Ironman Florida - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
Ironman North America
70F / 21C
Total Time = 12h 35m 12s
Overall Rank = 1216/2276
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 244/404
Pre-race routine:

I think almost everyone's pre-race routine is the same at these types of events. Get up around 4-ish, eat and drink something (2 Clif bars and a banana for me with a bottle of Gu20), grab what's left of the swim gear you need and walk over to the race site. Because we checked our bike and gear bags on Friday, all we needed to do was drop off our special needs bags and get body marked and wait.

I opted not to use a run special needs bag as the race had aid stations every mile on the course with a plethora of stuff. I only really made a bike special needs bag because I wanted to make sure I had an extra tire and CO2 cartridges in case I got a flat early and needed another replacement tire. I also packed 3 more bottles of my Gu2O and Endurolyte mixture in case I didn't want to drink the Gatorade Endurance out on course. But since the special needs section was at mile 49 and came early in the race I really didn't expect to use it either.

So after dropping off my one bag way down the street from the transition I walked back to my bike. I had pumped the tubulars to 140 when I dropped the bike off and my only real worry was that they may have popped in the afternoon so I checked it out and they were fine. I had alos left my bottles for the first section of the bike on Blackbird so I really had nothing to take care of when I got to the site. So I sat down with my swim gear in my bag and watched the world go by thinking about the day to come and laughing at everyone running around freaking out about this and that near their bikes. I was amazingly and almost uncanningly calm (and had been the entire pre-race few days, kinda weird). I always have a little bit of nervousness in all my races, even the little 5ks. But I had none in this one, not even when we were about to start.
Event warmup:

Yeah, right. No warm up when you have 140.6 to go ....... I stood on the beach with the rest of the crazy people and watched the pros go off 10 minutes before us and tried to seed myself in a reasonable spot on the beach near the buoys on the left a ways back from the fish so I wouldn't get in their way.
  • 1h 20m 56s
  • 4156 yards
  • 01m 57s / 100 yards

This was it .... the dreaded part of the event I have focused most of my mental energy on. The long azz swim with 2,000+ other people, most of whom are better swimmers by far than me. My approach was to just swim within my abilities and try and stay out of trouble as much as possible. There is simply no way to avoid contact with so many people in the same location at one time, so the idea was to minimize any damage that may come from flailing arms and kicking feet and stay smooth and consistent as I could.

I had seeded myself towards the left of the corral and about 15 rows back, so sort of in the middle/front of the field. My plan was to stay inside the buoy line to avoid the main bunch but still stay in the beneficial zone for the first part of the swim. At the gun we all waded on in and let the melee begin!

I was conscious of everyone else but just worked on keeping a smooth stroke (for me) and looking out for everyone about to plow into me. We were lucky because the water was pretty much calm, and you could see everything around you with the clarity of the water. So even in the first 200 meters (which is typically the worst washing machine) it was not that bad at all. And because we were all spread out at the start about a 1/10th of a mile along the beach there was a lot of lateral space to work with. I did not get kickind in the face at all, and only had a few people run into me as I was keeping a pretty decent line. Really not at all what I expected!

By the second buoy things had settled in even more and it was just focus on moving through the water. There were always feet to follow if even only for a few minutes and then you could easily grab some more. There was basically no need to sight as the crowd was always going in the right direction. We did not have to stay on the outside of the buoys other than the corners, so we could stay spread out a bit.

I had heard about the corners being a mad house, especially if you try to cut right in on the buoy. I had maneuvered myself back into the main line so that I could take the buoy correctly and waited to get beat up in the melee. You had to basically stop swimming and doggy paddle to get around. In fact, I didn't even have to swim at all! I just sat there and the current physically pulled you around at a nice clip! I was laughing and having a great time and joked that I wish the whole swim was like that!

It was about 150 meters to the next turn and then the same thing. From then back to the beach it was spread out and we just swam. Pretty uneventful although the return leg seemed to take longer. When my hand started making swirls in the sand below I stood up and exited the water, crossed the timing mat, took a left and grabbed a quick drink from the aid stating, checked my watch (38 minutes for the first loop) and waded back in for round 2!

By now it was a lot more spread out and of course I was more towards the back end of the middle of the pack, but still right where I would expect to be and happy with my progress. The rest of the swim was similar to the first loop with a bit more clear water, no real contact with others and following feet as well as I could maintain them. The corner buoys were less of an affect than the first loop and I actually tried to swim through them staying towards the outside.

