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Ironman Florida - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
Ironman North America
71F / 22C
Total Time = 16h 53m 55s
Overall Rank = 2349/2440
Age Group = W50-54
Age Group Rank = 53/58
Pre-race routine:

I've struggled finding the right words to share about my race. Words come easy for the technical, minute by minute details of race day, but for me this race was more than just about race day. It was a journey to see how tris will fit into my life now that my knee limits my ability to run. Part of why I haven't written this early is I'm still processing how I feel about the race. I write this for me, sort of post race therapy. Yes I know it is long. Choose to skip ahead if you want. For me this first stuff is more important in many ways than how race day went. You may view this differently.

We all race for different reasons. On some level we all compete against ourselves. In addition to that our reasons to sign up for an Ironman can be vastly different. For me I like the IM lifestyle…the training, figuring out all the details, nutrition, pacing, race day execution, and racing. Training for IM this time was different; doing no run training meant 1 workout a day most days which felt odd. With normal IM training I’d do an early workout and then one later on 2 a day. 1 workout day gave me for freedom when to start workout which didn’t work out well for me. The old saying getting workouts down early insures you get them done, opposite happened for me. Motivation to get out the door was a struggle at times despite enjoying workouts while doing them.

Last year at IMFL racing I had a blast until the run became painful. For me racing isn't always fun in the moment, I enjoy it on another level, yet at times it sucks or is painful. The total experience is very positive to me so I continue to do tris. Ironman distance races are the ones that I enjoy most. Not having a big goal doesn’t work well for me. I signed up for 2011 the day before the race in 2010. IMFL 2010 was a fantastic race for me in that I had fun most all the race and I was super stoked that I had signed up to do it again. I know I won’t podium, KQ, but that isn’t why I do it. Triathlons make me feel alive, attuned to the world, be one with my bike, enjoy nature, and find a special place in my mind that frees me from daily life and worries.

2010 the swim was special; what had always kept me from doing IMFL was the ocean swim. I grew up in Minnesota during the era of Jaws and in mind had some fears about things that live in ocean compared to lakes. Last year I had fun out there and was super excited by setting a PB in the swim that I had been afraid of for many years. Conquering a fear and doing well at it was rewarding. I remember being out on the bike course about hour in, passing folks, having other pass me thinking wow I swam faster than you, and was in this perfect, amazing place in my head..doing what I love, being with like minded people, feeling the course and my abilities were a good match, it was a big change for me from the prior two IMs first was full of fear if I could finish and the unknown and second because my pride wanted me to improve significantly after first IM. I worked with a coach for second IM that had one way of doing things and didn't like questions. It made training a chore, not fun and despite improving on the swim and run, my bike which was my pride and joy got worse. Both the first two IMs I had significant issues....rain/cold at IMLP with asthma incident 6 miles into run; IM Canada threw up for hours on the bike, cramped, was low on calories and fluid on a very hot day, had to walk some of the hills, bonked or came close, barely made the bike cut off but soldiered on to PB and solid close to even split on the run after recovering nutritionally early on in the run. IM #3 at FL last year was by far the most fun I had, executed my plan well, run was slower than I hoped but mentally I was tough and executed my plan. Having surgery in June and having some issues with leg strength and knee extension, and some on and off again pain I was pleased with how it went.

This year was pretty rough for me. After FL last year I wanted to run more, consistently and in a way I was greedy as I wanted to see improvement. Knee acted up in December and saw a local ortho and started PT again. After 4 PTs over course of 8 months none could figure out my issue, I still couldn't full extend my knee and quad strength difference was obvious even by looking at my two quads. I continued to run but limited amounts. I got pretty sick in Feb/March and missed a lot of training. My parents continued to have health issues. I went out Solvang Tri Camp in March with goal to get some solid base miles in. Federal Express delivered my bike late and ruined my frame. I loved that bike and was heartbroken. It was a gift from my husband for our 25th wedding anniversary. Camp was solid, I was slow, rode some 27 hours in 6 days. When I came home I was mentally fried, depressed and very tired. I took some time off structured training, and pursued finding out what the heck was wrong with my knee and try to deal with my ambivalence to what I loved.

I saw a Rheumatologist who said I had something along the chronic fatigue spectrum, saw a leading researcher on knees, she refereed me to a Sports Endocrinologist who did lots of testing including bone density, finally got an MRI was told I had 3 bone on bone spots, and I needed to go see a different specialist who could see if I was a candidate for procedure that regrows cartilage. I saw the experts at the Cartilage Repair center and was told I was not a candidate. I had cortisone injection which didn't help but useful in getting insurance to pay for symivisc which I had in September. Discussed options and what the outcome might be for what I love to do Ironman.

My knee is on the road to needing knee replacement. Once I stopped running May 7th I was amazed how much better my knee pain was. I had been living with significant pain so long I didn't even register how painful it was until constant pain started to go away. Being able to lie on my stomach with my knee on the bed was a milestone. Plan is to do an Osteotomy in December to cut my tibia to realign my leg so my weight is on the lateral part of my knee where I have better cartilage as well as move my patella out and over to help my patella track better and reduce pain.. We are hopeful this will work as wearing a medial knee unloader brace that moves my leg into that position has reduced the pain in my knee about 85%. Question remains why if my cartilage was age normal in June 2010 how come it went downhill so quickly within a year? Bigger question will my lateral cartilage deteriorate quickly and make knee replacement the only option.

In many ways I think tris saved me. Yes I started losing weight back in '03 and lost 62 pounds in a year and finally got up to 98 pounds lost. But that motivation to exercise and get fit was lacking. I played women's soccer and went to Curves in ‘03. I set a goal to do a sprint tri in a year. I sort of trained but haphazardly. First tri I was terrified, big shark sighting near race location on news before my first tri. I grew in the era of Jaws lived in Minnesota and didn't play or swim in the ocean until I was in college. To many Discovery shows and Jaws movies made ocean scary as it had big scary creepy things that can hurt you. The only fear I have in lakes is finding dead bodies, I know it is an irrational fear. Lakes, weeds, unable to see far, don't bother but at times my own arm startles me with what is that sort of reaction.

