This weekend I raced the Nautica South Beach Triathlon for the 5th time, and won for the first time since it became part of the Lifetime Fitness Series. I’d love to write another exciting story about my race like the recap from San Juan a few weeks ago, but when everything goes right the story is much less dramatic.
I love this race, which is why I’ve come back to South Beach every year (except 2010 when I was at a World Cup the same weekend). I love the South Beach vibe (excellent people watching, sunshine and Cuban food!), and the fact that the race raises money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital ($422,626 this year!). It’s also host to a celebrity relay (Every year I meet somebody cool, this year it was Cyclops from XMen!). Just to get myself into the South Beach mood, I decided to wear my Pink Rudy Project sunglasses for the first time in over a year. The last time I wore my pink Rudy’s was also the last time I won a triathlon, coincidence?
South Beach is also one of the few races that starts before the sun comes over the horizon. In the past the water has been calm, but this year the ocean was churning. The darkness combined with the rough water made the point-to-point swim feel long. (though our times were two minutes faster than last year). I exited near the front and within the first mile of the bike I took the lead.
Miami is home to flat and straight roads, which is a perfect design for setting a PR bike split. Last year the bike course was shortened about 800 meters due to construction and I split 51 minutes 14 seconds. Armed with a much faster bike (the Cervelo P5) my goal was to match that split with the full 40km course. I rode hard, and felt like I used the wind to my advantage on the tailwind and stayed as low as I could with a headwind. I put 3 minutes on the chase pack, but I missed my goal by about 40 seconds, just barely beating the 52 minute mark. Still, my average speed was higher than last year even with stronger winds.
My next goal was to run faster than last year, but at the turnaround it didn’t seem likely. The bike took a lot out of my legs and I was having trouble extending my stride. Then I saw Murray and Maloy had closed the gap by half and it was instant fuel. I picked up my pace by 15 seconds a mile for the last three miles and finished in 33:25, about 40 seconds faster than 2012. Aside from being healthier than last year, I have to credit a better choice in shoes for a faster run. Last year I wore the Brooks T3 racer, which is a nice fast flat, but it’s flat sole didn’t mesh well with the wooden boardwalk that makes up 5k of the run. Instead I wore the Brooks Mach 13 (the same shoe Manny wore when he qualified for the US Olympic Team last year). It’s a spikeless cross country flat that grips well on every surface I’ve tried it on.
My final time was 1:46:54, which I believe is a course record, though with the bike course changing a little every year that may not mean anything.
Richard Murray finished 2nd, Joe Maloy was 3rd and Hunter Kemper in 4th. The other notable guys who we normally expect to see near the podium are Cameron Dye – who flatted out at the start of the bike – and Matt Reed – who flatted half way through the bike course. Of those results I think the most impressive was Joe Maloy because outside of some stellar ITU Continental Cup finishes he really hasn’t broken through on the domestic racing scene. He’s a beast though, and I’m looking forward to seeing him start to threaten some of the “pillars” (read, “old guys”) of triathlon.
This is my first win since Lima last year, and it feels incredible. I had trouble believing it as I ran up to the finish banner, but it seems everything finally came together. I can’t thank my sponsors enough for helping me have days like this. Garmin, Vision, Powerbar, Brooks, Cervelo, Blue Seventy and Rudy Project. Coming to a race with the right gear gives me a ton of confidence so I can focus on things I control.
Next up is St. Anthony’s Triathlon in three weeks. Back to work!