South Beach Triathlon 2016
What can I say? <spoiler alert> I did it! I finished it! I swam real nice (and s.l.o.w.), I KILLED those bridges, I ran like a….like a…… a little bit like a…. ok. I walked. I walked like a…I don’t know what. Like a zombie? I did run a bit and when I ran, I ran like a hippo. That just finished eating. and was slightly wounded. But dammit, I finished.
Let’s start at the at the beginning, shall we?
Daylight broke over the beautiful vista of azure colored waters stretching endlessly in front of me as I stood at the swim start contemplating all of life’s mysteries and glories.
Just kidding. I don’t write like that! It’s far too exhausting and would require me to actually go back and read what I wrote and edit and stuff. Not for me! Most of the time at the swim start I’m thinking any or all of the following: a)Do I have enough time to vomit again b)no way is that girl an Athena c)I’d give ANYTHING to look like her-anything that didn’t require much time or effort d)that is a LOT of people getting rescued e)I have a wedgie and then in a mini, wavering inside my head voice: f)I’ve got this.
Ok, now we’ll start at the beginning. The very beginning of this race was approximately 5 minutes after my DNF from last year. Recap last year: nerves, food poisoning, self doubt, severe dehydration, swim!, medical tent, attempt at mounting bike I couldn’t really see and lastly DNF.
The very next day when registration opened up, I signed up and booked my hotel room (holla Bentley South Beach!). The rest of race season last year and training for this year, SoBe Tri 2016 was always in the back or front of my mind. Bridges, Bridges, Bridges went my brain for nearly a year. My coach Liz (Little Butt Fierce) Love and I planned everything pretty much around me finishing the race this year. What seems to fell me with this dang race are the bridges. Living on a flat little island with one small bridge doesn’t really build the best foundation for the mammoth bridges in South Miami. But I hit my trainer, I biked on windy days, I took spin classes. By the time race day came, weirdly, I felt the most confident in the bike portion. I know! Weird! I worked on my swim stroke to try to pick up speed. I worked on that god forsaken run. As I headed up to the race, I was excited! I really felt more ready than I had for any race previously. The only goal I had was to finish. Sure, it’d be nice to do better (MUCH better truthfully) than the other time I finished SoBe. But really, I just wanted to finish no matter how long it took. Amazing feeling to rid yourself of any time constraints and just concentrate on finishing. It’s how I was for my first few races before I started getting frustrated that I never saw huge improvements in my times. There’s a lesson in there for sure.
Everything leading up to the start was pretty uneventful overall. My friend Brandon and I went to packet pickup and other than the person handing me my stuff being absolutely SHOCKED that it wasn’t my first Triathlon, it was fun seeing other athletes, getting my bike envy on and looking at all the goodies I didn’t need to buy at the expo. We had an early dinner and then got our stuff ready for race day. We were both pretty relaxed and loose. It’s absolutely invaluable to have for me to have the company of a fellow racer that can joke around and is laid back about stuff (thanks Papi!) I went to bed and fell asleep quickly. Didn’t get the greatest night sleep ever but I’m not sure any racer does? I woke up like every hour on the hour. The hotel was right across the street from transition (yaay!) but also right in the thick of the peak season, South Beach action (boo for racing. great for partying though). Every time I woke up I heard people whooping it up. Luckily, I always fell back asleep right away. My alarm went off and I was immediately wide awake and went about getting ready. Listened to music, choked down some breakfast, lubed all the relevant places and we walked across the street to the race.
One of the things that brings me back to this race (other than the Unfinished Business theme) every year is the size of the race and the energy. Though I enjoy our small local races, it’s hard not to get amped up when there are around 2000 racers getting ready to tackle a course. It’s electric! (boogie woogie woogie). I’m not one of those people that spends HOURS setting up their transition area. It’s the one part I’m super efficient at. I make a list on my phone a day or two before and eliminate at least that part of race day stress. I chatted with the other Athenas, tried to chill out a bit and then walked down to the swim start. There are real bathrooms over at the swim start so I was excited not to have to be in a dark port-a-potty, barefoot, trying not to vom over the smell. One problem, THEY NEVER OPENED THE BATHROOMS!!!! So there we were, a whole lot of triathletes all peeing in the water. oh well. At least I didn’t have to run back to the transition loos to poo (poet alert!)
