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Florida Challenge Half Iron - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Clermont, Florida
United States
Sommer Sports
Total Time = 8h 22m 3s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

4 AM comes pretty early! I had slept really soundly though, so I was actually awake a few minutes before the alarm went off. I just grabbed my to-do list and started checking things off. All dressed and ready, grabbed my stuff and headed downstairs. I had a PB&J plus a banana for breakfast (worked out perfectly!) and then spent some time listening to music and reading over some information and motivation that I printed out. Words and mantra for the day were – go slow, have fun, it’s your first time only once, calm, breathe, of course it’s supposed to be hard, it’s a half ironman. I called on these many, many times throughout the day.

Coach was there early, loading up our cooler and getting everything set. Our sherpas were in for a LONG day and they needed lots of sustenance (beer, pb&j, snacks)!

We headed out at 5 and I took a little cat nap in the car while listening to my iPOD. We got to transition around 5:30ish and waited until things opened up at 6. I was really glad to be there so early, because I’ve had some stressful mornings in the past and wanted to have time to go slow and make sure everything was set up.

I got body marked (best marking ever!) and then it felt official. Man, I thought, I’m actually going to do this! I got to my bike and laid a towel down to stand on. There were some ants around the rack the day before, so I didn’t want to get bitten up. I just followed my list and got everything set up, then grabbed my chip and dropped all the extra stuff back with my crew. I was feeling really excited and surprisingly, not too nervous! One of the club members mentioned that it was because I was ready. And you know what? It was. I knew that I would finish this race, no matter the time.

My race plan was very simple. I broke it up into 5 parts, one event at a time. I was to GO SLOW. A slow, methodical swim. Calm swim to bike transition. Hold back on the bike, think about feeling good and being smooth. Smooth bike to run transition. Change before the run. Sunscreen! Take the run easy, stay in a comfortable zone.

We stood on the beach and watched the sun come up. It was turning into a beautiful morning, the drizzling stopped and it seemed to clear up.

The Great Floridian athletes took off and we watched as they swam out towards the turn. It was pretty breezy, and there were definitely some waves compared to Friday. We got to see the leader come out of the water and head out onto the second loop. And we got to cheer our friend Chad as he came out and headed back into the water.

I got in and took a few strokes to see how the waves were and then headed back to the group. I also got a chance to meet Shirley! We took a quick shot, and then it was time to get into our corral. Before I knew it, they were counting down and we were heading into the water. I could hear my friends cheering and I remember saying to myself, here we go. I can do this.
  • 49m 31s
  • 1931 meters
  • 02m 34s / 100 meters

It was pretty choppy compared to the day before, and I had to make some adjustments so that I wasn’t swallowing water on every breath. I just tried to get calm, and feel the water. It took me about half of the course to really settle in and feel comfortable. Fighting the adrenaline can be tough! I wasn’t wearing a watch, so I had no idea how I was doing. I was also veering back and forth on the course due to the waves, so sighting was interesting ;). I finally settled in though and brought it in feeling good. I turned in a time of 49:31, which includes dropping my goggles, and then my cap as I headed up the sand to the mats. The wetsuit strippers were awesome, and I headed to my bike.
Transition 1
  • 06m 25s

My goal was to be calm and collected during T1. I wanted to catch my breath and make sure that I had everything I needed for a long bike ride. I swapped tops, and spent some time putting sunscreen on and after double checking, was ready to head out. I jogged with my bike down a long transition area and hit the mats.
What would you do differently?:

Yup, got some wiggle room to improve here!
  • 4h 02m 26s
  • 58 miles
  • 14.35 mile/hr

There was a steep hill coming out of transition, so I only had a short amount of time to clip in. I’ve been having trouble with my left cleat lately, and couldn’t get clipped in. So I just hung on as tight as I could to the pedals and got to the top of the hill. It took about a good mile to finally get clipped in. Frustrating! But I did get cheered up when a nice guy rode by and said ‘You got it, Cupcake’. He was referring to my jersey, but I thought it was fitting. I proceeded to get passed like crazy since the guys started after us. But I just reminded myself what the plan was. Go slow. Race your own race and set yourself up for a good run.

