JAfter getting up at 3:15 am and packing up the car, my training buddy, Ray, came over and we drove together to EventPowerLI‘s Smithpoint Triathlon in Mastic Beach, NY. Before heading out, I had looked up my race results from three prior years when I competed in the race and noticed that my fastest time was 1:34. My goal was to beat that time.
My number was 76 and I was situated in a rack with other women in my age group. As I was setting up the transition, I saw my friend, Julie, along with another woman I met through a friend, Tabs. It was nice to see them. Then, when I saw my teammates, Monica and Jim, I also saw my teammate, Jackie L. She looked amazing. Jackie is also training for the 70.3 in September.
Before the race started, I was all set up and ready to go. Ray walked over to my area and wanted to know if I wanted to take a practice swim before the race. “I’m always game for that,” I said.
I find that it’s better to get acclimated to the water prior to the race. It helps calm the nerves but it also loosens you up for the race. We swam to the first buoy and turned around and went back to transition.
After the Star Spangled Banner, we all lined up in our groups to go into the water. The race was about to start.
My teammates, Monica and Jim were at the race but they didn’t start until a little later since they were both doing the Bike/Run only. Ray spotted Jon and we spoke for a while. Then, I said, “I’m going to stand with the pink caps.”
Each group got a different colored cap. The pink caps were the women 45 and older.
Everyone seemed nervous to get into the water. I felt relaxed. As I waited patiently, some of the women were talking about how they feared the water. There was a lot of negative talk, like “Wow, I hate swimming,” or “Swimming is the worst for me.” I tried to tune it out. I didn’t want the negativity to get in the way of my race.
Once the younger guys started swimming, the pink caps were told to get in the water. The current was strong. The announcer advised that we head toward one of the lifeguards who was paddle boarding. “If you don’t do that, you will miss the turn buoy,” the announcer said.
The horn blew and the women were off. It was a complete battleground. Women were flailing all over the place. I found it difficult to cut through the swimmers. I would have preferred a smaller group go out instead of all the women 45 and up. It became a bit of a “shit show” as it usually is in these types of events.
I stayed focused because I didn’t want this to bother me. The 45 and up men were right behind us. When I saw an opening, I kicked it up a notch.
Before the swim, Ray suggested that I wear booties in the water, which I was really glad I did. When we finished the swim portion, I was able to run over the rocks and pebbles in the water onto the asphalt without hurting my feet.
I ran into transition. Took off my shorty wetsuit and my booties, put on my helmet, bike shoes, and gloves, and unracked the bike. I was off!
I have done this race at least three other times and every other time I felt going over the bridge was a bit of a struggle. Not this time. I rode over the bridge as if it were flat. It felt so easy to me. On the bike, I kept checking my computer and it said I was averaging around 16 miles an hour going out four and a half miles. Coming in, I averaged around 20 mph.
But on the way out to the William Floyd Parkway, I saw ambulances, police vehicles, and a helicopter. I knew something had happened but I didn’t know what. It was very upsetting and the thought of it started to bring me down. I decided that there was nothing I could do but continue to race, so I did.
I pushed hard and passed a bunch of people on the left. There were plenty of people who passed me on the left as well, including my neighbor, Rich, who lives a couple of doors down the block from me.
Hearing shouting and cheers, I continued to push forward going over the bridge and racking my bike back in transition.
I still wondered what happened. Why were there so many ambulances and police vehicles? I really hoped that whatever happened wasn’t anything bad.
Transition 2/The Run
I quickly took everything off after racking my bike and switching to my run gear. I was feeling good. Usually, at this point, I was done but today, I felt strong.
Starting the run, I kept my timer on 30 seconds run/30 seconds walk but many times, I went 1-minute run/30 seconds walk or 2 minutes run/30 seconds walk.
I saw a ton of people on the run. Some people were also doing a run-walk of sorts. My Gymboss timer kept me focused. I knew I needed to come in under 1:30 in order to feel good about my performance.
Again, I couldn’t believe how much energy I had. I was so surprised because, in prior years at this point, I felt as if I couldn’t make it. Jon, my training buddy, was ahead of me. And, I saw Ray, Monica, and Jim run past me on the other side. I stayed behind Jon for a few minutes and then couldn’t keep up, so, I fell behind.
After the bridge and around the bend, there wasn’t much left. I saw Ray again. “Don’t walk, keep going!” he yelled. I gave him a look. But I knew he was right and if I wanted to PR this triathlon, I did need to pick it up at the end. And, that’s what I did.
As the announcer said my name and town, I started to do the “happy dance.” It just came out. I didn’t mean to do it but I couldn’t help myself. I felt so happy at that point.
Finish Line Area
I spotted Monica and Jim immediately. They had their results, both placing in their division and picking up some munchies from the vendors. I stood in line to get my results and found that I PR’d the Smithpoint Triathlon by seven (7) minutes. I was shocked!
After seeing Mike, one of the owners of Babylon Bike Shop which is where I bought both my road bike and TT bike, I shared with him my results. “Wow, that’s major,” he said. That made me feel good.
Monica, Jim, Ray, and I stood at the finish line for a while talking. Then, I texted Jon. He was back in transition packing up his stuff. Since Monica and Jim needed to do another 10 miles for their training for Berlin, we said our goodbyes and parted ways.
When we caught up with Jon
We finally found Jon and walked back to the transition area to gather our stuff before heading off to breakfast. We saw the police cars and there was a crime scene sectioned off. This must have been the reason for all the ambulances and police vehicles, I thought.
Then, I saw the driver’s window, completely shattered. I got a chill. Rumors were circulating all over the place. Some were saying the driver was drunk and hit a rider. Others were saying that the rider was killed. I have no idea at this point what had happened. But I was concerned and upset.
We kept looking online to see if there was any news. There wasn’t any. I’m sure it was a privacy issue. Whatever the case, I’m praying that the person who was hit was okay!
After the triathlon, Jon, Ray, and I headed over to the diner to get a bite to eat. We all talked about the cyclist and how upset we were. And, tried to turn the conversation around by focusing on our time. Jon, Ray, and I had a PR.
It was a great way to end a nice morning. Thanks, EventPower for all you do for our community!
P.S. When I got home I kept looking to see if anything was posted about the accident. Although I was happy and excited about the PR, I felt uncomfortable not knowing if the guy who got hit was okay. The Patch finally put something in about the accident. Apparently, the guy was one of us, a triathlete. The woman who struck him was arrested. According to the article, the triathlete is in critical condition as of this evening at Stony Brook Hospital. I’m going to continue to send prayers for him and his family.