Triathlife in NYC

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Triathlife in NYC

“Where do you swim?” people always ask when I tell them I compete in triathlon and live in New York City.

  1. “The East River. It’s the closest body of water to my apartment.”
  2. “The Hudson – I take it right down to my office in the Financial District – beats the 4/5 any day!”
  3. “The Reservoir in Central Park. But sometimes the ducks get in the way.”

I want to say all of these. Friends and family are intrigued by the fact that I train for triathlon in our fine city of New York. We lack open country roads for running and cycling and spacious, suburban pools for swimming. But what we lack in space we make up for in resourcefulness. Below are other questions I often receive about my curious-about-triathlon friends:

“But really, where do you swim?”

I’m a member of the corporate, sexy gym that markets to models and the “corporate athlete” known as Equinox. I compete with its thousands of members for the three lanes in the two locations that have a 25 yard pool. (Another location has an 18 yard pool but converting a workout proved I’d have to swim 5.6 laps per 100, and that was it for that). I’ve gotten in a handful of altercations in the crowded pool, usually originating from someone entering the lane without announcing himself or herself. Fellow Equinox swimmers: please make your presence known before joining my lane, or I’ll be forced to simulate an in-water triathlon start with you. Or, I’ll give you unsolicited pool etiquette advice.

I once swam at Asphalt Green in Battery Park City, and I wanted to do butterfly with all of the room I had. But I didn’t, because butterfly is exhausting. My conversion: One lap of butterfly = 15 laps freestyle.

It's fine, it's fine. Just no one speed up or slow down.

It’s fine, it’s fine. Just no one speed up or slow down.

“Where do you bike?”

  1. “The traffic lights are perfectly synched on 2nd Ave so that when you go 25 mph, you hit all green lights.”
  2. “The FDR flows really nicely if I’m on it before 7am or after 8pm.”
  3. “Have you heard of SoulCycle?”

“No way you do any of those, they are too dangerous and expensive. So where do you bike?”

For weekday rides, I either ride on the Wahoo KICKR trainer or Central Park. I live five avenues from Engineers’ Gate (and by now I’ve pretty much provided my apartment address, so if you’re stalking me, let’s run/ride/swim together sometime!), so I can get in a solid four loops before 8am, while the aware runners and serious cyclists are out and the tourists are still in line for TKTS. On weekends, I ride an easy half hour to the base of the George Washington Bridge and meet up with teammates for a few hours on River Road and/or 9W.


How many bikes can you fit in an elevator?

How many bikes can you fit in an apartment elevator?

“Do you stop for an espresso and a pastry at that place in Piermont/Nyack?”

I’ve been inside Bunbury’s Coffee (Piermont) and Runcible Spoon (Nyack) as many times as I’ve spotted Beyoncé and Jay-Z walking around NYC: Zero. CityCoach treats a stop at those bike-friendly bakeries like T1 or T2 – grab some nutrition and go! Someday, on a leisurely, post-season ride, I’d love to stop by and leave all of my CityCoach gear at home. I’ll borrow a SoulCycle shirt to wear.

Mountains, not muffins

Mountains, not muffins

“Are you going to do the New York City Triathlon?”

I only have two requirements when selecting a triathlon: come out of the water without a slimy film on my face and pay less than $300 to do so. Until the NYC Triathlon meets these needs, I see myself as a happier spectator than competitor!

Let's play a game called "Coal Miner or Post-Hudson River Swim?"

Let’s play a game called “Coal Miner or Post-Hudson River Swim?” Source

“How do you get to triathlons? It must be tough to tote all that gear around, let alone fit it inside your apartment.”

I keep my car, a 2006 Nissan Sentra, garaged in NYC for a few months out of the year during triathlon season to get to local races. Getting my bike into the backseat and the rest of my gear in the trunk is a tighter fit than my wetsuit, but it gets the job done. For races that require a plane to get to, I use a bike shipping service like TriBike Transport or Raceday Transport, who pick up your bike that you drop off at a designated bike shop, dismantle it until it is of teleporting size, and make it reappear at the designated tent at the race. It’s more magical than Disney. More expensive, too.

As much as I laud my logistical feats with running, cycling, and swimming in NYC, I’d be foolish not to mention that Rebeccah Wassner is just one professional triathlete living and training in NYC. The fact that she does triathlon at a professional level in this city amazes me, and it makes me feel, well, not that special.

Do you have any other questions about being a triathlete in NYC? Leave them in the comments!


About the Author:

Originally from a small town in northeast Pennsylvania, Nicole works and lives in NYC. She spent more on her first (real) bike than her first car. She loves data, Dunkin' Donuts, working her butt off, and showing that she did.
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