Ironman Florida - TriathlonFull Ironman

View Member's Race Log View other race reports
Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
Ironman North America
80F / 27C
Total Time = 16h 07m 59s
Overall Rank = 1859/2058
Age Group = W35-39
Age Group Rank = 84/92
Pre-race routine:

Drink my Chocolate Milk Chug, get bodymarked and check out my bike.
Event warmup:

Walking down to Alvins from the hotel to place my special needs bags, struggling to put on my wetsuit and swimming around in the ocean a little.
  • 1h 42m 50s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 26s / 100 yards

See the full race day report in the event comments below.
What would you do differently?:

Transition 1
  • 08m 6s

See the full race day report in the event comments below.
What would you do differently?:

  • 7h 36m 48s
  • 112 miles
  • 14.71 mile/hr

Bad stomach cramps starting around mile 80. See the full race day report in the event comments below.
What would you do differently?:

I have to figure out my nutrition.
Transition 2
  • 09m 13s

See the full race day report in the event comments below.
What would you do differently?:

  • 6h 31m 5s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 14m 56s  min/mile

Had stomach problems until after mile 13. See the full race day report in the event comments below.
What would you do differently?:

Figure out my nutrition and walk a LOT less.
Post race
Warm down:

Drink a coke and collapse. Eat a little more and finally got up and got a great massage.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Bad stomach problems.

Event comments:

A Little Background...

This is the race day story of someone who went from the couch to my first Ironman in one year. I had done the Gulf Coast Half in 2003 and was well on my way when my father was diagnosed with lung cancer and died only five weeks later. I gained 10lbs and did absolutely nothing athletic for about six months. I then ran a marathon in his memory and only a couple months later, my grandmother died. I did nothing again for about six months until a friend talked me into signing up for this race. We were both in really bad shape and I told him he was crazy, but we signed up anyway. It gave me a purpose and I decided to do the race in their memory with a goal of just to finish within the time limit. We pittled around a little trying to get back into some sort of decent shape and then we bought "Be Iron Fit" by Don Fink and decided to do the competitive 30 week program. We needed to do the competitive program just to get us into "just finish" shape! Onto race day...

Before the Race...

I had read an article somewhere about before race nutrition that said to drink a lot of sports drinks the day before the race. Well, I didn't think about how all that sugar would affect my heart. (I have mitral valve prolaspe and a lot of sugar or caffeine will make my heart race.) Between the Powerade and just being stressed about the race, my heart pounded like a congo drum until a little after midnight. I got up at about 4am going on about 4 hours of sleep and drank my Chocolate Milk Chug, used the bathroom and went down to get bodymarked, add food to my transition bags and get my tires pumped up (we were staying at the roach - I mean, host - hotel). I could tell it was starting to get crowded by the time I was done and I was glad I had all that out of the way. Went back up to the room, used the bathroom again, grabbed my special needs bags and headed down to Alvins. I could see all the people coming and by this time I was starting to get pretty excited about what all this day might have in store for me. Good grief! I was actually out of breath by the time I walked back from Alvins and up the three flights of stairs to my room! How in the world am I going to go 140.6 miles today!? Saw my training partner and wished him luck. Chilled out for a minute on the bed then put on my trisuit and started putting on my wetsuit. Man, was that a workout! I love my DeSoto T1, but it's a real pain to get on. Plus, I had never lost those 10lbs I gained, so it made it even worse. I eventually got it all on and headed down to the beach.

The Swim...

