Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Race Review : Rev3 Florida 70.3

Rev3 Florida, my second nationally branded event, the first one with Rev3. We were planning a trip to Florida in the fall anyway, and my sister's birthday is right around this time, and she signed up, so the stars aligned. This was my third 70.3 of the year.

The Training 
Training was pretty hit or miss, started out strong, got injured, had about two weeks of training before starting on vacation, got some workouts in with my sister while on vacation. Would I say I was fully physically in top shape? Probably not, but I was mentally there, I was pretty sure I could turn in a solid performance, it just wouldn't be optimal, or as close as optimal as I can get while writing my own training plans :)

Race Weekend (Packet Pickup)
Now, I could be wrong, but I think Rev3's idea of how to put on a triathlon is to pick a place where people want to travel to anyway, and then make a weekend of it. So starting some time on Friday they open the expo and you can pick up your packet and stuff, and the race is on Sunday.

We were staying in Miami with my sister, so we drove up (through amazing rain caused by hurricane Sandy) four hours to Venice where the race is. We settled into our hotel, and then headed down to the expo to pick up our packets. We had gotten an email earlier about how there had been a snafu, and race numbers wouldn't be available, and that we'd be able to pick them up later. No matter, we didn't have anything else to do.

We got a little lost, as the race site was actually pretty big, or maybe spaced out is a better description. They had said that Sharkey's was the race hub, but really the expo was the race hub, and you can't even see the expo from Sharkey's. A lady at the restaurant pointed us in the right direction. On the way there, we stopped and looked at the water, it was rough.

Looks pretty calm in the picture, this is what it looked like at the start of the race too. 
We hit the expo, talked to some very friendly Rev3 people. Picked up our packets, got our timing chip, got our goodie bags and then hit dinner.

More details: I'd like to know what the deal is with races putting up people's names with their bib numbers on a piece of paper and then having them get in a line based on that number, recite that number to someone and then having that person make sure you are the right person by reading your name off an envelope. I personally struggle with this. I wish it was just alphabetical order. I'm sure it has something to do with distributions of last names not being equal, but still.

When you get your timing chip they take your picture, that's sort of neat. I suppose its for when you cross the line exclusively, and I did see my picture when I crossed the line, so that was sort of neat. The people manning this booth were the super friendly people we talked to when we first got to the expo.

We got our goodie bags - they were quick to point out we'll get the shirt after we finish, so if you were just panning on picking up your swag and not racing all you'd have gotten was a visor, some goggles, and some food. All in all though, not too bad a haul.

The practice swim was cancelled, I wasn't out of bed yet when they called it so I just slept in. They cancelled it due to safety reasons. At this point I was pretty sure there'd be no swim during the race; though officially they said if conditions held there would be a swim.

After that we rode our bikes from the hotel to the expo for bike check-in. It was quite windy, and not the speediest three 5 miles I've ever done, but it did give a small feel for what the race would be like if the wind held, and according to the weather it would hold.

We got there, found out there wasn't bike check-in. Apparently they didn't want to have to worry about keeping 300 bikes upright all night long in the wind, I racked my bike on our car, and hurried back so my wife and kids could do the Little Rev race. The little rev race is a way to involve the kids in the weekend, they had a good time and so did my wife.

That's my super girl at the front, she took off and left my wife and her brother in the dust

About half way through, a slightly slower pace

Apparently he dragged that thing around for about 20 minutes.

Happy family!
We attended the athlete meeting - they said again that there was a good chance for a swim. I started to believe them. There were jokes about bad drivers, and super old people. Pretty laid back and easy to consume. They had live music afterwards, we didn't stick around for that. It was time to eat and my niece's birthday cake needed eating.

Race Morning
We elected to get up and meet in the lobby for breakfast at 5:30, that was pretty much everyone's idea. We ate, and then found out from someone down there that the swim had been cancelled. We checked Facebook, saw the announcement and decided to hang out a little while longer before heading down there since we now had till after 8 before the race started.

Side Note: I totally understand cancelling a swim on a triathlon due to bad conditions. I often think about weaker swimmers while swimming in good conditions in a large group. Swimming isn't like biking or running, if you decide you can handle a mile swim but can't really, you've taken a fairly large risk. There were plenty of people who wanted to swim even after seeing the water, me included, but honestly who wants to find out someone almost drowned because of a rip current?

We got bored in the hotel, so took off. We got there with enough time to get a small warm-up ride and mill around for a bit.

The Swim

With the swim canceled for the age groupers, the pros did a quick 1.5 mile run, and we got to watch them run into T1. Then we lined up in numeric order and did a time-trial start starting from the swim in. Rules were, no helmet and no shoes. The MC kept saying it was fair, I don't fully understand that, but it doesn't really matter. It worked and the transition area was pretty free from congestion.

Side Note: When the pros went by I remember thinking, they look like they're going pretty fast, but not blazing. I looked at the results later, the top men averaged under 5 minute per mile pace, that's fast.

The Bike
The bike was a single loop of 56 miles. With the wind coming from the northwest at 20-30mph and the bike course they had laid out, that meant we'd basically have a tail wind for the first 15-20 miles. And then the rest would be sort of on-again-off-again into the wind.

