Ironman Florida - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
Ironman North America
61F / 16C
Total Time = 13h 52m 23s
Overall Rank = 1721/2400
Age Group = W30-34
Age Group Rank = 50/83
Pre-race routine:

We drove to Buffalo on Tuesday night and then caught our flight first thing on Wednesday morning. We got to PCB at around 10 am. On Wednesday the weather was crap. I was supposed to go for a swim but it was thunderstorms on and off all day long. Instead I went to the start/finish line and registered. It was so easy to register on Wednesday, no line, went right thgouh.

On Thursday morning I met up with the BT crew to go for a swim. Almost didn't catch up with them, because I got there early and couldn't find anyone. Finally as they were heading down to the Beach I recognized KathyG. The practice swim was great, but I ended up getting stung FOUR times by Jelly fish. It was actually good because that was the only thing I was really afraid of. I got to experience it before the race so I wasn't scared of it anymore.

Thursday afternoon I went for a ride on the run course. I was a little terrified I was going to get a flat, particularly in the state park, that pavement was more than a little rough in spots. Met up with some of the BTers for the athlete's Dinner. Jack Chen was pretty cool as were the old guys. (It looks like neither of the old guys finished officially though :()

Friday i met up with Jasha and Sue (Socks) to swim in the big waves we practiced mostly in the surf and running along the shore back into the water. I was having so much fun I wanted to keep at it, but I figured wasn't a smart idea as my legs would have got tired walking out against the big waves. Later in the day I dropped off my bike and bags. Had a minor freak out when they wouldn't let my bike into transition area since I didn't have plugs in the end of my bull horns. I have been looking for them for YEARS and they don't make them for my bike anymore (it's a 2004 bike). The bike store helped me jerry-rig something though and I was able to check in my bike.

I slept solidly from 9:15 pm to 4 am and when I woke up I was wide awake. Stayed in bed for a bit before getting up and left the cond at 5 am. Got to the race site at 5:30 a little worried about how much time i had, but they were super fast and efficient getting though pumping tires and body marking. I was very impressed. I wish they had been playing music though to pump us up, it was kind of quiet in the transition area.

When I was doing my stuff at my bike, a girl asked me my name, I replied "Laura" she asked if I went to UW (my university) and it turns out she was an aquaintance from university. Small world. It was her first IM too. She lives pretty close to me now and I've never seen her at a race. Weird.

Went inside to relax a bit and put on my wetsuit in the warmth. Got into my wetsuit, found my family. Gave them hugs, kissed DH and went into the corale.
Event warmup:

Found JashaC and we were quickly joined by F1Longhorn, Chris123 and someone else, can't remember. Waded into the water. I went up ahead, second row, far to the right and got ready to go.
  • 1h 09m 59s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 26s / 100 yards

When the cannon went off, so did we. I think I seeded myself really well (far right, second row), there were only one or two people that passed me early on, and I passed a couple as well. For most of the swim, I actually was thinking this isn't as bad as I was expecting. There were a few times where it got rough. One person (I assume a guy because I was mostly around men) tried to swim up on top of me. After a few arm pulls on my bum or lower back I kicked a few kicks really had. That got rid of him ;). Later on, there was someone trying to swim diagonally across me, I stopped and pushed him the way he wanted to go and went on my merry way (he was siting very badly).

On the first out section, I swam over a sting ray. It was really cool. That was the only wildlife I saw on the swim other than a single jellyfish. Luckily, no more stings.

I found the big problem was people doing a really wide arm pull and it was always on my left side (because I was keeping right?). Both times along the back section i had to re-adjust my goggles because they had got jammed on my face. I wear contacts so I didn't want to get salt water in my eyes. One other time I got hit in the jaw (more on this later). Sunday morning I woke up with bruising on my left eye, but because I wear glasses, it isn't too obvious.

For the most part I had a lot of fun on the swim. Both times I went too wide on the return to shore leg, the current really got me, and I found trying to site the bouys hard. When I got close to shore the second time, it felt like there was a strong current trying to sweap me back out to the ocean. I moved a little to the right and it was a lot better.

