NYC Triathlon: Tips You Won’t Hear at the Athlete Briefing

Doing the NYC Triathlon this Sunday? Are you signed up for another triathlon and learning the ropes? Here are some tips that you probably won’t find in the athlete guide.  They’re geared toward the unique NYC Tri course and based on my own experience doing this race 7 times but most of them are relevant to any swim/bike/run event. — Jeanne Meyer/BHW Ride Leader

Nothing. New. On. Race. Day.  You’ll hear this from any veteran but it bears repeating: Race day — first time or not — is NOT the time to try something brand new e.g. a new piece of apparel or a new kind of energy drink or bar you’ve never tried before.

Nutrition: You’ll hear about the importance of staying fueled and hydrated — easier said than done when you are in race mode.

  • To remind yourself to eat or drink in the heat of the race, set your watch to beep after you complete every mile on the bike or run — or to go off every ten minutes. When you hear that beep, drink, nibble and do a full body scan to keep relaxed and in the groove.
  • If you favor solid food e.g. energy bars, unwrap them and cut them up in little pieces and store them in a bento box (strapped on to your top tube and headset) so they’re easier to eat on the bike. Here’s one example of a brand our sponsor, Bicycle Habitat sells: Bontrager Pro Speed Box
  • Check that your bottle cages are secured.  Up on Henry Hudson Parkway past the GW Bridge and near the tollbooth, there are metal seams in the road that can jolt bottles out of their cages — you won’t want to lose your own hydration and you will want to be on the lookout for any other errant bottles.
  • The night before, fill your water bottles up halfway with your race day beverage and put them in the freezer. (or just water if you plan to fill them with Skratch powder or Electrolyte tablets.)  In the morning, top them off and your water will be nice and cold even on a hot morning.

Transition set up:  whether you’re required to rack your bike the night before (as w/NYC) or are just going to show up on race morning, get to transition early.  You’ll be assigned a race/rack number at NYC but in other races, you rack in a big range of numbers and the early bird will get the best position.

  • Don’t be a space hog — think a plot not much bigger than a hand towel with your bike and run shoes, race belt, visor, etc. laid out. Not a time to bring the lawn chairs and ice coolers.
  • Visualize the bike in and out and run in and out and actually count the row number you are in and remember it before the race starts.
  • At the NYC course in particular, there is a short sharp and narrow climb out of the 79th St. Boat Basin to the Henry Hudson Parkway, so be sure to rack your bike the night before with your gearing already set in the the small chain ring (easy).
  • And while the team from Bicycle Habitat will be on hand with race day support, bring a bike pump so you won’t have to stand in line — you’ll also make new friends and score karma points in transition when you lend it to others.

More transition pre-race prep tips:

  • Grab a travel size bottle of conditioner and also baby powder before race day. Rub the conditioner on the OUTSIDE of the lower legs/ankles (and sleeves if you have them) of your wetsuit — it’ll help you peel your wetsuit off in T1 later.   And sprinkle the baby powder in your bike and run shoes to help you wiggle wet fee into them.
  • Use lube (body glide, aquaphor, vaseline) liberally around your neck to avoid wetsuit chafing.  And also lube up the areas around your ankles and feet before the swim start — it’ll last you thru the race.
  • pin your race bib on a race belt and put it on under your wetsuit so you don’t have to remember to put it on in the rush of T1 (don’t worry, it’ll survive the swim).
  • Position sunscreen in your transition area (spray on is easiest) for later.

The Swim: For the swim start at the NYC Tri — work to place yourself so when you walk out the pier, you’ll be as far away from Riverside Park and as close to New Jersey as possible — you’ll catch the strongest current that way.

–For any race — DRAFT!  Drafting is not permitted on the bike but it’s totally encouraged and smart in the swim.  Find a fellow racer who swims about your speed or slightly faster and stay on their feet.  It will help you sight and allow you to gain about 30% efficiency by letting the person in front of you do most of the work.

–sighting:  use “alligator eyes” to lift your head in front to see where you are, but ALWAYS breathe to the side.

Transition #1 (T1) — upon reaching the exit ramp of the swim, WIPE OFF YOUR FACE to get rid of any Hudson River stuff and before you face the race cameras;).  Then, in this order (while trotting/running to transition): goggles up, unzip your wetsuit, peel off your sleeves/top to the waist, then take cap and goggles off and keep moving til you hit transition — it’s about a 1/4 mile run to Run In — and find your spot (remember your row #?) where you can most safely and efficiently step our of your wetsuit.

Bike: 

–Learn to run with your bike while holding your seat (but nothing new on race day!) as opposed to your handle bars.

–Take it easy from the time you mount your bike and spin out your legs — you’ll pass the boat basin cafe and take that short, sharp right turn up to 79th street and the traffic circle before hitting the Henry Hudson Parkway going North.

–Enjoy the views and the challenge of heading to the Bronx and back!

–When you’ve hit the 57th street turnaround, you’ll have a small climb back up to the transition area — start spinning out your legs to prep for the run to come. And eat/drink!

–By the time you hit the exit ramp to come back into transition, it’s time to proceed with extra caution…any seconds you might make up hammering at this spot are not worth the safety risk.

Run Out: 

–Is your race belt on?

–Visor/Hat? Sunscreen?

–Grab your gels/blocks and go!  Take it easy on that first mile and keep your steps quick.  Build your pace to the finish! Have fun on the new NYC Tri run course (buh bye Harlem Hill!).

Smile.  It not only keeps your attitude positive, it helps you take in oxygen!

Good luck and be sure to thank all the volunteers!

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