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Great Floridian Triathlon - Ultra Distance Race - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Clermont, Florida
United States
Sommer Sports, Inc.
84F / 29C
Total Time = 13h 07m 50s
Overall Rank = 42/154
Age Group = M50-54
Age Group Rank = 2/21
Pre-race routine:

As this was my first Ironman distance event, I'm going to tell a great deal more here for pre-race, during, and after. Originally, I had always planned for Beach-2-Battleship to be my first Iron distance. However, due to some unforeseen circumstances the year previously and reports of the race being in chilly conditions as it used to take place the first week of November, I decided to look for a bit earlier race and one that would possibly be warmer. I was also looking for a less expensive independent race (i.e. non Ironman brand) as I just couldn't see paying $600+ at the time. So, I looked around for another race. There was Rev3 Cedar Point, OH, and Redman, OK (which was a bit far). Then my training program book listed the Great Floridian. Looked online and they had a $250 "Recession Special" for the Iron distance (Ultra) event! I was a bit unsure but decided I couldn't turn that price down. Plus it would be warm! So, I signed up in mid-November 2011 for the race on Oct 20, 2012. Now I will let everyone know, however, that B2B then changed their date to the same day :( . Well, the weather can still be quite fickle along the NC coast in October too with big Nor'easters sometimes hitting the area.

Fast forward now after a 50K on April 1 and then nearly 30 weeks later to Oct 18. It's been a LONG time training but my two other races (Ironman Muncie 70.3, modified Olympic, and Ft Ritchie Sprint) turned out well. So, though I was a bit apprehensive about my performance, I took confidence in the training I had done. I arrived in Clermont FL where it was a very warm 87 degrees. But I knew that for race day, the forecast called for low 80s and drier conditions as a front would be coming through. I hoped the temps would be okay but I prefer the warm temps to the cold and hence one reason why I was here as discussed previously.

Got to packet pickup and check-in. Nice volunteers took care of me and I was done there pretty quickly.

Met Mike Boehmer (from KY) and his wife shortly after packet pickup and his wife took a picture of me at the Finish Arch where I hoped I would be in a couple of days.

Checked out what few vendors that were there. In particular, got to do talk to DJ Johnson who was providing massages for the athletes and who I hoped to see after the race. There wasn't really too much else here (which I was a bit disappointed about) and so I decided to go drive as much of the bike course as I could. And Wow! The bike course terrain looked like what I ride on at home! I had already had some intel on this but had no idea it would be so similar. LOTS of rollers, with some of them steep. The first part to route 19 was pretty tame but on route 19 which is a 55 mph road, there was a good amount of high speed traffic and not much of a shoulder. I had been warned about this here on BT and other race reports. Have to see how this worked. Then on 455, there I saw a cyclist S-L-O-W-L-Y climbing the fairly steep roller ahead. Flying downhill and back up and then on to the most significant climb talked about, Sugarloaf Mountain.

Now after seeing it, I thought "Huh, looks like Reno Monument back home". So much more confident about this. Then a screaming downhill on the other side. More on the rest of the course in a bit as I couldn't do this in time on Oct 18. Had to get back and get ready for the Athletes Dinner. Hosted by Pasta Vino, this dinner was included in the registration price and spouses/supporters were given 10% off since they had to order off the menu. Met Mike and his wife again and also another couple from GA who had both done IMFL. Decent food though some had remarked there was more variety in the past. I still welcomed it. They also had a guy on guitar playing for entertainment as well as some games for children.

Next day checked in my bike and went to the second Athletes Briefing. Fred Sommer gave us all the scoop on the next day. I was still a bit fuzzy on parking and asked. Should've asked for more details as I'll explain later. After this, I drove the rest of the bike course. After Sugarloaf Mountain, there were mostly light rollers until getting back to town where there were a couple other short climbs plus another screaming downhill! Wow! What varied terrain! Not too much else after that other than much of the same. Now I didn't preview the other part of 455 and I wish I had for reasons I'll discuss during the bike section. I still had questions about the beginning of the bike course as the directions and maps didn't agree. I think that's one negative I'll have to say in that there were a good number of details that were either not consistent, not updated, or not provided. More later. So, I asked but still didn't get a clear answer. Well, hope for the best the next day. Went back to the hotel and got all my gear bags ready.

Tried to get some sleep, which never comes easy prior to a race.

Alarm goes off at 4 AM and I have my coffee, bagel with peanut butter and strawberry jam, banana, and orange juice. Also have Powerade Zero for some hydration as well. Get on my tri clothes, gear in the car, and get to the race site. I parked where I knew there would be spaces: at the school on East St not too far away from the site and made my way to transition. The parking lot next to it would be closed today but then I noticed cars through some trees off from the lot in a grassy area. So THIS was the lot that Fred talked about and also noted in a pamphlet (which should've been in our packets). I wish it had a map as was indicated in the Athlete's instructions (again, details). I thought about reparking the car but just left it. I would somewhat regret this later. Stowed my bike special needs where the volunteers indicated, hung my gear bags, and then hung my run special needs. Transition had just opened and so got body marked shortly thereafter. Pumped tires, filled my front hydration bottle with Powerade Zero, and filled my bento boxes.

One modification I made was to use a second bento box near my seat so I could use one for Clif Blocks and the other for my gels. More on how I thought this worked later. Ah and news started to circulate that it was wetsuit legal! Sweet, though I was prepared to do it without as most of my OWS practice was without. But, here's another detail - no announcement was made until much later. This circulated through transition instead. Took my pump and transition bag back to the car, came back, and then dropped off my warm up clothes at the designated location in the pavilion. Time to get in wetsuit and make my way over. BTW, it was very quiet during most of transition. Usually races have music playing. Not here until later, which was strange.

Got down to the beach with the other folks.

Another detail - I heard I guess Fred Sommer talking on the microphone up the beach but could not understand practically anything he was saying from the start area where I was. Then there was a flurry of activity from some about going over timing mats like one does with waves in other tris, particularly in HIM events. Well, since all Ultra folks start at the same time, no need for that. National Anthem and it's close to start. So, I start my watch. Next thing I know, I hear "20 seconds"... good thing I started my watch! Counting down..10.... AND..WE'RE OFF! I've started my first Ironman distance event here at the Great Floridian!
Event warmup:

Not really any as it was going to be a long day and I thought I'd be plenty warmed up later. Plus with the wetsuit swim and water at 76 degrees, I thought that would warm me up plenty too.
  • 1h 22m 11s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 57s / 100 yards

As indicated, the course is an inverted triangle with buoys on our left. As the cold front forecasted prior had gone through during the early morning, there was a decent onshore wind hitting us and making us swim into chop on the way out. The best part about this was that we'd have the winds with us on the final leg which could be important on the second lap. Now I guess I started in mid pack or closer to the front. So I was prepared for a good amount of bumping and such. But, really, after the initial few buoys, I found myself alone more often than not. I was able to draft here and there mostly on this first outbound leg. Now with the wind and chop, I found I had to switch to my left side for breathing almost immediately or else I'd gulp down water if I breathed on the right side as well. That happened once as I didn't lift up enough to sight. And the chop made sighting the buoys going out a bit difficult. But, finally reached the first turn and headed to the second one. On this leg, it looked like I had to go right more or else the wind would push me to the left and I'd have to go back into the wind to get back on course. So, on to the first sighting buoy and then press on to the 2nd turn buoy. Think my strategy was working but I also seemed too far right at times which I tried correct at times. Kept plugging along and reached the 2nd turn buoy. Now for a little bit of body surfing with the wind. The only issue I had which I thought might happen is the sun was essentially in my face during this leg. But, as I learned at Muncie which had a similar condition, I just looked for swim caps ahead me and followed those in along with trying to find the sighting buoys. This seemed to work well though I breast stroked a couple of times to see if I really was on course. Finally am near the last sighting buoy and have to stay left of the pier where the lap/swim finish arch was at. Past the pier and swam until I could stand. Saw another guy high stepping and I did the same heading towards the arch. Folks on the pier were great clapping and cheering for everone! I went across the timing mat and checked my time - 40 min & something...about what I estimated. Then I grabbed a cup of water from the volunteer as I didn't want to get dehydrated and started to wade in the water with four other guys for lap number 2.

