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Sunday’s New York City Triathlon is a popular race known for its fast swim in the Hudson and supportive crowds on the run course through Central Park. The course poses some unique challenges, and with these tips from New York City-based coaches, you’ll have a leg up on your competition come race day.
You have to leave your bike in transition on Saturday while the sun it still out and it could be quite warm. Jonathan Cane of City Coach Multisport recommends partially deflating your tires. “There’s no sense in risking having your tires explode and not finding out until morning,” he says. “You’re going to have to re-inflate the morning of the race anyway, so why take any chances?” Make sure you get there early on Sunday morning to re-inflate them to proper pressure—depending on your wave, you’ll need to be out of transition by 5-something a.m.
Leave for the swim start an hour before you expect to get in the water, recommends John Stewart of Race Day Coaching. “You’ll have to drop off a clothing bag and get a timing chip as well as walk 20 minutes, so give yourself extra time.” Sit, don’t stand, while you wait and do a race rehearsal in your head.
PHOTOS: 2011 NYC Triathlon
A floating bag of chips can do the 1500m swim in 20-some minutes (yes, they’ve timed it), proving that the Hudson River current is fast. Stewart recommends taking advantage of the current by getting to the outside of the course, away from the sea wall, and sighting often to stay on the buoy line. “With this strategy, you’ll beat people who are 20–30% faster than you are who didn’t get in the current.”
As you’re exiting the water, don’t try to stand too early, Cane says. Your feet will get stuck in the muddy surface, making it difficult to walk (volunteers are there to help). There is a decent run from the swim finish to T1, so be prepared for that. Another important tip: “Be sure to quickly go through the shower as you exit the water, unless you want an oil slick goatee in your Brightroom photos,” Cane says. Trust us, the river beard look is not a good one.
Make sure your bike is in the small ring as you’re exiting T1. You’ll start on a narrow section along the water, make a sharp right turn and then come upon a short, steep hill. “Ride like a New Yorker walking through Times Square,” says Earl Walton from TriLife. “No offense to tourists, but we locals know how to get from point A to point B without checking out the scenery. This is a big race and can get crowded, so ride the way you navigate Times Square—efficiently with an eye out for the guy that’s paying more attention to the Naked Cowboy than the road.”
Coach Marty Munson warns that the bike course is crowded with lots of first-timers who aren’t always aware of how much they’re blocking you. “At certain points on the bike, you will just need to be patient before you can pass,” Munson says. “It will probably only cost you a few seconds. Patience allows you to save energy for the run; anger will do nothing for your race or race goals.”
Take it easy on the steep climb out of transition as well as the gradual climb up 72nd street, then settle into race pace. “Feed off the crowd,” Munson says. “NYC is great at crowds and this one is there to support you. Soak it in and use it for energy!” Enjoy the rolling hills of Central Park—the hardest hill is at the top of the park in Harlem, and you’ll get a nice downhill around 80th street on the east side (look for the cat statue on top of the hill) to help you with your final mile.
Check back to Triathlete.com Sunday for a race recap and photo gallery from NYC.