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2012 NYC Triathlon Recap
Jul 15, 2012 by Michael Wertheim

Last Sunday, I became a repeat triathlete! My goal this year was to participate in and finish the race after being waylaid for most of the season with debilitating stomach issues and without having trained even half as much as I had last season. And finished I did, despite not an insignificant number of additional obstacles thrown in my path.



After almost a month of feeling better, race week brought back my stomach issues with a vengeance. But in my mind, the train had already left the station, so I went through all the race week prep as planned. I checked my bike into the transition area on Saturday afternoon, making sure to let out a significant volume of air from the tires so that they would not unceremoniously burst overnight.


I had dinner with my friends Karen, Sarah, and Elissa, who were also doing the race, where Karen & Sarah presented me with an early birthday present in the form of a new triathlon transition bag – something I had been coveting on our group training sessions out on Coney Island.


I managed to get myself into bed by 8:30 on Saturday evening, in preparation for the unwelcome alarms that went off at 3am on Sunday morning. It barely registered that the day was also my birthday as I had an immense amount to get through before I could enjoy or dread that fact. I had my breakfast, and finished packing up for the race, using both my new Tri bag and a little cooler I had bought myself to keep all my liquids as cold as possible. One of my most vivid memories from last year’s race was of how quickly I got dehydrated and how downing warm liquids just didn’t do the trick. This was one factor I was determined prepare for in 2012.


On arriving at the transition area at 4:30, I found that the front tire on my bike was flat. I wasn’t concerned since I had proactively let air out of the tire the prior afternoon. But efforts to pump it back up were futile and my calm turned into agitation fairly quickly. But I took a breath, brought the bike over to the Toga Bikes station at the transition entrance, and they fixed the valve that was preventing the tire from holding air. Phew.


After setting up my transition area with about eight bottles of liquids, my biking gear, and my running gear, I began the mile walk up to the swim start on 99th Street. It was a beautiful morning. The weather forecasts, which had changed a hundred times over the previous week, all overestimated the temperature. It was refreshingly in the upper 70’s at that time of the morning and would climb only into the upper 80’s during the race. While that was still considered to be part of a heat wave and while the humidity made the air feel like pea soup, all I could think was that last year it was ten degrees warmer. And for me, those ten degrees made all the difference. The sun was also rising as we walked up to the swim start and the sky was beautiful. I was in good spirits.

I was also prepared this year for the long wait I would have before the start of my personal race. While the triathlon officially began on time this year at 5:50 when the professional athletes began their races, I was once again in start group 32 out of 38, and I wouldn’t hit the water until almost two hours later. This year, I thankfully also had company in the form of Lenny and Ellen Wertheim for at least an hour before the race began.



To underscore even more how late I started the race, a full 20 minutes before I entered the water, the race emcee announced that the winner had already crossed the finish line, after having completed his mile swim, 26-mile bike, and 6-mile run.


With my race start finally in sight, I finished putting on my wetsuit, donned my royal blue swim cap, and made my way to the start barge. What a difference a year makes. While last year, I was terrified about the swim, this year I just couldn’t wait to jump in and get started.


My swimming had improved tremendously, and without exaggeration, was my best event. My health had interfered the least with swim training, and with last year’s swim under my belt, this season was about improvement rather than survival. So I almost enjoyed the swim this year. I didn’t push it too hard because I wanted to conserve the limited energy I had for the rest of the race, but I still managed to shave a full five minutes off of my time last year. Next year, I plan to shave off an additional five.



When the swim was finished, I ran barefoot about a quarter mile back to the transition area, hydrated profusely, and got into my bike gear. Next, it was up to the West Side Highway to start the bike, which would take me from 79th Street through the northernmost tip of Manhattan into the Bronx, onto the Moshulu Parkway, back down to 57th Street and back up to the bike start.


I confirmed pretty quickly that my legs were not nearly as muscular as they had been last year and again decided not to push it too hard and tire out early and get myself dehydrated. As fate would have it, my right bike shoe chose the triathlon to refuse to stay clipped into its corresponding pedal, so I didn’t have nearly enough leverage to push it hard anyway. So a slew of folks passed me by as I soldiered up the basically all-uphill route into the Bronx.



