Saturday was sign in, bike drop, expo and a question and answer session. Sign in was simple and easy to navigate. I still haven't registered with USA Triathlon so I had to pay my $10 again. I didn't bring my wallet but Geoff had cash.
We were handed our race packets that contained all of our numbers and parking passes and then directed to the "goodies bag" section. The swag was pretty nice, which it should be for a rice of that price, and included your choice of dry fit shirts, different water bottles, hats, visors, towels, mugs, and a mouse pad as well as the sponsor bag with different gels, products and coupons. Even a coupon for a free pair of cycle socks that I redeemed online today. The next station was the numbering station or in this case tattoo station. The wait was over an hour and we felt confident that we could figure it out by ourselves.
We took our bikes to transition and made our way to the afternoon information session. They had a speaker from the USA Triathlon Association going over specifics and a tri coach going over last minute details. Both informative but not what the guys wanted to sit through on empty stomachs.
The hotel was our next stop to check in and then went on a mission to find lunch. We ended up eating at Cheesecake Factory. In the past, I was never a fan and I am still not a fan of the chain style restaurant but I had been snacking all morning and wasn't very hungry and did not feel like objecting because it could have been a whole lot worse. I was pleasantly surprised but their "light" menu. I ended up ordering a grilled artichoke, sauteed spinach, and sweet potato fries. The grilled artichoke was amazing and had a balsamic dressing on it. The spinach was just spinach and olive oil. The sweet potato fries came in a huge portion and I think I only had a handful.
By the time we finished eating and were back at the hotel it was around 4pm. I knew I wanted to get to bed very early and had a lot of prepping to do for the morning. I am a big believer in laying every single item out and prepacking everything for the morning. It makes the morning so much less stressful and you can just go through the movements. Football was on TV so Geoff was not complaining that we weren't "exploring" Miami. We were asleep by 8....
& awake by 4:45! Normally I am one to curse life the morning of a race if it is an earlier wake up call than my standard 5:30am but this wasn't bad at all. I was well rested and excited for the challenge.
We arrived at the zoo at about 5:30. Yes the race was at the Miami Zoo!
It was still dark out when we reached transition but they had lights set up so you could mostly see. I went through all of my motions getting set up and I realized that this was my first race with my clip ins. For some reason that fact made me a little nervous but not nearly as nervous as everyone dressing out in wetsuits. That was intimidating. I have never swam in a wet suit nor do I own one. They said the water was 75 degrees. That seemed warm to me.
Transition closed at 6:45 and I went and found Geoff, his sister and our friend Sarah and their husbands.
April & Sarah were doing the half Iron Man. Sarah swam at Clemson and is in great shape and April is very strong in all three. It was fun being at the race with family and friends even if you never see each other in the race.
Their wave was at 7:35 and mine wasn't until 8:35 so that left time for an awkward photo shoot of myself :)
Geoff found the sign that said "Danger Deep Water No Swimming" hilarious considering I was about to go swimming in that lake.
I was more amused with the fish swim caps. Every wave was a different color but they were all still fish or sharks. Notice the fins? I don't think I will be doing practice swims in this cap.
I am so grateful that Geoff supports me and claims that he enjoys watching me at my races. I think he was just happy that I didn't sign him up.
Up first was the swim and my wave was the very last. They recommended getting in the water before the race but the air was cold and I knew that being cold for an extended period of time would be worse then the shock of the water. To my surprise the water was a very pleasant temperature.
An intimidating fact about being the last wave in the water: you could be the very last swimmer out of the water. I finished just behind the middle of the pack and actually passed people. I do not know how those wearing wetsuits did not over heat. After the first few minutes I was comfortable and got warm toward the end.
I wish I would have switched into my tinted goggles. It was cloudy early on but once the sun came out I had trouble spotting the finish. I felt like I swam strong. It took a few minutes to get comfortable but I caught a rhythm and stayed there. The water was very clear. You could actually see the bottom in most areas. I saw a lot of swim caps that had fallen off.
This was also my first time swimming in tri shorts. I know they aren't the most flattering shorts. I tried on about 10 pairs and in my price range these were the winners. I also normally swim in a swim suit top and throw a shirt on after the swim. This time I just wore an Under Armor top with a built in, very supportive, bra. I felt a little drag from the top but over all it was tight enough that there wasn't an issue. Would I wear this shirt again for a race? I am not sure. I bought it at Dicks Sporting Goods on super sale around $20 and that was a whole lot cheaper than the $50+ tri tops.
My swim time was 29:54. My goal was to be under 30 minutes. Now that I have the confidence that I can do the swim, I plan to train with a focus on speed rather than survival.
The first thing I do when I get to transition for T1 is to put on my helmet. I have a fear that I will forget it. I also put on my sunglasses because I leave them sitting in my helmet.
I then dry off as much as I can. You don't want to be dripping wet and I like to make sure my bottom gets as dry as possible so I don't slip off of my bike seat. I still wear socks with my tri shoes instead of doing the baby powder in your shoes trick. They rub my feet in a few spots and I figure I will be wearing socks in the run portion (for now) so might as well put them on.
My bike location was located right in the middle of the transition area which ended up being perfect. There was a long distance between the transition exit and the bike mounting area.
Lucky for us, most of this distance was on grass which allows you to be able to run with your shoes on.
I was passing people through T1 towards the mounting station and my T1 time was 3:17.
First time race clipping in went smoother than I feared. No issues there.
The bike leg was WINDY. I don't think the wind was ever behind me. I didn't ride with a bike computer this time. I trained with my iPhone but they were not allowed for the race and never bought a new computer for my new bike. I think ridding with a computer would have been depressing. I can only imagine how slow I went when I was riding into the wind. My bike time was 1:28:39 for the 22 miles. My average pace was 14:89 miles an hour. In training I was ridding about 17 to 18 miles an hour. Thank you wind.
While running bake to transition after the run, I knew my legs were not happy. I switched into my running shoes and forgot my hat. My forehead was burnt.... Even if you lather up with sunscreen prior to the race, between swimming and wearing a helmet, your sunscreen on your forehead wears off. It happens every time.
My T2 time was 2:18. Leaving transition I was all smiles :)
Returning from the 6.6 mile run was a different story. I also thought it was only a 6 mile run and thought I missed my turn off once I hit 6 miles. Oh no it was 6.6 miles. My longest training run was 5.9 miles. Opps.
It took my legs about 2 miles to "find themselves" again but at that two mile mark my body rocked the next three miles through the zoo. There were aid stations at every mile and never had I needed an aid station more. By this point in the day it was HOT out and the sun was intense. The last two miles of the race were through a parking lot and then the back lots of the zoo. No shade and all sun. The last mile and a half were tough. A lot of people around me were walking and I did not want to walk. I did walk though the aid stations when I drank water or took ice. I also walked for a few strides at mile 6.2 when I thought I should have been done. I needed that to re-motivate myself.
Once I saw Geoff, I knew the finish line was close and I pushed it as hard as my body could. Notice the 1/2 iron man behind me who looks like a pro? Not fair.
I believe when I crossed the finish line and Geoff hugged me I told him to "never let me sign up for this s*%$ again" My body hurt and my emotions were flying but I was so proud of myself. My run time was 1:15:45 which was 15 minutes over my goal time of 1 hour but that was also when I thought it was a six mile run.
My total time was 3:19:54, nearly 20 minutes over my goal but I am so very proud of myself. This time last year I couldn't swim a lap in the pool, ride a bike for longer than 6 miles or run 2 miles without walking. I may have crossed the international distance off of my list for now but I will cross this bridge again.
.live creatively well.