Congrats to all the City Coach athletes who competed in IM NYC on Saturday. It was truly an awesome day - another one to add to the lore of this great city.
The amount of planning and effort that went into this event must have been astronomical. There were thousands of volunteers and Ironman employees on the course, around 2000 triathletes participated; and the event was mostly seamless.
After pre-race prep, registration and bike drop-off on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I got about 4 hours of sleep before getting to Pier 39 for a ferry to Transition at Ross Dock. After an hour to make final adjustments we reboarded the ferries and were brought to a barge 2.4 miles up the Hudson. As our ferry taxied up to the barge, we watched swimmers in wetsuits and fluorescent pink or green caps scoot down a ramp and into the flow of the river while a helicopter circled above, documenting the kickoff of the Inaugural NYC Ironman.
By the time my ferry, the 4th of 5, cued up, the downstream flow of the Hudson River was powerful. Buoys sped past me on my left and I just maintained a steady, smooth stroke in order to conserve energy for the remainder of the day. I might have finished sooner if I was able to maintain a straight line instead of meeting face-to-face with a man in a kayak and crashing into a giant red buoy. No harm, no foul - downstream I go......
I was on my bike and off to the Palisades within an hour. Crowds cheered at Strictly Bikes in Fort Lee as we entered the exit ramp of the southbound highway. That entire 2-lane side of the Palisades Interstate Parkway was closed to traffic for the day. The road is mostly well-maintained, but there were several enormous potholes and grooves in the road in the last 5-6 miles from the northernmost end of the loops.
The lower half of the two 56-mile loops are relatively flat - the upper half...not so much. Up and down long hills, none very steep, but not forgiving. At no point did I feel like I was getting my ass kicked, but by the end it was clear to me that a beating had taken place. I felt the mental exhaustion of 6+ hours on the bike and my body was tight and depleted. No worries, just a marathon left to go.
I ran the Palisades 1/2 Marathon in June on the course of the marathon at around 7mins/mile. I expected to run at a pace of around 9min/mile on Saturday. That didn't go exactly as planned. I was more fatigued than expected from the bike, it was 85 and humid and I was experiencing some GI distress. Oh yeah, and the hills on River Road got significantly steeper since June. Two loops of a relentless 7-mile pounding. Did I mention that the hills also got steeper on the second loop? Thank goodness for the aide stations every mile or I wouldn't have known when to stop and walk. Not everyone is a fan of loops, but for me they provided the opportunity to see friends and teammates several times along the run. Everyone was so positive and supportive. Agnes danced when we saw each other. Jess reminded me, "You're a runner, Dan!" I had definitely forgotten that at Mile 9. Thanks ladies!
At Mile 15 we left the park and ran 0.5 miles up to the stairs of the GW Bridge. I would call that Heartbreak Hill, but I think that's taken and it was more like the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I had no choice but to sit in a chair under a canopy for about 5 minutes with 2 lovely ladies of a certain age. They fed me, brought me water and told me how inspiring the day was. They'd been out there since 8am. Bravo!
The Final Stretch
Off I went - to the bridge, up the stairs, down the stairs, across the bridge, down more stairs, around Washington Heights and eventually into Riverside Park in the 180s. This is all very familiar territory for me, so I knew how far I still had left - both comforting and discouraging. Down past the Little Red Light House, through the BBQs and volleyball games along the Westside Highway, eventually out to Fairway. Team City Coach awaited. They seemed shocked to see me, maybe assuming I was still swimming, more likely experiencing spectator fatigue from an exhausting day. You guys were great and you energized me when I needed it bad. Thanks!
"It's just a 10K away"
At that point, it was the longest 10K I've ever done, but the body was on auto-pilot. The run is mostly flat from there except for a few short ascents and descents in the park. I caught on with another runner at my pace and we helped each other along for about 4-miles. She told me about her first IM. She had rushed through the finish. She advised me to savor the moment.
Then from atop the little hill at Mile 25 I could hear my wife cheering my name. When I got there I was greeted by her, my son, my daughter, my mom,her boyfriend and some very close friends. I hung with them for a minute to appreciate the moment and catch my breath.
From there I slowly jogged down the hill and then used the adrenaline from my cheering section to take me home. As advised, I took my time through the finish corral, walking the final 20 meters to savor the moment. I'll never forget it.
