Ironman Florida - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
Ironman North America
72F / 22C
Total Time = 13h 04m 13s
Overall Rank = 1325/2439
Age Group = 45 - 49
Age Group Rank = 29/86
Pre-race routine:

All loaded down with race gear heading for Panama City Beach for our FIRST IRONMAN!


Arrived Wednesday night before the race after an 11 hour drive. First thing Thursday morning, we met up with a huge group of BTers for a practice swim. I was thankful they were there because we got a much better practice swim in than Pete and I would have alone. JELLYFISH! Tons of them! In the race meeting, we were told they are called Pink Meanies.


After swim practice, Pete and I headed out on the bike course. WIND! Oh my gosh, the wind nearly knocked me right off Tiny Roo, esp the gusts that came between the buildings downtown. I'm glad we experienced this so I knew what to expect on race day. No aerobars through THIS section!

Then came time for packet pickup. Lots of forms, waivers, and medical info; I felt like I was signing my life away!


Friday we did another swim. ROUGH water today! Wow, sure hope it calms down before the race! Then a quick run, then time to drop off bikes and bags. It was hard to leave Roo out on the rack all night, but he had about 2600 other bikes to keep him company!

Event warmup:

We stayed in the host hotel, so transition and finish line were right in our parking lot. Race morning, I got up at 4:30 a.m. Had coffee and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat. Later I had a serving of Infinit Mud. Went down for body marking, checked tires, and dropped off special needs bags. Then back to hotel room to get wetsuit on, then down to swim start.

We watched the professionals take off at 6:50 a.m., then they played the national anthem.
  • 1h 26m 16s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 02s / 100 yards

I wore old flip flops down to the beach so my feet would not be freezing in the cold sand. The crowd was so huge that it was hard to know where to start. We moved farther to the right, but it was not far enough; I still got pummeled.

The gun sounded and we were off! Or were we? The crowd slowly moved towards the water and waded in. I now had time to squat down and fill my wetsuit with water, Brrrr!!! I adjusted my goggles and dunked my head to get over the initial cold shock and check my seal. All systems go!

JELLYFISH! Tons of them too, called Pink Meanies. But I was prepared because we already encountered them on our practice swims and were also briefed at the mandatory meeting. We were swimming over and through them. At times I stopped stroking in order to glide over one without touching it. There was also a HUMONGOUS blobblish looking one that looked like a ghost from Pac Man and was as big as a soccer ball. Eeeeew!

The first loop seemed very slow going as we were swimming over and into each other in the big washing machine crowd. My goggles began fogging even though I had used defogger. I stopped to rinse them, then could not get a good seal. But the tiny bit of water that got into my goggles helped keep them clear and was not enough to bother me, so I left it.

When I got to the second turn buoy, I saw the lines that tied the buoy down. I also saw a man with a rope around him. I said, "Oh no! Is someone caught in the tie line?" Then I heard a man in front say to the man with the rope to keep swimming. That's when I realized the man in the rope was blind! The rope was the tow line to his guide person. I got all choked up and had to pause a moment to hold back a tear. Then I pressed on in to finish the first loop.

Out of the water, over the chip mat, quick sip of water, and back in for the second loop. This time we had to swim out diagonally back over to the first buoy line and out to the turn buoy. People were more spread out by now and it was hard to navigate but at least there was not so much bumping and pushing. Coming back from the second loop was against the current and I felt I was making no progress at all. But eventually, there was the swim finish! I still felt completely fine at this point as if I hadn't even done anything yet!

Stopped at the wetsuit stripper, now called "peelers" for political correctness. Got my wetsuit off, then ran up under the shower to rinse off the saltwater.

Off to transition!

Here is a video of the swim start! IMFL Mass Swim Start 2011

Race morning swim start gathering. Pete took this pic right before we headed down to swim start.
What would you do differently?:

Seed myself farther right in order to avoid the worst of the crowd at the buoy line.
Transition 1
  • 11m 11s

Grabbed my bag from the bag drop area and ran into the ladies changing area inside the building. It was VERY crowded. I managed to find a spot and dumped my things out. I dried off with a towel, put on my cycling jersey, socks, run number belt, and a wind breaker jacket. Then I shoved my wetsuit into the bag.

