We did it! Another 70.3 in the books!
It wasn’t easy, rightfully so, but it was an absolutely incredible experience.
I had one goal for this race — PR my bike split (<3h44m). I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to beat last year’s overall race time. I knew I’d be taking a huge hit on the swim (Augusta had a current assisted swim straight down the river), but I knew I could do better on the bike. I trained to do better on the bike. I was going to do better on the bike.
We got down to Miami on Saturday evening just in time for the expo. We grabbed our packets and ran back to the car to get our numbers on our bikes.
Then we booked it over to transition to get our bikes racked before transition closed.
Sunday morning we made the short drive from our hotel to the race site and found parking for $10 right out front. Since our bikes were already there, all we had left to do was lay out our bike and run gear and fill our water bottles.
That took about 4 minutes of the hour and a half we’d allotted ourselves that morning. We hung out and chatted a bit with other people in transition before making out way over to the swim start.
I had time to make a quick port-a-pottie stop before walking over to the water for the 4th wave. I was in line for the bathroom right behind Leanda Cave, last year’s 70.3 World Champion. She must have been asked for 15 photos while she waited in line and she graciously smiled for each of them. Triathlon is one of the only sports where someone like me and someone like Leanda would be starting a race just a few minutes apart from each other. It’s humbling and thrilling all at once.
The sunrise over the water was absolutely beautiful. The swim was a big triangle-ish shaped course taking us from the docks, out past the cruise ships and back.
1.2 mile swim – 45:05
The water temperature on race morning was 78 degrees so the swim was not wetsuit legal. We jumped off the dock into the water about 3 minutes before the start of our wave then treaded water while we waited. The water temperature really was perfect for me. Not too cold, not too warm. Just perfect.
We got the count down and the 3…2…1.. GO!
Normally the beginning of a swim is packed and you get kicked, punched, and grabbed. But this one wasn’t anything like that. I think the floating start helps eliminate some of the initial madness as we’ve all kind of found our place before the gun goes off.
As soon as I started I could tell it was going to be a great swim. After we made the first turn we swam in front of some cruise ships. This was the only part of the swim where I felt any type of challenge. The current coming in from one direction and coming back from against the cruise ships made a washing machine effect for about 100-200 yards. We were also swimming through a blanket of sea grass. It was a little unnerving but didn’t last long.
After that we made our way to the last turn and back towards the docks. There were stairs in the water to get back onto the dock. I was honestly sad the swim was over, a feeling I also had last year. It was awesome and I just didn’t want it to end.
T1 – 3:29
There was a bit of a run from the swim exit to transition. My bike was racked in the very last row. I focused on getting the things I needed to get done and getting out of there. I’m really happy with my T1 time all things considered.
56 mile bike – 3:10:41 (17.6mph) <—HECK YES!
After getting out of the swim I was kind of on cloud 9. I ran my bike out of transition and set out for 56 miles.
The first couple miles of this course were spent getting out of downtown. There were a few turns, a couple railroad tracks, and a lot of pot holes. After that we got onto the highway — right into a headwind.
I’d heard about the wind on this course. This race is pretty infamous for it. Mentally I’d prepared for it. Physically I’d prepared for it. I was NOT going to let that wind get the best of me. I pedaled my little heart out for the next 25 miles. I kept repeating silly mantras over and over in my head. This was what I’d worked so hard for. I was going to PR this bike course.
I had a few Gu Chomps every 10 miles or so. As I approached the first water stop I realized I was nearly out of water in my aero drink. I have never been able to fill my aero bottle on the ride before but I really didn’t want to stop. The volunteers were awesome and were running next to cyclists until they made the exchange. I decided to give it a shot and successfully grabbed the water, filled my aero drink, and threw the bottle to the side. I felt like I magician.
I was really excited when I reached the turn around point. It was exactly half way and we got a little bit of a boost from the tailwind. I grabbed another bottle of water from the aid station, filled my aero drink, kept going. I was dreaming of having the tailwind the whole way back to transition.
Sadly, that dream was crushed when wind shifted about 5 miles after the turn around. It was now more of a cross wind than a headwind but it definitely wasn’t in our favor anymore. It proceeded to change directions a few more times during the last 15 miles of the bike course so I kept an eye on my pace and adjusted when I needed to.
I had a Bonk Breaker around mile 40 as I’d planned. I knew I was going to need nutrition for the run and knew I’d have enough time to digest it at that point.
I was so proud when I looked down at my watch as I pulled into transition. I thought I’d set a very big goal for myself to take 15 minutes off my bike split and ride a 3:30, or 16mph average.
I finished the course in 3:10 with a 17.6mph average. I was ecstatic.
T2 – 2:25
There really isn’t much to T2. I ran my bike back to it’s place, swapped my shoes, dropped my helmet, and threw on a race belt.
13.1 mile run - 2:27:47 (11:16mpm)
At sometime during the first 3 miles, I fell down from cloud 9 and crashed hard into a wall. This run was tough. I could feel myself falling apart. There wasn’t a lot of shade on the course, it was noon, and it was HOT!
Judging by the amount of salt I had on my tri suit and arms and legs I knew I was loosing electrolytes, and fast. A few minutes later I realized I had goosebumbs. I had a few Gu chomps and took a cup of ice water from the first few aid stations but I needed more.
Unfortuntely, I wasn’t going to get anything more until after I made my way up and over the bridge, for the first of four times. After the bridge we looped around to the next aid station and I had a cup of water and 2 cups of coke. The coke was AMAZING. The caffeine and sugar helped a lot.
I ran/walked a lot of this half marathon, but I never stopped fighting.
I was more than thrilled when we came around the corner and back toward the finish line. I looked at my watch in a bit of disbelief. If I was reading it correctly, I’d just PR’d the race by more just more than 30 minutes!
70.3 Finish - 6:29:27
After grabbing a bottle of water I went back to the finish chute to watch Patrick come in. I’d seen him 3 times on the run and knew he wasn’t far behind me.
This race was incredible for me. I really, truly feel like I left everything I had out there on that course.
I’m excited to continue my journey in the sport… I’ve got BIG plans for next year