Ironman Florida - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
Ironman North America
75F / 24C
Total Time = 10h 57m 39s
Overall Rank = 472/2277
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 62/233
Pre-race routine:

Like most, preparing for this race officially began a year ago. The point I want to make is that I executed to a solid training plan leading up to this race, leaving me with very little doubt that I was ready for this and would meet my time goals if the conditions cooperated (11hrs). Early this season I hired Coach Shane at SMS; chiefly so I wouldn’t have to second guess myself about my preparation & fitness and to do my training plan “thinking” for me. Other than the investment I made directly in myself through training, this was the best investment I made for this event.

Totals [mi]: 2007 2006 (for comparison)
Swim 50 22
Bike 2766 1245
Run 903 847

Wednesday (Halloween) was travel day. This, as predicted, proved to be stressful (traveling with two children under 2 and overly fearful of catching a bug). Accommodations were nice: my mother lives in PCB about ~mi away from the race venue. It was nice to have the added jock-strapper if not so much for me but for the boys.

Thursday was a busy day: a bit less stressful, but not much downtime. Rode over to the beach first thing in the morning. Attended the Community Fund breakfast where we heard from Fuhr, Lovato, Paula N-F, and others. It was worthwhile and entertaining. Did the Gatorade swim (one lap). Felt good but a bit concerned about overly ingesting saltwater as it had a negative affect on me for a few hours. Was going to check-in but the line was incredibly long and I didn’t want to stand out in the sun so I did my 90min bike out to the Bay Bridge and back and checked in after that. Weighed in at 158 – which I thought was a few pounds high. Felt just OK on bike; very windy that afternoon and nasty gusts on Front Beach that you have to be ready for. Attended the banquet and meeting that evening (a bit long. wish I could have met more BT’ers, ran into Scott & Dan).

Friday I did a run first thing and felt awesome. I knew I was ready after this and it got the taper blues behind me. Later that morning we took a family trip to the beach for about an hour (tried to keep our 2yr old from swimming out into the Gulf). Rested, then got my gear into my bags and made a final inspection of the bike. Rode over to Scott’s condo and borrowed some lube and we both walked our gear down to the venue to check them in. The atmosphere at the transition was a bit serious and it helped put things into perspective and fueled a bit more focus for me. Was fortunate to feel pretty tired that evening and got to bed around 9 for a good nights sleep.

Race morning: Up at 4 for breakfast (plain bagel with peanut butter, breakfast cookie, Gatorade). Got to the transition around 5:30 and dropped a few extra items in my gear bags, dropped off my bike SN bag, and put a water bottle on my bike. .Scott found me and we passed the time listening to tires pop, soaking up the atmosphere, and reflecting. It was a good way to pass the time. Scott hit the portable and I went to the dry clothes drop-off. I sat there for awhile spending time to myself and “athlete-watching” then donned the wetsuit and made my way to the beach only when MR called for closing the transition area.
Event warmup:

Nothing. Made my way over the timing mat and positioned myself front/left. I was right by the cannon (which is a miniature cannon that, seeing it, you wouldn’t think it could make that noise nor produce that smoke). Made the decision not to get into the water and just waited for our start. MR was trying to get the AG swimmers out of the water and informing us we could wade to ankle-deep.

I was talking to a guy with the same suit as me when a couple walked out of the water and positioned themselves near us. The guy pointed out to this swimmer that his suit was on inside out. Hilarious! Needless to say, he became noticeably anxious. We were inside of 5 minutes from start. We pulled his suit off and he made his way into the water to put it on to keep it from being too sandy – don’t know what ever happened of him. National Anthem, then “boom!”
  • 1h 06m 58s
  • 4156 yards
  • 01m 37s / 100 yards

Felt awesome getting this started. Just a calm walk into the water. The start wasn’t the washing machine I had expected. I didn’t get beat up at all. Waded in and started swimming and picked a line just inside of the buoys. Felt very comfortable and mainly concentrated on hanging to the right feet on the way out. I really didn’t site that much until I got out near the turn to make sure I was taking an efficient heading.

The first turn was congested but I didn’t get knocked around all that much here either. After about 50m though I did get beat up pretty badly, which mainly took me out of rhythm. Turning back toward the beach the sun was bright and low on the horizon, but didn’t bother me as I was just going with the flow. A few hundred meters into the return stretch I got knocked around again pretty good (moved my swim cap up over my left ear – I waited until the beach to fix it). Stayed on some legs and waited for my hands to hit the sand. I sighted a few times approaching the beach to make sure I was “landing” at the right spot. I took a good line on the way back as I beached myself just left of the archway.

