Ironman Florida - Triathlon

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Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
Total Time = 10h 48m 29s
Overall Rank = 831/2680
Age Group = 45-49
Age Group Rank = 128/353
Pre-race routine:

We arrived in Panama City Beach on Tuesday after our trip from South Mills, NC took a detour of sorts through Charlotte to pick up my brother. The weather was beautiful upon our arrival. We checked into our condo (Shores of Panama), unloaded the car, and set out for some food before turning it in for the night. Wednesday morning I went out and did a short swim and found the water was perfect...75 degrees, clear, and flat! Checked in around mid-day and picked up my packet and other items. Took it easy Wednesday afternoon and went out for about an hour ride just before dusk...again, absolutely beautiful! Thursday morning the rest of my crowd began to arrive. Once they arrived, we spent most of the day just taking it easy. Friday morning I headed out early with my Fat Frogs Tri teammates for a group swim. The air temp had dropped and the wind had started to pick up some at that point but not too bad. Started packing my bike and run bags that morning, rode the run course, got in a short run, then dropped off the bike just after lunch. Things were going well! Finished up the day by walking around Ironman Village with my crew! Enjoyed dinner that night with my fellow Frogs, family, friends, coaches, and support crew. Finished off Friday by packing my special needs bags and double-checking my clothing and equipment. In bed by 10pm and fell asleep almost immediately! Oh, I did take one more walk out on the balcony to check the was getting colder, more windy, and the sounds of the waves was getting louder!
Event warmup:

Awoke just before the 4:00AM alarm clock went off. Got up, took a nice hot shower, threw on my FFT kit and sweats, and downed a banana, bagel, and started sipping on a bottle of Infinit. Took my special needs bags down to the start. Pumped up the tires on the bike and loaded it with 3 bottles of Infinit, water in the aero bottle, 2 PB&Js in the bottle cage, and 2 pop tarts in the bento box. Got the body marking done by those awesome Fat Frogs teammates who were volunteering and headed back to the condo. So glad to be close enough to the start/finish line that I could go back and warm up! Air temp was in the high 40's but the wind was easily 20mph with higher gusts. Back in the condo, I went ahead and put on my wetsuit, at least to the waist. Headed down to the swim start about 6:15AM and actually made it beach-side about 6:30AM. It was still a little dark outside so I used the host facility as a wind break to finish putting on the wetsuit, get the googles out and ready, ditched the socks and shoes, and headed out on the beach with the family. I gave out the final hugs and kisses and headed to the start arch to take a quick warm up swim. They were not yet letting people through the arch so I just found a spot to stand for the few minutes before they were going to open it. And then, the PA speaker crackled to life...I knew immediately what they were going to say. SWIM CANCELED! UGGHHHH!!!!
  • 00m
  • 3800 meters
  • / 100 meters

Cancelling the swim was absolutely the right decision. Later, while talking to my Coach (Scott Taber), he told me he was following some of the pros in attendance via Twitter. They had expressed relief that the swim was called off! I feel certain that something bad would have happened if we were allowed to swim that day. 3000 people in the water at once with a strong rip current is a recipe for disaster, especially considering there is likely a large percentage of people who have never even practiced in open water! Then reality struck....I had no way of finding my family...and while I was definitely glad to see their smiling faces, I was more concerned at that point with finding them so I could get my socks and shoes feet were freezing!! Decided to head on over to T1 so I could at least pick up my bike shoes and socks!
What would you do differently?:

I will definitely make a contingency plan on where to meet if something as drastic as swim cancellation happens again.
Transition 1
  • 00m

T1 became the longest break of the day! It took about 30 minutes to finally get in touch with my family. They had announced that the bike would begin at 8am with a time trial start based on bib number. With bib 2723...I knew it would be a while. My crew headed back to the condo to relax! I got back, changed out of my swim gear, and started applying layers! At this point, the wind had picked up even more. I ended up wearing a long sleeve tech shirt below my Fat Frogs cycling jersey as well as arm warmers. My tri shorts were good enough for me but I did put on some calf sleeves and 2 pair of socks. One pair of socks were from the husband of a high-school friend of mine who was a triathlete from Williamsburg, VA. Chuck's life was cut much too short because of a brain tumor and I wanted to take a part of Chuck with me on my Ironman journey. Jean, his wife, sent me a pair of his socks. Thank you Chuck for keeping my feet warm!!! You warmed my heart the entire time too! I took the chance to eat a pop tart and drink some water and stood in the condo for a bit watching some of the pros heading out on the bike. I decided to head on back to T1 about 8:30 and they were just sending out bibs in the early 200's. So, I did what anyone would do....went into the convention center in the men's changing area, laid down, and fell asleep!! Hey, it was warm in there...what can I say?!! I finally got out on the bike about 9:45!!!!
What would you do differently?:

I don't know if there is anything I would do differently considering the circumstances. It was a blessing in disguise that I had a chance to go back to the condo though. It did allow me to put on another layer of clothing.
  • 6h 17m 28s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.80 mile/hr

