I just ran a triathlon

It may have been a short triathlon, taking place in North Miami Beach, but it was the maximum length allowed to be called a sprint and it was a good stepping stone for me in trying out this new sport. The race was the 25.75 North Miami Triathlon and it felt great to get out there and even better to finish!

First.  What is a Triathlon?

A triathlon is three sports; swimming, cycling and running.  The three sports are always in that order, it’s pretty logical when you think about it.  In this race, the swim was 750 (.46mi) beautiful meters of open water swimming in Miami’s Biscayne Bay followed by a 20k (12.4mi) bike ride and a 5k (3.1mi) run.  My job was very simply to do those three events, in that order, as quickly as possible.

 miamitriathlon I just ran a triathlon

But Wait, What about those Adventure Races you used to run?

So yes, the adventure races are far more involved, take a lot longer, and involve lots of alligators.  This was NOT that.  My best hope for wildlife was a manatee or two but we didn’t see any of those.  Last year Jill did an Xterra Triathlon in the same waters and other swimmers did report a manatee in the water, but I digress. In an adventure race, the racer uses a map and compass to navigate the wilderness, sometimes on bike and sometimes on foot or in a boat, in whatever direction he or she chooses.  I view adventure races as a more difficult undertaking than a triathlon, simply because of how long it lasts and the mental anguish of poor decision making.  But, the events are very different and require a different type of fitness and mental fortitude.  An adventure race can last for 6 hours to 6 days, this triathlon took me just over 90 minutes while the longest available – the Iron Man – will take the winner just over 8 hours.  Because it is shorter, the triathlon requires a different sort of athleticism and a lot more hustle and no real opportunity to sit down and breathe.  Added benefit of the triathlon: finishing in time for brunch!

As I mentioned, I finished in just over 90 minutes, which is fantastic considering my [much too easy] goal was 2 hours.  My swim time was tremendously quicker than I had expected, I’d been working on that, while my run, which I did in normal shoes, and bike were right about as good as I could have hoped.  Here are my stats:

times I just ran a triathlon

The setting for the race was absolutely beautiful.  Miami’s Biscayne Bay and cycling through Oleta River State Park was a treat as well.  What wasn’t a treat was being passed on the bike by more racers than I could count.  Basically, if do an image search for the word triathlete, you’ll see what one looks like and the kind of bicycle they have.  Sometimes those bikes cost as much as $5,000.  My bike, which I use to commute, cost a measly $300 and well, I don’t think I much look like a triathlete.  Still, I enjoyed a great morning and have something to build off of.  Besides, I had the best looking cheerleaders of the entire race!

miamitriathlonkids I just ran a triathlon

IF YOU want to do a triathlon as well the 2575 race series is a great way to start.  The races are short, yet still long enough to be a very meaningful distance.  Also, the locations are simply phenomenal.  Using these races to travel all around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean wouldn’t be such a bad plan.

Review: SANParks South African Wild Card

The decision to purchase the South African wild card park pass was an easy one. We were coming to Africa and we were told that within South Africa we could do our own game drives and safaris and not pay for an expensive tour or guide. With a little more research we realized that this would save us loads of money as compared to paying for these services in South Africa or elsewhere in Africa. With the SANParks Wild Card pass we were able to save even more money.elephantbutts Review: SANParks South African Wild Card

Before you decide to purchase the card be sure to do a little research on the park fees you’re due to pay without the card. For us, over 5 days in Kruger National Park, we were going to come close to the cost of the Wild Card. We figured, correctly, that if we used it even one more time it would break even and anything beyond that was effectively free. Ultimately it paid for itself more than two times over 6 weeks.

The card was easy to purchase and we did so when we first arrived at the campsite within Kruger National Park. Because we were foreigners the price was about three times as much as the locals paid, but it still made sense to purchase. At that time, the cost in South African Rand was about $250 for our “couple” pass and, considering thats what the fees at the Ngorongoro Crater worked out to be I think we made the right decision. Upon arrival at each park, we showed our card, they scanned it, and we moved on.4626433752 982cd84cfa Review: SANParks South African Wild Card

The pass was good at every single park in the SANParks system. This wasn’t only game parks but also historical and heritage sites such as Cape Point near Cape Town. The pass was also good at a few parks in Swaziland.

Additionally, the pass does give you 5% back every time you pay for lodging at the park. This is a nice feature but as we only had 6 weeks inside the country we didn’t realize we’d need to register the card in order to use it. Our last day in South Africa we went to use the R50 we’d earned (about $7) but couldn’t because the card hadn’t been registered.

