May 27, 2024
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May 27, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Every 500 yards my watch buzzed. By the time I completed the first loop…

(There are two loops?)

Oh yes, and you exit the water to start the second loop. So … by the time I completed the first loop, my pacing was very good, but the ancient Chinese have a saying: “When things are at the top, they start to decline.”

The second loop started well. My GPS watch buzzes every 500 yards. This was helpful because when I am swimming, I lose all sense of time. I was so focused on swimming straight with my hands in the proper form that I swam right into a buoy.

In 16 years of triathlon, I have been kicked by other swimmers. I have been elbowed in the face by other swimmers. This is the first time I have been assaulted by a buoy.

When you stand on shore the bright yellow inflatables look like either a 12-inch high triangle or 12-inch high cylinder. In fact, they are 8 feet high and made of a coarse waterproof material. Bumping into one didn’t hurt, but it threw off my concentration.

(What concentration? You are the ADD poster child)

For the first 3,000 yards, I was pacing at 10 minutes per mile…

(3,000 yards? How long is that swim?)

Ironman swims are 4,224 yards long, and at 3,500 yards my watch buzzed. I was now averaging 11 minutes per mile for that 500-yard section. At 4,000 yards the pace had dropped to 12 minutes.

(Who cares? You were now 224 yards from the exit.)

There’s an expression “You can’t win an Ironman triathlon on the swim, but you can lose it on the swim.”

The longer the swim took, the less time I had to complete the bike.


You must be off the bike by 4:30 p.m.

(Wait. You started at 6:04. That gives you until 4:34 p.m. to complete the bike, right?)

Wrong. The officials have to open the roads to traffic.

(What do you mean “open”?)

The race organizers pay the city police to keep the roads that make up the race course closed to motor traffic.

If you are at the back of the swim group and you begin 30 minutes after the start, you had better be a really fast cyclist. I am not a “really fast cyclist,” so I started as early as I could.

I exited the water after 1 hour and 29 minutes. Not my best (1 hour 20 minutes), not my worst (1 hour, 53 minutes).

I made my way to where my bag of dry clothing was hanging like “low-hanging fruit.”

Every bag looked identical and my dyslexic brain was grateful that my race number was listed on my wrist bracelet.

“Where is 1034???”

I grabbed my bag and looked for somewhere to change.

Normally, at an Ironman triathlon, I would head to the changing tent. There was a changing tent, but it was a pup tent. Maybe five guys could fit in there. I wasn’t going to change in front of the women.


No, I know from previous experiences that everyone is focused on just getting to their bikes as quickly as possible and no one is looking at anyone else, but I felt as a visibly Orthodox Jew, I needed to not change next to a woman.

(What do you mean by “visibly Orthodox Jew”? Are you dressed as challah bread?)

I race in Bike4Chai gear. I wear a kippah and tzitzis. I want my kids to know that this is what Orthodox Jews look like. I want other competitors to know that this is what Orthodox Jews look like.

(Great. How many Orthodox Jews can you fit in a pup tent-size changing tent at an Ironman?)

As I looked for the entrance, I noticed a gaggle of men changing outside.

I thought to myself, “The tent is cramped and hot, and this spot is out of sight of the ladies.”

It was tricky getting dressed standing up.

(Did you slip on the wet grass?)

No, but I got my foot caught in my bib shorts.

(Your what?)

Bib shorts are European-style riding shorts with shoulder straps.



Once I was dressed, I found my bike and I…

(… Started riding?)



No, you have to walk your bike out of the transition area where they are racked.

(That sounds like you are wasting time.)

If people were to start riding where others are walking to their bikes, you would have crashes.

I had told myself that I was going to take it easy.

(What does that mean?)

That I was going to hold my speed to 15 miles per hour for the first loop.

(I take it that didn’t happen.)


(What did happen?)

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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