Friday, October 31, 2014

Ironman Miami 70.3

The last race of a season is always an interesting thing. In a lot of ways it sort of reminds me of finishing a big test back in the ol' school days.  All this prep leading into it, all this stress and anxiety and then BAM, you take the test and the stress is gone.

(only to be replaced with anxiously awaiting the grade on the test, of course)

So with that being said, my feelings leading into Miami were definitely of expectant stress relief.  I wanted to get away from Charlotte for a bit. I wanted to be on or near the ocean. I wanted warm weather. I wanted some wind running through my hair. I wanted to be lazy.  And I guess yes, I wanted a last race of the year.

Well, I got all of those.

Miami is an interesting race; its first year was marred with catastrophic experiences from many athletes. Since then, it has really become a sort of melting pot of racing.  A huge percentage of the race is from Central and South America so if you want to compete against a big, international field in a big, international city Miami fits the bill quite nicely.

Jenny and I departed the Queen City on Thursday afternoon to drive to Raleigh where we stayed for the night before flying out of RDU extremely early on Friday morning (6:20am flight!).  It's been pretty busy at IOS lately with everyone else's final races of the year so it was definitely nice to get away once everyone had mostly been taken care of. #customerservice #retail (yea hashtags in a blog)

The flight was quick and easy and we arrived in Miami nice and early to pick up the rental car and head to the condo we had rented through AirBnB for our stay.  It was a great choice only 10mins from the race site and down town Miami while not being quite as nestled in the hubbub that is Miami. Having never been here before, I was a bit unprepared for the "life" as Miamians (Miamiites? Miamian peoples?) know it.

Saturday's events were...uhhh, uneventful...for the most part.  The only things we really did were pick up our bikes from TriBikeTransport, attend the pro meeting, and drop off our bikes in transition.  It really was quite simple. Well, without going into too much detail, it was simple.

The morning of the race dawned nice and early (but not too early due to the 7:25 am start time!); Jenny and I headed over to the race site and got situated.  The pros all assembled (a humongous and competitive international pro field) on the dock and jumped into the Bay about 10 minutes before the start time.

Swim - 29:01 (26th)

The line for the swim (two buoys about 25m apart marked the start "line") was full of dudes and I positioned myself roughly in the middle in the second row a little to the left of Tyler Jordan (who was also down from CLT to do his last race of the season).  The horn sounded and a maelstrom erupted on the start line.

The course was a rough triangle with 4 right hand turns.  The chaos arrived at the first buoy after about 400m and made the sharp turn at which point the pack strung out a little bit. I was still behind some feet but was losing contact a bit, sliding back through the second pack.  It's sort of an odd happening; as I'm swimming on the right side getting slowly passed on my left I kept looking for an opportunity to slide in on someone's feet but the line was relatively unending.  I don't really enjoy being an a-hole in the first 30 minutes of a race so I didn't want to push someone else off of feet they had probably fought hard for, so maybe that makes me a wuss.  Be that as it may, the race continued.

Once we passed the second turn we entered some choppier, less protected water.  I was fending for myself mostly at this point and I realized my goggles were filling with water.  I didn't really want to stop and fix them because it would mean losing time and then at a certain point I decided they needed to be emptied. So I did this and then got back to swimming. I realized, however, that they were not fixed so I quickly stopped again and realized when I had jumped in off the dock (a 4-5' drop into the water) my goggle straps had risen to basically the top of my head.  I pulled them down, giving my goggles adequate suction against my eye sockets again and carried onwards towards the finish.

In the last 200 meters or so I was passed by the lead females but I could not tell if Jenny was one of them. I exited the water and ran to transition.

T1 - 2:09

This was a pretty long run and Leanda Cave passed me.  When I got to my bike I looked back down the line and realized Jenny was right there as well. We said "what's up" and got along with our business.  I didn't have the fastest of transitions so I got on the bike a little behind the pack of 3 ladies (but ahead of Jenny).

Bike - 2:11:39 (up to 20th)

The bike started out meandering through the city to get to the more open roads west of Miami downtown. I passed Leanda, Laurel and eventually caught up to LG, Magali and Doc Stevens. It took about 15 miles to be in front of them for real but they eventually dropped off past the aid station. At that point Tyler came roaring past me in a rush of disc noise.  I couldn't tell if he was "making a statement" (i.e. making a pass that discouraged me from following) or if he had genuinely been riding that hard.

I kept my watts steady and once he made it to the front of the "train" (there was nobody in sight in front of me until Tyler passed) he slowed a bit about 100 meters ahead of me. Holding power I eventually made my way up to him as we passed another guy.

The turnaround arrived much quicker than I expected.  I was excited for it because I knew it would mean turning around and experience the sweet, sweet victory of a nice wind into which we'd been riding for 28 miles.

