The Bike(56 miles)
I shuffled my bike through the large white inflatable archway with “Bike Out” printed across the top. I headed over to the left side of the mounting area to get on my bike out of the way of others coming out. There were crowds of fans cheering on each side of the gate making it very load and chaotic. My left bike shoe got caught under my pedal and unclipped. I heard a onlooker yell to “take your time” which really helped. I calmly grabbed my shoe, put it on and continued to mount my bike. The rain was coming down pretty good as I navigated between the high rise buildings on the streets of downtown Miami. The first few miles consisted of some sharp turns and seemingly slippery roads. I cautiously rode while trying to keep up some speed. Looking at my computer showed my heart rate to be high zone 4-5(~160-165bpm), which surprised me since I didn’t feel like I was working that hard. I thought maybe it was just my HRM flaking out again. There were a couple diagonal RR crossings which were VERY slippery. I saw one guy in front of me just drop to the ground and he was not going very fast either. I gingerly made my way over both crossings without issue. Whew!
Eventually we got out of the downtown area and the road straightened out to a four lane highway. The race occupied the left lanes on each side of the divided highway which is a quire different. The wind was whipping at a good clip as a headwind and crosswind. Despite that I was averaging ~20.5 mph. I had thought I would be in the 23-24mph range, but that was being a little over confident with the wind as it was. The scenery on the ride was not real great. Many strip malls and businesses along the way. The road surface was not as smooth as I would expect from a Florida highway. It was worn down a bit and contained little pock marks that look like they could do some damage to my wheels. I had grabbed a pack of Clif Shot Blocks before I left my transition spot for the bike and gobbled them up during the first few miles. I had 5 vanilla Clif gels taped to my bike crossbar for my feeding enjoyment during the bike ride. I had 2 before the 27 mile turnaround and a half a banana from the 14 mile aide station. I had 4 water bottles figuring one every 45 minutes. I reached the turnaround averaging 20.4 MPH and my heart rate was still around 160(HR Zone 4). I thought I should probably try to get down a bit to save something for the run.
The second half of the bike started with a partial tailwind which was a relief. I kept a nice cadence and my average MPH held steady. Then the road turned southeast and I was back to a crosswind again. Now my legs were starting to feel it a bit. I dropped into an easier gear so I could spin out some lactate from my quads. This caused my speed to drop a bit. Several lines of other cyclists past me drafting wheel-to-wheel, which is illegal. If that wasn’t enough the last rider almost crashed me by getting over before he was fully past me. I shouted some expletive at him, but they just kept on moving. That really got me torgued up. My pace had started to slow a bit and I was starting to creep back into the high 19 MPH range. My HR was dropping as well so I thought that may be good. Heading back into downtown I hit a very deep, narrow pothole pretty hard. I was worried I may blow the tire, but it seemed to only bend my rim or bust a spoke since my wheel started rubbing my brake pad. I loosened up the brake calipers as wide as they could go and that seemed to help.
The volunteers covered all the RR tracks with plywood on the way back, so they were a bit less treacherous on the return leg. As we headed back into downtown, the wind was funneling through the buildings and the rain seemed to have started again. It was so hard to see I had to squint. It was like riding in a wind tunnel and someone was behind the big prop spraying a firehose. I unattached the velcro on my shoes and rode the last 1/2 mile with my feet on top of my cycling shoes. Finally I reached the dismount area and jumped off my bike and entered the big white archway to transition.
Bike Time: 2:55:31 (19.1 MPH)
I scurried down the long lane back to my transition spot near the exit to the run and racked my bike. I had to put socks on my wet feet since I never was able to adjust to running without socks in my New Balance Minimus 10’s. They are great minimal “barefoot feel” running sneakers, but they are not sockless. So I had to waste a minute putting socks on. I grabbed my Ironman running hat, put my Fuel Belt on, grabbed another pack of Clif ShotBlocks and headed out on the run.
