I went back to South Beach for the 4th time this year. I really like the Nautica South Beach Triathlon, which is why Iâ€™ve raced there all but one of the five years itâ€™s been held. This year was a bit of last minute planning. I raced in the Mooloolaba World Cup the last weekend in March, giving me only a week between races that are completely around the world from each other. In 2009 I did the same double, so I knew going into it how much it would suck. Still, with about a week to go before South Beach I just couldnâ€™t justify to myself not going to such a great race and I bought tickets. This time, instead of flying straight from Australia to Florida, I went back to the OTC in Colorado for four days, then flew to Miami two days before the race. That was a better plan than spending a full week trying to train in metropolitan Miami.
The race conditions were perfect. The off-shore breeze provided for flat, clear water like Iâ€™ve never seen in Miami. And since we started before the sun came over the horizon it was still rather cool during the race (though seriously humid). I felt flat on the swim and was suffering just to stay on Cameron Dyeâ€™s feet. Meanwhile, Javier Gomez (this guy has been ITU World Champion how many times!?) and Dustin McClarty (taker of swim primes) were out of the water 40 seconds ahead of us. On the bike I didnâ€™t know what to expect. I just rode hard. In five minutes I caught Gomez and McClarty, though Bevan Docherty (who just ran down Lance Armstrong at the Panama 70.3) and Cameron Dye (who won this race last year) were right with me. I went to the lead and just kept hammering without ever looking back. At 20k I had 20second advantage over Gomez and Dye, and by the end of the bike I was a little over a minute ahead. I split a personal best 51:14, though the course may have been half a Kilo short according to my Garmin. I had a good lead starting the run, but â€“ like in the swim â€“ I felt flat. I was hoping to run somewhere in the 32-minute range, but I ended up just over 34. Javier passed me at the 3-mile mark and there was nothing I could do to hang with him. Docherty and Dye were still a ways back, but it didnâ€™t ease my fears. I kept the run hard and finished 2nd. Docherty passed Dye in the final Kilo for 3rd and 4th finishes, respectively.
It was pretty cool to be on the podium with Javier Gomez. Heâ€™s a legend. Or he will be. Probably the first true sub-30-minute triathlete, plus heâ€™s one of the best swimmers in the sport and can certainly hold his own on the bike. And even more rare, heâ€™s a humble guy that respects other athletes and carries a truly professional image.
Oh yeah, and Mr. Tanner was handing out awards. I had a million questions for him, but none were appropriate or short enough for that setting.