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!

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