Saturday, November 23, 2013

2013 Ironman Miami 70.3 Race Report, Part 1

I did it.  I completed my first 70.3 distance triathlon.  After bowing out of the 2012 Miami 70.3 when worked demand squeezed my training hours to next to nothing, I felt like I had a bit of something to prove to myself this time around.

Finisher! 6:49:52

Training for the race
Consistency...or lack thereof
Finding time, energy, and will to train was an ongoing challenge.  My fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants nature goes against the grain of routine, and routine is critical when there are limited opportunities to train each day.  I missed lots of week day workouts and tried to make them up on weekends.  Not the best strategy (if a strategy at all), but in the end it got me to the finish line.

Splish splash
There were periods when I was consistent, even during the week.  Not surprisingly, this is when I saw the most fitness, skill, and endurance gains.  Notably, there was a period when I swam regularly and, for the first time, incorporated drills into my swim training.  This lead to marked swim improvement, demonstrated by a crazy good swim at my second sprint tri of the season.

After this race my swim training went downhill.  I swam less consistently, traveled more consistently (every week for approximately 14 weeks leading up to Miami 70.3), and got burned out on pool swimming.  In retrospect, it would have been beneficial to get out of the pool and over to Lucky's Lake to break up the monotony of lap swimming and to have joined a master's class for skill building and camaraderie.  I did make it to Lucky's the weekend before Miami and made two crossings, which equates to 2K and about 1.2 miles.  It wasn't a spectacular swim, but being in open water for the first time in months was cathartic and helped me to mentally prepare for Miami.

Sunrise at Lucky's Lake, Oct. 19, 2013

Taking the bike to new heights
I was very fortunate to complete about three weeks of training at altitude: a few days in CO in May, 10 days in CO in August, and 10 days in Tahoe in September.  This helped my bike, and my confidence, tremendously.  I hammered up inclines that I hadn't attempted since I was a kid exploring new roads and off-road trails in Fort Collins, CO.  As a result, I felt like a kid out on a bike, which means these were really good rides.  I rode up to and around Horsetooth Reservoir near FoCo; part of the Ironman Boulder course; from Breckenridge, CO to Copper Mountain, CO and back; up Swan Mountain, near Breckenridge, to spectate at the top of the mountain during the 2013 US Pro Challenge; most of one lap of the Ironman Lake Tahoe course (excluding the Northstar and mysterious-turned-treacherous Martis Camp gated neighborhood); and another bike or two on the IMLT course and nearby roads.  Pretty spectacular riding.  While home in Florida, I rode the Clermont hills numerous times and was introduced to a great new routes around Lake Monroe by Seminole County Triathletes.  Collectively, I completed several 50-mile rides and one 60 mile ride before Miami, leaving me feeling very good about the bike before the race.

Ride around Horsetooth Reservoir near Ft. Collins, CO, Aug. 18, 2013

Downtown Winter Garden, FL, July 7, 2013

Run n  n   n    n     n      n
Usually the run is what I focus most on because I started endurance sports with running and I can easily run when traveling.  This year my running, both in training and at races, stunk.  I just couldn't find my running mojo.  Contributing factors were lack of consistent running, being tired from amping up time on the bike, Florida summer/fall heat and humidity, laziness, and training burnout.  With a lackluster running experience throughout the season, I knew that the run at Miami would entail a lot of walking.

Despite my ho-hum running this year, I was able to run in some spectacular places through work and personal travel. From my usual central Florida haunts (Lake Minneola, Winter Garden, Wekiwa Springs State Park), to business trips to DC and NYC, to vacations in CO and CA, my feet and legs logged miles across the country.

Run across Brooklyn Bridge in NYC, Aug. 6, 2013
Post four-mile brick run, Carnelian Bay, CA, Sept. 21, 2013
Run through valley between Brockway Pass and Truckee near Tahoe, Sept. 26, 2013 (Day of Ironman Lake Tahoe)

One lap, one stroke, one step at a time, my piecemeal training got me through to race day.