Despite the immense difficulty of such an extended period of uphill biking, the bike clip issue, my less muscular legs, and a cramp in my right leg that developed about half-way through, it was still a way more pleasant experience for me than it had been in 2011 because the heat was more manageable and most importantly – I had a bike computer this year, so I knew exactly how many miles I had biked and how many miles I had left to go. The bike route is not marked and can feel interminable if you don’t know where you are in the race.



So I savored the trip back into NYC, enjoying the mostly downhill return, and pulled back into the Transition area having completed the bike portion of the race in just about the same amount of time it had taken me to complete it last year, but having enjoyed it a whole lot more.


Then it was off to the run.


As some of you know already, my running shoes with my prescription orthotics were unceremoniously stolen from the locker room at Equinox a few days before the race. So I decided to wear an old pair I hadn’t gotten around to throwing out yet with store-bought orthotics. Well, that + my weak legs made for a painful run. I pushed up the hill from the transitioin area to 72nd Street, where once again, the crowds had dissipated long ago. The street was filled mainly with athletes who had long before completed their races. Close to my entry to the park, I spotted my family cheering me on.


I tried to keep a slow and steady jog up, but my legs had a different idea. So I was kind to myself and allowed myself to walk-run the whole way. I was prepared this year to be mostly alone on the run, so once again - despite my physical condition - I enjoyed it much more than I had last year. The race volunteers are always incredibly supportive and all along the route. A few overzealous ones asked me about four miles in if I wanted to be sprayed with some water to cool down. Usually, they spray you with a light mist, but this time, eight or so just chucked cups of water at me. It sure felt good, but from there on in, my shoes and socks were soaked.



Well over an hour after I began, I entered what I knew to be my last mile, and I picked up the pace. I rounded the corner onto 72nd Street and was thrilled to see my friend Nick, who had come in from Boston to support me, standing in the middle of the road. What a sight for sore eyes, and what a great friend. Nick ran with me the rest of the way until I entered the finish line complex.




As I crossed 72nd Street again onto Dead Road, I saw friends and family lined up along the finish route. My parents were there with balloons and my friends Karen and Sarah AND their parents had waited what I'm sure was at least an hour and a half after they had finished their own races to support me. And my friends Aldo & Ana, and their kids,Mateo and Sofia, were there cheering me on as well, with the kids holding up signs for me. Adorable.



So approximately four hours after I started the race (and nine hours after waking up that morning), I crossed the finish line. I picked up my finisher's medal, got my photo taken, and joined my family and Nick, who were waiting for me in the family reunion area. Nick was also kind enough to drive me back over to transition to pick up my bike and all of my gear - a trek I took all alone last year - and then went off to celebrate with a picnic in the park very geneously organized by my friend Jenna in celebration of my birthday and my second triathlon finish.



I had set out this season to cut off at least ten minutes from my swim, fifteen minutes from my bike, and ten minutes from my run - to best last year's time by a half hour. In the end, I finished with almost the same overall time as last year, which was a miracle given all of the challenges I had faced this season. I was disappointed with my time, but thrilled that I made it through, I enjoyed the process a whole lot more than I did last year, and I know now that if I am healthy next year, I should really enjoy the race.


Thank you so much to all of you who supported me - both monetarily and emotionally - through this year's Triathlon. I really wouldn't have made it without your support.

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Please support me in raising funds for LLS with the NYC Triathlon!
Apr 22, 2012 by Michael Wertheim

Welcome to my Team In Training home page.


For the second year in a row, I am participating in The New York City Triathlon as a member of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training to help find cures and more effective treatments for blood cancers. Like the other members of TNT, I will be raising funds to help find cures and better treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma. I’m improving the quality of my life by participating and with your support, I can help improve the quality of life for patients and their families as well. Please make a donation in support of my efforts with Team In Training and help advance the research for cures.


