Race Day: Breaking down the numbers

By Skip

The day finally arrived and boy what a day it was.  The night before we went to a Miami Dolphins game so we did not get home real early which meant I didn’t go to bed very early.  I got out of bed about 3:30am to start getting ready but was awake long before that.  I must of woke up every hour and looked at the clock to make sure I had not overslept.     

I wanted to get up that early so I could put some food in my body and still have some time for it to digest so I would not get cramps during the race.  A three hour time period before working out seems to work pretty well for me.  Had a couple of cups of coffee (that might have been a problem) and headed down to Key Biscayne with my wife.     

We arrived at the transition area at about 5:30am and I headed over to get body marked.  I had picked up my registration packet earlier that week (a problem that you will read about in a little bit) but I still needed to get marked and pick up my timing chip.  After that I entered into the transition area to start getting set up.  Ok.. First thing I need to remember for next time is to bring a little flashlight.  It was pretty dark and the grass was quite tall in the transition area.  There were a couple of times that I dropped something in the grass and I had a hard time finding it.     

It took me a while to get setup as I really wanted to make sure I had not forgotten a thing.  I attached my race number to the bike and one to my race belt.  I had a small sticker for my helmet but I could not get that thing to stick!  I was not too worried about it as others were having the same issue.  Since this was the first TRUE transition area I had setup I re-arranged things several times.  I should have taken a picture of it as I think there is a couple of things I could have done differently to improve that as well.  Once I was all setup I headed out of that area and met up with my wife and started walking down towards the beach to get ready for the start of the race.     

As described to me, the first wave of people would go out at 7:00am sharp and continue through waves until they got to the “fat tire” division last which was suppose to go at 7:35am.  FYI,  Fat Tire=Mountain Bike.  I had a while to wait so I jumped in the water and got a taste of the ocean…. literally.  It was a beautiful morning as the sun started to rise.  The water was as calm as glass and was as warm as bathwater.  Certainly a lot different conditions than the last time I went out in the open water to practice!     

For those of you who don’t know how it works, usually your “wave” is color coded by your swim cap.  I had a silver cap in my hands….. I noticed that quite a few other people had these caps as well… hmmmmm…. “a lot of first timers I guess” I said to my wife.   Fat tire division is usually first time triathletes who have not made that financial investment for a good bike.  We were talking and I was stretching when I looked up and noticed that all of the silver cap swimmers were starting to form near the water… what?  I ran over and asked the announcer…. well, I didn’t get to ask him anything… He said to me “why are you not getting in the water?”  I told him that I was signed up for the fat tire division not my age group division (40-44) and he replied “if they gave you that cap, you have to race NOW.”      

That might have been a blessing in disguise as I didn’t have too much time to think about it.  I put my cap on (man was that thing tight!) and ran to the water just in time for them to blow the horn to start.     

The Swim:  1/4 mile

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I kept a clear head and lined up to the right of the pack.  As we rounded the first buoy and made a turn I stayed on the outside so I would not get run over too much.  I still got kicked and pounded on but it was not too bad plus I was expecting it which made a big difference.  I kept a pretty steady pace.  The water was beautiful and very clear.  I spent quite a bit of time watching the fish (that whole snorkeling scenario I mentioned in earlier posts.)  I only needed to look up a couple of times to make sure I was going in a straight line.  In the beginning I was off only becauseI had a swimmer to my left that was nudging me off course.  Once I got past him I was fine.  I ended up pacing with another swimmer and we stayed shoulder to shoulder the entire time.     

I kept reminding myself to use my legs more but I was also worried about exerting too much energy too early on so I didn’t listen to myself.  As I approached the end of the swim (which finished before I knew it!) the water started to get churned up from people trying to get out of the water too early.   I stayed in until my fingertips touched the bottom and then proceeded to run out of the water, like Manny taught me, kicking my legs up to the side.  As I looked around, most everybody was walking out of the water or struggling to get out.     

Once I was out of the water we had to run quite a ways to the transition area.  It was running through sand and across pavement… quite a contrast on the feet and it sure felt good once I got to the thick grass of the transition area!  I was a little concerned as to how winded I was at this point.  I think it had a lot to do with nerves and running across that sand!    

Final swim time: 07:22 

T1 (The First Transition)

Looking back at my T1 time (3:49) I realize that that this included the run from the beach all the way through to the point of leaving the gate with my bike in hand.  This took quite a bit longer than I expected, however.  As I look back and compare my T1 time to other competitors, this is one area that I can improve upon and is one thing I really did not practice too much.  I DID practice but not enough.  There has to be some ways that I can make this faster.  Instead of a tub of water for my feet, I used bottled water which I thought was quick enough but maybe not.  Also, if I am going to use bike shoes that clip in, I had better go all the way and pre-clip them into the pedals and mount it like a pro.  I was too hesitant to do that the first race.  That killed about 20-30 seconds, I would guess.  Other than that, I am not sure how I could improve this time…… I need to watch some more online videos about this.  

Final T1 time: 03:49 

The Bike:  10 Miles

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I felt pretty darn good on the bike.  I mounted the bike very quickly and did “stuff” while riding instead of wasting time in the transition area like I saw others doing… things like putting on my cycling gloves and hydrating.  My wife said it was pretty funny watching people get on and off the bikes as they were pretty clumsy.   The flat roads I was averaging about 21 mph.  When it came to the Rickenbacker bridge, I slowed waaaaayyyyy down!  I think I was averaging about 10 mph!  That killed my average speed.  It was interesting that on the way back and having to climb the bridge again, this seemed to be easier.  I was passed by a couple of bikes on the way up both ways but not a noticeable amount of people went by.  The best part of a hill that size is coming down the other side.  That is when you hope that your bike is tuned up and nothing is loose!   

