Last weekend Like a month ago was the Escape to Miami Triathlon (I’m a little behind) Which seems a little counterintuitive. As I usually want to Escape FROM Miami.
here’s the breakdown:
.9 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, 6.2 mile run.
.25 mile swim, 13 mile bike, 3.4 mile run
Olympic was pretty standard distance, the Sprint had a shorter than usual swim and a little bit longer bike and run (not longer by much).
There were 5 of us from Key West that competed. Colleen, Renee and Deirdre in the Olympic Division and myself and Brandon in the Sprint. Normally in a Triathlon, the Sprint starts like maybe an hour after the Olympic. This time it was about 2 hours later. This is the only Tri I’ve done where I have zero desire to try for the Olympic distance. I don’t know what time they had to get up but they had to board a ferry to be dropped off at “Escape Island” at 4:45! Brandon and I shared a room that looked over the dock and most of the race course. We were wiping the sleep out of our eyes when the girls were walking to the ferry. Then once on the island, they had a two hour wait to go. No thanks (she says while signing up for the Olympic. kidding. sort of). We were super lucky to be staying right next to the transition area. We had dropped off our bikes the night before (mandatory check in) and didn’t have to stress about getting over to transition. Like most races, we had to be out of transition by the time of the Olympic start (7:00) despite our start times 2 hours later (9:00 for me). We headed over to transition about 6:20 and were back in the hotel by 7:00 for a nap, to eat and stretch. It was a great luxury to have.
This was probably the most relaxed I’ve ever felt before a race. For once, I felt totally confident in the course (except for the run. Someday, maybe). I think it was mostly denial. I’ve spent all of my mental energy preparing for the Half Marathon that I barely had time to freak out about the Triathlon. #crazypeopleproblems. I managed to, for once, get proper nutrition and hydration. No headache!! By the time the race started, I was ready to roll. We hung out at the start waiting for our waves doing some people watching. There was quite a lot of great people watching to be done! I always jealously look at the other female racers. They all look so cute and in super good shape. Bitches 🙂 It’s like they think they’re better than me because they eat right and train hard and are way faster than me. wait a minute. OK. They are better than me. A little. It was great that Brandon had a start time close to mine because we could just goof around and stay loose while waiting. The conditions, btw, were pretty nice. What wasn’t nice was the absolute DOWNPOUR that happened during the Olympic swim. We were back in our room nice and dry for that. Though that downpour would cause some problems for me later. (oooohhhh….foreshadowing)
The Sprint swim course was an out an back in a horseshoe shape with the rather strong current pushing us for a little bit. As I stood around waiting in my wave I noticed that there were hardly any females. They usually put Athena and Clydesdales in the last wave. And it was mostly the Clydesdales. This info usually makes me happy because I figured just finishing, I’d have a shot at the podium. score! The shore was pretty rocky and I was psyched that it was a water start. It’s super hard to try to maneuver quickly over rocks at a start. Or, in my case, maneuver quickly anywhere. The horn started and I took off. And for the first time EVER, I stuck to my plan. I remembered everything my coach Liz had drilled into my head. I went around the first buoy, then the second. At the third I pulled a classic Brandon Beach move and accidentally punched the buoy when I got too close to it. oopsy. Because of the way the course was laid out, I had to sight a lot and I noticed that everyone ended up going past the last buoy and instead of going straight to the swim end, everyone was getting sucked off course by the current. I made mental note to really watch it and I even passed a couple of people. Last buoy and swim out in sight I started pushing even harder and SON OF A……..got totally swept in the current.
I fought my way back and came out of the water really psyched about my time. I was not last! And it was definitely my fastest, most comfortable swim.
After catching the shuttle bus to my bike (I wish, why is it so far away???), I started with my T1 routine: putting bike shoes on as clumsily as possible, putting my sunglasses on, trying to get water out of my ears, putting bike helmet on correctly without pinching my double chin, wiping sunglasses off now that they’ve fogged up and reaching in bike bag to grab my electrolyte/salt pills and DAMMIT! I usually leave the bag unzipped so I can just grab a couple pills, a shot block and be on my way. But crap, it DOWNPOURED during the Olympic swim and we were already out of transition. So the pills disintegrated and I had a goopy shot block. sweet. Oh well, onward!