I thought the second loop went well and had felt a bit faster even, but it still took longer to make it through the second one. I think with the long angle from the beach it was actually a bit longer loop, so the extra time was understandable. Same thing, when the sand swirls started I stood up and proceeded to take off my wetsuit top. The worst part was over! I survived the swim! And was right on the time that I had predicted I would be (even though after the first loop I had hopes of being a tick faster).
What would you do differently?:

I honestly can't think of how I could have raced this differently with where I am in my swimming development. Maybe try and stay in with the main crowd a bit more to take more advantage of the "lake affect" from the masses? But there are so many people all over the place that just staying in the general vicinity gives you a tow. Oh ... and learn how to swim better so I'm not so damn slow in the water overall .....
Transition 1
  • 05m 14s

It was a fairly long run from the beach to the changing tent, so I didn't expect blazing times for me here. Since I had my top off (2-piece wetsuit) I only needed one of the wetsuit strippers to help take off the bottom. So I looked for the biggest, strongest guy I could find and let him do it for me. The guy looked like The Rock and was around 6'-5" or so and all muscle. He had my suit off in 5 seconds and I gave him a big thank you with a huge grin on my face and ran up to get to the tent.

It was crowded so there was not a lot of "running" to be done, it was more avoid the masses and get to your stuff. I grabbed my swim-to-bike gear bag and new the tent would be crowded at this time in the race. So I grabbed the first spot on the curb that I could find clear and tore into the bag. Helmet on, shades on, Gu bottles and Clif bar into the pocket, race belt on and stuff the wetsuit into the bag. Get the bag to one of the volunteers and get to the bike.

I think my actual transition time changing was probably in the :45 second to a minute range. It was fast and efficient. The rest of the time was getting to the tent area, getting to the bike and getting it out of the transition. I think given where I came out in the pack of swimmers and the chaos that was going on around me I had a pretty blazing transition and was really happy with it!
What would you do differently?:

Once again, this went about as well as I could have wanted with no real hiccups. I did not put on the socks, so I might have done that even though my feet didn't bother me on the bike without them. Maybe get some sunscreen put on before taking off, but because I did not go into the tent that was not an easy option.
  • 5h 17m 45s
  • 112 miles
  • 21.15 mile/hr

Here it was ... my specialty and my main joy in racing. The wind accross my skin and flying past people effortlessly. Let the games begin!!

I came out of the transition to a mass of people trying to get onto their bikes and clip in adn get up to speed. It was like a Sunday century ride with everyone taking their time. Damn it people!! I've got a plane to catch and she won't wait for me for long! Blackbird needed to fly!!

We turned left out of the transition area and I immediately went to the left and tucked in and knocked it up a gear still staying easy but knowing I needed to get clear of the mess. Out onto the main drag that went by my condo and just motored while still keeping it in check. I was probably in the 25 mph range and no one was even trying to stay with me. I didn't feel great, but I also didn't feel like I was pushing it either, so I thought I was staying within myself and not going too hard too early.

I didn't even bother to say anything as I passed everyone, there were so many people that saying "on your left" would have had to have been a constant mantra and I didn't feel like doing that. I just stayed way over to the left, ducking to the right to get the slingshot on people and going onto the next ones. We make the right sweeper to head off of the main beach portion and go over the only real "hill" of the course with the bridge. I hear a "Go Rick!" without really knowing who it was (I think it was Brian) and only briefly turned around to check. I was in the zone and picking up the pace.

For the next 20 miles or so it was jsut motor along keeping the pace reasonable and focusing on not drafting and eating/drinking as needed. The plan was one full bottle between every aid station and Gus on the 1/2 hour. Finally after about 30 miles I got someone who came up on me who was similar pace. Everyone else wasn't even close and I was still picking them off like they were standing still. At one point I got stuck behind a group trying to sort themselves out and not draft, but that made them all accross the road out to the yellow lines. The guy behind me yelled at them to let people through and I frickin' hammered it when I had a gap, rolling up to about 30 mph or so to get around them. Not the brightest idea as I got my first quadricep twinge then. As Scooby would say, "Ruh roh" ......

