And these guys took the CAF men's division by storm. All of these participants are blind. Seeing them win actually made me cry.
On Friday, I headed over to Jack & Adam's for my bike disassembly by quietSam, and a tutorial on how to get it back together in case there was a problem at the Miami bike shop. I arrived later than expected on Friday night, but got up early on Saturday to get my bike over to the bike shop for assembly with no problems. Then I spent the afternoon on the beach at the expo and listened to several pros and various experts give clinics on each discipline. I was primarily concerned about the ocean swimming, and the choppy water all day wasn't helping. I attempted a practice swim early in the day, and was quickly discouraged. All the pros talked all day about wetsuit-this, wetsuit-that, and one even mentioned jellyfish. Ummmm...okaaaayy. After packet pickup it was onto body marking (a day early?) and nothing is more sexy in uber-sexy South Beach than sporting your age on your leg. I also met a couple from Austin, Jose and Monica. Jose's Jack & Adam's shirt gave him away.
This morning I got up at 4am, ate my standard pre-race breakfast, hit the john a couple of times, and then loaded up and walked across the street to Lummus Park. Nabbed prime real estate in my section right off the center aisle near the bike out. Early announcements indicated water was 78.2 degrees and wetsuits were not allowed. I befriended a nice local man named George, who has been racing in and around Florida for 20+ years. He calmed my "jellyfish" nerves by telling me that local forecasts were predicting calm waters. After getting set up and over to the beach, I was SO RELIEVED to see that George was right. I got in, swam around, and no problems! I will say that the taste of salt water when you're not used to it is pretty nasty. I've heard a piece of chocolate post-swim does the trick, but the hot temps and it would have surely melted. I never once saw a timing mat, but in logical places I hit my watch. In a nutshell, here's how it went down:
- A mini-cannon got all the swim waves started with a beach run to the water for the 800m swim. The first buoy was a complete cluster and the swells caused me to veer off course at least twice. It's HARD to swim against the current. Then there was a Danskin-esque run back up the beach, over the dunes and down to the park (through some showers) to transition. I have improved in my swim, but you'd never know it by my time. With all that crazy running, my watch: 19:03.
- Bike out included a run around the length of transition in the grass. The out and back 18-mile course, that was actually 19, had us going up and over the Biscayne Bay bridges and I'm happy to say that my hill work has paid off. Not once did I get dropped on any hill. In fact, this was the one place where I could chick some guys. Nothing is sweeter than that! My watch: 1:01:15.
- The 4-mile run was an out and back along the boardwalk which I have run countless times in my 5 prior visits to South Beach. I took my mile splits and I was fairly consistent, averaging 8:30 which in my opinion isn't too bad considering all the running fitness I've lost. My watch: 33:47.
- Overall time according to my watch is 2:00:28. Official time is 2:01:39. 1:39 seems like a big difference, but who cares, really? I had an incredible time and placed 8th in my age group. The Austinite I mentioned earlier, Jose, placed 5th in his age group.
I also met Rocco DiSpirito. We talked about our Guru's and racing in general. Very nice guy, and I was almost giddy enough to not know my own name. Hee-hee.
I know South Beach well, know where to stay and eat, and feel very comfortable there. Adding a race to the mix just seemed like a natural progression. And this definitely tops the list in terms of having fun while on vacation!