Overall, Saturday was one of the most amazing days of my life. Congrats to everyone who organized the race and to all the finishers - You are an Ironman!!!
It was inevitable. Every biker I’ve ever spoken with has a story about a crash. I’ve feared how it would play it for me and now I know from experience. ….
On my way up the Westside Highway towards the George Washington Bridge on Wednesday morning I was basically riding in the dark. Very dark, except for the headlights in my eyes from the cars on the highway to my right. I recognized the danger, particularly with the occasional bump and obstacle on the bike path between 96th and 125th Street, so I slowed my pace. I was still going about 15MPH when at the last minute I noticed a patch of dirt and grass splitting the path. I couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of me and feared a tree or rock would follow, so I slammed on my brakes, a little too aggressively.
Before I even knew what was happening, the left side of my head made impact with the ground. I also actually hit my left elbow and shoulder, my right hand, and both knees. Maybe it was best that everything slammed into the ground because nothing took too much of a hit. I’m bumped and bruised, but no major damage.
Being a little woozy and motivated for an epic ride, I got back on the Felt and continued my venture. Two miles later, downshifting on a small hill under the bridge, everything jammed as a result of a cracked back derailleur from the crash. Plan B was enacted and I walked the bike into Washington Heights and caught the A Train home. I got a few concerned or confused stares on the train - how could that dude be bloody, greasy, and muddy at 6AM? I probably looked more like I was in costume for an audition than having actually crashed that already. (I take more headers before 6AM than most people do all day.) Another biker/crasher struck up a conversation with me and of course told me about his most recent collision with a car pulling out of a parking spot. There’s something about falling off a bike that makes people want to tell you about their traumatic biking experiences.
So, I’m healing well, my bike is in the shop and I no longer fear my first crash. I was lucky. Going fast on 2 wheels is serious business. It’s the most fun you can have with your own locomotion, but it’s dangerous as hell. I will be taking more precautions and I will of course always wear a helmet.
Swim. Bike. Run. Repeat. Most people would think that's all you need to do to train for a triathlon. You wouldn't be completely wrong if you did 2 sessions of each discipline every week for 3 months leading up to a race, but there is much more involved if you want to perform closer to your potential.
It all starts in the off-season. Before you begin ramping up to the mileage of a triathlon, whether it be a Sprint, Olympic, 1/2 Ironman, or Ironman, you need to have a base to launch from. The distances of an Olympic triathlon are a 0.9-mile swim, 24-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run. If you are striving to simply complete the 3-discipline race, you should be able to do at least 1/2 of each distance, and possibly have 1 of the 3 that you can confidently complete before serious training begins. More competitive racers should easily be able to get through all 3 distances seperately. Training will focus on bringing it all together and getting faster through the entire program.
Prior to specific training, a solid strengthening program will prepare the triathlete for all the challenges they'll face during the actual season. Key areas to train are the legs, upper back/shoulders, and of course the core. This doesn't leave much out and that's because triathlons are a true test of full-body fitness. Strengthening should focus on building a support system that will last through the rigors of training sessions, races, and a long season of both. The intensity and degree of off-season training depends on the athlete's goals and expectations for the upcoming season.
Some training programs that are extremely effective for triathlon training are:
- Calisthenics - push-ups, pull-ups, squats
Once the season begins, continue your strengthening program, but to a lesser degree. The goal should be to maintain your strength and reinforce the work you've done in the off-season. If you're not sure where to begin, join an off-season training program or work with a personal trainer with the specific objective of preparing to train for a triathlon or triathlon season.
August 7th was the 2011 NYC Triathlon. It's an Olympic distance race - 0.9-mile swim, 24-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run. This is currently the most popular distance in triathlons. It's challenging, but doable for most endurance athletes. A decent benchmark is 3-hours for this distance. The pros finish in about 1-hour 46-minutes.
This is the 10th year that "over 3,000 athletes brave the waters of the mighty Hudson River before biking along Manhattan's West Side highway. Finally, athletes put on their running shoes for a run through New York's famed Central Park." It's a tour of NYC like none other.
Preparing for an Olympic-length triathlon requires determination, commitment, strength, and endurance. Training begins in the off-season, building a base in order to be able to intensely train in the 3 disciplines for 8-12 weeks leading up to the race.
