By: Dan Meyer
This race was so well-attended by Team Podium that it was the unofficial 4th team race. I jumped into this race last minute because my planned A race at IM 70.3 Augusta ended up with me dropping out at mile 8 of the bike course due to a flat tire I could not fix. I could not end my season that way, and my teammates encouraged me to join them in Miami. John Rotella even offered his mom’s house as free lodging. I was glad I went because we had a great time.
Leading up to the race, hurricane Sandy was looming and there was some concern that the race would not happen. The day before the race, the winds were so strong that as my teammates John Rotella, Michael McGinness and I were riding on the sidewalk, a gust blew Michael off the sidewalk and into the grass. Fortunately, the day of the race the winds were not quite that bad.
The swim took place in beautiful Biscayne Bay which had all the advantages of salt water buoyancy and fairly calm seas. One fortunate side effect of the weather was that the swim was wetsuit legal, which is unusual for Miami in October. I was lucky to have a fairly early start wave about 45 minutes after the pros (sometimes age has its advantages). Unfortunately, I seeded myself too far back at the start of my wave and was not able to get into rhythm and get space to swim at my pace for about the first 300 meters. I kept swimming into and over people and was kicked, elbowed, and scratched a lot prior to the first turn, then things opened up and I was able to swim my pace. Sighting was good on the first long portion that headed us straight toward a cruise ship. It was a little harder on the next long section toward shore, as the winds blew the guide buoys off course and we had to fight a current that was pushing us away from the buoys. It got even harder when we turned toward the swim exit and had about 500 meters against the current.
After a short run into transition and a quick T1, I was on my way and feeling good, but it did not take long for my mood to change. Although the bike course is completely flat, there was a strong headwind in our face, and it got old in a hurry. I was having a hard time keeping my heart rate down and was feeling miserable when a competitor who I had passed back and forth a few times (after completely dropping out of the draft zone) yelled “I can’t wait for the turn around. It’s going to be fun on the way back.” That helped lift my spirits and I had something to look forward to. Unfortunately, things would get worse before they got better.
First, large packs of riders passed me while blatantly drafting, gaining a huge advantage against the wind. Then, at about mile 20, a rider started to pass me, cut over before he had my wheel, and knocked me off my bike. My first thought was “Oh no not again,” thinking I might not be able to complete this race either, but once I could tell that I was not seriously hurt and my bike was okay, I was determined to finish. My left elbow and knee were dripping blood and my right hip and glute were hurting, but as long as I was physically able to keep going, I was going to finish this race.
After the turnaround at mile 28, the race became really fun. With the winds behind me, I started riding at a very high rate of speed. My hip and rear only bothered me occasionally, and I was pretty sure that the crash would not prevent me from finishing. Coming into T2 all I was thinking is “the race is about to begin and I am ready to run.”
As I began exiting T2, the weather started to get very warm. My left hip and butt hurt a little when I first started to run, but loosened up fairly quickly. The run course in Miami was flat except for a fairly steep causeway that we had to go over and back on each of two loops. One nice thing about the loops and out and back nature of the run was that I was able to see almost all of my teammates on the run. When I was just about a mile in, I saw Elaine Sipos on her way to an awesome age group win!
As has been a problem in the past, the organization of the aid stations was poor. There were several times when I was unable to get fluids and there was no aid station at mile 4/8. Fortunately, I run with a Nathan belt and bottle of Infinit, so I did not get totally dehydrated, but there were times when I needed water to drink and throw on myself or ice and did not get it. There were also no sponges or cloths that I ever saw.
I felt great the entire first loop and the first half of the second loop. At about mile 9, things began to get tough. At that point I had a mile to loop around and then it would be time to climb the causeway one last time. As I headed up the causeway, I saw Matt Cole on his way down. Matt started in a wave long after me, and even with the crash, I knew I would not hear the end of it if he caught me, so I had extra motivation not to let down at the end of the run. I pushed through and got to the top. It was downhill and then flat from there. At about mile 11, my left hip, rear and hamstring started to tighten, but I was not going to stop. I knew I was just about there when I saw super fan/sherpa Kelly Granish, a welcome sight every time I saw her (about 6 times by my count) as I was nearing the finish line. And then, finally, I was there. This was not quite the race I had hoped for, but was respectable, and I felt good about overcoming the bike crash.