Monday, November 13, 2006

Miami Man 1/2 Iron

Did you hear it? I sure heard it, loud and clear, at mile 40 on the bike. I'm surprised you didn't hear it - that loud cracking sound - CRACK! That would be me, cracking like a walnut, way, way way too early in the race. But I get ahead of myself.

What a great day for a 70.3 miles! We woke up to temps in the high 60's, almost no wind, very little humidity (for southern Florida) and just, I don't know, a feeling like it was going to be an awesome race. There were, however, a couple things that I just should have seen coming. My race number, for instance. 666. I mean, should they even give that number out? All morning, I had to endure the "shouldn't you have asked for a different number?" and the "hey, nice number!" and even folks that actually got out of my way and wouldn't shake my hand when they saw the big "666" on my arms. But, I kept on saying, "it's only a number". Our hotel room number was 616 - and of course my goal was to come in under 6 hrs - just way too many 6's for one race, if you ask me (six 6's in case you are counting...).

The day before, Registration was a breeze. There was no race day registration - a rule widely posted yet still unheeded on race morning - I heard of a couple folks that did not get to race. One of my pet peeves - an actual weigh-in - took place, and the person doing the weigh-in actually read the scale and recorded the weight (unlike at St. Anthony's where the dude asked me what the scale read....duh...). The expo was the right size - anything you would have needed was there for the buying. We found a neat T-shirt vending couple, Ryan and Katrina - their stuff is at http://www.tri3life.com/ and we were able to get 3 cool t-shirts for $30 - a great deal given the quality of the shirts.

Since this is my 14th race, set-up in the morning was easy and by the numbers...right. Wetsuit legal race, yes - but where was my suit? Left it in the truck - so I got a little more warm up running back to get it. Garmin on the bike and watch strap for it on my wrist, check. Did you power up the Garmin before leaving transition - oops (you have to give it time to find the satellites). I remembered that just after they shut down the transition area. Nice big bag of electrolyte pills in my tri-pack - awesome for staving off cramps - did I take any - nope, forgot that too (and I always take 3 before every race!!!).

I still love this race. The swim is absolutely pristine - the best water quality and temperature you could hope for. 76 degrees, and you can see clear to the bottom of the lake, no matter where you are swimming. It's cool seeing sunken row boats and the anchor lines for the turn buoys. For the first time (it would be a day of firsts) I had my goggles forcibly removed from my eyes by a Clydesdale elbow. I had to chuckle when it happened, since it was the first time and I'd always read about it and wondered when it would. I tried to correct them and still somewhat swim, but they kept filling up with water, so I had to stop and readjust them. I've noticed something in this race and in the last Olympic I did that's pretty cool - on the longer legs of the swim now I can get into a groove where the pace and stroke and the breathing all come together and seem effortless. Really! Granted, from my swim times, it practically is effortless, but all gone is the panic, the crummy feeling I always got once I started to get tired in the water. This was a 2 lap swim (again, a first for me) and it was cool getting a short break in between laps. I got to wave and smile to the wife before heading back out. The second lap was much like the first - getting off course in the first part of the swim route, so much so the guy on the kayak gave me a holler and said, "swim to your left". Obviously I still have that problem of pulling to my right. Another neat thing happened on the swim this time - a first for me. I got in a little pack where I swam on someones feet for probably 400 yards. There was a big Clydesdale next to me on my right, and a women on my left, and that's how we stayed just about till we exited. I say just about because the guy in front of me slowed to sight and did a weird kicking motion that whacked me right in the shoulder - I was lucky it missed my head, because he hit me pretty hard. He must have thought so too, because he turned and apologized, which was pretty cool. I got out of the water in 41:25 - below my goal and overall a pretty good start.

The run is long to T1, and unlike last year, there were no wetsuit strippers. So I struggled, tug and tore and finally got the suit off, threw on some socks (I tried riding 50 miles without socks once - for me a bad idea) and headed on out in 5 minutes flat. Other than struggling with my suit (and I did use plenty of Body Glide) I don't think I could have cut too much time off of it.