The first 6 miles of the bike we had a strong headwind but not directly into the wind. The next 20 or so miles was a different story! At mile 12 we crossed the famous bridge with the crazy race supporters....but I guess the late start I had combined with the temperatures had chased the guys wearing thongs back inside!! I kept it steady heading up the bridge, changed gears as I crested the top, and immediately dropped my chain! CRAP! Hopped off, got it back on pretty quickly, hopped back on and started pedaling....and dropped it again. WHAT??? Got back off, got the problem fixed, held the bike up with my leg while running through the gears and all seemed to be back in order. Got back on, headed into the wind again, and never had another problem with it. I was so glad to make that right turn on Highway 20 about mile 26! Immediately took advantage of the new tail wind and felt like I was flying! Quick switch on the Garmin and I am cruising at 26 mph! Another quick check on the HR and things are still going well. Knew it was short lived but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Passed the first pro coming back when I hit mile 28! Quick calculation of time, pace, and yep...he is going to be done with his run before I get back! Oh well, he had a 1:45 head start, right! At about mile 40 the bathroom urge had gotten too much...BR pit stop #1! Whew...what a relief! Cruised into the first out-n-back and found the much talked about washboard road! Holy cow was it littered with people's crap! I tried as hard as I could to stay on the white line since that was actually pretty smooth but I was passing people pretty frequently (which I considered a good thing!) so I didn't quite have the smoothest of rides. Stopped at the special needs and picked up more pop tarts, more PB&Js, more Infinit, another pack of Gu chomps, and quickly downed a bottle of Muscle Milk that I had frozen and packed in a small cooler (great idea Dennis Myers)! It was perfect...special milk shake like treat! Headed on out and eventually made the turn back onto Highway 20. Welcome back to the headwind....for 1 hour and 15 minutes! I knew my reward was coming though...that beautiful left hand turn back onto Highway 79 where I could enjoy a little bit of a tailwind. The rest of the ride was uneventful. Once I made the turn, I was willing to let the HR get closer to Z4 than I had before since I was living off of some of the adrenaline rush that I had knowing that the bike was quickly coming to an end. Finally made the final left hand turn on Front Beach Road and knew I was 6 miles or so from the finish. Spent the rest of the time enjoying the moment!
What would you do differently?:

If I could learn how to pee on the bike, I would be so much better off! I stopped 3 times just to go to the bathroom. Those muscles just don't want to seem to work while on the bike though. I probably could cut some time down at special needs too! I actually could have packed everything I needed in my cycling jersey. But, I only put that on after the swim was canceled and my bike special needs back was long gone at that point. I was happy with the bike considering the wind. Except for the last 26 miles, I kept my HR exactly where I wanted it (Zone 3.5). The training worked well for me. Need to get stronger on the bike though....
Transition 2
  • 07m 52s

Took my time heading into the chute as there were a lot of people in that area, both participants and spectators. Caught a glimpse of my family and Fat Frogs supporters coming in...great boost! Not worried about a fast dismount or sprint into T2. Handed off my bike to those awesome volunteers...was handed my Run bag...and headed into the changing area. I was directed to an area of open chairs, dumped out my bag, and changed pretty quickly. I kept the arm warmers but changed into a single tri-top. Grabbed my hand bottle (filled with Gatorade Perform powder) that was pre-stocked with more salt caps, threw 2 packs of Gu Chomps into the tri top, bib / belt, visor and headed out. Stopped at the water table to fill up the hand bottle, hit the porta-pot on the way out of T2, and started on the run. I felt great! My legs felt strong, my HR was low, and I was super excited to be preparing to run by the Tri Club tents and to experience the boost of encouragement provided by my family and fellow Frogs!!
What would you do differently?:

Nothing to change here. I could definitely be faster but I was not concerned at all about time.
  • 4h 23m 9s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 02s  min/mile

