My first Triathlon
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Ironman Florida - TriathlonFull Ironman
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Panama City Beach, Florida
Ironman North America
60F / 16C
= 12h 39m 31s
Age Group Rank
Got almost 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep the night before the biggest physical event of my life. Pretty satisfied with that since most people are a nervous wreck and can’t get sleep at all. I had a lot on the line here. My family, my 2 best friends, and my girlfriend were all here to cheer me on, and I had a small fan club of family, Facebook friends and co-workers at home all waiting to track my progress online. The pressure was on. They were all there to see me finish.
Finish…. It seemed like a long ways away, since it was only 4:00 am and I was having a bagel with peanut butter, a banana and coffee for breakfast. Still waiting to get that nervous gut-dropping, want-to-throw-up feeling, but it never came.
Met Andi, Pam and Domino and we walked to transition to make some last minute checks on our bikes and put last minute items in our run bags and bike bags. Wow, it was really cold out. This was my coldest race to date, and it’s in Florida. Go figure.
Niki, Abbie, and Melisa met me right before the start and we walked to the beach together. I gave them a quick hug goodbye and before I knew it I was standing at the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico with 2700 other people, about 75% men and 25% women.
1h 27m 35s
02m 07s / 100 yards
In the final seconds before the start, it seemed like everything went silent and all I could hear was my heart beating. BOOM! The cannon went off. I was standing toward the back of the pack, slowly walking into the water as a strategic plan not to get trampled in the chaos. I notice the 1st song they played. Fittingly, it was “Panama” by Van Halen. Finally, I start my swim stroke.
Again, the whole 2.4 miles I did not panic about being in open water, nor did I panic about being in a human washing machine with thousands of other athletes bigger than me. I was mostly worried about getting an elbow or foot to the face. There was definitely contact, as you could not avoid it. People were swimming crooked, people were swimming faster into a group of slower swimmers, etc. I could imagine the front of the pack being intentionally physical as they are battling for spots on the podium and slots to the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. The mediocre swimmers with me were more courteous and were just trying to survive out there and finish.
I could feel the current created by the hundreds of swimmers ahead of me and I was getting pulled along for the ride. Weee! This is great! I was swimming fast without much effort at all! Saw some stingray at the bottom, minding their own business.
Loop 1 of the swim finished! Already? Wow, that wasn’t so bad. Time to get out of the water, go over a timing mat to clock my 1st swim split, take a gel
(I hid one in the ankle of my wetsuit
), and get a swig of water to wash the salt water taste out of my mouth. The water was nice and warm and the air was less than 40 degrees so I couldn’t wait to get back in.
Loop 2 was a little more spread out, but still chaotic like bumper cars in the water.
2.4 miles of swimming finally finished and I walked straight to the strippers, my favorite part of the race! It’s not what you think, get your mind out of the gutter! Strippers are volunteers who “strip” your wetsuit off of you quicker than you can get it off yourself. I sat down on the pavement and 2 volunteers stripped me of my wetsuit, pulled me up and let me on my way. After a quick run through a tunnel of cold fresh water to wash the salt water off, I saw my teammate Diane.
Diane and I were herded through a tunnel and were walking on really cold concrete in our bare feet. I saw my friends and family on the 2nd floor balcony above and I was waving and jumping to them, smiling for the cameras. We were given our bike bags by volunteers and went into the women’s changing room.
More chaos, because we were cold and wet, trying to find an open spot and change into warmer clothes for the bike. Finally clothed, I walked back outside, waved hi to my family and friends, and volunteers were yelling my number, “2284!” Magically, a volunteer appeared with Jade
) and I was off to ride 112 miles.
6h 30m 47s
The bike ride was quiet, no one was really communicating, other than to warn a biker that they were passing “on your left.”
Only stopped once in the first 20 miles to pee. I am not that hardcore to pee while I’m riding, nor could I even do it if I tried. A port-a-potty is fine for me, thanks.
Halfway through the bike ride, at 56 miles, were our “Special Needs” bags. We are allowed to put anything we may need in these bags, like extra clothes, food, drinks, pain relieving drugs, etc. in them. I had a clif bar, twix candy bar, and Gu chomps in mine. I chose the twix candy bar over the healthy stuff, and ditched the bag.
The last half of the bike went well. I only had worries of getting a flat and having to fix it out there by myself. I saw at least 6 or 7 people on the side of the road fixing their flats, and fortunately no crashes.