Back into the chop. Plodding along, it actually seemed to take longer this time and I seemed to be going right a bit too much. But overcompensated at least twice before I got to the last sighting buoy. And for the most, I was pretty much alone out here. Every now and then I might see someone, but this has been very different than other races where there's usually someone with me during the swim. And no one climbed on my legs this time either. So round the first turn buoy again and head to the second one. Again, I go right so I don't get pushed into shore, though I seem to be going a bit too much right again at times. And it's good I'm breathing left as the wind waves wash over me on my right side. During this second lap, I took several readings of how I was feeling overall and I never had a problem that I took special note of. I kept my stroke rate relaxed and steady as I had done in training during my longer swims. Yes, it wasn't the fastest but I knew that I had long bike ride ahead and didn't want to wear myself out already on the swim so early in the race. Coming up on the second buoy and I'm still a bit too much right, making an long arc left to round it. At last, I'm on the last leg of the swim. Still going into the sun and not quite as many swim caps that I could tell. But I'm with the wind now and making decent time passing the sighting buoys...well, for me at least. Near the end though, I'm going too left and overcompensate. See that I'm almost on the right side of the pier instead of the left and quickly adjust back. See the swim finish arch and just a bit more so I can stand...and, yes, standing and trying my best to get through the arch. Legs felt fine and I was bit surprised as they usually cramp up during the swim, especially my calves. But, seem to be doing okay. As I'm getting up and going through the arch, I'm unzipping my wetsuit and getting the top pulled down. Cross over the timing mat and I'm done with the 2.4 mile swim portion!
What would you do differently?:

Not really anything I can think of here. As this was my first time at this distance event, I wanted to be sure I could finish. I was pretty confident from my training that I could finish the swim with or without a wetsuit. Sighting was okay though I might have misread just how much the wind was influencing my direction at times. For my next such distance event, perhaps train with a higher stroke rate that I used during the 1500 m Ft Ritchie Swimfest this year.
Transition 1
  • 09m 52s

Check my watch and 2nd swim lap time was pretty consistent with the first - 41 min and something. I jog up to the wetsuit strippers and decide to let them have a go at it. First time doing this. Sat down on the mat and they very quickly got the suit off! Man, might've almost heard the "Whoosh!" due to the air displacement ;). Thanked them and jogged to the changing tent. I yelled my number and volunteers saw it somewhere on me and then handed me my bike gear bag. Headed into the changing tent. At least there was a fair number of guys here so I must've done okay on the swim. Sat down and emptied my bag. Wiped off my feet, put socks and shoes on. On the advice of my training book, I was going to wear socks here on the bike. But I think this was a mistake. The advice was good as it was indicating it would be bad to go into the run with a blister. But, I don't wear socks in HIM distance and haven't gotten a blister then. And takes more time to put on socks here also. Then put more Vaseline where needed and put more sunscreen on. Now I kinda wish we didn't have to do this but I think this is what took the most time - putting my wetsuit in a bag and then trying to get that into my bike gear bag as instructed. This just took WAY too much time! I thought later that maybe just hanging it at my bike spot would've been better than fight with this. But, finally got it in, got my sunglasses on, my helmet, and headed out to my bike. Take this opportunity to use the porta john (which also took too much time), got my bike, and headed out on the course!
What would you do differently?:

For the first time at this distance, I was more concerned with being comfortable and having everything for the bike rather than time. But, this time really is quite sad for me and I won't take this long again at such an event now that I know a bit better what to expect. Still not quite sure about wetsuit storage as I think that took way too long. Train long distances without socks.
  • 6h 43m 24s
  • 112 miles
  • 16.66 mile/hr

Let me comment that not all the roads were smooth though they weren't terribly rough when they weren't and I didn't have a problem with too much bumpiness or rough spots. Okay, now for what is the longest part of the race and in this case really the most challenging. Y'know, as I indicated early on, I signed up for this race because it would be warm and also because it was inexpensive. But, I didn't consider the course until later. After all, this is Florida and though I've been to Orlando a few times, I never thought just how hilly central Florida really is! I mean driving around during the days leading up to the race, that's all there is here - rolling hills and some of them steep! And so I mount my bike and head out on the 3 lap course. Now, the day prior, I really was unsure just where I was to go after mounting my bike because the map and the online directions (which were a bit dated) didn't match. Not too worry as there were plenty of volunteers directing us on how to start the course as we immediately turn right onto 3rd St out of the transition area. Several folks racing are here with me as I tackle a short hill and zoom downhill and round a curve only to be faced with a steeper hill at an intersection. I didn't have to climb for this at the moment but that would change. This next short section was a small street shopping area and they had brick crosswalks which of course I hit and splashed my front aerobottle contents! It's not much that splashes but I kinda need that for a while ;) Happened each time I hit one of those brick crosswalks though. But, then I turn on to a relatively smoother road (12th Street) and I'm able to get aero for a while. And it's best that I do because there's a bit of a headwind due to the earlier cold front passage. Go past the lake on the right. There are a few folks along here with me... some I pass but mostly it's a few faster guys coming up behind me. I realize a bit later that some of these might be the Intermediate distance folks (modified HIM) vs the Ultras. Turn onto Lake Minneola Shores which is also decent. Pretty sure I passed a couple of guys here but then they passed me a bit after that. And then I come to what I would consider the first fairly steep but short roller of the day, Jalarmy Road. Before making the turn though, an Intermediate guy goes zooming past and goes straight though rather than turning! One of the Ultra guys nearby remarks that he hoped that guy realized soon he was off course. Well, make the left turn to climb this short hill and the two guys who passed me are having problems with one weaving in front of me. I let them know I'm coming past as I'm still seated and able to use my 27 tooth cog in the back for all it's worth. Get over the top, get to the next intersection in short order, left turn, and zoom downhill! I'm pretty sure I just them behind and don't remember any return challenges. There's some crosswind here as we're traveling west now. It's isn't bad, though, as I was usually able to stay aero here while tackling the lighter rollers on this section. I can see folks ahead of me as well, a few I'm catching. I'm also passed at least twice on this section too. Actually had a bit of local cheering too as one gentlemen was lounging out in his backyard by the road, in shade, and cheering us all on! I loved it! Come up to the first aid station but I don't need anything just yet and pass by it. The turn onto route 19 comes up ahead right after this.

After thanking the police officer for his support, I make the sharp right onto route 19 and am immediately blasted in the face by the headwind! In addition, after bleeding speed to make the turn, I'm confronted with a long roller! Ugh! Now, route 19 is not a particularly friendly road. Oh it's pretty smooth but there are cars and trucks zooming by you at 55 mph! In addition, there are a good number of folks here with me on this road where the shoulder is only somewhere around 4 feet across (maybe less), making it difficult for folks to pass and maneuver. If all of this didn't present enough of a challenge, the divider between road and shoulder contained raised cement circles instead of rumble strips like we have in Maryland. So, when one passed, you'd hit these! Now, since I train on a similar road in Maryland sometimes with even much less of a shoulder, the traffic didn't bother me too much. But with all these other racers jockeying for position, it made things a bit more precarious! Even more so when we passed the entrance ramp to routes 25/27... big truck I think wanted to turn here in front of me and other folks were beside him trying to get beyond the entrance and we all had to be REAL careful here to get past this point, letting other cars know we were there and going straight! Whew! And after this, still into the headwinds! This is a 6.5 mile stretch and it's kinda wearing on me already. But soon, we turn right onto route 455 and out of the headwinds for now. Unfortunately, I had not seen the last of them.