Around 40-ish we make a turn and have a nice tailwind and I was having a blast! I decided to take advantage of the wind and let her loose a bit. The other guy was still with me and we had swapped positions a few times, but both of us never fell into that draft zone and it was nice to see someone riding clean with me as I was with him. I had not seen any draft packs but there was one guy who was sucking wheel on anyone he could and would not back off at all (#823, Lee on his number). I ripped by him and yelled "draft this!" as I was rolling along at about 32 mph or so. I didn't see him again fro a loonnnnng time. but the muscles were twinging a lot more now.

I started grabbing bananas from the rest stops instead of taking my Gus as I knew the potassium and such in the bananas would help some, which they did, but it was more damage control than prevention. Damn it ..... My pace was still decent, but it wasn't looking well as I still had a long way to go.

At the halfway mark I checked my pace and had done right around a 2:27 for time for the first 56. Only 3 minutes off my Eagleman time where I averaged 23.4 mph for the race. I was hauling azz and doing well. We had also just turned down FL 231 and had to go into the wind, and that hurt. I couldn't wait to turn off of that and had back towards Panama City. I was starting to finally get clear of all the faster swimmers/slower riders and catching people that were a bit more on par with me on the bike. It was taking longer and longer to pass people, but I still was.

Around 65-ish the supreme wheel sucker (#823) went by me sucking another person's wheel and I stayed with them for a bit (not drafting of course). Around 70 we turn right to go onto the short out and back section. Just after turning I see my first real peloton draft pack - about 30 people riding like its the Tour blatantly drafting. I yell "nice peloton!" and they didn't even care. Azz holes .....

At the turn around we crossed a timing mat and on the way back I see another group of about 25 people drafting again. Great ... they would catch me in no time with that sort of crap. But they never did surprisingly. Either they got busted up (and I did see quite a few people get red carded and in the penalty tent, so they were trying to police them regardless of what people generally think) of they fell off as much as I did in the end.

The stretch from the turn around until around mile 105 was brutal on me. It was almost all into the wind, my quads and groin muscles were intermittently cramping, especially when I tried to stretch them, and my pace was dropping like a rock. It was not going to be a pretty marathon, I knew that already! Oh well, the goal was to finish with my head up, and in the daylight if I could, and that was still entirely possible projecting my ride time and the amount I'd have left to do the marathon in.

When we finally turned out of the headwind at 105 we got a cross wind with occassional tailwind bursts. But I had nothing in the tank to take advantage of it. I'd say that up until the timing check at mile 79-ish maybe 15 people passed me in all. From the 90 - 112 section I'd guess more than 50 did. Ugly ...... but I had nothing left to give with the way my legs were. The damage was done.
What would you do differently?:

Very simple ..... train more for the next one. My pace fell way off in the end and the early cramps never went away. I knew my bike fitness was below where I wanted it to be, but I did expect to be able to do better than I did and not fall off as much. I love the bike portion and know what I'm capable of, I just need to keep it in check when I'm not at the level physically that I know I can do mentally.
Transition 2
  • 05m 35s

Got to the dismount line and stopped and dismounted as requested. Passed the bike off to the volunteer, thanked them and clip-clopped over to the changing tent still in my cycling shoes. I didn't feel like getting out of my shoes on the bike as at this point time didn't matter much anymore. But I probably should have as trying to walk the distance over to the changing tent was a pain in the azz in cleats. ;-P

Got into the tent and got my bike-to-run bag. Found a spot to sit down as there were plenty of chairs available and opened my bag and got things out. A volunteer came over and helped me put the shoes, helmet and such in the bag and asked me if I wanted my Gu bottles out of the bag. Since I still had a full one from the bike I told him no and thanked him for his help.

I went to put my right shoe on and BAM ..... groin muscle locked up. Had to stop, extend my leg and try to get it unlocked. Took a few seconds and tried again. BAM, happened again. Well isn't this just wonderful??!! I can't even get my frickin' shoe on! Third try was the same result. A volunteer asked me if I was okay and I just told him I was having cramps and would be okay.

So I put my left shoe on with no issues other than some twinging in the muscles. I twisted a slightly different way and got the right one finally on and secure. Okay, that was interesting! Stood up, shook myself off a little and said "Let's do this however it goes." I got some suntan lotion slpped on me and off I went.