Hit the beach in 32 minutes (clock said 42). Asked the guy next to me if that includes the pro’s 10 minutes and he verified – just had to be sure for piece of mind. Took a sip of water and rinsed the salt out and back into the water for the diag to the Ford buoy.

The second lap was more fun than the first. I had been worried leading up to the race that my arms would feel fatigued at this distance or the wetsuit would begin to be uncomfortable – none of those fears were realized. Not as congested this time so I sighted a bit more diligently but still took the inside line. Caught some good feet at times and spent some time going from feet-to-feet. Kicked someone in the face pretty good on the backstretch (which is atypical for me as I hardly do any kicking when I swim) – felt bad and just wanted to get out of that line in case that person wanted to retaliate – nothing ever happened. Mainly I was in a very good rhythm and was simply enjoying the ocean swim, enjoying the moment, and appreciative of the conditions we had. On the way in I found myself coming up on a kayak and must have been pretty far left but I ended up right on the exit point again and always had a large group near me so I don’t think I got far enough inside my line that it was inefficient. Got out of the water and the clock said 1h 6m and change. No complaints.

I didn’t notice a current, despite others commenting on one. I did feel there was a strong current moving East during my Thursday swim though. I got hit in the feet about a dozen times during the swim and nearly each time I felt it “bump” me forward. I’ve never experienced it before and after the first time or two I became conscious of it. Anyway, got a laugh out of it every time I got “pushed” and eventually welcomed people swimming up on me.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. It is difficult to determine if I could have chosen straighter lines. I was inefficient at times finding feet. Perhaps could have pushed the pace a bit more as I felt very comfortable at the finish of this (which was the goal. How comfortable is too comfortable?).
Transition 1
  • 08m 32s

Ran up the beach and tried to take in the atmosphere without losing focus. I didn’t expect the wetsuit stripping to be so close to the water. They mats down on the beach. It was a small, congested area and already very sandy. Found a pair that weren’t stripping and pointed to them, got on the ground and they peeled the suite right off –awesome! Trotted up the beach and paused at the showers (this was choke-point as the showers are part of the narrow chute leading up to t1). Got through the breezeway into the parking lot and grabbed my own bag (no big deal as it was close to the “trail” and I knew right where it was). Ran straight through the tent and did my transition just on the exit to the tent.

Dumped everything out – wow, this is a lot of stuff! Grabbed the garmin first and turned it on to let it acquire. Dried my feet and legs off. Went to put the helmet on and immediately discovered it was broken. [insert your favorite expletive (use more than one if you wish)]!!! Stood there in disbelief for a very brief moment then spent another brief moment trying to deduce how this could have happened (I still don’t know. Rudy Project Syton Open – the plastic “brace” that support the back of the head has a few linkages in it – one of the linkages was disconnected – NEVER would have excepted this). Spent a minute or so trying to fix it and couldn’t get the pieces snapped back together. Desperation - put it on to see if it would somehow still feel snug and rideable – no go! OK – I need tools (screwdriver, pliers, whatever). I asked the volunteer at the tent exit if there was a tech crew in t1 and he said there was a crew at the exit equipped for minor repairs (tires, etc.). So I finished everything else (socks, shoes, glasses, food), stuffed my bag with my swim gear, threw it in the pile on the backside of the tent and made my way to the Wrenches. Got over there and presented a few of the guys with my problem. They were calm and confident. To save time I asked them if I could leave this here for the repair while I went to find my bike. I had to go all the way to my stall to get it (I guess the volunteer didn’t notice me leaving the tent to announce #642). Not a big deal, I had a few seconds to kill while my helmet was getting serviced (decided to hit the urinal on the way to the bike since it was empty). Made my way back to the t1 exit and the guys spotted me coming. They had it fixed and pointed out that I was missing a lense to my sunglasses (more expletives!!)! Before I could even rationalize doing 112mi like a pirate one of the mechanics took the glasses off my head and snapped the missing lense in (I have no idea how he had it – must have been stuck in the helmet – and I have no idea how I was running around in t1 with my sunglasses on and only one lense). Anyway – got it all a squared away and off to the races….. Thanked the guys from Elite profusely and told them to find me at the post-race party to collect on their beers.