All in all I am very happy with my swim. My original goal was 1:15 on the swim, which I changed to 1:10 pretty quickly after starting to train last year. I breifly entertained the possibility of 1:05, but dropped that idea when I cut my swim training down in June. In July i hurt my back and couldn't swim much for a month, and after i could swim again, it has been pretty slow for me. I was pretty happy to get my 1:10. If it had been a pretty flat water swim instead of the ocean, I think I could have been close to 1:05, but not with the waves and the strong current to the east. (the rollers would have been about 5 feet out in the open ocean.)
What would you do differently?:

Site better. I went too wide on the back section on both laps. I also got caught in a bit of a riptide on the way back in the second time. Felt like I was swimming against the current in an endless pool. Also, more swimming. I cut down on swimming to get more biking and running in.
Transition 1
  • 10m 36s

My goal here was to be comfortable on the bike, I wanted to take the time to do what I needed to do to keep warm and comfy which meant a complete wardrobe change (note: putting on a sports bra onto a wet body is HARD!!!) I also put on my arm warmers and my booties and I was very very happy to have both. I used the wet suit strippers as well which was pretty fun. Like others have written in paste race reports, I ran to the last one and had two men strip my wetsuit instead of one girl at the front :).
What would you do differently?:

Nothing except the sun screen. Mixed with the sand and made for a big mess that stayed the entire bike course. All of my bike pictures my legs are completely white and dirty from the sunscreen and sand. Also not change, but this was my first IM and I wanted to be comfortable and warm!
  • 6h 53m 36s
  • 112 miles
  • 16.25 mile/hr

Man, I got passed a LOT on the bike. I passed only a couple of riders. I saw jdicarlo on the bike (breifly) as well as Chris123 (also briefly). I think I only passed a few people, it's hard to tell. I think at the end I ended up passing some of the people that had passed me early in the bike.

The headwind wasn't great at the beginning onf the race, but I have had a lot of rides in the past few months that were much worse. This fall has been very windy, the majority of my long rides have had steady winds of 20 mph with gusts to 30 mile per hour so while I did find it windy, I was able to handle it okay without getting totally demoralized.

At mile 30, my bike computer stopped working. After that point I only had a very vague sense of where I was based on the 10 mile markers and only a faint idea of what my pace was. I was glad that my dad and i had driven the course on Friday so that I had a better idea of what the course was about. I had no clue how fast I was going, I just had to bike on HR. Kept my HR around zone 2 which some sections getting to zone 3 on the small hills on the course. When we turned onto 77 the tail wind was very nice. Right around the turn there was a sign that said "Kitsma (?) says keep it Aerobic". I loved that sign and had a good chuckle. I also heard someone yell at his buddy "I'm keeping in my box!" as he passed. I thought that was funny.

I saw a few draft packs, I normally didn't let it bug me, but there was one time where there was two pace lines passing together. That one really bugged me.

The section with the crappy road wasn't too bad for me. I ride on rough roads all the time. Frost heave in this neck of the woods ruins roads, so while there were cracks, it wasn't too bad. I stopped at special needs on the bike. I wanted to get my diet coke (heavenly!) and baked cheetos. I did lose a few of the cheetos on the bumps though. I actually had to stop at the aid station after special needs as well as I didn't plan well. I had to grab a water to mix up my second bottle of sports drink. So I had to stop since I only have two hands.

Only had to stop one time to use the bathroom at around mile 80. it was a good one to stop at, the line was fairly short. The rest of the bike was pretty uneventful. When we turned south on hwy 79, the tail wind was very welcome. My Aunt and Uncle were at the corner and cheered for me, and then they drove by and took a photo of me riding the bike. (Posted below - holy bad form! so much for keeping my feet parallel to the ground!)

The out and back on the way back into town had a bit of a head wind, but I figured it would be short, so I just sucked it up. Over the last 30 miles or so, I was leapfrogging with a few people. I couldn't believe the number of people I saw riding super fancy tri bikes with aero wheels and an aero helmet that were riding (consistently) on the bullhorns. I mean, why spend all that money for nothing?

Got back ino town 7 minutes ahead of my time goal for the bike and feeling pretty good. Not bad considering I didn't have any clue on my speed!
What would you do differently?:

My tri bike doesn't fit me properly. It is two sizes too big so we had to maguiver it to fit me. This means that my seat post angle is ridiculously steep (see picture) so I have trouble efficiently using my hamstrings. I need a bike that fits me better so that I can improve my efficiency (a better bike wouldn't hurt either - mine is an entry level tri bike and only has a carbon fork).

