IRONMAN FLORIDA: 11/3/12
2.4 MILE SWIM/112 MILE BIKE/26.2 MILE RUN
I arrived in Florida on Halloween, the Wednesday before the race after a really good training season. I was surprisingly not freaked out as I settled into my condo on the beach. I called Tammy, who had arrived earlier that day to figure out what our plan was for Thursday. I needed to do my packet pick-up and she needed to get her bike and we would do an easy 45 minute ride. Great.
The next morning I woke up and took a shower, ate some oatmeal and started to put my bike together when Tammy called. “I think we should swim this morning” She said. Argh! I just took a shower! Then I looked out the back window of the condo at the beach. There were people surfing and I think I saw a pirate ship fighting a giant squid. She wants to swim in that!?! Tammy’s theory was that if we swam in the worst, most dangerous conditions imaginable, nothing race morning threw at us could stop us. I looked at the surf report which predicted zero wind and gently lapping surf on race day. Did I really want to subject myself to this when race day we would perfect calm conditions? I reluctantly agreed to meet her on the beach.
Someone had secured a buoy about 100 meters off the beach. We determined that we would swim to the buoy and back twice, just to get used to swimming in the ocean. I waded into the water as the waves crashed around me. At about 40 feet in a wave hit me knocking me 20 feet back. Oh, this was going to be fun. Unfortunately, once I got into the water over my head, there were still waves crashing on me tossing me about. I fought my way out beyond the breaking waves which took about 10 minutes. This was not good, but hey, we have 2:10 to get through the swim which is about an hour more time than I would need on a good race day, soI figured my swim time might suck, but I would be able to finish in time.
Once beyond the surf, the swells were really quite manageable. I swam out to the buoy and headed back. Easy breezy lemon squeezy… until I got tot he breaking waves. On the way in, you couldn’t see them coming as they hit you in the back of the head, sucked you under and dragged you along the bottom of the ocean and knock your goggles off. When you would pop up, it would be the same thing all over again. By the time I made it to shore I was about 150 meters further down the beach, and exfoliated.
Tammy wanted to go out again, but at this point my theory was first that coach Jen said a 20 minute swim and that 200 meters did take 20 minutes, then “That sucked. Doing it again will not suck any less. If this is the race day condition, it will also suck. Let’s not drown or get hurt today.” I was able to convince Tammy that she didn’t want to go out again either.
I went back to my room and took another shower, then breakfast, then packet pick-up, then a bike ride.
Through out the day other TriZone teammates and friends were arriving in town. Although I was the only TZer doing IMFL, Natasha Van Der Merwe would be racing as was Tammy and a new friend Kevin. However, I had my hubby Phil, then Carolyn, Carol, Kim H, Kim B, Jenny, Elle, Vicki, Kenneth, Nicki and Drew and their crew came out to cheer me on and sign up for next year. Then Dina, Vicky, Chris and Bill were there for Tammy. So I had a pretty good crew.
I slept like poo Thursday night and woke up bright and early to a gently lapping surf. I texted Tammy and told her I would be out on my 30 minute run. The weather was beautiful. I got back to the condo at about 8:30 and grabbed my wetsuit then met Tammy on the beach. You could see the bottom of the ocean through the water and we had a pleasant uneventful swim. That’s what I’m talking about!
I met the crew for brunch, then eventually got over to checking in my bike and T1 nd T2 bags. There was a bit of drama about the AthleteTracker GPS unit which was supposed to be coming from Connecticut but was delayed by the devastating hurricane, so I didn’t even know if I would have it before the race or if I could get it in my T1 bag. I wasn’t sweating it as Connecticut had enough problems and I felt bad for the poor woman in charge of getting them mailed when there was no power and their streets were flooded. We did get them on time. I relaxed back at the condo before heading out to pick up Phil from the airport. I was in bed by 9 and slept like a rock. I really felt like this race was gonna be ok.
