(It is kind of funny what race day = work day)
I have never done a triathlon (and quite probably never will but never say never right?), but spectated once at the NYC TRI, and I haveworked at a TNT event as staff once before, but just as support staff. So, I was a bit unprepared to what race day would bring as I hadn’t done that before… I had no idea what a triathlon looked like from the inside (“transition”, what’s that about?) or what I was supposed to do and how. But, as the manager for the tri program, it was about time I figured things out…
But let me back up a little… the day before the event, we usually do what is called the Inspiration Dinner. I have showed you guys the one we had in San Francisco for the Nike Womens Marathon for 4000 people, with Kara Goucher and lots more. The Inspiration dinner servers as a pasta party but also you get to hear about the mission and how your money helps people. In most teams, there is one or more honored team mates, cancer patients in remission, or currently undergoing treatment who are also training for the race. One of them usually speaks at the dinner and tells everyone how they got there and how TNT has helped. Our team mate from NYC talked this time and it was very moving. I don’t have a connection to blood cancer but it’s crazy how cancer is everywhere and always so close. I always end up really moved and inspired (sometimes I even say crazy things like if he did all these triathlons with all he had going on, I HAVE TO do a triathlon too —newsflash: it never lasts… I am so lame!), and I joke that “I cry at this job everyday”, but it is true.
—Every chapter gets their own tables and we get to decorate them with whatever we want…
The dinner starts very loud. We set up what we call the “red carpet”, it’s a long pathway where the teams have to walk thru when they get in and all the staff and coaches line it up dressed up in purple and making lots of noise. It’s insane. Cowbells, bam bams, whistles, drums, whatever. It’s a celebration to their training and commitment and makes them feel like superstarts. It’s pretty amazing and people get super pumped!
—I wish I could show you how loud and insane this is… Impossible!!!
We then eat, hear speeches, including Dave Scott, our National Triathlon head coach (and Chrissie Wellington’s coach), eat pasta and cookies (more cookies than pasta for me), have a little separate group meetup with last minute instructions, do a little arts and crafts decorating singlets/wetsuits, wish everybody a great race day, hug, and they’re off to sleep. The coordinator and I though, had one more thing to do… we created notes for every single one of them, telling how amazing they are and now we had to go through the whole hotel to slip them under their doors. This is a big hotel. 25 acres. 1538 rooms. Ay. But it’s all worth it! They all appreciated it and told us so the next day.
I pass out and ten minutes later it’s race morning!!!!!
Just as a side note, there were around 1200 people in this tri (very unofficial number!!!) and 548 were Team in Training (official number). Can you imagine such a thing? Almost half the racers!!!
Anyway, we had 57 from NYC and they all seemed pumped and ready to go in. It’s kind of funny to me that their corrals are in the water. In the water!!! Of course it’s normal to them, but it’s silly to me (though I’ve been to some races where it was pouring rain so…).
Also funny, seeing them all go crazy to get into their wetsuits, they jump around, the pull and shove each other… And don’t get me started on those swim caps.
We help with stuff, then they are off and we just wait for a few minutes.
As soon as they start coming out of the water we cheer but also have to check each of our NYC participants off a list. We have to make sure everyone is accounted for. Just in case. But they all come out undressing mid run and they are all smiling!
After everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) is out of the water, we regroup with our cheering squad (with other staff from texas and california) and we move to our second location to cheer them on Mile 2 and 4.
It is hot. If this was a run I’d be upset. But tris require warmer weather, or they’d freeze in the water and the bike, or so I heard.
After we had all of our team go through Mile 4, we had to go help at the Finish.
We cheered, moved people along, helped with the check out, and all that fun stuff. By then it was around noon and I had been up since 5, so I was starving, tired, and hot. All I wanted was to jump in the water…
I had to rush though, bike loading (to bring their bikes back to NYC) finished at 3 and I had a lot of co2 cartridges to return (it’s a bullet that contains some gas to pump tired in a second) and they were in my room. So, rush to the hotel, then rush to bike loading. By 3:30 pm, I was free. For a bit. Had to make myself presentable for the Victory Party (yes, so many parties, tough job!!).
This one is more laid back, there’s no speeches, people just eat, dance, chat, congratulate each other and toast themselves into an early night. We were all exhausted, but we were all still fun.
A party BY the pool, not a pool party, we were reminded…
Just because we’re not ridiculous enough!
Our Brooklyn Head Coach, that makes me look super short!