Following the distances in triathlon races, the next challenge was to complete the Olympic distance, that involves a 1.5k (0.9 miles) swim, a 40k (24.8 miles) bike and a 10k (6.2 miles) run. Last weekend was my opportunity to prove what my training has done so far.
I experienced the pre race ritual the day before of the race. I had to go and have myself checked, pickup my race packet which included the race numbers (one for the bike, one for the bike’s helmet and one for the run), the timing chip, swimming cap, a strap and an ugly race t-shirt (yes, it was really ugly). Afterwards I had to check my bike in the transition area and leave it there overnight, which the just thought of it scared me. Luckily they had a number of security measurements that guaranteed that the only people allowed in the transition area were the athletes.
I woke on race day at 4am, had breakfast, cleaned the pipes, checked the gear that was ready the night before and head out to the race site. The cool thing is that I live close by so I just had to walk to it :) .
I headed out to the transition area to see if my bike survived the night and... of course it did!. I started to prepare the necessary gear for the transition. Around 5:45am I headed out for the ferry that will take all the athletes to Escape Island (That's why the name of the race... "Escape" to Miami). The ferry got close to the island and we had to jump to the pitch black water and swim to the island. In the island we had a nice stay with a water station, and a live acoustic performance of a guitarist and a singer, which made us feel like we were in Hawaii on vacations, the only thing missing was the bonfire and marshmallows haha. The wait in the island was around 1:00 long and the morning winds started to make people cold since everyone was wet from the short swim from the ferry to the island. The funny thing is that we even found a family camping in the island, with dogs and everything!. I bet they didn’t expected to see around 600 people hanging out in superhero tights in the island haha.
Dawn, the sun smiled at us and the first wave of athletes started the race, which included the elites and all males. It was past 7am and the only thing you could see was a lot of hands that looked like fishes jumping in the water. The water course had to follow a triangle form, meaning that we were not swimming straight to the shore, but following a buoy trail. At the beginning the water was calm and excellent to swim, but at the end it got choppy and hard to swim on it.
T1 one went smooth, trying to control my breath since after coming out of the water and running to the transition site can make your respiration go nuts. After mounting I took my first gel. A good tip I learned is that is good to strap the top part of the gels into the tube of the bike, so you have them at hand and you can open them easily. Plus you had to hydrate… a lot... it's Miami after all. Two loops in the Julia Tuttle Causeway, which meant we had to do 8 bridges and withstand the winds of the bay. Before dismount I took my second gel and followed to T2.
I placed the bike on the rack, took out my helmet, put on the shoes, grabbed my visor, my racing belt and off to the run I went. By this time I was starting to feel tired, specially since you just come out from the bike to the run, which equals to tired legs. The 10k consisted of running a loop in the Mac Arthur Causeway, which held a big bridge close to the start and you had to run back to it for the finish. At 10am the sun was unbearable, with no shadow anywhere and only 2 water stations on each way. The real test was to keep it up and not to stop. The last 2 miles were painful, since you had to run the bridge up again. Here is where I saw the most people walking and getting their wills broken. Despite this, I continued without stopping, and finally got to the finish line and in a certain way I felt like an Olympian after crossing it. :)
Total Time: 3:20:16
Swim Time: 39:26
T1 Time: 1:25
Bike Time: 1:29:16
T2 Time: 0:59
Run Time: 1:09:13
The next challenge will conclude my newbie triathlon year… a ½ Ironman race on November 14!!!