Miami 70.3 was the last race in my U.S. summer and after a successful stint during the nationals races, I had the confidence and burning desire to do well again. This was the first race I would be doing since working with Brian at accelerate3, as well as the first triathlon where I had a good race plan and the necessary knowledge and fitness to back it up. Working with Brian has seen me dramatically change my training program, as I was often ignoring my swimming training for an increase workload on cycling training. However, Brian saw the flaw in this program and changed it successfully. The most beneficial change in my training has been using my power meter to hit intervals. This not only helps me train more efficiently, but also ensures that when race day rolls around I know what it feels like to ride long and hard and to follow a power plan. Thus I was working towards not only preparing my physical attributes for race day, but also getting myself mentally focused for the race ahead during my new training regime.
The fact that race day was in the week of my birthday and I was coming from a cold Toledo winter to the tropic-like conditions of Miami could have seen me take my last race of the summer season with a relaxed tone. However I knew I had to keep on pushing myself to the next level simply because of the time and financial assistance both myself and my support team have invested into me. The goals I had set for Miami meant that slacking off and enjoying the warm weather was not an option.
Miami would be the third 70.3 race I have competed in following Austin in 2012 and Honu in June. The trip to Miami did not get off to the best start as my bike bag was lost in transit from Toledo and it took a very stressful 16 hours until I was reunited with it and was able to check in my bike before the deadline on the night before the race. I was feeling more comfortable going into this 70.3 race than my previous two because of the fact that I had an action plan for the race as well as the appropriate fitness levels for the race itself. I was confident in the fact that both my fitness and game plan for the race would ensure I reach my goals and place myself at the front of the field come race day.
4:08:49 1st 18-24, 21st Overall, 2nd Amateur Overall*
Full Race Results
I had been expecting a non wetsuit swim in Miami and I was glad to hear when this was confirmed given it gives the advantage to the better swimmers in the race. Due to my dedication in my training to working on my swimming in the lead up to the race, I felt that with the added advantage of a non wetsuit race that I would be in the right position going into the first transition.
Our group was the sixth wave to leave the starting line, which would mean that there was very good chance that my age group would be the frontrunners for the amateur race. The start of the swim was critical for my race plan, and going into the first turn I would find myself second in the group. I decided pacing myself and not focusing on following the leader of the pack after the first turn was the best option to ensure I did not run myself into the ground damaging myself for the rest of the race. This race was unlike Austin and Honu as in the past two races I was usually struggling around the 1300m mark, however due to my new training program focusing on my swimming technique and fitness I was feeling in great stead. I focused on swimming my own race and was intent on clearing the other competitors out of my mind. Once I got out of the water and into the first transition I was 3rd within the group and was feeling superb. My time during the swim was the best of my 70.3 races, highlighting the fact that my hard work and dedication in my training as well as my new training program in general was already giving myself great returns in my race.
Swim Time: 26:16
Previous Best Swim Time: 30:02
Time Off Previous Best: 3:46
The bike in Miami was where I expected to see the most improvement and my plan on the bike was to start just below my goal power for the first 10 minutes and build towards it on the way out before adjusting for the wind on the way back. As I started on the bike I didn’t feel great so it was no problem staying under my goal power. I used this time to try and find a rhythm on the bike and get some nutrition in. I was able to catch up to the leaders of my age group within the early parts of the bike session and unlike my previous races another competitor and myself decided to work as a group and maintain our progression through the pack.
The two of us worked together nicely and went to work picking off pro women. We got to the turnaround at 28miles in 1:09 and I was about 15 watts under my goal power for the race into the head wind, though this watt issue did not concern me as the team of two that I was in at this stage of the race was still progressing through the field quite well. As we made our way back to the city we continued to pass some pro women before passing a couple of pro men. This was a great sign for us as they had an18 minute head start into the water. I started to feel that I could have put some time into the guy I was working with on the bike and begun to put a gap on him a few times. In hindsight I think I didn’t continue to push the power on the bike because the power we were at was something I wasn’t used to putting out in a race and I was thinking about the run to follow, as well as the fact that my fitness training would put me in a favourable position for the final leg and that others in my age group would have to put in a solid half marathon performance to beat me. This is another benefit to having raced the distance before and having the training to back it up. In previous races I was more concerned about finishing and holding on for dear life.
What happened next was interesting, as we came off the highway and back into the city, the course became somewhat difficult to follow and the guy I was working with was ahead of me and took a wrong turn. I quickly called out to him and pointed that we had to go left rather than straight and upon realising, he turned around and got back on course. Only later did I wonder if there would have been anyone that would have let another competitor at the front of the age group with them take the turn without calling after them or only putting a halfhearted yell. I would like to think that is completely against the spirit of triathlon, however upon seeing the number of packs going the other way as we rode back to town it seems that most people in the race had little care for etiquette and certainly no respect for the rules of the race.I ended up coming off the bike in 2:17:03 over 20 minutes faster than my previous best on the bike in Austin. This was confirmation that there is no substitute for spending time in the saddle and one of the toughest yet most beneficial things to do in triathlon is knuckle down and work on your weaknesses to become a better athlete. Despite coming in 20minutes faster than both my previous 70.3 races, my legs felt much better than they have in the past and I felt great heading into the run.
