This was my very first triathlon back in 2010, and so I was really excited to do this as my last triathlon of the season. My tri club buddy Susan was awesome enough to pick up my Jersey Girl packet earlier that week so I didn’t have to trek down to Eatontown to get it!
The day before the race was a busy one. I ended up doing the 50-mile Princeton Freewheelers ride, and spent the rest of the afternoon/evening at nearby wineries with Mike and his mom. We stopped by Old York Vineyards and did a tasting there before heading to Unionville Vineyards for a lobster bake. It was a great time, and the hardest part was holding myself back from drinking too much wine and eating too many raw oysters. I did eat the entire lobster though! We got home around 10 and I quickly packed my transition bag (my bike stayed in the car from that morning’s ride) before bed.
I set my alarm for 4:45 since I knew transition closed at 6:30, and I wanted to get to the race site by 6. I headed towards the main parking area in front of the hotel, but since there was a long line of cars waiting to get in, I drove behind the CVS and found a spot on the street. It was only a few blocks from the transition area, and I didn’t have to pay or worry about timing. I biked the few blocks to transition and found the rack that coordinated with my wave (Wave 7). The racks were roomy, and I found a wide empty spot next to a rainbow pinwheel, which would be helpful in finding my transition spot during the race. It was cool to see a bib a few bikes over that said “Nikki” since my grad school friend Nikki was the one who actually introduced me to the Jersey Girl Triathlon (and I believe triathlons in general!!).After setting up my transition area, I walked over to get body marked. There were volunteers everywhere, and everyone was so friendly and helpful. I wasn’t nervous, but there were a lot of newbies who were. As I was waiting to get body marked, a girl who looked really familiar asked “hey, are you Didi?” At first I couldn’t place my finger on how I knew her (sorry, Olivia!), but then remembered we had met on the race-day packet pickup line at Iron Girl Sandy hook last September! After putting my Lava pants on (wetsuit legal swim) I waited on the porta-potty line before heading down to the beach, and was nervous about going in there barefoot, but the portapotties were surprisingly really clean!
Once I got on the boardwalk, a volunteer with a hose sprayed my feet to get the sand off, and I ran over the pavement and grass to T1. Lava Pants off, socks and bike shoes on, bike gloves on, race belt on, helmet and sunglasses on. I grabbed my bike off the rack and headed to Bike Out.
The bike was 11.5 miles, and relatively flat. I tried to channel my NJ State Sprint bike leg, but wasn’t as fast. I started my bike computer, but the sensor wasn’t reading and I ended up doing the bike leg without. My legs were a little tired, but otherwise it was an uneventful ride.
T2 was quick. Bike on the rack, helmet off, bike gloves off, bike shoes off, sneakers on, hat on.
The run started off a little slow. For the first time in months, my legs felt like bricks starting the run. About a mile into the run, my plan to run sub 8:30 miles went out the window, and it became a matter of just pushing to run a sub-9. The sun was out and it was starting to get hot. I could feel myself flagging and knew my heart rate was going through the roof. I struggled to slow my breathing and maintain a steady pace. I had been getting closer and closer to 8 minute miles during short brick workouts the weeks leading up to this race, with the last one being at an 8:04 pace. Unfortunately, since the ride the day before was a little harder/faster than I had planned, I think it tired out my legs a little more than I had anticipated. However, I was able to push it towards the end, and about 200 meters to the finish, my sprinter’s instinct kicked in and I gave it all I had going through the finish chute. Although my bike leg was the slowest this season, my swim, T1, and run ended up being PRs for the season!
My favorite part about the Jersey Girl Triathlon was that everyone was SO encouraging and supportive, and you could just FEEL the positivity in the air. It was like that in 2010 and it’s still like that now. It’s such a great beginner’s race, and is in a beautiful area. I didn’t end up sitting on the beach after the race, but met up with a bunch of my tri club buddies and toasted our endeavors with peach bellinis at the Ocean palace beachfront tiki bar. We followed that up with a refueling lunch at surf taco (my first time there!). Perfect end to a great race day! I’ll definitely do this race next year if it works with my schedule.
Also, check out this video the race organizers made of this year's race!