|By Natalie Tukan
19th Female Collegiate
The Jarden Westchester Triathlon was my second triathlon and first Olympic-distance race. It was such a great weekend, both due to the energy of the race and to the fun (and crazy) B.U.T.T. members I was with.
We left BU around 11:30AM on Saturday. Eight of us packed into a van with our bikes and gear. After picking up our registration packets, we stayed at Dave’s house for the night, where we enjoyed a great pasta dinner and a soak in the hot tub. I was very anxious about the race and didn’t sleep much, but I was ready to go when my alarm went off at 3:30AM on Sunday morning. We arrived at the race site at about 5:30AM, and I was glad to have an hour and half to calm down and get excited for the race.
I hadn’t realized until the day before the race that the swim was in the ocean. I’m not familiar with NY geography. I had mistakenly assumed it would be a freshwater lake. My background as a club swimmer means I’m used to lane lines instead of open water, but I was much more comfortable in the open water this time than I had been at the Hopkinton Season Opener Triathlon in May. I was initially undecided on wearing a wetsuit, but I was glad I pulled it on at the last minute. The 0.9-mile course wound around rocks on one side causing me to sight the buoys more often than I would have liked. This made it harder for me to keep up a fast pace.
I yanked off my wetsuit as fast as I could (which, admittedly, is not very fast!) and took a gulp of water before running out of transition with my bike. I put the swim out of my mind and prepared to focus only on the upcoming 25-mile ride.
Since I don’t own a bike, I borrowed one for the race. I completely crashed on the bike about a mile into the course. I don’t really know how it happened, but I’m lucky I was wearing a helmet. A police officer was nearby and helped me up, but there wasn’t really anything he could do for me. After a minute, I got back on my bike and rode off shaken. I had road rash on my left arm and leg, but I knew I could keep going. Gripping the handlebars for the next hour was painful since my right palm was bruised from landing on it, but I’m so lucky that I didn’t sustain any major injuries.
The uphills weren’t as difficult as I had been expecting, and some of the down hills were very steep and fast. I would check my watch each time I saw one of the 5-mile markers to make sure I was maintaining my pace; just a little over 17 MPH. The highway was uneven and made me nervous of falling again. Otherwise, it was a great course and the scenery was beautiful.
After dismounting, I tried to run my bike back into transition, but slowed down to a walk because my legs were so wobbly. I re-racked my bike, grabbed my hat, and then headed out for the run. I had a GU as I was starting the run; I’m not very comfortable taking my hands of the handlebars during the bike. This made me too scared to fuel up during the ride. I also brought a water bottle with me for the run because I knew I would need the extra fluid.
I was concerned about how the run portion of the race would go since my right foot had been bothering me all week, but I had so much adrenaline that I didn’t even notice my foot. All three of the BU men passed me at the beginning of the run. Seeing them sprint past me motivated me to keep going despite my exhaustion. My pace was about a minute per mile slower on the run than I would normally hold for 6.2 miles, but I maintained a steady pace and even sped up near the end. I was definitely glad I had my water bottle. It was warm and humid outside, and I used the water at the aid stations to splash on my face to cool myself off. I started to reach a wall around mile 4 but started giving myself a mental pep-talk and managed to sprint into the finish line where I promptly collapsed before finding the medical tent to get my injuries bandaged up.
I didn’t have a goal time entering the Westchester Triathlon other than just finishing. Considering my wipe-out on the bike, I did better than I expected. I’ve decided that I need to invest in a bike, because my ability to improve is limited by not being able to train on the bike and practice bricks to get used to running after cycling. I really enjoyed the race and had such a fun weekend with the team.
FINAL 2:48:15Read More