Tuesday, April 15, 2008

South Beach Triathlon - Part II

My strategy going into this race was pretty simple – gas it!
I’m not the strongest swimmer, but I can hold my own and wanted to get a good start, find some feet to follow and come out of the water in the top 10. For a ½ mile swim I figured sub 13 minutes would make me happy and I’d like to be around the 12-minute mark.
For the bike, this is where I have put in a good deal of work and seen some power improvements over the past few months, so I wanted to really test myself. I wanted to stay as aero as possible and lay on the power. We were told the course was 18 miles, so a sub 50-minute ride would be strong.
Running has been my weakness and I’ve worked with my coach to start to improve that leg. The key was to see how I could deal with the heat and humidity and keep a good pace. Sub 30 minutes off the bike for 4 miles was a goal in this situation.
With transitions I was aiming for a sub 1:40…

The starting gun was a small canon bolted to a table that was one loud little sucker…I positioned myself in the front of the pack with 30 seconds to go…15 seconds…I lowered my goggles and cleared my mind, focusing in the distance down the beach to the water and across the water to the firs buoy…readying my watch my heart rate was a nice and easy 61bpm…my mind was clear and focused…Bang…
A great start, I bolted down the beach to the water and made a big forward dive into the salty waters…I had cleared the field and led out to the first buoy, wow this is unfamiliar territory, I could feel a guy on my toes, in the draft. I came around the first buoy and got a look back and the front of the pack had really strung out…My mind was focused on keeping smooth through the water and good technique, I couldn’t help thinking “it’s cool to be in the lead” and that would not be the first time that though would cross my mind…
At about the halfway buoy a guy had come up next to me and pulled in front, I slotted in behind him and worked on my draft. I’m not all that comfortable sticking right in someone’s draft, on their toes, so this was a good chance for me to practice. The two of us were jamming along and we quickly caught the back markers from the wave in front of us. I lost my leader and ended up navigating these bobbing heads like a drunken sailor…some of these people weren’t even attempting to swim. I got to the final buoy and the turn for the beach, found a little clear water and got back into a rhythm. About 100 yards off the beach people were standing up trying to run through waist deep water, I kept swimming until my pull-through hit the sand and then got up to run (5 feet into the water).
Running up the beach, 500 yards to the transition area, I looked down and hit my watch 12:XX, I think I’m 4th or 5th out, NICE!
Into transition, I got out of my speed suit and then the duh moment…I looked down at my shoes and helmet and froze DUH. Finally, I got the glasses, helmet, shoes, bike, GO thing and headed out of transition. I’m not sure why the race director put a mountain bike division in one of the first waves but they clogged up the bike mount line. I picked guy who looked like he had been here before to follow…oops, nice bike, disk wheel, aero helmet guy couldn’t mount his bike…I was yelling at him to get going or move over, sorry Chris!
On the bike and rolling…a bit of slower wave traffic, I decided to gas it to the first causeway bridge to see if I could get into some open space. Up over the first causeway and I was in the clear, picking off slower riders, looking for other guys in my age group…there goes one, there’s another and finally my swimming drafting buddy…”Wow, I’m leading, it’s cool to be in the lead!” I kept the hammer down, riding about 80%-90% all out, looking down at my SRM, I was doing about 25-28mph with a nice high cadence 90 – 110rpm. Focused and staying as aero as possible I was feeling good and moving. In downtown Miami I saw Chris Lieto first, then Ben Collins and then Maca headed back to the beach, Lieto was flying! I got to the turn-around and almost took myself out coming into the turn way too hot. Back on the power, I took in some fluids and started noticing I way picking off people who were going faster and on nicer bike and then there were very few on the road in front of me. Back into South Beach I looked at the SRM and it read over 18 miles and under 50 minutes…ok, the course is loner than 18 and I’m on goal pace. Winding through South Beach, I hit the final straight to the transition, got my feet out of my shoes and positioned myself on the bike for a good dismount and running start into transition. The transition line was coming fast and I ad not hit the brakes, at the line I launched myself into a full sprint, a flawless dismount, I could hear people oooing and ahhing and a “Sick move!’ thrown out there.
No brain-fart in this transition…rack the bike, helmet off, hat on, shoes on, run! That was fast! (Faster than Lieto)
My legs felt heavy and I was under-striding, very awkward feeling, but I felt good and got a good pace. Finally, things loosened up and I let my mind wander a little: “I think I’m leading my age group wave, how is this? I’m LEADING!?!?” Running is not a strength, so I was hoping that there was a chance that I put enough time into people on the bike that I could hang on…Mile 1…I was not tracking time at this point, I just was going as hard as my heart rate would let me. My legs were strong under me, but my heart rate was redlining…just keep going! At the turnaround I knew I would see where the guys chasing were, and, about mile 2.5 I saw the first one, clearly a faster runner than me, I focused straight ahead and just tried to maintain. The second guy went the other way soon after. Could hear the footsteps coming, and they were fast. Passed with less than a mile to the finish, I tried to stay on his hip but that was more funny than serious. The second guy came by soon thereafter and seemed to be faster than the first, again I attempted to hang with him but fell back and got my mind right to just focus on going as best I could to the finish.
Up the sand dune and down to the finish, I think I was finishing third in my age group…WOW!
Across the line with a little fist pump and a smile, I went hard today!

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