Out the tent, past the bikes and out of the transition area. Did get to hear my name called out as just starting the run by the announcer (not sure if it was Mike Reilly or not, but it was still cool).
What would you do differently?:

Get out of the bike shoes on the bike? But with the cramping I probably would have had some issues trying to do that and it was not worth crashing out being bent over trying to undue my shoes and have the cramps hit while going 20 mph. Figure out a way to get the running shoes on without having the legs locking up. I probably lost a minute alone right there.
  • 5h 45m 42s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 11s  min/mile

As everyone who was following me online knew by now, my pace had fallen off on the back end of the bike and as any of the athletes know, that ain't a good thing, it meant there were issues. And after reading my bike report you now know what they were. But the fun wasn't over yet! I had yet to experience something I never had before in my 20 year endurance racing career that hit only about 3/4 of a mile into the run ....

I couldn't take a deep breath. And when you are trying to run, even at a very relaxed 9 minute recovery pace that I started out with to feel out my legs, and can't breath well, you are going to have some problems! That was the low point of the race for me. Here I am just starting out a marathon in the high heat of the afternoon (it was around 2 now and we started at 7 in the morning) and I can't breath while I run and still have almost 26 miles to go. Wonderful ...... I can only describe it as best as it was like hyperventilating. I could only take very short and fast breaths and didn't feel like I could get any oxygen in. It would hurt my lungs and chest to breath deeper. There was nothing else to it, I had to walk to get it under control asap or I'd probably have passed out.

So I started to walk with everyone cheering me on and encouraging me to keep running. I was clutching my sides trying to breath deeply and couldn't. After about 5 minutes of walking I decided to try to run again even slower and try to do a run "x" minutes and walk "x" minutes. After about 3 minutes or so I was having trouble breathing and had to walk again. And I couldn't do more than a minute or two at a time without having to stop and walk again after that.

There I was, barely two miles into the marathon now and having to make a decision. My realistic goal of finishing in the 10:30 range was obviously out. My less dramatic goal of finishing in the daylight was probably out if I couldn't run which would have been right around 11 hours (even though I still had 4 hours to get there). My initial goal was all that was left. This was to finish no matter what and cross the line with my head held high proud of my accomplishment. So I made a decision right there. Suck it up buttercup! If I am going to have to walk most of this marathon, then goddamnit, I'm walking it with my shoulder's back, my head held high and as fast as my legs and body would let me!

With that resolve, things changed. I went with what my legs would do, and even tried to run a few one or two minute stretches. I was consistently in the 13 minute range for pace, even walking and knew that if I could maintain that I could at least salvage a sub-13 hour performance.

The miles wore on, so i'm not going to bore everyone describing them. Highlights from my stroll were getting to see the pros ripping it up on the course, watching the leaders pass me at various points on the course as they went on to set amazing times with their bike escorts and occassional cameramen. But I also saw pros dropping out and/or walking and even two sitting on the side of the road obviously hurting pretty bad. The race has no mercy for the ill-prepared or people that go too hard!

I thanked every single volunteer I could always taking fluids at the aid stations. As the day wore on into night I got to talk with a few different people who were in the walk/run mode or who were starting there first lap while I was on my second. I encouraged everyone who passed or whom I passed and told them my mantra "whatever it takes" to get you accross that line! I saw a few different BTers (and Brian about 3 times, fully expecting him to catch me towards the end of the second loop) and got and gave encouragement from them.

I had decided to try and run in the last mile or so, but didn't actually get going until about 3/4 of a mile to go. A woman had just jogged past me and her husband was running in front of her trying to get good pictures, so I made sure to stay out of their way so she could enjoy the spotlight. Finally we are back on the main drag heading towards the finish and for the first time in the race I'm feeling pretty decent and had a good running pace going - probably in the high 8's, low 9's - and was catching someone. I backed off a little to not steal their glory, but they were going slow enough that I could pass comfortably without spoiling their day. I got passed them and had a clear chute to go to the finish for the last 400 meters or so. I zipped up the tri top, took my sunglasses off my head and listened as the announcer said, "And here comes Rick Carter. A 36 year old from Fulton, Maryland. Let's hear it for him! You are an Ironman!"

I crossed the line with my head held high, and my hands in the air.

I had done it.

My way.

And with no regrets.
What would you do differently?:

Run ....... that's about it.
Post race
Warm down:

I continued to stand tall, and met my "catcher" but since I didn't get to completely blow my energy totally out like most people that run do, I was very lucent and upright. I was sore as hel;l and my legs were still twinging, but I could walk fine and just needed to be directed as to where to go from there. I got my medal, my finisher's hat and tee shirt and went to get my finisher picture taken.

