It was finally the morning of the race. I double checked all the items in my bag and then Frank and I met Amy and Brooke to drop off our transition bags. Even though our race didn’t start until 8:45, we had to drop off our transition bags and be out of the bike area by 7:00AM.
I took my bike to get some air put in my tires. I secured my helmet and water bottle on my bike. Then I just put my towel on the ground and my bag on my towel under the bike. I was so glad I hadn’t laid everything out on the ground because there was a downpour around 7:30AM and my shoes would have been soaked.
We all went to the water to see if we could see Josh start the Olympic distance (.9 mile swim, 24 mile bike, 6.2 mile run), which was actually starting from an island across the bay. Unfortunately, their start was delayed and we decided to head back to the hotel to have breakfast. I had an iced coffee, half a Stonyfield protein shake, a banana and half a granola bar. Plus water.
I then realized that they gave me the cap for the wrong age group. I was able to solve this pretty quickly and was really happy I was going to be able to start the swim with Amy and Brooke.
We cheered Frank on for his start and 3 minutes later it was our turn. While I initially planned to hang back for the swim to avoid getting kicked, we somehow wound up close to the front. Fortunately, I was able to stay in the front of the pack around the first bouy. I then transitioned to breaststroke. I thought I’d be able to do breaststroke and maintain a good pace, but I soon realized that due to the current, the breaststroke was far less effective than freestyle. Even so, I suck at spotting, so I mainly stuck with breast. I finished the last 100 meters freestyle. The climb out of the water was really painful due to tons of sharp rocks, so I had to really take my time there.
Overall, the swim seemed to go by quickly, but it was uncomfortable being kicked and scratched by others. I think I’ll be much better prepared next time and able to really make the swim even stronger.
Swim: 400 meters. Time: 7:21. Pace:1:51/100mtrs.
Age Group Place: 15/51
# of times kicked or scratched: approx. 8
I really wanted to take my time on the transition, so I had time to collect myself and not forget anything. I soon saw Frank. He had survived the swim! Yay. I knew he’d be fine for the bike and run. I put on my socks, shoes and sunglasses. Took a sip of water and strapped on my fuelbelt. I then strapped on my helmet. The chin strap felt tight and I took probably a full minute trying to adjust it so I could breathe. I figured it was time well spent. As I was exciting I saw Amy just a bit ahead and called and waved.
T1 Time: 4:19. AG Place: 41/52
I was by far the most nervous for the bike. I really wished I had practiced on a road bike or practiced at all. Other than spinning, I’d only gone on two rides outside all summer. But after I mounted the bike, I realized it wasn’t so bad. The other bikers were careful not to hit you and even though none of the zone rules were followed, I felt fairly safe.
The bike route included four hills—all bridges. I made it to the first bridge and man it was tough, but I was passing lots of people. I wondered if I was pushing too hard? But I kept going. I was passed by 3 people for every person I passed. I was on a very low gear so that I didn’t kill my legs, but I found it frustrating to be passed by people pedaling slower than me. After I conquered the next bridge, I soon found myself close to the turn around. I saw Amy heading back as I was approaching. I almost fell on the turnaround but managed to save myself. From here, I decided to switch to higher gears and I was better able to keep a steady paec with those around me. In a strange way, the bike was kind of relaxing. It was tough, but manageable. The only problem was I still couldn’t drink while biking, so I didn’t take water or fuel on this leg. The hills on the second leg came and went and soon I was dismounting. I was pretty happy with how the bike went as I entered the transition.
Bike: 13 miles. Time: 53:33 Pace: 14.67 min/mile
Age Group Place: 37/52 Falls: 0
T2: I was thrilled to drop off my bike. I put on my hat. I almost forgot my bib, but I remembered at the last second. Between the wrist band, helmet number, two tattoos, bike number and race bib, you really are well marked during tris. I soon saw Amy once again exiting just ahead of me. She looked great! I then saw Frank again!
T2 Time: 3:09 AG Place: 39/52
The Run: Frank and I started out together. We were both struggling to get our legs back and so we took it very slow and chatted along. It was brutal, but I tried to stay positive. 3.1 miles and we were dunzo. It was about 90 degrees and with no shade or breeze people were really struggling. I’d say the majority of people were walking right from the beginning.
