The Miami International Triathlon, an Olympic distance triathlon, was held this weekend. Injured co-blogster John and buddy Tony came down for the expo as moral support and for goodie shopping. It was a nice expo. I picked up a new tri outfit to start off the new season. After the expo, we went to Monty's on South Beach for lunch by the pool. Tony asks me what I expect to do the tri in. Not having done an Olympic distance before, I tell him I expect about 35 to 40 minutes in the swim, probably 1:25 on the bike and 50 minutes in the run. He advised I try to hit just under 3 hours. It sounded like a realistic goal, but I had no real plans or expectations for this first triathlon of the season. I'm kind of looking at it as spring training in baseball. I just want to get out there and get the kinks out.
That night, I had to cut out early from my son John's high school's fund raiser so that I could get home early to bed. Fortunately, we were able to find some friends to drive my wife Salome home, so she can enjoy a full evening of schmoozing. I returned home, did the final packing of my tri bag, and hit the sack.
I awake at 4AM Sunday morning and was out the door by 4:30 AM. After parking and setting up my transition area, I meet up with buddy Keith for a few minutes. We discuss at what point Keith, who is good at all three disciplines, will pass me in the event. I guess that if he doesn't catch me in the water (he's three waves in back of me) that he will pass me early on the bike course.
After getting on my wet suit, I go down to the water and do a warm up swim. The water is pretty calm and I feel pretty good swimming out a couple hundred yards and back. After that, I await the start of the pros. Its a small group, probably 20 between both sexes, but these are top notch athletes. Its interesting to watch how quickly these people move through the water.
Before I know it, it's time to get into the start corral. With my last birthday, I move into the 50 and older category. Hey, what am I doing with all these old guys? I don't feel like I belong in this group of grizzled veterans. These guys have been doing these events for years and I only started doing triathlons last year. And why do the race directors always give the oldest group grey swim caps? Isn't it bad enough that most of these guys have grey hair? I feel like I'm racing against my dad or grandfather.
Not to worry, most of the old dudes leave me in their wake as the swim starts. I drift to the back quarter of the group where I'm a little insulted to see a couple of guys doing the breast stroke and side stroke. OK, so the swim is still not my strong suit. I put my head down and work on getting a good rhythm going. About half way through the 9/10ths of a mile swim, the fastest of the next wave of swimmers (women 39 & under) start to catch and pass me. As I make my final approach to the shore the fastest of the second wave back (males 20 t0 29) starts to mingle in with us. Although this is a little disheartening, I come out of the water in 35 minutes. About what I expected.
I'm into transition and between getting the wet suit off and putting socks on, I burn 5 minutes in transition. Next time, I think I'll go back to being sockless. I think I could have saved a couple of minutes. I put my goo into my tri shirt pocket and head to the bike exit. I mount and I'm off. Once started, I reach for my goo to find that it has fallen out of the pocket. Oh well, that's what I get for using a new top without trying it out in training.
The bike portion starts with a climb up and back over the main bridge of the Rickenbacker causeway, a steep climb that causes me to go to the largest gear and get out the saddle to finish through the top. The ride down at 30+ mph is sweet, except for the fact that I've got to turn around almost immediately to re-climb the bridge. The portion of the course heading out in an easterly direction is into the wind. My speed drops to the 15 to 16 mph level. However, I am overtaking some of those that passed my in the water. Meanwhile, I'm getting passed by the "Cerveloton" (those experienced triathletes on Cervelo tri bikes with Zip wheels). Fortunately, my speed increases to the 22 to 25 mph range on the return portion of the causeway.
In crossing the smaller bridge of the causeway, I have a front derailleur mishap in going to the smaller crank ring. The chain jumps the bracket and I have to stop to fix the chain. I probably burn 2 to 2 and a half minutes with this fix. "At least its not a flat," I think.
I keep passing and being passed by the same 5 to 6 riders going at around my pace. I don't know where or when it happened, but I later learn I got tagged with a 2 minute penalty. I'm not sure where this happened as I try very hard not to draft or violate the 3 bike links rule. However, the bike is the most likely place to receive a penalty, so I assume it was a bike length violation.
My transition in T2 at 2 minutes is much better than T1. I make sure to locate my second goo and down it in transition. There is no way I'm going to lose both goos. I down it, take a squirt form my water bottle and head out for the run.
The run course is on a trail covered by a canopy of trees. The surface is a little tricky for footing, but the shade is welcome. Buddy John had warned me about watching the footing as there are roots and other rough spots on the run course. He mentioned that they spray paint roots with orange paint. Sure enough, there are several stray root crawlers marked. Its an out and back 2 loop course. I expect to run across buddy Kieth, but never see him. I late learn he did a 2:18 overall and was probably just finishing the run as I started it.
As I come from a running tradition, I use the run to reel in competitors and try to improve my overall standings. At the expo, we had spotted a group of girls wearing tops with cupcake logos on them. I assume they were a tri club. As I see these girls on the other portion of the out and back, I yell "Go cupcakes." On my return portion of the first lap I come across a one legged competitor doing the run on crutches. The guy is moving along at a pretty good clip. Everyone cheers the guy on.
On the return portion of my second lap, a guy just in front of me stumbles on a root or some other obstacle. He is half way to the dirt trail before he can react. I think the guy is going to get majorly banged up and slow up to not get caught up in his spill. Unable to catch himself, the guy, who was over 6 feet tall, saves himself by tumbling head over heal. He has thus avoided any real injury. I ask him if he's OK and if I can help him up. "No," he says, "I'm fine." "Wow," I think, that could have been very ugly."
I come in from the run in 55 minutes, about 5 minutes slower than what I had hoped to achieve. I cross the finish in 3:04. With the 2 minute penalty, my final time is 3:06. While I was not shooting for the time goal, I was a little let down about not breaking 3 hours. On the bright side, I figure I could shave a couple of minutes off T1 by going sockless and a couple more minutes would have been saved if I didn't have the mechanical issue on the bike. As for the penalty, I'll be more careful on the bike lengths. With a little luck and more training, I should break that 3 hours at St. Anthony's in late April.