Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Miami Man 2007

YES! Wetsuits were allowed at this year's Miami Man and I managed to squeeze back into mine, despite all the PMS bloating and extra carbs (candy) consumed this past week. Usually, I'm not fond of racing this time of month, but I recently read in the October 2007 issue of Triathlete magazine that a woman's aerobic capacity is at its peak just before and during her period. What good timing! Reading that article, I mean.

So I was all smiles before the race. I'd brought a flashlight so I could set up in the dark (the transition area was not well lit and several folks had to wait until closer to sunrise). And I'd brought extra toilet paper since the porta-potties had already run out. Everything was going well so far.

But, they weren't allowing spectators in the swim start/exit area, so poor Dave had to go across the lake to watch the swim. At least, the pressure was now off of him to try to capture me on camera between laps or finishing the swim. He could just relax and try to guess which one of the many neoprene-clad, pink-capped babes out there was his. No harm guessing wrong, I say, as long as there isn't any proof (photo).

And to make things even more confusing, the double loop swim course meant that faster swimmers would be overtaking slower ones and so various colored caps were soon spread out all along the course. In fact, just as my wave took off, some of the faster guys in the very first wave were already starting to come in for the second loop (see photo below). I'm sure they were just thrilled to have to swim through a big wave of 40+ women.

A little grabbing, elbowing and kicking I can handle but full contact swimming, I try to avoid. So I stayed wide of the buoys and drafted a little but found it easier to swim on my own for the most part. Still, I seemed to be moving along pretty well. I was much more comfortable swimming in a wetsuit this year thanks to the new freestyle stroke I learned from masters phenom Karlyn Pipes-Nielsen and practicing with a pull buoy. A year ago, I cursed the extra flotation the wetsuit provided because it threw off my balance and made my kick ineffective, which I relied on more than my pull back then, actually.

Yep, I was cruising and having fun. The hardest part was actually coming in towards the swim exit. Besides swimmers converging onto the little beach, there were some tall metal poles in the water to avoid head-butting. Everyone seemed to slow down. At the end of my second lap, however, I made the mistake of going faster (started kicking to get the blood flowing to my legs). I came up behind some guy who kicked me good in the right eye/goggle. Owwee!!

It was soon forgotten, though, once I'd looked at my watch and saw 48 minutes (official swim time, 48:17) -- woo hoo!!

But who stole my slippers??? I'd left them in the shoe/slipper area alongside this path we were to take to the bike transition area and now they were gone -- ARGHH!!!

Well, I didn't have the heart to take anyone else's so I carefully jogged barefoot along the path trying to avoid stepping on any rocks, sticks or worse. It was obvious that I hardly ever walk around barefoot. And I had much further to go than many, probably a good 1/4 mile, because my bike was positioned very close to the Bike Exit (far right side of the Transition area on the map above). Lucky me.

On my way, I saw some porta-potties. What the heck ... I stopped, took off my wetsuit and headed in. Besides having to go, there was much more room to pull off the wetsuit there than at my bike and my feet were screaming at me. By the time I finally got rolling, I'd managed to use up a whopping 7 minutes and 8 seconds :-( Notes to self: toughen up those tootsies and practice peeing while swimming (not in a pool, of course!).

But even with that ultra slooooow swim-bike transition, I had still had a great chance to go sub-6 *if* I didn't blow it by going too fast on the bike or messing up my nutrition. So I calmed down and got down to business. I really needed new slippers anyway.

The bike course was flat, pancake flat, with a double loop in the middle. Really, the wind was the only thing to slow us down (oh, and flats but, luckily, not me). It started out around 8mph from the north and got up to a steady 12mph a couple hours later with a shift in direction, coming from the east, that I didn't remember seeing in the forecast but was definitely feeling. Either way, it was much harder getting back to the transition area than it was heading out. Yet, I did not see much drafting going on, which was nice.

That is, until the final few miles. I came up on a couple riders and, sure enough, this one guy was tucked in right behind another one and I could feel my blood starting to boil. But as I got closer, I saw they were riding a tandem, a C Different race team with a guide in front and a blind racer in back. As I passed them, I joked and said, "Hey, from behind, I thought he was drafting you." The guide said, "He is!" And they later passed me back, which I was totally cool with.

The only unexpected thing that happened during the ride was that it ended sooner than expected (official bike time: 2:45:38). Not that I really wanted to fight the wind for a couple more miles, but the course had been advertised as 56 miles and my bike computer was showing only 53.8 miles. Weird. (And later, I'd find out that others also thought the course was short.)