Upon turning onto 455, get a decent downhill only to be greeted by a gradual climb up on a roller. Other folks here as well along with me. As we get to the top here, the 2nd bike aid station comes into view. Again, I pass by as I still have plenty of hydration and nutrition. Treated to a zooming downhill quickly passing by Buckhill Road. And of course, another roller looms ahead to tackle once again. Lots of folks here with me now, some I pass up the hills (of all things) and others passing me. Now, along this stretch more than any others are a LOT of motorcycles! So, every time one comes along, I think perhaps it's a motoref only to see it's not. And this happened so many times but once when a large group was ahead of me and bunched up, the motoref did come by amidst other motorcyclists! I'm sure someone was caught in that group. Well, get up on this roller and come down the other side, making a quick trip to the turn onto route 561 which leads to Sugarloaf Mountain. A bit of light rollers here and then I make the left turn onto Sugarloaf Mountain road. The climb looms before me once again, but I'm pretty confident that I can make this climb after training on such hills at home. Go over timing mats as they would be awarding prizes to the top 3 fastest Men and Women climbers in the Ultra and Intermediate categories. I can zoom just a bit here before starting to shift down into the lower gears and stay seated as long as I can before standing to tackle the rest of the climb. And it's really not that bad. I think only the initial part of the climb was just a bit tough. But, I'm able to maintain a decent rate of ascent here and even pass a couple of guys. This always amazes me because I'm not that good a climber and I think it shows how much weight I've actually lost this season as well as a testament to my training overall. Anyway, get to the top of the highest point in central Florida in fairly short order and cross the second timing mat to start the way down. Now I was initially concerned about this downhill after I heard of folks going 50 mph down it! But, it wasn't anymore than some of the downhills in Maryland and I took it at full speed until I had to brake near the bottom for the sharp left. YEE HAWWWW!! What a rush! And I remarked something like that to the guy I passed on the climb who just passed me on the downhill. He remarked about something on the other part of the course for laps 2 & 3. I hadn't previewed that but thought okay, I guess we'll see. And now I could rest easy a bit more since Sugarloaf was behind me. Little did I know what a shock I was in for later.

Thankfully, the course isn't too eventful for next several miles as I come into Ferndale and back onto route 455. Mostly light rollers/flat heading into the town of Montverde. Make a sharp right here and the road crosses Montverde Academy and I had to be a bit aware of students crossing the road. Up ahead is aid station 3 and I think here I decided to take a Gatorade bottle to replenish my aero bottle contents in addition to fueling a bit. Unfortunately, I screwed off the cap trying to get the twist top open and had some of it spill here and there on my bike. I still was able to get most of it in the bottle though. Another roller/slight hill ahead before the right turn onto Ridgewood. After this, wind my way along the roads before getting to a climb before a left turn at a stop light. Again, there are actually a fair number of folks here with me and we're all having a bit of a tough time with getting over into the left lane to turn while there's a good number of cars along this road. But we do manage. And the police at this intersection were just super! Actually they were great at all the intersections, even when the Ultra folks were spread out and they waited for long stretches for one of us to come along. Anyway, make the short climb, turn left, and headed downhill. It's here we see the 15K run folks making their way to and back from the turnaround on the course. I yell words of encouragement to them as I pass by. In the not too distant future, I'd be facing that very same part of the course 3 times myself. Okay, down a short hill here, and hard right up another short hill. Now the shoulder's a bit rough here and I try to stay away from it if possible. Motor along a little slowly as I'm still going uphill, cross Citrus Tower Blvd, say thanks to the police officers again, and get on top here. From my preview of the course, I know what's next - a screaming downhill where you just hold on and go! Seriously, THIS...IS....A...RUSH! WEEE! Then come up to cross Grand and another short downhill under 27 and winding around East Lake. After just a few more curves, I can see one of the schools I parked near on East Ave. A short climb, then a right turn onto East Ave, and shortly thereafter turn left on Palm to enter the bike special needs area at the race site. I don't need anything here, though, and press on amidst cheering and clapping by the crowd of spectators. I'm here in about 2h 16m as I recall...first lap is done!

"2nd verse, same as the first..a little bit louder and a little bit worse!" Well, I was hoping not. And laps 2 and 3 were just a bit different since I didn't have to go up Sugarloaf Mountain again. Yea! Little did I know what awaited me... But, first let's get onto the 2nd lap. Coming into the area before the turn, race volunteers are telling me to slow down before the circle coming up. I wasn't sure why at first but then saw the concrete drainage areas lining the circle I was about to enter before turning left to start the 2nd lap. Took these easy as directed and then onward! Up the short hill, down the other side, and then climb the next hill. Gee...this seems a bit tougher this time ;) Picked up someone along side of me just briefly as the hill seemed to have affected him. Ask if he's okay and he basically puffs back that he is. Okay...and I start to press here, leaving him behind. And again with the brick walkways...rumble, splash, rumble....onto to 12th. Along here I pick up another guy in my AG and we start to trade places along this stretch for a bit. I mentioned somewhat sarcastically that we're having such a good time. To which he remarks back, "Well just think, you could be at home listening to the wife nag you about something." I just laughed and unfortunately, I could relate. Well, I stuck with this guy for a little while and then a gal came up from behind to pass us both. I wasn't sure at first if she was in the race or whether she was with the Intermediate folks. I mean she looked so ummm....fresh! Didn't look like she was in a race, but out for a nice ride with a very clean looking bike jersey and nicely braided hair. I think I usually end up looking like a mess due to the effort I'm putting out. Not this gal, though. Well we all come up to the fairly steep climb on Jalarmy and I leave the guy behind and now following this fresh-looking gal. Up the hill and turn left, heading west towards route 19 again. Down this first roller I pass this gal and said I was impressed with how she looked as far as not looking like she was racing (she WAS giving me competition, though). She just kinda laughed at that as I passed by. Then up a bit of a hill, she passed me again and I asked what race she was in. She showed me her green wristband indicating the Ultra. So followed her for a little while longer and then we came up on a police car going slow for some reason. Ahead of him was a cyclist and I'm not sure whether he was racing or not. The police car had enough opportunities to pass but remained behind this guy. Well, I yelled to the officer as he had his window down whether it would be okay to pass and he motioned me onward. The gal also followed suit. I asked the cyclist if he was okay and he remarked yeah, except for the car following him. Hmmm, still don't know what that was about. Anyway, the gal passes me here again but an aid station is coming up and she pulls over. I yell out for water here since I was getting low and keep moving after I receive that. Stuff it in the empty bottle holder in the back. I didn't see the gal after that during the rest of the race. Now head down the hill and make the right turn onto route 19.

Tackling the first long roller on route 19 and the headwind blasts me once again! The good news here is that there isn't a crowd around me as before. So, I just had to keep aero and get through the headwind as best I could. Up another short roller, a guy passes me and says something but I couldn't really understand him. Think he was commenting about the headwinds and traffic. And he essentially leaves me behind after that. I wondered whether he was racing or not but shortly after turning onto 455, I saw him up a fair distance up ahead going up the first long roller. Shortly it's my turn to go up the roller. Now, it's somewhere approaching noon and it had gotten very warm by this time. Full sun wasn't helping though it wasn't really hot. And here's where I had my first cramps in my inner thighs. I was dismayed this was happening at this point in the race since I was only just halfway with the bike. I kinda expected this a bit later and this got me concerned with what might happen on the run. No matter...I just had to stay hydrated and keep to my nutrition plan. At the top of this long roller, the next aid station comes in sight and a volunteer yells if I want a banana to which I agree to take as I thought I could use the sugar and potassium. Now the banana wasn't peeled and I don't think I've ever peeled a banana while riding a bike! to do this? I can't ride no hands (never could) and finally I was able to balance my forearms on the aerobar pads in order to peel the banana. Wolfed it down so I could get back to business since a nice downhill comes up shortly. Tasted pretty good too! Annnnndddd.....ZOOM! Down the backside of the roller and then back up again, heading to the intersection of 561 which I took a few hours ago to Sugarloaf Mountain. But, not this time and the police officers wave me on through.

