19 April 2012


I am steadily making improvements with my swim training for the 2013 NYRR Sprint Triathlon.  I really would like to swim 400 meters continuously but the most I can do right now is 50 meters.  I actually swim 450 meter total but it is not continuous.  I have to take a short break between each 25-meter distance.  I plan to increase the total distance by 50 meters each month, e.g. when May rolls around I will shoot for 500 meters total.  Luckily, I probably swim somewhat faster, or have shorter rests, because the latest swim outing lasted only 41 minutes.  The 41 minutes included a brief interruption when the lane I was in needed some maintenance or whatever and my son and I had to find another lane that did not have the maximum number of six swimmers.  The 41 minutes is probably not that great for the typical swimmer but compared to an hour for about half the distance back in October 2011 it is my Personal Record.

Ever since I learned that there are sprint triathlons, I knew that's what I want.  Just like a new runner shoot for a 5K race and slowly work toward a marathon (+40K), the sprint triathlon involves the shortest distances for all three legs of the sport.  The next decision to make is with what organization would I do the tri.  TriFind.com lists many events but I really hate driving so events in NJ and CT, or even in Upstate NY or out in Long Island, do not appeal to me.  As luck would have it, I recently discovered that the NYRR will have a sprint triathlon in a few months, June 30, 2012 to be exact.  The location of Flushing Meadows Park and Flushing Meadows Aquatic Center cannot be better.  The Aquatic Center is where I usually carry out my swim training.  Familiarity makes a big difference.  Besides, I don't think I am ready to swim in open water yet.  I am sure I thought the tri's swim portion is held in the lake of Flushing Meadows Park.

I might have seen announcements about the NYRR sprint triathlon before but I was not interested in the sport at the time.  Now that I want to participate in it, I discovered there is so little information out there about the event.  The official link in NYRR.org shows the map and certain rules but that's about it.  Being a blogger and a runner, I periodically read blog entries about race events and usually enjoy them.  There must be some blog entries out there about the NYRR sprint triathlon.  Sure enough, there are!  From reading them, I learned a lot more about the event:

  • The NYRR sprint triathlon is a relatively recent thing.  The inaugural event was in 2009, just mere years ago.  I suppose PR'ing at foot races can go only for so long.  A tri is a natural progression, even if you have to learn how to swim or ride the bike.
  • The event is capped at 500 participants.  Luckily, unlike the typical NYRR races, the sprint tri does not sell out shortly after registration opens.
  • Tackling the tri in a relay team is actually allowed.  I am a lousy swimmer but not bad at running so I can team up with a good swimmer and somehow share the glory.  However, now that I enjoy swimming, I would not consider a relay team at all.  I think I can do the three legs by myself.  No sharing of glory, it'll be all mine!
  • You will have to get up at 4 in the morning to be at the race site just to drop off your bike and get marked with bib number and age, etc.  Years ago, waking up at 4 was a rare thing for me.  I think I did it once just to be at some Black Friday sale.  Nowadays I can be up at 4:30 am to run 5K or 6K, so that aspect of the tri does not fazes me.
  • Swimming portion is self-seeded, meaning swimmers are supposed to know their swim speed and line up accordingly, fast swimmers first and slower swimmers in the back.  I most likely will be in the last group, and will start my tri at 8 am.
  • Getting a flat tire is a very real possibility and there may be nobody around to help you.  Being mechanically-challenged, I will need to get myself up to speed about changing inner tubes and such, should the need arises.  Emergency kit with hand pump, spare tube, etc. ugh, cycling makes running look so simple.
  • Resting during the swim competition is allowed.  The swim course is 8 laps of 50 meters each.  If you have to, take a breather at each of the 50-meter mark.  It probably looks uncool to cling onto the side while other swimmers pass you by, but come to think of it, in foot races people walk when they are tired, so I think it's pretty acceptable.  I do plan to be good enough do the whole 400 meters in one fell swoop, but it is nice to know the option to rest is available.
  • A common theme the bloggers refer to is the weird sensation of running after swimming and cycling.  I am still a runner who swims on weekends and occasionally rides the bike.  I really have to make sure I have a few training sessions where I actually swim, cycle, then run.  What I love about the FMAC, besides easy parking, is its hours.  On weekdays, you can swim as early as 6 am and on weekends you usually have until 9:45 pm.  Theoretically, in the summer, when my son does not have to catch a school bus early in the day, I can drive to the Aquatic Center with a bike in the trunk, swim, then cycle, and then swim.  I can even follow the same bike path and running path if I want to closely approximate the real event.

Nothing beats the real thing, but since I am not ready for the 2012 NYRR tri, I plan to volunteer for the event to get close to the action.  Then when June 2013 rolls around, I will be among the 500 triathletes!

Here are the blog posts I find useful and interesting.  Hope you agree!

