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Well, the day has come and gone, and the 2010 Nautica NYC Triathlon is officially in the books. In many ways it’s not one I’d like to have on record. Let me begin this by saying that the NYC Triathlon is a GREAT race. It’s interesting, unlike some of the “flat and fast” courses we so often encounter. The roads are hilly and bumpy with hairpin turns. The run boasts locals cheering along every step of the mostly shaded course. The swim is cool, refreshing, and wicked fast.
Unless you have a panic attack. Yup, that would be me. We were told in the prerace meeting that if you just put your arms out and floated that it should take 23 minutes (well, one guy did that last year and that’s what happened, anyway). We were told that the water was chilly enough to take your breath away and that we should “burp” our wetsuits as soon as we got in. We were warned of quick current, so to slide into the in-water start and quickly grab the rope so as not to float away. We were warned NOT to touch the bottom as you approached the exit ramp; the silt did not need to be disturbed.
That’s what we were told, which made me quickly walk away from the race expo. I was glad to be staying in mid-tow, away from the throngs of athletes. I was glad to be able to walk for miles, visit good restaurants, and live on a non-triathlon schedule. It’s NYC, and I was there to have an enjoyable time.
What I actually SAW and FELT on race morning was different. Very calm. I watched people get in the water and quickly rush downstream. I saw the “panic stricken” swim towards the sea wall and miss the benefit of the current completely. I saw small waves of folks with lots of room happily floating by. I couldn’t wait.
So I gently slid in the water and grabbed the rope. No adrenaline rush. The 75-ish degree water feld lovely, but I “burped” anyway. I dunked my head and still didn’t get a head freeze. I tasted the water and didn’t….die. I chatted. positioned myself in mid-stream and propped my feet up on the dock so I could get a good push. The horn went off, and I swam. And I was enjoying myself. Yeah, I really love to race and I could hardly wait to conquer this course!
Well, I swam for about 150 yards. Then the panic set in. If you know me you are aware that I’ve had my “issues” with swims. But that is all behind me. I haven’t pulled a big panic in 5 years or more. I have gotten moments of “uncomfortableness” down to 15 seconds or so. But not on this day. It hit big. My arms move quickly, but my legs feel like lead…so they sink. I can’t get horizontal in the water. I pulled immediately to the right (sans current). I breathed so loudly that people on the sea wall spoke to me. I clung to a kayak until my breath regulated, let go, only to have it happen again. I couldn’t see the end, but I figured I was going to make it.
Lessons from the Aqua-Jog down the Hudson:
Panic runs on no man’s schedule. It comes when it wants.
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