I headed out on the bike course and was feeling pretty good. Luckily (?) the bridge came up pretty quick so I was relatively fresh for it. I started shifting into the smallest gear so I could shift up as needed and wouldn’t run out of gears on the hill. But then I realized I was SHIFTING THE WRONG WAY! I quickly corrected but was a little late on it so I didn’t get the best momentum getting up the first side of the bridge. About 20 yards from the top was where my shift error caught up to me. I had to use A LOT of energy and felt like I lost a lung, but I did it! and I did it 3 more times.
I wasn’t exactly setting a course record, but I was getting through it. On the flats I was able to pass a couple people and make sure I was taking in water and electrolytes. Weirdly, it seemed like I was always headed into the wind. I’m not sure how that is possible, but that’s what it felt like. About Mile 9 on the bike my dang back started seizing up again. What? yup. wtf. I continued on and finally saw the Bike Finish. I very gracefully (not really) dismounted. As I hobbled into T2 with my back just one knot, I heard my friend Mark say something so inspiring, encouraging and ass kicking that I was able to suck it up and get ready to run with new resolve. What was it that he said? I have absolutely no recollection. I tried to remember after the race and could not. Whatever it was, it worked!
I headed out on the run at a very brisk hobble. I knew it would loosen up eventually but I had to start by walking. I ended up walking up and over the bridge, telling myself that I’d run on the way back. By this time, it was stinking hot out on the course. So much for overcast, it was blazing sun at that time. The race organizers had a cold shower run through and water stations on each end of the ginormous bridge. Thank god! The heat and sun was having an adverse effect on many of my competitors. There were people competing in the Olympic heading out the same time as me and they were hurting. I felt so bad that they had to run twice as far as I did. There was a woman at the top of the bridge that had nothing at all left. Just all jelly legs. I gave her my water bottle that had electrolytes and potassium in it for her to drink but I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to be able to finish. When I turned around at the halfway, I started feeling a lot better and was able to run/walk. There were a couple of older gents a bit ahead of me starting up the bridge. They kept stopping and bending over. I had no idea what they were doing. As I got closer, I realized that they were picking up discarded gels and eating what was left. WHAT?! It was like they were crack heads trying to get a fix. It was gross and weird. And delightfully distracting. Before I knew it, I was almost done with the dreaded run.
I came down the finish chute excited and exhausted and looked like Leanda Cave! (not really). But I was pretty happy with my effort. Definitely my best race to date. Still have lots to improve on, but I’m happy with my progress (slow as it is) so far. Brandon and Mark were at the finish line (the Olympic girls were back at the hotel). Brandon and I hit the beer garden. We were already an hour late for check out so we figured, F it, may as well have a beer. I forgot (again) to shut off my watch so I wasn’t sure of my finish time. I went over to the tent with the computer and the volunteer entered my number and showed me my time. Not great, but good for me. Then she told me I got 3rd in my age group. For reals?! Yup. They had started the awards (I’ve never finished a big Tri in time to hear the awards) and the volunteer told me to head over. Brandon and I headed over all excited, camera at the ready. Then they announced my group. oh my god. I can’t believe I’m going on a podium in such a big race! And then they didn’t call my name. (sad trombone noise) I went up to the volunteer at the podium and was like “the other person told me that I got 3rd”. She was like sorry, no. I went back to the computer and was told again I was 3rd and at that point was like “whatever”. who cares. I was happy to have raced well and it was time to go celebrate. We met up with the rest of the Key West crew and had celebratory beers and food and headed back to the Rock. Where we had more beers and food. It may be (totally) my favorite part of doing a race. Up next, the Boston Half Marathon! whoo!!! and also, yikes!