Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Ironman Miami 70.3 Race Report

The 2012 City Bikes Ironman Miami 70.3 race is in the books.  The journey started with a 630 mile drive from Atlanta, Georgia to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, punctuated by a brief night's stay near Orlando.  With the car packed to the gills, Susan and I left Atlanta at around 9:00am on Wednesday, October 24th.  As we drove south we heard about the fate of the Mystery Monkey.  A loose monkey that had numerous sightings over three (3) years in Tampa, Florida had evaded capture until now.  He had become quite a celebrity while on the lam.  He was caught stealing a banana in the back yard of someones house.

While in Kissimmee, Florida we ate dinner at FishBones.  A restaurant more impressed with itself than impressive to us.  You can read about this restaurant and others we visited on our trip in a later blog.

We stopped in Kissimmee for the night and stayed at a Hampton Inn near Disney World.

Hampton Inn in Kissimmee, Florida near Disney World
Our room overlooking the freeway
After we checked into our room we got a status update on "Frankenstorm", aka Hurricane Sandy.  The storm was moving north through the Caribbean leaving death and devastation in its wake.  The hurricane will be known as Superstorm Sandy as she headed north beyond the Caribbean before slamming into the Jersey coast of the northeast US.

Hurricane Sandy update
After we checked out of our hotel on Thursday morning I bought a new Hamilton Beach Single-Serve Blender at Target.  It worked fine for four (4) days but when I tried to use it on Tuesday morning the motor started to smoke.  Another substandard product made in China.
Hamilton Beach Single-Serve Blender
To get race ready I got a haircut at Supercuts in Orlando.  Catalina, my stylist, removed some but not all of the gray.

My race-ready haircut
Before we started on our trip I spent the prior week re-configuring various parts of my bike cockpit and behind the seat bottle setup.  I eventually decided to scrap much of it in favor of a new X-Lab Delta Wing 200 behind my seat.  We stopped at Alex's Bicycle Pro Shop in Davie, Florida to pick one up.  The Trek shop in Fort Lauderdale recommended Alex's for X-Lab products.  It's not a big bike shop but appeared to have a good selection of triathlon related items.

Our hosts for the race were my brother-in-law, Susan's brother Mark and his wife Beth.  They live in Fort Lauderdale amongst the Mercedez-Benz, Ferrari, and Lamborghini dealerships just 30 miles north of Miami.
Beth and Mark during the race
I installed the Delta Wing the following day with Mark's help and his tools.  I removed the X-Lab Carbon Wing shown below which I found way too difficult to reach with the cage at the end.  The Delta Wing moves the bottle cage forward to the seat back making a water bottle much easier to reach and providing better aerodynamics in the process.
Before - X-Lab Carbon Wing
X-Lab Delta Wing 200
The mounting bracket fasteners to the seat rails
A thumb lever on the Delta Wing looks to have been designed for easy removal of the wing from the mounting bracket but a rivet through the two parts eliminates this option from the equation.  I can only assume that this feature led to un-anticipated separations.  I also found that the bracket seemed a bit too wide for my narrow seat rails.  However, the bracket did mount securely centered on the rails.  I used electrical tape to secure my spare tube to the seat stem.  My CO2 cartridges and tire inflator went into my bento box with my loose Shot Bloks and Endurolyte capsules.  My tire levers were slid under my seat and taped in place.  It wasn't pretty but everything made it through the race.
After - X-Lab Delta Wing 200 (with carbon cage)
My training for this race had been almost nil.  After the 2012 Ironman Augusta 70.3 on September 30th my work schedule and other commitments reduced me to one 2-hour trainer ride, one 1-hour trainer ride, a few miles of running near my home, and no swimming.  That's a full four (4) weeks of taper.

The plan for the trip was to get to Fort Lauderdale early so we could visit with family and meet up with my old friend Don.  Don and I grew up together in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.  Now he and his wife Sofia, and their three (3) daughters Stefanie, Amanda, and Tabitha live west of Fort Lauderdale in bike friendly Weston, although he doesn't bike.

Stefanie, Amanda, and Tabitha
Don was busy on Thursday and Friday so Susan, Mark and I toured the area.  As we drove north through Delray Beach we saw some beautiful beachfront homes and some rough surf.
Fort Lauderdale Anglin's Pier as Hurricane Sandy passes offshore
Seaweed and trash brought ashore at Delray Beach by Hurricane Sandy
The Ironman Miami host city of Miami, Florida is an awesome choice.  Although, Bayfront Park itself doesn't seem as though it could accommodation even one more athlete.  It's a beautiful setting if the weather is right.  On Thursday, Friday, and much of Saturday the weather was horrible but on Sunday it was beautiful, other than the wind.  Located on Biscayne Bay and near Bayside Mall the park is a great location.  Not to mention the fact that the park is beautifully landscaped and situated under a modern Miami skyline.

On Saturday, while Susan and my in-laws were shopping at an arts festival nearer to home, my Sherpa for the day Don, and I drove to Miami to pickup my race packet and check-in my bike.
Sherpa Don with my bike and race packet
We ate some pizza at Bayside Mall as Don and I waited for the transition area to open to athletes at noon.

