2012 NYC Triathlon Race Report

Ever since running the NYC Marathon back in 2009, racing the NYC Triathlon has been next on my fitness bucket-list. Well after last Sunday, I can now scratch that one off too!

The tri was a great experience, and finishing is an accomplishment that I will be proud of for the rest of my life. However, I went through many different feelings and emotions throughout the race. As the famous Dickens quote goes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

The Swim
The hardest part of the whole race was dealing with the anxiety in the morning. From the moment I woke up I had butterflies in my stomach; I didn’t really settle into my groove until a few minutes after I got in the water. As someone who never really swam as a kid, jumping feet first into the Hudson was the part that I was most anxious about. (Only the pros dive in head first, thankfully!) Once I settled in, however, the swim went very well.

Though it has a bad reputation, the water in the Hudson was no more disgusting than the water at Coney Island where I did most of my open-water triathlon training. There was some seaweed to contend with and I bumped into a log once, but it was pretty minor compared to some of the horror stories I’ve heard from other triathletes (though I did catch an elbow in the face near the start of the swim).

The downstream current in the Hudson definitely helped with my time, though I found myself getting pulled to the left as well. I spent a good deal of the swim trying to steer myself back to the middle. Though I couldn’t see or hear much in the water, I was reminded very loudly by some of the crew who were following along in canoes to “STAY TO THE RIGHT!”

As the visibility in the water was virtually nonexistent, I didn’t realize I was close to the end until I was within about 100 meters. Needless to say, I was quite pleased to see it when I did!

The Bike
After the swim there’s a barefoot run (on pavement!) into the transition area, which is just a field with a bunch of bike racks on it. I took my time in the first transition since I wanted to carefully remove my wetsuit, clean my feet, have a snack, drink some water, pee, etc. I also wanted to check that all my things were okay (they were). Since getting a good night’s sleep was a priority for me, I had left all my stuff there the night before. (Many participants forgo some sleep to bring their gear to the transition the morning of the race).

The bike ride was longer and more challenging than I had anticipated. Between the July heat and the steep hills, the ride dragged on for what seemed like an eternity. Since I was in one of the later start waves, the pack had thinned out quite a bit and there weren’t many other cyclists around. There were times when I didn’t see anyone else on the road at all. As I was alone for much of the ride, it didn’t feel like much of a “race” at all – I took it slow on most of the hills and eventually I made it to the end.

The Run
Once the bike ride was over, there was a huge sense of relief. So many things are out of your control during the swim and the bike (someone crashing into you, a flat tire, etc), but once I was onto the run, I knew it was all up to me. Nothing could take it away at that point.

I took the first couple of miles slow and easy and eventually started to find my legs in mile three. I kept it at a steady pace, splashing cups of water on my face every time I passed the aid tables (I managed to get some water down my throat as well.) The last mile of the run I kicked it up a notch, triumphantly crossing the finish line with a net time of 3:36:13.

After the race, I picked up my bike from the transition area and rode five more miles back to my apartment, rewarding myself with one of my favorite indulgences: pizza!

I didn’t look at a clock once during the race, which I think helped me pace myself and enjoy the journey without getting caught up in any of the ego stuff. I just listened to my body and tried to stay at a moderate level of exertion for most of the race. The only time I turned up the juice was near the end of the run.

In retrospect, I know I could have done the whole thing faster if I pushed a bit harder, but I have no regrets about my performance. With all the things that could potentially go wrong during a triathlon, I am just glad I made it across the finish line in one piece.


Swim: 28:22

T1: 13:01

Bike: 1:49:46

T2: 3:34

Run: 1:01:31

Total: 3:36:13

Watch the video below to see a photo montage of pictures from the event.
(Photos by Colleen Leung.)

26 thoughts on “2012 NYC Triathlon Race Report

  • By Kubetz -

    Congrats, man! Thanks for the great report!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Kubetz!  Glad you enjoyed the write up!

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  • By Jim g -

    Nice one Al, well done. Inspirational !

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Jim!

  • By Ben -

    Good work.  You are an inspiring example.  Thanks for sharing your work.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Ben!

  • By Diane Lopez -

    Cool triathlon! It’s always the success of completing the race. 🙂

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Right on, Diane!

  • By Anonymous -

    Al, as a 4 time Ironman finisher, I can tell you that doing triathlons is like getting tattoos. You won’t stop with just one! Congrats! Chris

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Haha – I know a few people with just one tattoo!  🙂

  • By Anonymous -

    Wow Al !
    You’re  inspirational !
    Really enjoyed your story . A few months ago I found you site, glad I did.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for the kind words, Leo!

  • By Mike in New Mexico -

    Al, that was truly awesome! I enjoy following your site and the great information you share. Keep it up brother!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Mike!  More to come!

  • By matthew -

    not that its important, but what did you place?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I don’t know but you can look it up if you’re curious.  The results are public.

  • By Anil -

    Thanks for sharing your triathlon jurney with us. I hope someday I can manage to reach a level to complete something that hard.  Take care.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Anil!  Keep taking it one day at a time – you’re doing super!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Anil!  Keep taking it one day at a time – you’re doing super!

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  • By Jocelyn -

    Hi Al…Colleen sent me your link…i loved reading your write up…it brought back memories of all the uncertainty and anxiety of competing in my first tri…which was also nyc.  It was good to meet u and Colleen at the Expo, (info booth), and so glad that u enjoyed the experience.  Looking at some of your videos I think it is time for u to add “American Ninja” to your fitness bucket list.

    Take it easy and good luck taking down your future challenges.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey Jocelyn – It was great meeting you too!  Your advice definitely helped me manage my nerves a bit.  I’m glad you enjoyed my race report!

  • By Robby Taylor -

    Nice, Al! I remember you mentioned training for this a couple of months ago when I asked about your planche training. Before I got into advanced calisthenics I wanted to train for a marathon, but I found it took way too much time and energy at the time (I was working full time overnight, then University in the morning, and also Aikido classes twice a week). Ultimately, I find calisthenics much more rewarding as it not only takes less time but I feel a lot better and the results are more impactful to me. Also I realized it’s probably better to get a strong base strength before training for an endurance event. Anyway, after looking at the specifics of this event (1500m swim, 40k bike ride, 10k run), I might attempt something like this before a marathon…but for now I’m still working on bodyweight strength training haha.

    Anyway, I don’t know if you intend to return to planche training sooner or later, but good luck with it! I hope the supinated grip back lever treats you well 🙂 honestly I still say that I can’t do a back lever, but I only train it supinated grip and if I “cheat” by squeezing my arms with my lats a lot I can pretty much hold it…but it’s not about show it’s about results, right?

    Oh, one more thing, I don’t know where to ask this so I’ll just ask here: have you ever worked with glute ham raises? I started doing them lately and my back is feeling better and stronger since. Also I find it a nice compliment to pistol squats :).

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey Robby – I’ve been working the back lever a lot lately with the supinated grip – I’ll get around to resuming planche training again at some point. I’m actually planning a blog post with an update about what I am working on in my training now. Should have that up next week or soon thereafter.  And yes I have tried GHRs over the years but never really cared for them.  Glad you’re benefitting from them though!

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