As I had not previewed this part of the course, I wasn't sure what to expect and hoped it would just be a nice section. Traveling along here and a different gal passes me on the climb. I apologized a bit for zooming past her on the next downhill as I just didn't want her to think my feathers are ruffled by getting "chicked". Like I may have said, I don't really care about this because I'm not really competing against her for awards or anything except overall, which I don't care about per se. Well I'm zooming quite well here and realize that there's a traffic circle coming up to which I'm approaching at a high rate of speed! So, slow down to take the curve and maneuver through it without incident. Good thing it wasn't raining! I'm not sure I would've fared as well. And, wait....what's that ahead? Now, I know I'm not on Sugarloaf Mountain Road but up ahead is a hill that looks nearly the same as it! Egads! So, I'm climbing once again here and the gal catches me on this hill. We chatted for just a bit and she got ahead of me here. Not too long afterwards, another guy passes us both and he presses onward with the gal in somewhat close pursuit.

Not too long afterwards, pass through the familiar sights of Ferndale and then Montverde. Didn't need anything at the next aid station and pressed onward. Again, fairly light rollers along this stretch. And since the field is really spreading out now, several of the police officers at low-trafficked intersections are just waving me on while sitting in their cars. I still appreciated them for being there as it would be a long day for them. Come up to the climb again with the left turn at the light and this is now much more difficult. Police wave me through and I see a few runners left on the 15K course to which I again offer encouragement to those still there. Press on and after a bit, come up to the screaming and curving downhill on Northridge! And what's this near the bottom??!! A car is backing up in the shoulder parking area ahead of me! Now, there really is NO WAY to stop here if this guy swings his car! So, I just hope he sees me while I start moving to the left in the road more to avoid if I can. Thankfully, he backs up straight and slow so I can get by him safely. Somewhere along this stretch, the Woman's Overall winner, Angela Miller who I met this morning in transition, passes me. I see her number and realize who this is and yell if that's her which she acknowledges. I wish her well as she goes out ahead. Interestingly enough, I did get close to passing her as we came into sight of the schools on East Ave and I took the opportunity to yell "Go Angela, go!" She turned right onto East Ave and that's the last I saw of her until the next day. Shortly thereafter, I turn onto East Ave myself and come into race start area to complete my second lap. Noted my time was somewhere around 4h 30m I think, so I was being pretty consistent with lap time and looked like I could finish in under 7 hours. Again, forgo special needs, appreciate the clapping and cheering, watch the drainage areas, and turn left once again. Thank goodness - one lap to go!

I took some more Gatorade here and refilled my aerobottle. Up the short hill, thank the police officer for all her help today, zoom down, and now at a reduced rate than earlier climb this short but relatively steep hill. Yeah, it's wearing on me. Well, it could be cold and raining too, so I count my blessings here. Over the brick walkways for the last time, along the lake, and come again to Jalarmy. Slow going and can't stay seated this time :( But, make it up, turn left, and head to route 19. Along here, another gal passes me and think I only challenged once before she left me behind. Aid station comes up and I say that I want a banana and water. But...only 2 hands and one is needed on the aerobars. The volunteer and I are both wondering about this as I slowly roll along here. So, I say I'll take the water and then the banana. He says he'll jog beside me with the banana until I can take it. What a super volunteer here! Grab the banana to which I thank him a LOT and head down the hill to route 19.

Make the right turn, get up the first roller, and I'm expecting the face blast of the headwind again. But, as it's a bit later in the day and long after the cold front arrived in the morning, the winds seemed to have diminished. This is quite welcomed and though there are still rollers to deal with, I'm moving along nicely without the headwinds to impede my progress. No one is here with me and I don't even see the gal who passed earlier. But, a guy does pass me along route 19 here not too long before getting to 455. He offered some words of encouragement as he passed by. However, not too long after the turn on 455, I see him up ahead along the road checking out something on his bike. Asked if he was okay and he said yes but something came a bit loose that he had to tightened. I replied that I hate when that happens ;) Aid station comes up again after the long roller but I don't need anything here. Think the woman I took the banana from earlier here was disappointed. The last volunteer along here asked if I wanted anything else like an Espresso from Starbucks to which I replied "Yeah, Big Mac and fries!" That got us both chuckling :) Shortly thereafter, the guy who I passed just a bit ago comes by, smiles, and says "Hey good seeing you again"! He motors onward. I keep in sight for a little while but he's moving along a bit better than I am.

Pass through 561 again and I'm ready for the traffic circle but this climb is looming again ahead of me and I have to stand for it this time. Slow progress but get to the top, down the other side, and back up the next one. Onward again to Ferndale and Montverde.

Just want to note here that using the second bento box to hold my gels was working pretty well. I would take one or two an hour after the first couple of hours on the bike. The gels and banana combination along with water and Gatorade pretty much kept me going at a fairly steady pace despite the rollers and the heat/afternoon sun.

Get through Montverde and take on Gatorade one last time. Motor along the light rollers here and come to the climb before the left turn at the light. This is rather tough this time and have to be cautious about traffic behind me as I move into the left lane. Make it through and head down to the turn onto Northridge. My spirits brightened here as I knew I was getting close to finishing the bike course! Zoom down the curving screaming downhill once again, this time without a car backing up and make my way along. See the school in the distance after going under 27 for the last time. Thank the police officers for all their help today as I make my final turn onto East Ave. Head down to the transition area, unclip, get off the bike, hand it to the bike valet, get my run gear bag, and head into the changing tent. YES! The 112 mile bike is done!!
What would you do differently?:

I can't really think of much that I'd do differently here. Nutrition and hydration worked well, I didn't even have to go on the bike which I was a bit concerned about, no GI distress, and no other issues except for cramping a bit every now and then. I attribute that to being unable to train in the heat on the rollers I would normally train on at home. It had actually gotten quite chilly for October and I think I lost a good bit of heat acclimation I had built up during the summer. I mean I trained in 95-100 degree weather during the summer, mostly to prepare for Muncie 70.3. But, still, the lack of similar training weather for weeks before this race probably hurt me a bit. I finished about when I thought and about what I expected for average mph. I was hoping for better but about all I can expect I think given the conditions.
Transition 2
  • 14m 47s

There are a few other guys here in the tent with one on the ground not looking so good. He looks like he's stretching but he's taking a LONG time doing so. He finally got up but moving slowly and I believe he said was thinking about not continuing. He wasn't alone as 45 other folks did not finish the race, most it looked like due to the effects of the long bike.

Now I'm in good spirits and remark about just how glad I am to be off the bike and one guy jokes that he's done with the bike for the rest of 2012 :) Then another says he thinks he'll be done for part of 2013 as well :D

Dump my running gear bag on the ground. Now back in T1, I had put on socks so as not to get a blister. That will be something I'll not do again as it took time here to take those off. Then the training book also said to change into dry socks. Well, that's good as I would've slipped on socks anyway. However, I decided to use Feetures! socks for the moisture wicking properties instead of the tabbed socks I normally wear. I had tried the Feetures! in a fairly long training run and they seemed to work. But, it would become apparent in a little bit that this was not the way I should've gone. Before putting socks on, I lubed my toes a bit and also put pain cream on the bottom of my feet, left ankle, and then thighs. This has seemed to help delay any real pain I have during long events. Got socks and shoes on, put on my racebelt, grabbed a couple of gels, grabbed my hat, my towel, my sunglasses, and put my bike gear in my run gear bag. Grabbed a cup of water before I left, left my gear bag outside the tent, and then visited the porta john as I needed some relief after nearly 7 hours on the bike ;)
What would you do differently?:

I should've trained without socks on the long bike days and run in the socks I know worked for me. I'm not sure what else but I took WAY too long taking things off and putting things on. For this first time, it's relatively excusable. But, this was an extremely long transition time for me and the 3rd place AG guy almost caught me due to my long transitions. This will be the last time T2 is this long for an IM distance event.
  • 4h 37m 37s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 36s  min/mile

And now onto the run.

First note that they changed the course slightly from last year as apparently they couldn't track the 15K folks since they had a different eastern turn around point which was farther than the Ultra folks and so some of the 15Kers were using the Ultra turn around point instead, making their run time shorter. So, the 15K folks had a different western turn around this year and the same as the Ultra for the eastern. Since the 15K folks would/should be done before most/all of the Ultra folks started, there wouldn't be any confusion this year for those folks. And last year, everyone headed headed west on the run course, but this year, we headed east. The good thing about this type of course is that spectators got to see you 6 times as you went out and back. And this becomes important later, especially during that last lap when it's gotten dark. The not-so-good thing about this sort of course is that you have no idea where you stand with others that pass you or that you pass unless you ask.