When we arrived at the cabin this summer there were a lot of boats including Sheriff boats off our dock, I thought it strange to fish out there as not a good location. No they were looking for a man that drowned. For a couple days those boats were out there, often with plane over head doing a grid search. I swam the day we arrived but was a bit freaked out but wanted my kids to have fun and not be afraid.

The fear of finding a dead body was real and just played in my head a bit and was another excuse not to swim. At the island there are boats and watercraft that drive fast and don't pay attention well so I worry about ows without a boat guide which makes it more challenging to do. It took a good 6 weeks to get back into rhythm of swimming. I struggled more with ows than I had over last few years and had that panicky feeling. The missing body plus a to tight wetsuit were probably key factors.

One of the insights I have had doing Ironmans is that I’m better at many things than I knew…determination, dedication, discipline, digging deep, tough and I work hard at overcoming obstacles. Tris helped me gain self confidence in myself and abilities that had been hiding for years. I do know my genetic and athletic ability aren’t even average, but those other things can make a huge difference. Less than 100 women my age or older started IMFL this year. IMs you see huge drop in AG participants for women in the 50-54 AG that I joined this year and those that race are fantastic dedicated athletes. Back in 2001 when I turned 40 no way would I have guessed I’d have done close to 50 tris, bike and cyclocross races, road races and 4 Ironman by the time I was 50. I’ve accomplished more than I dreamed I could…that sprint in 2004 scared me, watching my first IM race in 2006 scared me, but I overcame.

I was confused much off the summer if I’d do IMFL. It was the day after I turned 50 and I had planned for it to be a celebration of what I have accomplished. Fit at 50 is much better than fat at 40. Being active, thinner engaged in something I feel passionate about has enhanced my life. Knowing that my future in sport I love may be limited made me profoundly sad. I talked to people about it. It was in early September that I decided yes I’m going to try and do IMFL. I was unsure if I may choose to swim & bike and stop. I may opt to try to walk the run if my knee handled it okay. Aquabikes are an option but just aren’t as appealing as tris to me but they are less painful with quicker recovery.

Event warmup:

Kevin & I flew down Wednesday on SWA arrived before noon. I choose to not bring the kids for many reasons but in part this IM was different with mixed emotions plus Kyle was graduating from basic training later in the month and we plan to drive to TX and kids can only miss so much school.


Swim..just out to first white buoy, across, and back. For me it was challenging as current was strong and big swells. Wetsuit was good. If conditions are like today not sure how I'd do race day. I'm going for the draft and swimming with the folks instead of hanging back.

I struggled with routine to get to the pool. Motivation wasn’t there, pool hours limited over the summer, open water swims had been struggle (realized my wetsuit was to tight as I had gained about 8-10 pounds since last IM and not running changed my body).

Met so many BTers this morning:) Biggest swim meet up I've been to.

Later I rode out to State Park with Glen...very windy..guess about 19 mph per Glen. Fiddled with my Joule but still not working stopped after half loop in State park and moved speed sensor to front wheel and fork...viola it worked just fine!

Everything is working well on my bike which is always sweet!

Lunch with BTers at our normal Liza's Thursday lunch.

I went to the Athlete's Dinner and meet up with a bunch of BTers...I skipped the food but wanted to soak up the atmosphere, get motivated and feel the IM buzz. Staying close to race site is so much easier...3 minute walk to transition and most events.


50th Birthday
Pretty rough today...challenging to get past breaking waves at second sand bar then better..hard to site with big waves..Estimated at 5 feet
I feel a bit odd about this IM....some folks look at my knee brace and have some interesting comments. I want to be okay with doing my best no matter the outcome. I have a bunch of mixed emotions like can I do this, will this be my last IM, how will the 26.2 miles go, I suspect that is pretty normal.

Race Morning:
Race morning woke up a bit before 4 am and couldn’t get back to sleep so got up. Ate my bagel and got dressed to go down and pump up tires and put fluid on my bike. Condo security was even more intense and said they wouldn’t let us back in the driveway without a wristband. Kevin went up to get them and I headed over to get body marked and get bike set up. Being there early no wait for body marking and had three volunteers each doing a different body part. It was dark in transition but had some parking lights. I had planned on having bike support pump up my tires but they were not getting there until 5. I borrowed someone’s pump but couldn’t get it on valve extender with disc cover on. Tried a couple other pumps including Sue’s then asked Kevin to go get mine in the condo. I was a bit flustered and asked a security volunteer to help which he did but in process my disc cover tore near valve cut out. I didn’t realize it at the time. Fluids I went with larger TorHans bottle with nuuns and no other fluid knowing aid stations would be frequent.

Back to the condo with wrist bands and hung out with Glen and Thomas for awhile. I had to bring my T2 bag down but had talked to RD about bringing it over right before race start so I could continue to wear my unloader brace as long as possible. Walking without it makes my knee hurt and I had 26.2 miles ahead of me later in the day. Very crowded in transition when I dropped bag and went against flow of athletes and spectator to meet up with Kevin again and I held his hand so we wouldn’t be separated still others cut us off as we walked off the boardwalk. I had wool socks and terry slippers from White Swan hotel located in Guangzhou China they gave to us when we adopted one of our daughters.