Bike Time: 2:17:03
Previous Best Bike Time: 2:38:26
Time Off Previous Best: 20:37
As I headed out to the run course my legs felt great. I got some nutrition and settled in. The only downside was my watch having a lot of trouble capturing the GPS signal. This meant I didn’t know exactly how fast I was running. Not the end of the world for someone who spends a lot of time training on the run leg with experience in prior races and knows what it feels like to run at a certain pace. What happened next certainly shocked me as well as a few others and in looking back was probably the highlight of my race. As I headed out onto the two lap run course, the lead pro men were lapping to come around and do their second lap. I didn’t know it at the time but I ended up slotting in just behind the race leader Terenzo Bozzone and in front of second and third place who were running together Nils Frommhold and Filip Ospaly. As I made my way out onto the run I was escorted by a biker. I asked, and was told it was because I was the lead amateur but I am still not sure if it was a mistake and meant for the chasing pros. In either case, as I settled into the first couple of miles of the run, my watch still couldn’t connect to the GPS so I made sure I wasn’t overexerting myself and continued on. I noticed Terenzo was coming back from an out and back segment on the run with the lead biker so I found where I was and kept an eye out for the guy in second in my age group, mistaking him for Filip Ospaly, who was currently running in third given they were both wearing green kits. I only realised my mistake after Filip didn’t seem amused when I went to give him a high five and a little wink for the wrong turn on the bike.
I knew that Terenzo and Ospaly were two of the best runners in the sport easily capable of throwing down a sub 1:12 half marathon and I wondered why the guys were struggling so much and running my pace which I figured would have been closer to 1:24. When I met Terenzo at another out and back and he asked his lead biker if I was an amateur I realized that I might have actually put a few seconds into him. At about that time my GPS caught signal and showed that I was running 5.20 pace. I still felt so good that I thought it may have just taken it a second to get its bearings before I realised I needed to seriously ease up. My previous best run split from Austin was 1:31:48 at 7 minutes per mile and my only ever open half marathon was 1:18 at 5:58 pace. By running at 5:20 pace the only thing I was asking for was big trouble. What it did do, was allow me to put a significant gap on the other competitors in my age group and at the front of the amateur race and as I settled in to 6:30 pace I had a couple of minutes lead by the time we ended the first lap.
The second lap was highly uneventful compared to the first lap and I ran alongside an amateur female who was also running 6:30 pace for most of the way. We were able to keep the pace fairly consistent and I had a good look at the second place runner in my age division on the final out and back. I felt good about winning the 18-24 age group at that point, but I also knew I was having a day that might put me near the top of the amateur field overall. Being aware that top 3 amateurs are eligible for an elite license to turn professional and this was one of my goals for next year I pushed hard over the bridge for the last time and closed the last section at 6:15 pace. As I came into the finish line it was confirmed that I was the first amateur across the line for the day which was a nice feeling and I was extremely happy to take the male 18-24 title. I felt that I had run well and expected to see a split of ~1:24:xx so I was shocked to get my run split of 1:22:06 and then knew just how quickly I opened my run.
Run Time: 1:22:06
Previous Best Bike Time: 1:31:48
Time Off Previous Best: 9:42
Total Time: 4:08:49
Previous Best Time: 4:45:44
Time Off Previous Best: 36:55
Despite going out far too quickly on the run, my legs felt good during the second lap and definitely better than I felt as I limped across the line in both Austin and Honu. I attribute that to much better fitness and smarter pacing on the bike. At the end of the day I finished in 4:08:49 in 21st place overall. Being beaten by 19 pro men, 1 ex-pro amateur and the overall winning female puts me in good company and I feel like I am starting to race where I belong. I am excited to have earned my elite license so early on and am happy that I can cross off one of my goals for 2014 already. With each race, I continue to learn a lot about the sport of triathlon and about myself. This race was a big step in the right direction and with a 37minute PR in a 70.3 in June in just 4 months, it is obvious that I am doing the right things to be successful at the next level of triathlon.
I had a dream a few nights before I raced in Miami that I went 4:05 and was the top amateur. I only told a couple of people because I know that the response of many would have been “that’s why it’s called a dream mate” and leave me on my merry way. Although I didn’t quite crack the 4:05 and was second amateur, I came pretty close and am proud of my race in Miami. I learned a lot from this race and am excited to put it to use in training and back out on the course in my next race. To tick off such a big goal so early on in my triathlon career by earning the opportunity to go professional says a lot about the people that support and help me. Behind every athlete is a team of supporters that help them get to where they are. A big thank you to my team of supporters. For now I am off chasing more of my dreams.