This didn’t seem like 8m+ as it all happened so quickly but it could have been a lot worse. Oh yeah, and in all the melee I complete bypassed the sunblockers and didn’t notice until I was cranking down Front Beach….
What would you do differently?:

Don’t forget sunblock. Re-check equipment before the race (someone must have hung my bag up for punching or kicking drills or something). Have my bike retrieved for me.
  • 5h 36m 58s
  • 112 miles
  • 19.94 mile/hr

Generally, I expected the hardest part of the bike to be the keeping my HR in check and I expected to go through one or two distinct and finite mental low points. That didn’t happen. What did happen was that I felt my pace was on target but my effort was a bit too much. I felt this almost from the start of 79 throughout the race. This resulted in me generally feeling “annoyed” for most of the bike; the upside being I really never experienced a real mental low point that I had to fight my way through.

The corral was very congested coming out of T1 and I chose to clip in as soon as was allowed and hoped I’d have a path open for me (a bit risky given any wipeout here would certainly find its way to youtube and potential the Janus video). No issues. The ride was very congested out Front Beach but decently spaced. I averaged 144 (my bike zone 2 is 140-156), which was a tad bit higher than my target but I really wanted to “go with the flow” here. Before I knew it I was heading out 79, it was ~20m in, and I needed to start my fueling. I really didn’t feel like drinking or eating. I sipped water then a few minutes later inhaled an uncrustable. A miles later we made our way over Bay Bridge and I stocked up at the first station with two powerbars, a gatorade, and water.

79 from the Bay Bridge out to 20 was a steady stream of cyclists and a lot of movement going on in places. Later out 79 and continuing on 20 you can see some groups starting to form. At this point it wasn’t a draft pack like a few I saw later in the day as there was still a lot of movement in the groups (people weren’t stuck on other’s wheels – playing by the rules as far as I could tell). It was tough here with a steady stream of cyclists as often you’d get passed and instead of moving up the line the rider would settle in front of you and you want to give him your spacing. ….just added to the annoyance-factor because it does screw with your cadence.

Hwy 20 came quickly, thus the second aid station. I had put down a powerbar, a good portion of my water, and put a dent in my gaterade. I tossed the bottle I started with and the nearly empty water bottle I got from aid #1 and grabbed a replacement. My bladder was screaming pretty good at this point but the portables were popular so stopping at this point wasn’t an option. About 5 miles down 20 there were some light rollers that offered a good place to coast and “water my leg.” Man – I had to go! This took some time and luckily there was some good spacing here. Finished (mostly) and rinsed off with the second water bottle. Had another powerbar and took both water and g-ade during this section.

A side note - it became clear to me as the spacing started that being 4 bike lengths behind someone was better than open road (mentally perhaps more so than aerodynamically). Given this I welcomed a pace-setter to help the time go by faster – someone’s wheel I could focus on rather than staring at pavement and not have to second-guess my pace/effort so much.

20 is a very good road (new pavement, no adverse conditions on this morning) and I was thinking forward to SN (mi 49) as my next big milestone as being on the bike was starting to take its toll on me mentally (mostly, I guess, because I was anxious for marathon). It finally came and I had to stop since I missed sunblock in t1 (I had some in my SN bag). I welcomed the necessary pause – grabbed my jerky, sunblock, reeces, and 2 uncrustables and left two candy bars for the volunteers. Rolled down to the end of the SN area and hit the portable as I needed to go again and also needed to take my gloves off to rub my sunblock on. The sunblock I was using is heavy stuff it doesn’t rub in all that well (you can see this in my cameo on the Janus video – it looks like I rode through a delousing tent or something). As I was waiting to go into the bathroom a lady behind me asked me for some sunblock – I said of course and went to give her what was left in my ziplock before I threw it out and she wiped her finger down my arm and rubber her nose with it – I love triathletes!!

That was a nice break from the saddle, although I estimate it took a few minutes for all that. Shortly we turned down 231. The road is rough here and I had to familiaze myself with a new group of riders. I had been averaging 20.5 mph up to SN and averaged 20.7 on the ~10mi on 231. I welcomed the turn onto Camp Flowers Rd: both for the change of scenery (nice to be off the highway) and to be pointed back West (toward PCB). CF Rd was pretty bumpy and there was a lot of debris shaken off bikes (water bottles, tires, cartridges, saw an entire flatwing system on the ground). I had a gatorade bottle work its way out of my xlab cage and drop right in front of the guy behind me. Took another “break” on the bike and my bladder thanked me. Traded places with “Brooke” who had a very nice road rash on her shoulder. She said she got it nearly at the start of the bike and it looked like it was going to be painful to clean when the race was over. Kudos to her.

