2009 Miami Triathlon report

Okay – once again, I raced this year in the 2009 Miami University Student Foundation report. The people have been clamoring for my race report, and I shall deliver!

You may also be interested in my 2007 MUSF report, 3 pigs triathlon report or my 2008 MUSFreport

I once again woke up ear-lie in the morning. I did not have a particularly restful night sleep. I had gone to bed pretty early and fell asleep okay, but Carolyn was out at her monthly book club the night before and when she came home she woke me up after I had had about 2 hours of sleep or so. Not intentionally but I was awoken nonetheless. I had a really hard time getting back to sleep and eventually managed it around 2:30 or so. Not the best time to go to sleep in preparation for a 4:30 wakeup!!

One benefit of the book club is that I was able to eat a breakfast made up of super-triathlony goodness (i.e. Jennalee’s cake balls). I had also “carbed up” the day before with several donuts at work. As you can see, I am a true athlete in every sense of the meaning.

I was excited to be able to scientifically compare the 2 ways to get to Oxford (275 or Cross County) with my race report last year (see the first few paragraphs), until I realized that, tragically, I have moved since last year’s race. So the times are, once again, invalid. But THIS YEAR, yes THIS YEAR, I will have some valid test data to compare for next year.

I took 71 to 275 to 27, and it took me 30 minutes and 23.3 miles, while hypermiling.

And, I also saw some sort of tow / flat-bed truck hauling a replica of the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard, so I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.

I once again pondered as I drove about this trip, which I have made several times now, though not very frequently. I didn’t have to worry about remembering the name of the town between Cincinnati and Oxford because I read my report from last year (it’s Millville). But I am always interested in seeing the changes. The first time I really remember driving to Oxford was a geocaching trip which was, oddly enough after I looked it up, 7 years ago nearly to the day (4/19/2002). That wasn’t the first time I made that trip, as I made a visit to Miami when I was in high school to check it out, and who can forget flying from Bowling Green to Oxford as Cliff flew blind through rural intersections at like 90 mph, so that we could hurry and get our butts completely destroyed by the boyfriends of the girls in the Miami band. I seem to remember there being no stoplights between Cincinnati and Oxford. Now there are a good number, along with some other signs of development.

I once again got there very early and parked on a side street. I went down the 2nd side street but there weren’t any spots very close to the transition area so I went around the bend to the 1st side street to park. This would turn out to be a very poor choice (cue foreboding music of doom…)

I went to check in and did so, arriving early enough to secure the prime end of row bike spot on the rack. I then walked around awhile (very cold – next year, gotta remember a coat or something warmer) and then saw Kent and Charlotte arriving. Kent got himself all registered and we hung around for awhile waiting for the race to start. In the 2 or 3 hours that I had to wait while doing nothing, I clearly had no time to put on the sunblock that I brought nor get my sunglasses out of my car. Nope, just ran clear out of time.

We went into the bleachers for the pre-race meeting at 7:15, which was frought with technical difficulties – they tried like 5 different microphones before getting one to work (again, cue foreboding music of doom….) They explained things which I already knew for the most part. There were a few differences, like a new chip system (foreboding music getting louder), but nothing too bad. Then Kent and I just waited around for our very high numbers to be called. I was #423 and Kent was like #570 or so (out of 650 I think – higher numbers = slower swim times).

About 8:35 or so my number was called and I made my way down. It’s always a tricky bit of strategy to figure out where to appropriately seed yourself in a staggered swim like this. My thought is that I want to go with faster swimmers, on the odds that they will help me go faster, and it seems like it would be faster to not have to pass people (generally speaking). My swim times for 400m are about 10:30 and I put 9:30 down on my registration. This also got me a prime center bike rack (2 from the transition exit), since those are based off your number (which is, again, based on your swim time).

Then, I made my way onto the mat and jumped into the water. I once again was amazed by the nonchalance of some people after crossing the mat (and thus, starting their time). Let’s go, people!!! I jumped in and out as far as I could (cuz hey, free 2-3 feet I don’t have to swim!) and then almost immediately passed the guy who went in right before me (I almost jumped on top of him) :-) . I do think that he passed me back a little bit later though. I passed a few people and was passed by a few more, but all in all the swim was pretty uneventful. At the turnaround at the end of lane 1, I had a bit of trouble getting my head under the lane ropes, but nothing big. I was able to swim the whole thing freestyle, once again.

