By Pete Williams
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It’s not the life of a Super Bowl champion, but the life of a sponsored triathlete is pretty good deal.
Actually, here at the Timex Performance Center, home to the New York Giants and to this week’s annual gathering of the Timex Multisport Team, it’s tough to tell the difference.
Eli Manning, Justin Tuck and the gang aren’t around, but 50 top Ironman triathletes have convened for three days of tests, training, meetings, and, most importantly, swag distribution.
It’s nice being mistaken for one of the gang, something that never happened when I covered the NFL. I’m just a sprint triathlete here covering the three-day event, but still get to hang with Team Timex as they eat in the Giants dining room, use their training facilities, meet in their position conference rooms, and even get a taste for having a big-time locker room.
This morning, the Giants locker room staff replaced players’ nameplates with those of the triathletes, who opened Thule backpacks stuffed with race kits, tri shorts, bibs, cycling jerseys, race belts, and assorted swim products. It’s just a fraction of the swag the athletes will get over the course of the year.
Giants staff gave strict instructions not to touch any player stuff, guidance I didn’t need after spending way too much of my life hanging around locker rooms waiting to interview athletes. Many of the triathletes didn’t recognize many names other than Manning. This is a group, after all, that goes to bed early and spends weekends training and competing themselves.
Fourteen researchers from the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute are on hand to measure sweat and salt loss during intense training. I underwent a 45-minute session this afternoon and the preliminary results, much to my surprise, were that I don’t sweat that much.
The researchers will have more definitive data tomorrow morning, but the initial theory is that since I train in a warmer climate (Florida), it takes more heat to get me sweating profusely.
I also sat in on a Timex product development meeting. A dozen triathletes offered suggestions on everything from design to GPS, heart rate monitors and a lot of technical stuff that went over my head.
Simple suggestion someone brought up that I’ve always wondered: Why can’t we measure heart rate from the wrist rather than a cumbersome chest strap that’s forever falling off?
Apparently we can – and Timex is working on it.
The juxtaposition of the Giants and triathlon make for some interesting moments. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is legendary for setting clocks five minutes ahead. That means clocks at the Timex Performance Center are never correct.
The Timex product development meeting took place in the defensive line conference room and the whiteboard still included photos, notes, and inside jokes representing Tuck, Chris Canty, Jason Pierre-Paul and others. At one point before my sweat session, a member of the Stringer team had me lie down in the linebackers meeting room to get a resting heart rate.
Then I hammered out a 45-minute workout in the Giants weight room, feeling less like a sportswriter and more like a pro athlete.
At least a pro triathlete.