"NYC Bound" is a new biweekly column in which Brooklyn resident Noah Davis—see, he's bound (confined) in New York, but these are also things you can do if you go (bound) to New York, and a lot of these activities involve human beings doing some kind of bounding—examines how one lives the active and adventure lifestyle while also living in the America's biggest, most city-ish city.
Patrick Parish of Circle Pines, Minnesota, broke the hour mark en route to winning the 2010 USA National Sprint Triathlon Championship. He completed the race—a 750m swim, 20k bike ride, and 5k run—in 59:06. I learn this fact halfway through the riding portion of my first-ever triathlon. I wanted to know what a good time was so I googled it on my iPhone. Riding, typing, and reading all at the same time is dangerous, but significantly less so for me than for Parish or the vast majority of other sprint-tri participants.
You see, I was on a stationary bike. I did the entire thing in my apartment building.
New York City residents get exercise in strange ways. Because of the physical limitations of living on a concrete island, traditional outdoor activities get brought inside. New Yorkers race up the Empire State Building. We climb in retrofitted warehouses. And some of us are lucky enough to have lap pools and a gym in our buildings so we can do a full sprint triathlon on a Friday afternoon.
THE POOL PORTION CONSISTED of 46 laps. Flip turns were not going to happen because I tend to inhale water and choke whenever I try one, so the necessity of turning around every 20 seconds negated the speed advantage of pushing off of the wall. (While searching for Parish's time, I discovered that most pool-based sprint tris only require swims of 400 or 500 meters so as to limit the number of laps. This would have been nice to know earlier. I also need a waterproof phone.) Except for the lifeguard, I was alone the entire time. My left calf started to tighten around the 36-lap mark, but I managed to finish fine. The swim took 16 minutes and 30 seconds, hardly a record-breaking pace but not bad for someone whose entire training regimen consisted of completing one set of 30 laps the previous week to prove to himself he could make it through a half-mile. Drowning in a three-and-a-half-foot deep pool would have been so embarrassing.
Also embarrassing: Struggling into skintight Under Armour speedshorts in the locker room. Apartment-building decorum dictated that I couldn't run into the gym located 10 feet from the pool dripping wet, so I changed. Consideration for your fellow city dwellers, however, costs time. Traditional triathletes complete the transition from the swim to the bike in between 60 and 70 seconds. It took me more than three minutes to move from the pool to the locker room to the bike. In my defense, I was carrying a plastic bag of bananas and a sopping towel. The lifeguard, understandably, looked on confused.
"Hill Plus Level Five" seemed like an appropriately difficult and unnecessarily dramatic setting for the first ever Gold Street Apartment Building Triathlon, so I pressed a couple of buttons and started riding. Then, I realized that I needed to adjust the seat higher if I was going to be sitting on the hilariously uncomfortable not-so-soft rubber for the next 40-plus minutes. I figured I could ride at least 15 miles per hour, finishing the 12 miles in roughly three-quarters of an hour.
I went faster. Hill Plus Level Five consisted of one long, not-very-steep incline. The first mile took three minutes. The second 2:55. I was flying; I was hungry. I looked around for the pair of bananas I’d bought earlier in the day, intending to eat one of them during the ride. The well-traveled fruits were in the bag on the floor. I couldn't reach them. They were, however, significantly closer than the water bottle I conscientiously filled before leaving my apartment and then proceeded to leave on the counter. [See picture.] It’s a complete amateur hour at this point.