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Ironman Florida - Triathlon

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Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
Total Time = 16h 22m 44s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

I woke up without the alarm just before 4am. Threw on a sweatshirt, jammers and running shoes. Breakfast was a large cup of apple sauce, a pop tart and 24oz of Perform. I mixed two diluted Gu bottles, grabbed my SN bags and swim gear and headed to transition. Took a second 24oz bottle of perform with me to drink before the race.

Event warmup:

It was about a quarter mile walk to transition. Took zip locks off everything in my run and bike gear bags now that rain was gone. Dropped my SN bags and hung out with my wife until close to time for transition to close. Just before it closed I added my sunglasses to my bike gear bag and my glasses to my run gear bag. Then I put on my wetsuit, swim cap and goggles and headed to the beach.
  • 1h 41m 51s
  • 4156 yards
  • 02m 27s / 100 yards

The swim was a mass start on the beach into 4-6 foot breakers. Between the waves, the swells and the people, the start was every bit of chaos and combat I was expecting it to be. That being said, I loved every minute of it. From the guy who swam straight sideways across my path to the two women who almost got into a fist fight from running into each other in front of me, it was a blast!

Coming back to the beach was surreal. I tried to sight every 10-12 strokes. One time I would look up to see the entire beach, crowd, swim exit, etc; the next 2-3 times I looked up it was only water and the tops of buildings. I swam until my hands were digging sand, then stood up to exit only to be pounded by a breaker from behind that knocked me face down into the sand again. I felt really nauseas coming out from the first loop and worried during the second that I might lose it when I got back again, but everything seemed to settle the second time around.

As I had been told, the second lap seemed to be much easier then the first and before I knew it, I was walking out of the water. I was shooting for 1:40-1:45, so I was right on my projected pace here.
What would you do differently?:

I took a salted caramel Gu with me in case I needed something in between laps. In retrospect, I could not have made a worse choice with a saltwater swim. Just threw it away with my cup after a mouthful of clean water in between laps. I probably could have pushed a little more, but wanted to be certain I came out of the water fresh.
Transition 1
  • 12m 56s

Complete change of clothing took a little bit of time. Comfort over speed at this point.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I left T1 and crossed the mount line five minutes ahead of schedule.
  • 7h 10m 13s
  • 112 miles
  • 15.62 mile/hr

We rode out of T1 and headed down the beach for about 7 miles before heading into the back bay country. My plan was to mix Gu Brew and supplement it with the diluted Gu in the water bottle. However, at the first aid station I tossed my water bottle and the new one they gave me didn't have a large enough opening to insert the Gu Brew tablet ... So I crushed it in my mouth and spit it into the bottle. Holy hell!! It took me ten miles to get that taste out of my mouth. At the next aid station I abandoned that plan and switched to the Perform. Their pre-mix tasted nothing like the powder I had used all summer and seemed closer to cough syrup. Nonetheless, it was plan B and I was going with it for the next 100 miles.

Aid station three (or four, I'm not sure which) was my favorite. They had goal posts set up for the bottle discard and cheered (or booed) riders who missed them. The whole station was also dressed in football jerseys and having a great time. I would love to go back and volunteer with that group next year.

The out and back to SN just sucks, but I knew going in that it was going to. They need to repave it, but it hasn't happened yet and probably won't for sometime. The road was littered with bottles, CO2 cartridges and miscellaneous bike parts. I picked up a Snickers bar at SN and discarded my Gu concoctions. That snickers bar, along with a pack of cheese crackers would be the only thing I consumed on the bike other than Perform and the only solid food I ate all day. This worked well for me as I had no digestive issues and felt energetic for the whole ride.

The only issue I had was with my right bike shoe. My little toe started hurting just after SN, and by mile seventy it was killing me. I had felt mild discomfort on my rides of 70-80+ during training, but nothing like this. I stopped somewhere between 70 and 80 to use a port-o-potty and lucked into some unopened packets of bio freeze sitting inside on a ledge. I took off my shoe and sock to apply it, and my toe was bright red and tender. I had to wait a couple of minutes for it to take effect before I could get my sock and shoe back on. I also removed the insole from the shoe to give myself a little more room. My toe still hurt, but was enough of a solution to get me through the last 40+ miles.

What would you do differently?:

Get different shoes and pay more attention to small issues early. A slight bit of discomfort during training became a real issue during the race. I was otherwise happy and comfortable. I dismounted just over my projected goal pace of seven hours.
Transition 2
  • 21m 24s

I felt like it took way longer than that. Immediately upon dismounting I had to remove my right shoe. I could barely put any weight on that foot my toe was hurting so badly now. I made it into T2 and got my sock off to find my small toe a reddish purple color and it looked to be swollen. One of the volunteers said he was going to get a medic and I told him not to. I could move it, so it wasn't broken and I was going to try to tough it out. For some reason, I really felt like it would be fine now that the bike shoe was off. I did find some medical tape in the transition area and taped it to my fourth toe in attempt to help. I made another complete change of clothes and gingerly was able to get a compression sock and shoe on my right foot. It still hurt, though not nearly as badly as on my way in. I walked out of T2 and all the way to the race course where I found my wife.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. It was a long transition, but I needed to tend to my foot.
  • 6h 56m 21s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 15m 53s  min/mile

Realized almost immediately on the run that my foot was not going to be my biggest concern. As I expected, once it got out of my biking shoes my toe hurt a lot less. The problem now was with my lower back. My plan had been to run a 4/1 split and try to hold an even 15 minute pace for the duration. But my back was hurting so badly I couldn't run for four minutes straight. By the second or third split I made the decision to drop back to a 3/2 split and just prayed I wouldn't have to drop it further.