I got out of the pool and went to go get my towel. One (other) annoying thing about this year’s pre-race meeting is that the announcer guy pointed out the “secret” bleachers where PJ and I had stashed our towels to get after the swim, and so there were a good 20-30 towels there. And now that it was announced, I’m sure most people that do it again next year will bring towels to place there. But afterwards I was trying to figure out if it was even worth it – it’s a not-insignificant detour to go back to the bleachers to get your towel rather than just going out the door from the end of the pool. I’m contemplating next year (if I race this race again), stashing a towel in the bushes outside on the way to transition.

It was right about here that I went to check my swim time on my watch and realized I had forgotten to start my watch at the start of the race. I started it here though and made my way into the transition area. I am estimating my swim time at 11:16 (that includes the time getting out of the end of the pool, getting my towel, and walking / running / staggering to the start of the transition area. Why, estimate, you might say? Surely by now you should have the official results and not need to estimate, right Dan? (OH BABY DO YOU HEAR THAT MUSIC!!!?!!?)

I felt like my T1 went well – did it pretty quick and was out of the transition area (except for catching my bike pedal on the support for the bike rack as I was heading out and nearly pulling everyone else’s bike on the rack down). Let’s say, 1:36 or so? (Dun… Dun…. Dun…. Du-dum!!!).

The bike went really well. I was feeling good and keeping up a good pace. Last year I averaged 14.8 mph, so I was trying to keep it at 16 mph this year. I knew that there were a few good hills but also knew that the last 3-4 miles were slight down-grades that I could probably bust out at ~20 mph. So I figured if I shot for 16 mph on the non-hill, non-downgrade parts, that I could make it around 15.5 or 16mph. I was doing well for the first mile or two but then as we started going on some slight up-grades, my mph started slipping. Then at about mile 3, we had the giant hill of doom. I did manage to ride all the way up it, though it was not fun. Somewhere around here my cycle computer broke too, so I had no idea really of how fast I was going. For the rest of the ride it just said “0.0 mph”, which, frankly, on some of those hills was about what it felt like!!!

I managed to survive the big hill (and passed quite a few people who were walking), and then set my sights on the 2nd big hill, which I knew came about the 7 or 8 mile mark. Unfortunately, without my cycle computer, I was unsure of the mileage, and it wasn’t really marked on the course. There was a big orange “5″ spray-painted at one point on the ground, which kind of coincided with where I thought the 5 mile mark should be, but that was it. There were quite a few hills that I thought “okay is this it?” only to find out that no, in fact, that was not it.

As I pedaled, I tried to do some calculations to see what I would need to do to hit my goal time of 1:29:59. I estimated 12 minutes for my swim (wanting to be on the safe side), and then figuring another 2 minutes of transition time (adding both T1 and T2), and giving myself 27 minutes for the run, I was going to want to be at about 50-51 minutes on my watch by the end of the bike, something that looked conceivable. I got to the 10-mile point, which was marked by a turn and some volunteers saying “10 miles – no more hills!”, and I tried to up the RPMs. I made my way back into Oxford and the transition area. Another one of my goals had been to really speed through T2, figuring that (as I know I have said many times before) that although I can’t run, bike or swim particularly fast, I can at least do NOTHING fast. The last few miles I was trying to decide if I wanted to waste time getting my water bottle. I was kind of parched, but didn’t want to risk my T2 time. In the end, I decided to go for it because I figured it wasn’t worth risking overall time in case I got cramped or dehydrated on the run. I figured I could just grab it and go – take some drinks and then throw it in the bushes and get it after the race. So as I approached the transition area, I successfully pulled off the patented PJ Woolston flying dismount into the transition area and busted up the aisle. In the end, my decision to go for the water was a waste as I could not find my water bottle (not sure where it went?) so I just headed out. As I left T2, my watch said 51:10, which meant if my 12 minute swim time was accurate then I needed to do the run in 26:50. So I figured I could shoot for 9 minute miles as a pace.

The run was really hard. I’m not sure if it’s the just coming off a bike, or something about concrete pavement, but I always feel like I am going so much slower than when I’m on a treadmill. But when I made it to the 1-mile mark (which seemed to take forever), it was about 8 minutes! That buoyed my confidence and I continued to run. And I was passing people like crazy! At the turnaround (1.55 miles) I was at about 13 minutes and at the 2-mile mark I was at about 17. At about 2.5 miles I was finally passed by my first (and only) person on the run. I ended up passing about 35 people. As I rounded the final part of the loop I could see that I was very likely going to beat my time so that made me excited for sure. Then as I crossed the street for the final time and headed into the tunnel, I turned on the kick and was really busting. Right there I passed Kent who was heading out the other way to start his run and we exchanged high-fives.