Now, I've been apprehensive about having to run a marathon after the 112 bike. I mean I know I can bike and run the distances...just not one after the other. And see my comment in answer to "What would you do differently?" next for some thoughts here on this. But, the run has also turned out to be my forte in triathlons and usually moves me a good way up in standings both in AG and Overall. I wasn't going into this with eyes shut, though, and knew the bike would affect my ability to put in a really fast run. So, I had a goal for running at a 9-9:30 pace if I could.

Well, it's about when I thought I'd get on to the run, roughly 3:30 PM. So, it's still quite warm out with full sun. Fortunately, there is at least some shade on the run in several places. And though apprehensive, I start out pretty confident and at a decent pace and cadence. The only thing is, both of my feet are complaining a bit. They aren't hurting but they're in a state of discomfort. I had experienced this on one of my first bricks where I had done 100 miles and then a short run afterwards. But, that feeling went away after a few miles. So, I thought this feeling would go away after a while as well. But again, this too will tie into what would I do differently later. And the crowd is super here, BTW! Lots of cheering and folks could call out your name if they saw it on your bib number. And one woman in particular is in a purple cheerleading outfit as I head out on my first out and back! I loved it!

So, I'm moving along relatively well and the first few miles show that I'm right around where I want to be, a 9 pace and perhaps a bit less. I decided to throttle down just a bit since there was still a long way to go and I could still be in my goal pace. It's real nice running by the the lake here for a while and then the path enters a more shaded area. Not too long up ahead, the first aid station (this is AS2..AS1 is actually a little west of transition) comes into view and I ask for some water here, more so to splash on my head and towel to help keep me cool than anything else. Thank the volunteers as I run through with the water. As I'm moving along here, the discomfort on the bottom of my feet comes and goes. I try to ignore this as best I can, but it does nag on me. Still, my pace is still decent at this point. It isn't too much longer that aid station 3 comes into view. This was my favorite as they were very much attentive to the athletes through out the run. At this first time around, there was a man with a bullhorn who first would ask what I wanted and then used that to let the other volunteers what was needed! I'll point out here that for the most part, the volunteers were just super! I will later point out one minor detail that I think is needed, though. Think I picked up some Gatorade here as I also needed to keep up with electrolytes as well as calories. I had brought gels just in case and there were more in my special needs bags. But, one thing here is that liquid calories could be absorbed perhaps a bit better, though gels would probably not take too much to break down. I just didn't want any sort of GI distress (or any other sort of distress for that matter). The run is where a good number of folks come up against such problems.

After this aid station, the rollers of the eastern part of the course start. Geez, these are not going to be fun come lap 3! But at the moment, I'm not having a problem with them and am still running at a decent pace. Just before the turn around is AS4. I think I passed on taking anything because I would be back in a few minutes after making the turn around up ahead. And I'm now facing this longish hill right before the turn around point. I took it well this first time but still had to face it a couple more times. Coming back through AS4, I take a couple cups of water and again pour some over my head. Back up and down the rollers to AS3 and taking some Gatorade this time again.

Now I'll just say here that during this run, there were only a few folks that stood out that I remember. One in particular I'll get to a bit later. But, for the most part, I was pretty much on my own during most of the run. Some folks would pass me and I would pass other folks. But due to the format of this course, you never knew where you were in the race with respect to others. The person who just passed you could be on their first lap and fresh and you could be doing the same to others. So you really couldn't get a lift when passing folks. I guess the same could be said for folks passing you and not getting down. But for me, I think I get more out of passing someone on the run than what is taken away when someone passes me. Also, by this time, there're no numbers on a good number of folks' calves showing the AG either.

So, AS2 comes into sight and I take a banana here for the calories and for the potassium. Plus some more water as well. Come out of the woods and the lake comes into view once more with the lakeside pavilion way in the distance. Sun has sunk lower in the sky but not close to sunset just yet and so it's still rather warm out. I'm glad I had my sunglasses with me too at this point, though I knew I wouldn't need them later. Coming into view of the crowds near transition and there's a gal with a boombox playing music cheering us all on! Like I said, this format allowed for ample spectator involvement and I soaked up all of it! Running past transition with AS1 just up ahead and I unfortunately have to visit a porta john just before this. I would really rather not waste time like this but it's that or be uncomfortable during the run. I had hoped for no other visits, but it was not to be :(

Moving past AS1 and I took water to drink plus over my head again. Oh, I was using my towel every now and then to wipe my face as I usually do when I'm in a warm race. Worked well up to a certain point for this one which I'll get to later. Heading to AS5 and the western turn around point and my feet are again complaining. So due to that, it sure did seem like a LONG way to the western most point on this course. Not too far away from AS1 were who I called the Orange Group. These folks all had orange T-shirts on and obviously were cheering for someone. But, they gave cheers out for everyone and I smiled each time I saw them too! Well, the crowds thin way out and it's a fairly lonely stretch here to AS5, but it does come up eventually and I make the turn around first before getting some Gatorade from them on the return trip back to complete this first loop. And after covering the lonely part of this western end again, the Orange Group once again cheers me on! Guys were great! AS1 comes back in sight as well as the sign that reminds me that I have another 2 out and backs to go as it points straight ahead for that but to the right to finish. Man, I will be looking forward to that.

I'm really not doing all that bad here still and it just a bit after 5 as I recall. I'm still feeling well overall and my spirits are still good though my feet continue to tell me they are NOT happy. Now as I'm moving along the path near the transition/finish area, the crowds continue to cheer for folks and anyone wearing a race number. Remember the one woman I noticed in the purple cheerleading outfit? Now she's wearing red!! I yelled to her asking if she changed and she confirmed that she was the same person! I said to her that was just awesome and I would see her again later, but with one more twist. Not too long after this, I think I heard the first place finisher come in and I kinda groaned softly as I was just starting my second lap. No matter - goal is to finish. The sun at my back is still out though it's getting low now since sunset was at 6:43 PM. And when I come into the shaded areas, I have to raise my sunglasses on top of my hat.

Unfortunately, as I move into this part, my inner thighs cramp a bit and I have to hobble run for a short distance. I was afraid this would continue for a lot longer but they stopped cramping after a while. And they really didn't cramp up after this, but other issues cropped up later. And due to this, I took more Gatorade at AS2 which came into view not too long after this. Might've taken another banana too, but I don't remember at this point. Most of my hydration/nutrition plan on the run was to ensure I was hydrated and taking in just enough calories, mostly liquid kind. But, bananas worked pretty well here too every now and then. Though I was still moving along okay, I could feel that my pace had slowed and I think it was up in the high 9s or near 10 by this point. But, the discomfort in my feet wouldn't allow me to push too much fastest, plus I'm sure after now 10 hours of moving I was getting a bit tired to say the least. Still, I pressed on. AS3 comes back into view a bit later and unfortunately the small boy with the bullhorn is a bit inattentive and I have to shout out what I want which is just water here. Think I might've taken one of my gels too come to think of it and press onward. They started to hand out pretzels here I believe though I also think this may have been the only aid station I remember doing so. Soon after I leave this aid station, the rollers appear...ugh! Going downhill is in some ways worse than up, though I usually take them pretty well. But, I'm taking these easy just so I don't trip and fall and so my thighs don't cramp up again. These really are no fun at all. I can see other folks are having similar problems along here as well with more folks walking now than before when I started. Down a hill and back up to AS4 and the longish hill to the western turn around once again. And again, I bypass the station and will get something on the way back. Up..the...hill I go again, a might slower than the first time. But, make the hill and the turn around shortly thereafter. Back down to AS4 and take some more Gatorade. Head back west again. I remember on this lap 2 return of passing mile marker 22 and thinking, "oh, if only!". Yeah, I forgot to mention that they did have mile markers along the course. But, you had to know where you were at to realize which one to use. I didn't find that to be an issue, but it was a bit deflating to see the later ones only to realize you weren't that far yet.