I bumped into Pat and was glad to hang out with him as we crossed the swim timing mat into the corral. We high fived excited that the ocean had quieted and much flatter than the two previous day as we both were concerned with conditions and if we could do 2.4 miles in the waves and current. We moved to back of athlete pen and I saw Brianna and then Kevin found us. Pat was doing his first IM and has a triple bypass a few years ago. Being with friends and having Kevin there was special and helped keep me calm. My head and emotions were different than in past IMs. This one I was a participant, not ideally trained wondering if I could enjoy myself knowing that I would be walking the run. I hadn’t had those pre race jitters like I did in previous IMs. With all that has gone on this year, getting to the starting line was challenging. Knowing that I would not PB may have taken some of the self pressure. I was hoping to have solid bike and be well under 6:30. My shoulder had been bothering me again the last couple weeks. The steroid shot I had in September which helped seemed to have worn off. My swim training had been inconsistent with drowning which happens to be something I think of randomly doing murky ows that I will find a body, shoulder issues, pools schedule and lack of desire.

  • 2h 02m 47s
  • 4156 yards
  • 02m 57s / 100 yards

Pat and I started swim similar spot as I started with Brianna last year. As soon as I started swimming in the water was this mass of redish pink on my left side that I wasn’t sure what it is. I saw another one a few strokes later on right side near my hand and arm, wasn't sure what it was but thought it might be a different type of jellyfish then I’ve seen there before.

I was separated from the crowd of athletes much sooner this year. Last year at first buoy everyone got bunched up and popped their heads up funny comments were said which was a cool experience and made it to the first turn buoy with a pack not this year.

At far turn buoy masses of jellyfish were everywhere. There were two types I saw Moon jelly-round with red outlined circles and Cannonball type head and tentacles behind. It was odd how in one spot in the ocean there were was such a concentration of them and they were still there in abundance second loop.

Last year I enjoyed the swim so much, this year it was a mental battle filled with doubt and disappointment plus fear that I might miss the cut off.

Shortly after turn to swim back to shore on loop 1 pros passed me. Sooner to where they passed me last year. Swim into shore at times felt like I wasn’t moving and I was a bit off course instead of hugging buoy line due to current pushing me to the right.

After pros passed me I was slower than in past by a significant amount of time and I became concerned. When I got out first loop saw 1:06 on clock which confused me as I heard Mike Riley announce the first AGer was out of water. I concluded the 1:06 was the pro time. I confirmed this with spectator who said it was 7:56 which was a relief.

Second loop the current was stronger and certain parts of the course I felt like I was not making any forward progress. Last 2.5 buoys back to shore were tough. I could see the bottom of the ocean and could tell I wasn’t moving forward much.

Finally I was at the swim exit and was extremely happy to be done and made the cut off. I saw the clock and was a bit shocked...56' for first loop and 2:12 after second...16' slower? It felt harder second lap and reading RR from FOP and AGers as well as Pros other felt the same way and they were out of the water before I finished first loop. It never occurred to me they would not have adjusted the clock to be AG time by the time I exited the swim. Other IM I have done adjusted it after pros were out of the swim when I was in my second loop.

533 out of women

SWIM SPLIT 1: 1.2 mi 1.2 mi (56:41) 2:56/100m
SWIM SPLIT 2: 2.4 mi 1.2 mi (1:06:06) 3:25/100m

What would you do differently?:

Swim more consistently over summer

Come up with plan B to swim when uncovered drowned man in lake

Not have shoulder issue

Given my shoulder issue, not enough swimming since September, but opted to train less so I could make it to the start line able to swim

I swam more hours this year than many that do IM races. But my genetics/fish ability is severely lacking and clearly at the very bottom of the pack. I was disappointed to have 22 minute slower swim...really at times I'm so frustrated with lack of progress and this year improvement than slow down. Yet I knew soon I'd be on the bike which is my happy place.

I had set some new PBs last December-March that I had set 3-5 years ago.
Transition 1
  • 11m 25s

Walked quickly up the beach, skipped the first wetsuit strippers and picked a pair of men. I had removed my DeSoto top of my wetsuit. They got my bottoms of quickly and pulled me to my feet. I walked up the beach, went through the showers, saw Kevin taking photos and whined a little about my swim time. He was super positive and kind.

Got my bag and went on long walk to change area in back of banquet hall. Women's change area was past men this year, and I see Jen DiCarlo and other volunteers waiting there. Seeing her there, knowing a friend would help me was very uplifting. She was efficient, encouraging and helped me have a fast T1 despite putting on leg warmers, wool socks, arm warmers, vest and jacket over plus full finger gloves and headband. I get cold easily and if cold my performance declines. I always look for cheap bike stuff I can wear in IM and throw away at aid stations if needed. Ziplocks next year need to add which one to open first.

1268 OA
273 Women
30 AG

If tris were just transitions, I would be FOMOP. To do MOP without running in a large transition I find amusing and interesting.
What would you do differently?:

Run if knee could handle it

Pleased with how I did
  • 6h 54m 36s
  • 112 miles
  • 16.21 mile/hr

First hour on the bike I felt pretty good, held watts where I wanted. Wind through condos area on Front Beach and Thomas Road before turn onto 79 was strong and continued to be so after turn onto 79 when I struggled eating as I had long finger gloves on, dropped a Stinger Waffle. I picked up 2 gels at first aid station and that is what I ate next 2 30' feeds as easiest to get to with gloves on. My back was sore and uncomfortable starting at mile 15 and on which wasn't a good sign. I tried to bump up my watts second hour per plan and did a bit then faded. When I pushed watts back hurt more so backing off watts made sense. After made it to the turn at the top of 79, still more more headwind. Folks said it was 15 mph plus gusts in the 20-30 range. Typically triathletes over estimate wind...I'm not good on knowing.

Next section Hwy 77 that was super fast and fun last year was slow....we had now gone 4 different directions and all with what felt to me like head wind.

