Race Recap: South Beach Triathlon 2016

Race season is in full effect! Though there hasn’t been much resting, there also hasn’t been a race on my calendar since I took on Ironman Mont Tremblant last August of 2015. Even with 7.5 months in between, the South Beach Triathlon crept up on me and I didn’t feel much prepared. But honestly, who is saying no to sunshine and blue skies? Especially after another long winter of some super unexpected lows. I’ve started to get used to 20 degree runs, which is kind of sad. So it went without saying, I was in need of a warm SoBe wake up call. 

Last year, the Lifetime South Beach Triathlon was a Terrier Tri team race. We had about 30 or so people down there to knock out the international distance (olympic) while splashing around and having some fun. But for 2016, this was not on the team agenda, and a handful of us were not ok with letting that go…so we didn’t. There were about a dozen of us that packed our bags and shipped our bikes down south, and we were kind of excited about the party that was about to kickoff. 

On Friday, April 1st I took the day and flew down to Florida, first spending a nice day with my family (I’m from Boca Raton, FL). That’s a major bonus of this race - mom, dad, and sister time. Saturday morning, I headed down to Miami for some prep activities with my teammates which included an open water swim (very important to do the day before the race), bib pickup, bike setup and drop-off in transition, and FOOD! Ok let’s take it back.

Open water swim clinic. I can’t seem to understand why so may people sign up for a triathlon without having done an open water swim…especially when that swim is taking place in the ocean! The Atlantic is no joke. It’s beautiful, but it’s still rough with waves that can surely knock even the strongest swimmer under. But that’s exactly why we showed up Saturday morning to take part in this open water clinic on a most windy day, because it’s always smart to be prepared for the worst. I sure did swallow a lot of water and battled with the rough and tough sea, but I emerged happy that I got through it. Last year, it was too hot to be a wetsuit legal swim so we swam unprotected and not so buoyant. (That caused quite a few folks to drop out). This year, I was prepared for either option. Bring it!

After the clinic, it was the usual routine. Take the bikes off the trailer, check the tires, check the chain, pick up race materials (bib, swim cap, swag) and check the bike into the transition area. (By the way, South Beach Tri continues to give the best race tees and visors!) When I rack my bike, I usually cover the chain with plastic bags (in case it rains), but my laziness kicked in and I basically just let out some air out of my tires and said adios to my girl Barb. I was pretty beat from the heat (and getting very sunburnt). I ate a turkey wrap at the local sandwich shop with plans to go nap, BUT INSTEAD was enticed into hanging by the hotel pool with a couple of teammates. We splashed around, took some underwater selfies, ate some nachos and fruit platters and had a good time. Sure, we should have been resting, but what’s the fun in that!? A lot of us saw it as a vacay more than a race weekend, and I’m very happy about that.

Dinner. If you must know, it was boring. Pasta with red sauce and grilled chicken. Got it down, picked up last minute supplies and boom, my head hit the pillow soon after organizing my race essentials and taking my classic gear spread shot. 

It was so dark and early when I got to transition, that people were still spilling out of the local Miami clubs. Sheesh! We clearly live very different lives. I was relieved my tires were not flat (as they were last year when I got to transition), but I still inflated them, set up my area with my gear, covered it all with bags (because of possible rain), grabbed my wetsuit, the second half of my morning sandwich (ww bread w/ peanut butter, banana & honey), and made my way to the ocean blue (which at the moment was black as can be). An official yelled “wetsuit legal” and so I put my suit on and waited to get this party started.

SWIM (.9 Mile)
I was the second to last wave, so I was definitely ready to go. We entered the ocean four people at a time which was so courteous in comparison to other races. I hit the start on my watch and careful entered, swimming slowly and cautiously to get myself out to the first buoy before needing to turn right. It was choppy (though not as bad as the day before), and as usual, there were so many swimmers trying to find their way without sighting. I blew my bubbles, found my rhythm and just kept swimming forward. I did catch a strong swimmer making her way through the pack so I caught her draft for a bit to get out of the mess, which was a nice way to get my breath in control for a bit. After swimming way too close to two stingrays, I made the final turn back in toward the shore and picked up my pace, excited that I was knocking off a handful of minutes from last year. When my hands touched the sand, I stood up, smiled, and was off to the next activity.

