Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Miami Man 2008

This race really made me realize how much I love triathlons. Even with a lackluster swim and a frustrating bike issue, I had a blast. Here's a quick comparison of this year vs. last year (note that my age group doubled in size!):

1.2 mi Swim (avg pace)48:07 (2:16/100y)48:17 (2:17/100y)
56? mi Bike (avg pace)2:47:15 (20.1 mph)2:45:38 (20.4 mph)
13.1 mi Run (avg pace)1:57:57 (9:00/mi)2:02:27 (9:21/mi)
Total Time, F45-495:42:43, 8/345:46:20, 5/17

So, basically, I did a little better on the swim & T1, which was offset by doing a little worse on the bike & T2, then a solid run got me a PR.

But wearing no watch made it fun as did some zoo animals!

1.2 mile Swim - 48:07 (2:16/100y, 20/34)

The course was the same as last year, two loops in a small lake. Wetsuits were allowed and my wave went off at 7:17, again, just as the faster swimmers from the first wave were coming in for their second lap. Great... For the first time, though, I started sort of in the middle of my wave rather than in the back. I knew it was going to be a crowded swim the entire way but was much more comfortable handling contact with other swimmers this year so my strategy was to draft as much as possible.

Good news: The 1.2 mile swim was really easy! Bad news: Not the big swim PR I was hoping for. But did I know at the time???

NOPE! No clock at the swim exit and nothing on my wrist so I thought I'd had the best swim of my life. The shoes I'd left at the swim exit were waiting for me (last year someone stole my slippers!) and I was as happy as a clam coming into T1. I had my usual struggles taking off my wetsuit (really need to work on this!) but still shaved off nearly 2 minutes in transition. WOO-HOO!

56? mile Bike - 2:47:15 (20.1 mph avg, 10/34)

Now onto the flat and fast bike course. Like last year, it was fairly windy, 10-13mph from the north, and after doing the loop twice we'd have to work a lot harder to get back to the transition area. But I was better prepared this year with all rides I did out in Kona so bring on the wind!

Coming out of the park, I was cruising at 22mph downwind easily and gaining speed when all of a sudden I'm pedaling and pedaling and going slower and slower! What the heck???

So I pull over, get off my bike and check to see if my brakes are rubbing. Yep, looks like the front brakes need a little adjustment; back wheels are OK; no flats. I get back on my bike, wait for a little break in the riders and get back on my merry way again. WEEEEEE!

Further down the same downwind stretch, I'm struggling to maintain 17mph. Not again!!!

The fourth time it happens I try to realign the brakes with my hands while riding. No use, all I get is a little friction burn on my fingers from the wheel spinning. But I realize how close my Aqua Cell bottle is to the brakes. AHA! Could it be causing this problem? Not sure why it would since I used it at Gulf Coast Tri back in May with no problems. But I stop and see that the bottle is pretty much resting on the front brake housing so that perhaps every major bump I go over is causing it to push the brakes out of alignment. After adjusting the brakes, I also try to adjust the bottle position so it's riding higher.

A turn later the brakes are dragging again. This time I decide to just flip the switch to open up my front brakes altogether and, what the heck, why not also try turning the bottle around backward. Now with the aerobar notch pointed away, it should ride further away from me and the brakes. Voila, I'm finally FREE of this #@$!&% problem!!!

Of course, now I also have no front brakes but on a flat course like this, who cares? Just have to be a bit more careful approaching turns.

So after ~7 miles and 5 stops (black asterisks on the bike course map), I'm finally racing! I shoot for 25-26 mph downwind, 20-21 mph crosswind, 18-19 mph into the wind and am passing lots of folks. Unfortunately, I see several riders drafting this year. Dave later tells me he heard that 24 drafting penalties were issued, the most they've ever had. Good, at least some of those cheaters got caught.

Meanwhile, I'm seemingly riding and thinking of the elephants I would see later.

I roll back into the transition area with my bike computer reading 54 miles (same as last year so I'm convinced this course is short) and 2:44-something. Wow, I ended up with a little faster bike split even with all the stops! Ummm, NO, I didn't because my bike computer time stopped every time I stopped. But did I remember that during my race?

NO! Little Miss Happy Clam went about her way in T2 thinking she'd kicked @ss on the bike and pulled off a Chrissie Wellington or something. I stopped into the restroom before heading out onto the run course, which added a minute to my transition, but knew I'd be better for doing so.

