SEPTEMBER 4TH 2015

BY COACH STUART MUNRO

NYC TRIATHLON 2015 EVENT REVIEW

I chose a few specific training options to improve my swim. The first was 1-1 coaching for technique. Over the course of a few weekends away in New Paltz, I undertook swim sessions with video analysis and feedback, and the coach in the water for instant adjustment. The second was a JackRabbit Open Water Swim Class, which gave the opportunity for a guided session including sighting, and gave a longer swim in the wetsuit as event-specific preparation. While I still have much room for improvement, I feel much more comfortable and efficient in the water. 


My bike preparation comprised two aspects. I did my long-slow miles in Central Park and built volume on the Hudson River path. 


In line with my event focus, I left the race wheels and Newton running shoes at home, a decision I confirmed the day before the race following the rain storm and forecast heat for race day. I focused on enjoyment, and I briefly considered starting the event without a GPS watch before deciding to record my stats for future reference. 


The swim start waves have 15 athletes enter the water every 20 seconds. Compared to a mass start, I felt that this gave me a lot of space in which to settle without being bumped, and I was comfortable in the water almost immediately, which is a big change for me. The swim-specific training definitely helped my performance and I was able to stay in the current and clear of other competitors for most of the swim, maintaining comfort and efficiency in the water. 


I took a fairly casual approach to the first transition, taking some extra time to hydrate,fuel, and apply sunscreen. The path into transition involves a few hundred yards of barefoot running on pavement and the path out is pretty hectic with bikes, tight turns, and steep grades, so I focused on staying calm and ready to ride when the opportunity presented. 


I really enjoyed the ride. Making the most of the rare opportunity to ride without cars, traffic lights or pedestrians, I relaxed down onto the tri bars and started spinning. My bike computer told me that I was spinning at a slower cadence than my target zone. While knowing that grinding in low cadence on the bike can lead to struggles on the run, I reviewed the nature of my training, checked in with the feeling in my legs and listened to my body. Everything felt fine and I was having fun, especially on the hills. 


The course has some undulation, nothing too crazy, but enough to identify those who have done the work and those who clearly haven’t. This is not to criticize beginners, who will improve their hill performance with continued training, but rather, to point out that if you are a person who runs a full disc carbon rear wheel on an expensive tri bike, but can’t keep up with a mountain bike going uphill, then there is room for improvement in your training. Anyway, the hills, greenery, and old stone bridges made for a scenic ride. 


I eased into the second transition and took the time for some self care with sunscreen, nutrition and hydration. I checked in with my legs and felt fine. 


The run was fairly enjoyable. I paced by feel, not by my watch, and soaked up the energy from the crowd. I managed to stay in the shade for much of the run which helped me manage the heat. As I regularly train on the hills in Central Park, and as I love running hills, the course suited me well, and I was able to maintain a steady pace in a zone that I knew would provide for a good recovery. 


As each triathlon course is different, I often review my performance in the context of relative position the three disciplines and for the overall. 


My recorded swim time is about half the time of my average Olympic Distance Swim time. Acknowledging the assistance from the current for the time, my relative position is much higher than normal. For this aspect, I give credit to my specific training and preparation and note that there are many beginner triathletes in the NYC event. 


My bike time was better than expected, close to my average time and well outside my personal best. My relative position on the bike was towards the lower quarter, when it is usually mid-pack. For this result I note my lack of specific bike training and lack of bike speed training. 


My run time was about 10% off-peak performance, and much better than I had predicted given that I hadn’t done much speed work and didn’t push hard on the run. My relative position was good and not as far off as Educated Running Coach Munro NYC Triathlon Review 2my time was. While the heat definitely impacted the field, I attribute my position to the hill training I had done for the bike and run disciplines, which allowed me to run smoothly throughout. 


My overall time was good thanks to the current assist on the swim. My overall relative position was slightly lower than normal, but much better than I had expected given my recent training focus. My biggest takeaway from the race was how comfortable I felt throughout the swim leg. 


Overall the race is well managed. The volunteers were awesome and really make the event much more enjoyable. The key areas for beginner triathletes to check out are the swim and the transition entries/exits. Having a good understanding of these will make for a smoother race experience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Coach Stuart Munro

Coach Munro is a lifestyle-athlete and a running coach based in Brisbon, Australia. He is certified by the Athletics Australia as a Level 3 Middle and Long Distance Running Coach.

Prior to moving to NYC, I looked up the some of the events that I would want to complete and I included the NYC Triathlon on my ‘must-do’ list. This event would serve multiple purposes within my lifestyle athlete scope, not least of which was ensuring that I found a way to continue swim and bike training while living in the city. The course looked attractive, especially as back then I hadn’t heard all the nasty stories about the Hudson. 


The first phase of preparation for many events is the process of gaining entry. In addition to lottery entry and charity fundraising, NYC Triathlon has an entry option whereby if you volunteer at the event in one year, you gain a guaranteed non-complimentary entry to the following year’s event. This suited my plans well, firstly as events rely on volunteers and I believe it’s good to help other athletes and secondly as it would give me a chance to check out the event prior to entering. 


As you may have read in “Becoming a Lifestyle Athlete”, I had plenty of events scheduled for 2015, including the Transrockies 6 day trail event in August. I chose to use the NYC Triathlon as cross-training for the running aspect of the upcoming Transrockies event, rather than as an A or B race. 


I chose the swim as an area where I could seek and achieve some improvement. Typically my swim time is in the bottom half, sometimes in the bottom quarter of the field. One of my common sayings is “You can’t win a triathlon in the swim leg, but you can lose it there.” Swim efficiency is the single biggest area of potential improvement for many triathletes. Even if you don’t go much faster, energy conservation in the swim leaves more in the tank for the ride and run. 

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