But, there was still a half marathon to run and I knew I'd ridden the whole bike course so I just kept moving. I exited the bike-run transition in 2:49, one of my better T2 times, and headed to the zoo!

On my way, I saw Dave wearing his bright pink polo shirt. He was still hanging out near the transition area since he brought his book rather than his bike to this race. The run was two laps, mostly paved but there were a couple short unpaved sections outside the zoo that my feet were not happy about, still being tender from the swim-bike transition. Then my weak ankles joined in complaining with every uneven step. Man, what a bunch of whiners!

Early in each lap, I saw some wild animals that had escaped. Well, not exactly ... they were just large stuffed animals that were placed along the path near an aid station -- cute. Later, however, we did see (and smell) some real animals, in their pens. We ran past a big African elephant, across from which a race photographer had positioned himself. Good spot -- no one would look fat next to that!!

The temperature was "only" around 80 degrees but it seemed hotter with much of the course run on black pavement with little shade from trees or clouds. Or, maybe it was because I wasn't drinking the Accelerade that was being served on the course. But, there was no way I was trying it during this race. Better safe than sorry, real sorry from my past experience with an unfamiliar sports drink at the Olathe Marathon earlier this year.

However, I was consuming extra gels, taking salt caps and drinking lots of water. Around mile 8 (second lap), I made a full stop to refill my Fuel Belt bottles and was still well on track for a sub-6 hour finish. It was just a matter of hanging in there for a bit longer, playing a few more mental games with myself. Sometimes running a multiple lap course is harder because you've already seen the course before and know what to expect. Sometimes it's easier, for the same reason. I couldn't seem to make up my mind ...

Until mile marker 12. Then I knew it was all paved and partly shaded to the finish. There were also spectators around to keep me going. So there I decided to pick up my pace after having allowed it to creep up above a 9:30 pace the past couple miles. I passed several people but had no idea which lap they were on until the last 20-30 feet when the finish line split from the main course and by then, it didn't matter. I WAS DONE!!!

My official race time was 5:46:20 with a run split of 2:02:27 (9:21 avg pace), about 2 minutes slower than at Florida 70.3 but no complaints. I met my swim and overall race time goals, even if the bike course was short (a couple more miles would have added no more than 7-8 minutes). A big surprise, however, was placing 5th in my division and winning an age-group award, which went 5-deep. I love awards that do more than collect dust :-)

Thank you, family and friends, for all your support and your patience in reading this rather lengthy race report!!!


TJ said...

Very cool!
Great Race!!!

Petraruns said...

Oh Shirley what a GREAT race report. You did fantastically well you sound like you were confident about every stage. Not to mention that you look fabulous in a wetsuit and who could say that? You looked great and so happy in each shot - wow. I am very very impressed with you - a truly amazing event and a great result! Your hard work has paid off!

Brent Buckner said...

Thanks for your report - great that you're getting your swim groove!

Rural Girl said...

Congratulations! Love the new helmet!

Susan said...

Shirley - wow - great race and great race report, as always! :)

You inspire me. You really do. I am on the verge of signing up for "real" swimming lessons!

MarathonChris said...

A great race report! Congratulations - you really had a chance to race your race and handled the little "hiccups" with a great attitude!

Fe-lady said...

congratulations on a stellar finish for 1/2 IM! You are one fast lady! And I too like awards that you can actually USE for something! I imagine you will re-live the race with each cup of coffee or tea!

BreeWee said...

I LOVE your reports... you make us feel like we are there with all the photos and maps! My uncle raced-you kicked his butt!
lookin' hot in the wet suit!
GREAT race!

PLANET3RRY said...

Rock on! Great report. Congrats on reaching your race goals!

I've done a couple of sprint distances and plan to move up to the olympic distance soon and then train for a Half Ironman, someday.

Marathon Maritza said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! And great job on your race and placing!!! AWESOME!

peter said...

Whew, your report wore me out! You had us there every step (or pedal or stroke) of the way. Great race. Awards are always nice too, esp. one you can use. The only time I won one it was for $10 off at a running store I had to drive an hour to get to.

Anonymous said...

Hey do you know where one can get group or private competitive swim lessons? I did my first triathlon this past weekend (3/17) and even though I won my age group, my swim was horrid (17 minutes for 0.5). I am a total novice at swimming and really need help. I've done searches but the only thing that comes up is swimming lessons for babies and children. If you can provide any insight or perhaps know someone who can help me out that would be great. brunch43@hotmail.com

Mike G said...

Great Report Shirley! I'm racing the Miami Man this year. I feel much better knowing what the course is like coming from a participant than a race flyer. Good luck on your future races!