Sunday, November 13, 2011

99 Problems but the Bike ain't one: Miami Man (11/13/11)

Race: Miami Man Half Iron Duathlon
Distance: 0.85 Mile/56 Mile Bike/13.1 Mile Run
Goal Time: 5:20:00
Actual Time: 4:57:45
Finish Place: 19th; 1st Clydesdales!

Perhaps one of the most disconcerting sights I have ever seen was 50 miles into a bike ride, my legs are rubbery, the headwind is physically and mentally kicking my ass, and I am riding on all heart! There, hanging out on and about a fence in front of an avocado field stood 5 turkey vultures. In my exhausted delirium I shook my fist and yelled toward the buzzards: "You're not getting me!" (Then, I almost punched the guy passing me in the face.)


The Miami Man Half Iron Triathlon has two accompanying races, the International (within range of an Olympic) and the Half Iron Duathlon. As one who determined who absolutely hates swim training, the Duathlon was the logical choice.

Leg One – 1 Mile Run (Actually 0.85 Miles)
Goal Time: ????
Actual Time: 5:53

On a little band of sun beaten asphalt that cut its way through the saw palmettos we stood next to a hand written sign that said: “Duathlon Start.” In the distance behind palms and palmettos we heard the waves of swimmers starting by the lake. The waves were starting at five minute intervals from 7:00 am on while the Duathlon was the last wave to start at 7:45.
We ran down the asphalt until it opened into a picnic area, where the running route led us down to an ancient coral bed trail that ran around the lake. As we jogged warming up our legs I watched those doing the tri force swimming their two loops around the lake.
We reached the end of the run and entered the transition area as some of the elite triathletes entered as well. Shockingly the duathletes were less tired after their mile than the swimmers after theirs.

Leg Two – 56 Mile Bike
Goal Time: 3:10:00
Actual Time: 2:56:11 (19.07 mph)

Like I said 99 Problems but the Bike Ain’t One! At the bike shop – Elite Cycles in Kendall – KC did not recall me requesting a bike. But, that was okay. I ended up getting a Specialized Allez Sport – the all-aluminum version of my very own Ajax Telemon. While its aluminum forks make the bike a little bumpier and apparently the shifters weren’t as good as the ones I carry. (I never noticed since it was flat and I was not trying to change speeds.) Overall it was a pretty sweet bike I was comfortable with and knew like I knew Ajax Telemon, so I will call it Ajax Oileon (currently my dad and two other of my readers are laughing).
In the transition area, I grabbed Ajax Oileon and ran out of transition and across the field to the park road. In a long reasonably slow line we rode down the park road and out of the Park onto 127th Avenue through South Miami “Heights.” Soon we were out of the residential areas and out into the swampy or drained farm lands of avocado, coconut and palms.
I was still warming up my legs trying not to go too fast and find an even pace when we passed the International Tri’s with its 22 mile bike turnaround point. It was here that the roads got a little rougher. What did Tolstoy once say? “All good roads are alike; but, all bad roads are bad in its own way.” Admittedly none of the roads were frost heaven with temporary patches over last year’s temporary patch. But, many of these farmland roads offered their own challenges: just damp enough to be oily; grainy; slightly gravely; patchy tear halfway down the length of the right hand lane. The grainy roads kept making me think I had a flat.
Without a bike computer, I was nervous to going too fast, however I found one guy who was going a steady comfortable pace who I followed a bit. Once, we got to what I thought to be about 20 miles and was at around 1:15 on my watch, I picked it up. I got to the left so I wouldn’t be drafting off my previous pacer. As, I passed I noticed he had a bike computer: “Hey, what pace are you averaging?” He turned out to be Eastern European and said: “30 kilometers.” 18 and half – great.
The course was a 13 mile out, 2-15 mile loops and the 13 miles back. At the end of the first loop, I knew I was doing well and knew as long as I didn’t pop a tube, I was gonna kill it. At the start of the second loop, the prevailing winds KC at the bike shop had warned me of kicked in. I fought the cross winds and enjoyed the brief tail wind as we went South again. But as we turned back to the north – uh oh. It was just a fight for the last 20 or so miles, straight into a hot prevailing wind.
I kept churning out a steady pace all the way back until I reached the International Tri’s turn around point. I knew it was only 11 miles now. I put the bike and myself into a higher gear and probably did 21 or 22 mph into the headwind. While I spent most of the last 11 passing people, one guy did pass me while I was yelling at the turkey buzzards. We pulled back into the park on 184th Street and my passing days were done. I had to spend the last ½ mile going the speed of the two guys in front of me as there was no room to pass on the park roads with people parked on either side.
I hopped off the bike and carried it to transition cyclocross style.

Leg Three – 13.1 Mile Run
Goal Time: 1:58:00
Actual Time: 1:53:01 (8:37/ mile)

Apparently last year the run was voted the best part of the course – with good reason. The run is a 6.6 mile loop around the park that goes around the lake again through a campground and through the zoo. The open zoo mind you – so there are people with children gawking at animals and sometimes cheering, but mostly gawking at random people wearing race numbers who are running through the zoo.
While each of my first couple of miles were under 8 minutes and my last few were over 9, I was able to maintain 8:15-8:45 miles over the flat course. Through the zoo I was occasionally slowed by either families in these odd pedal powered Model A looking contraptions, or by getting caught up looking around at Hey there’s a rhino. Add “lion”, “elephant” or “sandhill cranes” (especially fascinating birds).
After mile 7 is where I started to stray from the 8:30 miles. I took my last gel at the 9 mile tracking pad and knew NOW just hang on and we have 5 hours.

Mile 12 was still one of the most physically, mentally and emotionally challenging things I’ve ever done in my life. (If I hadn’t had a chance at break 5 hours, it may have been easier because I would have just dropped down to 11 minute miles and celebrated completion.) Every step was painful without obvious gain. But I remembered my Prefontaine: “Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” I never lost mentally or emotionally. At the marker in the campground that said 12 miles my virtual tears of pain became real tears of joy. Nothing could keep me from finishing and finishing under 5 hours now. By the end I was rejuvenated; the runner from Relay Team Grizzly gave me a last word of encouragement as I passed him near the 13 mark.
The last 0.1 miles, I barely remembered. I glided in just under five hours, more than two hours ahead of 2nd through 7th in my category. Enough to win me the Victory Gator!

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