At last the rollers are done once again and I'm running on flat surface. Come up to AS3 and realize I again have to use the porta john. Someone's there and I almost didn't wait but realized it would be just too long to AS2. Fortunately, the person came out shortly and I didn't have to wait too long. Once inside, I realize I'm wobbly and having a difficult time standing...oh, my! I think it was at this point that I decided to start walking through aid stations so I could adequately take in whatever I needed and also to give my legs/feet just a bit of a break. I didn't want to be falling down somewhere on the course and not finish. So, I pause here to ask the aid station folks for nutrition and I think it's at this time that they started to hand out chicken broth. This was quite welcomed and I said I would like some of that as well as some water. Now, I realize I was indecisive here when asked what I would like and took a little while responding. I think a volunteer here who was a 5 time IM person either realized this or was told to make sure I was okay as he walked with me for a bit as I slurped down the soup and water. Asked how I was doing, my name, and where I was from. Answered all of these correctly ( ;) ), finished my broth and water and said I was going to start running again. Thanked him for the company and moved on. Not too long goes by and I pass AS2. I think I just took some Gatorade, maybe a banana too. With the 3 out and back, details get a little fuzy after a while.

Come back out of the woods again to where the lake appears. A woman running the other way remarked as she saw me that she wished she looked as good as I did running along. I commented back that I wished I felt as good as I looked to her to which I got a laugh from her. And coming up ahead is the woman with the radio...but... there's no music :( I ask what's up and she said a bit sheepishly that her batteries died of all things. Oh well, she was still out here cheering. And now I hear music from the transition and race area plus the cheering of the crowds and know I'm coming back to the transition area. Soon, the spectators lined up along the course are wishing me well and saying that I'm looking good and that I've got this. And again, my spirits are still up there for the most part, especially since I saw the cheerleading woman had AGAIN changed into a yellow outfit! I tried to get her attention about this again, but she was talking to someone at the time. Still, seeing the ways folks in the crowds kept us going helped to take the edge off the way I'm feeling at this point as my feet continued their nagging complaining. I walk through AS1, take water only here, and I'm on my way to the lonely end of the course. But first, cheers from the Orange Group once again! Yea! And now, it's gotten quite a bit tougher to keep going here through this part. Yeah, there are folks on the course along with me, but again, everyone's pretty much in their own world and we all seem to be going at different rates of speed here. Finally reach AS5 for the 2nd time, go to the turn around, and back to AS5. Not sure what I picked up this time but might've just been Gatorade to keep the electrolytes and carb calories up. Start on back to the transition/spectator zone so I can end this 2nd out and back. And pass by the Orange Group again! Yea!

I approach the sign for going straight for the next out and back or finish and think "gosh, I wish I was going right to finish", but one more of these to go. The sun is either near setting or has just set and I think about grabbing my headlamp from my special needs bag, but decide against it. While this didn't exactly hurt my run, it was definitely a mistake which I'll get to in a bit. I just didn't want to stop and use up more time. Note to others that you REALLY do need the headlamp if you expect to finish after dark!

Okay, I've started my 3rd and last out and back on the run course which psyches me up a bit knowing that I'm somewhere around an hour and 30-50 minutes left in my race and just need to keep pressing. Pass by the crowd of well-wishers, run along the lake, and enter the wooden areas leading to AS2. It's now gotten dark in these parts and I had put my sunglasses on top of my hat a little while ago as they would no longer be very useful for the rest of the race. And actually, I don't really need the wet towel any longer either. Believe it or not, it got chilly here and there after it got dark, especially in the valleys along the path as it got later. As I come up to AS2, one of the volunteers has glow sticks that we can wear and asks how many do I want. Just one is all I need thanks. I'm pretty sure I took another banana here and some water. Done with that and press forward.

And oh gosh, I really can NO LONGER see the the path. I really wished I had not passed my special needs bag now. And...then...I catch myself weaving! Yeah, the lack of reference points in my current mental/physical state is causing me to move back and forth along the path! I pushed up my concentration level in an attempt not to do this and move more in a straight line. This proved to be difficult at times. Well, AS3 has a bright floodlight as I come up to it and I grab water and broth once again. Think I might've taken the opportunity to unfortunately use the porta john once again. Gosh, while I don't feel bloated and there's no GI distress, I think now that it's starting to cool off, I must not be using fluids quite as much now. But, I'd rather use the facilities than cramp, so I keep taking fluids and liquid carbs/bananas in when it's time to do so.

Oh GOSH and now, ROLLERS IN THE DARK! I've run in the dark with my headlamp and sometimes without for short distances, regretting not having it during those times. But, now, it has gotten really dark with no lights on the path and trying to navigate the rollers mostly by feel is a little unnerving. I really don't need to fall here due to a misstep, so this may have caused me to slow down even a bit more. The only thing I can see from time to time are other folks with glowstick necklaces and others' headlamps if they had them. Well, I won't make that mistake again if I even come back to this race or enter another with similar conditions.

And the darkness makes things difficult at AS4 because of 2 reasons: 1) the volunteers can't really see us approaching and 2) I'm pretty sure the volunteers here are teens whose attention by this time isn't as focused due to low frequency of folks running now past the station at any given point. Don't get me wrong...I'm not exactly faulting or criticizing them. It's just that lights plus perhaps one adult here would have helped focus them a bit more after dark. I did have to get their attention and yell for what I wanted as I thought I'd take something and walk a bit before tackling the hill to the turn around.

So, one final climb up this hill...moving S-L-O-W-L-Y here....small forward steps...and...I make it to the top for the last time! Turn around and head back down. Don't need anything from here any longer and I head back west in pretty much total darkness. There are cars along the road to the right but their lights don't do much for us here. After a few rollers, I note the 22 mile marker again! Yea! This time, it's for real! But, I think I checked my watch and noted that it looked like I wasn't going to make under 13 :( It would be close but I still have probably 40 min to go and I just wasn't sure I could make the finish before 13. Well, the goal for this one is still to finish and I knew I would do that now. :) The bright lights at AS3 appear soon and I again take broth and I think water. The Ironman guy isn't here anymore to talk to though. Finished walking through the aid station and get back to running. Unfortunately, not too long after I went through AS2 for the last time, I once again needed to use a porta john. Geez! After nearly 7 hours on the bike without issue, I sure am having to use them a LOT on the run! Again, I think it's more due to all the liquids and then getting cold more than anything else. Will have to work on this for my next IM distance event cuz this just takes too much time. Well, I decided I would just have to manage this until one was available.

The lights and sounds of the transition area are in the distance now and I come back out of the wooded area along the trail to the part beside the lake. The crowds have dwindled a bit but still plenty of cheering going on. And thank goodness, make a quick stop at the porta john before AS1. Off and running again, grab a Gatorade at AS1 and head out to the lonely western section one last time. I look for the Orange Group but they're not there now :( Now along this stretch, I pick up a shadow...yup, a guy I had passed a bit ago is using me for a pacer. I actually kinda expected this earlier believe it or not as I really wasn't running too badly overall, just not as fast as I'd like. So, eventually, I start talking to him. Find out he's Dan Maloney and he's a Florida resident from Palm Bay. He was a bit surprised to hear that I was from Maryland as a good number of folks here are from the Southeast, though I met plenty from other places during the last few days. Anyway, Dan's able to keep up with me and I was glad for the company for the final miles so kept the conversation going as that helped keep our minds off the task we were on. Come up to AS5 and the turn around for the final time for me and I tell Dan I'm going to walk through this to which Dan also agreed. I had told Dan I was on my final out and back and he said he was only on his second. Oh my! Well, we chatted for a bit and then I was ready to get going again. Think Dan said he was going to walk a bit more and wished me well on my way to the Finish which I thanked him for (he did finish, BTW :) ). At this point, I only had a little under 2 miles to go I believe and I started my run back up with a renewal of energy that I wish had felt earlier. I mean as soon as the 25 mile marker came up, I was moving a lot better than I had been for the last couple of hours, even passing a few others who had been running ahead of me. And now, the lights and sounds of the transition/finish area are in sight and earshot! My pace quickens just slightly as excitement in me builds....I see the sign that points me to the Finish ahead and then someone comments on how strong I'm looking and I say that I'm about to finish to which they give a big cheer. Right turn at the sign, onto the grass in the rope flag corridor, follow it left, the Finish Arch that I posed under a couple of days ago is in front of me!! I'm running to arch, raising arms as I approach, and as I pass under it, I raise my face to the sky and silently shout to myself "YES!!!!" I HAVE COMPLETED MY FIRST IRONMAN DISTANCE EVENT!!!!
What would you do differently?:

Most definitely I have decided that long bricks are a necessity for me. I did have one relatively long one with 84 mile ride and 9+ mile run. But, really, to be effective, this should've been at least a 2-2.5 hour run and maybe a few of those rather than splitting the two up. Now, as I just stated, these seem to work for me during HIM training sessions and I think I will have to do long bricks training for this kind of event as well. Granted, the warm day and the tough bike affected the run. That's what happens. But, I think I could've prepared better for it by not splitting up the long bike and long run. In addition, I should've just worn the socks that worked for me rather than using socks I only tested once before. And one other thing the long bricks would've helped with were all the times I had to use the porta johns. Long bricks may have prepared me hydration/nutrition wise. Still, I did do better than many other folks on the run coming in the top 1/4 of all the finishers for the run. So my training still came through, but I believe I could've done better. This is why I'm saying my run was just Average. AND also why I decided to sign up for the Harrisburg Marathon in 3 weeks after this race. I had to prove to myself that indeed I really can run long distance well. But, that's another race report ;)
Post race
Warm down:

As I come through the Finish Arch, Fred Sommer calls my name and then I help him with the rest of what I wrote as I'm guessing he's trying to read my handwriting (which is pretty bad). That's okay, it still came through on the loudspeaker. Then I get my Finisher's medal

and a gentleman behind the medal volunteer asks "What size?" I'm like "huh??" He's asking what size do I want for my Finisher's T-shirt! Oh wow! I had forgotten we also got one for finishing! Cool!

Now he comes up and asks if there's anyone here for me and I reply no :( Well, he says okay and points me to the pavilion where there is food waiting. I was also given a water I believe though I'm not entirely too thirsty at the moment. I had stopped my watch as I crossed the finish line and it said a little over 13 hours for a finishing time. Well, I'll check results a bit later. Now, understandably, I'm moving quite slowly over to the pavilion. I actually was kinda expecting some help here as I see for Ironman brand races, but I'm pretty much on my own here. I found a bench first just to sit down at for a bit and sip on the water I had. Here I believe I met Fredrik Elvhede and his wife (I think) from Massachusetts. Fredrik had just finished as well and looking at the results, just a couple of minutes before me. Fredrik's originally from Sweden I believe he said and his companion also had a European accent, perhaps from England. But, they lived in MA presently. We chat for a bit about the course and such and he seemed about as tired as I was. I mentioned that I'm going to the food in just a bit but needed to sit a spell beforehand. His companion goes and gets him some food and we chat a bit more comparing notes about the race course and such. After she returned, the beans and rice looked pretty good, so I said my farewells and headed over to the food. On the food table, there are hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta, rice and beans, cookies, and a few other desserts. Think there was some fruit too. So, I get some food and have my water, but there's no real place to sit. Y'know this isn't the first event where this has happened. Eagleman's the same way. Anyway, I meet Lisa, one of the super race organizer staff members who's very cheery and helps me out here. She got me a chair to sit on and also carried a few of the food items over with me so I wouldn't spill them. It won't be the last time she helped me in some manner this evening. Speaking of which, it's coming up on 9 PM now. What a long day it has been! So, I took my time taking in calories and water (I wished they had a diet Coke or even real Coke or Pepsi). Man, I'm tired! I feel decent overall but the tiredness is slowly creeping in. I'm thinking at this point that perhaps I might just sleep in and not come to the Athlete's Brunch and Awards Ceremony the next day. After all, I did come in at over 13 hours. In an Ironman Brand with a lot more people, that would never qualify for an AG award. After food, I moved slowly over to the Results area but they hadn't been updated in a while for AGs. So, I think I went and got my 5 minute massage that was complimentary. And I met DJ again who worked on me probably for more than 5 min which I was very grateful for. My legs did feel better. I also weighed myself and found that after getting something to eat, I only weighed 0.2 lb less than the day previously when I weighed in. So, perhaps my nutrition/hydration was working well for me as usually I tend to lose around 4-8 lbs during long training sessions, mostly in water weight. Granted, the recent food intake skewed the results, but probably not by that much.

When I was able, I decided to walk my bike back to my car. Gosh, I really wish now I had reparked the car to the lower lot I saw early this morning. Really need a map of the parking areas as indicated in the Athlete's Guide. So I SLOWLY make my way along with my bike. My left knee has been starting to bother me now of all things and it doesn't like moving here, especially not up this slight hill I've got to go up! Get up the hill and my car is a welcomed sight. After I stow my bike, I repark my car to the lower lot since it's open now. Grab all my gear bags and put them in the car as well. Then I walked back over to see if results had been updated. Now I have to say I wasn't sure if I was seeing these correctly as the M50-54 results were telling me that I finished 2nd in AG!! In my tired state, I just kinda stared at this in disbelief. And after I realized this was not a figment of my imagination, I laughed to myself as I realized that I had to come back for the brunch and awards ceremony! Cool! But first I had to ensure I could get back to my hotel safely ;)

Next day: Y'know, it's amazing what a good amount of sleep and Ibuprofen will do for you! My left knee wasn't sore anymore and I actually felt pretty good for having completed an Ironman distance event the day before. While I realize that the two-day rule for delayed muscle soreness applies, I've often been hobbling the day after such endurance events. Not today. I'm walking pretty well.

So, get to the race site and there's a bit of confusion about whether the awards or brunch are first but eventually we're treated to the brunch first. This is a treat and I find I have a pretty big appetite ;)

Pat Ruff is here too as I mentioned she took the Women's 5th Overall Place. Talked about the race again plus other aspects of the day's events. Then onto the awards. The overall awards go first and the top Male and Female winners give a small speech to the crowd. I tried to take Pat's pic when she was standing at the podium area. Now, I noted there were a good number of folks having a somewhat difficult time with the stairs up to the stage. But, when I was called to accept the M50-54 2nd place award, I was able to practically bound up the stairs! Shook Robert Millican's hand for having a great race as he ended up in 1st for the AG and 9th overall! Actually, I wasn't too far away from him in the swim and bike. But, my transitions and the run took my time out of reach from finishing close to him. And actually, I was 3rd after the bike in AG with another guy within a minute of Robert's time and in 2nd. That guy's slower run propelled me into 2nd place despite my slow T2 time. I received a nice hand-painted wine glass for my 2nd place standing to which I smiled with for the cameras. What a sweet way to complete my first 140.6/Ironman distance event!

I actually went back to the brunch area for some coffee and a bit more food (I was sill hungry!). Fredrik and his companion come in and we talked awards and I asked what place did he come in. He said 4th and I said he took an AG award since they were giving them out 5 deep. He seemed rather surprised and his companion went to go find out about this while Fredrik enjoyed brunch. They were scheduled to leave for Boston later on that day. And for his AG award, he received a nice goblet. He was very glad he stopped by. They didn't stay too long after that, said our goodbyes, and wished them well. Then I talked to Wendy, the new Sommer Sports Marketing director, and then Mark Lepow, who essentially is Fred's right hand man, about how to promote this race to others outside the Florida and Southeast area. And then it was off to Wet N' Wild, a water amusement park not too far away from Orlando. I was looking forward to relaxing in the wave pool!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Well, transitions were WAY too slow! I vow to NEVER take that long again in transitions during an IM distance event. Definitely the tough bike with all the rollers and climbs we had to face 3 times, plus the sun/heat, and the headwinds on route 19 took their toll. I think I lost a good bit of the heat acclimation I had developed over the summer since it had gotten quite chilly in MD during the last few weeks prior to this event. My training still served me well as evidenced in my ability to walk fairly well the next day and also not having any serious GI issues on either the bike or the run. But, I still think not doing the long bricks during training was a limiter. In addition, the nearly constant discomfort on the bottom of my feet was an issue. I think the long bricks plus the socks I would've normally have worn would've helped here too.