The first 15-20 miles were relatively flat, but a bit windy. The sun was out and things were really warming up. I stuck to my schedule of drinking my fuel bottle every 15 minutes and sipping water in between. I had a package of peanut butter crackers that I ate as well.

I had some left hip flexor pain, which is not the norm for me on the bike, especially so early into a ride. So I tried to stretch and spin it out as much as possible. I was averaging about 16mph at this point and felt really good. I thought about many of my friends as I rode, and admired the scenery. It was turning into a gorgeous day.

We hit a pretty steep climb around mile 20-22 and I just sat up and took it slow. One of the guys behind me asked how far away Sugarloaf was, and if this was it. Nope! I was giddy with anticipation for Sugarloaf and as we rounded the corner and turned left onto the road at mile 23.5– there it was - looming ahead. It is impressive because you hit it right away and from the bottom, it looks pretty steep! I just yelled out ‘I ain’t scared!’ and got some good laughs from those around me.

I pedaled as much as I could on the flat, bottom section to get me up partway, and then got into granny and sat up. I just hung on tight and pushed, looking straight ahead and replaying all of my mantras. I got to the top before I knew it and smiled (hopefully!) for the photographer. I grabbed a cold drink at the handoff and stopped to stretch. This was wise, because my hip flexors felt so much better!

I headed down the road and readied myself for the Buckhill stretch that would be coming around mile 30. This was a few miles of random climbs. I hit a low point around here, where I was just feeling overwhelmed. I started to see my overall pace drop, and as much as I just wanted to go with it and not worry about pace, I couldn’t help it. But I started thinking about all the rides I’ve done with my girls, and the fun that I had training for this race and I wanted to be positive. I thought about my ‘one thing’. And I thought ‘Of course it’s supposed to be hard, it’s a half ironman’. Somehow, that made it better - just knowing that it’s going to be hard and that the challenge is pushing through that. I told myself that it was ok to be in the moment, but that I needed to move on. And you know what? It worked. I felt better. I hit an aid station, and nailed my bottle grab. I think I just laughed out loud because it was so fun and I felt like a rock star.

We passed the course split where the Great Floridian athletes turned off and we kept going. This was about mile 42. At this point, I knew I was just bringing it home. I had a lot of energy, but I was really conserving because I wasn’t sure how much I would need for the run. I also knew that there were some rollers coming up at Cherry Lake Road. This was about mile 46 and it was a nice stretch to go fast on the downs and try to power up the next hill. I definitely used a lot of my past experience on this!

The next 12 miles or so were spent on those last rollers and then it was back to flat as we returned to the area along the water. At this point, I saw some runners out on the run course and it hit home that I would be out there shortly. It was hot!! I cheered them on and just tried to stay smooth and calm as I brought it back to transition.
Transition 2
  • 08m

I racked Cupcake and told her that she did a great job. I think she purred back. I grabbed my run bag and headed into the tent. This turned out to be a great choice. I had a chance to sit and collect my thoughts. I changed fully, dried off, added some sunscreen and headed back out to drop my bag off. I had exchanged my fuel belt for the next size up, because my current one was a bit tight on my last long run. It turns out that the newer belt was a little too big and was totally annoying. I had loaded it with the 10oz bottles, and they were really too heavy for the belt because the helium doesn’t have a strap over the top of each bottle to help hold the bottle in. But I rigged it as best I could and headed out of transition.
What would you do differently?:

Needless to say, I can cut off some time in the future here!
  • 3h 15m 43s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 14m 56s  min/mile

There was a nice little hill heading out on the run course, so I powered up most of it and then stopped to walk a little. This was the most that I walked for the whole run. My goal was to run as much as possible, to think positively and to take it all in. At this point, I knew that I would finish. It became more of a mental battle to be positive and not focus too much on my pace. Probably more so because I’ve had such strong runs lately and I know that I am capable of much more. But there was also the unknown element of never tying it all together with the swim and bike. I wanted to avoid any stomach problems and figured that it would be smarter to stay in a lower zone and know that I could finish feeling strong.