I got up at about 4:30 and ate some breakfast, drank some tea, got dressed, used the restroom. I opted to swim in my sport bra since I would be putting a cycling jersey on for the bike (needed the pockets). A tri-top would just be one more wet thing to get out of after the swim. At 5:40 Tammy and Dina came over and we walked the 1/2 mile to T1 with out wetsuits, goggles, water bottles, and morning dry clothes bags. After wandering around for a while I finally found the entrance to T1 and was able to borrow a pump and pump up my tires, put my water bottles on my bike (I had attached 5 gels to the stem and 3 Cliff Z-bars in the bento box, with a PB&J in my jersey the day before). I don’t know where the time went, but before I knew it I was standing in the port-o-john line with only 15 minutes until transition closed. I am never running that close. Usually, I’m napping somewhere waiting for transition to close. Now I didn’t even know if I would l get to use the bathroom and I really needed to use the bathroom.
By the time I got into the port-o-john there was nary a square of TP, not even the roll (oh, come on, we’ve all used the roll in a pinch). I rushed out of the port-o-john and started looking for something, anything to, well, you know. . . but transition was closing and they were throwing us out. I grabbed my wetsuit and headed out of transition when I saw a volunteer with a roll of paper towels. I begged a square, then ended up in the maid’s closet cleaning up where there was both a bit of privacy and a garbage can. I got halfway into my wetsuit, but at this point I was kinda stressed and I had lost Tammy and it was too late to meet Jenny “inside” as we had agreed, with only 10 minutes until the race start. I headed out to the beach where there was a total human traffic jam. Breathe, breathe, breathe . . .
Then I looked and saw that the angry sea and vigorously flapping flags. WTF? The guy said calm winds, gentle surf!!! A$$hole!
Ok, maybe it wasn’ t that bad. It wasn’t as bad as Thursday, but it was nothing like Friday (or the following Sunday or Monday for that matter). Whereas there would normally be rolling swells beyond the breaking waves, this was just more waves, and more waves all the way out to the far buoy.
I shuffled towards the swim start mat when in a sea of thousand of people, I spotted Jenny. She found me! I really needed someone to chill me the heck out and seeing Jenny was a total Godsend.
I crossed the matt and waded out into the water. It really wasn’t as bad as it looked. It seemed that they had blocked the beach off more narrowly then when I raced in 2010, so even though I was trying to get away from everyone, I ended up in the thick of things. This did not end up being a bad thing as I think I only ever spotted three of the buoys. Instead of swimming up a wave swell then looking for the buoy, I would swim up a wave swell then, boom, get dropped about 5 feet tot he bottom of the wave. But I figured the 300 folks closest to me had some clue of where they were going, so I drafted off of folks in front of me and passed when a gap opened up. The boys were a bit rough, but they are big and create nice draft zones and I can hold my own. I got through the first 1.2 mile swim loop in about 36 minutes, then ran out of the water through the inflated arch over the map and . . . Dang! where did all these spectators come from?!
This is totally not a complaint because it clearly shows everyone’s enthusiasm, but the spectators were knee-deep in the water cheering us on. Not a huge deal, but I would have preferred running on the beach the extra 100 meters to lopping through thigh deep water, but the wall of spectators hundreds deep on the beach required the racers to run in the water. I totally blame the extra 6 minutes it took me to complete my second lap on this fact.
My second lap was much less congested, I was actually able to choose who I wanted to draft off of and didn’t get hit nearly as much. Before I knew it I was out a the far buoy again and knew I just had to swim in and the Ironman swim would be done.
Swim time: 1:18:28 (I find it really amusing that Elle was able to tel me that I had beat my 2010 swim time by seconds. I am not the only stalker out there!)
I ran up the beach to the wetsuit strippers. They had laid rugs down for us to lay on, but by the time I got out of the water the rug was covered in sand, so I ended up covered in sand as the volunteers whipped my wetsuit off. I ran through the freshwater shower with a very cursory rinse. Through the tunnel, passed the transition bags, grabbing 757, down the aisle to the changing tent (which was actually in a building). The temperature out of the water wasn’t even a little cold, prolly mid 60’s, so there was no need to put on a bunch of clothes or warm up. I grabbed my jersey (I had already put my gloves and extra nutrition in the pockets), zipped it up, race belt, socks, shoes, back down the aisle to my bike, grabbed my bike and ran to the mount line! Let’s just say, there was a long way to run in your bike shoes through T1.
