Monday, August 4, 2014

Noah Plans, God Laughs and Don't Spook Irene at the Riverhead Rocks Triathlon 2014

The ringing buzz from my phone woke me up at 4am for our Riverhead Rocks Olympic Distance triathlon race (1500m swim, 40 km bike and 10k.)  Both Irene and I were competing in it and I rolled over to Irene and said, "Time to go."  Thank God, we pack everything and mounted the bikes on the rack the night before.  In the back of my head don't say anything that will spook her...

She was excited to do this race, as for me I was preoccupied as I reviewed my plan checklist in my head about the different disciplines, especially the transitions of stripping out of my wetsuit, putting on my bike stuff and later on getting my running shoes on...
We arrived at the Riverhead Waterfront and I was surprised to find parking, and we found a great spot.  Yippee, not to far from the transition area!  The kids all piled out of the car and we gathered out gear and headed over.

To my surprise, the transition area was unusually smaller than normal and this time only 224 participants showed up.  Probably due to the fact that many years ago, the Peconic River had bad news about the water quality, but the town has been going through a revitalization to improve the town.  The area looks great and growing!

Irene had 142 and I had 141, and we found our bike spots.  There were plenty of Event Power volunteers assisting with directions to find our place easily.  And I am still thinking about what to do next.

We eventually, did our preparations, like visiting the port-a-potties, set up our transition areas (laying out our shoes and stuff), being encased in our wetsuits, listen to the national anthem, walk down the boardwalk to the jump off point for the swim...

We got to the edge of the dock and watched a dozen racers hop off, sink then pop up again and start swimming up the river for 600m, back 600m then 300m more to complete the course.  I had Irene go first so that she would at least have a 10 second head start.  For me I was worried that she would be pulled out of the water.  She was nervous enough about the little hop into the water and might panic.  I watched her jump in, go under, then the volunteer said, "Uh oh." and she popped up and took a few strokes in the right direction.  I was like, "Good!"  I crossed the timing mat and did the same, but as I started, I saw her stop, so I paused and she said, "Go on."

The whole time I was thinking, "Where is she now?  Is she swimming?"  As I approached the turn around, would I see her during the swim.  I was taking it easy, not going too fast to be to tired for the bike and swim.  Just an easy pace, again thinking about what to do next.  A few people ran into me and I had to stop as we looked face to face.  I continued to aim for the next buoy and then the next buoy.  All the way to the finishing dock.  As I put my 2 hands on the dock, I was like, there was no way I was going to push my way on to the dock and hoping someone would pull me out.  One guy grabbed my right arm and I am like this is not going to work until another guy came over and grabbed my left arm.  Up I went on to my knees and then they helped me stand up.  I felt a little disoriented from being horizontal for about 40 minutes to be turned vertical, but I jogged up the ramp where I bunch of my teammates from the Wildwood Warriors cheered for me.  I ran through a sprinkler tent to quickly rinse off, got out of my wetsuit and on to the bike, which I was looking forward to. 

I mounted my bike and started to pedal out of the parking lot.  There was a slight incline up to Main Street, so I shifted to the low gear to make it easier and settled in.  When I was about hit the hammer, my right thumb went to press on the shifter to click it to a higher gear and there was no shifter to be found.  At that point, I was like, "Ok, still do your best."  It was tough not being able to squeeze out some extra speed on the flat parts of the course or down inclines, but I made the best out of it pedaling at much higher cadence than I normally would spin at.  Around the 3 mile mark, 1 biker slipped and biker behind crashed into him.  They both got up and hobbled to the side and got back on to their bikes, both cursing.  I slowed down to check on them and they said they were fine.  I was thinking and hoping that Irene was not pulled into the boat at this time.
During the course, a light rain pelted me as a few friends caught up and passed me during the rain.  Around mile 18, I heard something drop and make a metallic plinking sound.  I began to panic and I looked down at my bike to make sure it was still intact and functional.  Maybe I should have stopped for safety, but I kept pedaling.  Later on, I noticed that one of my CO2 cartridge was missing from my rear mount.  The whole time leading up to the race, I was thinking of fixing a flat tire, not thinking about a broken shifter or missing CO2.

Before the final turn, I saw a bunch of Warriors, my kids and brother-in-law, Ray cheering me on.   Cheers during the race help so much.   When I got back to the transition, I looked for Irene's bike and it was gone.  That was a relief but I was not sure if they took her timing chip.  I placed my bike on the rack, swapped my bike shoes for my running shoes and left the transition area.  I stopped at the nearest port-a-potty to pee and as I came out, Jeff Reynolds, yells out, "You can't stop at the port-a-potty!" and zoomed ahead.
My first 3 mile loop, I took it nice and steady to make sure my troubled Achilles was good.  It did not give me any troubles with dialing back the running and treatment from Champion Sports Performance.  However  my legs were not use to running and my left quad was cramping up.  So during the second loop, I ended up running and walking, because I did not want to re-injure my Achilles. Then Zachary runs out and yells at me to sprint to the finish.  I ended up with a 10:37 pace (no potty break, a little quicker).  Much faster than when I first started running 6 years ago :) 

I walked back to where the kids camped out.  On the way, I saw a Teammates and my Coach, we chatted about what happened.  A few of them like John Graziano, Jason Cohen, Mike Irizarry, Susan Roman and Jose are Ironman from Lake Placid  It is so nice to see them cheering us on!  Coach Danielle Sullivan, our coach from Ironfit Endurance, waited anxiously for Irene to finish.

I then walked over to the kids and Ray and asked if they took Mom's timing chip.  They said that she still had it, and a few moments later, we saw her running with a someone who had a Team for Kids Singlet.  They both passed though downtown on their way to the second loop with a volunteer biker to follow them as they were the last male and female on the course. 
Based on her past running pace, I knew we had some time to collect my gear, load it up and return to the finish line to see her cross.  About 36 minutes later, she was smiling as she heading down the chute.  Our friends the Leibowitz's stayed around as well and that was so cool of them to watch her finish as well.  I can see Irene tear up as this was her first Olympic Distance Triathlon.  The kids greeted her.  Because of all the craziness at the finish line, the Event Power Staff asked her to run through the finish line tape again.  I thought that was so nice of them to have her do that!  Jennifer Ross then asked us to take a family picture under the finish line as well.

Super Proud of Irene! She never gave up!

Learning lessons, the whole time I was thinking on the course, I wasn't present to what was going on and enjoying the race and being lucky to do something like this.  Setting up the transition area, making sure my bike is ready, making sure my hydration is filled, my food is packed, wetsuit is packed, what am I going to wear, fixing bike tires, no extra gears to pedal, kids have snacks and make sure they are not fighting...For the next race which is Timberman 70.3 which is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run on a hilly course.  I will get the planning out of the way well before and enjoy my time up in New Hampshire, as I think Noah Plans, God Laughs on my way to Ironman Arizona!


  1. Go Irene! You go girl!
    Congrats Noah!!
    You guys are always an inspiration.
    Thank you for sharing your stories and making me feel as If I'm in your head and your heart.


  2. Congrats to both of you on completing the race, despite the distance and circumstances. proud of you Irene for just digging in and getting the job done.

    I apologize for not staying behind.....I was so late getting out of there to get to the airport, raced the whole way to Jersey to make it there with not much time to spare, except rhe flight was an hour delayed.....whew!