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I don’t know about you, but I am the kind of person that likes a routine but can quickly get bored. Because of this, I like to mix up not only my workouts but my races.  Luckily for me, Miami Beach hosted two great Urban Adventure races earlier this year.  Also luckily for me, I have crazy teammates who did not think twice about joining me for these races. 

For those who do not know what an Urban Adventure race is, think of a riddle scavenger hunt through the city.  We were required to answer riddles on history and facts about Miami Beach, both fictional and non-fictional, and then run to those locations to take pictures or conqueror challenges.  This type of race is great for stimulating the mind and performing basically a fartlek workout.  Crazily enough, for one of the races my time and I did a 5K race before the adventure race, but that day was a blast!

A few ideas if you are going to take part in an Urban Adventure race: make sure you have a smart phone for both researching and phoning a friend; have a team that gets along very well and loves to have fun; and of course proper gear is a must.  These races can last three hours and in South Florida hydration is important.  Also, you need shorts that will be able to handle the race and I love my DeSoto Sport Tuesday Run shorts.  The pockets can handle papers and Gu’s and when all is said and done these shorts look great hanging out by the pool for a post race celebration, especially when you win the race. Don’t forget that comfort will help you race fast and fun. 


 
 
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_This being the second year for me in a Ragnar Relay, I was ready for what was to come.  A few things were different: 1. I was not going to be running the longest leg, 2. my team was going to be all male, and 3. we were starting in the afternoon.

The 2012 theme was Running Out of Time, a play on the Mayan calendar ending in 2012.  Our car was decorated with Mayan runners, a pyramid, and a Mayan calendar.  As usual we had the most original car and theme. Thanks to Robert for all the great work on it! As for the costumes, no we didn't wear them the whole time.

The 2012 team consisted of 2 of my teammates from 2011 and three new teammates. Our new teammates were so amazing, I definitely felt inadequate.  Some of these guys have qualified for Boston and have race overall wins.  Given my inferior athletic ability to my amazing teammates, I was perfectly okay letting the studs take the hard legs.  However, one of our teammates got injured in the middle of the race and we had to adapt to that.  More on that later.

This year all 6 of us were at the start.  It was somewhat warm at the start, luckily I wasn't running for another couple of hours, so run Jeff run!  We did have a mishap between leg 2 and 3.  We got struck in that wonderful Miami traffic and was 5 minutes late to the exchange.  Luckily everyone was in good spirits and we just used it as motivation.  I ran the dusk leg as my first one.  I kept a good pace, but made sure not to go too hard because of the miles to come with the lack of sleep.

When we finally go to the Keys, we ran into a issue.  Everything was closed, restaurants and grocery stores.  This made it difficult to eat.  We had to eat the awful food at the gas stations.  Needless to say, no one was particularly happy about this.  But, the body needs sustenance and so we had make due with what we had.  After eating, I was able to sleep a total of about 2 hours.

My next run was at 4am. Let's just say, you aren't thinking that clearly at 4am normally, just think how much more that is amplified.  This run was through what seemed as uninhabited islands, in the middle of the night, with almost no other runners around me.  It was actually quite peaceful and cathartic.  When I finished I was beat and starving! Lucky for us, McDonald's was about to open and we could get real food in our stomachs.

For my third and final leg was my injured teammates leg.  Instead of running 4.7 miles, I had to run 6.2 miles.  While this normally is not an issue, when you have 2 hours of sleep and around 20 miles under your belt, any extra mile literally makes you want to cry.  Add on top of that the heat, sun, and complete like of shade, I and every other runner around me was just screaming to themselves to just make to the exchange.  In these dark times, you make crazy deals with yourself.  At one point I was just making deals to make it to the next bridge; you can have a double whopper if you don't walk.  Needless to say, I made it to the exchange without walking!