The first part of the run is a 6 mile section that is a partial out and back, which is nice because you get to see the other athletes along the course. It was hot out! I stopped at every aid station along the course and spent at least a minute at each one, putting ice in my hat and getting endurolytes and water.

I saw a club member at mile 2, which picked me up for a bit. And then I hit the turnaround at mile 4 and things were looking up. I just ticked off each mile in my head and thought about getting to the 9 mile marker that I saw while I was on the bike course. Somehow, 4 miles left felt like the place to be! Once I hit mile 6 and got to the 7 mile loop, I started slowing more. I think I was still afraid to push too hard, remembering the stomach issues I’ve had on training runs. I watched my average pace tick up and once I got to mile 11, I said screw it. I picked it up. I knew I was going to finish at this point and I was determined to get my time back under the 15 minute mark. I came past transition and there was a turn that took us back up the hill that we started on. Boo! But I couldn’t complain much since the full people had to do it 3 times. I just tried to dig in and push a bit harder. I rounded the corner and saw my coach and just tried to focus on bringing it home. They were cheering for me and I heard the announcer say my name. It was the best finish I’ve ever had. And it felt awesome!! I got my medal and several pictures (these are going to be beyond interesting because I was a hot mess!).
Post race
Warm down:

We took an awesome group shot and I even got to meet a blog reader who took our picture with my camera. Thanks Irene!

We ended up finding a spot in the shade near transition, and I took a quick shower in the bathrooms by the lake and changed into some warmer clothes since it was starting to get dark. I opted not to go back to the house, so we hung out all night until just before 12:30 when our friend Chad came in to the finish looking awesome. I was just in awe of these iron distance athletes bringing it home. It was so inspiring! We eventually made it home and to bed around 2AM.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The most obvious thing to me was that I finished with a lot in the tank. My goal was to finish, and so I erred on the side of caution so that I wouldn’t bonk the run. Looking back, I would have made some adjustments on the bike and then tried to push the second half of the run harder. I really want to spend time working on my run and getting that to a point where my slow pace is a 12 minute mile. That would have brought me much closer to my 'C' goal of 8 hours.

Event comments:

I want to race 2 more half distances (at least) before Ironman. I want to get that experience so that I can better predict how hard I can push. But I do know that with the commitment, I will sign up for Ironman 2010. This race did a lot for my confidence. I got so much from the other racers out on the course and never once felt like I didn’t belong. I earned that respect.

As much as I was ready to cringe when I saw pictures from the race, I found myself looking at them with a different eye. My body did amazing things for me out on that course and in training. And I owe it to myself to make peace with my body and get to a healthy place and weight. I’m ready to step up to a new challenge.

As much as I was ready to cringe when I saw pictures from the race, I found myself looking at them with a different eye. Maybe how you guys have always looked at them. My body did amazing things for me out on that course and in training. And I owe it to myself to make peace with my body and get to a healthy place. I’m ready to step up to a new challenge.

Last updated: 2008-07-16 12:00 AM
00:49:31 | 1931 meters | 02m 34s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Average
Suit: Quintana Roo Full
Course: Inverted triangle
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Rounding: Good
Time: 06:25
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed: Average
04:02:26 | 58 miles | 14.35 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Wind: Little
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 85
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 08:00
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal
03:15:43 | 13.1 miles | 14m 56s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Below average
Course: Mostly flat, some small hills
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2008-10-27 3:18 PM

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Atlanta, GA
Subject: Florida Challenge Half Iron

2008-10-27 4:08 PM
in reply to: #1768438

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Extreme Veteran
Louisville KY
Subject: RE: Florida Challenge Half Iron
Great job you ran your race. Congrats!
2008-10-27 4:17 PM
in reply to: #1768438

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Florida Challenge Half Iron
congratulations!  sounds like you had a well thought out race plan and you stuck to it.  that's hard to do in the "heat of battle" when you're not thinking clearly.  way to finish strong!
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