10 April 2012


Did you register for the NYRR Brooklyn Half-Marathon?  Fuhgeddaboudit!  Sure, the field was expanded from 5000 spots to 15000 but it still sold out in nine hours!  What is so tantalizing about the Brooklyn Half?  Maybe it is the tech shirt, the beach party at Coney Island, or the coupon for the Wonder Wheel?  Whatever the case, there sure is a great demand for NYRR races.

2012 so far looks disappointing for the NYRR Half series.  The Manhattan Half became a fun run because of snow.  The price increase for the popular Brooklyn Half suggests an unwelcomed trend.  Worst, the Queens Half in July will become a 10K, perhaps because of the heat.  What changes will come to the Bronx Half and the Staten Half?

NYRR races are super popular but they are not the only ones out there.  If you want to run a half-marathon in each borough of New York City, there are alternatives.  These other races may lack the high level of organization the NYRR or they may match it.  Some are much cheaper while others are more expensive.  They are most likely smaller in size and do not sell out as fast.  The experience can be better, or worse, but the point is it is possible to run half-marathons in the five boroughs and not all are NYRR-organized.  There is a reason why I used the phrase "not all are NYRR".

Happening mere weeks before the Brooklyn Half is the inaugural Verrazano Half on Saturday April 28.  Organized by NYCRUNS, the Verrazano Half route will involve the pier at 69th Street, the waterfront along the Belt Parkway, and some part of Caesar's Bay.  Some people wondered if the race route will be on Shore Parkway, the road that goes along the Belt Parkway.  Since race advertisement bills it as "flat", I doubt that Shore Parkway is used since it is hilly between 69th Street and Fourth Avenue.  The field was limited to 300 runners but then got expanded to 400. Still, that is a small number compared to the NYRR Brooklyn Half.  The $40 entry fee is nice though. https://nycruns.com/index.php?option=com_dtregister&Itemid=0&eventId=75&controller=event&task=individualRegister

Next, in May, we have the Rockaway Mother's Day Half. I plan to ride a bicycle going from Coney Island, over the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, to the race starting area.  Most others will have go by car or maybe by the A subway line, which makes a big loop through Brooklyn and Queens.  Those people may even have to walk a bit after the subway ride.  If you are driving, you will have to pay toll for the Memorial Bridge.  I know, quite a hassle to get to but you probably can register easily, and it is only $22. http://signup.runnyc.com/evententry/2252101 . Not as inexpensive is the 13.1 Series, which I believe happens within Flushing Meadows Park. Even if you sign up as soon as registration opens, you will still pay $65. I understand you get a medal, which you rarely get with NYRR races, but that's still a lot of money for a Half.

In the NYRR Half series, Bronx Half comes after Queens so I will try to do the same.  For over a year now, the Holiday Marathons group have some success in organizing no-frill donation-welcomed trail races, in Van Cortlandt Park.  There is no  registration fees but there is also no race shirt, no individual bib, and no time chip.  You do get some memento, depending on the distance you ran, which can be three miles, six miles, half-marathon, or full marathon.  The trouble with Holiday Marathons is lately they could not officially hold races because Parks Department kept denying them permit.  I am just being optimistic here and hope that by Independence Day, or even Labor Day, HM will find some resolution and able to resume officially holding races. http://theholidaymarathons.com/Races

The Staten Island Trail Festival, organized by the New York Adventure Racing Association (NYARA) is similar to races done by The Holiday Marathons folks, in that the course runs through trails or forest paths.  Also like the Holiday Marathons races, the Trail Festival has different race distances for different runners, namely, 5K, 10K, 25K, and 50K.  Since we are talking about half-marathons, 25K is what you want since it is the closest to the 13.1 miles distance for a half-mary, which in metric is 21K.  The 2012 Trail Festival is scheduled on December 8, 2012, although the link of http://www.nyara.org/template.php?Add-a-Page=8 still refers to the 2011 event.

Hey, you left out Manhattan!  Not really, since I am not done.  Remember I wrote that not all the halves I mention are NYRR-organized?  That means maybe one is indeed organized by NYRR. Like the Norwegian Festival / Grete's Great Gallop in September.  Only last year that I discovered that the Great Gallop distance is 13.1 miles.  When the Bronx Half was cancelled because the City revoked permit due to Hurricane Irene, I used the credit from that to run in the Great Gallop.  It takes place in Central Park, just like the Manhattan Half, so it's a perfect substitute for the Manhattan Half.  Hopefully not too many people know about it so that it won't fill up so quickly.  Another NYRR Half that is not part of the five-borough series is the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women's Half-Marathon.  As the name suggests, it is for women only.  I heard its price was also raised this year and filled up quickly so it should not be considered an alternative for the Manhattan Half.

I am on the mailing list of a few running organizations, as well as a few Facebook pages on the topic.  I am pretty sure there is no non-NYRR Half that takes place in Manhattan.  Please prove me wrong.