13.1 mile Run - 1:57:57 (9:00 avg pace, 4/34)

The run was a bit cooler this year thanks to some added cloud cover but 80 degrees is still pretty warm and 13.1 miles is no walk in the park, even if much of it is in a park (click on map to enlarge). The flat bike course, however, allowed my running legs to return much sooner than at the FL Challenge Tri a couple weeks ago. By mile 2, I was feeling good and enjoying the zoo. Who's out today? What IS that thing? Who's making all that noise? What is that smell?

Unintentionally, I probably ruined one woman's photos by passing her in front of the elephants where a race photographer is always located. Sorry!

Starting the second lap, I saw Dave again who told me to negative split the run. Not sure I did since I didn't know how fast I ran either lap but I do know that during the second lap there was some added excitement in the Giant Tortoise pen. As I approached, I heard some really loud dinosaur-like noises and then saw one on top of another one.

Mommy, what are they doing?, said one child.
They're making baby turtles, her mom replied.

HA, an X-rated show during a race! Of course, Dave had the camera so I didn't get any pictures ...

The last couple miles were boring in comparison but I was slowly reeling in one of two women who had passed me earlier during the run, which kept me preoccupied. I caught her around mile 12 and a couple other guys just before the final stretch. Then I saw the Central FL Tri Club coach and many of its members cheering wildly. Go Shirley! You Look Great! Finish Strong! Go Girl! WOOOOO!!!

What am I saving my energy for? I picked up my pace and ran as fast as I could. The finish line was just off to the right but I didn't see a clock when I crossed it. Where's the clock? What was my time?

Well, there was no clock for some reason and now I wanted my watch REAL bad. Soon enough, though, I saw Dave heading over to meet me. He said that I'd finished at 1pm, which meant a sub-5:45 race time. OH YEAH!!!

So even if everything didn't go quite as I'd hoped, I felt the strongest I've ever felt in all three sports and I'd managed to keep things together to race well. A great way to end my tri season and a nice birthday present to myself.

Thoughts on the swim: I think I'm not an aggressive or fast enough swimmer to get around slower folks well and got boxed into going a slower pace. The swim course also had 8(!) major turns, making it one of the more technical half iron swim courses with a lot of slowing going around each of the buoy turns. Even my tri club coach swam 5 minutes slower at Miami last year than he did recently at FL Challenge tri so a 3 min difference for me is probably not bad. Regardless, I'm sure I can do better and will be continuing to work on my swimming. There's something brewing behind the scenes for next year that could involve a lot more swimming and a team uniform!


Katie said...

Yippee! Great job, Shirley. I was hoping to see a before/after haircut photo, though. :)

Karen said...

Wow! Congrats on a great race. It sounds like you really kept the positive attitude even though the bike had challenges. I'm living vicariously through you now. sigh

Shawn said...

I loved your race report! Great job. The turtles cracked me up! :)

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

great post. sounds like you had a great race. loved the elephant references to your bike photos.


"They're making baby turtles..."


Brittany M. said...

Awesome race report and AWESOME race!!! Sounds like so much fun, turtles and all--HAHAHA, that would've made me laugh to hard to run I think!! Great job!

Tammy said...

Great job Shirley you ROCK!!!!!!

Cliff said...

hey Shirley,

great race report. As for the swim, I hvae a tendency to get boxed in as well. I need to learn to be more confidence in the water.

And the way i see how do i gain that confident? Swim more and swim stronger. :) We shall see how the next season add up...

skoshi said...

Great race report, and great PR!
Loved the "Little Miss Happy Clam / Chrissie Wellington" reference. How may times have I been a Little Miss Happy Clam?

Must be fun running through the zoo. I love elephants, tortoises, AND giraffes!

Spokane Al said...

Congratulations on a great, great race.

And I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who battles a bit to get out of the tar baby wet suit in T1.

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

I hope your new bike won't give your trouble like that. Since your running is great, maybe you can spend more training time swimming. Of course, a faster swim time may not make a big difference in a half-ironman, but the swimming is good cross training, too, so it should help with the bike and run, too. The outdoor pool here is now 23 C in the water and 18 C outside in the early morning, a little chilly for me. I'm having to toughen myself up after having it so easy for so long!

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Great post and excellent race. The elephant photos were such a great angle on the race! Neat idea.

Giant tortises! So much to look at. This sounds like a lot of fun. I bet the agegroups will grow again next year.

