My first Triathlon
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Ironman Florida - TriathlonFull Ironman
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Panama City Beach, Florida
Ironman North America
61F / 16C
= 15h 54m 41s
Age Group Rank
I woke up at 0215 race morning. That’s really early, but I was staying at my own house and I live about an hour from PCB. Plus Sue Ott
) got an extra parking pass for me at her condo at the Boardwalk. And they were going to close that road at 0430. So I wanted to leave my house no later than 0315. Anyway, my alarm went off and I was actually pretty solidly asleep. I don’t normally sleep well the night before races because I’m terrified of oversleeping. But I had set several alarms, so maybe I that made me feel better? I went to bed around 2030 and of course my mom called at 2045 and I had actually fallen asleep already. So it startled me. She just wanted to wish me good luck. I was able to get back to sleep quickly and slept solidly until 0215. I thought about hitting snooze once but I really didn’t want to oversleep. So I just got up and hit the shower. My bags were all ready to go, just had to top off my bottles and put everything in the car. I ate a banana and made two PB&J sandwiches for the car. I pulled out right at 0315. I jammed to my tunes the whole way there while munching on PB&J. There was NO traffic and all the lights were either blinking or green. I made it into the condo parking at 0407. I found a great spot about a quarter mile from the finish line. Sweet.
I texted Sue to see when she was coming down to go to transition. We met up right around 0430 and walked over together. I got body marked, did some last minute fixing to transition bags, dropped off special needs, pumped up bike tires, and affixed my Garmin to the bike handlebars. I was surprised to see that the bike right next to mine in transition was the exact same bike, another Scott Plasma Contessa! She even had green bar tape on her handlebars. I wish I had memorized her number to see how she did in the race. I can’t remember which direction the numbers were going.
Anyway, Sue and I were done with our stuff quickly and headed back up to her condo to hang out. She braided my hair and eventually the KathyG clan showed up. We had a lovely morning. Just past 6am or so we started getting into our wetsuits. At 0630 we walked downstairs. I sucked down a gel and a cup of coffee. I had my wetsuit all the way up and that was warm enough. I had a pair of those pedicure flip flops on so that I could ditch them once we were on the beach. So I ditched them in a trash can and then a few steps later realized that the sand was FREEZING COLD! Oh my goodness I did NOT expect that! It was horrible! We were walking towards the start corral trying to find Sue’s parents and I realized I had to get off my feet because it was actually painful. So I darted into the corral to find a place to sit. I felt really bad that I didn’t get to give anyone a good luck hug. I found myself a spot and sat down. SO much better with the wetsuit insulating me from the sand. I decided I wanted to move so I got up and walked on my knees. AS I was doing that some other racer pointed out to me that there was a lonely pair of ditched flip flops a few feet away. I snagged them and stood around to watch the pro start. There wasn’t much time remaining so I re-ditched the flip flops and walked into the water. Which was WAY warmer than the sand! I walked in far enough to pee then meandered around trying to decide where to seed myself. I finally picked about 6 or 7 rows back and somewhat right of the buoys
(to combat the reported right to left current
None. It's an Ironman.
1h 09m 5s
01m 25s / 100 yards
And BAM! The gun goes off and I enter the water with 2500 of my closest friends. The first 30-45 seconds was AWESOME. I thought I had seeded myself perfectly. I was all by myself. And then a ton of people came up from behind me! And I got clobbered! It was really crowded. And people were not being very smart. The buoys are in a straight line and you could SEE the line of buoys. Instead of being happy 20-30 feet to the right of the line people thought they had to swim STRAIGHT to the buoy. So as we approached every buoy I would suddenly have people swimming from my right to left at huge angles to get to the buoy. If you were within 10 feet of any buoy it was a huge washing machine. I don’t understand why people wearing wetsuits feel the need to kick massively around the buoys too. I definitely feared for my head around every buoy! And I had one guy deliberately side kick me on a straightaway to push me aside. Not nice! I had to grab a few feet of people who were getting out of control with kicking things.
But the water conditions were not too bad. The swells were maybe two feet out in the gulf? Not bad at all, though I felt like it was taking me forever to swim. I had tinted goggles which made it impossible to check my watch at all until I was out of the water and could stare at it. So as I ran up the beach towards the mat I looked at my watch and saw 33:XX. But after I had read so many RR’s about watches getting stopped I wanted to try to find the official clock. I never saw it. I did hear the announcer talking about the huge pack of people exiting the water right then. I looked at my watch one more time as I got back into the water and saw 33:4X, so right about 34’ when I dived back in. I was really surprised. It seemed like longer.
The second loop was a lot better than the first. I had a lot more free space. I noticed I was starting to get some wetsuit rash on the back of my neck from looking up to avoid people. But that seemed to be the only place so I tried to avoid looking up as much. It was easier with fewer people around. Still a lot since I was really in the pack, but I was able to do a little bit of good swimming. I spent awhile putzing around on this lap trying to pee. I just couldn’t seem to pee. SO weird! I probably would have been a little faster if I had not spent so much time trying to pee. I stood up after the second loop and ripped my goggles and swim cap off and looked at my watch. I saw 1:08:XX and was quite happy. I didn’t hit the watch until I crossed the timing mat.
The location of the timing mat makes it look like the first loop was a lot shorter than the second. The timing mat was not that far out of the water and then you had to run pretty far to get back in. I think I really had a fairly even split.