I went past Tyler just past the turnaround, put my head down and focused on keeping my watts where they had been.  Fortunately, this meant an extended period of time where I was going quite fast. At some point during the back stretch I had a 40k (24.8 mile) split of 52:53 or thereabouts.  That's moving.

I looked back at one point well into the second half and didn't see anybody close so I figured maintaining the watts must have been a good thing.  I felt good and comfortable and had been taking in fuel and water as usual so moved onwards.  In the last 10k or so the roads got back to the city streets and lots of traffic so it was a bit sketchier than on the way out so there was a bit of a slowdown in speed and drop in watts.

My stomach actually felt a bit funny at this point and I was feeling a tad "bloated" so I wasn't quite as excited as I had been 30-40 minutes prior (I was 1:11 on the way out and about 1:00 on the way back).  I hopped off the bike at the dismount line and made my way into transition.

T2 - 2:04

Leaning over once I racked my bike my right adductor cramped quite fiercely.  While stretching that out my left lower quad also cramped.  I was a bit of a mess.  I had to stand there for a bit before attempting to put on my socks and shoes.  This is usually a bad sign in T2...

Run - 1:44:15 (back to 22nd MPro and 28th OA Male)

Well, the run started off slowly and just stayed that way.  There isn't much to say. I got off the bike ahead of some people but pretty much all of them passed me. I made a porto stop around mile 4 which is something I should've done before the swim.  Lesson learned on that front...again. I kept running the whole time, which I was fairly proud of. A couple of years ago I would've quit so I was pleased that finishing was something that drove me forward. I didn't want to end the year with a DNF as I've done in 2013 and 2012.  That is lame. So I finished. Not much more to say about it!

4:29:xx overall. I can't say I'm entirely pleased with this race.  I am not sure what went wrong with my nutrition choices or my lack of pre-race bathroom stop. I just know that even if I had a perfect race (had I run to what I was capable of maybe a 4:05ish) I STILL would not have hit the 8% re-qualification standard due to the German have an astoundingly fast time on the course. That is all a hypothetical situation of course, but I think realistic.

Anyway, now it is time for some time away from triathlon and a re-focus for 2015! Onwards and upward!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Not sure what to blog about

Probably my favorite shot from CHOO, wish those cars weren't there!

There have been some notable happenings since the last time I blogged. I do love blogging - don't get me wrong - but I run out of things to talk about. While this may be a surprise to you it is very frustrating for me. I don't really write "for" anybody (except You, yes you!) but I do like keeping a regular schedule of blogging. I pride myself on trying to maintain some sense of predictability and some unique viewpoints all expressed in relatively well written and grammar'd 'murrican English.

So when I find myself at a loss for what is worth putting into the template and firing up the "publish" button I am a bit sad.  Right now...I am sad.

The last time I posted I was about to head to Chattanooga.  There was an IM there.  It was a good day for almost everybody I knew, though most of my personal interest was invested in Lori Ackerman's race.  It was very satisfying to see somebody work hard, make smart decisions and be rewarded with a great race on race-day.

There were many others I knew who had great races and I don't feel compelled to list all of them because chances are if you are "friends" with me (on Facebook, Twitter, etc... a REAL friend I mean) you've had all the races plastered on your news feed from the past week.  Nonetheless, I was proud of everyone. That is an understatement.

Watching the race solidified my plans for next year a bit.  I'm gonna be honest with all of you.  I feel - for the most part - as though triathlon itself is no longer a "challenge" per se.  I know that on the face of it that sounds rather presumptuous but I mean that prior sentence in the context of something other than the obvious.

At this point I do not feel as though sprints, olympics or halves are a "challenge" in and of themselves.  The challenge for me is to try and win or set new standards of my own capabilities. I am always trying to go FASTER.  With IM, however, I am simply trying to finish.  For various reasons my attempts in 2010 and 2013 failed. I do not like some THING being better than me.  Seeing all those people last Sunday conquer their fears and realize their "dreams" makes me want to have that same feeling. I just do not get it at a half anymore.

That is not say I do not feel "accomplished" when I finish a half having raced my guts out, it's simply stating that just FINISHING the damn IM seems to be the challenge for me. I like challenges. I don't like things being "better" than me. I am lazily trying to beat things. That is what I do. Oh you have a fit problem? I will beat it. You sent me a long email?? I WILL SEND YOU A LONGER ONE! It's what I do.

So, that's a hint of what's to come in 2015. Gonna be a nice little variety.

1) Cat 2 Upgrade
2) Win some XTERRAs
3) Finish a stupid IM
4) Don't get hit by any more cars

Not necessarily in that order or priority.

In the short term I am going to attempt to get some more training in before Miami 70.3 because that is less than three weeks away!