Minutes away from the finish line.
I'll be honest, watching my sister-in-law compete in the 2010 Nautica New York City Triathlon last Sunday was one of the most thrilling events of my life. Watching someone you love achieve her goal is so inspiring and I couldn't have been more proud if I had run the race myself.
Not only did Heather finish the race - there was no doubt she would - but she did it with such style and grace, she almost made it look easy ... and she looked good doing it too! Heather, you are my hero!
Heather has graciously agreed to an interview with me so you can learn a little bit more about the race, what it felt like to run it, and how to prepare for a Tri. I hope you'll enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together. And I hope you'll be inspired by this series too. As it turns out, the interview ran a bit longer than I had anticipated so I will present it in two parts.
Part One appears today, and Part Two will appear tomorrow. Fear not, we will return to our regular Thirsty Thursdays feature next week! As promised, I will also announce the winners of the Oceana water bottle give-away today at the end of this post.
I'll start with the obvious question: Swimming the Hudson ... as gross as it sounds? How did you feel once you jumped in and how did the swim go for you?
Well, its gross, but probably not as gross as the perception. There's a perception that the river is full of eels and garbage and toxic waste - but I didn't see any of that. The most unnerving thing about the Hudson is its taste. When you swim, you can't help but get water in your mouth and the Hudson is a mix of salt and fresh water. You definitely taste the salt ... mixed with a tinge of gasoline and motor oil! Its gross! I'll be honest, it turned me off.
I felt fine when I jumped in - I mean, I like water, I like swimming and its not like your skin starts tingling as soon as you hit the river. I was really anxious about it, prior to the race, but would feel more prepared for it if I did the race again. Despite all that, the swim went well for me because its such a fast current. The current gets stronger as the day goes on. I was on the early side of the current but it was still remarkably fast. That's the trade-off with the Hudson - it tastes awful, but it moves really fast!
You finished the race with an impressive time: 3 hours, 24 minutes, which was doubly impressive given the oppressive heat of the day. How were your transition times and did you feel like the weather was a factor for you in this race? Are you happy with your results?
I am happy with my results. I've been thinking about this a lot since Sunday - the goal I set for myself was to finish the race and feel good - not to finish in a set amount of time - and I did that. So I'm definitely happy. Heat was undoubtedly a factor (temps were in the 90s on Sunday), especially towards the end of the bike and certainly towards the end of my run. I ran almost 10 minutes slower than I usually do. Normally, I run 6 miles in under an hour, but on Sunday it took 1 hour and 4 minutes.
I was happy with the transitions, especially as I look back. My first transition, from the water to the bike, was 8 minutes. Initially that seemed long - but that transition area was 400 yards away from the end of the swim; plus you have to remove your wet suit, dry yourself off, put on your shoes, etc., it takes time. My second transition, from the bike to the run, was 3 minutes. I put a transition plan together prior to the race, so I felt really well prepared.
I spent 12 weeks conditioning my body for the race - and I put the same effort into forming a "race-day game plan", especially on the Friday and Saturday before the race. Nautica offered a transition over-view on the day before the race and I took them up on that. I wanted to physically see the area and know what to expect and how to navigate it. I knew the importance of forming a transition plan from past experience with sprint tri's, so I had a great foundation for how to prepare.
You've previously competed in two sprint (half-length) triathlons, but this was your first Olympic length race. Did the race feel twice as long?
Running the Danskin Sprint Tri two years ago gave me a strong foundation in terms of what to expect, how to prepare mentally, and planning for the things you don't think about like the transition plan and how to take off your wetsuit. You actually have to practice taking off the suit - multiple times. There wasn't anything that I did on Sunday that I hadn't done before - even eating GU (an energy gel which I really don't enjoy), so I knew what to expect and that helps.
It actually didn't feel twice as long! I don't know if that's because the Hudson is so fast - that may have made a difference. The bike started to feel a little long, probably because of the heat. But as far as the run goes, it kind of flew by. There were so many people along the course of the race, cheering, that you sort of lose track of how long you've been running. Prior to the race I was training six to eight mile runs - with no one cheering for me, and believe me, that can start to feel long. Having my friends and family out on the course cheering for me at different points along the way really sped it up.
It was obvious to me that you were really well prepared for the race. Can you tell us a little bit about your training schedule? Did you use a professional training organization?
I entered into a 12 week training program for this race. In order to join, you had to be able to complete a sprint tri - which means swimming 1/2 mile, biking 13 miles and running 3 miles - you had to come into the training being physically able to do those 3 things at those distances ... and I was. I was already in shape, so I didn't train for the training program, per se, I knew I could do it. During the 12 week program, I was working out 6 to 7 days a week, building on the distances of the swim, bike, and run that whole time. At the peak of training, I was doing everything at distances in excess of the tri; swimming more than a mile, biking an average of 30 miles (and up to 50), and running 8 miles.
There may have been times when I got only 5 days of training, but towards the end, I was more focused. You start to learn how to fit it all into your day as you get further along in the training. It becomes a routine. You find ways to get it done.
I trained with JackRabbit Sports in New York City. They're an athletic store that specializes in training for marathons and triathlons.
Since I'm running a food blog here, can you tell us about your pre-race meals? What did you eat while training and on the morning of the race?
I think the nutritional aspect is something that evolved with my training - I kind of took it for granted in the beginning, but it soon became obvious to me how important it is to eat well. Initially, I didn't really pay attention - I have a certain way of eating and drinking and in the beginning I didn't change much. But when you start training 6 to 7 days a week, you have to pay attention. I was starting to feel tired and unable to keep up; then I started to realize that the way I ate would play a big role in my performance - in my ability to perform. I did a little research about energy foods and the type of carbs you need for fuel. The popular perception is that its all carbo-loading with pasta - and while its true that you need more energy from carbs, pasta is not the only way to get it. I ate a lot of fruit. I really began to crave fruits and nuts - as well as dairy and ice cream. Carbs from those sources became important for me.
I didn't eat a lot of red meat during training, which is kind of odd because I love red meat, and I'm not necessarily giving it up. But I did phase off of it - I ate a lot of chicken and tuna fish sandwiches instead. I was literally craving fruit and tuna sandwiches every day! One of my friends joked that this race was my pregnancy in that way!
Pre-race, its important to store energy on the Friday and Saturday prior, Friday is actually the most important day. I had some pasta, fruit, a light protein, a little salad. Nothing too taxing. Its important not to introduce new foods or eat anything too spicy or challenging. You need to eat foods that are familiar and easy to digest.
The morning of the race varies from person to person. Some people don't eat at all, because it makes them sick, but I know I need to eat. I have a little race day breakfast ritual - I eat peanut butter toast and a banana. I'm used to it, its my go-to breakfast.
Stay tuned for Part Two of my interview with Heather tomorrow - when we'll discuss the elation of realizing a goal; the importance of water and how to begin working towards completing a triathlon. Trust me, its inspiring!
And now, our winners! As always, I used random.org, to select the winners of our Oceana water bottles and they are ... drum roll, please .... comments number 15 and 13. Congratulations to Steph of Steph Chows and Wilma of Wilma the Pug! I'll be reaching out to you for your mailing addresses so that Nautica can send your bottles directly. Enjoy!
HUGE congrats to Heather and many thanks to the good people at Nautica for offering the give-away.
Disclaimer: Wilma is actually my furry niece and her mom (my other sister-in-law) is the writer behind her words. She really was the random winner of the second bottle and I am abiding by random.org's choice. I just wanted you all to know, in the sprit of full disclosure!