I participated in the half Ironman distance duathlon at Miami Man in 2009 and 2010. This year I decided to register for the half Ironman distance triathlon, which took place on Sunday, November 13. I DNF (did not finish) a triathlon for the first time since starting to race triathlons earlier this year.
Bike Diva Learns to Swim
If you have been following along the Bike Diva blog, you will know that I only started swimming on January 3, at 47 years old. I have had a life long water phobia, but for the past few years have been thinking about starting to race triathlons. In January, my husband and I joined the local YMCA, so we could start using their lap pool. I also have pool passes to a couple of outdoor pools near me, I live in SE Florida and can train year round outdoors. I've also gotten my husband to drive up to the ocean with me on occasion, to practice some open water swims. We are lucky to live 10 minutes from the beach.
Bike Diva Swim Posts
- Bike Diva's First Swim Practice
- Bike Diva's Second Swim Practice
- Bike Diva's Triathlon Training Observations
- Bike Diva Tries Wetsuit
- Swim a Triathlon with a Snorkel
To Wetsuit or Not to Wetsuit
The swim at Miami Man took place in a really nice fresh water lake at Larry & Penny Thompson Park in Miami. The water was pretty clear, and quite shallow in spots. I saw huge boulders, just a few feet below the surface, in many sections of the swim. The lake gets a bit deep in the middle, and the race officials always seem to get a cold water temperature reading making the swim wetsuit legal. I was one of the few people not wearing a wetsuit at the race.
I would guess that only about 15% of people racing yesterday did it without a wetsuit. I need to go back to doing some ocean swims wearing my wetsuit. I have a really nice Wahoo sleeveless wetsuit, made by my sponsor Profile Designs. Unfortunately, the only two races I did using the wetsuit, I totally freaked out and felt very claustrophobic with the wetsuit on. I haven't tried the wetsuit since March 27, I'm thinking my swim ability and swim confidence have improved greatly since March, so I should start doing some ocean swims using the wetsuit to get used to swimming with one.
Miami Man Races
There were 3 races taking place at Miami Man; half Ironman duathlon, International triathlon, half Ironman triathlon.
Half Ironman Duathlon
- 1 mile run
- 56 mile bike
- 13.1 mile run
- .6 mile swim
- 22 mile bike
- 6.2 mile run
Half Ironman Triathlon
- 1.2 mile swim
- 56 mile bike
- 13.1 mile run
Bike Diva Gets Rescued
I knew I could do the bike and run portion of Miami Man, after competing in the duathlon for the past two years. But the swim proved more than I could handle. I was physically prepared for the swim, but my problem is swimming with all the other triathletes while racing. I am a very slow swimmer and the swim waves that start after my wave catch up to me and start swimming over/around me. I often go into full panic mode when getting bashed around by the other swimmers. It's a normal part of triathlon, they aren't trying to drown me, but I just went into full on panic attack during the swim at Miami Man.
I completed the first swim loop, in a horrible time of 38 minutes. I shouldn't have even started the second swim loop, but the spectators were cheering me on to continue. I was very dizzy/shaky getting out of the water after the first loop. I was like the drunken sailor trying to do the short walk across the timing mat and back into the water to start the second loop. I didn't feel like I was making any progress after starting the second loop. I was just coming up to the first buoy when a large group of International distance triathletes got to the buoy at the same time. Suddenly I was in the midst of a huge group of FAST, agressive swimmers. I couldn't deal with it and flagged down a kayak rescue boat to take me back to shore.
It was awful. I don't know how to train NOT to have a panic attack. I completed 8 sprint and 1 Olympic distance triathlon leading up to Miami Man. I panicked at about half the races but the other half I had no problem. When I start panicking, I basically stop swimming and just bob up and down in the water, not making a lot of forward progress. So I guess I need to do a lot more swimming to get faster, and start close to the front of my swim wave. That would give me a good start to the swim before the waves starting behind me caught up to me.
Above: this sign gets posted every year the day before Miami Man. No swimming is allowed on the day of packet pickup/bike drop. They remove the sign for the race the next day, but unfortunately you can't do a practice swim the day before the race.
Interesting Swim Rescue
Funny thing about being "rescued" at Miami Man, the kayak rescue dude got me close to shore, so I started swimming after letting go of the kayak. I was away from all the bodies in the water and no longer freaking out. But the rescue lifeguard standing on shore must have thought I was still in trouble, he flung his dang rescue buoy at me and hit me in my face. Now I have a fat lip. Thanks for the "rescue" dude, WTF!?!
Bike Diva's Final Observations
Well, despite my DNF at Miami Man yesterday, I'm not ready to give up on triathlons. I'm planning on racing in a bunch of sprint distance triathlons next year, like I did this year. Then I will sign up for the International distance triathlon at Miami Man in November, instead of the half Ironman distance. I managed to complete 1 swim lap yesterday, that's all you have to do for the International distance.
I also want to go back to St. Anthony's in April with my husband. St. Anthony's is an Olympic distance triathlon that takes place in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Olympic distance triathlon is a 1.5 kilometer swim (.9 mile) - 25 mile bike - 6.2 mile run. I raced St. Anthony's this year, although the swim was shortened from 1.5k to 1k, and didn't freak out in the water, which was an ocean swim.
Above: I had the perfect location for my bike in the transition area. My race number was 313, which put me on the end cap of the bike rack, lots of room for all my gear. Miami Man assigns you spots in transition.
Keep Challenging Yourself
I have to keep challenging myself, otherwise it's back to being a couch potato and weighing 180 pounds, that is NOT going to happen. I've worked too hard to get down to 140 pounds, and still want to drop a few more pounds. Racing makes me get off my butt to train, I probably wouldn't do half as much working out if I didn't schedule a few races every year.
If I did the duathlon again this year, like last 2 years, I would probably have gotten 1st or 2nd for my age group. But where's the challenge in that? There were only 5 girls in my AG that completed the duathlon this year. There were 42 girls signed up in my age group for the half Ironman triathlon, but only 29 actually showed up and raced. That's still a lot more competition than I ever saw while racing duathlons. I don't care if I never win another award doing triathlons, every single duathlon I competed in I won an award because not that many people do duathlons. I like the challenge of triathlons. I've got an entire case full of awards, big deal. I only compete against me, myself, and I; and dang, she can be a beyatch at times - HA!
Lynn Smythe, AKA the Bike Diva