Ironman Florida - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
Ironman North America
50sF / 0C
Total Time = 12h 13m 49s
Overall Rank = 990/2800
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 220/403
Pre-race routine:

Arrived around noon on Thursday and felt like I was one of the last people to arrive in the city. Grabbed a cab from the airport and the driver was very nice and knowledgeable about the race, pointing out when we were on the bike route and where the "big climb" was (a 1/4 mile bridge about 10 miles out.) It had been raining for about a day and a half, so there were puddles everywhere, clouds in the sky and a fierce wind from the northwest. Raceday temps were projected to be in the low 40s, perhaps in the 30s at the start, with gusty winds. Not exactly ideal conditions, but I was mentally prepared for anything.

Wife and I arrived at the Laketown Wharf condo, checked in and went to registration. Because of the rain on Wednesday and earlier Thursday, few people had gone and the line was huge when we got there. waited an hour or so to sign in and get prepped. I have never been part of the whole IM experience, so I was awed by the scale of everything. The other racers were all looked really strong and the bikes - whoa! - were amazing. Seemed everyone had a $5K+ ride and all the coolest gear. A little intimidating. Once I was all signed in, we went to the WalMart for food, arranged my gear for transition bags and went to go see a movie and relax.

Woke up Friday to a cold, windy, sunny day. The weather reports showed that Saturday was supposed to be very similar in temps, wind, etc. as Friday which helped me decide how to deal with what I would wear for the race. Went for a swim at 8:00 and the water was incredibly choppy and pretty damn intimidating. The waved were coming in on a stong right to left current, with at least 8 lines of white-capped swells breaking from the shore to about 300 yards out. The surges were so strong and high, if it was race day, there would be no way to see buoys more than 50 yards away and people would be freaking out and going way off course. I had a good laugh about this with a few other swimmers and tried to prep myself for a long, tough swim on race day.

Before racking my bike, I went for a ride along the run course to get an idea of what that would be like and gauge the wind and temp for clothing decisions. Was a smooth, easy ride out to the dunes and a strong headwind coming back. Decided to race with my jacket on - rather than be cold. Racked bike, dropped transition gear and tried to chill all day. Went to prerace meeting, watched a movie at the condo and slept.
Event warmup:

Woke up at 4:45, had a bagel/PB and coffee. Grabbed a Gatorade and made the 3 minute walk to the start. Plan was to meet Kimmie outside the swim area by the beach. I realized I forgot to pack my transition towel, called Kimmie and she brought it to me (thanks!) before transition closed. On the way to swim start, I had to take care of a matter at the Port-o-Pots. After a 20 minute wait, I was 2nd in line and they ran out of paper. Had to wait 10 minutes for new rolls and that threw off my meeting plan at the beach. It was about 6:40 and mild panic set in.

Made my way to the beach and looked around. No Kimmie. Kept looking. No Kimmie. 6:53. No Kimmie. I am just about to cross the timing mat and get to the water when Kimmie found me. She said she had the race announcer call for me, but I didn't hear it. Anyway, we took our pictures, said goodbyes and good lucks and I went to the water. Stretched, tried to take it all in - the 2500+ people wading in the surf, the beautiful sunrise, the family and friends on the beach, the miraculously calmed water - and waited for the cannon.
  • 1h 06m 53s
  • 4156 yards
  • 01m 37s / 100 yards

This was my first mass start and I expected the full washing machine treatment. Much to my surprise, it was really no better/worse than other wave starts for me. My goggles leaked for the first 200 yards and I had to adjust on the fly (sorry to those I may have kicked breast stroking during my repairs - I didn't kick hard!) and I settled into a pack on the right side. With all of the people around me, I didn't need to look for buoys at all in the first 20 minutes. I just made sure there were people to my right and left and went with it.

I kept reminding myself to save my legs, use a nice long stroke, glide and relax. Time was not important here at all. I was breathing every 2 or 4 strokes and cruising. Saw jellyfish, schools of small fish cruising around and birds occasionally flying by. Very peaceful.

Finished the first lap and walked to the water table. I followed the advice of someone on this site who said to walk whenever you can in transitions to enjoy it and get legs back. So, I walked toward the crowd to try to wave to Kimmie - saw her and got a big smile on my face! Checked my watch and realized I forgot to start it. Whatever. So, I started on it then to have an idea of lap 2 at least. Waded out to the receding surf and started up again. I did feel minor stiffness just from the short break, and also sensed chafing on the back of my neck. That really started to sting every breath on the lap, but nothing I could do at this point.

