Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tri for the Y- "A Family Affair"

The first Sunday in May...just about that time for the annual Ithaca YMCA sprint distance triathlon.  

Swim:  400 meters in the pool
Bike:  15.7 miles rolling hills 
Run:  4.7 miles slightly rolling

I have done this race a couple times (placed 12th overall last year) and it is so fun to get out there and see friends and test your fitness after the long winter.  This year, however, it was different...for me anyway.  Injury has temporarily sidelined me from racing but just about everyone else in my immediate family suited up and I was to be "Coach!"  It was an honor and totally awesome to have us all together in an environment that I love so much. 

My brother Jamal decided in January that he wanted something to focus on throughout the winter and thought that this race would be a good first triathlon.  It is a popular beginners tri for many including myself four years ago.  For Jamal, with two young daughters and another child on the way, training was a bit more challenging and he probably didn't get as much triathlon-specific tuning as he would have liked, but is still and always has been very athletic.  OK... more on him later.

After having my mother helping out in my first 100-mile trail run last fall she decided that she wanted to get back into swimming.  She wasn't too keen on the bike or the run (yet) so she thought of creating a triathlon team.  I told her to just worry about her part and we'd find the other two participants.  Over the last several months she re-awakened those muscles that she used for her high school swim team and was a pool rat in her local facility slowly but surely building endurance and speed.

I thought it would be cool if we got more family members involved so I suggested it to my sister and to my fiancee Erica.  I knew that Erica would be up for the bike with us living so close and her being in relatively good shape. However, my sister lives in Pittsburgh and honestly I don't think she exercises that often...(didn't use to exercise that often I should say!)  So the closer we got the more they reassured that they were in.  Now we had to come up with a team name.  After a few suggestions by people Erica finally came up with the team name "Yassine's Angels" (after Charlie's Angels) and the fact that these three are the women in my life!...everyone agreed ;0)

OK! fast forward to race day morning...5:30 wake up call from my annoying yet effective little device and minutes later the Gimmee coffee was brewing.  I picked up Acmae at 6 and told my family I would meet them down at the Y for the 6:45 pre race meeting and to get everything situated.  It was fun being the coach and sharing my experience and tips!  Everyone was a little nervous but we tried to maintain a "fun, no pressure, do your best" type attitude.

8am-- time for the heat in which my mother and brother would be sharing a lane.  How funny! and convenient.  Off they went as we all cheered them on from the muggy pool.  They had to complete 8 laps before exiting the side door to run out to the transition area.  Jamal was a couple body lengths ahead of mom for most of the way and both were working really hard, sucking in large breaths of oxygen at times.  Coach was happy!  My sister in law Daura showed up with my two nieces Lydia and Makana who both had home made signs for Dad and grandma.  Too cute!  Then the Salvato crew rolled in and we now had a nice entourage of supporters for the next couple of hours.  

Both finished the swim in respectable times in the 8-9 minute range and made their way outside to the bikes.  My mom passed off the bracelet to Erica and she was off for her journey pumping her legs out of the parking lot and up Graham Rd.  Jamal took a little while in the transition area but had to dry off and get situated before his excursion.  He was ready to go and off he went clipping into the pedals and motoring up the little hill toward Dart Dr.  Now we had about an hour or so until we'd see them again.

At this point I focused on getting Nadia ready for the run.  We went into the gym to stay warm and I also had to wrap her bum ankle for her.  After that we did some calisthenics and stretched her out a little and I gave her some advice about the mental aspect of racing.  She thought of a mantra to say if or when it started getting tough and I reassured her to walk if necessary.
Right on cue Jamal came zipping around the corner and made a pretty smooth transition into the run.  He had a solid bike and was looking great as he headed out for his final leg of the race!  Erica was right on his heels with a stellar bike time herself and made the pass to Nadia.  So much action that I don't really get to see, and especially cool because it is my family!  

Now we have a little more down time to await the finish of Jamal's first triathlon and Nadia's longest run perhaps ever!  I knew Jamal would be fine but I was a little apprehensive about Nadia.  I just didn't want this to be a bad experience for her especially if her ankle started acting up out on the course.  

We all gathered around the balloons at the finish line looking at our watches guesstimating when they would arrive.  Then all of the sudden we see Jamal's bright yellow shirt turn the corner off of Triphammer.  By now I was kind of losing my voice but hooted and hollered as he got closer.  This was so inspiring to see.  I knelt down right behind the balloons and as he approached he launched a running jump through the line!  Awesome! rocked out in your first triathlon!

After congratulating Jamal on his performance and welcoming in other athletes something happened that really took me off guard.  I looked at my watch, calculated, and told Daura that Nadia would probably be coming in to the finish area in like the next 10 or 15 minutes.  Like seven minutes later someone yelled, "here comes Nadia!!"  WOW!  She came striding on down through the balloons and finish line with her hands in the air and a big smile on her face!  Thatta girl!  Way to represent...I guess it's in the blood!

What a memorable day!  Good clean fun with friends, family, and activity.  Can't beat it!  Great to see so many others perform so well too.  Acmae...well...1st overall woman...I don't need to say anything else....and Stephanie hammered that course too!  I saw many ITC members out there doing their thing, smiling, smacking high fives and recording fast times.  I witnessed a father son finish...a couple people well into the 70's, and parents riding tandem with their kid...some with a couple kids!  Great vibe...great event...Thanks Laurie and Frank so much for doing what you do with such a great attitude and all the volunteers that help make this happen.  

Now I'm really raring to get back out there! ;0)  

Recover well everyone and happy training!!!

Full individual results HERE 
Team Results HERE
The rest of the splits are HERE
Here are some pictures of Jamal and "Yassine's Angels"---Way to go everyone!  I'm really proud of all of you and blessed to have such a great family...Love you!

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