I knew my sister was about 7 minutes up on me (based on the time trial start) the plan was to try to catch her at some point on the bike. I also knew a friend Nick who was there, but I was pretty sure I would not catch or even gain on him during the bike. (Actually after they cancelled the swim I just put it out of my mind that I'd even be able to come close to catching him at all since our run speeds are roughly the same.)

So I took it out not super easy, but also not Sprint speed. We were regularly seeing speeds over 20mph, and I was getting passed like CRAZY! I think all the women were ahead of me, and just men were behind me. Guys came FLYING past me, and I was hardly passing anyone. Thankfully though I was also not just being dropped by the group, so I reasoned that these must just be the people who normally I'd have a 2-8 minute advantage over with a swim except now I have a 3 - 30 second advantage over due to the time trial start so instead of taking an hour to catch me they catch me in a few minutes.

Somewhere between 10 and 20 miles I thought my water bottle or something fell off. It sounded like I ran over a small piece of metal, or something metal fell off my bike. I couldn't figure out what it was, I was pretty sure it wasn't someone around me, because just then there wasn't anyone around me. Oh well, maybe wild metal throwing Flamingos or something.

I caught my sister somewhere around 21 or 22 miles. I gave her a little call-out and mustered on. At this point this ride is still very fast. Then we rounded the turn, 23 miles in it was time to start facing the music. Speed dropped considerably, but it didn't get really bad till about 30 miles, then I was under 20 consistently.

...And then... bump ... bump ... bump... it felt like I was riding over sort of rough road, but I wasn't. Then I looked down, flat tire. I stopped quickly to check, yep, mostly flat, but not totally, so I rode to the next intersection. Almost exactly 90 minutes in, I was changing my back tire. My sister was pretty close behind me, she rode by before I had my wheel off. Remember that noise I heard earlier? Broken spoke. So I wrapped the loose spoke around another, and changed the tire. I don't know how long it took, but it took a while. Based on the splits from the timing system it took me 30 minutes longer to do the second split than the first, and it was only three miles longer. So I'm going to say it took me roughly 20-25 minutes to change my tire.

Obviously a TON of people passed me. I went from top 50% to bottom 10% during that split. The rest of the ride was pretty lonely, passed a few people here and there. But I did what I said I would do and just made the best of it. I smiled at every volunteer I saw, said thank you to as many as I could. I chatted briefly with people I was passing and just made the best of it.

Toward the end of the bike my legs were T.I.R.E.D. I was ready to get off :) I saw my wife and kids at transition, I chatted briefly with a lady who finished the bike just in front of me and then headed out on the run feeling surprisingly good.

All smiles!
The Run

Heading out!
I was feeling pretty happy, I knew I was way behind where I'd have been without the flat, so I just put a smile on and made the best of it. I high-fived my wife and kids (I missed my oldest, but went back so she wouldn't be left hanging.)

It was basically the same story as the bike, just keep smiling and thanking all the volunteers. In the beginning I wasn't really passing many people, there were lots of people on the course, just not near me.

Side note: This is true for both the bike and run, the volunteers at this race were fantastic. These people were full of energy and smiles. Don't get me wrong, I've never really been to a race where I didn't appreciate the volunteers, but these people were beaming.

The course was a six mile out and back done twice, some time before the first turn around I saw my sister. I figured she was about two miles ahead. She looked great, and I felt great. I made it my little goal to try to catch her. I KNEW it was a long shot, but I thought it would be fun to try.

At this point I was passing lots of people, and not being passed at all. I was feeling great! I was getting lots of compliments on my smiles. I was walking through well stocked aid stations. I hit the half way point, and was feeling good. I saw my sister about three miles later, I was convinced I was only about a half mile down (which it would turn out was not even close to right - my brain doesn't always work right in races :) so I plowed on thinking I could catch her. I got some mild cramps near the end of the run in my quads, but just kept going.

Coming in to the finish!
The Finish
I got to the end of the finish chute and ran down with my son on oldest daughter. It was fun, my daughter usually runs through finish lines with me, but this was the first race where they encourage you to do it. It makes a big difference. A great way to finish the race!

Me and my sister and our kids
The Results

Goal Actual
Swim 33:30 0
Bike 2:52 3:23
Run 1:57 2:03
Total 5:27 5:29

The swim – Cancelled due to poor swimming conditions.

The bike - 40 minutes over, close to 30 of those sitting on the side of the road changing a tire. The rest I'll chalk up to wind. It's possible that I could have pushed harder at the start or end, but given the flat it was more fun to just have a good time.

The run – A little slower than I wanted. It actually felt really good, it's another big drop in the run segment of a race this distance. It seems like I'm starting to dial in on this distance.

Overall I'd say the race went really well. It would have been easy to get discouraged and feel super down about the flat, but that's not what happened.

Closing Comments
This was a great way to end the season. Based on this race I'd say if you have a chance to do a Rev3 race you should. If you have family it's setup for a family visit. If you don't, it's a very well put together event. The people working it really like it, the competition is good and there's a great chance to see some pros in action.

We're already thinking about the Dells event for next year.

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