NYC TRIATHLON: RACE REPORT + A GLANCE AT HOW I'VE IMPROVED ON THE BIKE

IN BRIEF

Good race, not great. I came in 18th in the Men's Elite field. Normally I'd want to be top 10. That said, I wasn't expecting a stellar result since I was fresh off Epic Camp. All-in-all, I had fun racing and was happy with my bike effort.

FINISH TIME    2:00:14

  • Swim(1500M)      17:20
  • Bike    (40KM)   1:06:47
  • Run     (8KM*)      30:23    *Shortened from 10KM due to heat

HOW IT STACKS UP TO PAST

I’ve done the NYC Tri six times now. (Whaa? Before just looking it up now, I figured I’d done it 4x. 6x?! How freaking old am I?) I did it as my first Olympic distance tri way back in 2010, then again in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and now in 2016. Given the history, it makes for a fun comparison from one year to the next. While the race wasn’t my “A” race this year or last — was carrying a lot of fatigue going into the race and training was focused on Ironman distance — it’s still interesting.

RESULTS OVER THE YEARS

2010 - Swim  19:52    Bike  1:23:24    Run  46:51     TOTAL  2:37:35
2011 - Swim  19:31     Bike  1:18:53     Run  44:27    TOTAL  2:29:25
2013 - Swim  17:31     Bike  1:10:42    Run  38:25     TOTAL  2:12:10
2014 - Swim  17:25    Bike  1:11:10*   Run  36:13      TOTAL  2:09:19
2015 - Swim  17:39    Bike  1:09:45    Run  38:26     TOTAL  2:12:21
2016 - Swim  17:20   Bike1:06:47    Run  30:23**  TOTAL2:00:14

*Rainy day, so times were a bit slower. I had a small crash that added some time too.

**Sadly 2016 had a shortened run, so it makes for a harder comparison. I think in the full 10KM I would have run somewhere between my 2014 & 205 time, so let’s call it 37:00. That would put this year’s time at 2:06:21.

Some Pics... 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I'm happy with how this year’s NYC Tri went. Given my training and travel in lead up (more on that below), I saw it more as a training day than a key race. I wasn’t totally sure how I’d feel, so I didn’t have overall time or placing goals — not typically the case; for better or worse, I’m usually pretty obsessive about having race goals and will judge my performance on these.

My only goal was to have a strong bike (strong for me that is). If I road well, I’d be happy with the day. Improving my bike has been a focus of my training in build up for Kona, so a good ride would advance that goal and provide some indication that I’m getting better at it. My 1:06:47 time was the fastest I’ve produced at the NYC Tri and I was pretty close to where I wanted to be with target watts. For me, my swim was pretty crap and run was good but not great. Still, given the strong ride, I was happy. I also had fun racing with the other Every Man Jack guys (5 of us in total) — racing as part of a team is great.

BACKGROUND

This race made for an awesome excuse to get back to NYC. After moving from New York City to Venice Beach back in January, I had yet to go back for a visit. Long overdue. The race lined up perfectly with my sister’s birthday and her 1-year-old daughter’s bday, which also meant that my parents would be in town. Solid fam weekend.

From a purely, how-will-I-do standpoint, the race timing wasn’t the best. It was likely that I’d still be feeling Epic Camp France along with the past week’s travel from Paris to LA, then LA to NYC. I had very limited expectations as a result and really just wanted to enjoy being in NYC and make the race a solid training day.

RACE DAY

This race always requires a very early wake-up. I’d go off with the Men’s Elite (those with times under 2:15), which meant I needed to clear transition by 5:15am and would dive into the Hudson at 6:05am.

I got up at 4:00am, ate my standard apple sauce + banana (both stolen from my 1 year-old niece Eden), downed some coffee and suited up. I then Ubered to transition — so New York, I know — and arrived at about 4:50am. After laying out my gear and doing a once-over on my bike (pumped tires, filled bottles, etc.), I got to chat with some of my EMJ teammates who I had yet to meet in person.

Once all was sorted in transition, I jogged the one mile down the Hudson Path to the start of the race. I did this at a strong pace as a warm-up. You can’t warm-up in the Hudson (and if you could, I don’t think anyone would…), so I wanted to get the blood flowing and wake up a bit.

