Pinellas County Giraffes Blow Through South Florida

Sunday marked my first solo duathlon since September as I raced the Olympic distance at the Las Olas Triathlon in Fort Lauderdale. Many times traveling for races I may not see many familiar faces including those I train with but on this day there were three of us from Pinellas County that ventured to Fort Lauderdale from my circle which made the experience extra special. The Legend, Bob Brown, from St. Petersburg and Mark Middleton via Dunedin joined the party. Here I’ll share my experience from our fantastic morning in South Florida.

Saturday afternoon as I was trekking across Alligator Alley (I-75) between Naples and Fort Lauderdale, I received a notification on the car dash of a Wind Advisory on the coast through 7:00 AM Sunday morning. That wind advisory continued through our race. I have raced at this venue maybe five times and even on days with low wind forecasts, it poses significant challenges with cross winds through many of the high rise condominiums as you venture north and then back on the bike course. This day was on overdrive from that perspective.

The pre-race meal Saturday night was an acai bowl from my favorite South Florida juice bar, Raw Juce. An acai bowl has been my pre-race meal for a couple years now… making me feel clean and fueled race morning. I couldn’t wait to return there and they did not disappoint. Mark had his first and loved it as well. I left a Giraffe note on the chalk board before leaving…check out the picture below.

When I walked out the hotel door Sunday morning the wind punched me in the face. It was real but I was ready for the winds with the amount of training rides I do on the Courtney Campbell Causeway over Tampa Bay. Bob and Mark have been there a bunch too.

We arrived, set-up transition, and warmed up. It was warm but the winds kept it quite pleasant until the 2nd run where it got pretty hot. Bob and I participated in the Olympic distance while Mark competed in the Sprint distance, his 2nd ever duathlon. He’s been training his butt off since joining training in September and was ready to test his progress.

I felt ready for this race unlike the two run races earlier in the year. After completing my first marathon in late November I took December to recover and detach my brain from hard training and racing. I kept running but no hard efforts. It took a while for me to get my speed back and I wasn’t happy with my first two run races and knew it going into them. This race I felt fast going in based on where I was in my training block and the splits I was hitting in training.

I felt great on the first run, 2 seconds off my target pace but with the wind and the way I felt I was very happy. Next was the bike where my training has just ramped up and not where my run currently is so it was interesting to see what would happen. I was extremely happy with my effort as I increased my power output from previous training and simulation efforts. There were significant cross winds and wind tunnels that presented challenges but the power remained. I was feeling strong coming off the bike but legs shredded as normal.

The final run was fantastic as I pushed my pace through the entire 10k. The most satisfying part of the race for me was the feel I had my run-speed back. I felt like me again. The bike has a bit of work to do but it’s ahead of where I thought it would be at this point so I’m not complaining…keep working the process before Nationals at the end of April.

Mark, who had finished earlier completing the Sprint race cheered me on through the Finish Line. We gathered chatting about our races and then Bob came through. Boy, did the Pinellas County Giraffes come through… Mark finished 4th Overall and won Masters (fastest over 40 years old) in the Sprint, Bob placed 2nd Overall in the Olympic, also winning Masters, and I won Overall.

It was great chatting about our experiences, the results we had, and with all of us knowing we have so much work ahead of us. We work the process every day and do what’s in our control. That’s it. We celebrated till midnight and turned the page to training our assess off again today. The great thing is we all LOVE the daily process of doing this. We have been pushing each other very hard and it showed on this day.

– Add Health to Your Life

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