This summer I set out with a moonshot plan of having a chance at a pro card. To do this, one must complete 3 races within 8% of the winning pros time at races with more than $8k of prize money, or get top 3 overall AG within 8% of pros time. Easy, right?! (Just kidding) I didn’t do 3 races with prize money this year so a one and done strategy was concocted. I knew it was LONG LONG shot, like shaking hands with the pope longshot, but why not go for it. Justin Bieber said it best with YOLO.
The team was assembled with my Dad and best friend Connor flying into Miami for the race. Having people take time away from their lives and spend it helping me keeps my fire going. In my opinion, the tri journey would suck without remarkable people along the way. From Paul Cregar showing me triathlon freshman year of college, to Nate Dicks for taking the time to listen to me complain about phantom injuries and crafting world class training plans, and to Kate for being a kickass human and giving support every step of the way while dealing with me in beta brain mode. It’s a hell of a team I have. In Miami, the stars aligned and spirits were sky high when we came together ready for battle.
The swim for Miami takes place in Biscayne Bay right in downtown Miami. Looking at the water before hand, one could see the rolling 3 foot waves surging through. Kayakers were murmuring”..We are going to need a bigger Kayak”. Captain Sig on the Northwestern was pulling up pots of King Crab across the bay. The Pequod was sailing past transition looking for Ahab’s Leg. Below is a video of patrol boats overseeing the swim leg.
The 18-24 group was the last wave to take off starting at 8:55 (Pro’s took off 90 minutes prior). We jumped into the 86⁰F water and waited for the horn to sound while bobbing amongst the waves trying to find some real estate between the swimmers.
Once we got going, I went hard trying to get ahead and hopefully find some fast feet. This is always tough in the choppy ocean as everyone is veering in different directions as the waves swirl through the group. Additionally, one thing I struggle with is how do I know if these feet in front of me are fast? Looking at a reliable speed indicator is impossible. I try to find someone that has a consistent kick, doesn’t breast stroke at any point, and has a cool suit with logos on it. They tick all those boxes, fast feet ahead! I found packs at times, but otherwise swam most of the leg solo. One thing to note was getting seasick at the end of the swim. I felt nausea after bobbing in the waves. Maybe this had to do with the small amount of salt water intake, but either way; not a fan. More ocean swim practiced needed!
Once leaving the waters similar to what Deadliest Catch was filmed in, it was bike time. My best friend Jake blessed me with a disc wheel for the race. It was free speed and if you look fast, you race fast. The winds were coming out of the south east around 18 with gust in the 20s. This meant a huge tailwind on the way out, and a twister of a headwind on the way back. Nutrition wise, I had a plan to consume 3 blocks, a granola bar, and 1.5 scoops of yummy Lemon Heed in a couple bottles.
Leaving downtown turned out to be a bit hairy winding through the streets and going through groups of bikers along the way, but once on the highway I put my cruise on around 28 and enjoyed the free ride curtesy of Mr. Wind. I envisioned hammering with the wind like collecting debt; leaving little to spend energy wise will going against the wind. (Mo’ Tailwind speed Mo’ Problems). It was my plan to hammer more into the wind because a higher energy output going into the wind yields more time gained on competitors relative to going with the wind as your % change in time is greater (going 2mph faster at 18 is more than 2 mph faster at 28.).
Like Wild Bill playing without his back against the wall, temptation dragged me in and I got excited going fast with the wind. Once we made the turnaround, I was checked by nature with her headwind. My legs were screaming to keep it above 20mph. Mentally, I was breaking up the bike into landmarks. *Just make it to the aid station, *just make it to the next bridge.* I will survive this headwind. *Just like biking in Mankato.
I consumed my bottles without issue, but the granola bar would not go down. It was like my stomach thought I was on Fear Factor and Joe Rogan just grounded up some centipedes in a blender. I had maybe a 1/4th of the bar. At the end of the bike, my blocks when down easy. But everything was happening quicker than usual on the bike. My balance was off, bumps weren’t being seen, and corners were coming up more rapidly than anticipated.
After getting back into the city and navigating through the packs of riders on the road, I was excited to get the race going again on the run.
My goal for the run was to find a decent pace for the first half by using my HR as a gauge (preferably under 6:45), then try to find a faster pace for the last part (sub 6:20). Nutrition wise, I wanted to drink when I was thirsty, munch on a Clifbar or gel here and there, and use Coke when the lights became dim. After putting my shoes on and getting going, the walls from the bike were still around me. I couldn’t breathe, my eyes were tired, and my shoulders wanted to fall forward, and everyone around me was yelling in Spanish (Oh wait, this is Miami. Nevermind). I knew instantly my halfcocked nutrition plan on the bike had failed and the it was time to pay for my debts. This was frustrating as my legs felt good and were yelling to go faster. I was a prisoner in my own body. After getting to the next aid station I downed a couple cups of Gatorade and dowsed myself in water. The cool guy backwards running hat that made me feel like Lange was quickly removed for a cooler head. Within 5 minutes I was feeling 5x better.
The rest of the run was more survival. Me vs. Florida heat, me vs keeping the lights on, me vs the crowded course. Having my father and Connor cheering made the race. Seeing them instantly shot up energy levels and moral. Finishing without them there would have been nearly impossible. I made sure to shout at them and give a dorky wave at all possible times.
After 13.1 miles, going through the shoot and putting the wrap on the season felt amazing. I left my last race of the season knowing I did everything I could. It took a ton of energy to get here, but it was all worth it. We didn’t get a top 3 spot, but came in 22nd overall with a 3rd in my AG. I was about 10 minutes off getting into that 8% zone and 19 places. Way she goes!
What I learned on this race is the importance of a solid nutrition plan. Going into the race and taking it minute by minute fuel wise may work for some, but not me. I know that I need a quantified plan of what to eat and when. I have a meeting scheduled with a nutritionist and am excited to nail this part down and eliminate the variables. This race was a hell of an effort and felt like there is room to grow with this being my first year of putting in over 500 hours of training. I can feel my body changing every day and growing with the sport. Next summer is going to be fun taking what I learned this year and move forward with it. My goal is to race often, hard and have fun with it.
Again, I am truly thankful for everyone that supports me. My Kiwami kit performed and looked amazing. It made most the pros look homeless and was aero as could be on the bike. Nate’s leadup plan had my body tuned like Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. Additionally, the Hammer Nutrition fuel that I did consume was top notch and I will continue to work with it to mold my needs. Thank you all that supported me this year and I cannot wait to get going for 2018. Race suggestions? Auf Wiedersehen!