Just as I expected, it was so exciting to run by my peeps at the Tri Tents!! Having so many people cheering you on at once is beyond belief!! My plan was to keep the pace around 9:30 mm for the first half of the marathon. As I got past the cheering squad I knew it was time to slow down....and a quick glance at the Garmin confirmed this....8:10....YEP, better slow down! This took a while since those first few miles are just packed with people cheering you on! A mile or so into the run I looked down and my bib was on my side instead of in front of me! Instead of pulling it around to the front by the belt, I pulled on the bib and immediately ripped one of the holes out! Well, I can't run with half of my bib blowing around in that wind so I took my bib off of my belt and attempted to chew a hole into it in hopes of re-threading it! No chance at chewing through that material! So, I turned it upside down and used the holes at the bottom of the bib. This made for some good comments from those I ran by and I got pretty good at a quick explanation of why my bib was upside down! And, for anyone who has seen my you know why it was upside down!! As for the run, my plan was to walk the aid stations and I forgot about this plan until I got to mile 4!...was still pretty pumped I guess! I hit the turnaround in the state park at 1:00 and still felt amazing! I felt I was in a good place...pace felt good, I was still feeling good with no stomach issues, and I felt pretty strong! At the half way point I got another boost from those awesome supporters! I stopped at the run special needs bag and changed my shoes (boy was that change a major boost for my feet...not that they were hurting but the different shoes made them feel very fresh), grabbed my headlamp, more Gatorade and headed on back out for the second loop. Quick time check and I am just over 2 overs!! STOKED!! About 100 yards from the aid station at mile 16, I caught a big cramp in my right hamstring. No worries...this had happened a few times before. I stopped, stretched it pretty good, walked the rest of the way to that aid station, absolutely destroyed some Lays potato chips, a handful of pretzels, half a cup of chicken broth...and a few small choc chip cookies for desert, and took back off! I took it a little bit easier the rest of the way ensuring I walked and ate at every aid station. I would usually take water and coke at each station and I sipped on the Gatorade otherwise. The plan worked great! I probably didn't look at my Garmin but once on the second loop! I was not at all concerned about time, pace, or anything really. On the way back in, I just made a point to enjoy the moments! The sound of the finish line continued to get louder and louder and my excitement continued to grow! I felt like I was floating to the finish! As I got closer to the finish line, I made a point to take the advice of one of my Fat Frog teammates, Kristen. She told us to take your time and enjoy the finish line chute...she said to go ahead and stop the Garmin early and to make sure to give out high-fives to those who were there cheering you on! And boy did I take her advice! I did all of that and more! I got so caught up in high-fiving those along the chute that I was up to that bright, beautiful finish line before I knew it! Just before crossing the line, I stopped, quickly reflected on all the training I had put in, all of the support I received from my wife, family, friends, coaches, and teammates, and stomped across that finish line to finish my day! I also made a point to listen out for those beautiful words! I couldn't help but remember that I got a bye on the swim though but I took those words in nonetheless! I pointed up to the camera as a silent thank you to a few special folks, was guided along the finish chute and to the camera...quick pic! Then my wonderful wife was there to give me a big hug and mad congrats from the rest of my family and friends and teammates...and then it was off to Shiver-City!! Holy crap did I go from warm to cold in 1.23 seconds!! Threw on a sweatshirt, wrapped myself in aluminum foil, grabbed my bike, a pizza and headed back to the condo!
What would you do differently?:

This run was different because any hope for a certain time I had went out the window first thing in the morning when the swim was canceled. I was super proud of my performance but not because of a certain time. Rather, I was so happy that I had a plan, followed the plan, and absolutely had the time of my life for almost 11 hours!
Post race
Warm down:

I got back to the condo, took some pics with the family, ate a few slices of pizza, downed a coke, and jumped into the shower. I took a long, hot shower THEN soaked in hot water for about 20 minutes. After that, I felt like I could go again! Until I tried to walk down steps that is!!! I threw on my compression pants, a pair of jeans, a few shirts and sweatshirt, and headed on back to the start-finish to cheer on the rest of the Frogs! Watched the last few finish, headed back to the condo, finished the pizza, and went to bed!

Event comments:

I really wanted a sub-12 hour finish in this one. But, once the swim was canceled, I made the decision to just enjoy the day. I was not worried about any time in particular at that point. In my mind, I still had some unfinished business since the swim was canceled. In retrospect, that was probably the best thing to happen to me! I absolutely had a ball. I never felt the tired feeling I felt I was sure to experience! Mentally, this was not a difficult race...and I attribute that to my training and mental approach to the day. I felt pretty confident coming into the race and I think that helped me tremendously. The volunteers throughout the day were just crazy helpful. To my family...I just cannot express how much I appreciate your support over the past year. My on-site supporters were awesome and exceeded even the dreams I had going into the race about how your support would make me feel. Those who asked me about how training was going over the months....thank you! Those who followed my progress throughout the day...I am humbled by your support. To my wife, Sherry, thank you...for everything you are to me. My traveling cheering section, Justin, Jonathan, Britt, Seth and Fisher, and my good friend meant so much to me to have you guys there and I will always remember the fun times we have. EJ summed up his day's activities best when he said, "I stood outside for 11 hours to get to see you for 30 seconds!" true! The life of a triathlon supporter!

To Scott and my Fat Frogs coaches...thank you for the blue print. Scott, special thanks to you for the times when we just get to talk triathlon! To my Fat Frogs guys absolutely rock! Congrats to Jeff, Dixie, David, Brian, Eric, Megan, and the Beast...Jim, my fellow IMFL '14 participants....loved seeing you guys on the course and thank you for the words of encouragement as we passed!

Oh, and one more thing....see you all at Ironman Maryland 2015!!

Last updated: 2014-11-09 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 3800 meters | / 100meters
Age Group: 0/353
Overall: 0/2680
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 00:00
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:17:28 | 112 miles | 17.80 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/353
Overall: 0/2680
Wind: Strong with gusts
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 07:52
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:23:09 | 26.2 miles | 10m 02s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/353
Overall: 0/2680
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? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5