August 2009 Archives

015 Harriman Sprint Triathlon: 1:28:50

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18:27 2:47 48:29 1:14 17:51 1:28:50

Why did I start swimming? Triathlons... someone suggested I get into them as I could already bike and run. As you can see from previous entries, I have completed 2 open water competitions. On this race, my first Tri, I got to put all the elements together.

My friend Cenk, who has completed a number of Tri's, signed us up for the Harriman State Park Sprint Triathlon. This was great because I like having a guide the first time I attempt anything of this caliber.

Cenk and Carla picked me up Saturday afternoon and we headed into Jersey. They took me to one of their local restaurants which was really good. Cenk and I decided to fuel up on pasta and steak. It seemed to do the trick... I added beer into my pre-race diet as usual.

Later that night at their house Cenk gave me the run down of how the race works, with transitions etc. It was very helpful and I would have been lost on race day without this important knowledge. I went to bed at 11 or so anticipating a solid 6 hours of sleep.


5AM... Im awake but so sleepy. I think it was a rare treat for Carla (her and I work together 9-5) to see me docile, quiet and spaced out. We packed up our gear and headed out to Harriman State Park which would take us 50 minutes.

The park was beautiful! rolling hills and still lakes surrounded by thick cliff covered forest.

Arriving at the transition area, there were already a lot of people gearing up. We grabbed our bike number, running number, timing chip, swim caps etc. Its funny to me because Im used to only getting one of the 3 or 4 elements. Now, I had all of them at once to piece together. We went to our transition areas and I set mine up like Cenk had instructed me the night before.

DSC_0011-BD.jpgDSC_0029-BD.jpgDSC_0042-BD.jpg Cenk and I then (since we were ready ahead of time per his instruction) went to the lake to take a pre race dip. It was a great idea especially since I hadnt taken a swim in over 2 months so it eased my anxiety. My wetsuit is two pieces and my pants might be a size too small so i have to constantly hike them up. It was at one of these moments that a few members of Team Lipstick (an all female group of 10) started teasing me. They were a real cool group and very bad ass. One gal thought I was starting a new trend with my 'low-rise wetsuit bottoms'. Funny.

2 minutes to start we were all lined up on the beach.

The gun went off and we all ran into the water and began our swim portion. What a sight to see! It was a relatively easy 0.5 Mile swim out to a buoy and back. A few people swam over me but nothing to stressful. I was actually working on some new techniques this time that I think might have helped me out. I finished in 18 minutes in change and as I turned around I realized I was in maybe the top 50 out of 400 swimmers which was way better than I expected. I made my way up the beach undoing my suit and high-fiving Carla who was watching and cheering. Mad props to Carla for taking al the great photos as well! Looking back on it, I should have been hustling a bit more to get to my bike, but hello, have you ever tried running in a wetsuit? Its hard.

DSC_0047-BD.jpgDSC_0058-BD.jpgDSC_0065-BD.jpgDSC_0069-BD.jpg At T1 I dried my feet and chest and put on my bike shoes and my tank top. I also put on my ceremonial Nautical Star wristband (which can be seen on me throughout past races). I grabbed my bike and headed to the road taking off in a hurry. I did take quite some time in T1 and my friend Jim (who has done an Ironman) asked if I was cooking burgers on the grill while getting ready for the biking!

In my mind the hardest part was over. Now I had to play catch up with the fast swimmers and overtake them.

DSC_0081-BD.jpgDSC_0092-BD.jpg Wow was I wrong. I had just started the hardest part. The hills were mild at first and I was pushing hard, passing riders. About 3 Miles in I caught up to Cenk who was really flying! As I got next to him I planned on hanging out for a minute but he yelled at me and pointed "Go get them!" Adrenaline! I booked. These guys had some sick bikes too. I was rocking a 1975 vintage Mercian with the shifters on the down tube! She a worthy ship though. SIDENOTE: get a new bike. Next thing I know we are going down a huge decline so fast I couldn't pedal anymore. Id say 45 MPH at least. My fingers were on my brakes ready for any sudden emergency. At roughly Mile 6 we hit this crazy U-turn. You had to slow from 45 MPH to almost a standstill so as not to slide out. Then, the pain began.