Got to the out-and-back – which was another nice break to monotony. It was nice watching the riders. Saw a peleton just as I was turning onto the out-and-back and another about halfway down to the turn. It really didn’t piss me off as much as it should have. I just wanted to be done with the bike and was focused on my race and being able to keep a steady effort, producing a consistent pace, and being done with this ride. (Oh, and I never saw anyone in a penalty tent all day) Recognized Daremo from his “Blackbird.” Started into my 4-pack of slim-jims here - welcomed change to the uncrustables and bars. I downed all of these by the bay bridge.

388 kinda sucks. Another rough road and no shoulder, although hardly any traffic here. I pee’d again on the bike (around mile 83). Saw a couple wheel suckers during this section. Couple big guys too – knew I’d drop them pretty hard on the run, if not before. The wind was picking up and causing some anxiety and discouragement as my pace was coming down (however it was still holding at 19.5mph). Hit one more aid station after hwy 77 and stopped to hit the urinal for the second time – again, chiefly as an excuse to get off the saddle for a few seconds and because it was open. It felt good and didn’t think twice about losing seconds.

The ride back south on 79 after the bridge was the worst as the wind was very strong and nearly in your face. There was a distinct group working together in front of me and they opened up a huge gap on this stretch. A bit discouraging but you can see the beachside condos at this point, and thus the end of the bike, so spirits were high.

It was so nice getting back to civilization again. There were people all along the Front Beach Dr section and the winds were generally favorable – so it was a rush. I made a point to take it in and enjoy the moment and position myself mentally for the run.
What would you do differently?:

Not sure really. Not stop as much, which may have required more disciplined training on longer rides (but who wants to pee themselves every training ride?). I had a minor headache for the latter half of the ride and was getting the chills here and there but I knew I was over-hydrated. I cut back consumption a bit but I was fearful of getting behind on hydration as the day was warming up and my plan was to start the run fueled. Nothing major. My goal was 20mph. My garmin says I did this (20.2) but the official results reflect otherwise. I’m pleased either way.
Transition 2
  • 05m 20s

Not fast, but thankfully it was no t1. Coming off the bike I felt a bit fatigued (more so mentally than physically). I was ready for the run and very happy to be done with the bike. I was surprised at how many bikes there were in transition. I am impressed with the caliber of bikers out there. I feel 20mph ave is pretty fast over 112mi and am very satisfied with this accomplishment (despite the bike being the slowest of the disciplines on the day relative to the field).

I worked my way into the tent. It was pretty sparse and some guy commented as to why we didn’t take up golf instead of ironman triathlons. I told him that I tried that but get far more satisfaction from this. Got my shoes on, put on my hat, hit the portable and was off. Had my name announced as I exited and was very happy to be on my feet. My legs felt good.
What would you do differently?:

I spent a few seconds unbuckling my garmin from the bike. I should get a Velcro strap for it. Other than that I feel t2 was a good transition for me.
  • 3h 59m 52s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 10s  min/mile

Started down S. Thomas Dr and found myself doing sub 8min/mi and made myself slow down. It took me nearly a mile to get up to mid 8min/mi pace. Turned onto Joan and the crowds were partying. Regge was playing at the first “party tent.” They yelled my name and bib # and I gave them a few dance moves (pretty awful – I should have got a penalty for this). Saw the “dopers suck” sign on the corner of Joan & Surf Dr and this gave me a chuckle. Surf Dr. had the rowdiest crowds and the “sultry girls” were a kick. Some guy in front of me ran across the road to get flogged by the dominatrix. My plan was to briefly and briskly walk each station and take something in. Mostly I sipped water and g-ade. I took a gel each hr. Sponges nearly each station too but took caution to not drench myself - I didn’t want to get my feet wet as that would surely induce blisters and make the long day even longer.

After about 40 minutes I started to feel pretty bad (headaches again, major fatigue, and more chills). I took the vow (ironically somewhere around Hilltop Rd and Hurt St: “I’m never going to put myself into this situation again. No more Ironman for me. What was I thinking?”

Cross Thomas Drive and saw my family at Spyglass & Lookout. That was nice.
Made it into the park and took some pretzels for the sodium. Made the turn and was satisfied with the time: 56m 46s (146bpm ave. my zone 2 being 156-166). A bit low but I was pretty spent and didn’t think anything of it.

On the way out of the park I hit the portable since it was vacant. That aid station was blasting college football scores so I caught up on some of that action. Made my way back to the turn and was preparing myself for hitting the half-way point of the marathon – wow, can’t believe I have to turn around and do this all over again (how do I get that feeling out of my head?). At the turn around I heard the first female finishing. Did the “second leg” in 59m 46s.