T1 time: 8:12 (5 minutes better than 2010)
I jumped on my bike and headed out. The course was very congested and for the first 10 or so miles I did my best to keep at least two bike lengths between me and bike the in front of my and I was doing a lot better then almost everyone else at least trying to stay out of a draft zone, but there were so many cyclists (and yeah, there were folks not even trying to not draft). The weather was perfect, pretty much no wind, sun, beautiful smooth roads. And I felt great.
I turned my watch timer on to beep me every 1/2 hour to keep track of my nutrition and hydration. I had yellow Gatorade in my bottles and figured I could get water on the course, then switch to that nasty Ironman drink when I ran out of Gatorade.
I had a blast on the bike. Felt really good. Played leapfrog with several cyclists but pretty much dropped everyone on the “hills”
But seriously, every time there was any sort of incline I would pass 3-5 people, then eventually look back (to pass someone or spit or something) and no one would be behind me.
The ride was pretty uneventful. The 6 out/6 back mile stretch of crappy road is still there. But it just served to help me appreciate how freaking nice Florida roads really are. No, none, nein chip seal at all anywhere! No giant wheel eating cracks. The only thing you had to look out for where errant water bottles.
I saw Jenny, then Elle as I entered the second out and back section close to the end, and I could swear I saw Jack Murray, but Jenny assured me that it was a Jack Murray Doppelgänger in Florida. Then as I was intently riding down the side of a highway Jenny and Elle pulled up next to me in the truck to get some action pictures.
I dunno what happened during the last 1/2 hour of the ride (but I have my suspicions and it has something to do with that nasty Powerbar Perform sports drink), but suddenly my stomach was all wonky and I started getting a headache. I really didn’t want to run a marathon with a headache and nausea. This has never happened to me on a ride -not on a long ride, not on a hard ride.
I took it easy the last 4 miles in, I wouldn’t have gained more than seconds and I wanted to try to let my stomach and head settle. As I turned onto S. Thomas Street – the road to transition, I remembered my new easy to get out of button/cable cycling shoes. What the heck. Might as well try to take my shoes off on the bike for the first time in my life after a very successful Ironman bike leg. The shoes are really easy to get out of and I had no problem getting them off my feet and leaving them on my bike when I dismounted (now it was no flying squirrel dismount, but it wasn’t ugly either).
Bike time: 5:48:00 – 27 minutes and 1.4 mph faster this year than 2010
In my socks I grabbed my T2 bag and ran into the changing tent. It was pretty warm out, but I did change into a running singlet which I knew would not ride up and drive me crazy during the run. A volunteer fogged me with sunscreen while another put my Garmin on my wrist, got my running shoes on, grabbed my 10 oz ‘squirt water on my head’ water bottle and was out. Well, not quite out. My tummy was wonky, so I jumped into a port-o-john to see if I could make anything happen. Total bust, but at least I knew that would not be an issue on the run. So I just had to worry about puking.
T2 – 4:47 with a bathroom break, meh not bad and over 6 minutes faster than 2010.
Cue up “Tumbling Tumbleweed” music.
The run is an out and back X 2, with a turn around in the park, then a turn around close to the finish line. You run down Thomas Dr in a little neighborhood, then cross into a longer neighborhood, where you run for a while, then cross back into another beach neighborhood right before you hit the park. The TZ crew was at the 1ish mile marker. So I saw them when I started, then back at mile 12 ish, then out at mile 14ish.