As we came out of the U-turn with no propulsion we were confronted with a 3 Mile incline. It was brutal. The next 5 Miles would continue like this with ups and downs through the woods. I took a few moments here and there to take in the scenery which was beautiful. I also made a few friends along the way with some fellow bike riders. Mostly we talked about how bad the hills sucked. I have never looked forward to getting off a bike to start a run so much in my life.

I cruised into the transition area fast and saw lots of runners ahead of me leaving. I just kept thinking to myself, "I will chase them down." I popped off my bike and slipped into my running shoes. I was off again.

It was a bit difficult to just start running after blazing the hills on a bike. Id say at Mile 0.5 I was in full range of speed. Not to sound cocky, but the run was very easy compared to the last 2 events. I was picking off runners and trying to figure out how far from the lead I was. (I would later find out that the winner was finished the run at the time I was starting. He was an animal, putting a gap of 10 minutes between him and the 2nd place person). Cenk and I crossed paths as I was ending my run and we cheered each other on, very exciting. The finish was a downhill and I saved up some sprint energy for the end. I blazed in at full speed crossing the line at 1:28: 50. To be honest I was just excited to finish my first Tri.

DSC_0102-BD.jpgDSC_0117-BD.jpgDSC_0121-BD.jpgDSC_0125-BD.jpgDSC_0126-BD.jpgDSC_0134-BD.jpg I grabbed some water and found Carla. We waited for Cenk and cheered him on as he crossed the line!

All 3 of us were quite excited and the vibe in the air was all positive! Triathletes are a little different from singular athletes I found. They are competitive, but very supportive of one another. I made friends with a 65 year old guy who had been doing Tri's for like 20 years. He was inspirational.

We took a few pics, packed up our gear and hung around the finish to see if the times would be released. They started giving out the awards and they were doing age groups when I heard 3rd Place for the 29-34 Group goes to Chris Baker! Carla practically punched me in the shoulder out of excitement! I went up and got my plaque. It was very cool! I had no idea I would get a prize.

Afterward we went to the Coach Diner in Jersey for a big meal. We were all really starving.

It was a great experience and Im very grateful that Cenk helped me through this first one. Im very addicted to this as he predicted and just signed up for my first Half-Ironman next June.

 I am officially a Triathlete now, cool.


014 Fire Island 5K: 18:21 - 1st Place

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M31 37 NEW YORK NY 1 1 1 18:21 5:55
New record. Old record 18:35 by Andrew Tourney in 2008

A few month ago as Mike, Ed, Jim and I were wrapping up a race in Central Park, Ed suggested that we all come out to Fire Island to run the annual Fire Island 5K. How could I resist a race on the beach? I was allowed to bring someone with me and Marissa accepted my request. Unfortunately, Mike and Jim were unable to make it this time.

Co-incidentally, Marissa's step-mom and my good friend Colette happened to be going to the island as well, staying a few towns over! She offered to give us a ride with her awesome toddler Grant. He is just over 1 years old and like the cutest kid ever.

MArissa_Baker.jpgAfter splitting at the separate ferries with Colette, Marissa and I arrived just after 1 on Ocean Bay Park. SIDENOTE: there are no cars on Fire Island, only bikes. Its very cool and very laid back. All the streets are narrow sidewalks with a little sand overlapping.

Ed and his brother Don own and operate The Fire Island Hotel, which is a really cool place for anyone interested in visiting Fire Island. We stayed there for the first night and it was such a pleasure. I liken it to Margarita-ville. Imagine a few small buildings surrounding a pool and a tiki bar (pumping classic rock) flanked by the beach.

Marissa and I immediately hit the beach. At around 4 we decided to grab some food and then take a run on the beach. I convinced her for the first time that a Pina Colada pre-run would not affect her. I was right. We cruised down the beach and later learned that we ran around 5 miles, although it didnt seem that long. Running on the beach at sundown is maybe the greatest thing ever.

We met up with Ed right after and he advised us on some spots to hit for dinner. I was happy as I got to eat my beach staple... Lobster, corn on the cob, and steamed clams. We hit up Ed's tiki bar for some drinks and made a few new friends, one of which took Marissa and I down to a place called Schooners. We were out pretty late that night, it was really a fun time. We also walked home on the beach and there was this fantastic full moon!