Left onto 388 leading to out and back, I felt awful...refluxing and staring at distance on Joule feeling like I was blowing up and wondering how the heck I was going to make 80+ more miles. My watts dropped and hour 4 average was 89 after 100 3rd hour. I had nothing it was odd and depressing. Stopped with gels and didn't take in any nutrition until my stomach settled down and ate more my normal stuff Powerbar Gel blasts. Here I connected with another athlete Nina who was in her 50s and tiny bit of a thing, any slight down hill I'd pass her and up hills she'd pass me back. We complained about the wind. Here is where a cheater started to draft off me....number 234#, guy in white shirt drafting so close when I'd turn my head to check traffic he was only in the corner of my vision. He annoyed me and strange I said nothing to him as I would typically do. I wasn't my normal chatty self, but discouraged, annoyed, wanted off my bike, and felt crappy wondering how I could finish if I felt this bad so early.

Kevin passed me again in this section which always encouraged me. Made it to the bumpy crap road that is the out and back but I enjoy it on one level as I see other athletes and feel more connected to athletes and the race. Folks ride all over the road trying to avoid the bumps which are like every second for this whole 7 mile section...hint no place is smoother just keep your line.

I get to the turn around, pace picked up with tail wind and almost instantly my mood improves. SN was manned with military instead of High School students which was a HUGE improvement, one would announce your number, person in your number area would pull bag and have it ready for you when you arrived. Guy with bullhorn was distracted when I came upon him so I yelled my number which he announced. I had taken off my jacket and my gloves, so I just put them in my bag and asked the young man to tie my bag and thanked him and off I went.

My speed improved along with my mood. But just shortly after I made the right turn onto Blue Springs Road, I realized with a 3:45 first half of the bike, my bike split could be 7:30...a level of panic descended on me...I don't have enough time to walk the run and finish. I was unprepared for this potential situation on the bike as I was confident with my bike training that I would have a good bike split and the tough time would be on the run if I could walk 26.2 miles and be fast enough to make cut off.

I spy Kevin at the turn onto Hwy 20, and yell I want to talk to him. He takes some photos.

He then leap frogs me and pulls to the side of the road about 3-4 miles after the turn. I stop and say, I quickly share the math with him, saying I don't think I can make it, and I'm not sure I want to start the run if I have zero chance of making the midnight cut off. His response was short 'keep going and don't give up hope'.

It was not until mile 70-80 I felt okay. It was similar timing to the IM aquavelo I did but this race I felt worse on the bike.

He stopped every 4-8 miles to encourage me and would yell and encourage me as he passed me. I saw my speed increase and I was feeling better and watts were slightly better. I kept going passing folks but stopped very briefly to talk with Kevin and give him my arm warmers. Bit later it warmed up and I pushed my leg warmers down and was debating if I could leave them that way but they are wider at the top and could potentially get stuck in the drivetrain so I stopped again to take off wool socks and leg warmers...lost a little time. Kevin was worried that I would get penalty so he backed the car up and told me to leave them there and he'd get them after I'd gone. Do to my 3 stops in this area I kept passing the same folks over and over. I was moving up a bit here and saw my average speed increasing. Slowly my mind was improving the panic and fear of running out of time on the run was there but my focus had changed to race execution plus I like passing folks and having a nice tailwind.

About mile 80 I felt in my happy bike place, watts were lower than I hoped but holding steady, I felt better and I started to have a bit of optimism. Both IMs this year I didn't settle in to my normal bike happy place until 4+ hours on the bike. It puzzled me why then and now.

I made the turn onto 79, see Kevin again. This was the best part of the bike last year, slight downhill with tailwind and super fun. I was excited to get there, didn't plan to stop to chat with Kevin this time but he yells Kyle is on the phone and needs to talk to me, slam on my brakes, he runs over and hands me the phone.

With Kyle at Air Force basic training, he gets one time a week to make calls usually Saturday or Sunday. I was hoping he'd call Sunday so I wouldn't miss him but instead I chatted briefly with him on race day. He wished me Happy Birthday, was encouraging and funny. Same folks I had passed me passed me back again, but I was so pumped up flew back by them all.

The wheel sucker was drafting off two other women....annoyed me. Out and back was fast and flat, felt good other than right foot ball of foot falling asleep. Decided to take foot out of my shoe and ride with it on top for a bit, then stopped for a second to slip it back in. Tried to suck it up and not do that but knew I had about 20 miles left and foot goes from falling sleep to pain. One back portion saw many of the folks I had passed since 56 mile turn around and again wheel sucker was drafting off some women.

Back on 79 feeling strong, make left turn along Front Beach Road and wow what a head wind. Started doing the final math, where my math at about 75% of bike wondering if 3:45 and 3:00 or close split might be possible and I was on target but the final 8 miles into headwind was 4 minutes slower than last year. Wind whipped through condos like a tunnel and traffic is heavier here so focus and safety are important.

Garmin time was 6:50 vs. IM split 6:54 for as much as I stopped I'm okay with that. I didn't use port a potties this year.

Not the time or power I expected yet I regrouped and was able to overcome.

357 out of Women not bad for being 50 and injured

My power with average of 103 watts was 20 watt lower than I expected based on my training. My VI was higher than I expected at 1.04 due to bad spot hour 3-4. Riding at higher IF and pushing TSS up well into the 300s seemed like a solid plan given I didn't need to worry about running. Last long ride my average watts were 122 and I felt great. ChespeakeMan I averaged 117 and know my cycling improved over the 6 weeks between two races.

TSS 278
IF .639
VI 1.04
Avg Watts 103
NP 107

avg watts per hour 106, 107, 100, 89, 105, 110, 104
Goal was 105-110 first hour, pushing up to 115-120 next hour keep there or up to 120-125 if feeling good at 70-80 bump up a little

BIKE SPLIT 1: 55 mi 55 mi (3:40:48) 14.95 mi/h
BIKE SPLIT 2: 95 mi 40 mi (2:14:35) 17.83 mi/h
BIKE SPLIT 3: 112 mi 17 mi (59:13) 17.22 mi/h
TOTAL BIKE 112 mi (6:54:36) 16.21 mi/h 2219 43

I still trying to figure out what happened and why my power was so low. Not sure there is an exact answer even though I'd like one. I think of rides the 4 months prior this was the worst ride power wise. Looking at the numbers, my time, I know my position was better. Pros that expected to go sub 5 were 10 minutes slower which if 2 minutes an hour, I was out there longer and suspect wind effects slower riders a bit more....3 minutes an hour would be 15' plus power was lower than last year yet ride time was within 4' of last year. This confirms my feelings that my position on my bike this year is better than last year as I’ve reduced my drag. Todd Kenyon who did my fit made some significant changes opening up my hip angle and lowering front end.