We approached our 3rd and final bridge and man it was a climb. It seemed never ending. We just kept chugging along. Soon we found Amy. We even saw Josh on the last mile of his run! Amy and I alternated power walking and jogging for a bit. We reached the first mile at the top of the bridge and honestly I couldn’t believe we were only at mile 1. We said our goodbyes at the turn around. I grabbed a Gatorade at the water stop.
On the way back over the bridge, people were suffering. The heat was really intense and I was passing people even when I was walking. As soon as I was on the top of the bridge again, I committed to running to the finish. It was only a little over a mile. Never before and likely never again will I pass so many people in a race. Even at snail’s pace, I was doing better than most. It was pretty cool as I’m usually in the opposite position, RTB leg 3 for example. Anyways, I finally saw the park up ahead. We rounded in. I saw Josh taking photos. I really couldn’t sprint but I tried to up my pace a tiny bit.
We rounded a corner, still no finish line. I passed through a street lined with cheering people. Still no finish line. I could see all the festivities in the post-race area and finally I could see the finish line. I realized I was about to finish my first tri and took a moment to take it all in. I was mostly happy to be almost done, but I wanted to also remember the experience.
It felt great to be done. It was now both hot and super humid, so I was looking for some kind of shade. I soon found Amy and she looked awesome.
We watched Brooke finish with such determination. I’m amazed at how strong Brooke and Amy were. Neither have done more than a few running races and they both killed their first tri!
Then I found Frank, who was looking a lot happier than the last time I had seen him. He’d managed to push through the run and finished a few minutes before me.
RUN: 3.4 miles <–just realized this was more than a 5K!.
Time: 35:38 Pace: 10:29 min/mile
AG Place; 18/52
Temperature: a cool 89 degrees and sunny.
Seeing everyone at the end was great. The best part was we could just drop our bikes at the Mack Cycles tent at the end. Easy peasy.
It was a fun experience. I might do an Olympic, but I’m not sure I really want to do a half or full ironman ever. I just can’t imagine it. I thought the Escape to Miami was very well organized and well run. They were amazing about closing down so many main roads and highways. I wish the course had been a bit more scenic as it was all on the highway, but it was an awesome first tri experience.
Looking back, I learned a lot during the Escape. Here are just a few of the things that I learned:
- Buy $1 throw away sandals. You’ll likely have to be out of the transition area well before your race start, so if you want to wear shoes during that time, you’ll need throwaway sandals. I ended up just sacrificing mine.
- The day before requires a ton of prep. You need to practice on your bike, check in your bike. Figure out all the rules. Understand your course. Prepare for transition. Tris have tons of logistics around when you can drop off things and when you can be in the transition area. <–though this could have just been my tri.
- Fueling is tough. I ended up only drinking two small cups of Gatorade throughout the race. Fortunately, I had a decent breakfast. It was pretty difficult to eat or drink on the bike, so I drank far less fluid than I should have, especially given the heat. All my GUs just sat in my race belt because by the time I was running, they seemed silly to take.
- Numbers, numbers, numbers. There are numbers on all your limbs and your bike, helmet and shirt. The amount of marking is crazy.
- It’s cool that you get a time and AG place for each leg and the transitions. It makes it really easy to see what you need to work on.
- Transitions count! My transitions were among the slowest in my age group and the two areas I placed the worst. It’s important to keep things moving in the transition areas if you care about your time.
- I was happy that I got to see my friends throughout the race, which doesn’t always happen in marathons. That’s fun.
- Have lots of plastic bags. Having a plastic bag to put over my transition bag would have been really helpful, although it was pretty protective of my belongings.
- No music. At least in my tri, headphones or ipods of any kind were punshible with a time penalty. If you love to run to music, practice without in advance.
- Practice. I really didn’t train for this, but that caused quite a bit of anxiety about the transitions, using a road bike, etc. If I had trained and done a few BRICK (bike and run or swim and bike) workouts, I wouldn’t have died so much on the run.
After the triathlon we enjoyed a well deserved day on South Beach. This was followed by a victory dinner at Prime 112, which was excellent!