I’ll start off by saying that I didn’t really want to write this post. Last weekend I had what I could easily call my personal worst at the 70.3 distance. After this race, I wanted nothing more than to forget that it happened and go into the offseason for some well needed time off. But, I have committed to not only cherry picking the good races to write posts about, but all of my experiences as a Professional Triathlete. So here it goes.
As you may already know, I competed in Ironman Louisville on October 15. After that race, I had two potential plans laid out for the end of the season. Either do another build into Ironman Arizona 5 weeks later, or attempt a quick turnaround and compete in Miami 70.3 the following weekend. I decided to go with racing Miami in hopes that I could improve upon my time and placement from last year. Rebekah and I made the drive down Saturday and timed it just right to arrive in Miami for the Pro meeting at 4pm. After the meeting, we got all dressed up and had a fancy dinner at Vero Italian Restaurant. Not quite my typical pre-race rice and beans as we were going for a swanky dinner to celebrate our upcoming 2-year anniversary! Setting up that night went easily as Rebekah and I have our 70.3 pre-race rituals down to a tee and we got some decent sleep before race morning.
I ended up with plenty of time in the morning after setting up and eventually found myself standing on the dock about to jump in the water. Except this wasn’t any normal water. Miami is well known for having a choppy swim due to being in a harbor, but these were straight up waves. One of my main goals for the race was to improve my swim over the previous year where my swim was definitely lacking. When the horn sounded it was a cluster of arms and legs as everyone immediately pushed hard to get to the front of the pack. The swim quickly became much more separated than normal as the waves made drafting much more difficult than normal. While many swimmers were pulling away from me, I could also tell that I wasn’t alone with some swimmers behind me. Through the first half of the swim I swam at a solid pace attempting to ride the waves as they came while keeping a straight line.
I knew there was at least one person directly behind me as I would occasionally have my feet tickled. I was actually quite impressed that he was able to stay right there with how rough the waters were. After the second of three turns, I could tell that I was reeling a couple athletes back in. By the third turn, I was only a few seconds back of them and found myself exiting the water with 3 other athletes. Compared to last year I was nearly 4 minutes faster in the swim and was much closer to the front of the race despite the conditions!
After nearly slipping while running through transition I nearly mounted my bike before I realized that the actual mount line was still a few meters ahead. I had to get off and remount again which lost me a few seconds on my competitors around me. I quickly gained the ground back and soon realized that this group was taking the start pretty conservatively. Remembering the completely solo effort from 2016 and the Ironman the prior week, I decided that it would also be best to ride easier and see how things played out. Things went smoothly until we missed a turn which wasted maybe 30 seconds in getting back on course. There was a group of 4 of us for the first 30 minutes of the ride with multiple motorcycles monitoring us to make sure we were keeping a legal distance apart. After that two of the riders fell off the pace which left only myself and another rider. After another 10 minutes or so I took over the pace at what was still a decently conservative power, but we were flying well over 30 mph due to a fantastic tailwind! After going back and forth with the other rider a couple times, I pulled away to ride solo just over halfway into the ride. I was still riding well until about 40 miles into the ride when I started feeling the fatigue from the prior week as I fought to push through the now headwind. I got some welcome company from Ivan Domingues around mile 50 who I had also raced in Augusta. I was motivated to stay with him and ended up passing him to take 11th place heading into transition with an average on the bike of 25.7mph.
While I was hoping the relatively “easier” ride would help me run well, I could tell that was not going to be the case as soon as I got off the bike. Despite my bike power being barely above Ironman pace, my body felt tight and very fatigued. I started out just behind Ivan who I knew had the potential to run well and ended up getting the first mile done in around 6:30. This was the only decent mile I had the entire run. Very soon the effort hit me hard and I was suddenly struggling just to jog. As the temperature rose to a heat index of around 95 degrees I only suffered more. The next 11-12 miles of the 3 lap course consisted of a lot of walking and attempts at getting things going again. My body would simply not let it happen. I won’t say all the things that happened in that stretch, but I am now happier than ever that I don’t have another race coming up for a while. I ended up finishing the run in over 1:55 for a total time of 4:43:XX. My slowest 70.3 time by about 20 minutes.
I now know that as an athlete I am not invulnerable to fatigue. I am grateful that I am injury free and will be coming into the 2018 season hot and ready to be much more prepared for each race I encounter. In the meantime, I will be enjoying some time with family and friends as well as preparing for little baby Feigh!