On top of bike fit and size, I know losing weight will make me faster, I also really just need to work on getting faster. I've never really focused on TRYING to become a better cyclist. I finally started focusing on this in the last year, but I also had to build up mileage a lot.
Transition 2
  • 12m 52s

I got off my bike and walked into the change tent. I wanted to feel as fresh as possible on the run and my shoes are pretty slipperly with my cleats on. I got into the tent, found a seat and tried to get myself organized. A well meaning volunteer tried to help me out, but was confused with all I needed to do. She did end up helping me with my tank top at the back which was tangled. I used my wet wipes to try to get rid of the sunscreen/sand mess on my legs. Felt great to get that off me. Stopped on the way out to go to the bathroom. Not sure why the time is so long. I wanted to be comfortable on the run, but I'm surprised by 12+ minutes. I had full clothing changes on most of my bricks this summer and they were all around 7 minutes (with having to sort out my run nutrition). Oh well.
What would you do differently?:

Race in the same clothes the entire course, and not put sunscreen on in T1. that way the sand would have just dried and fallen off over the course of the bike.
  • 5h 25m 22s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 12m 25s  min/mile

Starting the run, I was feeling great. I immediately saw Jasha and walked with him breifly to talk about how his race was going before I continued on. I had to conciously slow myself down over the first half of the first loop to a more sustainable pace. I was running a little too fast. I met a bunch of cool great people on the run. There was Stacey from St. Louis, Roxanne from Colorado Springs, a guy from Windsor Ontario (about 2 hours away from here), a lady from Brampton Ontario (about an hour in the other direction), but mostly I ran by myself. Close to the end of the first 13 miles, a guy passed me that I thought looked familiar, and then a big crew of people wearing green shirts came out to give him hugs, I figured out that it was Justin (Gravesjo) and I ended up seeing him a few more times on the run course.

I did a pretty good job of keeping with my plan of walking the aid stations and running in between. It was annoying because the aid stations weren't evenly spaced. There was one section through the state park where the aid stations were closer to 2 miles apart then 1. While we are talking about aid stations on the run, the Fairytale station - awesome, The Girl Zone - great (I got whipped in the butt), The Carnival - fun, Christmas - merry. The aid stations at the 4/17 mile mark and 9/22 mile mark. Downright dreary. That section was pretty dark too. I had to stop at every table and ask what they had to even be able to find the water. All the volunteers were bundled up and sitting down on the other side of the table to keep warm and not helpful at all. I don't want to complain, but seriously, if you are going to volunteer at an IM, you think you would be remotely interested.

I'm trying to organize my thoughts here, but it isn't working too well. Where we crossed Thomas Drive about a mile and a half from the transition area, my family (see photo below, DH took the picture so he isn't in it, but is in the picture from before the swim0 was there on the out and back on the first time and the back on the second time. Each time I saw them, I stopped to hug and get photos, kiss my DH, etc. The first loop went well.

Running through where all the signs were was cool. I'm pretty sure I saw the sign for Mimi and there was another one that said "HTFU" which brought a smile to my face. I think I kept a pretty even pace here once I was able to slow myself down. I felt strong at the halfway point and didn't feel bad at all about having to go out for a second loop. I stopped to walk breifly to put on my long sleave shirt and get my hat light sorted out. Around mile 18 I stopped to use the porta potty.

My tummy was starting to feel off, but it wasn't too bad yet. The second time around the state park was pretty dark. I think if there were no lights it would have been better because our eyesight would be able to adjust. Instead when you rounded a corner, and the light wasn't shining anymore, it was pitch black. During these sections I took off my light from the brim of my hat and ran with it in my hand. In one particularly dark section through the park I passed a bunch of people walking. I just needed to get out of that negative environment as quick as possible.

When I got to the motivational Centre, I saw my message and I passed the lady who had her 50th birthday on Saturday. I wished her happy birthday and continued on my way, still not feeling too bad. Between these aid stations (well before mile 19 to well after mile 20) I stopped to walk for a minute to try to keep on track with my walk breaks if not my nutrition. At the after mile 20 aid station I tried chicken soup and coke for the first time to see if that would settle my stomache a bit. Up to this point on the run, at each aid station I was eating a shot block and taking in water, once an hour I was taking a salt tab.

Just outside of the State park I saw Justin again. He was reduced to a walk due to stomache trouble. I offered gravol or immodium and he declined. I realized later that I also had tums and felt bad for not offering them. Justin must have started feeling better shortly afterwards. He ended up beating me to the finish.

For the next three aid stations (21 to 23) I took in more coke and chicken broth and shortly after 23 I knew it wasn't a great idea. I'm guessing it was he chicken broth as I've had coke in races before. I made it to after 24 not feeling too bad having to walk a minute here and there between aid stations, but all the while my tummy was getting worse.

Somewhere around here I saw a guy speed walking going out on his second loop with a full camera crew around him. I thought it looked like Matt Hoover from the Biggest Loser. I checked the results on Sunday and I'm certain it was him. This time he finished his IM after barely missing the midnight cutoff last year at Kona.