Event comments:

Let me explain my thoughts on a couple of ratings here. First, though the bike was tough, it's not much more than what I trained on at home. So, I don't consider this course too tough wrt my abilities. Not like Savageman! THAT course is too tough! That said, I would've preferred a flatter course. So, make no mistake...if you're looking for a flat Ironman distance course to start with, this is not it. You really will need to train on either hills or some sort of rollers or simulate them as such or suffer the consequences. 45 folks out of 200 DNF, probably due to the cumulative effects of heat, rollers, and headwinds on route 19 while on the 3-lap bike course.

Next, I have a difficult time with rating Post Race activities. I have given "Good" rating to events with similar post race levels. Still, it's a "weak" Good for an event of this level. I did appreciate the 5 min massage I got but I have had complimentary 20 min massages at Eagleman and Savageman. And, I will say that the Athletes' Brunch was good as well as the Awards ceremony. But, I've also been treated to live Jazz bands playing while enjoying a cold one too. So, this race could be so much grander and more of a celebration of finishing such an event than it turned out to be.

Now I rated this race a "4" as I thought overall, it was above just "Average". However, it's close to "Average" for this reason - attention to detail. Race details are what can separate a good race from a so-so race. I've mentioned a few but let me summarize them here:

- Online FAQs should only be pertinent to the current year's race and not mention previous years unless it really is a copy of what was done before and then it should state that. It's just confusing and one isn't sure if the info is up to date or not.

- The Athlete's Guide said Parking Map but it was just a list of the parking areas and this wasn't even included in our packets. The locations needed to be a bit clearer, especially for those of us unfamiliar with the area.

- The loudspeaker on the beach needed to be where we could hear it standing in the water. I really don't know what Fred was saying.

- The very first part of the bike course map did not match the online directions (which were still from 2010). Even after asking, I couldn't get this straightened out. Fortunately, there were enough folks directing us that it didn't make much difference. But, still....

- No announcement when transition opened about the water temperature being wetsuit legal. Instead, this circulated by word of mouth through transition and not announced over a loudspeaker until much later.

- All aid stations on the run should have at least 1 adult at them. Make no mistake, I GREATLY appreciated ALL the volunteers. However, late in the run, it was probably a bit much to expect the young adults/teens to have as high an attention level as in the beginning, especially when it got dark.

- There was supposed to be a competition for the fastest time climbing Sugarloaf Mountain and prizes given for the top three in the two triathlon levels. But, I couldn't find any mention of it afterwards anywhere. I wouldn't have won but I still would've like to have seen the results.

- No word to folks after the race about pictures until nearly 3 weeks later. Contrast that to other races which are only a few days afterwards. I was almost ready to ask as I had thought perhaps we weren't going to see any and finally the link appeared on the main page.

- Chairs for folks to sit on after finishing? To be fair, other races have had this problem too. Don't know why. I had to ask for one and Lisa quickly produced one for me to use.

- I think folks were surprised there wasn't some sort of food listed for the bike as there are for other such events. Again, it wasn't until later that we found out there would at least be bananas (which I VERY much appreciated!). Also, the type of sports drink wasn't listed. This info is important to folks the months during training.

- As I was leaving for the race the Tuesday before and would not have a way to check email or the race website during that time, I was a bit concerned about not receiving the Athletes Race Guide/Instructions prior to leaving in case I needed something. Not sure how soon folks at B2B got a guide but they got bib numbers 10 days ahead of their race. Just saying...

One other thought was that there weren't too many vendors for this level of an event. Think I've been to Sprints with more. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of what I would call an Expo. Think I heard there was a swim vendor later but if there was, I don't recall seeing them.

Now, for some very positive reasons why I thought this rated a "4/Above Average" to "Good" race:

- Low price. I mean I couldn't beat $250 for my first 140.6 distance event.

- Small field. I'm told that there used to be more folks. But actually, I liked the smaller field, especially since it was less congested during the swim and it gave me the opportunity to go for an AG award.

- Spectator friendly and it could even be said family friendly too. The 3 lap bike and run format really was a big plus from the spectators point of view. In addition, M-dot races do not allow family to run into the finish with racers any longer. This race still does.

- Practical AG awards. Always mean more to me than plaques or such.

- One gets a T-shirt for entering and then another one if you finish.

- Not sure what folks at an Ironman-brand race would receive, but I did think the pasta dinner and then especially the Athlete's brunch were great amenities for the athletes.

- For after the race, it's near Orlando with all its tourist attractions. Great to make a family vacation of the trip, which I know several families did.

- Unlike Ironman-brand races which close after a certain time (midnight?) and even though the aid stations wouldn't be available after 1AM, Fred Sommer made it very clear that they would stick around for folks to finish if that's what they wanted and for as long as that took if you made it to the run. For this one, there wasn't anyone finishing that late but I thought it was very big of Fred to say that.

- And I will say that all the race folks went out of their way to try and help you if there was an issue! I got a "treated like family" feeling from all there as well.

And so ends my race report of my very first 140.6 event! Despite the issues I noted (both from the race and myself), I thought my training adequately prepared me for the task and this really is evidenced by how I felt the next few days afterwards. I know that some folks say that if you don't hurt afterwards, you didn't give it enough and that races such as these are supposed to be painful. But, I disagree with that philosophy. I think if you really hurt afterwards, your training lacked something somewhere or you didn't race as you trained. Sure, such events are definitely going to take their toll on you. But since the goal here for this first 140.6 was just to finish, I trained for that goal, raced as I trained, and that training got me there about when I expected and in decent shape afterwards. It helped that my local riding and running routes came pretty close to the terrain conditions I faced on this course.

You might ask if I would race this course again? The price certainly is right and I enjoyed the warm Florida sun! But, the driving distance to the race is a bit of a detractor and I will probably find a closer 140.6 race for my next one (like B2B, Rev3 OH, or even IMKY if I can afford it ;) ). I do hope that Sommer Sports will continue to offer the race to folks as this is a good alternative to an Ironman brand race. And Fred Sommer, Mark Lepow, Lisa, Wendy, and all of the Sommer Sports race folks will treat you like family there too.

So, if you're looking for a challenging 140.6 race, something different from the Ironman scene, and want to prove that you too are "Tougher than Iron", then the Great Floridian Ultra could be for you.

Last updated: 2011-11-14 12:00 AM
01:22:11 | 4224 yards | 01m 57s / 100yards
Age Group: 6/21
Overall: 66/154
Performance: Average
Suit: 2XU Team Full
Course: Takes place in Lake Minneloa, fresh water. 2 laps of an inverted triangle course, yellow buoys out and orange buoys on the left. Short walk/jog on the beach between laps.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 76F / 24C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 09:52
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
06:43:24 | 112 miles | 16.66 mile/hr
Age Group: 3/21
Overall: 60/154
Performance: Average
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: 3 lap course over rolling terrain. At times, the rollers were short climbs. 1st lap is different than the rest as it went up Sugarloaf Mountain, which is the highest point in central Florida and has 11-13% grade at some spots. The other two laps go past the turn to get to Sugarloaf and proceed straight on route 455.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 14:47
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:37:37 | 26.2 miles | 10m 36s  min/mile
Age Group: 3/21
Overall: 35/154
Performance: Average
Course: 3 out and backs along the South Lake Trail which runs right alongside the park where the race starts. The western part of the trail is pretty flat but the eastern part has a few rollers that you have to face 3 times and one of these leads up to the eastern course turnaround point.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Too much
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
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] 4

2012-11-16 5:57 PM

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Extreme Veteran
Frederick, Maryland
Subject: Great Floridian Triathlon - Ultra Distance Race
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