Challenge FLORIDA

The past weekend was supposed to be my big 140.6 race of the year, lots of transition and changes in my life this year made me step back from any long races. Me and my coach, Kris, decided to tackle an Olympic to see where I stand. At first, I was reluctant but with time, I realized that was the smart decision. During the Olympic race, I was celebrating that I decided to hear Kris.

Why?? Because racing an Olympic was painful enough. Ha! I have been riding outside much so the bike felt a bit uncomfortable, I was tired from all the driving too. Running in the sun was painful and the swim was not wetsuit legal. A half in those conditions were going to be very challenging at this time.

THE ROAD TRIP: I drove from Atlanta to Venice and then back. It was about 1200 miles in 3 days. Yes, you read it right. Just because I wanted to ride MY bike. Well, that was stupid. The race provides bike rentals and it would be way less stressful and tiring.

THE WEEKEND: It was 3 of us. I joined Stephanie and Cynthia, my Soas Ambassador teammates. We had plenty of Soas gear, but I can’t say it was enough. I saw the Aquarius and Speed series Tri Kits for the first time and I realized that I have to have them for the upcoming season.

Thanks Cynthia for sharing the pictures!

The day before the race, we got our race packages and did a lil of everything: swim, bike, run… and also got a lil preview of the weather. We knew it would be HOT. We were all drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated. Bike checked in and then rested before dinner. We all settled on pasta and wine (just one glass!!) for our pre race meal. Once back in the hotel, packed everything and had trouble sleeping as usual.

RACE DAY! We agreed on leaving at 5:30, woke up, got ready and left. I was the only one doing the Olympic race so I had extra time to set up the transition. This was the first time I was setting up on the box. I was glad to have the extra time and I changed the layout a couple of times before settling on the best sequence for transition. My wave was the last one out, so I got to see both Cynthia and Stephanie swim start, which was super nice. I was also glad I did not have to do the extra 0.3 mile. It seemed soooooo far away.

It is race day #girltritalk #challengeflorida #raceday #letsgo

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SWIM: Ocean swim, not wetsuit legal. I was worried since I haven’t done open water forever. I usually get a bit anxious on the start. This time was different, I was calm. I just know I swam for a long time and I could not tell you for how long because my Garmin was not working. I had some difficult to see the buoys but I kept drafting from people in front of me. The current was helping for a bit, but the waves started and the way in to the beach was against the current. I could see the bottom and it seemed the same thing for a while. I was moving very slowly, got frustrated but no panicking! Swim time: 32:38 – 2:15/100m

T1: Took forever. I do not know why and I have no excuses. T1 time: 3:58

BIKE: Headwind in the first 10 miles. Argh! I kept looking on other side of the road and people were flying. I got frustrated a little, especially cause I saw one girl form my age group (her bike was next to me) wayyyy ahead. Big mistake to focus on that. The next 5 miles were tailwind and that was fun. The last 10 miles had a lot of sharp turns and traffic. I had to slow down, most of people did. Once I got back to transition, I realized that I did not pass anyone from my age group on the bike. Ugh!  Bike time: 1:24:48 – 18.19mph

T2: Took forever again. I can’t explain again. T2 time: 3:35

RUN: Flat is easy, I thought. It is only 10k, I thought. It was also 90F, no shades and no winds. It felt worse than hilly. I had to stop at every mile marker to ice my shorts, bra and head. My hand water bottle became a portable shower, trying not to overheat. My Garmin was still not working, so I ran by feeling while trying to pass someone on my age group (in fact, I passed 3!). On the last mile I saw Stephanie, she was doing the half. That was exciting. I was glad to finish and got to see my friends race now.  Run time: 1:03:11 – 10:11/mi 

Setting expectations can be great, but I was very disappointed that I did not break 3 hours. Kris was amazed with the results and she was happy that I was 6th. FINAL TIME: 3:08:09

After done, I got to see Cynthia, Stephanie and Shawna (my friend from ATL that flew instead of driving, MUCH smarter move!). They were all looking solid. Running a half in those conditions is no joke. So proud of them. Stephanie placed 1st on her age group (GO #TEAMSOAS!), Cynthia placed 4th. (GO #TEAMSOAS AGAIN!) and Shawna placed 3rd on the relay. It is so inspiring to be close to women like them. Despite their lifestyles, work schedule and family, they still make an effort to train to triathlons as well. It is motivating and inspiring!

MY THOUGHTS ON CHALLENGE: Well organized race. Very friendly for beginners: athletes not comfortable in the water receive a different cap, so kayakers can keep an eye on them. The bike course was not my favorite(at all!): too many sharp turns and a sleek bridge. Lots of aid stations on the run, which was great because it was HOT. Lots and lots of older people volunteering, they were everywhere. From giving the package to cheering you on the course. They were all super helpful and cute. Gear was very affordable comparing to Ironman: Tri kits for $50 and jerseys for $40. I got a jersey. Already tried and loved it. I will probably do it again next year. It would be nice to see how much better I would be if I properly trained.

I hope Challenge (or Rev3) keeps this race on their calendar. It felt like a local race, but I would not mind if it was bigger. I hope that the organization watches out for the events that might the attendance there moving forward. This very same weekend, it was Ironman Florida and Disney Half Wine and Dine. If I had decided to race Florida, I would not have been here. I am glad I was smarter not to. Racing on the heat for an Olympic was enough for my closing of the season. Now it is running season.



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