Placement wise in women was almost exactly the same this year to last. I look at splits and see first and second split added together were almost exactly the same as last year first was 16 minutes slower this year and second split 16 faster. Loss of time was the strong headwind on way back into town that I was 4' slower. My splits/pace differences on the three splits trend were similar to other athletes but my differences were less.

What would you do differently?:

Things I’ve considered about why bike felt off early on and my normal ability to ride steady power didn’t happen which is uncharacteristic for me: having/getting a cold, nutrition, mental and/or arousal, back discomfort

I had got sick with a cold about 10 days before IM, it improved but not 100% come race day and the day following the race, cold was back with a vengeance.

Nutrition is often blamed when it isn’t an issue. My swim was 22’ longer than last year so just over 2 hours with a gel between loops. The IM Aquavelo I did in September similar delay almost to the same mile of when I started feeling normal and strong on the bike. As a percentage and time those extra 20’ in the water may have set me up poorly for the bike. It is odd to feel best on an IM bike mile 80-112. Doing the math, I was out on the bike at 2:12, then had honey stinger waffle about 25’ in, gel for 2 30’ cycles, then stomach was acting up. So I had 3 gels 300 calories and 170 from waffle for total of 470 first 4 hours of the race, then waited until my stomach felt less refluxish so probably got back to normal intake after 4:45 or 5 hours into race with 470 calories through that point. Could that negative thought process I had was due to low calorie intake? I normally don’t have dark spots like I did for a long time on this IM bike. It could have been as simple as headwind for 56 miles sucks and beat me down.

Being in the correct arousal state for event is important. Having the challenge be such that your skill set is lined up with the race is ideal. Being overly confident or complacent on one side or overly afraid and nervous on the other spectrum are not ideal arousal state for racing. I wonder if perhaps my feelings affected this in a negative way. I wasn’t nervous before race and emotionally felt different. I’m sure injury and knowing PB wasn’t going to happen effected my race mental outlook. Other part of this is my concern was the fear of finishing adds this strange pressure to racing that for me isn’t positive. Much of the swim and mid point of the bike doubted I would finish.

My back had bothering me for about 9-10 days before the race. I had L3 L4 discs herniate back 14 years ago and had surgery. As a weak point in my body, often it acts up before big races. I was doing heat, it was bothersome during normal life. Having it bother me so early on in the bike was a concern, strange how it felt almost normal when I overall felt better at mile 75-80 as trend is to have it feel worse not better with time on the bike.

I don’t know the answer if one of the above reasons was the cause or could be a combination of factors. I had expected to do well on the bike as my power was up and I was feeling strong. I expected my watts to be about 20 higher than they were or about 20% which is a substantial difference.
As much as I want to know what happened to learn and improve in the future, I’m pleased that I was able to adapt, get in a better place in my head and finish up relatively strong.

Transition 2
  • 08m 8s

Off the bike, reset Garmin 500 and saved file on Joule, before handing off my bike to volunteer. Down aisle with my run bag which was easy to find, around into the change area going opposite direction and saw Jen smiling and again mood improved knowing she would help me both get ready for the 'run' but the contact with her would help.

I quickly went over my bike and she shared most everyone had similar experience that the wind was tough and folks were slower than expected. She had helped Sue a bit earlier.

Changed tri shorts into capris so I could wear brace hoping to avoid rubbing and chaffing. Put body glide on my toes and balls of my feet but missed my heels that I would regret later in the day. Changed to regular glasses, hat, race belt with pockets for my stuff, and off I went.

1465 OA
288 Women
28 AG
What would you do differently?:

MOP in transitions without running is a bit ironic
  • 7h 36m 58s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 17m 26s  min/mile

Out of T2, saw Kevin who took pictures and stopped briefly to chat. I wasn't sure that I had enough time to walk 26.2 miles with my walk 1/2 mile run 30" plan. When running IM runs are usually slower than in training. I had expected to be off the bike ~30' before I was, and had hoped to have that extra cushion of time. In doing longer walks while training I knew my walking pace wasn't fast as each step I make my quad and leg muscles tighten to protect my knee. It just happens I don't really have control over it and I do think it slows me down but allows me to walk and avoid pain.

The first 6.5 miles out to State Park I was unsure and bit fearful I wouldn't have enough time to finish. With my replacement 310XT I had set up my screens before race but hadn't used them in training. I was surprised at my overall pace thinking something was off as it was faster than I expected. I asked a few people what time it was so I would know how much time I had to finish. The math kept coming up I had 7:43 to get the Mary done.

Finding the right words to sum up the emotions of this part of race I'm struggling with. I had a lot invested in doing the race, money, time, family, and more, I knew not finishing was a real possibility and here I was a the crux of can I get this thing done. I was unsure how my knee would handle so many hours of walking, how my emotions would handle not finishing, or finishing close to midnight. I was in uncharted territory for me. I was afraid I wouldn’t make the midnight cut off.

After I got out to the State Park and was about 1/4 realized it might be possible I'd finish. I did the math over and over in my head trying to figure out if I’d make it. Prior to the race I hadn’t even considered I would have only 7:43 to get it done as my cycling power was up and thought I’d make time gains there and would be off the bike similar time as last year. After 10 miles I did more math over and over hoping that my calculations were right. The way I worked it out I had 10 minute cushion for second half could be 10 minutes longer than first half. 10 minute cushion I hoped would be enough.

