The forecast was a mix of showers and clouds, with the rain percentages between 40-50% all day with mostly cloudy skies. The drive down to the Larry & Penny Thompson State Park held to the forecast. But by the time we got to the park, it had stopped raining and it actually held off for most of the day. It did sprinkle briefly waiting at the lake for the swim start, but other than that, there were only a few light spritzes out on the bike. In fact, it was during the bike that the skies actually cleared and remained sunny the rest of the day. It was due to the forecast that I didn’t apply sunscreen before heading out of transition – coulda, shoulda, didn’t.
I was lucky (but later it turned out not) to be next to the end of the rack next to another rack set, so I had room for my bag. After setting up my little area next to my bike and covering both sets of shoes with towels (and the garbage bag used to cover the bike overnight, fearing the day full of rain), I took a gel and left transition for the short walk around the lake to the beach where the start would be. At first I was a bit worried that my AquaSphere goggles were going to be too dark, but when I held them up to my face I was relieved that not only were they not so dark from the inside, it was almost as clear as regular. The reported temperature for the water was 78° (so wetsuit legal) but I think the brief sprinkle cooled the lake a few degrees. I was in the second wave after the pro/elites, and decided to start off about half way back and towards the side as I didn’t want to get caught up with the speed demons, and just got into a steady rhythm with my stroke. First lap went without any real incident, so I trotted out and over the timing mat to get back into the lake for lap two. It was the second lap where I found myself drifting to the left several times: first time I looked up and was heading straight for the pier & the other times was just before the topmost buoy. I think it was also the second lap where my right hand (middle finger specifically) slammed right onto the foot of another swimmer that was doing breaststroke. I would have given him the finger, but it really hurt. Other than that, I felt consistent and strong the whole swim. I came out of the water, got my wetsuit ripped off by strippers (man these girls are at all the big events!) and slowly trotted into transition.
Result: happy with my time of 39 minutes and change
Difference from last time: I didn’t feel like I had “worked” to get through the two laps and beat my time of 45+ minutes
I sat down in front of my bike & dried my feet, got my bike shoes & helmet on, and headed out of transition. There were numerous puddles and wet roads for the start, so much so that I think that was the reason for my right shoe being squishy for the first few miles. There wasn’t much wind for most of the beginning and I kept tabs on my Garmin the whole ride to make sure my heart rate didn’t get too high. It was going around the box two times that the clouds seemed to disappear and the winds picked up. Line of the day heard in my head: “You know the winds are strong when you see white caps on puddles.” So needless to say, heading back to transition was almost all headwind. I made a point to stop 3 times while out there on the bike to fuel and stretch my lower back, and that helped as later on my back wasn’t sore or tight, as it was for Augusta. I used the same nutrition I had used in training since Augusta: HEED in water and Clif Shot gels. And yet for some reason I started yawning around mile 45 which continued through to the run.
Result: felt good and consistent for most of the ride and pleased with my time of 3:21
Difference from last time: Maintained good heart rate and consistent pedal stroke throughout, but I am sure a port-o-john stop would have been better, as I only improved my time from 3 years ago of about 3:40
Got into transition and slowly trotted to my rack, resetting my Garmin for the run. I plopped down to get my bike shoes off, dry my feet again and put on socks and running shoes. After grabbing my race number belt, fuel belt and hat, I headed out for the run. Were there port-o-johns by transition? I passed the sign for “Finish/Lap” arrows and then realized something: notice how I didn’t mention I had put on my Garmin wrist strap? Or sunglasses? Yeah, just as well. So trotting away from transition I felt some pain in both of my armpits. After looking to see the exact areas, I came to the realization that the slight burning was due to chaffing from my wetsuit. Which is odd since I’ve worn this for 3+ years and never gotten pit burns. Thankfully the pain was not bad and dissipated after a few miles. About mile two I felt tired again. Jogging through the brief portion of Zoo Miami I spotted a restroom next to a snack area. Wow, there was an electric wall air conditioner set to 72° F, right above the urinals!! It was about the route where we were routed to the front parking lot and entrance to the Zoo that the tiredness started to get me. I said to myself, “Well, no PR today, let’s just enjoy it as best I can.” I sat down at the aid station near a timing mat for about 10-15 minutes, munching on peanut M&Ms, pretzels, even strawberries. After that I met up with Keith Andrews and we ended up chatting for about 8 miles. Did I care that we spent more time walking than running? Nope. I enjoyed more that we talked about a variety of things (athletic and non) than the race. About a mile after Keith and I started together, my wife caught up to us. Yep, second half iron in a row that Jess would go by me even after she start a few waves back. Speaking of animals, where were most of them? Just birds, two primates and tortoise? Seeing only a small handful of animals was a little disheartening – I wonder if ZooMiami had any paws in the route change.
Result: the timecard might not look good, but I would not change a thing
Difference from last time: none
What I had thought would be my “A” race ended up being more of a long day. While I had a good swim and a decent bike, I think the lack of long bricks hindered me, especially as my nutrition might have been the culprit in my tiredness. Speaking of lacking, the port-o-johns on the bike course were definitely lacking. Multirace commented on a Facebook post that an aid station had one, but it must have been set so far back that it was unnoticeable from the road. Speaking of changes made to the course, I seem to remember seeing many more animals several years ago. In looking at the race program for this year and comparing it with my Garmin map from 2010, a large portion of the animal route was cut off: hippo, zebra, giraffe, gorilla, and African elephant were all avoided. Which goes against one of the races “features” of having one of your run photos with an elephant in the background.
Hopefully some changes will be made to the MiamiMan bike and run courses to make it more enjoyable.