Iron Eric said...

What a great report. Oh..happy thoughts. I love PR's.

Gotta Run said...

That swim course does not sound ideal....still I think you did great!!!

Love the race bing!!

Your reports are also so detailed. Thanks for all of the insight. It really helps a newbie like me to know what is in store for me next year.

Calyx Meredith said...

Hilarious elephant pictures! I loved that. Your race reports are always such great reads! Thanks for sharing them.

X-Country2 said...

Great job! Excellent race report. How fun to pass zoo animals like that. Especially such active ones. :o)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations and Happy Belated Birthday to you!! I love the bib and medal :-)

You did very well even with the brake issues. It seems with OW swims, there are so many variables it's hard to know how it will come out - I think you did great! I can't believe someone stole your slippers last year!!

What a speedy half marathon! I wish I could break 2 hours!!

Great the elephant pics and turtles making babies..LOL!

*aron* said...

you are so awesome... CONGRATS!!! and great pics!

Runner Leana said...

Happy birthday! What a way to celebrate! How frustrating regarding your issues on the bike, but given that you still had a really strong performance. Great job on your race, and congrats on you PR!!!

sharon said...

Congrats on a great race Shirley. Maybe I oughta try the no watch thing someday.....
If I was convinced it would mean a PR then I'd be in. :)

Arland said...

Awesome job on the race!! Thats a great bike time especially considering all the problems you had. Good job on overcoming them and finishing strong.

Rural Girl said... I'm intrigued. what's brewing for next year?
great race, Shirley. Congratulations.

Stef said...

Wonderful job Shirley -- that bike issue would have driven me absolutely bonkers. It seems like you are really coming into your own in tris now since you mentioned this is the strongest you felt putting everything together. With a fast time like you put up with those bike issues there is no limit to where you can go from here! What a great season closer for you!

I agree about your swim thoughts. Since I'm a little quicker now (maybe mid to front of the back of the pack) swimmer I notice that a lot of people breast stroke around the turn buoys. Time waster!

We were taught in swim group to keep swimming through the turns so that's what I do but often I am slowed by having to watch out for legs that are doing the breast stroke kick or people just stopping to get their bearings or something.

TinaGirl said...

What a great race report. It does sound like you are getting stronger in all three areas. Its nice to see that improvement. I'm an instant gratification kinda gal so I would be going CRAZY if there was no time at the end but I like the whole no watch idea. It would make for a more relaxed race, and perhaps faster... hu? I'm adicted to my Garmin though so I'll have to wean myself off... maybe for one of my halves next year I'll try it!

peter said...

Way to go Shirley! Always working on getting better! Thanks for your recent comments.

Sunshine said...

Your joyful enthusiasm is as impressive as your racing is amazing! Happy new year of your life.

MizFit said...


(yep. caps. I screaming it at you :))


Girl on Top said...

Great job! I love the comparisons with the elephants!

lizzie lee said...

AMAZING!!!!!!! Love the pix with the pretty pachyderm!!! I have a crush on elephants since I met them in Thailand....

Your report, as always, thorough and FUN!!!!!!!

akshaye said...

Shirley - that was a great race! The brake trouble must have added a few minutes to your time too.. Great pictures!

Petraruns said...

Oh Shirley - this is such an amazing report. What is so incredibly interesting is the way your attitude was so positive (when, had you had your watch you would have probably been freaking out) and it seems your negative thoughts never came into anything. Instead you just ENJOYED it all. And then - guess what? - you bring home a PR... There's a lesson in there somehow isn't there sweetheart!

Viv said...

Congratulations!! That was neat the little side by side comparison. I loved that I thought I had the best swim of my life, LOL! I guess that is a great thing it gives you confidence going into the bike, huh?
You did wonderful, and had fun! Way to keep getting faster! The medal is pretty. I grew up in Miami so it was cool to see the course maps and remember.

Sunshine said...

Your posts are a delightful source of amazement!!
Your energy... your enthusiasm for trying all of the "tri".
Hope your "resting" is energizing.

PLANET3RRY said...

What the Turtles lack in speed, they make up for in noises during sex.

"What am I saving my energy for?" - Shirley Pratt, 2008 Miami (wo)Man Half Iron Man

I'm going to quote you from now on...

Judi said...

you are quite a woman shirley. 3 marathons and 2 him's in 2 months. wow. for real.

i am bummed. i was supposed to do this race. i rolled my registration over to next year now.