I warmed up a bit and was heading to my designated corral when, yup, had to vomit. Just a little though and off to the start I went. The conditions were definitely the calmest I had ever experienced with this race. There were thunderstorms threatening all morning but thankfully didn’t happen. I was glad it was overcast. There was a bit of a current which was challenging but definitely pretty good conditions overall. I was swimming along calmly and doing pretty well (for me. can we just note that from here on out, it’s always good/decent/pretty well “for me”. I know I’m not Rinny). With the outgoing tide, it was easy to get pushed a bit further out so I was sighting probably more than I should’ve been. This helped me spot all the jerky people cutting the turn buoy. Like what in the actual F? DON’T CUT BUOYS!!! It’s not fair to those of us that don’t CHEAT!!!! ok. I’m calm now. I wish the lifeguard on the paddle board was better at sighting so he didn’t put himself where I swam right into him. When I made the turn and started swimming for the exit. I was still a good 100 yards out and the life guard (same one that I ran into) very helpfully started screaming at me to stand up. I’ve always been taught to keep swimming as far as you can until your scraping the bottom. And that was a ways away. He was so insistent that I actually did stand. BIG mistake. Way too far out. In fact, as often is the case with the ocean, it got deeper again closer to shore. I had mistakenly taken my goggles off so couldn’t put my face in the water. I took my goggles off because the left one was filled with water and I couldn’t see. My eye would remain red and angry for several days. I hit the beach and a volunteer said “good job! you made it! all easy stuff from here”. He was so nice and trying to be encouraging. I said “that was my best leg” and kind of maniacally laughed. I headed for transition. That was in like Ft Lauderdale. Since there was no shuttle bus, I hoofed it to T1.
I got on my bike and took off like a shot!! not really. I always have his weird panicky moment when I first mount my bike where I can’t clip in. It’s like it’s the first time I’ve ever done it. Every time. Actually, I’m pretty sure I clipped in better the first time that I ever tried it. I calmed myself down and got on with it. There’s a short, slightly steep bridge that I hit pretty quickly that I did just fine with. I knew I had a couple of miles til I hit the GIANT bridge so I concentrated on hydrating with my BASE Rocket Fuel (aminos, hydro and salt) and going as fast as I could as I knew I’d lose time climbing. Little did I know how much true that would be. (oooh…foreshadowing!). I seemed to have solved my GI race issues. I just do liquids. I use BASE products and some Skratch Labs. I keep some blocks on my bike and my run belt in case I need some more calories but really, the bonus of being an Athena athlete is I have plenty of “storage” to pull from already. For me, my problems happen with dehydration. Damn I dehydrate fast! Salt truly does save as my fellow BASE athletes know. I was thrilled that it remained overcast and hoped the rain would hold out. Then the first big test, heading up the MacArthur Causeway Bridge. UGH. But wait a minute, I actually passed some people. There were two people that walked their bikes up all the bridges. How do I know this? The bastards kept passing me on the straightaways. dammit. But that bridge was to be my bitch that day, my friends! I had zero trouble getting up it. Now that’s not to say I flew up it. Nope. slowly slugged my way up but not once did I think of getting off my bike and throwing my bike over it. Another straightaway through the cobblestone streets of Belgium. Wait we’re in Miami. What the F is up with these crappy roads! Me and my vajayjay made it through relatively unscathed and onto the next set of bridges known as the Julia Tuttle Causeway (I don’t know who she was but if she was anything like her namesake bridges she was a stocky, steep, mean lady). I made it over them pretty easily and then hit the turnaround. I felt like I was making good time until I hit the two Tuttle bridges on the way back. What the deuce? my gears kept slipping a bit. I made it over but it wiped me out a bit. Back over the