To give you some idea of what the experience was like for me last year, I have included my blog post from 2011 the day after the race with photos from the race:


Shortly before noon yesterday, I officially became a triathlete!



The day started off at 3am when my alarms went off. After dining on a pasta dinner just hours before, I had to force myself to eat breakfast and headed out to my transition area, which opened at 4am, to set up all of my gear. Amazing how many people were stumbling home drunk as I headed out to begin my day.


The rain started just as I finished my setup and continued on and off through about 10am. Better than the heat, I thought. The weather and an accident on the Hudson River Parkway delayed the race start about an hour to just before 7am when the first wave started getting in the water. I was in wave 31, which also came after a 20-minute break, so the vast majority of athletes were well in front of me.


So I entered the water just before 8am, almost 5 hours after I woke up. Swimming in the Hudson was really not as gross as one might think. I took it slow - slower than I could have - because I had never done a continuous swim without walls to expect ever 25 meters or so and had no idea how it would be. The usual strong current in the right direction was nowhere to be found this year, but I exited the water about a half hour after getting in and found the swim to be more mentally tough than physically tough as all of the coaches constantly assured us it would be.


After a few very shaky steps on the way out of the river, I ran barefoot for a quarter mile to my transition area and hopped on the bike. It was through the rain most of the way up the west side highway, through the toll booths into the Bronx and then some of the way up the Mosholu Parkway before turning around and heading back. My late start position and slow-and-steady strategy had me biking without the crowds, which was less stressful, but also less exhilarating. As I re-entered Manhattan, the rain stopped and the sun came out incredibly strong, bringing back sweltering heat conditions just as I was ready to begin my run.


I jumped off the bike, switched shoes, and started slowly up the steep hill out of Riverside Park to cross 72nd Street and enter Central Park. The throngs of cheering crowds had dissipated by the time I made my way uphill across 72nd, but there were some devoted cheerers nonetheless and I spotted my parents just before entering the park.



The park portion was familiar ground for me, due to all of our trainings on the race loop. My legs were tired and I took it slowly most of the way, but when I had two miles left to go, I got a burst of energy and motivation and felt great as I ran across the finish line.



I returned to find that my old blackberry had a harder time with the race than I did and completely stopped working - just in time for post-race communications. So I apologize to those of you who have called and texted in the last day or so. My new phone arrives tomorrow and I will be in contact then!


It was a physically difficult race - don't get me wrong , I am very sore today - but in the end, I found it to be way more of a mental challenge than a physical one. If I do the race again - and I think there is a decent chance that I will - I will be way more prepared for the mental challenges, more confident about the physical effort, and hopefully enjoy myself more along the way.


There is no way I could have done this without the coaches from Team-in-Training. Thank you all again for supporting me through this. I am extremely appreciative, as is the Leukemia & Lymphoma society.



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Supporter Comments

  •  
    "Michael, you did an amazing thing and for such a worthy cause. Thank you."
     

    Carole Chervin

    Thu Jul 19 06:01:17 EDT 2012

My Fundraising Total

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My Thanks To

Alley Interactive $500.00
Vanessa Freeman $200.00
Nathaniel Simmons $200.00
Leonard Wertheim $200.00
Jeffrey Paik $100.00
Ryuhei Kosuge $100.00
Jeannie Suk $100.00
Jeannie Suk $100.00
Mark Beavers $100.00
Howard Jacobs $100.00
Jenna Safdie $100.00
Nick Owsley $100.00
Mike Derezin $100.00
Monica Molenaar $75.00
Joanne Clain $75.00
Sean, Susan & Daniel $75.00
Michael Wertheim $75.00
randi zuckerberg $50.00
Maarten Plesman $50.00
Carla Colton $50.00
Caroline Fox $50.00
Eddy van der Paardt $50.00
Katrina Guillory $50.00
Tobias Blackwell $50.00
Purvi Sevak $50.00
Susan Wertheim $50.00
Peggy Mansfield $50.00
Webster Schelble $50.00
Carole Chervin $25.00
Benjamin Zlotoff $25.00
Lisa and James Keston