I took one look at the water and thought "Oh crap!" It was a lot more choppy than it had been all week during practice. I headed out for a little warmup swim and realized that it was pretty easy to get out through the waves, but you had to wait to ride up the waves to spot the buoys. Oh boy, I hoped I wouldn't throw up during the swim! The announcer yelled out for everyone to get out of the water because it was time for the pros to start. Okay, now I'm getting pretty pumped up. Did a Gu, my friend wished me luck, started looking for my training partner and trying to figure out where I wanted to start. BAM! The cannon went off and the pros started. Oh yeah, I'm excited now. My partner and I finally found each other and decided to start in the middle very close to the back. I'm a really bad swimmer and was worried about making the cutoff, so I didn't want to get in the middle of the washing machine. I said a quick prayer - God, make it as hard as you want on me today, but please just let me finish - and checked my HR. I was almost in my zone just standing on the beach! U2 was blasting and it was finally our time. BAM! Our cannon went off and I raised my hands and yelled. No matter what happened I thought, this is going to be awesome - as long as I make the swim cutoff that is! Wow, seeing that many people hitting the water at once was incredible. I finally got down to the water and starting working through the people. I realized that I had started too far back. I would just get into a good groove and someone in front of me would stop and I would have to swim around them. Wow! I'm actually passing people! Things started to get better after the second buoy. I leaped frogged drafting from one person to the next and I had a good line to the turn buoy. I was so close that I could touch it. Made the turn and headed to the next one. I had a perfect line to the next one too. People were still swimming all over the place. One girl passed almost perpendicular to me in the water. I tried to get her attention, but she finally looked up and realized she was swimming nowhere and turned around. Made the next turn, used the hotel to sight now, so I didn't have to wait to ride the waves up anymore. Found some more people to draft off of, rode some waves in and headed to the aid station on the beach. Took a quick look at my watch and felt good because I was ahead of schedule. Drank a little water and headed back in. What's up? No one is swimming around the first buoy? I asked the guy next to me if we didn't have to, and he said he guessed not, so I made a diagonal line to the second one. I found someone good to draft off of and everything was going great until some huge guy came at me from my right and elbowed me in my right eye to steal my drafting position. Boy, that made me mad, and if I didn't have to stop to try to adjust and get the water out of my goggles, I would have popped him one back. By the time I got settled, I realized there was nothing I could do about it and decided to forget about it and go on. The rest of the swim was pretty much like the first lap except that I kept coming up on some pretty big jellyfish. At first, they caught me off guard, but I eventually got used to them. Rode a big wave into the finish and ran out of the water. Saw my friend and he was yelling, so I yelled back and waived my fist in the air. I made it and everything was going great so far. Hit the peelers and they had my wetsuit off pretty quick. The T1 doesn't have a zipper and one of them almost stripped me naked trying to unzip my trisuit - that would have been interesting! Went through the showers - whew, they were cold! - and headed to T1.


Controlled chaos. People were running around everywhere. The volunteers were great. One helped me pack and unpack my bag and put all my gear in my trisuit pockets. The only bad thing was she must have thought my little baggy of Assos Chamois Cream (long ride coochie cream) was some sort of garbage and she didn't pack it in my pockets. Boy, I was missing that stuff later in the ride. Otherwise, T1 was fine and I was on my way to the bike.

The Bike...