As I was doing this, I heard a woman say she lost her chip strap! Oh my goodness... I said that I ALWAYS safety pin my chip strap for extra security. She said she would next time. Then, I saw a woman sitting topless in a chair using a breast pump! She had a baby 3 months ago and needed to pump her breasts in order to relieve the pressure/pain of engorged breasts. Doing and Ironman 3 months after having a baby? Yikes!

I grabbed my shoes and sunglasses and off I ran. I had elected to run in my socks to my bike, then put my shoes on there. It was a long run to my bike, so I think this was easier than running in my cleats. A volunteer already had my bike off the rack and was ready to hand it to me as soon as I got my shoes on. I grabbed Tiny and off we went!

What would you do differently?:

I don't think I could have done much better other than to simply move faster. I was a bit slow simply because I was really trying to think things through and not forget anything.
  • 6h 32m 20s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.12 mile/hr

Thank goodness we did a short practice bike and I knew going through town would be VERY gusty, esp between buildings. I nearly got thrown off my bike by the wind during practice. Tiny Roo only weighs 18 lbs and my 117 lbs is not enough to keep him on the ground in windy gusts.

Winds were 15+ mph, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. I'm not so good in headwinds and this was my biggest fear of the race. But I just dug in and kept moving forwards. It wasn't long before Pete came up from behind and passed me; but he did not see me or realize that he passed me. I was surprised because that meant that I got out of T1 before him. I kept him in sight for awhile, then he went on ahead while I continued to battle the nasty headwinds. I took no nutrition off the course but only grabbed water bottles when needed; I was depending on my Infinit formula which I had in my bottom tube for safe keeping. I also had a few solid food items to use between Infinit servings. I had to make a pee stops for which I had to wait in line at the porta-potty. Made me wish I was gutsy enough to pee on the bike like I've heard others do!

I saw Pete as I was approaching the turn around to the special needs area but then lost sight of him when he stopped at special needs. I pulled in, removed my jacket, quickly swapped out my nutrition, then pulled up to the porta-potty for yet another pee stop.

Back on Roo for the second half of the ride. Now the winds had changed direction and Tiny Roo was ready to rock and roll. I SWEAR he is like Herby the Love Bug and has a mind of his own. He took off on me at this point. I swapped out his compact crank set for a lightweight standard. When I get to cranking that big chain ring against the 650 wheels, Roo just flies on momentum alone. I was worried that I should not be cranking a big gear for fear it would ruin my run, but I was between 85 and 90 cadence for the most part, so I just went with it. Crossed another chip mat and into the final leg of the race. Approaching town, I got back into those wind gusts and had to hold onto Roo with all my might. But we made it back through town and into the dismount. I got off, handed Roo over to a bike handler and ran for my run bag.

Bike Nutrition:
4 servings of Infinit = 1176 calories
1 waffle stinger = 160
1 larabar = 190
1 gu gel = 100
1 powerbar = 242
Total on bike = 1868
What would you do differently?:

I honestly can't think of anything I would do different. Maybe could have pushed harder at the beginning of the bike in the wind, but that might have killed my legs (shrug).
Transition 2
  • 04m 1s

I ran to my run bag, swapped my shoes, put on my fuel belt, and was ready to go. I had decided to leave my bike jersey on since my arm warmers were in the back pocket and I thought I might need them later. I was instructed that I still had to go through the building changing area to get to the Run Out. I ran in to hand off my bag and asked where the Run Out was. The lady said, "come here honey and have a seat (pointing to a chair). I said I don't want to sit down, I want to run! She said, "Are you done already?" Ahhhhh! Stop asking me questions and just point me to the Run Out!!! Of course I did not say that out loud. She finally pointed me through the building; I ran through the transition area, then out for my run.
What would you do differently?:

  • 4h 50m 25s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 11m 06s  min/mile

I decided to just hit a comfort pace and keep a steady consistent run. My plan was to walk 30 steps at each aid station while drinking plain water. I had two servings of Infinit in my fuel belt, and another two in my special needs bag. I had extra solid nutrition in my special needs bag, but knew I would likely eat a bit off the course later in the run when I got sick of drinking Infinit.

The run was exciting because of all of the community support. Many of the town aid stations where decorated with a theme and costumes. One was Christmas Land with Santa Clause, one was luau grass skirts; I can't even remember them all. There were girls outside of a pub dressed as dominatrixes and one wacked me on the bum with her cat-o-nine tails... Wooo!!! There was a man dressed as Elvis, guys dressed as girls, people holding up signs, "Chuck Norris is not an Ironman!" and "Run like her husband is on his way home!" One simply said "Focus."

