my ticket and board the train. I had just called Sue to tell her I had arrived. When I boarded the train, I reached down to use my phone to check the time and it was GONE. I immediately thought someone had stolen it while I was paying for my ticket. I got off the train at the first stop, walked over the platform and boarded the train back to 78th Street. I got out onto street level and then walked back to the spot where I had called Sue and started looking. No phone on the ground, down the stairs into the station, by the machine, or by the turnstile. Then I remembered, getting through the turnstile had been real difficult with 3 bags and possibly, my phone had fallen out of the case on my belt. I turned and walked over the ticket agent and asked about a missing phone. She reached over and slowly showed me a phone and said, "Is it this one?" And it was! I said "thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!" Her response was a calm, "This is your lucky day." It sure was seeming to be that way.
Now it was HOT!. And with all the extra walking, I was drenched. I made my way to 42nd St and then took the shuttle to Grand Central Station and walked the few blocks to the hotel. It took a while, but I made it. When I checked in the room was as nice as it had looked online. The only drawback is that I would need a gymnastics vault to get up on the bed. It had to be at least 3 feet high. I rested for a bit, then packed my bag for my 2nd attempt at the "NYC Underwear Run." It is always held in Central Park and is a 1.7 mile run around the middle loop of the park ending at the same finish line we would use on Sunday.
|From the Huffington Post|
I headed up to 72nd Street and Central Park West. As I got closer to the location for the run, I could hear the usual P.A. announcers getting the crowd riled up and I was also able dozens of people "dropping trow". Some where getting ready to run and others, simply to show off. I checked in and then walked over to the big fountain to change.
|Carolyn, Leona, and Jan with me just after the run.|
Carolyn, actually ran the same run last year and I think she recognized me, but Jan raced with me in Peterborough last year. She is with a group from Canada called WON WITH ONE. The work with visually impaired triathletes. Leona came down from Canada to race as well and Carolyn was going to be here guide. The 4 of us did the last 1/2 mile of the run as a group and crossed the line together. Jan would race on Sunday guiding another athlete named Dave from PEI. My friend Cav, from TriLife was to meet up and do the run but he was running late from work. He is a pediatric ER doctor in NYC. He caught up with me after the race and we made the decision to go from some beer and grub at a place over on Amsterdam Ave. We met with a few of friends, including Haddai, who I had briefly met when I was at the Quassy race last month. I had a great dinner with them and washed it down with a pint of Guinness. I didn't want to stay up too late, so I headed for the subway and then back to my hotel.
|Me along with Ironman, Sarah Reinertsen|
Here's where the benefit of Achilles started to pay dividends. They had a van available that would be taking us around for the rest of the day. With the race the next day, this would certainly help keep the legs somewhat rested. We took the van over to the JCC for a very short and relaxing swim session. Some of the visually impaired athletes were going to practice some swimming with their guides. I got the chance to meet a number of great Achilles (and some CAF as well) athletes including Diane Berberian, Ben Simmons, Bill Longwell, Eliza Cooper, Ricardo Corral, Sarah Heller, and Liz McTernan (I apologize for others I may have left out). I also caught up with others during the weekend that I remember from last year's race and other road races as well, and that included, Geoff Kennedy, Willie (One Arm) Stewart, Joe Bellantoni, Lamar Brown. Minda Dentler, and Melissa Stockwell.
The swim was a short one but a nice chance to stretch a bit and then next thing I knew, we were all going out to brunch together. I am finding out that this group likes to eat as often as they can. We packed up the van and made our way to a nice little deli. They were quick to get our orders and get the food out to us (except for Liz's meal, which was something they just had to warm up!) as we had to be at a handler and athlete pre-race meeting for 2:30pm.
The pre-race meeting went off pretty well with a number of questions related to handling and helping the athletes along certain places on the course. I chose not have a handler, only because I have never used one, so why should I start? It would be nice, and maybe I will start once I start racing officially in my proper category. Funny thing, in this race, the race organizers chose to put me in the correct category, TRI3. I guess without having an official classifier, its their prerogative to do so. I wasn't going to complain. After the briefing we picked up our race packets and then I had a chance to go through the race expo again. It's fun to roam around and try to pick out all the first timers. A lot of them break that one cardinal rule I remember and that is not to use something for the first time on race day. They tend to be the people buying fuel belts etc. I know, we were all first-timers at one point in time.
|Bike is ready to go.|
|My twitter friend, Bianca.|
Believe it or not, the next stop, was another meal with the Achilles team. There was a nice pre-race dinner planned at SAMBUCA. The food was terrific and it was great to be with everyone as we all prepared for our big day tomorrow. I talked with both Bill and Diane, who were staying at the same hotel with me and we agreed to leave together in a taxi and then meet in the morning at 4AM and then taxi together to transition in the morning.
|Achilles is about eating and RACING. That is Eliza and her guide along with me.|
|Early race morning.|
|Heading to get on my bike.|
I was using a new set-up with my gear. Instead of the long sleeve wet-suit top I have been using, I was trying out my sleeveless ORCA Heatseeker top. It was much tighter and gave me lots more range of movement with my arms. When I got out of the water, I asked for help with my top from the wet-suit strippers. The run up to transition is long one where we have to run about 200m down to the end and then back into and down to my bike, a total of distance of about 400 to 500 meters. Transition went well and I was out with my bike as quickly as I could with all the running. (T1: 6:59, 1650th overall)
|That's the GW Bridge in the background!|
|About to go out on the 10K run.|
|By far, one of my favorite pics of me running. |
Only a few steps later and I was hunched over.
Running up 72nd Street.
|Chatting with Andy after the race. He is the MAN! |
Such a help all weekend.
John Korff was gracious enough to again offer burgers and refreshments at a lovely place on 79th at Amsterdam called "Blondies". I was lucky enough to sit with my dear friend Barb and also Jeff Glasbrenner, another PC athlete. I visited with lots of old friends but was eager to make the 4 hour drive back home. I left and had some time to visit with my friend Cav again, as he was having a small get together at his flat with some of his Tri-Life team mates. I stayed for a drink, headed to Starbucks for some energy (MOCHA) for the road and then started the 4 hour drive back home. I was amazed as I only made one 10 minute stop for gas during the entire trip. I was sure eager to get home to see Sue and Owen.
I know this might sound cliche, but I truly believe you can get some sort of victory from every race, regardless of the result in terms of time or place finished. Having my bike problems was a real test and rather than stop, I kept going. I learned something about my ability to deal with a sudden and unplanned mechanical problem. My sore back, that was my problem and a silly mistake. I should have pre-medicated right off of the bike. I will certainly do that in Toronto this weekend. Not everyone gets a chance to race on the streets of NYC. I will get that chance in SPADES this November, as I race in my first marathon, along with other Achilles athletes in the 2012 NYC Marathon.
**A few of these pics were mine, a number were from Jan Ditchfield and some were from Achilles International.**