SWIM

The Hudson has a strong current that makes this a fast swim — the only upside of being in the Hudson. There’s always talk of a bag of Cheetos completing the 1500m swim in 30 minutes. I haven’t seen it, but I believe it.

My game plan was to swim hard, but not over do it. Really just try to settle into a good pace. I dove in, and after the usually pummeling for a hundred meters or so, I found a bit of space and settled into a decent rhythm. I didn’t do much drafting or anything particularly tactical, really just swam.I felt pretty decent in the water, and before long I was staggering up the dock at the swim exit.

When I saw 17:xx on my watch, I realized it wasn’t a great swim so really pushed it on the 600m or so run to T1 to make up for lost time, or at least try to.

BIKE

I set out on the bike with about ~35 of the 50 or so in Men’s Elite ahead of me — again, not a great swim. (AKA, a bad swim.) While well behind, I kept cool and stuck with the game plan. I settled into what felt to be a hard but sustainable pace, going mostly by feel at the outset but also glancing down at my bike computer to check watts, making sure I wasn’t going too hard. (At the 20 minute mark I start looking at watts to make sure I’m going hard enough — leash becomes a whip.)

Ten minutes into the ride I was still feeling pretty solid and reeling dudes in. Last year, ten minutes into the ride I felt terrible. Big volume in the weeks leading up to the race had taken its toll; I felt totally flat and unable to hold decent power. (More on that alongside the 2015 bike file below.) Anyway, I was pretty happy to be feeling much better in comparison, riding at 235 normalized power (NP). While I felt good, my HR was through the roof sitting at 170bpm. I figured this was due to adrenaline plus the hard run to T1, and pretty much just ignored it from there.

The bike course is essentially an out and back (there’s a bit more tacked on to the ‘back’ part), which means you get to see the leaders after they’ve done the 180-degree turn about halfway through. Just before I hit this turnaround at mile 12 or so, I saw my EMJ teammates laying it down. First James Defilippi, then a minute later James Cunningham and Ken Rideout in quick succession. This served as some great motivation to keep pushing hard. (Given all swam much better than I had, I was happy to be just a few minutes down on these guys. These EMJ dudes can ride.)

After the first turn around, I rode mostly alone for the remainder of the ride. The guys in front of me were a ways up and I had put a chunk of time into those I had already passed. Riding alone, I focused on my power meter and worked hard to stay on my power of ~235 watts as the effort started to hurt.

After hitting the second of the two 180 degree turns, I knew I was almost home and my legs felt solid, so pushed hard for the next mile and then started the gradual but windy descent into T2.

Final bike split was 1:06:47. My NP for the ride was 233 watts. I passed about 15 people (mostly in the first half of the ride), and was passed by one person. TrainingPeaks link here and screenshot of bike file below in the "For the Geeks: Year-Over-Year Bike Comparison".

RUN

The run is typically my strength. Given that, I was definitely bummed that the run was shortened from 10km to 8km (less runway to catch people). But, I figured it best to not sweat it and just take my girlfriend Marla’s advice on the new distance – "Run faster."

As I typically do in races, I set out by feel and then glanced at my watch to see pace after about a quarter mile or so. In an Oly race like this one, I’m really looking at my watch/pacing more out of curiosity than anything. Am I having a solid run or a shit run today? In 10K I’d like to sit on 5:50/mile pace, so for this ~8K I wanted to run 5:45/mile pace.

After passing a couple people in the first mile – steep climb out of T2 then down 72nd to Central Park – I snuck a glance at my watch – 5:39 pace. I was hurting, but at least I was running fast. I clicked off the next 2 miles in similar fashion, holding just under 5:40/mile pace, but it wasn’t coming easily. I was suffering.

On mile 4, I slowed with some of CP’s hills and my tolerance for the pace giving way. By mile 5, the end of this shortened run could not come soon enough. I begged for the finish line.

I crossed in 30:23, totally spent. My watch had the distance at 5.32 miles, so a good bit longer than 8km, which put my pace at 5:43/mile. I passed maybe 5 or 6 people on the run.

The Many Faces of Suffering...

FOR THE GEEKS

If you like to geek out on data, eat your heart out...