As we got to the end of the race, we had one team near us that started at the same time.  This meant Rob was going to have to leave everything out on the course in order for us to beat that team.  As we crossed the finish line with Rob, the other team was no where to be seen.  As we learned later, we beat the other team by about 45 seconds.  Rob was a beast to run in that heat.  While we didn't win, our team put in a great effort and we had a blast.  Thanks to everyone who helped make this race a success and congratulations to our female counterparts who won the female ultra division.

 
 
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As is a tradition for most people, a Turkey Day run is a great way to start a day of gluttony. A side note, I ended up not eating too much.  I got to race with a best friend, and mother of my god child, and her father.  I woke up early because the closest race to the beach house we were staying was an hour away from the race.  This is ironic because the race was practically across the street from my parents house.

The morning was cold, as you can see by the photo which was taken after the race.  We warmed up and hopped back in the car until race start.  They finally lined us up and we began the race.  This course reminded me how much hills are not in my racing vocabulary.  It's amazing how when a race starts at the top of a hill you some how forget about it at the end of the race. I kept a great pace for the first 2 miles, but man that last mile was a killer. I pushed through the hill and beat a guy I had my sights since mile 1 at the finish.  You knew I wasn't going to just let him beat me.

I was so proud to see Erin and her dad cross the finish line. It's always awesome to see your friends race hard. Sometimes I get more excited for them than for me. Both posted impressive times and looked strong. Looking forward to racing with them soon.

 
 
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First race after the beast of Ironman Miami 70.3. This is a good test of the running season to see how much work I need to do. I set a PR in this race in 2010, could I do it again?

The morning was perfect, not too hot or humid. I also had my love out there racing. So, I had to perform to my best. I definitely pushed through the pain and forced myself to try my hardest to match that PR, but it was not to be. I was almost a minute slower than the year before, but was happy with my effort. Also can't complain about the 2nd place. Off to work on my distance speed for ING!

 
 
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Welcome to the final triathlon of my 2011 season. This triathlon was a challenge to say the least; choppy waters, storm force winds, and a race that would never seem to end. This race took every bit of mental and physical fortitude that I possessed. This triathlon was also to be my redemption from last year's fiasco.

The morning started with bitter rain mixed with winds well over 20 MPH. Rumors were floating that the race may be canceled but not for us. As the start approached, the rain began to dissipate and the winds lessened. However, us 30-34 age groupers had to wait over an hour from the official start to being our waves. That's right, I was in the second to last wave. The swim ended up not being as bad as I feared, but was still more challenging than anyone wanted. I came out of the water ready for the bike...or so I thought.

When I reached my bike, the transition area was basically a mud pit and my bike was a wet mess. No time to think, it's time for this bike. As I made my way through downtown Miami, it was becoming evident that the bike was not going to be pleasant. The streets were extremely slippery and it was evident that the triathletes ahead of me had eaten more than their fair share of asphalt. We even had to cross train tracks and I personally saw more than one cyclist fall in front of me. As we left the protection of the buildings, the wind became almost unbearable. I struggled just to keep moving and the wind just kept getting work as the minutes passed. It took every ounce of energy in my body to get me back to transition, but back to transition I did make.  This of course left me spent for the run.

The run was brutal, but luckily not has brutal as the bike. The clouds were protecting us from the sun. It was evident this race was going to be the test for my stomach. Would I have the same issues on the run as I did in New Orleans? The first loop of the run course passed and I was still moving and all my liquids and food were still in my stomach. I made the 9 mile mark and I started to feel my body. The liquids were still in my body but my stomach began to feel uneasy. I only had a 5K to go, so mentally I just had to force my body to move. As I got to the arena, I knew I could make it; however, I saw a man who was clearly in a very bad place. My body was so weak I feared I would go to his place, but the man began to collapse and I was the closest person to him. The man fell into my arms as spectators rushed over. I was able to hold the man long enough for someone else to take him. The man clearly was not happy I got him and people were helping him. This man was clearly willing to force himself to complete this race even if it mean doing the Sian Welch & Wendy Ingraham Crawl. If this same can do it, I sure as hell can do it. With ever bit of fight left in me I forced myself to the finish. This truly was an achievement for me given all the issues I have had with the distance. This was my first full 70.3, no weather course changes or medical emergencies. That being said, I am definitely down with 70.3s for awhile.