Most athletes do the bulk of their swim training in a pool and a few practice swims in open-water to get accustomed to the river swim. On race day, many of the racers wear a wetsuit for warmth and also for buoyancy and speed. It's a good idea to wear the wetsuit for a few of the training swims if you're going to wear it in the race. As with many other aspects of a triathlon, do things in practice the way you will do them in the race and in the same respect, it's best not to try anything new on race day. Practice with the wetsuit, use those new goggles, shoes, or sunglasses and don't try out some new drink potion on the day of the race you've been preparing for over the past 6-months.
Once you exit the Hudson, you'll walk or run to your bike, which you racked thenight before. An experienced triathlete will prepare their transition area to minimize the time they spend going from 1 discipline to the next. You can gain or lose significant time depending on your ability to change your clothes. To me, transitions feel like a gameshow contest, but it is a part of the sport that can't be overlooked. The bike is a time to settle in, have a beverage, and start hammerring. Up and down hills, not too many turns and no drafting. Triathlon bikes are designed to be aerodynamic and not super-agile. Go straight fast and conserve energy for the run at the same time. The bike is the longest leg of the race, so a great deal of time can be gained or lost. Committed triathletes ride triathlon-specific bikes that maximize speed with aerodynamics and efficiency. A road bike can do the trick, but anything less geared towards long distance road biking is not recommended.
After grinding it out for 24-miles, it's a quick change into running shoes and off you go up the hill onto 79th Street and across the West Side into Central Park. The course runs clockwise up and down the park's northern hills and a finish on 72nd Street. This is a challenging 10K run, but crowds line the park roads to motivate runners to a strong finish.
Overall, the NYC Tri is an awesome NYC event. It's fun, unique, inclusive, and competitive. I recommend for all New Yorkers and for all triathletes looking for great races to do.
You've trained for the past 6-months to get in shape to train for a triathlon.
You're strong, fit, and motivated. So what's the plan?
The key to success in a triathlon is efficiency and the road to efficient performance is paved with excellent technique. Swimming, biking, and running each may seem natural and second-nature to anyone who's exercised before, but to do well in a triathlon with the least amount of effort is the real challenge. So, do what it takes to learn proper technique. There's information online, in books and from professional instructors and coaches.
If you're going to train on your own, here's some advice that will help guide your journey. It's by no means a thorough program, but it can be used as a general guideline. Firstly, assess your ability and your skill level. If you're running 7-minute miles and can barely swim 10-lengths of a pool, then you will need to spend significantly more time in the water than at the track.
- Practice each discipline - weigh more heavily on your weakest 1
- Start slowly and be sure you complete the distance
- Work speed and interval training into each of your programs
- Once a week do a brick session - at least 2 of the 3 disciplines in 1 training session
- Use the equipment you'll be using on race day
- Fine tune your technique and your equipment
- Focus on nutrition - daily and on training/race days
- Go to sleep early - you'll need the extra rest and waking early is the best way to get the most effective workouts
- Be familiar with the course you'll be racing - you have to know it perfectly, but have an idea of what you're getting into
- Stretch - regular stretching is extremely helpful and yoga can be very beneficial to triathletes
- Continue to gently strength train through your triathlon season to maintain strength and endurance
- Rest - allow your body to recover by taking occassional days off
- Have fun - by challenging yourself, you'll see that you are capable of feats beyond your previous beliefs, bringing you great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction
Follow these general guidelines and you'll be well on your way to participating in and succeeding in the exciting world of triathlons.
A year ago I was new to TRX and was just playing around with it for my own personal fitness. Then I took the Suspension Training Certification from TRX Training and it completely changed my perspective.
In 1 day I learned:
- the full spectrum of positions to initiate an exercise
- how to work every muscle group
- how to progress and regress any exercise
- just the beginning of all the possibilities of the TRX
Now I use TRX with most of my patients at different stages of their rehab. I teach a weekly 1-hour TRX class at WSPT in the Bronx where I challenge attendees to expand their strength, flexibility, stability, and cardio limitations.
I've also done my own TRX workouts 2-3 times per week this past winter/off-season. I'm stronger and more fit then I've ever been in my life. With the help of a low-carb diet and my training, I'm down to 10% body-fat and I'm psyched to kill it this triathlon season. I'll even be doing a 1/2 Ironman in October and I owe a great deal of my preparation to TRX.
WSPT is offering the official TRX Suspension Training Course for 1 day in June. Learn to ropes. Get certified. Take your clients to the next level!