My medial unloader brace kept slipping down. First loop I stopped twice trying to adjust it which only made a slight difference. I finally figured out if I tugged it upward after each run interval, it stayed in mostly the right place. I had worn capris to avoid chaffing from brace and had small Body Glide container in my pocket if need be.

First loop I saw many BT friends and had encouraging words and hugs. Seeing Sue out there my long time good friend and Pat doing his first IM have having triple bypass a few years ago was inspiring. On the bike very few athletes or spectators mentioned my shark clothing, but on the run whole different story. First loop I had constant stream of interesting comments from my grandkids would love that, to go shark, and it was very positive for me.

Just before I got to the exciting and interesting whips and chain women who party, encourage all the IM athletes, I saw my husband which always helps. In the sea of many athletes I have found I get lonely being in my head for a long day. Interactions with others is very positive for me and my energy flow so clothing that sparks fun comments is a plus.

At special needs, I grabbed a ziplock of what I thought I would or might need. Kevin and caught back up to me and refused to take anything from me fearing he might get me DQed. Maybe 5 minutes later I bump into Jen DiCarlo and she was again so helpful. I asked for her advice on what I should wear. Knowing I was walking she said put on the jacket. So I took off my shark vest and gave it to her as I didn’t want to lose it. She helped me move stuff from my shark vest pockets to my yellow Zoot jacket and took the rest of the ziplock bag. Her help and encouragement for the third time was a bright spot for me.

At run turn around, I confirmed by time on my Garmin but with spectators and other athletes that my math was correct. Part of the math issue I had was I continue to think my swim time was 2:12 so math didn’t add up with what I knew my bike time to be. Being off by 10 minutes on math would potentially make me not finish.

Getting done with first loop seeing Kevin, Jen, Sue and others and thinking I had a real shot of finishing this thing changed my frame of mind immensely.

I felt a great sense of relief when I knew that finishing was likely possible if I could continue walking close to same pace. This change in my thinking helped me relax and enjoy the race. As I started the second loop did my chatty thing encouraging everyone who passed me either way. It helps as often you get 'love' back from other racers that are encouraging. I did chat some first loop as well but fear and doubt overshadowed the fun interactions with other athletes, spectators and volunteers. Mile 13-18 was the most fun portion of the run for me. I had some thoughts about how less painful walking a marathon in IM was than running and how different the training was skipping run training..maybe this was the ultimate way to do Ironmans..reduce the pain, increase the fun and spend less time training.

My knee was handling all the walking surprisingly well other than part of the course is camber such that annoys my knee. Other odd things I started noticing is heel of my right foot felt like was developing a blister and my second toe on my left foot hurt felt odd like something was around the toe like a string or something. I stopped, sat on a bench took off my shoe and sock and saw nothing put sock on and pain increased expentially for a few minutes and then all pain went away. Turns out I have a big blister under my nail.

At State Park turn around last loop met a couple women one who stuck with me as she didn't feel good. Everyone out there was doing math calculations trying to determine if they could finish. One women who was 57 and feeling nauseous and off, was having a hard time, didn’t think she would finish. She wasn’t able to do the math, stay on pace and running would make her sick. She decided to stay with me as my walking pace didn’t make her sick and she trusted me and my math that we could finish but she wasn’t sure. She has had a few DNFs in recent years and was concerned. In time she stopped worrying and was more confident we'd make it. She helped me as I like leading and helped me focus, keep on task and was pretty good company. Towards the end she was able to do math and was sound of calm saying yes we will make it.

Mile 24 and 25 I ran a little more as I worried run might be a little long like last year. I did more running than every half of a mile. I started to feel a bit panicky as I knew my finish would be close to midnight and the idea of getting to 139-140.1 but not finishing was not acceptable. I’d run 20 steps and walk 20-40. My heel was really starting to hurt but ignored it best as I could.

With about mile left two friends, Glen and Liz, came out to encourage me. They wanted me to run faster. I was listing to left already but running more made the blister on total heel part of my foot ache. Liz was encouraging me to give it my all as someone passed me and it was time to dig deep. My response wasn’t very kind as I said “I don’t give a shit if anyone passes me I just want to finish” or something along those lines. That little bit of running made my heel pain increase dramatically. At the last turn by Alvin’s Island I could no longer stand up straight or look forward and doing so made me dizzy. I just kept moving forward. High fived walking down the chute trying to soak it in. I went from left to right, but it was like all my will and energy was fading fast. Last 25 yards I wobbled a lot, couldn’t raise my arms, or even look up...and was literally caught at the end. If I had another 1/2 mile not sure I would have made it. Last mile was very tough and things went down hill so quickly not sure why. They took me to medical but I made them stop for photo and still couldn’t stand up but listing to the side as well. I was okay maybe dehydrated a bit. I wonder if my electrolytes were off which I think is common reason why folks walk all bent over at end of IM.

Every IM finish it is like my mind is so focused on that finish line and pushes my body to continue but once I get to that line, my mind lets go and my body responds in kind. It is strange but it is the reality of how I manage and push myself to get to that finish line and the release of that will or focus has a strange effect on my body. I’m more and more convinced Ironman is in many ways more a mental battle pushing so your mind controls your body instead of your body telling your mind to slow down or walk because of the discomfort.

RUN SPLIT 1: 5.75 mi 5.75 mi (1:34:41) 16:28/mi
RUN SPLIT 2: 13.1 mi 7.35 mi (2:08:57) 17:32/mi
RUN SPLIT 3: 18.4 mi 5.3 mi (1:32:02) 17:21/mi
RUN SPLIT 4: 26.2 mi 7.8 mi (2:21:18) 18:06/mi
TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi (7:36:58) 17:26/mi 2352 53

Official IM video finish

What would you do differently?:

Given my limitations, not sure what I could do better.
Post race
Warm down:

Went to medical, blanket, broth and time, let go about 20-25' later, very kind and compassionate medical professionals, limped back to condo, chili and bath, slept surprising well.