Review: Tempest Car Rental (South Africa)

We rented a Hyundai Atos from Tempest Car Rental for 6 weeks of touring through South Africa. A few reasons we chose Tempest include:

They were the only company operating in South Africa that would give us a special month long rate, this rate was cheaper than the next best offer by far.

They were the only car company that allowed us to enter Swaziland, Lesotho & Namibia free of charge. (Note: There was a fee for Botswana however and Zimbabwe was not permitted. This was consistent with all other car rental agencies where we inquired)

They allowed us to return the car to a different location for a smaller fee than all the competition as well.

Basically we chose them because they were the cheapest all the way around. There was nobody that came close to the price we were quoted. The car we rented was new and in excellent condition. We had no car troubles.

Returning the car was almost a headache but it shouldn’t have been. We rushed to get it to the airport by the time of day we had rented the vehicle, to avoid paying for another days service. We sped around trying to find gasoline but failed, fearing the worst in fees. Upon arrival we learned that the rate fee to fill the tank was trivial compared to what we would have paid anyhow and that we were allotted a grace of an additional few hours. It took a few days for our credit card to be charged properly, but it was and we were extremely satisfied with 100% of the service we received. You should be aware that Tempest is associated with Europcar.

http://www.tempest.co.za/

Review: Nalubale Rafting (Jinja, Uganda)

We contacted Nalubale Rafting when we arrived in Jinja at the suggestion of a friend. On price alone Nalubale was 30%-40% cheaper than just about everyone else in town and on that recommendation alone we were sold. After speaking to the owners/guides about the river levels and the river-boarding we preferred to do, we were also sold on the personalized level of service we were about to receive as well as their river knowledge as well. We are two whitewater kayakers, know many whitewater rivers, and know the difference between someone just trying to sell the river and someone who actually knows and respects its dangers. Working mostly with Reuben, we were told that the river was a little low for river-boarding but that we could take the boards and fins and do it whenever we could.

The morning was a bit 4492046937 b3da7dcfe6 m Review: Nalubale Rafting (Jinja, Uganda)slow to start on account of finding boards and fins for the three of us but even with that delay we were still on the water ahead of the other rafting trips. A quick lesson on using the boards in the river and we were good to go. Throughout the day Reuben was a perfect guide. Leading down good, clean lines so that we had fun in the rapids rather than a bad time. On those rapids of questionable difficulty he was clear in articulating the dangers and advised us when it was best to get into the raft and off the board…the final decision always left to us. Our day on the river could have been a lot worse but I don’t really see how it could have been any better. The extras were also top notch. The food provided to us, three small meals, was far more substantial than the one or two snacks I’m usually accustomed to…and then beers and sodas for the ride back to Jinja as well.

4492718226 2cdf94b1a6 m Review: Nalubale Rafting (Jinja, Uganda)Logistics were all handled well and with three safety kayakers monitoring the three of us at all times we were never in any danger. I am not sure but I believe shuttles to Kampala and camping sites can also be arranged at no extra charge. The most difficult part of the day was that we were staying at the Nile River Explorers Backpackers, home to not only the only backpacker accomodation in town, but also one of the largest rafting outfits in the entire country. Their prices were higher and due to their size, the impersonal nature of the staff rubbed us the wrong way. Some managers were nice but others were the opposite of helpful and really irked us. In the end I was extremely pleased that we chose not to go down the river with them.

www.nalubalerafting.com
bookings@nalubalerafting.com
+256 (0)782 638938

Review: Kayak Pucon (Pucon, Chile)

We chose to do our Chilean whitewater kayaking with Kayak Pucon for a few reasons, but mostly because it was owned and operated by locals. We actually didn’t know it existed originally and walked into another whitewater shop in Pucon only to be turned off by the rather cold, business-like attitude of the proprietor. Had we not literally stumbled onto Kayak Pucon, we would have skipped kayaking in Pucon all together.

For starters their gear was some of the best we’ve rented in our travels, (we’ve had awful) complete with everything we could want for cold water paddling with the exception of gloves…but we didn’t want those anyhow. We had our choice of boats and aside from our guide we were the only ones on the river. Our guide, the owner, spoke his native Spanish as well as fluent English. We not only chose which river we wanted to run, but also which section and how much time for warm-up we wanted. In short, it was our own, privately tailored trip all for less money than that original gringo wanted to charge us. We had a great time on the river, no incidents to report despite the unusually high water, and hope to kayak with them again someday.

I do really want to stress the quality of the equipment. This was the first time we were in cold water and with were provided with farmer john neoprene wet-suits as well as dry suits. Several times on this trip we’ve kayaked in cold water with none of this made available to us.