RAAM – Siesta Beach – Nationals – Escape to Miami. - Mickey Witte Ⓥ: Triathlete. Neuroscientist. Vegan.
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RAAM – Siesta Beach – Nationals – Escape to Miami.

25 Sep Blog | Comments
RAAM – Siesta Beach – Nationals – Escape to Miami.
 

Wow, what a tri season it has been! After coming off of crewing for a 4-person Race Across America (a.k.a., “RAAM”) Team in June (which in and of itself was the most exhausting, challenging, yet exhilarating experience of my life), I jumped back into training feeling a little sore after all that time on the road and being severely sleep deprived for 9 days straight! Such are the consequences you accept when you crew for RAAM.

Siesta BeachAug. 4th 2012

Photo from the Siesta Beach Triathlon bike course is courtesy of Alan Rodriguez Photography.

I decided that my first race back (after having swum as part of a 3-person relay team that took home 1st place at the Olympic distance Huntington’s Disease Tri the week before) would be a sprint triathlon in early August to get me back into “race mode” in time for the USAT Age Group National Championship. This race (the Siesta Beach triathlon) was located about 3.5 hours away; conveniently for me, it was near my family on the west coast of Florida, so I got to spend a little bit of quality time with them after the race. A bunch of my friends and teammates were making a road trip out of it too, so the experience of racing at this out-of-town venue was made that much more fun thanks to them!

The race itself was swum in the Gulf of Mexico, and included a short run on the beach from the water to transition, followed by a quick 12.4 mile bike ride, and then a 5K run on the beach…in the sand. Ugh. Even though the sand was described as “hard-packed,” I’ve learned from experience at beach races that “hard-packed” is a relative term. As the Sun kept rising throughout the morning, the sand got softer, and that “hard-packed” sand, was not quite so. Nonetheless, I pushed hard to try to get myself to access that place of discomfort where I knew I needed to be.

Even though I didn’t quite feel like I was racing at 100% again yet, I ended up 2nd in my age group and 6th overall out of 300+ females who raced that day – I’ll take it! 🙂 The post-race chilling with my friends and teammates on the beach, and later on with my family, made it a very special experience.

2012 USAT Age Group National Championship Aug. 19th 2012

Pre-race test swim in Lake Champlain with our wetsuits.

Fast forward to 2 weeks later…a group of 4 of us girls and 4 guys from my training team, along with our coach, flew to Burlington, Vermont for the USAT Age Group National Championship. Here, we would get the opportunity to race with the best of the best in the USA for a chance to vie for a spot on Team USA for the 2013 World Triathlon Championship in London, England.

Out of T2 and onto the bike course at USAT Nationals. Photo courtesy of my friend and teammate, Ola Besser.

I can’t even begin to describe how much fun competing at Nationals was. Thanks to my amazing teammates, the experience was made that much sweeter and more memorable. The swim was in beautiful Lake Champlain – which, much like last year, was a little difficult to navigate due to the blinding light of the rising Sun. The bike course was quite hilly to us south Floridians who have to drive 4 hours away to train on hills.  The run was not too difficult terrain-wise, aside from the monstrous hill that hits you as soon as you come out of transition.

At the end of the day, along with 4 of my teammates, we qualified for Team USA and will be competing at the 2013 World Triathlon Championship! We were beyond ecstatic to find out that our times and final placements within our age groups made the cut and that we’d be going to London next year! Now, if only I enjoyed short course racing as much as the half Ironman distance…

 

Escape to Miami Sept. 23rd 2012

That brings us to this past weekend and the famous Escape to Miami triathlon. Thanks to a request by a good friend of mine, I was given the awesome opportunity to race and work for LifeProof, one of the event’s major sponsors, during the race expo the day before and after the race. I couldn’t be more grateful for this unique opportunity! Not only did I get the chance to to tell my friends and fellow triathletes about the coolest iPhone/iPad products out there, but I got to race too! Win-win!

Come race morning, my stomach was slightly upset, but I chalked it up to having a lot going on that weekend. I was relieved that I would be racing the shorter distance (sprint) that day because I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of pre-race energy. Once the gun went off, I forged ahead in the water, but was quickly thrown off by the many men swimming breaststroke, backstroke, sidestroke, and doggy-paddle whom I had to navigate around on my way through the swim. These guys were from the wave ahead of mine, so I really had no way around this predicament other than to do my best to maneuver around them. Despite a lackluster swim performance, I ran out of the water through transition and onto my bike where I found out that I was the 2nd girl (thanks to a friendly spectator who shouted “2nd girl!” – thanks, dude!).

Photo on the bike course of Escape To Miami is courtesy of my sweet husband, Ryan.

So of course I got on the bike in hot pursuit of the “first girl” – wherever she may be. Keep in mind that the past two weeks were filled with various bike-related mishaps: from having a defective tire cause a total of 6 rear flats in the span of 1 week, to the cleat on my bike shoes coming un-attached, to racing on a borrowed set of race wheels, I was trying not to be superstitious that something crazy was bound to happen to me on the bike. Thankfully, nothing crazy did happen – aside from my Garmin not having ever synced with the satellites that morning, so I didn’t know how fast I was going at any point. I did still have my cadence data, so I clung to that data the entire time to ensure that I was staying within the sprint-appropriate zone (pretty much all out), according to my coach.

Just before the end of the bike course, I actually passed the one girl who’d made it out of the water ahead of me. Strangely, I was so much in the “zone,” that I’d almost forgotten about her! In any event, I was gearing myself up for what I figured would be a duel on the run since we’d essentially be getting into transition together. All the while, in the back of my mind, I knew of another runner who would be hot on my tail any minute now… 😉

Off the bike, I felt weak and actually a little dizzy – something I directly link to my stomach issues that morning. (In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so weak going into the run at a race, aside from last year’s MiamiMan, where I was horribly dehydrated.) That said, I did my best to push into auto-pilot mode and just go! Onto the run course, I felt really light-headed and it was only getting hotter out there. I just kept telling myself, “it’s only a 5K, you can blink and it’ll be over.” As I mentioned above, my Garmin wasn’t working, so I had no feedback on my actual run pace and I had to simply go by feel. I knew I was now in the lead as the first female out of transition, but I also knew that my new teammate, and local elite runner, Sadie was not too far behind me.

Podium photo at Escape To Miami is courtesy of my Tri2One teammates.

This is where the mental part of the race takes over. Without any pace feedback and no one else to chase or to run with me, I was going it alone and trying hard not to let my pace slip. I was fighting the urge to slow down, but the heat was getting stronger with each passing minute. I somehow managed to make it to the very end of the run course (less than 0.25 mi to go!) when Sadie finally caught me and flew by me like I was standing still. All along, I knew this would likely happen, but I was frankly surprised that it happened so late in the race. I wish I hadn’t mentally given up that spot prior to the race even starting. Despite feeling like crap and running one of the sloppiest (in my opinion) and slowest runs of my life, I still managed to clinch 1st place in my age group (4th F overall) about 30 sec behind Sadie. All things considered, I’m quite all right with that. 🙂

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