Cruised the lap, similar to the first one, with lots of people around to help guide me in. Felt smooth and the watch told my that lap was 35:00 - I was VERY surprised at that time. Expected 40:00+. I was pretty excited and also worried that I could be blowing my pace already.
What would you do differently?:

Not much really. I executed my plan: had fun, good pace, didn't kill myself.
Transition 1
  • 14m 14s

Walked from the water all the way to the changing area. Got a seat and slowly got into my bike gear. Spent a few minutes just relaxing. Lubed generously and got on the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Could have gone faster - but not sweating that at all.
  • 6h 13m 14s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.00 mile/hr

It was cold at the start - I had on my skull cap, gloves and jacket. Marveled at those wearing just trisuits and maybe armwarmers. I'd have froze to death. I planned to keep a pace of around 18 MPH and thought the tough spot would be miles 60-80 due to long rolling hills and headwinds. I started slowly and was getting passed by dozens of people every mile (downside to being a faster swimmer.) Still, I was confident with my plan: consistent speed, drink 20-30 oz of water with Carbo-Pro, PowerBars every 90 minutes and Electrolytes every hour.

Cruised just fine, feeling good for the first 40. First cramps (groin) arrived about mile 42. It was mild, but not a good omen. More tightening come on near mile 50. Luckily, I had to pee so bad about mile 55. All the water I took in was not being sweated out since it was cooler than I'd expected. My bladder was about to burst. Thought of peeing on bike, but knew I could use the stretch break. Stopped at the aid station at mile 60. Peed. Stretched. Did the same at mile 70. And 80. And 90. And 100. All told, I spent 15+ minutes off the bike peeing and stretching. Probably good for the legs, but if I learned to stretch and pee on the bike better, it would be a time saver.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. Happy with performance.
Transition 2
  • 09m 55s

Felt pretty good at this point. Got bag and went to change to run gear. Right shoe came off fine - left leg cramped (hamstring) when I went to take shoe off. So, I sat and chilled for a few minutes. Slowly got into run shorts, shoes, socks and made my way out.
What would you do differently?:

Not much.
  • 4h 29m 36s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 17s  min/mile

Plan was to run when I could at a moderate pace, knowing any faster than 8:30 was unsustainable and going to haunt me. At the first sign of any cramping, I would walk for 30 seconds or so then run again. The cold temps were awesome for me as I have cramped up in my hot weather races.

I started with a good jog - mile one was about 9:00, which I was very pleased with. I kept running, fighting through side cramps which I had from the moment I got off the bike. Thought they were just from being hunched over in aero for 6 hours and they'd go away as I ran. But they got worse. By mile 5, I was getting bad thoughts that I'm doing damage to my kidneys or something. Was still able to run, but the cramping was getting painful.

Ran through mile 7 then pulled up for a short walk in hopes cramps would go away. A few minutes later, jogged to an aid station, got a banana and a coke, jogged again. I felt a little better! Saw Kimmie at the 13.1 turn and was right on Best Case time schedule - about 2:05 into the run. Told her I was slowing down and would likely be around 2:30 for the next lap. The whole last half was a combo of running a few minutes, walking a bit. It certainly got harder to start up each time, but I was very, very excited knowing I would finish even if I walked the whole way.

Battled to run as much as I could - knowing my body was OK, but my head was messing with me. Never had cramps that made me stop in my tracks. I was able to stop myself before they set in. Since the night was quiet and still, I heard the finish line announcer at mile 24 and that siren call drew me in. I walked/ran until I could see the chute and then ran, beaming across the finish.

Post race
Warm down:

Ate. Drank. Smiled. Repeat.

Went to condo, showered then returned to the finish Line at 10:30 to cheer in the runners for the last 90 minutes. This was perhaps the favorite part of my day - sharing smiles and screaming my ass off for the last athletes. So cool.

What limited your ability to perform faster:


Event comments:

The support of the other runners and the crowd was incredible: themed aid stations (circus, wizards, scantly clad women all come to mind), people shouting my name, cool. Strong memories include being in the dunes right at sundown, the deer that ran across the road 10 feet in front of me in a neighborhood, getting choked up at mile 25 when the crowds built up for the finish.

I reflected on all of the friends and family that helped me get there, trained with me, supported me and made this journey all it could have been. I thought of my dad a lot, who taught me about living a healthy life, having fun and creating memories. He was with me in spirit while rooting me on from above. Absolutely an incredible day.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-11-08 12:00 AM
01:06:53 | 4156 yards | 01m 37s / 100yards
Age Group: 98/403
Overall: 526/2800
Performance: Good
Suit: sleeveless
Course: Counterclockwise rectangle. I'd say 750 out, 200 across, 750 back to shore.
Start type: Run Plus: Shot
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 14:14
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
06:13:14 | 112 miles | 18.00 mile/hr
Age Group: 296/403
Overall: 1437/2800
Performance: Average
Wind: Cross-winds with gusts
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 80?
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 09:55
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:29:36 | 26.2 miles | 10m 17s  min/mile
Age Group: 173/403
Overall: 830/2800
Performance: Good
Course: 2 laps - out and back for most of the course.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %?
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5]