I was flying totally solo here as my lovely wife and my three joys were at home in Maryland. That the only downside to the finish. I was alone, and no one was there to share this accomplishment with me. Others were laughing and crying with their families or friends. I was just going about my business, getting some food and sitting down to eat it and just like in the beginning waiting in the transition, watching the world go by.

It was kind of surreal. Everyone talks about the elation or emotion they have finishing something like this. For me it was similar to just another training day in the park. I was tired, I was sore, but I wasn't emotional at all. In the first marathon I finished I was pissed because of my performance. At my first half ironman I cried near the end because I was physically and emotional wiped and really wanted my boys to be there with me. But here I was just in some zone, not exstatic, not disappointed. Almost impassive.

I looked at my medal and it made me smile, and I held my finisher's goodies tight to me for fear of losing them or having them picked up by someone. They were hard fought an earned.

I made my way over to the transition area where I could get my gear bags and my bike. I put on some warmer clothes and stowed my gear slinging the bags over my bike so I could walk with all of the stuff easier. I looked around at the transition area again seeing everyone hobbling around getting their gear and holding onto their loved ones and walked out of the transition area to start my mile walk back to my condo.

I had finished. It was time to go home and take a well earned rest.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

There are no excuses here. I know what limited me. My bike fitness, plain and simple. My cycling abilities did not match my cycling fitness. I knew that I did not have enough riding time to really crank out a 5 hour ride and follow that with a solid marathon, but I had to take a chance and see what the day would bring. I rolled the dice and crapped out.

The only other thing that concerned me with the whole race was the lung/breathing thing. I've never been in that place before and it scared me. I hope to not have to experience that ever again.

Event comments:

This was my first IM. I had a lot of lessons to learn (and still do) about the distance. Oddly enough when the day was through, my worst discipline was my best feeling performance. I thought I did everything right on the swim and freestyled the whole thing other than very brief stints to get out of someone's way, go around the buoys or to sight a few times.

My strength became my downfall with the bike, but I still put up a solid time. I was resigned to walking the marathon, but I did it MY way and on my terms, and still posted a sub 6 marathon.

I never let myself fall into the drafting trap and raced with integrity and ethics. I thanked anyone and everyone who could hear me as my day would have been totally different without all their support.

And I was blessed as my lovely wife did get to see me on the Ironmanlive video feed cross the finish line with my head and hands in the air.

I may have been physically alone, but the love and support I had coming my way from many many people, whether it was my friends, my BT family or my real family definitely helped get me through the day. Thank you all, I couldn't have done it without you.

And also a bit of recognition has to go to my boss, Chris Parts, who 3 years ago interviewed me to join the firm during which it had been mentioned by someone else that he had just done IM Wisc. and was a mutliple marathon runner. And without knowing it that had planted the bug in me to give this crazy thing a shot. Thank you Chris!!

Next stop ...... Lake Placid and revenge!! ;-P

Profile Album

Last updated: 2007-01-09 12:00 AM
01:20:56 | 4156 yards | 01m 57s / 100yards
Age Group: 313/404
Overall: 1633/2276
Performance: Average
HRM said I averaged in the 150's, which seems about right as I never really felt anaerobic or out of control of my breathing and heart rate.
Suit: Desoto Black Pearl bib john
Course: Two loops with the first rectangular and the second the same with an angle cut out of it (second loop seemed longer distance). Beach start, everyone but the pros.
Start type: Run Plus: Shot
Water temp: 74F / 23C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Good Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 05:14
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
05:17:45 | 112 miles | 21.15 mile/hr
Age Group: 89/404
Overall: 392/2276
Performance: Below average
HRM said right around 155 for average ....... kinda low for the effort put out.
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Bip single loop with one short out and back section around the 70 - 80 mile mark.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 95
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Not enough
Time: 05:35
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Average
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Below average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Average
05:45:42 | 26.2 miles | 13m 11s  min/mile
Age Group: 329/404
Overall: 1741/2276
Performance: Bad
Because I walked most and didn't run it, the HR was not very high even though I still averaged in the 130 range for the full distance.
Course: Two laps of an out and back from the start/finish to the park and back. Flat and simple through neighborhoods and the main road.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 1
Good race? No
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] 4