Hard time walking the next few days day due to blister on whole heel of right foot.

Heel blister 4 weeks post IM

Thanks to
My husband Kevin for encouraging me to commit to doing this race when unsure, encouraging me to push on when doubting in training and being there for me race day helping me pull out of my funk and not give up and push on. Without him I wouldn't have finished this race.

My coach Shane MacLeod of who worked with me despite my struggle with consistency which was not my norm. Having him put my plan together, adapting it as needed helped me on many levels. I appreciate his knowledge of the sport, and the technical analysis of the sport. Working with a BOP athlete may not have the excitement of faster folks, but without his help I don't think I'm have made it this year. Thanks for helping get me to both the start and finish line this year!

My kids....this year I handled training differently if conflict I put put family before training and with less training workouts, family time was improved. I'm proud of my kids and their encouragement and support is huge.

BT friends...thank you for inspiring, motivating, encouraging and more me through this year and prior years. Without BT and friends I have made I doubt I would ever have signed up and dreamed doing an IM was possible for me.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Left knee

Struggled with knee injury and reality of what limitations I have with knee, parents medical issues, mental issues dealing with change of what is possible for me, shoulder impingement and lack of consistent swim training

I vacillate between proud of what I accomplished despite many obstacles in training this year and thinking am I fooling myself trying to push on and continue to do Ironmans?

My weight is up about 8-10 pounds for many reasons. Not running changed my body. Weighing less would be beneficial. I struggle with stress eating and stress level was high this year. I was surprised when I stopped running how my body changed even at the same weight and my clothes became tighter.

This year was an experiment would participating be good enough for me. Would pushing the time cut offs, planning to walk the run be satisfying. On some level yes but other levels not so much. Who wants to get slower? Barely make the midnight cut off? Honestly no one want that for their IM experience. As much as folks say the excitement at the finish line for the last hour is amazing, yes it is, but I'd rather be faster, be spectating and have less of exciting finish line finish hours before the cut off. Is that possible for me..not sure.

Yes I have finished 4 IMs. I do know that my genetic ability at this sport isn't great. I need to train smart and consistently. This year was my worst training in years but it was my fault due to mental struggles and depression from losing what I love and other things.

I did sign up for IMFL '12 and didn't decide until done with breakfast day after the race. One of my big motivation is fear what my life would be like without a big goal that jazzes me up. My surgery December 5th and recovery may make it not possible to toe the line come November 3rd, but I needed to have hope that it is possible.

For me IM is more than the race it is the lifestyle and journey which I can see deep within me many things if I allow myself to look, examine and feel.

I love having a big race out there that motivates me, challenges me, makes me face my fears, takes boldness, and come race day it is me against myself, the elements and the distance. Race day training is done and now it is about execution with nutrition and mental focus and control is key to finishing the race with whatever obstacles or issues arise throughout the day. Believing I can do this and adjusting my thinking or adapting my race plan when in a bad spot to continue to execute is key.

If IM was easy the appeal wouldn’t be there. The digging deep within me both in training and on race day and getting the core of my being, testing my will and seeing how I do, is exhilarating and makes me feel alive in a deep way.

How can I give that up?

I don’t want to.

Event comments:

Great race

Well organized and many small but good improvement over last year

Aid stations and volunteers were super as were the fans and other athletes.

Doing this race with good friends and new friends, with my husband out there supporting me, knowing BT friends world wide was pulling for me is precious. Thank you everyone for your support and inspiration.

My hope is to continue in the multisport lifestyles for years to come. In what form I will participate will depend on how I recover from surgery tomorrow.

Last updated: 2010-11-10 12:00 AM
02:02:47 | 4156 yards | 02m 57s / 100yards
Age Group: 57/58
Overall: 1352/2440
Performance: Below average
Suit: DeSoto Black Pearl
Course: Rectangle with beach run to second loop. Current moves from right to left as facing ocean and tends to pick up as morning progresses
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 70F / 21C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 11:25
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:54:36 | 112 miles | 16.21 mile/hr
Age Group: 35/58
Overall: 1973/2440
Performance: Below average
Wind: Headwind with gusts
Road: Smooth  Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks:
Time: 08:08
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
07:36:58 | 26.2 miles | 17m 26s  min/mile
Age Group: 53/58
Overall: 2348/2440
Performance: Average
Course: Around neighborhoods, through State Park and back for 2 loops
Keeping cool Good Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
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

2011-12-04 5:07 PM

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Subject: Ironman Florida

2011-12-04 5:30 PM
in reply to: #3925698

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Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Wonderful report, Kathy!  You are a true inspiration.  It's been awesome racing with you in the past and I'm really looking forward sharing the journey with you to IMFL next November!  Good luck tomorrow!!!!
2011-12-04 6:05 PM
in reply to: #3925698

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Williamston, Michigan
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

Congrats my friend.......Well that was an epic race report!!!  I am super glad you came and had great fun racing with you again!!  I really never doubted you would finish.  Seriously. 

I think having a lingering virus probab;y affected the bike some.  Its probably not one thing but a combination of factors.  The wind was truely NOT FUN, and the fact it shifted was SO NOT COOL.   Some days its just not your day but you over came and finished so its all good  

I know its hard to not improve.  I certainly didn't have the race I wanted either but I was trained to finish not to PR and sometimes you have to paint with the colors God gives you.  Here is hoping for PRs for both of us next year

Edited by Socks 2011-12-04 6:05 PM
2011-12-04 6:14 PM
in reply to: #3925698

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2011-12-04 6:51 PM
in reply to: #3925698

Midcoast Maine
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

Fantastic report (as always) Kathy. You touched on how much it means to see people that you know on the course or spectating. i keep trying to explain this to my family - because I know it isn't much fun for them...but it makes my race knowing they are out there looking for me - it keeps me going.