cobbled streets of Belgium Miami and pretty soon (so not soon enough) I was back at that Bastard MacArthur Causeway Bridge (yes, I’m aware that “Causeway Bridge” isn’t possible but I don’t know what that bridge is actually called and I’m on an airplane writing this so can’t look it up. Try to move past it people!). Man! I struggled up that bridge with my gear slipping, my will slipping, my vajayjay numb and a BAD pain in my right hamstring. But I did it! and then I killed that last little bridge. Ha! Suck it, bridges!!!! Now why did I really have some trouble this time out? Oh, I never switched to my small ring. Yup. I sure am an idiot. I was so foc
used on climbing the bridges that it never occurred to me for even a second that I should GET OUT OF THE BIG RING. whoopsy. (sorry Dave). I eased into the dismount area with all the grace of an elephant trying to well, get off a bike. My hamstring was killing me which made actually getting off of the bike a challenge. I ended up basically dropping it and stepping over it. I’m guessing you don’t see that move a lot in Kona. Whatevs. It got me off my bike. I headed into T2 and that’s where it was super (not) fun. Here’s my PSA to the Olympic athletes, fast racers, etc: I’m required to be out of transition HOURS before my start so that you can start and have a clear path. So please do not come back into transition after your race until the designated time. It is not at all fun while I’m still racing to try to get past all of you clinking your finisher medals and moseying out with your bike. I think I can speak for all the back of the packers when I say “GET THE F#@$ OUT OF MY WAY!! I’M STILL RACING, AHOLE!”. Oh and thanks for all the encouragement. All 2 of you. Ok. rant over.
I swiftly hobbled out of T2 to the run. I had a plan going in. I would walk at X pace and run at X pace at X intervals. Well, my hamstring was killing me, by brain was telling me to quit. Almost everyone was done but me, whah, whah, whah. I was actually running slower than I was walking? huh? so I decided to just walk and get my shit together. Man, if anyone actually said the things to me that I say to myself during a run? I’d go ape on them. Oh wait, there’s a guy now “you know, if you lost some weight you could probably run like the rest of these folks”. really? REALLY? F-off dude. Nice. I didn’t go ape. I just took the punch and continued on. About mile 2 my hamstring started loosening up and I took off like I turned into Meb!!!! Ok, not really. I did start running though. I was just going to take it 1/2 mile at a time. During one of my walk breaks there was a voice that said “if you don’t run, you can’t call yourself a triathlete”. Bad enough when one thinks it to oneself. Luckily it was another Dbag along the course. People are just lovely! We had luckily avoided the hot Miami sun most of the race…..but there it was! I just kept going. Was able to start running a bit more. Any goals I had of finishing in a respectable time completely vanished. Now it was me against me. I started taking it 1/4 mile at a time and then an 1/8 of a mile at a time. Promising myself that if I just finished, I’d never ever have to do this race again! Eventually I spotted the turn onto the beach. There was a lovely tourist family that was heading to the beach that were FASCINATED by me and the race and they stuck with me until the chute. I’m pretty sure they were real. Once at the chute I broke out into a swift shuffle and FINALLY crossed the finish line!! I was so excited! and emotional! and very very nauseated. But I WAS DONE!!!
It wasn’t my easiest race (then again, none of them are). It wasn’t my prettiest (again, none of them are) but it was definitely one of my proudest. And I never have to do it again. I swam like a person that had never done it before, I slayed the bridges, I
conquered did the run (walked, whatevs). I had a score to settle with the South Beach Triathlon and I did it!!! I was dead freaking last but I did it! (insert inspirational thought of those that I beat those on the couch, the DNF’s etc) Never again would I have to torture myself with this race! Fine! SoBe, you were a worthy opponent and I gently knocked you out.
hmmmm….I bet if I did it next year, I could do it better…..dammit……