This past Sunday was my long anticipated debut at my first Professional race. It was not quite what I expected, but once again, I learned a lot. Some things went well while others went not so well. One thing is for sure, the level of competition at this race was intense and showed me what the best in the sport can really do!
Rebekah and I made the trip to Miami by car in two parts by driving to Statesboro, GA Thursday night to see her parents and then the remaining drive on that Friday. The rest of Friday and Saturday were relatively uneventful as we relaxed and spent time together during what was also our 1 year wedding anniversary weekend. I got to experience my first Pro athlete meeting on Saturday afternoon which was unexpectedly quite. Nobody seemed to want to talk or meet each other. I only knew a couple others there but introduced myself to one of the Female Pro athletes who had traveled down from Canada. I found out that that it was also her first race as a Pro as well though she was a bit older than me! It was nice to know I wasn’t the only newbie at this race.
Soon enough, it was race morning and setting everything up went smoothly and the Pro Men were slotted to go out first at 7:25am with the Pro Women following at 7:30am. The men were able to get in a short warmup before we lined up for our start. I lined up in the middle in hopes that I would have the opportunity to grab onto the draft of a pack on either side if one formed near me. The cannon went off and every man on that line shot off like a rocket. The first couple minutes of the swim were the most physical and competitive swimming I’ve ever done. I frequently had salt water from the bay in my mouth but focused on breathing without swallowing any of it. At times it felt like I was riding on a wave of other athletes while other times I was simply trying not to get shouldered and hit in the face. This was unsuccessful.
After the first few hundred meters we rounded the first turn buoy and things soon changed from being in a pack to a couple athletes being more strung out. I was unfortunately unable to keep pace with the couple of athletes near me at that time and after another few hundred meters, I found myself alone without a pack. This was not ideal as I know that the swim is a weakness of mine at this point and that I would be bleeding time swimming on my own. Regardless, I made the best of what was happening and focused on sustaining a good effort throughout the rest of the swim. In the final stretch, a few of the lead women (including my Canadian friend) passed by me which I expected may happen if I was swimming on my own. I came out of the water not feeling too bad and ready to start making up lost time.
Recently this season I have struggled with being breathless upon exiting the water and beginning the bike. This was not the case for this race and I felt ready to go! The first few miles of the bike went through downtown Miami and had a number of turns and rough roads to be wary of. Before too long though it was nothing but open roads and the only thing to worry about was fighting the strong headwinds. I initially was going to pace this race off of my heart rate, but changed that once I noticed my heart sensor wasn’t working! I instead focused on my power numbers and staying in as aerodynamic a position as possible. I did not see any of the Pro Men in front of me until about the halfway point in the bike at which point we turned around and began riding with a very nice tailwind. My speed suddenly went way up at that point but I remained focused on holding my power at right above 290 watts while maintaining position. I ended up passing about 3 Pro men on the return trip while being passed by one. I had a couple of close calls with some road hazards in the last few miles, but was soon off my bike after averaging 26 mph for the full 56 miles of riding.
This is a clip of a group of Pro Men coming in together off the bike. I, on the other hand, was completely solo a little bit later.
I got off the bike knowing that I had already had what I would consider a good bike performance for me. I could tell that I was pretty fatigued after the ride but hoped that I would find some magic for my legs to come around for the run. Unfortunately, the magic never came and after a few decent miles, my pace began to get slower and slower turning into more of a death march.
It is hard to describe what caused this but I would mainly attribute it to general fatigue combined with it warming up throughout the course of the run. I continued to focus on taking in fluids and calories while cooling myself off by throwing ice water on myself through aid stations. I was disappointed to see my pace drop to paces slower than my easy endurance runs, but I know that I am still learning how to really “Race” a triathlon of this distance. I had gambled by riding as hard as I did and thus my run time suffered. Though I believe that my fueling plan had gone well unlike in Chattanooga earlier this year.
I ended up placing as the 26th Pro Male and was beaten by a couple Pro Women and Amateur Males. I’m excited to apply what I have learned to next week’s race in Austin, TX and my goal is to improve upon my placement in Miami. This week is all about recovery and luckily I get to spend some time with some friends and family from Houston, TX! I’ll keep my social media updated with everything going on leading into the weekend and I always appreciate the encouragement from everybody! It always provides me with extra motivation in those dark places during racing and training to help keep me going. And in Miami I definitely needed that!
Happy 1 Year Anniversary to the woman that let me do a race on our Anniversary weekend! She constantly puts up with my triathlon endeavors and its ups and downs. I only hope that she has almost as much fun as I do in travelling to these races and seeing new places by my side. We may have to spend the next week apart from each other, but I’m super excited about spending the rest of our lives together!