ParaTriathlon National Championships
Back for my 6th consecutive New York City triathlon appearance, I was primed to have my best performance at the race. I also came to New York City for the annual Underwear Run in Central Park. This will not be discussed in this adventure because it has already been detailed in a blog on the “Day to Day with Aaron” blog. I have also decided to make this adventure story short, sweet and to the point because I am late in writing the story and want to give the readers a break from the lengthy and “winding” stories that I normally write. The New York City triathlon has become a very important one for physically challenged athletes, as it has now become the annual National Championships for whom we are now called Paratriathletes. The race crowns the best Paratriathletes in the US in each of the six categories. I race in the T6 category for those that are blind/visually impaired but I compete amongst the elite age groupers and professionals. I would be lying if I said that my goal was to only do well amongst the other Paratriathletes. Like any true competitor I set my goals to compete against those at and above my level. With that said, it was on!
Early early Sunday morning Matt West, my agent Carie Goldberg and I set up shop at the 72nd St. Boat Basin just offshore of the lovely Hudson River. We walked the mile from transition to the hustle and bustle at swim start. Luckily, as Carie had predicted, the clouds were parted and all that was left was the standard New York City humidity. Our race start was delayed due to some early morning lightening but this gave me enough time to slap on some newly designed RehabCare body tattoos and a smiley face on my calf. The introductions were made and we lined the pontoon for the start. Nearly 100 Paratriathletes lined the start and when the gun went off we got as far to mid river as we could to catch the fastest current. Right away another athlete jumped in our tether and it ripped down from my waist. Guide Matt West, saw this coming and snagged it before it got away from me. I quickly readjusted and bolted away and into the lead. We were flying with a lot of open water ahead. I felt like a hydroplane on top of the water and before I new it I was at the swim exit in a blistering time of 14:18. Taking into account the current difference from the earlier morning professional, this time would have put me in the lead pack right up there with the other pros.
We saddled our bike and sped off but were quickly slowed by the mobs of people in earlier waves just hitting the bike course. Our wave had left 20 minutes after the wave before but right off the bat we reeled in those before us. Within the first five miles on the bike, Matt was tapping the brakes constantly and yelling, “LEFT”. This didn’t always work, as people remained riding in the middle of the lane forcing the bus to slow down. The tandem bus doesn’t start and stop very fast so this definitely slowed our bike split down as we did this for the rest of the 25 mile bike leg. We entered T2 with a bike-split 1:02 and set ourselves up for a potential sub 2hr race.
Our run started with a long transition that added a bit of time to our overall 10K time. Immediately we hit the first hill that took us up to 72nd St and the streets of downtown Manhattan. Right as we entered the street, I heard Carie yelling like crazy and gave her a little thumbs up as we went past. Lining 72nd St were people with cowbells, which I am sure, was lovely to the locals attempting to sleep in on a Sunday morning. At mile one we entered Central Park and were holding a quick pace of 5:30/mile. Once inside the park the course get substantially more difficult as the rolling hills become even more rolling in the Northern Loop. By mile four it hit me. The non-existent run training of the last four months smacked me in the face like a cast-iron skillet. I was able to let gravity wisked me along on the downhill but the long gradual uphills were a whole other story. The pace of the second half slowed by minutes and as we turned the corner to round Cherry Hill I pumped my fists like I was fresh but in reality I was spent. Crossing the line in 2:02:15 I had put up my best time at the New York City triathlon but not as good as I would of hoped. This time was still good enough to grab me 10th overall amongst the age groupers and 1st of the Paratriathletes racing in the Accenture ParaTriathlon National Championship. I would have liked to have broken the 2hr mark for the first time at New York but this will have to wait another year.
Next up is a trip to London to compete in the ParaTriathlon Super Sprint and then off to Chicago for the Chicago Triathlon before heading to the grand daddy, the World Championships in Australia in September. I have some big things planned for these upcoming races. My run is back and people better watch out!!!