Escape to Miami
I apologize for not blogging recently. Been very busy. Just now settling into a new school year. Getting geared up for the Half Iron in November. Also taking a trip to Kona next week to watch the Ironman World Championship and hopefully get Chris Mccormack’s signature on my copy of his book. I can’t wait to run down Palani Hill and Ali’i Drive just like the race. Will be one great experience. Sunday was the Escape to Miami triathlon. Best race I’ve ever done. Read about it in this article I wrote for the Tri-Running Sports News Letter: Escape to Miami Olympic Triathlon 2011
Miami is a tight city. Luckily, I never had to move my car from the parking garage only one block from the transition. On Saturday, it’s “mandatory” that you rack your bike. Just like an Ironman. I didn’t know the Florida collegiate triathlon teams would all be here, so it was a shock to see the UCF Knights walking towards me in uniform. It was also quite shocking to watch how many heads turned when a 15 year old walked past them pushing along the beautiful S-Works Shiv just a-glistening in the Miami sun.
Any race done by Publix, Multirace.com, or any other big name company (also Tri-Running Sports) is usually a very well put together race. They know that people want an experience so easy a caveman can do it. In order to do so, the steps to getting your packet are printed on billboards around 8ft wide and 3ft tall. Going through the steps, one, two, three, and only 45seconds I’m headed to transition. I can already feel the night and day difference from last week’s sprint race.
I’ve learned from my previous MiamiMan spectating experience that when you rack your bike for the night, cover it up. So two industrial strength garbage bags later and we end up with this…
“Goodnight Shiv, get some rest.”
As the sun sets over Miami, the lights kick on, the UF vs. Kentucky game starts playing on every television, and South Beach wasn’t even getting started. But for me, time for bed. (Go Gators!)
“(Ring, Ring, Ring) This is your wakeup call” Morning started with a banana and 6 Clif Bloks (no I did not misspell that). Squeeze into the Tri-Running Sports tri-suit and out the door. Walking to transition was a short warm-up, just down two different elevators and across the street, got to love where they place the Hilton.
Uncover the bike, water dripping all over the bag as I predicted, lay down the towel, clip the shoes into the bike for the flying start (a must-learn for all triathletes), helmet upside down on the bars, sunglasses and GU in the helmet, running shoes, hat, and race belt down on the towel. Not much to it.
The coolest idea any race has ever come up with is this ferry out to a remote island for the start. Gigantic boat, over 500 people on-board. The boat starts smoking and smelling like the burning tires at Talladega (apparently that’s normal). Not much to see on a dark 5:30am boat ride, except the beautiful skyline of Miami but that get’s old after about 2 seconds. First time I’ve been scared in a long time. Its 6:10am on my watch (Garmin FR60 to be exact) and we have to jump into the pitch dark waters of the Biscayne Bay. One by one, all 500 passengers are dumped overboard and swim to Escape Island (the real name). On the island, we are accompanied by a Jamaican ballad of drums. This is quite entertaining. Going to be a good hour waiting for the start here.
Amount of people going to Escape Island
As I stand up the light breeze hit me like a cold winter chill and I immediately sat right back down in the water. Warmer here. As I stare out to the beautiful lit up Miami skyline once again, I start zoning out. I wasn’t getting focused on the race, I was just stuck in my own head, quite enjoyable. However, with drifting sea-weed through the crowd, suddenly came the screams of many women and even a few of the men as it brushed against them. Having those cheers of sea-weed fear bring you from a daze is much better than morning coffee. 6:45am, I have a GU (GU Roctane Blueberry Pomegranate in case you were wondering). The GU takes 15 minutes to hit you with energy so that’s the logic behind 15minutes before the start of the race.
Now it’s finally getting down to 7am, I haven’t even spoken about the race in this article yet and look at all I’ve written. You can tell how much I enjoyed this one. Best race I’ve done in my whole one year and one week career.
They call all the male athletes over to the Muscle Milk start buoys and the national anthem sweetly thunders through the air. The singer was very good. I’m sure we’ve all been to races where the singer didn’t make you very proud to be an American, another reason why Publix sponsored events are A+.