Speaking of which, the night before I spent a couple of hours greasing everything up and taking a wrench and removing every ounce that I could without effecting the performance of the bike… like the kickstand, extra water bottle holder, emptied out quite a bit out of the saddle bag taking out tools that I wouldn’t need during the race, etc.  Not that it mattered too much on a heavy bike like that but if I didn’t do that I would have kicked myself later.  I had to do the best with what I had.  And looking back and comparing my statistics with others in the fat tire division, I would have placed first in that discipline with the fastest bike time!  So, once again, I really DID do the best with what I had!   

Approaching back into the transition area, the crowd had started to gather and I laid off of the intensity a little bit to let my legs relax as well as catching my breath giving my heart a chance to slow down a little.  I had exerted much more energy and ran my heart rate much higher that I had planned on.  I unclipped one foot and rode “side saddle” all of a sudden realizing that I was doing exactly what I told myself I wouldn’t do….. because I didn’t have my other foot unclipped yet!  It could have been disastrous but luckily I was able to unclip with no problems and ran with back to my transition spot.    

Final bike time: 31:23 

T2 (Transition 2)

I quickly found my spot and mounted my bike back up on the rack.  There was something interesting that I noticed… I had to really work at getting the bike in and out of the rack for some reason.  I need to think about this in the future.  The type of bike I had, I really should have found a different mounting method for the rack compared to what others were doing.  I took my shoes off and started to put my running shoes on.  Again, I would have saved a bunch of time if I would have done this all the proper way with removing my feet from my shoes before dismounting the bike… wrong bike, wrong shoes and just not enough confidence to do that in this race.    

By the way, I want to mention my shoes for a second.  A couple of days ago I made a post about my left shoe not clipping properly.  I kind of blew it off and didn’t think anything more of it.  As I was packing my bike shoes for race day, I noticed that the metal bottom where the cleat attaches to the shoe was bent.  I bent it back into position but once again, on race day I had a similar problem.  I need to look into this and get that fixed.  I don’t want to be thinking about things like that while I am going that fast down those bridges!   

Final T2 time: 01:28 

The Run: 3.1 Miles

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As I exited the transition area I was still putting on my race belt and I heard an official say my number out-loud as I exited the gates.  I was thinking “did I just get a penalty for something?  Was I suppose to have my race belt on before I left the transition area?”  So having that in the back of my head I started out.  My heart rate was a little higher than I wanted it to be and my legs were fighting me.  I started off at a pretty slow pace, for me, at about an 8 minute pace.  That was actually slow enough to bring my heart rate down and about that time I convinced myself that I didn’t come here to run slow!  I was on the last leg, I had to make it count!  

I could not maintain a sub 7 minute pace until the last quarter mile.  About mile number 1-2 I developed a side stitch that hung with me and was stronger than I expected. I did not let that get the better of me and trudged on until it went away.  On the back of everybodys legs they had their age body marked…. this made it really easy to spot my competition and over take them.  Plus every person that I passed, that was one more person I would be ahead of in the overall stats.  I passed a LOT of people!  The run saved my race, as I knew it would.  When I hit that last quarter mile I kicked it up a notch and let it fly.  It felt AWESOME when I crossed that finish line!  

Thinking back to the cramp I developed, it was on my left side which I usually get when I am dehydrated.  I think it was that SECOND cup of coffee I had in the morning that did it to me.  Next time I will try to keep from making that mistake again and see what happens….. and of course, stay plenty hydrated.  

Final run time: 22:39 

Breaking Down The Numbers

Final race time: 01:06:41.16 

I got home and quickly downloaded all the data from my Garmin.  Like you all know, I am a data freak and could not wait to compare split times and averages.  I celebrated that night with bratwurst, beer and Coldstone ice cream (fat & alcohol).  I had deserved it!  

A couple of questions for you pros out there… what is the best way of getting the body markings off?  I tried soap and water… a LOT of soap and water and it would not come off!  Second, question, if I would have brought the mistake of my division to the race director, could that have been changed right then and there?  After all, I still had the same numbers regardless of WHEN my wave started, right?  Possibly a rookie mistake as I would have made podium in that case.  

So here are the numbers: 


If I would have stayed in the fat tire division, I would have ended up in 2nd place.  As it was, I ended up in 15th place out of 51.  Not too bad.  Comparing my numbers, I really need to improve the efficiency of my transitions.  My swim needs work as well.  The biking part, I will get faster with a better bike so I know how to instantly improve upon that.  My greatest equalizer is my run! 

In the next few days I will download the race results from the Miami Nice triathlon from previously this year and compare my stats with those results.  This will give me a good indication of how I will do and give me some realistic goals to shoot for.  Now that I have data to work with and a laundry list of things to do, look out tri-world, here I come!

Filed in: Biking, Race, Running, Sprint Training, Swimming, Triathlon • Sunday, August 15th, 2010

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January 4-5, 2013, Miami to Key West, FL
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4/21/14, Boston, MA
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TBA, Pontevedra, Spain
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September, 2014
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So if you have read any of the blog thus far you know a little bit about me… I can not be told what to do and I push myself about as far as I can be pushed!

But how did I get here and why? Well, that is what this page is about.

I was never really the athletic type. Sure, I played tennis in high school (and quite well, mind you) but running CERTAINLY was never my thing!

The start of 2009 was big for me as I came to the realization that I had put on too much weight over the past 10 years (read more...)