Augusto and I made the long 19 hour drive to Miami on Thursday and arrived around 10pm. That's when the first problem came up. The room only had 1 bed and even though they labeled it a 'Queen' bed, whatever queen was sleeping in there must have been a tiny lady. After making the necessary switch to a hotel with two separate beds, one that was actually only 3 miles from the race venue, we finally got some sleep.
The days before the race were great to check out the course, get everything ready, and relax. I even made the trip over to the zoo to take some pictures of the Otters for Romy. The night before the race we loaded up on calories at Olive Garden and got to sleep for the early morning ahead... or at least tried to get some to sleep. Usually I have no issues sleeping before a race but for some reason I just laid there all night until it was time to go. Zero sleep... perfect.
We loaded up and made our way to the race site and I was starting to feel sick. Not a nervous, race day sick, but actually sick. If the race was a local one, I most likely wouldn't have even started but I didn't come all the way to Miami to not race. The swim was delayed due to a significant downpour that left everything in transition soaked... (Wet socks, YES!). The swim got started and I immediately felt my stomach turn. Right before we got to the third buoy, I threw up. Chunks floating and everything. Sorry to everyone that was behind me...
I kept swimming and finished the first lap, got out and ran around a cone and headed back for the second lap. No vomit this time and despite having so many people from other waves in the water now, it wasn't too congested and the second lap was uneventful.
After finishing the swim it was time to ride. The roads were wet from the rain and there was still a slight drizzle but it kept things cool so I didn't mind. The ride started well but I started to hear a strange ticking sound from the rear of my bike about 15 miles in. The rain had caused the tape over the gap on my rear disc wheel cover to come loose and it was hitting my frame each rotation. Quick stop to fix and I was on my way.
My stomach still didn't feel right and I ended up throwing up again while riding around half way through the bike. I was worried how my nutrition would hold up after throwing up but that was the least of my worries. I had held my goal pace through 50 miles and was thinking that I might actually be able to have a semi-decent race. That's when things got.... crappy. My stomach started turning and I spent the next 6 miles in and out of the saddle trying to clench as tight as I could so I didn't crap my tri-suit.
After a final 6 miles on the bike that felt like forever, I made it back to transition, slipped on my shoes, and ran straight to the porta-pot. While I was in there (bringing myself closer to an ideal race weight) I started to feel some sharp biting all over my left foot. It turned out that a bunch of ants had found some shelter from the morning rain inside my sock and they weren't too happy to have a foot sharing the space... After getting all the little death insects out of my sock and shoe, and getting a bunch of other stuff out of my body, I began my half marathon.
The first mile felt surprisingly great and the run was the least eventful part of the whole race. The running route is pretty unique as we got to run through the zoo and see giraffes, elephants, zebras, and a few other animals while we ran. The temperature had risen quickly in the previous hour or so and was now over 90 degrees. Pairing the heat with my earlier stomach purging left my body begging for fuel. Luckily, the race had great aid stations and plenty of them. My goal of under 5 hours was definitely gone but as the miles ticked by and I passed a few people that had my age group on their leg. I was certain I was far enough back that I would miss one of the Team USA spots, but kept running in case enough other people cracked.
Eventually, I could hear people cheering and pushed through to the finish line. After another trip to the stinky blue sauna for a bit, it was time to rehydrate and consume mass quantities of calories. A quick phone call to the wifey let me know that both my kids were sick as well so I'm wondering if I had the start of something before I left and it just caught up with me race morning. Oh well. When I checked results I saw that I had finished just in time to qualify for the last available spot for Team USA in my age group. It wasn't the race I wanted, or expected, but that was a nice conciliation price to leave with.
Now to decide if a trip to Spain is a good idea or not.....