The third leg was by far the most difficult. Hit the portable on Surf Dr and dropped a large load off there. That was a relief and got a brief sense of revitalization. Time well-spent. Made my way out and was finding it difficult to get below 9min/mi pace despite it feeling like I was doing 8min/mi. Saw Scott on the way out and that encouragement helped. Found myself running with some usual suspects. We’d run in a small group between the aid stations, had different cadences through the stations and usually ended up joining up again. Not much, if any, talking – just nice to have those partners. Was seeing familiar tri club suits: Rocky Mountain, Parker, Boulder. In the park on the second leg I saw Amanda Lavato having some issues and passed her. Micheal was jock-strapping for her on a bike. This leg was 1h 2m 44s (slowest by far but mostly due to the long stop and some longer pauses at aid stations).

Coming out of the park I started on cola (an unknown for me). It shortly made me feel good and had a few more colas and one broth coming back. I started hauling and did the last 3 miles around 8mi/mi pace and peaked at around 7.5mi/mi in the last mile. Coming off Surf and going down the final stretch I felt good (damn! Why couldn’t I have felt this way earlier? Probably because I wasn’t staring down the tape of an IM). I made a point to take in the atmosphere and reflect on my season: all the strong endurance runs I put in, the long and lonely tri bike rides to Carter Lake, the 1hr continuous swims. It was all coming to a close and I’d miss it. I was proud of my hard work and very satisfied with the season. I knew too that I’d break 11hrs and was elated.

Hammered down the finishing chute. Some jackal about a quarter mi out yelled that it was only 1min to 11 and I found another gear despite the chute starting to get longer and longer. Turns out I had a few minutes to spare but the extra burst put me under 4hrs for the marathon (another goal accomplished on the day). Grabbed the tape, got caught by Matt. I didn’t need any help nor water. I just walked out, paused for a moment before exiting the chute to fight back a few tears and made my way immediately to the pizza.
What would you do differently?:

The sign that I saw coming in on the bike and again a few times on the run was “Get ‘Er Done.” Kind of a cliché but it really hit home for me. Just do this. Just execute. No worries. Keep moving. In the end it all came together.

I averaged high z1 for this run despite planning to spend a lot of time in z2. Should I have taken more of a risk and gone my HR? I don’t know. Its difficult to tell as marathoning is something I’m not too experienced at, especially after a 112mi bike. I was going more by feel than HR effort and I’d like to work on this in the future.
Post race
Warm down:

Pizza and more pizza. Met up with the family and enjoyed sitting outside the chute taking it all in.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Racing this distance. I’d strive to hit the marathon a lot harder in future races (yeah, I’ll do another, in time). A bit more bike fitness so I don’t have to worry that averaging 20mph may not leave me ready for a marathon.

Event comments:

Great event. Its more than just the race, nearly a week in festivities. All well-done.

In retrospect, the entire season is just as satisfying to me as the Ironman itself. I’ve enjoyed a lot of success and feel great about the level of fitness I’ve achieved. Both of these are strong motivators keep from hitting 200lbs again!

I owe a big THANKS and WELL DONE to Coach Shane from SMS. That guy knows what he’s doing! He’s incredibly knowledgeable of the sport and really made the training plan work within some challenging constraints at times. He was always spot on with my race strategies and frank and to the point on my conditioning and limiters. I owe a lot to him (thanks Shane!).

Profile Album

Last updated: 2006-11-21 12:00 AM
01:06:58 | 4156 yards | 01m 37s / 100yards
Age Group: 78/233
Overall: 607/2277
Performance: Good
33.2% in AG. 26.7% overall. Didn't wear my watch.
Suit: Pipeline Nineteen
Course: two loops. left turns.
Start type: Run Plus: Shot
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 08:32
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
05:36:58 | 112 miles | 19.94 mile/hr
Age Group: 82/233
Overall: 7020/2277
Performance: Average
34.9% in AG. 31.6% overall. Average HR 143 (my z2: 140-156)
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: flat course. some good paved surfaces and some poor, older surfaces. winds generally against you as they pick up later in the day (so I'm told). this was true this year.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 90
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills:
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Too much
Time: 05:20
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Bad
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal
03:59:52 | 26.2 miles | 09m 10s  min/mile
Age Group: 47/233
Overall: 362/2277
Performance: Average
19.8% in AG, 15.9% overall.
Course: two laps (out-and-back). very flat
Keeping cool Good Drinking Too much
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5