I have decided to focus only on sprints and intermediates for awhile. This decision is partly the distance and partly the race organizers. I have not had great interactions with WTC and so I have decided it is time we part ways. Thanks for the memories and we shall see each other in a couple years.

 
 
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This was to complete my Escape challenge for 2011, Escape from Alcatraz and Escape to Miami in the same year.  Both races require taking a boat to the start line, swims that can really play with your mind, challenging hilly bike course, and a run not to take lightly. Luckily for me, both races were great races for me this year.

My Escape to Miami for 2011 was about redemption for my 2009 performance. In 2009 my bike seat broke on mile 4, I did finish the race however. This year was different. I had an amazing swim given that there is no warm up for the race and we had moderate current on the way to shore. According to my team, I came out of the water pretty high up, which of course made me feel great.

As I headed out on my bike, a member of a rival team ran into me, knocking my bike and me to the ground. I got up and went on, of course a little pissed, but it's a race. As I got over the first hill I went for my water bottles and they were missing. Thankfully this race has a water bottle exchange half way through the bike. I finished the bike in a respectable time and felt ready for the run.

The run encompasses exactly no shade, luckily the sun was not out, and two brutal hills, for Miami that is.  In the rush get running, I forgot to put on socks, and given the upper lining of my shoes, that ended up not being the best idea.  At about the 2 mile I started to feel my shoes dig into my toe. I had no choice but to just put the pain out of my mind and get to the finish line as fast as my body would allow. At mile 4.5 my teammate Mickey was there to cheer me on and decided to run in with me. She pushed me so hard that as I finished the race I was puking. I was able to hold it in until the finishing chute. Nothing feel better than knowing you gave it your all and finished strong. Thanks Mickey!

 
 
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At the FDA in Miami we usually get together once a year to race in the Miami Corporate Run. However, I was traveling this year and was disappointed in not being able to compete. Just my luck, a new corporate run began this year in Doral. Of course I was all in for this race. I agreed to be the captain and organize the team. We were able to field a team of 8 runners of various abilities.

Race day saw a nasty storm roll through the area and completely soak the course. However, our team was hardcore and everyone showed up, except for one sickypoo teammate. We all got to the race site and did our own warm ups under dark skies. My coworker in domestic and I hopped over a fence to get in the starting line. As we waited for the start of the race the rain started coming down again. No backing out now, it was time to win this thing.

The gun went off and we took off. I have never had my shoes feel like lead as much as this day. The puddles all over the course were not helping and I had to fight to keep my pace up. I pushed and pushed and  finally crossed the line a minute behind my PR. I really couldn't complain considering the weather and my recent training has not been focused on speed.

After all was said and done Team FDA rocked the results with 2nd and 5th (that's me) male overall in the relay and 1st women overall in the relay. With this and our other great teammates we were the fastest team in the 5K. It was great to spend time with my coworkers and run a fun race. We will definitely be out there next year to defend our title.

 
 
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One word: AH-MAY-SEEN!!!! By far one of the the most fun races out there. One of the beauties of this race is the fact that it is a crazy course at an odd distance, so no since of time goals. I did this race for me and to have fun, and that is exactly what I had, FUN! First off, no warm-up possible for this race. This is a jump in frigid water and go. There is no turn buoy, a point to point swim with no markers other than the shore. Once your body gets over the fact it is 52 degrees, and the fastest way to warm up is swim, you actually kind of enjoy the swim. It also helps when you are in the amazing DeSoto T1 Black Pearl wetsuit, my new favorite swim toy. The course is so much fun if you know how to swim with current. I came out of the water happy with my swim and was ready for my real challenge.