2016 NYC Tri Bike File

Here's my file from 2016. IF & W/kg should be pretty accurate. It's been ages since I've done an FTP test, but I'm likely at 265watts. I was weighing about 64.8kg (143lbs) and Average Power was 225w.

2015 NYC Tri Bike File ( link )   IF is off here. FTP in Training Peaks hadn't been updated in ages. I think my FTP was probably around 240w. W/kg on this should be accurate; I was ~63kg or 138lbs and Average Power was just 188.  As I mentioned above, I had nothing in my legs during this race. I tried to hold 220 and after 10 minutes I could tell that I had zero. My coach Justin and I were 100% focused on getting me fast for Ironman Mont Tremblant, not the NYC tri.  The week prior I had logged a 20 hours of training during a Boulder training camp, including a 112 mile ride at Ironman effort on Friday ( TP Link ) & a 20 mile run @ 6:59/mile pace on Saturday ( TP Link ). The Wednesday before the race I had also done a 60 mile ride @ just above Ironman watts ( TP link ) + a 17 mile off-the-bike run @ 7:15/mile pace ( TP Link ). To this day, that session was one of the hardest Ironman training days I've done. So, big surprise, I raced like shit :)  

2015 NYC Tri Bike File (link)

IF is off here. FTP in Training Peaks hadn't been updated in ages. I think my FTP was probably around 240w. W/kg on this should be accurate; I was ~63kg or 138lbs and Average Power was just 188.

As I mentioned above, I had nothing in my legs during this race. I tried to hold 220 and after 10 minutes I could tell that I had zero. My coach Justin and I were 100% focused on getting me fast for Ironman Mont Tremblant, not the NYC tri.

The week prior I had logged a 20 hours of training during a Boulder training camp, including a 112 mile ride at Ironman effort on Friday (TP Link) & a 20 mile run @ 6:59/mile pace on Saturday (TP Link). The Wednesday before the race I had also done a 60 mile ride @ just above Ironman watts (TP link) + a 17 mile off-the-bike run @ 7:15/mile pace (TP Link). To this day, that session was one of the hardest Ironman training days I've done. So, big surprise, I raced like shit :)  

2014 NYC Tri Bike File ( Link )   W/kg is accurate. Average Power was just 168w, but I weighed nada in 2014. 62kg or 136lbs. IF is off. FTP in these days was 215 or so, putting IF for this ride at ~.85. Check out the VI! 1.08? Thank god that's gotten better over the years too. The rainy weather on this day definitely made for a slower time, with some gingerly descending.  I ran pretty damn well this year (36:13 or 5:50/mile) and ended up on the podium in M25-29 with 3rd. My guess is that I didn't push as hard as I could have on the bike.

2014 NYC Tri Bike File (Link)

W/kg is accurate. Average Power was just 168w, but I weighed nada in 2014. 62kg or 136lbs. IF is off. FTP in these days was 215 or so, putting IF for this ride at ~.85. Check out the VI! 1.08? Thank god that's gotten better over the years too. The rainy weather on this day definitely made for a slower time, with some gingerly descending.

I ran pretty damn well this year (36:13 or 5:50/mile) and ended up on the podium in M25-29 with 3rd. My guess is that I didn't push as hard as I could have on the bike.

2013 NYC Tri Bike File ( Link )   Both IF and W/kg are accurate. FTP was ~205w. The faster race with way lower power in comparison to 2014 can probably be attributed to the easier descending in good weather and no minor spill... 2.37 W/kg for an hour? Come on dude. These were my "I ride like at 12-year-old girl" days of triathlon. Hopefully I look back on my 2016 file and think the same in a few years.

2013 NYC Tri Bike File (Link)

Both IF and W/kg are accurate. FTP was ~205w. The faster race with way lower power in comparison to 2014 can probably be attributed to the easier descending in good weather and no minor spill... 2.37 W/kg for an hour? Come on dude. These were my "I ride like at 12-year-old girl" days of triathlon. Hopefully I look back on my 2016 file and think the same in a few years.

James Defilippi, Ken Rideout, Myself and James Cunningham

James Defilippi, Ken Rideout, Myself and James Cunningham