I read in another article that you should keep your HR in the lower half of your zone for the first 30 miles to save your legs for the run, so that's what I did. I was going SO SLOW. People were constantly passing me. The good thing about being in the back of the pack is that you don't have to worry about race marshals. I didn't see nary a one all day. We could've formed a peleton back there and no one would have cared. Finally, I hit 30 miles and I kicked it in. Now, it was my turn to pass. I had a lot of fun on the bike. I was yelling words of encouragement to people and everyone was nice right back. I was eating a Gu on the half hours and half a Clif Bar and an Endurolyte on the hours and drinking plenty of water. I had tons of energy and was feeling great. Ouch! What the!? I just got stung by a bee on my right shoulder! What are the odds of that happening!? Oh well, a little pain - no biggie. Got my backup supply of Assos Cream and more Gus and bars at special needs. Waited until about mile 70 to stop long enough in a portalet to put on the cream. Whew, that really burned! I waited a little too long to do that - oh well. I was feeling pretty good and then the bottom fell out. At about mile 80, I suddenly started having massive stomach cramps. I was never able to figure out my perfect nutrition strategy during my training rides - nothing quite worked - and it looked like today was going to be no exception. I think I had eaten too much and that was causing the bloating and cramps, so I stopped the Clif Bars and stuck to Gus for the rest of the bike.
I got up out of my aerobars and pedaled sitting straight up for a while hoping that would help - there went my speed. It was so bad, that I was really beginning to wonder if I was going to be able to make it. All those doubts start creeping in and your mind starts messing with you. I couldn't take it anymore and around mile 100, I got off my bike long enough to take an Imodium AD and realized that when I stood up the pain got a little better. Alright then, that's all I needed to know - the sooner I get off this bike, the quicker the pain might go away. I got back into my aerobars and hammered it home. I hit the last road that parallels the beach and wow did the wind pick up. The gusts would about knock you off your bike. I didn't care though because I was as aero as anyone could be and I didn't move out of that position until I hit T2. I felt like a pro on that last stretch because I was flying by people trying to get to T2. I was desperate to get off the bike and hopefully make the pain stop!


Finally, I was off the bike! Since I hadn't eaten any real food for a couple of hours, I was worried about bonking, so I just sat in T2 long enough to eat half a peanut butter sandwich I had packed. It wasn't the tastiest thing, but it was better than another Gu. I still felt like I had a softball sitting in my stomach, but it was better than it was. I took longer than I wanted in T2, but I didn't care at that point. I had made the cutoff and I took a minute to chill and get my thoughts together before the run.

The Run:

I can't believe I now have to run a marathon! I had to get that thought out of my head really quick and just concentrate on getting to the next aid station. They have one every mile. Good grief, it's taking a long time to get to that aid station - I can't believe I haven't even gone a mile yet! Finally, I get there and drink a little water and take another Imodium. Ugh. Now, not only is my stomach hurting, but I'm beginning to get nauseous too. Man, this just keeps getting better and better. I finally got to mile 3 where they start having the chicken broth. Oh yeah, I can't even begin to tell you how good that was. My stomach was still hurting, but at least the chicken broth didn't make me want to hurl. I started drinking chicken broth and a little water at every aid station I came to that had it. It was dark by the time I hit the road to the park. I got my glow stick and headed on, and when I say it was dark, I mean DARK. There were no lights in the park other than the aid stations, the turnaround, and one family in a RV on the side of the road who was cheering us on. You couldn't even see the road in some places. Even though I was still in my own personal hell, I couldn't help but marvel at how cool it looked to see all the nameless and faceless glow sticks bobbing along quietly in the dark - each one with their own personal reasons for why they were here. Suddenly, I heard someone call my name. It was my training partner and a friend he had met along the way. They were both looking good and yelled at me to come on. They were about a couple of miles ahead of me. I barely managed to say something back, but I was glad he was having a good race. When you're at the back of the pack, you're constantly trying to figure out paces and what it will take to make sure you make the midnight cutoff. I hit the turnaround and through my delirious calculations was convinced I wasn't going to make it, so I sucked it up and started running. I started doing a Gu every now and then along with the chicken broth. Toward the end of the park, I finally started feeling a little better because the gas started working its way out and I started letting ‘em rip! I had already heard several people farting and burbing, seen a couple of guys peeing on the side of the road and one guy puking by a tree, so I couldn't have cared less who saw or heard me at that point - anything to make me feel better. I hardly walked any on that quarter of the run and made it from the turnaround back to end of the first lap in about an hour and a half. I was still worried about making the cutoff, but I was beginning to get my confidence back. I must say that it really sucks being on your first lap when most everyone else is on their last. You get near the finish and everyone is cheering you on and yelling at you that you're an Ironman and the other competitors are congratulating each other, and it just makes you want to cry because you've got a whole 13 miles left to go. I caught up to my training partner and he was looking really bad. He was barely even walking. I asked him what was wrong and he was cramping. He wasn't eating or drinking anything because everything was making him sick. I begged him to just walk faster but he couldn't. I stayed with him a little while, but I was already worried that I wasn't going to make it and I had to keep going back to talk to him. I gave him an Endurolyte and told him he had to make himself drink some chicken broth and a little water when he got to the next aid station. I was determined not to leave him, but as I was walking in my own thoughts, I got really far ahead of him. I was going to go back again, but I thought about my dad and I really wanted to do this for him, so I went on. I felt bad for leaving him, but I knew if he didn't make it, we'd both be back next year - we had made a pact. Plus, I really didn't know what the race had left in store for me, if I might break down later or something, so I decided that I couldn't waste anymore time. I kept going. The crowds were starting to thin out some now, but the people who were still out there were all yelling and were awesome. I made it to the next turnaround in the park, and as I was going back, the people in the RV were packing up and heading home. As I was close to leaving the park, lo and behold I saw my training partner walking really fast with another woman. They were looking bad, but at least they were walking really fast. I gave him the rest of my Endurolytes and told them they'd make it if they could run just two of the miles they had left to go. I was getting back in the neighborhoods now, and they were pretty quiet except for the aid stations. I can't begin to express how great the volunteers are in this race. I passed a few runners going in the opposite direction and I knew there was no way they were going to make the cutoff. I yelled words of encouragement to them and thought to myself how bad that would be to do all this and miss the cutoff by minutes. By this time, I knew I was going to make it and I kinda chilled, reflected on the last year, prayed that my training partner would make it, and just took it all in. I talked to some other runners, talked to my dad, and made one more pit stop. I finally hit the last mile and there were still plenty of people out yelling and screaming that you're an Ironman - and this time it was for me! I ran the last mile and up the hill at the end to the finish. Saw my friends again and they were cheering me home.