T2 Time: 4:10
The Run(13.1 miles)
My legs felt a little crampy, but not horrible. I had my Garmin Edge 305 set to “Auto Transition” so I could just hit the lap button and it would switch to the next leg and keep track of transition times. I must have hit the lap button twice cause when I started the run it said “race complete”…I wish! I quickly switched it to normal Run mode and continued on. I started chowing down on my ShotBlocks and as I was putting them in my mouth I heard Denise yell and dropped a couple on the ground. The run headed down along the bay seawall for a half mile and turned around and came back again. Denise was on the wall so I got to say hi again. The run then headed along the bay, out to Biscayne Boulevard by the American Airlines Arena, where the Miami Heat plays, and then over MacArthur Causeway Bridge to Watson Island and then back again.
The bridge really sucked. It was relatively steep and the wind was whipping over the side which made things a little difficult. I kept a slow and steady pace as I wanted to make sure I had something left in the tank for another lap. My legs got more crampy as I went on. I was afraid to up the tempo too much or I would have seized up my quads and had to walk the whole way. After the first quarter of the run, I decided I was going to start walking the aide stations. This would give me a chance to lower my HR a bit as well as make sure I got all my fluids in without spilling all over the place. This helped for sure. At this point in the race I was beginning to really not care about my times and all I wanted to do is make sure I finish this thing. With the whole Pocono fiasco and the expense of coming down to Miami for this race, there is no way I am not finishing this thing. Even if I have to crawl across the line.
Denise kept changing her position on every lap, so I never knew where she was going to pop out from. Little did I know she was strategically placing herself so she could run into a restaurant and eat lunch while I was suffering away. The 2nd 3.2 mile stretch went fairly well. I was still moving along fairly slowly, but I was trying to be steady. The 3rd quarter-3.2 mile stretch was probably the worst for me. The thought that I had to go back over that damn bridge 2 more times was eating at my mind. My time on this segment really showed it too. I was somewhere in the 11 min/mi range which is practically walking. I suffered through it and kept my head in it. When I made the last turnaround on Watson Island I knew this was the home stretch.
My pace started to pick up a bit. This just goes to show how much of this stuff is in your mind. I had some cola at the aid stations which also gave me a last minute boost. I could feel it now…I was going to complete my first half ironman. I made some S turns through the outdoor mall and down to the bay walk where the crowds were lined up cheering away. If that doesn’t give you a last boost of energy I don’t know what will. I heard Denise call me from the right side and I gave her a sort of mid-way high five. Then it was down to the finish. It seemed like there were about 10 photographers all crouching down behind the finish arch. I heard the announcer call my name and say that I was from Pennsylvania, then I raised my arms for the last push through the gate. FINALLY!!!
I was immediately met by people taking my chip off, then over to the finalist medal girls. The four girls giving out medals just stood there, so I picked one to go to and she through it over my neck. I grabbed a water bottle and headed to the t-shirt tent for my finalist tee. I then searched for my wife who was separated by several corale’s of fencing. The finish line was strange in that there were no access for fans to be lined up along the sides. There was an area that looked like it was for eating but no one was in it. and then there was a big tent area for massages. There was another empty area behind that with nothing, which is where I met up with my wife. We hugged for a few minutes and a lady next to us took our picture. Things were sinking in now.
I decided to get one of the free massages which I had never done before. I was so glad I did. I don’t think I ever had a guy give me a massage before(not that there is anything wrong with that ), but I really didn’t care. This guy worked me over really good. I felt like I was back in Thailand getting a Thai Massage again. I will definitely have to take advantage of that again.
We headed over to the food area to get something to eat. Food was pretty lame or I just got there too late. Rice and rock-hard chunks of pork. I will pass. I grabbed my bike from transition and dropped it off at the City Bikes tent to be shipped back home(I still haven’t gotten it back yet and it has been over a week). We then headed back to the hotel for some dinner and a beer. We would then be flying out first thing in the morning.