Someone joked with me the day before the race, “the swim may be cancelled”. I seemingly smiled because I had looked at the forecast and even though it had been pretty windy/rough for a few days, it was supposed to die down the night before. In the morning, I rode over the race and had a full on head wind as I headed east. The forecast called for 5 mph winds and this was not even close to 5 mph; more like 20-25 mph. I was getting blown all over the road so I knew there was a chance of the swim being cancelled. Once in transition, I could hear the waves breaking to my surprise which was another sign. People started saying the swim is cancelled but I’ve heard this before and this is how rumors start. After a little run warmup to get the legs moving, Mandy told me the swim was officially cancelled and there would be a short run on the beach. I knew someday this would happen. I’ve been fortunate to never have a swim cancelled on me but have had it shortened a few times before. And at some point, I’m bound to have a swim cancelled at a bigger race so I looked at this as a practice run, a new challenge, and learning experience. Mandy was texting with my coach, Eric, on how to handle the beach run and he gave me a few things to watch out for. The biggest thing was: don’t get injured!
I lined up closer to the ocean side as I knew that’s where it would be the fastest to run. There honestly wasn’t much beach to work with being it was very high tide. The horn sounded and luckily I did not get trampled on with there being 40+ of us in the wave with only a 15 ft wide start line. I knew the collegiate guys would take off which was fine. I got out of the masses and made the back end of the front group. The pace was quick but not too fast. After a quick 500-600m on sand, we ran up what would have been the swim exit and on to solid ground. I was in 6th with first about 15 seconds ahead. Once I got on asphalt, my stride felt much better and I started passing people while running through transition. I had a quick T1 (though it should have been faster as I struggled a bit to get my helmet fastened) and actually exited T1 in second. I stopped trying to do flying mounts a few years ago as I’m just not comfortable doing them. I know it’s slower, but I find my stepping on the shoe and swinging the other leg around a bit safer and more consistent. It requires me to come to a complete stop but whatever. Last thing I need is to hurt myself doing a flying mount. Of course I made the mistake of stopping just past dismount line, right in the middle, making it harder for those behind me. I’ll own up to that…. My bad guys… my bad. One of the UF guys went past me as he did a flying mount and I was stepping on my left pedal.
I got on the bike and had a UCF guy and a UF guy less than 10 seconds ahead of me. I quickly got into my newly hacked/engineered Giro shoes and went to work. I reeled them in pretty quick and went to the front to put as much time as possible into them before the first turnaround. It was pretty windy as I was getting blown all over the course. It was hard to keep any smooth consistent power with the wind gusts and I felt like I was always in between gears. I made the first turnaround and found I had a decent gap which was a positive sign. I did my best to keep the power up (300+ watts) while navigating the crowded course from the earlier super sprint waves and dealing with the crosswinds. The gap kept getting bigger little by little after each turnaround and I rode into T2 knowing I had a little over a minute lead.
I got out onto the run feeling decent. I glanced at my watch and it read 5:30min/mile pace. My form felt ok but not great and I really didn’t feel like I was running that fast. I knew if I was running this pace this early on, it was going to be a good run as it usually takes me at least a mile to find my form/stride. The first mile seemed to take forever. Why is that? The first mile seems to go pretty fast in a 70.3…… doesn’t make any sense. I got near the turnaround in the park where a little self-doubt crept in. It’s the slowest part of the course with some odd undulating elevation that just kills your momentum/rhythm and any positive thoughts. Having ran this course so many times in the past, I should have expected it as it happens every time. The lead was still a little over a minute as I headed back. At this point, I was racing the clock and myself. I have never ran faster than 18:4x on this course and mostly because I just never could put in the consistent run training needed to run any faster. I really wanted to run under 18 minutes but considering I had rode 80 miles the day before, I didn’t know how the legs would respond. I kept the pace strong and finished with a 17:12; a good ~90 sec PR. The course is a little short of 5k (3.03 miles according to my garmin) but it still would have been my fastest 5k ever which I was more than happy about.
Big thanks to George, Linda, Tommy, and everyone at Tri Bike Run for putting on such an awesome job. I thought they did a fantastic job even with the last minute change of a cancelled swim. It was pretty obvious they had a plan B and they executed it perfectly. Also big thanks to all the volunteers that came out and helped put the race on. These races wouldn’t be possible without these folks. Congratulations to everyone that raced, especially all of those who did their first triathlon/duathlon. It was great to see so many first timers out there. Hope you all had a blast and come back again for more!
With that, it’s less than 2 weeks until 70.3 Florida and a few key workouts left until taper. Thanks for reading!