Coming to the close of my 5th triathlon season, there’s only a couple of races left! Second to last race is the MiamiMan Half-Iron Triathlon, which coincides with USAT’s Long Course National Championships. It’s held in Miami at Larry & Penny Thompson Park. It’s a great race venue:  the swim is in the lake at the park. The bike course exits the park and gives riders a view of the westernmost parts of Dade County, and the run course goes through Zoo Miami (twice).  Lots of on-course support and volunteers always makes this race an awesome event.

This year, my training and racing partner Terri and I decided to do the MiamiMan Half-Iron Triathlon as a relay team. We had both previously done it as individuals and thought since we’d never done a relay before, it might be fun.  I was chosen to do the swim and run segments, and she chose to do the bike segment.  The day started off ominously as rainstorms moved in and inundated us all for about 30 minutes.  All starting wave times were pushed back 15 minutes to allow for recovery from the deluge, then the swim waves began starting.

Swim Segment

I was in a swim wave which normally was all female, except they chose to put all relay teams in it as well.  I got quite a few looks from some of the women, until I explained I was in a relay team!  Once our wave was underway, it was like any other race start: crowded and sloppy. Once we’d been out on the course a bit, everyone spread out.

We had to do 2 loops of the lake, which included physically exiting the lake and re-entering to start the second loop.  This is the only race where I have ever had to do that.  I get back into my swim groove and finish the second loop, exit the lake, grab a cup of water. Then I head into transition to look for Terri who is waiting for my timing chip so she can take off on the bike segment. Once the chip is transferred, she is off!

Bike Segment

Now I have to wait for about 3 hours for her to get back.  It’s so weird not being on the bike at this point.  There was no rush to change into my bike shoes and helmet. I had plenty of time to dry off and even get something to eat.  Found some friends and other teammates who had been doing earlier races and we chatted a while. I watched swimmers from the later waves get out of the water and I chatted with other relay team members while I was waiting. 

You have to understand that underneath all this activity, I was deeply concerned for Terri. Prior to race day, she had not successfully completed a 56 mile half-iron bike distance.  In fact, she had attempted the distance twice in the weeks prior to the race, only to crash both times (no major injuries thank goodness).  So thoughts of crashing were running rampant in her brain all morning before she took off.  To my great relief, as well as hers, she arrived back in transition a little over 3 hours later.  I gave her a huge hug and told her how proud I was of her! We exchanged the timing chip for the last time and I headed out for the run segment.

Run Segment

All day long there had been some cloud cover, but of course during the run segment the clouds were gone so the heat was intense.  13 miles is a lot to do in 90+ degree heat. Fortunately, I had been training by running in the middle of the afternoon during the summer.  I won’t say I was completely immune to the heat, but I could tell the difference as opposed to the last time I ran this race.  The race organizers (MultiRace) had plenty of aid stations on the run course, well-stocked with water, Gatorade, ice, bananas, oranges and gels. 

I drank as much water as I could and took every bit of ice I could get my hands on. I even ate half a banana and 4 orange slices – something I’ve never done on a long run before, and also used my BASE salts, and passed some out to other runners.  The segment of the run through the zoo is always fun, you get to see the animals like anyone else. Everyone in the zoo is wondering why you are running.  I’m always tempted to say something like “I’m running because the lions got loose!”, but I’m afraid to cause a stampede of zoo visitors. Hehe. 

Finish Line

After two very hot laps of running, I was seeing a lot of runners really struggling. Finally, I’m back within view of the finish line.  I can just see Terri in the finish chute cheering me on so I find another gear and bring it home.  She’s laughing and crying and putting a medal around my neck. Everyone’s cheering and I’m grabbing bottles of water and looking for a shady spot to sit.

The MiamiMan Half-Iron Triathlon great experience for us both!  Lots of memories and lots of pushing our bodies to the limit, but worth it all in the end!  Next race will be a 10k this weekend, then we’re off to Key West for the final triathlon of the season, TriKW!