Sunday morning at 7AM I sat on the 95th Street pier jutting out in to the Hudson River, thinking I knew how the NYC Triathlon/ParaTriathlon National Championship was about to unfold. The only one-legged man to ever beat me in a triathlon was sitting 15 feet to my right, five years older than he was when we last raced. That’s only meaningful because that makes him 50, presumably a bit slower that he used to be. However, his comment just minutes before we entered the water, strategically placed perhaps, that he just won the 50-54 age-group (able-bodied) at Brazil’s National Championships left me thinking he hasn’t lost too much.
Historically, he’s always buried in the swim and it’s a flip who’d beat who on the bike and run. This year I figured swimming with the current would deflate his lead some and perhaps I could better him on both the bike and run and we’d have an exciting sprint to the finish.
My 16:34 swim was solid and I came out not too far behind him, in stride with Jeff Glasbrenner and just a few seconds in front of J.P. Theberge, who’s been creeping closer and closer to my finish times over the past several years. For the first time in our many matchups, I was in transition along side Rivaldo, who took longer than I would expect to get out on the bike.
As I’m leaving T1, my aero bottle was all but falling out of its holder, which required me to stop and waste about 30 extremely frustrating seconds trying to fix it. I knew if I didn’t I might potentially suffer far worse losses from dehydration. In the meantime Rivaldo pulled away and both J.P. and Jeff joined me simultaneously in the chase. This was shaping up to be an exciting race. Never before have the first two, never mind the first four BKs, been so close to each other in any world-class triathlon, ever.
In the 12 miles that took us out to Yonkers, I relinquished about five seconds to Rivaldo. After the turnaround I didn’t see J.P. coming the other way, but presumed I had been opening up the gap as he has yet to match me on the bike. No sooner do I wonder just how far back he is, when he passes me! I was sincerely impressed and sincerely appreciate the competition. Rivaldo remained in our sites as the two of us exchanged leads over the next few miles.