The first loop of the run was uneventful. I saw Scottie early on and yelled a cheer to him. I didn't see Jennifer until later in the run and I don't recall ever seeing Alan (He's too fast!)" It started getting dark and cold and I knew I'd want to change my shirt when I got to my Special Needs bag at the halfway point. When I got there I took off my fuel belt and stripped off my sweaty wet jersey. I stood there in my bra as I dug for my dry long-sleeved shirt. I replaced my fuel belt bottles and put the belt back on, then grabbed a Larabar to eat on the go. As I started to walk off, I changed my mind on the Larabar to put it back because my body had shut down digestion at this point and I didn't feel I could stomach it. This is when I saw Pete coming around the chip mat into Special Needs. He was hot on my tail!

The second loop was cold and dark, but the crowds were still in the streets cheering us on. I'm generally a very consistent runner, and my pace remained about the same throughout. I didn't really look at my Garmin or keep track of time because it didn't really matter. When I got to the last 4 miles and man came from behind and started talking to me. He said, 'Do you want me to pace you in? If you stay with me, you'll be under 13 hours." I said, "What?" I had no idea I was coming in that close to 13 hours. I asked him his pace and he told me 9 something (can't remember), and I said I didn't think I could do it. This is the point in the race where the pain set in and every speed bump and divot in the road HURT! I ran with him for a short while then decided to back off and just keep my steady slower pace.

It wasn't long before I started nearing the finish line with all of the cheering and cow bells! I passed a few people as I was coming down the chute because I was SO READY to hear those words: "Barbara Maria Driscoll, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" Woo hoo!!!

A volunteer caught me and held me up as they removed my timing chip. They handed me a finisher's cap and T-shirt, then took me for a photo. I then stumbled half delirious out of the finish area and realized I forgot to look at my finish time and had no idea what time of day it was. I looked up at the spectators with a confused look on my face and said, "What time is it anyway?" I was told it was 8:08 p.m.

I saw Alan at the finish line who had finished minutes before and me and we congratulated each other. Then I found the pizza and went back to the finish line to wait for Pete. Next one in was Scottie! And shortly after that Pete made it in too. I was FREEZING and could not wait to go up to the hotel room to get warm. It sure was nice that our room was so close by!

We were too cold and exhausted to go back downstairs, so we showered, rested and went to bed at 11:30 p.m. With the Finish Line right outside our room, we laid their listening to the loud music, cheering, and subsequent "YOU ARE AN IRONMAN" announcements. We listened right up to the end wondering how many people would miss the cutoff. They did the 10 second countdown to midnight.... Then the music suddenly shut off, the cheering suddenly stopped, and the lights went out. Silence. As quick as it started, it ended...

Run nutrition:
2ish servings of Infinit = 392
1/2 banana
2 tiny cups of coke
4 tiny cups of chicken broth
(Total for race including breakfast ~2900, 223 per hour)

Digestion stopped about halfway through the run, so I did not drink my second two servings of Infinit that were planned.

Here is a clip of me crossing the finish line:Maria crossing the finish line

Here is another clip of me crossing the finish line, but you might have to have a facebook account to view it: Maria crossing the finish line

What would you do differently?:

I could have run harder but was afraid to. I thought I might bonk if I pushed too hard at the beginning, so I held back. I ran this entire course (well, jogged) except for the 30 steps I took at aid stations, but I started skipping aid stations towards the end because I was about to vomit and didn't even want to look at food.
Post race
Warm down:

I conquered Panama City Beach!

Relaxing in the hot tub two days after the race felt good! Went down to Bradenton, FL to visit my brother before coming home.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I appear in the official 2011 race highlights video! I can be seen at 7:40 and 8:37.

IMFL Race Highlights 2011

Race Results

Event comments:

AWESOME RACE! I am sad because there will never be another FIRST Ironman!!! But I'll be back!!!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2010-11-08 12:00 AM
01:26:16 | 4224 yards | 02m 02s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/86
Overall: 0/2439
Performance: Average
Suit: Full Vortex
Course: 1.2 mile double loop in Gulf of Mexico.
Start type: Run Plus:
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 11:11
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:32:20 | 112 miles | 17.12 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/86
Overall: 0/2439
Wind: Strong
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 04:01
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:50:25 | 26.2 miles | 11m 06s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/86
Overall: 0/2439
Performance: Average
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5