I am honestly the worst at the first transition. I have the hardest time getting my wetsuit off, and have been known to get a charlie horse doing so, so I’m very careful not to rush these days. (This is why I love wetsuit strippers at Ironman events). I got my helmet on, bike shoes, gloves and grabbed Barb for the start of my least favorite part of the race...the bike....yay...

BIKE (24 Miles)
I let my legs spin out for a bit while I took some deep breaths and got in some fluids and chews. People tend to forget how much energy you expend in the swim, and the amount of time you’ve gone since eating. Well, I was able to really pick up my pace and I honestly felt very strong- almost like I was flying at times. Mental pat on the back…I was finally putting the work in instead of holding back. One issue, there was a very strong headwind hitting me no matter what direction I turned and it was reversing my hard work. What felt like 20 mph was more like 17. Not too long into the ride, the clouds rolled in and then the rain began to fall. Even if I did want to blast off and get it over with, it wasn’t possible. The South Beach course is full of rides over the causeways, making it much hillier than anticipated for a Florida race. But that’s also what makes it fun and challenging! I consumed one Honey Stinger waffle, at least one large bottle of water mixed with orange gatorade and one bug (yes, with all that smiling, I am known to swallow bugs from time to time - it’s very annoying and gross, I know). When I finished, I felt on top of the world, thinking I killed it. Turns out, with that wind, I did just a couple minutes faster than last year. Bummer. But still not worse and no accidents, so there’s a positive!

I went nearly ten racks passed mine before realizing it, wasting a solid amount of time and feeling like an idiot. Pay attention, Brittany! I eventually found my spot, racked the bike, switched the shoes, switched from a helmet to a visor, and slipped on my race belt, bib and grabbed some chews. Soon, though not soon enough, I was off and running. Again, need to work on these transitions because it would do wonders for my finish times. 

RUN (6.2 Miles)
This flat run is pretty straight-forward and takes you along the South Beach boardwalk. But because of the rain, it was very wet and slippery, so there was no way I was booking it and hurting my foot more than it already was. Without the sun glaring, I felt pretty good, and was able to get in a nice, steady pace…one that would get me to the finish feeling decent and without any further injury to my still broken foot. This out and back course is great if you have friends, so you can wave hi and shout complaints to one another. It’s also great for people watching, which I am known for. I look and smile at everyone; it probably comes across as super strange to some. Oh well. You’re going to take my smile and like it! If you see the joy in others on this journey, it may remind you to perk up yourself, and remember that this is supposed to be FUN!!! Let’s stop taking ourselves so seriously. I was thankful to have a non-racing friend run with me for a mile (thanks Angela!) and then before you knew it, I was in the final stretch…which is on the sand. I knew going into this that I couldn’t risk running it and hurting my foot, so I walked a portion and then ran the last couple hundred yards. It cost me some time, but I didn’t care. In the end, my run was still a couple minutes faster than the year before. Man oh man, do I love a finish line…especially when the backdrop is the ocean, the crowd is my family, and the venue is my home. SOUTH FLORIDA REPRESENT!!! Though my transition times were awful, and my foot still broken, I was able to pull off a 2hr, 59min finish- a two minute PR over 2015. I'll take it!

The race medal was shaped like a pair of silver aviator sunglasses, which was totally awesome. Some of us teammates met up in the finish festival and took some fun group shots before heading back to get our bikes and gear out of transition and back onto the trailer to be shipped to NYC. It’s sad how fast it all comes and goes. But this race is by far a favorite of mine because the distance is super attainable, the surroundings are beautiful, you can work in a mini vacation, and it’s fairly hassle-free. I do hope to do this race for many years to come, as long as I can recruit friends to do the same.

Training will continue and will amp up quite a bit as my half Ironman is set for June 5th, and full Ironman set for July 24th. Ironman 70.3 Raleigh will be a fun time, with about 20 of my teammates racing it. It’ll be a HOT one and an early season half compared to last year’s Syracuse 70.3 that was later in June. I’ll be sure to document our experience and keep you posted.

Thanks for following along! Please keep me posted on your race plans! I’m always interested in hearing what you’re up to, and I’m constantly looking for new challenges to add to my agenda. Let’s race together!!

South Beach Babe OUT.