The Garmin got up and running pretty quickly and I immediately noticed a HR of 178. Now I wasn't winded and have a hard time getting my HR to that level so I new it was bogus and waited for it to come down. Mile after mile I waited. I wore my HR strap under my wetsuit (another first) and didn't' think it would be a problem, as lots of folks do that. But, for me, it was, and I proceeded to ignore my HR from then on out. I had decided to do what I could to make my average speed 20.5 and that was that. In the early part of the bike, I got it up to around 20.7 and backed off to maintain. After a turn put us into the wind that had developed, the effort started to rise as the speed went down. For some stretches, 21 - 21.5 was easy, for others, 20 was an effort - but looking at the trees and the grass, you would have thought it was dead calm wind-wise. This is Miami - it's flat as a pancake so I really can't explain it. An IBike would have been neat to see what the wind conditions really were.

Right around mile 40, that's when it hit. Subtle at first, the energy just seemed to go away. I had been drinking more than I usually do for a ride, and I had already done three gels, so I thought my "nutrition" was on schedule. At 45, the thigh cramp hit. There was the crack. 10 miles to go, and every left down stroke was painful. And all I could think of was that I had a 13 mile run after this! I had to slow down, just because I couldn't push as hard anymore, and was pedaling along at 18 - 19 in a lot of pain. I was about to crank it back another notch when Mr. Clydesdale on a nice Litespeed rolls by and says, "HA! I knew I'd reel you in!". Yea, I know! He actually said that, I mean, we think that all the time, but to actually taunt me like a linebacker - well, that was too much. I kept him in my sights for the last 3 or 4 miles and left him in T2 still getting his stuff together. My 2:44:45 was the fastest split for the 225+ Clyde's and 6th for the "skinny Clyde's" (200 - 225lbs), but I was very disappointed with my blowup. The 20.39mph speed is OK, but I know I have better in me. T2 was done in 3:10 - the fastest for all the 40+ Clydesdales, which means I'm getting better at changing my shoes.....

Ah, now for the fun part. The run. Like I said, looking forward to 13.1 miles of the hardest part of my tri-fecta, starting it off with my left quad on fire. But, what the heck. I ran a while, and walked when it really hurt. I knocked out most of the distance between aid stations, walking to get the hydration in, and loading on those electrolyte pills and Amino Vitals. One thing I would have liked would have been some good ol' fashioned Gatorade. Amino-vital is great for post workout muscle building, I understand, but I'm sceptical of it's "during" activity help. But what do I know. The folks at the aid stations were great. The run course, overall is great. The first trip through the Miami Metro Zoo was cool - very few "civilians" and all the animals were out - they made for a nice distraction. The last aid station at the 6 mile mark hosts the bikini-clad belly dancers - again, a nice distraction. They made promises of kisses for the first lap, and then the first 200 on the second lap would get laid. I didn't get kissed, and I had good suspicion I wasn't going to get laid either!

I hadn't seen my wife since the swim - the transition area is a ways from the swim, hence the 5 min T1, and she was uncharacteristically missing from my bike arrival. I thought she had probably taken the opportunity to go to the zoo - but I didn't see her in there either. Coming into the finish area, I heard the familiar, "go Taylor!!" (she says that when she uses my first name, I don't acknowledge her - probably an old "Captain Taylor-Army" thing....) which brought a smile. As I ran by her she explained that she was really worried because she had expected me earlier - and I could hear the worry in her voice. I don't know why, but that really got me thinking about finishing this thing, and finishing strong. I explained to her about my cramp, which seemed to upset her even more, so I just said "see ya" and put my head down to the second lap.