The Finish...

Ahhh, the finish. I can't explain how cool it is to finish an Ironman. Even at that late hour, there were still plenty of people in the stands yelling and screaming. I took off my glow stick and threw it into the crowd. I whooped and hollered all the way to the end with my arms raised. I got my medal and t-shirt and finisher's photo. I grabbed something to eat and sat in a chair in the finisher's area and waited. It got later and later and I was beginning to get really worried that my training partner wasn't going to make it. Then, I finally saw him come in. Yay! He looked really bad, but he had made it too. Hallelujah! Earlier in the race, I had already told myself that if me and my training partner made it, I would never put myself through this again. After I got my massage, I was already thinking of where I might like to go to do my next Ironman.

What I Learned...

It's hard going from the couch to the Ironman. I recommend a steady increase in race lengths. I lost a LOT of strength building my base up enough to just make the distance. I'm going to concentrate on keeping a good base but getting my strength and power back and doing shorter races next year. I'm also going to try to figure out a nutrition strategy that actually works. I might try another Ironman in a couple of years. We'll see.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2005-11-09 12:00 AM
01:42:50 | 4224 yards | 02m 26s / 100yards
Age Group: 82/92
Overall: 1943/2058
Performance: Good
Suit: DeSoto T1
Course: Two loop rectangular ocean course. Kinda sucked having to run down the beach and get back in the water, but at least it gave you the opportunity to get a drink of water halfway through. That was really nice after downing a mouthful of saltwater.
Start type: Run Plus: Shot
Water temp: 71F / 22C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Average Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 08:06
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
07:36:48 | 112 miles | 14.71 mile/hr
Age Group: 86/92
Overall: 1961/2058
Performance: Below average
Wind: Strong with gusts
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: ?
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 09:13
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Bad
Jumping off bike Below average
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Bad
06:31:05 | 26.2 miles | 14m 56s  min/mile
Age Group: 78/92
Overall: 1859/2058
Performance: Bad
Keeping cool Good Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
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: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5