This was my darkest point of the entire race. My back was hurting so much I did could not see how I was going to make 26 miles. I was also concerned that if I had to drop my pace much more I wouldn't make the time cutoffs. Even at my current split, my back was really hurting by the end of each three minute run. I decided at the park turnaround to drop back to 2/3 on the way back to the midway turnaround and see what happened. It ended up only costing me a little over a minute per mile and the extra minute walking really seemed to really help my back. I finished the first half in just over three hours and was satisfied with my time, all things considered. I checked the actual time and saw that I had 4:15 to complete the second half. That point was the first time I knew that I was going to make it.

The second lap was a lot more lonely as a lot a runners were finished and most of the neighborhood support had gone back inside. I reached the park with three hours to go and eased up on my pace again for the last 10k. At 24 miles I began my scheduled walk split with a lady I had seen several times during the run. She said we had two hours to make the last two miles and she was done running. I'm not sure how convincing her case was, but it was enough to sway me at that point. As we walked the last two miles we picked up four or five stragglers and had a small walking group. I decided close to mile 26 that I was hurting enough and just wanted to be done, so I left the group and ran in. I remembered to separate myself going in the chute and tried to soak it all in.

What would you do differently?:

I probably could have broken 16 hours if I had continued to push the last 10k, especially not walking the final two miles; but my finish time was never a priority other than beating the cutoffs. I stretched and stood on the bike at regular intervals, but apparently it wasn't enough to keep my back from hurting me. Losing another 20-30 pounds and more core work to strengthen my back would've made a huge difference.
Post race
Warm down:

I crossed the finish line and found my wife and friends. Made it back to the athlete's food area, but I wanted nothing to do with the cold pizza. I tried a chicken sandwich with the same results, and ultimately ended up just taking more liquid with three chug bottles of chocolate milk. Despite feeling fine in shorts and a tshirt throughout the run, withing five minutes of finishing I was freezing cold and physically shivering. As much as I wanted to stay and cheer the final finishers, I was too cold and tired and just headed back to the room to crash.

Event comments:

Overall, I am really happy with my preparation and my performance. While my back gave me fits, my legs were strong throughout. I never felt like they were weakening. I had a slight adjustment in nutrition on the bike, but relying almost entirely on liquids worked well for me. Going in, I considered my best case scenario to be a 15:30, with my realistic pace at 16:00. I was able to execute the plan I went into the water with, despite the 22+ minutes I gave up at the end.

36 months ago, I was a full-fledged couch potato. I started a C25K plan hoping to get to the point where I could run an occasional 5K again. The photo of me in the red shirt was taken in November 2011 at my first 5K after I started running again. Two years later in November 2013 I became an Ironman.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2012-11-17 12:00 AM
01:41:51 | 4156 yards | 02m 27s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 12:56
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:10:13 | 112 miles | 15.62 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 21:24
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:56:21 | 26.2 miles | 15m 53s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2013-11-09 10:59 PM

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Extreme Veteran
NW Georgia
Subject: Ironman Florida

2013-11-10 4:53 AM
in reply to: #4895872

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Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Great race report David, really glad it all went well. Jeff Galloway does all his marathons with a 30/30 run walk now, might be worth trying if you get the same issues next time? Well done Ironman!
2013-11-10 5:30 AM
in reply to: copa2251

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Sendai, Japan
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

Great effort David and many thanks for sharing the RR.  You are an inspiration!!

2013-11-10 7:44 AM
in reply to: dcon

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Verona WI--Ironman Bike Country!
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

You have made so much progress in those 36 months.  Keep up that attitude and there is nothing you can't do!

2013-11-10 7:45 AM
in reply to: dcon

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Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Well done David. You survived!!! Congrats on your 1st IM.
Nice before and after pic.
2013-11-10 5:47 PM
in reply to: #4895872

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Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Love this. Congratulations!!! Lots of grit went into that finish! The toe was hurting MEas I read about it! Yikes! Congratulations on your life transformation and going from couch to Ironman. Awesome!!

2013-11-10 8:30 PM
in reply to: kkcbelle

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Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

W O W !



2013-11-11 7:28 AM
in reply to: isis

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Williamston, Michigan
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

CONGRATULATIONS!!! What an amazing journey. That run course can get lonely for sure. Way to go

2013-11-11 8:04 PM
in reply to: #4895872

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Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

you took a salted gu on the swim at florida.  HAHAAHAHAHA!!!!!!!



2013-11-13 8:01 AM
in reply to: fattyfatfat

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Middle River, Maryland
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

Great race, David...inspirational story and congratulations, IRONMAN!!!

2013-11-13 7:27 PM
in reply to: #4895872

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West Palm Beach
Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Wow! Awesome report :-)

Keep it up IRONMAN!

2013-11-16 9:35 PM
in reply to: #4895872

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Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Thank you for this race report!! U did great, this is very inspirational to me as i just started sprint tris last yr and just learned to swim the year before. I love to hear how people who weren't super athlete all their life came thru this awesome battle, so encouraging!!! You make me think I can actually do this one day...2014 will be my oly year then 2015 HIM and maybe a full in 2016 eeekkk that's the first time I said that out loud! :-) thanks again God bless!!!
2013-11-19 7:50 PM
in reply to: mrsuwood

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Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

AWESOME!!!  Congrats - you've come so far!  Way to finish strong.

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