OK well after last years slightly dysfunctional race we all got a free entry into ANY half ironman in the US in 2011. Being that the one up in Orlando was very close to Boston, and any other race would require significant travel I elected to use Miami as my free entry. I trained much harder this year especially on the swim, always my weakest leg. I also had been very kindly lent a pair of 808 ZIPP wheels and an aerodynamic helmet. With this plus my weekly "Mikes rides" I was hoping to improve my bike time too! As the race got closer weather reports were not looking great. Early in the week there were threats of hurricane Rina coming our way but then that went away but we were still looking at a good chance of rain and some wind.
The morning of the race it was indeed POURING. We are all trying to set up in transition and it rained all thru it. A few times it slowed down and we all hoped it would clear but no... as we stood on the side of the water with the race start delayed we could barely see the tops of the buildings in surrounding downtown Miami. A few girls actually left and decided not to do the race. I just tried to focus on what I had to do and tried to remember that everyone is in the SAME conditions so all is fair. My main concern was staying safe on the bike. Rain really would not affect my swim or run!
Finally WAVE #8 and I am in the water (77F so no wetsuits) and we are off. I actually felt the most comfortable I have ever felt in the water. I tried to focus on my stroke and breathing. It did seems as though the wind picked up a bit towards the end as it got a little bumpy but my swim time was 42 mins.. 11 mins faster than last year. Yay!
It was a long run to transition but I had decided with the wet conditions to go for it and clip my shoes on my bike. So I literally grabbed my helmet and my bike and kept running. I got my feet in my shoes just fine but the first few bike miles thru downtown Miami in the wet slippery rain were hairy to say the least. I saw 3 people wipe out right in front of me on the railway tracks. I quickly unclipped to try to stop myself from joining them but by some miracle did not slip. Once out on to 27th Ave it was a lot better. Nice straight road so I could find my pace better.. slightly in to a head wind but not bad. Finally at the turnaround it was wind behind us. Cruising 25-26 mph no problem... but then as we starting heading more east to get back to downtown we were really getting hit from the side and then back thru the turns and railway tracks of downtown Miami to the transiton area. My time was 2:43. Slower than either of my other half ironman bike times, and I was really hoping to do faster, but with the wet conditions I was SO thankful to make it thru the 56 miles safely!
I felt great going in to the run... and then as I came thru the first loop I saw Denise, Bree, Diane and Tom all there cheering for me! It was awesome. My goal had been to stick as close to 8 min/miles as I could. Going East over the MacArthur Cswy in the wind was tough.. it felt like it was hard to move forward at all but I was still passing quite a lot of people who were just walking up... I passed a couple of girls in my age group. Then a girl passed me with a 36 on her leg! A few minutes in front of me she came to an abrubt stop obviously in pain and then I passed her again. We played that game several times in the next few miles. Right before the bridge on the 2nd loop I passed her and picked up the pace. I am not a sprinter and I knew if it came down to a last minute sprint I would most likely lose. I pushed up to just under 8 min miles and hoped that could put enough distance between us... and it did! I passed my support crew for the last time.. flung them my fuel belt and kept going all the way in to the finish line!
Denise, looked up my results on her iphone and we thought I had placed 5th but then for some reason i got updated to 4th. I decided to hang out for the "roll downs" after the awards. We went and ate and then I came back to the awards. It was rainin again and I was ready to go home but it was really cool to see some of the elites and I was really impressed with how good they were about taking photos with people etc. and it was great to see a fellow Brit win the overal femaile position! Finally the moment I had been waiting for. THREE slots in my age group... TWO were taken so the 3rd one went to me in FOURTH place. I could not believe it! I ran up t the front and handed over my credit card to pay for my entry in to the World Half Ironman Championships in Las Vegas, September 9th, 2012!
I finished in 5 hours 21 minutes
4th (out of 72) woman in the 35-59 age group. Las Vegas here I come!