Yeah, I had a hard time getting started on the run. This is not particularly unusual, as the frist 3 miles of a brick (bike to run) always suck, but the headache was a new thing and I couldn’t tell if I really needed to barf (also new). After the first three miles I still felt like poo and in fact, questioned whether I would end up walking the run as I walked each water stop and made a deal with myself that I would start running at that mailbox/lightpost/speed bump. I was hot, and the water I dumped on my head, while refreshing, could not kill my headache. Tammy ran by me in the other direction looking fleet-footed and spry. I hated her right then. After about mile 5 1/2, I felt like I could probably run at a pace, it was a slow pace, but at least it was running more than walking. I got out to the park, ok 1/4 the way through! On my way out of the park I was still feeling like poo. I saw Dina and Bill but just felt miserable and was not particularly social.
At about mile 10 I spied a bag of Lays potato chips on a volunteer table. “Can I have some of those?!” “Sure,” the volunteer said,then set about looking for a cup or plate to pour them onto. I just cupped my hands. I ate those chips like a horse at a trough and washed it down with warm coke. This was the best meal of my entire life!! I started feeling better. My stomach was never quite right, but I opted to keep eating and perhaps throw up at some point, then not eat and bonk. I figured if I puked I could just eat more, but if I bonked I was done. Then I started hitting the volunteer tables with the chicken broth. Manna from heaven. Mmmm, so salty. THAT is what I really needed! I grabbed a cup at every waterstop that had it.
I saw Vicky and Chris at the 1/2 turn-around area. Hey gals!
The second loop was much better than the first. I passed Tammy (who was heading in for the final time) and Dina (on a bike next to her) and said “You finish this, Girl!” Woo-hoo! I got through the park (milestone) and passed the 20 mile marker (milestone!).
Usually in a marathon the 20 mile mark is when folks start to bonk. I knew I wouldn’t bonk. I’d been eating at every stop (usually just a slice of orange and bit of coke or chicken broth, but it was consistent). I knew that once I cleared the “big neighborhood” I would be home free. With each mile marker I picked up my pace. At this point there were several people walking and a lot of spectators walking with them for support. I just ran through people “Excuse me. pardon me. Sorry. Whoops, look out!” By mile 22 I was flying – like, people were commenting. Anyone who had been moving fast should have already been done, so I looked like the Flash out there. My entire mindset was “Please God, get me out of this neighborhood!” I knew once I crossed Thomas Dr I only had about 1 1/2 miles to go and I could do that! I stopped looking at my watch because what is was gonna be as what it was gonna be. I had been doing my best and hoping for a sub-12:00 IM which looked like a possibility early on, but then knowing that I would or would not make it was not going to make me move any faster and might just depress me.
As I got to the 13 mile turn around (where I would NOT be turning around, but running through to the finish line), I saw Phil who started to run me in, but I seriously couldn’t take the stress of him running next to me or, God forbid trying to talk to me (yes, in fact, that does sound ridiculous now but at the time it was too much stress). My sun glasses started to bounce off my visor, so I grabbed them in my left hand with my water bottle in my right, so now my hands were taken and I couldn’t even high five anyone. Sorry, 100’s of screaming spectators.
I would like to say that I did have a negative split, but those last 4 miles I was flying. Still stopped at the water stops, but according to my Garmin I was running about a 9-9:05 minute mile – muuuuuch faster than the first 22 miles!
Run time: 4:52:07 at an 11:08 minute mile, not near as good as my 2010 run time, but what are ya gonna do?
Total Finish time: 12:11:34
After thoughts: How amazing is it that I had so much support on the course considering that few friends were actually racing? Thank you all so much for being there, especially on the run when i really needed it.
I am happy with my time and my 19 minute PR. Of course, after sleeping on it and with my competitive personality, I want to kick my self for not finding that other 11 minutes on the run course. The crazy hill rides and riding with people much faster than I am has helped my bike this year. That will definitely become part of my training plans in the future. But I have not had good runs in my longer races this year , really all year, (I did fine in the sprints and Olys, but Corpus, Buff Springs and Kerrvile had disappointing runs for me) so I need to figure out what is going on and get that fixed and have a successful Half Iron season then maybe consider IM in 2014.