HFP Man’s MiamiMan Race Report

post-race-familyAnother end of the season in Miami! This is my 5th year in a row to end my season at the MiamiMan Triathlon (half iron distance) and though I did not attain all my goals I was quite pleased. I don’t know if a perfect race is ever possible but it keeps me setting the bar higher each year (even though I’m getting older).

It’s been really interesting for me to be finishing the season at the MiamiMan during my complete run through the 40-44 age group. It was my first race as an official 40-44 participant in 2009 when I was 3rd (and 10-lbs heavier). That was a smack in the face and provided me with a huge goal for the following year to win the masters title. Up to that point I had not accepted being a “Master” – I still wanted to be that guy that was competing against all the age groups gunning for the overall win but that race allowed me to accept my position as a “Master” and gave me some new goals.  The following three years I was blessed with solid races and came into this year as the 3-time defending masters champion.  Though I was another year older I was convinced my best race was ahead of me.

It was a very rainy and stormy morning when we left the hotel and by the time we arrived at Larry & Penny Thompson Park the air was thick.  My 1/2 mile run over to the secret bathroom had me sweating like a pig.  I was absolutely covered in a drenching sweat without even getting my heart rate up.  I knew this could be a very interesting day.  The forecast called for more strong storms to come through in the morning and then clearing later in the morning.  That was going to make for sauna like conditions on the run.  Yikes!

I warmed up a little bit more on land before I headed over the swim start feeling very confident in my swim.  The 40-44 and the elite wave started first which is nice on this 2-lap swim course. The gun went off and I placed myself with the lead pack of 6-8 guys gunning for the holeshot at the first buoy. After some mosh pit like action at the first turn which ripped off my swim cap, the pace seemed easy and the group pretty much stayed together for the first lap.  swim-exitThe pack broke up to just 4 during the second lap and we all exited the swim around the 29 minute mark.  For me the swim was super easy…I attempted to pass the pack on the first lap but it seemed like I would need to work really hard to get through the group. I opted for a position in the back of the group which allowed for me to keep my heart rate low and gave me time to get energized for the bike.  My time of 29:15 was the fastest in my 5 years – First goal accomplished!

Out on to the bike I knew immediately that I was going to have a good ride…the legs felt strong and I was riding along at 41-43kph with little effort. on-to-the-bikeI continued to feel good and focused on my nutrition and keeping smooth.  My position on the bike was very comfortable the entire ride and I never felt any issues.  This a testament to the new aero position developed during my build-up.  It’s amazing how good a long ride can feel when you’re actually sitting on the seat properly. The weather continued to be an issue with some crazy hard rain coming down and strong cross winds but I found them much better than hot sun. I’ve always struggled a bit during the last 20k at this race because the wind is always in your face on the return trip to TA.  The course is a bit of a lollipop with a 15 mile loop at the end that you do twice and the return (the stick portion) as you head back towards the TA is always windy.  I decided in advance I would not look at my computer during this section and focus on a good rhythm rather than obsessing on my pace.  This was a good call and I enjoyed this section for the first time giving me some good MoJo starting the run. At the end of my ride my bike looked like I went for an off-road ride. Since I went without socks I also left some ankle meat on my left crank arm from some aggressive pedaling. bloody-bikeMy bike time of 2:15:54 (24.72mph average) was the second fastest overall and the fastest time for me in my 5 attempts at MiamiMan – Second goal accomplished!

As soon as I got off the bike the sun decided it was a good time to come out…ahhhh! As I headed out of TA I was very pleased as my legs were good.  The bike ride did not take too much out of my legs and was anticipating a great run.  shannon-runningThe problem I encountered was that despite my legs feeling good the heat and humidity were almost unbearable.  Each time I picked up the pace I felt like my skin was on fire…I just could not get to my goal pace on the run.  However, since I did not wear a watch and I still had good legs (and was passing olympic distance folks with ease) I was not aware that I was running that slow.  In all 5 years of racing this event never has it felt this brutal on the run. All the extra moisture from the rain obviously made it much worse. The sections of the run that were in what I would call a “scrub brush” area around the zoo were just brutal – No wind, no shade and not the best running surface.  My run time of 1:43:17 was the second slowest time in my 5 attempts and a full 13 minutes off my goal pace of 1:30 (7:00min pace).

At the finish my legs still felt good which was a little frustrating. I felt like I could go another lap and I probably could at that nearly 8min pace I was running.  Though I was a little disappointed with my run, I did defend my Masters title (which is always priority #1) and in convincing fashion too (by over 15 minutes). In the end I recognize that there are some limitations when racing in Florida (in November) and training in Ohio. However, I believe the biggest factor was trying to build-up my run in just 4.5 weeks. I swim and bike a good deal year round but seem to always find a reason to skip the needed weekly long run and if I could of had a much bigger run base I’m sure I could have battled through the heat much better.  This just just gives me more motivation for the off-season. I can’t wait to turn 45 so I can get faster!

Bring it!

Shannon Kurek
aka HFP Man