I was out on my bike for 6.5 hours so I had to entertain myself somehow. The course gave us nothing to look at but pavement, trees, and other riders’ butts. I entertained myself by singing songs. Some of the songs I made up myself. I mostly remembered singing the line, “Cause you’re the 3 best friends that anyone can have!” repeatedly. It’s a line from the movie “The Hangover.” I also sang songs from my glory days of high school marching band and symphonic band, like Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Scheherazade.
I had never rode more than 100 miles and the last 12 miles of the 112 were practically downhill and with a tail wind, so I was picking up the speed with little effort and working off adrenaline. I had a little conversation with Jade and thanked her for taking me this far, but I was really ready to get off my bike because I was hurting in all areas that a triathlon bike can give you pain. Use your imagination. Then I realized I had to run a marathon after this, at my planned time of 9:30 min/mile?!
Saw my friends and family as I was finishing the bike and smiled and waved hi. Jumped off Jade and my run bag magically appeared from a volunteer again and this transition went much smoother, because I was mostly taking clothes off and changing shoes only.
4h 20m 57s
09m 58s min/mile
Off to run my 2nd marathon ever. I actually felt good, kept pace, and it felt good to be back in civilization, with people other than athletes. The run was 2 loops of 13.1 miles. I saw my family and friends on the run course with all the other Team Fraser fans and I picked up my pace and smiled and waved and slapped hands to look like this was easy. After I passed them, the smile faded and the heavy breathing returned. I ended up seeing all of my teammates on the run course, as we passed each other going opposite ways on the course. It was great to be able to slap hands and chat for a short while with some of them. All of them looked strong and determined to finish!
They were offering a smorgasbord of nutrition on the run course, at every mile, like cookies, bananas, oranges, grapes, powerbars and gels, Coke, water, Gatorade and chicken broth. I was waiting until after the first loop to drink the Coke they were offering, as I was told it was “magical” and it would give me a huge boost of energy. My plan was to walk every aid station to make sure I got enough fluid and calories
). I ran each mile between aid stations and it was my reward to myself to be able to walk for the 30-60 seconds and run until the next aid station. I tried the coke after the half marathon mark, because I also heard it settles your stomach. It was neither magical nor stomach-settling for me, but I still drank it every other mile or so. What was magical to me was the chicken broth! After my first loop, the sun went down and it got cold again. I put on my long sleeve tee that was wrapped around my waist and decided to take some chicken broth. It was warm and fuzzy going into my stomach and it kept my core body temperature up.
Part of the run was through a state park where there were no spectators; just wildlife and on the second loop - darkness. I knew once I got out of this park it was the home stretch. I was wondering when I was going to hit “The Wall” but I’m not sure I ever did. The Wall is a point in a race where you feel like you cannot go on any longer and you basically want to quit. I never felt like I wanted to quit, although I felt like I wanted this to be over with very soon! If anything, running through this park alone in the darkness was my so-called wall, because all I could hear were footsteps on the pavement. No cheering or talking, just loneliness.
Finally out of the state park and onto the home stretch! They say there are 2 halves of a marathon – the first 20 miles is the 1st half and the 10K
) at the end is the 2nd half. I believe that is true. 10K more to go and my race would be over. I could no longer see my watch because it was dark so I didn’t know my paces, but at this point, I was just trying to stay in a forward moving motion. Just finish.
Toward the last mile, I see the two men that got me into this crazy mess – my coach, Tony V., and Captain Dave! “Hey!” I said. “Hey yourself!” says Tony V. “Are you ok?” They say they’re ok and as I passed them I said “I’M GOING TO BE AN IRONMAN!” Tony V. says “yes you are!” and Captain Dave yells, “you’re looking strong!”
Finally, the moment I’ve been training a full year for. All the physical and mental preparation and hard work has paid off! I’m still running and I feel great. I see the finisher’s chute and start raising my hands for the finish and photo op. I see my family and friends in the bleachers and hear the crowd cheering me on. I pump my fists even more when I see them and yell, “Yes! I did it! I did it!” and cross the finish line and the announcer says “Tricia Concepcion of Detroit, Michigan. YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”
Not many moments in my life can top that one. I wouldn’t change one moment of this whole experience and I am the luckiest girl in the world to have Melisa, my parents, my sister Tina and her family and my best friends Abbie and Niki there to support me on one of the biggest days of my life.
Walked slowly, wanted warm clothes and finally got them on me.
My 1st Ironman and I wouldn't change it for the world!
Last updated: 2009-11-22 12:00 AM
01:27:35 | 4156 yards | 02m 07s / 100yards
Zoot Zenith 6.0
2 loops of 1.2 miles
75F / 24C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:30:47 | 112 miles | 17.20 mile/hr
Not as flat as they say.
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:20:57 | 26.2 miles | 09m 58s min/mile
2 loops of 13.1 miles
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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