All the male athletes are standing on the beach. Among those, John Reback, who would later win the race. The race director comes over the microphone. “Please move up to the start buoys the race will start in 30 seconds.” Apparently move up to the start buoys meant go do a warm-up but stay out at sea. Another announcement, “Please move back behind the buoys, behind the buoys please.” Half the field including myself move back behind the buoys but the other half decided to get a head start. Now, there was no let’s count down from 10, no 3,2,1, just the horn. The swarm of kicking and clawing begins. I haven’t started my watch yet, how tragic. So at the mercy of the guys behind me I kicked hard for a few seconds and started the watch. The swim was a complete boxing match. From under the water you could hear the sling of profanity as if listening to Lil Wayne. Way down and around the turnaround buoy, the pack finally loosens up and I swim WAY to the outside, this would come back to haunt me a few minutes later. Swimming with my newly developed stroke (head down, feet up, and streamlined) I not so quickly combated the slow Biscayne current. I was making good time but I had lost too much time in my fight with Mike Tyson at the start line. Then to make matters worse, poof! Like a tire inflated with air until it pops, a cluster-smush of Sea Lice (baby Jellys) hit me all at once. Oh, that was the last thing I wanted. I particularly had one sting on my neck that was just unbearable with the constant rubbing of my shoulder with each right hand stroke. Luckily, the finish line was only a few 100ft away.
Coming out of the swim with the field behind me
Out of the swim in 32:47. Onto the bike, first time using the Shiv in a “long” distance event and I realized what having a great bike does. True, it’s not about the bike, however with the amount of power I can save over my weekly training Specialized Allez AL and go 4mph faster, it is all about the bike in that respect. Also, I got mucho help from Ms. Linda’s Garneau TT or “Beak” helmet. Thank you Ms. Linda for letting me borrow that, I could feel the difference in resistance it made. In my one water bottle, I had 32oz of Orange Nuun and in my back pocket, one GU Roctane (same flavor as before also however, I would not end up using this last GU). Riding comfortably at 34mph…ok I was going down the I-195 bridge at that point, I settled into the bike. Very important in these races to settle in and relax, often transition can leave you razzle dazzled. The roads out on the bike course are not what one would call bike friendly. They are very bumpy, many potholes and they are very narrow. Also, when you see some great bike riders all drafting each other riding in a pack 4-wide and passing a 5th person on their right, and also no USAT official in site, it freaks you out. Never ride with these groups, not only dangerous riding in tight quarters, and also should all be getting drafting penalties, but every single one of them is in the aero position. Another fact, many road bike riders, are not 100% in control of their bike. Unfortunately, inexperience on the bike caught a 19 year old in my age group, riding Chris Lieto’s same Trek Speed Concept 9. As I watched him hit a bump and go nose first into the curb. He stood up on his own power and was ok. 🙂
On the second lap of the bike I started developing severe back pain. Not just that all TT bikes are uncomfortable but being horizontal for half an hour before you get on the bike adds to the tendency to get stretching pains on the bike. As Coach George would say, in long distance its comfort over max power. Remember in Pro Triathlon, Olympic distance is referred to as “Short-Course.”
Off the bike in 1:11:48. I hit my mark on the nose on this leg of the race. I had set a time goal of 1:10:00-1:15:00. Then to start the run. Coming off the bike, I felt terrific. That would all change only half a mile later.
Half mile into the run, my calves started to tighten. Still had to go up the bridge but I knew going down the other side would be a breeze. I pushed through the tightening and got up the bridge, surprisingly faster than everybody else at that point. I flew down the other side and was running with a good rhythm. As I passed the 5K turnaround, I saw the leader, and an extremely in-the-zone John Reback. Chasing the leader down with his massive stride and 15 more years of experience. I yelled GO JOHN! but I’m not sure his ears were working at this time. I still had a long way to go but I was keeping good rhythm and still running. Unlike previous experiences with this distance. As I neared the 10K turnaround I saw going the other direction, a 19year old in my age group that I knew I could chase down. My stride opened up and I was in the chase. Wasn’t too much work though, he started walking almost immediately after he left the turnaround. Next, I saw a 15 year old. He was a pure runner. Wearing running shorts, running singlet, and legs long and slender. How on Earth am I going to compete with this. He never closed the gap. His time to take me over had come and gone. We got to the Biscayne Bridge for the last time. I stopped at the bottom to lower my heart rate before this big climb. Twenty seconds later I took off up the hill. He was pressing to keep up but I knew once I got over the top this IronWar was MINE. Thanks to all the help of Dave Masterson with bridge work, going down the other side was like running down Palani Hill in Ironman Kona. Which I can’t wait to run for myself in two weeks!!!!!!! This kid was blown out. I ended up gapping him, by 14minutes from the top of the bridge. I crossed the finish line flashing the usual #1 and shattered my old Olympic PR by 20minutes! Overall time: 2:44:43. 2nd place in my age group.
Put this race on your bucket list.
Believe it or not. Could have written more. New shoes. Comments on a 5 mile run tomorrow.