The sandcastle logo
Second weekend in November, must be time for our annual trip to Florida for the 70.3 World Championships. For the past four years this race has been our last dose of summer before the holiday season and winter arrive. Like last year, Janda ended his season early, so he and I really had a chance to enjoy Florida without the usual race stress. Although there was other stress! As were were heading down Route 1 Janda realized that he had forgotten his wallet and license in the car. Our car was parked at Crystal's parents' house in Beverly, so that made it even more challenging! Luckily we had both just gotten new passports, so my mom ran over and got his and then Lisa's boyfriend brought it to the airport. Of course it was rush hour and traffic was starting to get backed up, so we got the passport just in time. We made it through and onto the plane and a few short hours later we were on Clearwater Beach, checking into our hotel.
Choppy water from Hurricane Ida
After Janda took care of his athletes (and their bikes), we headed out for a walk. The past three years there has been a lot of construction and a lot of it is getting finished, so it was interesting to see the changes. Janda assembled most of the group for a team dinner of sorts at a local restaurant. It was pretty cool b/c we got to meet 5 of his athletes for the first time ever! 3 from CA, 1 from VA and 1 from FLA. Of course, everyone was super nice and we had a great time at dinner. Then the athletes headed off to nervously prepare for the morning and we headed back to the hotel to watch a movie.
No transition by the pier this yearAt about 6 the next morning we headed down to the transition where we managed to see most of Team Janda. Everyone looked NERVOUS, but ready to go. Finally the race started and we settled into spectating with the wives of the two guys from VA. The swim was crazy. We only saw the run out, but there was just a constant stream of people. Come to find out later that due to the time trial start the entire race got off a half an hour early. After we saw everyone go by, we walked around the transition area and then headed to breakfast. Not the usual place, but boy did we have a filling breakfast. I didn't eat again til dinner! After we wolfed our food down, we headed back to the course to see the bike. We just missed the pro men's peloton, oops, I mean race leaders, pull back into transition. We did catch them on the run out and they were hauling!
We settled in to the usual area to watch the bikes come in and then the runners go by. It was hard to see everyone on the bike. Since everyone took off in about 35 minutes, everyone was even more bunched up than usual, at least that's how it seemed to me. We saw 2 of Janda's guys go by pulling pack of 20-30 riders. One guy had another racer glued to his wheel! It was disappointing. It didn't seem to us spectators on the stretch back to transition that they were even attempting to not draft. The group next to us was videoing the groups and yelling out "Cheaters!" as they sped by. It wasn't pretty.
Tour de Clearwater
Then we crossed the road to cheer on the runners. I love 2 loop courses b/c you have way better opportunities to see your racer(s) and this one is no exception. We saw most everybody 3 times, although a couple people snuck by us when we weren't looking. After we saw the last couple of people go out on the 2nd loop we headed back to the finish line. It was hard to catch up with people after the race- it seemed more crowded than ever, but we did see Crystal and talk to a couple other guys on the phone. We knew that Crystal was 4th in her age-group and 8th amateur overall at the time of her finish, so it was time to wait! We headed back to the hotel and used the computer to figure out how everyone did, etc... The good news was that, as far as Janda knew, everyone PR'd (that's 8 people!) and the great news was that Crystal held her podium finish and was actually the 20th woman overall.
Here's the runners I managed to get pictures of:
We went to the beach after finding everyone's splits and talking to everyone. The water was "only" 69 degrees, but it felt awfully warm to me. Those Floridians are spoiled with water temperature. That was probably our high for the summer! We went for a quick swim and then got ready for the banquet. That was the same old-same old, but it wasn't bad. We had dinner, Crystal got her award and then we met up with a few of the other guys and their wives at Shepard's. It was crazy, there was live music, lots of dancing and tons of athletes. We hung out for a while and then went home early b/c we had to leave at 5 the next morning.
We, of course, had one last glitch. When we were ready to hit the road the next morning our rental car wouldn't start. After 25 minutes on the phone, a tow truck was on the way and we were waiting out front for a cab. We made it on the plane just in time again! Luckily though, we did make it and we were home mid-afternoon, ready to get back to reality!
Congratulations to everyone who raced and especially on those new PR's.