It’s official, I am hooked.
Even though it was a rather stressful weekend due to getting my bike to Florida, it ended with the most amazing experience and the most fun I have had in any race. On Sunday April 1st, I ran my first ever triathlon in sunny south Florida, a place where I called home for 3 years on the infamous south beach.
Going into the race I was more nervous about the bike just because I had been practicing in the countryside of Maryland where the elevation can get up to 1500 ft above sea level compared to Miami which is at sea level, so it was a big difference in speed. That and I was nervous about getting a flat.
I had arranged for Andante bikes to build my bike when I got to the expo and it was so much easier than having it shipped a week ahead because they built it for me right then and there. That and they were much cheaper than the other bike shops present. The people there were so friendly and kind that I highly suggest getting your bike shipped and built by them.
When I walked onto the beach for the expo and packet pickup on Saturday, it was very windy, the current was strong with large waves going in the opposite direction as I would be swimming, so, of course, my mom started freaking out. The weather was sunny, no clouds and hot! Packet pickup was pretty simple and afterward you went to get your color swim cap. I was blessed with maroon, not very pretty. The expo had all of the race sponsors present, Paul Mitchell offering haircuts, the Nautica tent with gear made for our race, K-Swiss shoes on sale as well as Cannondale bikes and ZICO COCONUT WATER, my favorite. We stayed at the expo about 2 hours before heading to our hotel which was a mile away. Overall the expo was very well put together even though it took place outside in the hot Florida sun.
I arrived at the transition zone around 6 because I wanted to give myself at least an hour to get set up. If I had arrived earlier maybe I would have gotten a spot closer to the aisle but that didn’t matter. I walked in and set up at my section which was my age group. All of the girls were very nice and friendly and helped calm my nerves a bit. At 7:05 we were all called out of the transition zone to make our way towards the beach for an explanation of the course changes, as well as the national anthem sung by JoJo.
The waters Sunday morning couldn’t have been any calmer. They were like glass and, even though, the nerves were jumping up and down, I was happy to swim in calm waters. I participated in the classic distance, so my race didn’t start until 7:30 and I was in the 9th wave with the age group 25-34 so we didn’t go until 8:10.
Going into the swim I wasn’t worried but when there are like 70 people in your wave converging into the ocean at the same time, it was a little nerve-racking, especially with all of the kicking and splashing in your face. I swallowed a lot of salt water as a result and had to take it slow after the first buoy. But once I got my pace intact it wasn’t so bad. The water was so clear and shallow that I could see the bottom as well as the fish swimming. I was a little shocked by my time, but then I thought about it and the transition mat wasn’t as you got out of the water but when you got to the bike racks which was further up the beach.
Transitioning to the bike wasn’t difficult but I did feel like I was forgetting something. Turns out I wasn’t and I was just paranoid. So I headed out of transition and onto the course.
My bike was very strong as I had predicted and it turns out I was doing 19-21 mph with an average cadence of 95. Since it was my first race I was worried about the rules and drafting but I was fine and that’s all that mattered. I was lucky not to be hit by any cars as the two people in front of me were almost hit, but the course was absolutely incredible. Heading down 395 across the causeway with the cruise ships parked on the left, star island on the right, the blue skies and sun shining it was a picturesque moment. Especially when I got to the top of the bridges and looked out at the inter-coastal the view was amazing. City bikes was on course in case anyone needed assistance and there were policeman as well as volunteers all along the course directing us where to go and keeping cars off the course since there was one lane closed for us bikers.
Transitioning from the bike to the run wasn’t too bad. My dismount was solid, but then I was hit with jello legs and couldn’t hold my ground. As a result I fell on my bike and got a minor cut and bruise, and compared to the cyclists that actually fell and had road rash, I felt that I could handle a minor battle wound. Besides I like bruises… they make me feel tough. Getting to my transition spot was slowed down because of all the other cyclists in front of me, but I hit my transition spot, quickly changed my shoes and was out on the run course.
I head out on the run course very strong passing people left and right. I felt like a younger, yet slower Mirinda Carfrae as she runs a 6-minute mile. It definitely felt good when I was coming up on someone in my age group and would pass them. It was very hot out at this point so I was taking advantage of the aid stations drinking and dumping water on my head. The only part of the run I didn’t like was that the out and back course was open to the public so you had the bums yelling at you to get out of their way along with the old people taking their sweet time walking in front of you. I crossed the finish line by myself and the announcer called out my name as I headed down the shoot. The moment couldn’t have been more perfect. I finished with my hands in the air and a smile on my face because I just completed my first ever triathlon and joined a select group of endurance athletes.
Today was the most incredible morning of my life. The conditions couldn’t have been more perfect, the sun was shining, my friends and family there to support me as I started this journey. But more importantly I am now a triathlete with aspirations of one day becoming and Ironman.
Perks…: Beautiful landscape, wonderful expo setup and finish line, wet towels at the finish, great amount of aid stations on the run, great traffic control
Ehh… Not a Fan: Run course open to the public, post race food was blah.