Looking at the clock - oh yea, I forgot to mention - I got a nice big, fat blue screen staring up at me from my Garmin upon leaving T2 - nice! No pace, no splits, nothing since all I had was a broken Garmin and no watch. So looking at the clock at the finishing line, I had almost exactly 1 hr to get in to break 6 hrs. For a fresh 10k, doable. I don't know what I was thinking, but I figured I had a shot at it....HA! I picked up the pace, read, increased the effort, and started picking people off. That's right, me. The Big Guy. I was running people down. Granted, they were hurting bad, just like me, but for once I was passing people on the run. I spotted a tall guy up ahead and thought he might be a fellow Clyde, so I set him in my sights. Now the run course has some areas that are "off road" and some parts that are on pavement. We happened to be off road at the time, and one of those rocks just jumped out and grabbed my foot - down I went like a big sack of bricks! I still had enough wits to do a good "airborne roll" and managed NOT to get hurt, which was all I was thinking about the whole way to the ground. As I got up and brushed the sand off me, I noticed something else I had forgotten - sun screen! Yea! So today, in addition to the achy muscles I have something else to remember Miami-Man by...

As I entered the Zoo I passed the fall-down guy - who explained that this was the stupidest thing he'd every volunteered for. I reminded him that he also paid to do it and ran on by. He had turned around when I fell and said nothing, so good riddance. The Zoo was a different animal this time around. There were people everywhere! Folks were driving these 4-wheel bike contraptions and motorized scooters - and no one, it seemed, gave a hoot that people were running in a triathlon! I had 2 very close calls with little kids running over to see the big gorillas or the cute elephants - and had to negotiate passing trolleys at one point - it was, well, a zoo! I was able to look back at one point and saw, probably half a mile, maybe more back, a pretty big guy making his way up. This guy was not going to catch me.

3-miles, shoot, it's just a 5k I told myself. No stops, no walking, just water up, and keep on moving. Nope. That didn't seem to fly for Mr. Legs. 10m to 11m were OK - I gutted that one out. Felt some nausea after that aid station, which had been coming on for a while, but really felt it after that one. Miles 11 - 12 were the hardest. I knew I had to keep it up, but still, I had to walk. I took a short break in there somewhere, just to know that I would finish strong. Rounding the bend to the mile 12 aid station, the adrenalin kicked in, and I really started to feel good. I threw some water on my head, and started running again - I didn't stop until the finish. My final mile was probably one of my fastest - this little 21-year-old and I were trading places for all of 3-miles and I wasn't going to just give her the win at the end. I made her sprint the final 50 yards, and while she apologized as she passed me, I was happy to see her final push. My run split as 2:49:15 for a whopping 12:55 pace. There's plenty of room for improvement there! Considering it took about 1:23 to do the second lap, I even negative-split the run - my wife's worry providing the extra motivation.

My final time - 6:23:35 - was 23:35 off my goal for the day. With all the adversity and dumb mistakes, I still managed to have a great time, and was thankful to have been able to be out there and race. I won the 225+ 40 and over Clydesdale category, beating out 4 other guys (the second place guy by only 2:33) , and I would have taken 8th in the "Skinny Clyde" group. The fun didn't stop there - we brought our stuff back to the truck and had plans on driving it back to check to see if I had placed. Sure enough, dead battery. I guess Diana had been reading her new Steven King novel and left a light on - easy mistake. So while we figured out a jump, they awarded the Clydesdale category and I missed it. My first tri-victory and I was jumping the truck. The plaque, finisher's medal and the free cap are all awesome, as were the 2 slices of pizza I finally manged long after the race was over. This was my second running of the Miami-man (last year I did the International distance) and this race was better run and more fun that last years' race. If you're looking for a warm season ender to put on your '07 calender, this would be a good one for ya.

2 comments:

Tri-Dummy said...

NICE!!!

You look like you're feeling pretty good at the end.

I wonder what the nausea was from...did you get enough water or drink sports drinks the whole bike?

Regardless, great race. Did you get medal or plaque for your placing? Let's see it.

Outstanding, brother.

Myles said...

Wow, so much to say. It sounds like a wonderful disaster...congradulations I think, uh, yeah congradulations.

I think it's very cool that they have weigh-ins in yur area that are meaningful or at least semi-meaningful. In my neck of the woods it is rare to ever see a scale much less have a weigh in.

We also don't have clydes by weight division. It has only been this last year that some events have gone to Clydes 40+ and 39 & under, which was actualy a bit disapointing because I can still beat the whipper snappers.

Anyhow, it's nice to know that I would be "skinny" somewhere at a svelt 218.

Again, congrats on having a great-ish race!