I have been doing triathlon for 2 1/2 years now with an eye to the IM distance. Many people suggest you have a clear idea of why you want to do an Ironman. I think you have answered that very clearly - you do IM because you like the goal, the focus, the drive and the structure of the training needed to complete the distance. Can you still get that walking the run? i don't know - but I do know that watching/lurking and seeing you examine yourself, the race, the distance inspires me to want to find why I want to do the distance, and to find the guts to attempt it.

Best of luck tomorrow - just as BTers worldwide watch your progress during an IM race, we will also be thinking healing thoughts and hoping the surgery has the best of all possible outcomes.

2011-12-04 7:07 PM
in reply to: #3925698

South Shore, MA.
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
I always enjoy your reports, ever since Texas 70.3  This one is in the books and they cant take it away from you. Welcome to the Geezer AG ...this is where you go into "protect" mode.

2011-12-04 7:57 PM
in reply to: #3925698

West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

I love so much of what you say about the determination, the ability to dig in and push yourself along....What a wonderful inspiration to see you doing what you love and fighting those mental demons all day to stay focused.

Thank you for sharing your day with us.

2011-12-04 11:04 PM
in reply to: #3925698

Highlands Ranch, CO
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

What a great race report!  Really though, it was so much  more.  I had to smile when you wrote about the constant headwind as I have experienced that in CO numerous times and it makes me crazy.  No matter what direction you are going, there it is!

I am so glad that we have had a chance to correspond this past year and have appreciated your support and insite.  I SO hope your surgery goes well and that you have the outcome you are hoping for.  Who knows, I just might see you at the start line next year.

I will be thinking about you tomorrow and the days to come and will be sending positive thoughts your way.

2011-12-04 11:28 PM
in reply to: #3925698

Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

Awesome, just awesome!

So inspirational, Kathy.

Hope the knee surgery goes well, and look forward to reading many more IM RR's!!

2011-12-05 6:01 AM
in reply to: #3925698

Verona WI--Ironman Bike Country!
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
I give you credit for carrying out your dream to compete in yet another IM on your 50th Birthday.  I hope you realize from this experience that just being able to participate is a gift.  Good luck with your surgery and prep for IM Florida '12!
2011-12-05 8:24 AM
in reply to: #3925698

Columbia, South Carolina
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
You are a tough lady, Kathy.

2011-12-05 8:56 AM
in reply to: #3925698

Just South of Boston
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Truly inspirational, and tough!!! Way to finish. Fantastic report, and thank you so much for sharing.

Hope everything goes better than you dream w/ the surgery & recovery!
2011-12-05 9:25 AM
in reply to: #3925698

Williamsburg, VA
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Thanks for sharing your truely inspirational story. You are a strong IRONMAN!!! Loved getting to finally meet you. Hope to be as strong as you when I turn 50!
2011-12-05 9:34 AM
in reply to: #3925698

metro west, MA
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
You are one tough cookie!  Thank you for sharing such detailed thoughts on this IM journey.  You are a true inspiration. Congrats and good luck with your surgery and the year ahead.
2011-12-05 10:26 AM
in reply to: #3925698

Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

I really, really enjoyed reading this. It's quite inspiring to read about your journey and willpower.

Thank you!!

2011-12-05 10:49 AM
in reply to: #3925698

Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Great race report as always!  I'm so glad you stuck with it and were able to finish the race.  I hope that the knee surgery goes well, recovery goes quick, and you can get back to training on some level.  I hope that 2012 is YOUR year.  You deserve it.

2011-12-05 12:57 PM
in reply to: #3925698

Orlando, FL
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
I love your race report because I really felt like I was there with you! So valuable for someone who has IM as a goal in the future, to see what it's like, and especially as I am turning 50 in a few weeks, and not exactly the slim athletic type.

You are MY shining star out there, thank you and hope the surgery is a HUGE success today!
2011-12-05 2:56 PM
in reply to: #3926909

, Minnesota
Gold member
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Thanks for sharing, I was curious about how it went for you.  I am impressed with your ability to stick things through, even when it's not easy.   I hope that 2012 brings wonderful things for you!
2011-12-06 12:13 PM
in reply to: #3925698

Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

You are AWESOME My Fellow Huge Blister Ironman Florida friend

2011-12-06 12:15 PM
in reply to: #3925698

Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Way to tough it out, Kathy!  I teared up when you got to the part about talking to your son.  : )  Hope your surgery heals fast and gets you back where you want to be.
2011-12-06 1:31 PM
in reply to: #3925698

Dallas, TX
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Fabulous report! Loved it!

Great job gutting it out Kathy! I hope the surgery helps your knee so you can feel better racing next year!

2011-12-06 2:44 PM
in reply to: #3925698

Montague Gold Mines, Nova Scotia
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

As always, great report with lots of good insight into how you approached the race and how the day unfolded.

You are an inspiration to many (including me) and I am grateful for the chance to work with you!

2011-12-06 5:52 PM
in reply to: #3925698

New user
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
It was great meeting you and the other BT'ers. Your report is inspirational and I read every word. You're right, there is so much more to Ironman than just the race.
2011-12-06 11:42 PM
in reply to: #3925698

Muskego, Wisconsin
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
That's great stuff, thanks for sharing all of it with us.  We were glued to the computer waiting for you to cross and it was well worth the wait.  Your logic behind walking an IM marathon sounds good to me   Can't wait until your next race.  As always you are an inspiration.
2011-12-07 4:27 AM
in reply to: #3925698

Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

Great Job Kathy!  I think you yare an inspriation of what perservation is about.  Between this report and your IMC report, you get an idea of how tough you really are.  AMAZING.

I hope you are recoverying well from your surgery!

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