T1 is actually T1/2, in which you change into running gear so that you can get to your bike. This is actually good as it allows your body to warm up before the punishing hills for the bike. The bike was so beautiful with the ridiculously beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Pacific Ocean and the parks and houses that make up San Francisco. I definitely kept the bike easy and didn't push it too hard. This allowed me to be fresh and ready for the crazy run.

This run is almost all trail running, including about a quarter of the run involving stairs. The course was wet and muddy but completely fun. If you do this race, the sand ladder is not the worst part, it's the 1/2 mile run in deep sand before the sand ladder. But, after those two major hurdles, it's basically easy sailing to the finish line 3.5 miles away. I finished this race super strong and with plenty of energy to spare. No stomach issues for this race, only the feeling of I am not an Escapee, and it feels so good!!!!

 
 
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How do you spice up your training and racing? Do an obstacle course 5K trail run. This seems that something completely off the wall, but totally fun! When I arrived at the course, Robert looked at me and said you are in so much trouble. As anyone can a test to, I have little to no upper body strength. The final 100 meters of the course involved obstacles for the upper body, see picture. That's ok, he just added fuel to my fire to finish this race.

The race started with a short run to a small creek we had cross, thank goodness for my DeSoto Tuesday Running Shorts. They can in handy with the water. Next was a run to a spiderweb to traverse. Another short run led us to a 100 meter swim to the other side of this body of water. Then another lengthy trail run that involved a log cross over a creek and a repel down a hill before we had to swim 100 meters back across the water.

A short run brought us to the final obstacles. The first one was the rope climb, let's just say this wasn't easy for me at all, but I showed Robert who owned this course! After that was the Tarzan swing, which led into the log crawl. This log was way too high for me and required some clever trouble shooting. Afterward was another spiderweb, crawl, and finally the lava run. I finished the 5K in 17th place overall for the solo racers, 5th in my age group. I recommend these types of races for anyone looking to spice of the monotony of normal racing and training, it will add some vigor to your training.

 
 
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This race has been on my race calendar every year since moving to Miami. This year was different though, I aged up to the big dogs, 30-34 age group. Having been on 70.3 training and getting ready for Alcatraz, I definitely did not know what to expect going into this race. I decided, with my coach, to do my thing: hard on the swim, steady on the bike, and push it hard on the run. The forecast was for strong winds, so I definitely was hoping that the swim would not be canceled. Luckily for me, if you race in Miami you are expected to swim in rougher conditions then most places in the U.S.

The swim began with a rough start. I have not had to work so hard to maintain my space in the water since my collegiate days. Then once you got out of the washing machine that was the start, you then had to fight the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. I came out of the water and my team mate was with me. That definitely freaked me out, but I know I used my energy wisely and I just had to race my race. Note, the run from the swim finish to the transition area is insanely long and mostly sand, shocking to the legs when coming directly from the swim.

After a quick transition, I started the bike and quickly got up to my pace. I didn't feel the wind.......at first. I felt the wind at the first turn around. I just had a goal of keeping one of my team mates in my sight without blowing up. As I went up the first hill I lost one of my team mates but the second was right in front of me. As the first descent started I felt the cross winds trying to knock me off the bike. It got so bad that I had to come out of my aero position. The happened again on the second descent. The wind then began to really hammer me on the bike in. My speed dropped my 2 MPH on the way back. I came off the bike with my team mate and then rushed for a quick transition.

Off the bike and out on the run in under a minute, I started the run strong. I wanted to maintain a solid pace while keeping an eye on my team mate. I was feeling so good that I ended up running a negative split and a triathlon 5K PR. This race definitely made me feel better after my disappointment with New Orleans, especially since I have not been training for sprints, aged up, and still managed a podium finish with 5th place. Thanks to all my fellow Tri2One team mates who encouraged me or were behind me making me run faster. Also, I love having my support crew with me. Love you!