Sunday, November 14th 2010, the day that my year as a newbie triathlete came to an end. After 25 weeks of training involving sweat, rain, heat, dirt and blood (yes, even BLOOD) this was the race that will prove that everything was done with a purpose.
On Saturday, I picked up my race packet, got body marked and dropped the bike in the transition area. I was impressed in the amount of freebies there were in the race packet and my favorite was my new swim cap, a sharky swim cap! The body marking got fancy with some temporal tattoos which I still have them as a war sign (until they wear off, ha!). There were the usual vendors having major discounts, but probably the highlight of the day was having a picture with the Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders, haha.
On Sunday, I woke up at 2:30 am. As trained, I started the morning ritual with a hard boiled egg, a whole wheat bagel with strawberry jelly and 2 cups of coffee. While in the down time to clean the pipes, I double checked the gear, drank water, took a shower and geared up. I got out around 4:20 am and by 5:00 am (as specified) I was in the race site and preparing the transition area. A second round of pipe cleaning came through, had some sport drink, said good luck to my teammate Frank and a little stretching/ jogging to warm up the machine. Around 6:30 am, I had 2 power gels and headed to the swim start to warm up by doing short swims in the lake.
At 7:00 am the Miami Man Half Iron Triathlon started. I was on wave 3 and we headed for the start line at 7:15 am. I thought I would have problems in the swim because of the cold morning, and I was a little nervous because like 90% of the swimmers had wetsuits… except me :(, plus the wetsuit has an advantage on the swimmers since it helps the buoyancy, making them a bit faster. But hey! Average Joe here didn’t have budget for a wetsuit so I did the race with what I had.
The 1.2 miles (1.93km) swim consisted of 2 laps, in which you had to get out of the lake, pass by the control mats and continue back to the lake. I loved the swim course!, I never thought a lake course would be so friendly. First of all… no waves! this meant no water resistance (totally another story if you compare it to the open water swim in the Escape to Miami) and no salty water, which although not a big deal, I always had this salty after taste during the swim and when sea water enters your goggles is not a comfortable thing. Regarding the temperature, the swim felt fine, plus the sun’s heat saved me from the cold and kept me warm.
This is my first race that the swim out has been so close to the transition area. Rapidly I went to T1, threw off my sharky swim cap and goggles, put my helmet and sunglasses on, grabbed Alejandra (yes! I recently put a name to my bike LOL, but I will call her Ale) and ran out of T1 as if I was chasing the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders that I saw the day before. Since my tri shoes are already snapped to the bike, the mounting was kind of tricky since part of it was a little rocky and I don't even wear socks. After I mounted, I had another gel with some sport drink.
The nutrition plan during the bike and run was basically as I've practiced in the bricks of the past 2 weeks, have a gel shot and a sip of sports drink every 30 min – 45 min. The 56 miles (90km) bike course was nice because it was flat, but 90% of it was windy, really windy. So I had to drag Ale and myself through the wind tunnels of the course. Around the second loop I started to have a cramp inside my left thigh and I had to pee :) . With time the cramp went away and the “pipe” situation waited until T2. In the last miles of the bike I started to feel somewhat winded and just waiting to start the run. I finished the bike course in less than the estimated time, so add another check to the list!
T2 and finally I peed (probably this was the best moment in the race!). After cleaning the pipes, I was ready for the half marathon run of 13.1 miles (21km) and I felt like I had turbo on me, 3 miles and I was right on target. Suddenly, while in mile 3 of the run, I started to feel pain on my left knee and every time it bent, it hurt… really bad. I tried to hold the pain as much as I could. Mile 6 and my target pace was already lost and now it started to be a test of how much could I hold on the pain. Although nutrition wise I was on target, I also started to have some cramps in my stomach. Nevertheless, the real problem was my knee.
I stopped around mile 9. I started walking and limping. Such a failure!, 7 months of hard work to have my knee busted. I felt horrible, my goal was not to stop running but I simply I had to. I held off the pain for 6 miles but I simply had to stop. I found a sort of way to continue the run, it felt like I was dragging a dead weight on my bad leg, so I decided to run and have a walk every time I saw the water stations. This kinda worked for 2 miles, until my watch died on me… then I totally lost track of time and space.
The last 3 miles was the hardest run I had ever done. I started to walk a lot and since I didn’t have my watch to calculate walking time and run time, I just had to hope for the best. There was a time when I almost even burst into tears because of the pain, being powerless to do anything about it, I just was mad and not happy with myself. The other athletes saw me limping and they were supporting me to continue, “you’re almost there”, “are you ok?” so that kind of support is what probably light up my little flame I had in me.
I started to hear the announcer of the race, meaning I was really close to end this odyssey. After walking/limping/running the last 3 miles, I saw it there… the finish line. I grabbed a last breath and ran with the best form I could and looking strong (I had to look good for the pictures after all LOL). At last I had become an Iron 70.3 triathlete.
It was funny to see the people who received the athletes and gave the medals, they didn’t know what to do with me. The first thing I asked was “where’s the medic tent?”. They probably thought I was going to fall anytime soon haha. While I was waiting to be helped I heard someone shouting at me and it was my new friend Larry, who I had met in Ironman Miami 70.3 while volunteering, it was great to see a familiar face. The “medic” put some ice on my knee and gave me some Tylenol for the pain, so I sat there like for 15 min until I felt a bit better, but still limping.
Afterwards I saw more familiar faces like Gabe, Pina, Gabby and training buddy Laura, plus I met some new athletes that were doing their first 70.3 race. I would like to thank you guys for the support and congratulate you for an amazing race.
Overall the race was great. The run course was super flat and you got to enjoy the views of the zoo, the animals and the people, (who looked at us like weirdoes but they gave us great support). If you’re thinking of doing a 70.3 for the first time maybe you should consider this one. I have to add that the organization was top notch too.
Total Time: 06:44:55.68
Swim Time: 42:38
T1 Time: 1:23
Bike Time: 3:14:56
T2 Time: 2:46
Run Time: 2:43:13 (GRRRRR!!! I SHOULD HAVE DONE LESS HERE!!!!)
So I finished my first half Ironman, now what?
In the 25 weeks of training that I have done, I think I’m fitter, plus I have done something that I never thought I would. But now I’m taking a break, after what happened to my knee, I definitely have to think in terms of getting stronger and more fitter. So maybe going full time to the gym, refocus again in my martial arts, and it might be helpful to take it easy on the running, biking and swimming in the off season. The ultimate challenge next year will be...
Yes I did. I already signed up for it.
Next year I will become an Ironman.