After crossing the finish line, I hung out with Charlotte a bit while we waited for Kent to finish the course. I also ate some of the dry Kroger peanut butter crackers that were provided, though I could not finish the package because, dry. I did drink copious amounts of the bottled water and later Kent found that some of the bags had bananas in them, which we ate.

We hung out and rested awhile and then Kent and Charlotte went home. I waited around for a bit to see if there was going to be any free pizza as there was in 2007, but alas, nothing. I have to say that the “after party” was one of the most fun parts of the race in 2007 and the last 2 years have been getting progressively worse and more lame. As I was getting ready to leave, the last racer crossed the finish line and the organizers told the paramedics that they could go home. They asked the paramedics if they wanted a race T-shirt and they said sure. I was intrigued….

So I followed the girl back into the swim hall. Why is that, you might ask? Because they (very lamely) gave all the racers ANOTHER WHITE T-SHIRT. This shirt is almost exactly identical to the one that I got LAST YEAR, just with a different date on the back. I was pretty annoyed about that. Especially since all the volunteers were wearing these cool blue shirts. So I thought maybe I could score one of those. It took them awhile to figure out where the shirts were but eventually they were found in a big cardboard box just sitting out in the hall. So I asked if I could have one of the extras, and the girl was like “No. These are only for the volunteers”, which I didn’t understand since all the volunteers ALREADY HAD their shirts and these were just extras. But she wouldn’t budge. So I said okay and went into the bathroom. I came out and saw that she was heading back to the transition area to give the shirts to the EMTs so I made my way over to the box and just took a blue one. Tragically all they had left were mediums so it doesn’t even fit me that well.

But then, in possibly a true moment of karma, as I got back to my car, I realized that I had gotten a parking ticket. Though the ticket was given at like 6:15 a.m., so maybe it was post-dated karma. Or should that be pre-dated karma? In any case, it is in fact a ticket. In doing a bit of research, the first street says no parking without a city of Oxford permit, which I had assumed was just for Mon-Fri to prevent college kids from parking there, but after driving around, it looks like the 2nd and 3rd streets are that way (only Mon-Fri) whereas this first street is all the time. I’m not sure why that is but it’s annoying. And it’s $25, which is right in the sweet spot of just pay it to not deal with it. I mean if it was like $100 you might be like “No way I’m paying that – that’s bogus!”, but when you get down towards $25 you start thinking like “Well I’ll just pay it so I don’t have to deal with it later…”

So that concluded the racing part of this report. I did manage to bust out just over 30,000 steps on Saturday, though that required a bit of walking around the house at the end of the day.

And then I waited for the official results, which were promised “probably by Sunday, definitely by Monday.” They had posted preliminary results right after the race, and my unofficial time was 1:27:59, which I thought was a great time. Not only did I beat my goal time by over 2 minutes, any time your time ends in 59 seconds, you know it’s good times. That way I can just say “Oh yeah I finished in an hour and 27 minutes. I’m not sure what the seconds are….” :-)

But then, when there were still no results on Tuesday!, I emailed and was told that there was a technical malfunction and the split times were lost. Which completely and totally blows. So I am forced to estimate, which I will do as 11:16 swim, 1:36 T1, 49:03 bike, 0:31 T2, and 25:33 run.

All in all, it was fun, but all these negative things are definitely making me reconsider if I want to do it for a 4th straight year. I definitely want to do *a* race, but I’m not sure if this is the one. Seems like there are bound to be ones closer to town that I could do, which would also have the added bonus of maybe the fam being able to come watch.

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Comments (3) left to “2009 Miami Triathlon report”

  1. Carey wrote:

    San Antonio Marathon in November!

  2. P J Woolston wrote:

    Dude I was racing it all over again! That’s super-lame. I’m so sorry.

  3. Dad G. wrote:

    Thanks for the details. I was looking forward to reading you report, and was not disappointed. Congrats on improving your time. I recall the biggest race I was ever in, back in 1979, the Higbee’s Bonnie Bell downtown race around. It was a 5 mile couples race I ran with my girlfriend. There were about 900 runners, and it started and ended on public square. (Actually, it ended with the final yards being a sprint through Higbees – in the back door and out the front.) Being a novice to the intricacies of the race timing technology, we did not stay in our finishing lane (after crossing the finish line) long enough to have our numbers recorded. So as far as the race officials knew, we never finished, and hence never got our official results. And probably screwed up the times for everybody behind us. Checking my archives, I see that our unofficial time was 43 minutes, or 8:36/mile pace. Technology is so wonderful when it works, and so frustrating when it doesn’t.
    Dad G.

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