After mile 24 I started feeling naseous I took a tums and started to walk. I walked probably half a mile here trying to keep up a decent pace and not throw up. Around mile 24.5 I saw my family on the couse. I stopped to kis my husband and hug my dad, stepmom, two aunts and two uncles. I gave my DH my visor with the light on it I didn't need it anymore. Posed for a few picutures. The brief break made all the difference. I was feeling like a new person and started off again in a slow run which I was able to slowly pick up. As I was about to turn back onto Thomas Drive I saw a lady heading out for her second loop. I think she would have been the last person (or close to it) allowed to head out for the second loop. She didn't have a glowstick on, so I gave her mine and she thanked me profusely. I hope she was able to finish!

Got to the finishing chute and I saw the best sign which made me smile. "You will do this" with the "will do" crossed out and replaced with DID. Awesome :)

Right before the Ford arch 100 m from the finish line I saw my family for the last time (DH, dad and step mom). My dad stepped out onto the course and I had to yell at him to get back behind the barrier. All of the spectators laughed. Ran another 10 feet to my husband gave him a kiss. All of the spectators "Ahhed". I just saw the video dh was taking at the time and after I turned back to continue the last 100 metres, one of the ladies beside my husband commented "That was awesome!" I looked behind me and there was another women about to go under the banner so I let her go by herself and then looked back to make sure I had the chute to myself and ran to the finish line with a big big smile. Ecstatic. I didn't hear the "Laura Jones from Woodstock Ontario, you are an Ironman". Mostly because he didn't say it that way. He said three of our names together and then apparently said "you are ironmen" at the end, but I missed it. By that time, I was with my finish line catcher getting my shirt, hat and medal. He directed me to the picture area and looks at me and said "you look great! Do you even need me?" I replied I felt great and that I didn't need him, so he went back to catch someone else.

Turns out the woman who finished right in front of me was Nats from BT. small world. We shared a couple of inspires back and forth at the beginning of training (she is from about an hour away from me), but had stopped regularly visiting the site.
What would you do differently?:

Not drink the koolaid (or should I say coke/chicken broth).
Post race
Warm down:

I got my finishers stuff, got my photo taken and a couple of peices of pizza. Walked to my dad's car which was across from spinnakers. I couldn't stop talking. I recounted the entire day to my family. When we got back to the condo, my uncle was waiting out on the balcony clapping for me. They had tracked me with the GPS all the way back to the condo!

The days after the race were good. My legs were sore. My back was sore. my arms were sore. I was flying higher than I have ever been. I didn't want to cut off my bracelet for a couple of days, I wanted to keep living in my IM. I know I won't be able to do another one for a while. DH and I are going to start a family soon and with my job (consulting engineer), I won't be able to train for an IM with small kids. At least until they are teenagers (and they haven't even been conceived yet!!!). I will definitely be back to the Ironman distance at some point, but for now I'm going to focus on shorter stuff and getting faster.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Swim - cutting swim down to 1-2 times per week, throwing my back out while on vacation in July. The 5 minutes lost of the swim was made up for in time gained on the bike I am certain.

Bike - my bike. I need a new bike that fits me properly. full carbon wouldn't hurt either. Also my weight. I should lose 30 pounds to be more competitive, but I'm not sure i could realistic be that weight with my body shape. a couple of years ago I was down around 15 from where I am now, and I think that would be a good intermediate goal.

Run - weight again. I trained well for the run, so really just more experience with the distance.

Overall - It was my first IM so I just wanted to finish comfortably so I never pushed myself. I also could cut down some serious time in transition if I were motivated to get a PR.

My goal for the race was 14 hours and my plan to do this was:

Swim - 1:10
tranisition - :10
Bike - 7:00
transition - :10
Run - 5:30

So I was at or under for all three but over for the transitions. Probably would have been closer to those times for transition if it hadn't been cold.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-11-24 12:00 AM
01:09:59 | 4224 yards | 01m 26s / 100yards
Age Group: 16/83
Overall: 731/2400
Performance: Good
Suit: Full Sleeve 19 riptide
Course: two loop course
Start type: Wade Plus:
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Below average Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 10:36
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
06:53:36 | 112 miles | 16.25 mile/hr
Age Group: 49/83
Overall: 2001/2400
Performance: Good
Nada - bike computer stopped working at mile 30
Wind: Headwind
Course: Along Front beach road to 79 N to 20 east to 77 south to 388 out and back to 2038 to 20 and mostly back
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: ??
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 12:52
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:25:22 | 26.2 miles | 12m 25s  min/mile
Age Group: 51/83
Overall: 1607/2400
Performance: Good
kept my HR between zone 2 and zone 3 for most of the run. towards the end my cardio was not my limiting factor and my HR dropped into zone 1. I could have run harder, but my legs were just exhausted.
Course: out to the state park, loop in the park, back to finish x 2
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4