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Following the Chattanooga Waterfront Olympic Triathlon, I was encouraged by my level of fitness and an email blast to sign up for the 2011 MiamiMan (international distance). I thought I would have plenty of time to work on building up base and speed, and it would be a great time of year in a climate and course similar to the Bahamas.

As it turns out, life has a way of getting in the way.

I spent far less time training then I had planned, always thinking I have XX weeks left and it’s not an issue. At two weeks or so out, I decided to push the lackadaisical training into overdrive and began doing longer, faster, more frequent runs, and even threw in a few short bikes and a twenty-two mile bike. I wasn’t too worried about the swimming, although the event would prove that swimming would have helped a bit!

I went into the weekend very sinusoidal  in terms of nerves, one day I would be happy to just complete it, the next I was worried I wouldn’t complete it! Sarah was very helpful in keeping me sane through the week prior to the race. I scouted a bike to beg, borrow, or steal, and ended up finding two very helpful people through The first had signed up for the MiamiMan but had deferred due to lack of training (he sounds much smarter than me!) He was willing to lend me his Cervelo for the race. WOW! It was a 56cm and I ride a 54, but that’s what I did in Chattanooga with a race bike and it was OK. A few days later I received an email from another fabulous BTer in Miami who had a 2006 Felt S32 with TTR2 wheels and was willing to part with it for a price I couldn’t refuse! After some back and forth, checking reviews, talking with friends, I decided to buy it.

Saturday before the tri, at around 1pm, I had a bike. It was great to meet Yuset and he hooked me up with some cleats for the pedals and a bike computer as well! Registration and bike check-in closed at 4pm, so I literally spent 20 minutes adjusting and riding the bike. This may not seem that big of a deal, but I have NEVER ridden a tri bike! We made it to the Larry and Penny Thompson (no relation) Park and registered and checked in, and did some shopping at the expo. I found a tighter fitting tri-top that I could swim in but there was a question: red or grey? I chose grey; Sarah agreed until she had to find me in a sea of triathletes!

The next morning I was up early for a typical race day breakfast (bagel, peanut butter, banana, coffee). Sarah rolled out of bed and joined me and we were off to the race! We arrived, I hooked up the computer, and then transition closed 15 minutes early on me! I didn’t have time to figure out the computer which needed to be reset, so the computer was on but not functioning. Riding blind on a new bike, awesome! The half-iron competitor waves started first at 7am I think, with my wave being at 8:10am. We hung around for a bit, watched some swims, saw Hector Picard, and then mosied over to the race start. At this point Sarah had to leave for her (I am only assuming this part) exciting and fun-filled morning of watching people race! (She should write her own blog post about how to find a rented jeep at a triathlon!)

I slowly edged into the water…I knew it was going to be cold. Everyone was wearing wetsuits, in fact maybe 10% or less of us did not have such fancy gear. It turned out the water wasn’t as miserable as I was expecting, but definitely cold (think January at Rose Island). The course was in a freshwater lake, so not only did the wetsuits stave the cold, they also added extra buoyancy allowing for a faster swim. One day…

The swim went well, and as usual fighting to clear the masses took a while, but then I was off. At first I thought I was swimming crooked constantly, but then I realized people were zigzagging the course instead of sighting and swimming a straight line. I cleared the first set of light blue caps only to be surrounded by green sharks! These guys were at least the slower of the group in front and easier to maneuver around. It seemed people were scared and swam closer to the edges, a straight line around the bouys was the shortest and least busy. I was only breathing to the right and seemingly shorter breaths, probably because I haven’t done an open water swim in fresh water before and because I didn’t train for the swim…it was too cold! I cleared the water as the second light blue shark (beaten by a wetsuiter!).

I took my time in transition, as the 4+ minutes would indicate. I was looking for Sarah (as the pictures would indicate) and also wanted to be sure I had my bike setup right, at least enough to make it around the 22 mile course. This was essentially my test ride of the equipment! Once ready I started walking out and then realized I could run with the bike (duh) and off I went. The bike was fairly easy to mount, but clipping in took a bit longer than usual being new to me pedals and clips.

The first half of the bike went well. I took it easy knowing how the 22-mile practice had gone a few weeks before (ask Simon or Alec…not well is the easiest answer). I could feel the slight tailwind pushing, and the bike was a fairly simple course around the farmlands of South Florida. I had no computer and had to estimate how far I had traveled; I had seen the map but not studied it. There were plenty of volunteers and police to direct traffic and other than the odd car the course was well closed down. At the half way point I was still feeling good and was waiting for my body to fail. The tailwind turned to a headwind up on the way back, seemingly picking up and a bit gusty through the trees and buildings. Having a tri-bike and being able to hold aero for about 80% of the time was advantageous over my entry-level road bike, and I managed to complete the bike averaging 18mph in a bit over an hour. Dismount and transition 2 were a lot smoother than T1 and as I exited T2 I saw Sarah and walked for a photo-op.



Well, that and I had previously decided it would be smart to walk the water stations to get hydrated and cool off a bit. Of course there’s one right after transition and in the middle of the crowd – but a race plan is a race plan! After Chattanooga I did not want to dehydrate or overheat, neither is a good feeling! The beginning of the run was great! There were gazelle, antelopes, elephants, and a host of other animals I forgot (I did try to remember them!). After the first third or so, it was less exciting and just a run through the parking lot/roads of the Miami Zoo, and then a small section back through the zoo where there were some hogs and birds and wild children, and then back through the camping area. There was a guy tailgating on the run path. Seriously. I almost stopped for a beer – yes I did ask and he had a cooler full on ice! One of the run stations was manned by the Miami Zoo Rotary Club, and now I have a makeup since I had to miss an East Nassau meeting! They were very excited to hear from a Rotarian in the race! I managed to hold around 9 minute miles, and on the last few miles managed to pass people which is quite abnormal for me. I stupidly skipped the last water stop thinking the finish line was closer, while we still had a mile and half to go. I paid for it slightly, but still kept the pace. I finally heard the draw of the crowd and finished the race in 2 hours 37 minutes, catching Sarah off guard all along the way!

I had gone in expecting 15-16mph on the bike, and 10-11 minute miles on the run to put me around 3 hours total. To have an 18mph bike and 9 minute miles was very surprising! A lot of post race stretching and relaxing was done before packing up and heading out. Racers were still coming in from the half-iron bike when we left around noon – they were in for a long day as the sun was coming out from behind the clouds. Maybe in 2012 I will try out a 70.3!

Many thanks to Ian and my Florida family for helping out with accommodations (Sam), bike boxes (Brian and Sage) and support (all). Special thanks to Sarah who tagged along all weekend and got up early for another race, and was my personal photographer!

Total Time: 02:37:30.56
Swim Time: 17:29
T1 Time: 4:14
Bike Time: 1:13:26
T2 Time: 2:37
Run Time: 59:45
Overall Place: 209 out of 588
Overall Percentile: 65
Gender Place: 156 out of 312
Gender Percentile: 50
Category Place: 18 out of 24
Category Percentile: 26

Official photos can be seen here:

1 Comment so far »

  1. by Sage LaJoie, on November 16 2011 @ 1:59 pm


    Nice race review, and awesome job on the International Distance! I think I want to do that race just for the swim cap… love it! Seriously though, I think I will sign up for the half-iron of that race next year… you in?
    Great work!

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