The view from Bayside Mall
On Sunday morning the park was abuzz with activity.  I asked someone half-heartedly if the race was wetsuit legal.  He said yes.  I couldn't contain myself and burst with excitement.  The day was gonna be okay after all.  Body-marking was a breeze.  I setup my transition area.  After that Susan, Mark, Beth and I waited as the pro triathletes and other waves started their race.
The transition area before the race - Good Morning Miami!
The male pro triathletes as they enter the water
My swim wave was the 7th to start.  At 7:47 am the horn blew and we were off.  The water was cloudy due to all the rough weather.  I could only see about three (3) feet underwater.  The 1.2 mile swim course took the swimmers out alongside a cruise ship moored at Dodge Island.  The smell of diesel fuel was apparent.  Overall, it was a great course.  The wave start and a small field in my age-group led to very little touching between the swimmers and no reason to get aggressive.
Race Ready
The Male 50-54 swim wave
A helicopter hovers over the swimmers
I was out of the water via the stairs setup at the dock and running to T-1 in about 41 minutes.  I was happy with the race so far.  My transition was fast and efficient.  As I passed the mount line I hopped on my bike and strapped up my shoes.  The two (2) rubber bands (one (1) tight and one (1) loose) I had put on my shoes had worked.

The start of the bike segment
The bike segment went well.  The course was awesome, except for the first few miles as we exited downtown Miami.  That's where the water hazard, a remnant of Hurricane Sandy, and several railroad tracks that would jar the teeth out of your mouth were located.  Once these were behind us the course was all open road with orange cones the entire distance of Highway 25 and full police support at all the intersections.  This race had by far the best police presence of any race in which I have participated.  Kudos to the police and the event organizers. The fact that south Florida drivers are crazy may have required the heightened level of oversight.  On the downside there were two (2) packs of twenty (20) or so age-groupers that seemed, from my limited viewpoint, to be drafting.  I started the race in front of the younger and faster racers so I could see a lot of them after the turn-around.  I know I was passed by one racer who was definitely drafting.  This was especially frustrating since there was plenty of room on the course for the number of racers.  Probably the worst part of the bike segment was the wind.  A steady 15-mph wind from the west with gusts of 25-mph.  It was unbelievable!

The finish of the bike segment
As I neared the dismount line I unstrapped my shoes.  I messed up my Garmin after the swim so I had little data to use from the race as I describe further later.

The run course winds along the bay front over the MacArthur Causeway bridge and back to the transition area twice.  At the start of my run I saw pro triathletes Matty Reed and Leanda Cave right behind him heading for the finish line.  Leanda was the 2012 Ironman World Championship female overall winner in Kona, Hawaii only two week earlier.   I saw several other pros too but I didn't recognize any of them.  In addition to the pros there were participants from every Latin American country.  It was an international field of competitors.

The run course was hot, windy, and humid with a funky loop to a water station.  As I plodded along I saw Matt Cole and three other racers from Team Podium in Decatur, Georgia.  Matt who now owns Podium Multisport did my tri-bike fit when he was still with All3Sports in 2010.  It was nice to see a familiar face on the course.
Lap 2 of the run
Headed to the finish line
That's the real look of exhaustion
My race pros have to be the use of two rubber bands to secure my shoes out of T-1.  This was the first time I mounted my bike and strapped on my shoes without incident or the liberal use of profanity.

My race cons have to be the failed use of my Garmin 910XT watch.  I had everything setup correctly.  I'd even practiced using the watch in multisport mode the day before.  However, instead of pressing "LAP" following the swim segment I pressed "STOP".  Out of T-1 I pressed "START" again.  I pressed STOP again after the bike segment resulting in a 60-mile swim segment and no bike data.  As I exited T-2 I reset my watch to use during the run segment.  That worked!  I don't like the heart rate monitor constricting my breathing either.  Also, with the PVC mount my finger became numb and I wasn't able to maintain a secure grip of my aerobars.  I think that from now on I'll only use my Garmin during training.  A second con has to be the use of a Gatorade bottle to refill Bontrager Aero Pack.  With the CamelBak bite valve restricting ventilation it spills as much as it fills.  I'll have to try other bottle types to see what works best.  My third and final con has to be adjusting my bike fit only two (2) weeks before the race and than not riding enough to get used to it. 

The event pros and cons were few.  The pros were the police.  They had the bike and run courses locked down tight.  Nobody wants to hear about someone involved in a vehicle-vs-bicycle accident.  In fact the only accident I saw was where someone rode their bike into an orange cone.  He was probably blown into the cone by a gust of wind.  I also saw a runner laid out flat on the ground in the middle of the run course near the first run water station.  Two (2) volunteers were on him like white on rice as one of them radioed for help.  Kudos to them!

The cons were that, in my humble opinion, the City Bikes Ironman Miami 70.3 Facebook page was under utilized.  It was clearly not a destination to ask questions or to chat with other participants.  Also, on the event website, the posting of participant bib #'s was not done and the bike and run courses were not well defined.  Access to transition area was delayed by two (2) hours.  That wasn't a big deal in light of the foul weather Miami had on Thursday and Friday.  There was no fresh water shower, water hose or anything to rinse off the salt water after the swim.  There were no sponges on the run course and the 82Go bags of water were just weird.  All minor issues considering but worth noting.

After the race we packed up my stuff and headed back to Fort Lauderdale where we had some cold beer waiting in the fridge.  I knew there was no need for me to stick around to collect any additional hardware.  If I was going to be a contender than I'd have to train like it. 

My race bib
2012 Ironman Miami 70.3 technical t-shirt
2012 Ironman Miami 70.3 Finisher medal
My results from the race were 46th out of 122 in my age-group out of 122 and 948th overall out of somewhere around 2100 race day competitors.

Susan and I left Fort Lauderdale just before 6:00 am on Monday morning.  Once again driving through the gauntlet of Right to Life and We Bare it All! billboards, we were $19.65 poorer from the one-way trip on the Florida Turnpike.  Florida has a boat load of toll roads.

Cafe' Risque billboard
Superstorm Sandy hits the East Coast on Tuesday
Thanks to my family and friends for all the support.

Thanks for reading.

Checkout all the pictures from our trip.
2012 Ironman Miami 70.3