Ocean-Moon.jpgThe next morning we moved over to Ed's house (which is two doors up) and then hit the beach with he and his family... Annelise, Jack (9), Isabella (7) and Ben (4). We spent the day boogie boarding and making sand castles with them. They are really a great group. Marissa some how managed to conjure up some pina coladas for lunch which was total brownie points. Colette and Grant rolled up on us at like 5PM to say hi as well.

That night we met Colette, Grant, Ed, Jenn, Rick, Amy and Abigail in Ocean Park for dinner at the Mermaid. I juiced up on some Frutti Di Mare and Red Wine.

IMG_1230_BD.jpgRACE DAY:

The following morning The Eschmann's, Marissa and I geared up for the race. Ed, Annelise, Jack, Ed's brother Don and I were running. After I did a few interval sprints with Marissa I jumped in place at the front of the pack of 400 or so runners.

As the final countdown was in place a guy asked anyone who thought they could run a 6 or better mile to step forward. I decided NOT to step forward and be stealth. The 4 guys who did step forward were in their 20's and like 3 feet taller than me. As the gun went off the four of them shot into a V formation with me tailing them at high speed.

The first mile was nice and we were probably cruising at a 6:20 pace. As we took a turn I noticed we had developed a big gap between the other runners at which point I knew we were the lead 4 in the race. Around Mile 2 the 3rd place man dropped back and I was now in his place. We had picked up the pace and were going very fast. So fast in fact that I was a little worried about maintaining my speed.

At Mile 2.5 the number 2 man was slowing so I thought it was a good opportunity to pass him and trail the leader (who was the defending champion from last years race).

As we rounded the final turn coming up to Mile 3 I looked back and realized it was just me and the number 1 man in contention. I was very excited.

As we cruised forward I knew we had a right turn, a quick left and then a 100 yard straight away to the end. lots of things were going through my mind. I was worried that this guy had saved up a little fight for the end, as I sure had. When would I pass him? Could I win this?

As soon as we took the last left and the finish was in sight I moved to his left and did what I had been practicing out on the West Side Highway all week- a super fast interval sprint. when this begins I normally throw my hand down in a hip-hop gesture (see photo). As I passed him he said "Oh S%^T!" I was blazing and was focused on the banner in front of the line. As I hit the finish I may have been moving as fast as I ever have just out of sheer excitement! It was really cool to hear my name announced as the new winner. I waited for the second place man and congratulated him on a great run.

After getting some water I found Marissa and gave her a sweaty hug. We were totally excited about the whole thing. We waited for Ed and his family to come through the finish, which was a very cool sight to see I must say! Jack was so excited to be running across the finish with his Dad!

At the after party festival we all met up (The Eschmann's, Colette, Grant, Ed, Jenn, Amy etc) and we had some beers (Heineken sponsored event).

An hour or so after the race they did the awards ceremony and I got to go up and get a medal and some prizes. It was really awesome. Jack got an award for number 1 in the 12-15 age bracket too, so he got a medal! Not bad- 2 of our crew got awards! Jack and I took a photo together to celebrate our win. P1020303-BD.jpgYes, I am excited. Look how tall my competitors are!
P1020308-BD.jpg Jack (Ed's son who won the first place in his age group) and I thought we needed a Team Eschmann-Baker photo! I see a definite running future for Jack, the guy's fast!

After hanging out for a little while Marissa and I decided to hit the road and make our way back to Manhattan as we were exhausted.

It was a weekend I will not soon forget.

Recent Comments

  • Sylvan: "Little did I know that the greatest cold front Florida read more
  • eliz: Nice race report!! So frustrated it took me so read more
  • eliz: Nice race report!! So frustrated it took me so long read more
  • eliz: Nice race report!! So frustrated it took me so long read more
  • RJR: I've never had any desire to run Disney, but after read more
  • Regina: Holy Crap! That is awesome and that is a weird read more
  • Morgan: Great recap Chris! You were totally killing it out there read more
  • MelissaH: I know that you're disappointed that you didn't BQ, but read more
  • Jenny: It really is a great medal! read more
  • Regina: Nice going. I also hate the city on those holidays, read more