What would you do differently?:
I don’t think I would do anything differently. This was a great swim for me.
The first thing we got to was the wetsuit strippers. I couldn’t find a free one and didn’t want to waste time so I just kept running figuring I would strip my suit in transition. Then I got to the showers and ran into a traffic jam. People were standing under them WAY too long. I ran through as fast as I could and into the bag area. I had to find my own bag
(it was chaos
) and it took me longer than I thought because there were too many bags still there! A good problem I guess!
I ran into the changing area all the way to the front. A volunteer snagged me and I sat right down on the floor for her to help me strip my suit. Then it just took awhile to do everything. I tried to dry off with a towel so I wouldn’t be too cold. Then I had to roll both legwarmers and armwarmers on. I had them pre-rolled so it actually went very smoothly. And I had to put on a shirt. Then I forgot my deodorant and had to put it on after the shirt. Lubed up the butt and the sports bra a bit and got my shoes on. Stuffed stuff in my pockets while the volunteer put my race belt on. I used some aquaphor on my neck where the wetsuit got me. Then I had a little trouble with my helmet because my hair was braided instead of in a ponytail, but I managed to finally get it on over my halo band. The last thing I needed to decide on was my vest. I didn’t think it was that cold running in so I almost didn’t wear it but at the last minute I figured I might as well, I could always take it off at special needs. I struggled to get my gloves on and left. As soon as I got out of the changing area the cold hit me. My absolute first thought was, “Wow, I am glad I wore the vest.” I heard a guy with a megaphone yell my number as I ran across transition
(you end up running the length of transition three times during the bike part. First from the swim to the changing area, then the changing area back to the other side, then along the bikes back to the side the changing area is on for the exit.
). I think I lucked out. They must have had volunteers assigned to specific rows and since there were not that many girls yet they were able to get my bike. As I ran down the other way my bike was waiting at the end for me. I spied his butt first. I grabbed the bike and turned on the Garmin as I ran. Right as I got to the exit it acquired satellites. Over the mat and across the mount line. Time to bike!
What would you do differently?:
I would take a little more time to make sure my clothes were straight and exactly how I wanted them. Another 30"-1' in transition wouldn't have been in the end of the world and probably would have saved me from having to stop a few minutes into the bike to fix stuff.
7h 03m 53s
I don’t do flying mounts so I stopped and swung a leg over. Could NOT get the left cleat in so I just got on the bike and started pedaling gently. Right went right in which is funny because my right cleat is the one I have been having issues with since my last bike fit. The shims on that foot kept getting in the way. Left cleat has been flawless! It took me most of Thomas to get that stupid cleat in. I think my toe covers were in the way even though I tested them before putting the shoes in the bag. Oh well. Got it locked in and didn’t have trouble with it the rest of the day. Of course, I only unclipped it once more. That comes later.
Once I’m all clipped in I start adjusting my clothing and such. This is the one thing I wished I had done in transition. My clothes were quite askew. I should have taken the extra 30” to straighten it out. I looked at the Garmin and I have no HR. I tried to adjust the HR monitor strap on the fly and end up accidentally unclipping my race belt instead. So, rather than make things any worse I just pull over and stop for a second to try to straighten myself out. It somewhat works and I get my race belt back on and get HR data flowing. Yay. My clothes are still a little jacked up, but whatever.
Now it’s time for the pass Jen party!!!! Ha! Dudes are just FLYING past me. And to my surprise most of them were wearing just their shorts and sleeveless shirts. No leg warmers, no arm warmers, no gloves. Are they NUTS? After the first few hundred people I started seeing people with more clothes on. And then I saw more people. And more. And they just kept passing me! ALL DAY LONG!
I felt like I was dressed perfectly. It was chilly but I wasn’t cold. Front Beach road was fairly inconsequential. I tried to keep an easy pace. I couldn’t seem to stay in Z1 so I went with easy RPE which was getting me Z2. Okay. I started my nutrition at 15’. 3/2 shot bloks on the 15/45 respectively, and infinit on the 30/60. I made the right turn onto 79 and noted that there was definitely wind out of the north, but not much. I struggled a bit trying not to go too hard. I was supposed to be Z2 here. I mostly followed that but I knew that it was somewhat uphill into a slight wind so I took what I got. I saw a lot of Z2 so I was okay with it. I saw a couple of packs go by, but just small ones. I was also mystified that people were riding in the car lane. I couldn’t figure it out. There was a perfectly serviceable 3+ foot wide shoulder and this road was NOT closed to traffic! But 90% of the riders I saw in front of me were riding in the car lane. I didn’t get it. I tried to stay in the shoulder most of the day. Sue passed me around mile 9. She said hi. It was nice to see a friendly face. She was MOVING!
The bridge came at mile 12 and I spun up it in my easy gear. I went down the back side in the horns. I’m not crazy. No need to have any crazy bike accidents!
I made the turn east onto Hwy 20. And I was still feeling okay. Kept up the nutrition and kept in Z2. I had to suck up some slower speeds on some of the more “inclined” parts. I think I did my first bottle exchange on this road. I was kind of upset to realize they were not using bike bottles like races have in the past. The bottles were flimsy plastic and you had to be very careful not to crush them in your bottle cages. AND wearing gloves made it even harder to grab the bottles. And with gloves on I couldn’t flip it around in my hand like I usually do. So I had to pick it up, use the aerobars to steady it, and move my hand down so I could lift up the bottle to drink from it. This is constructive criticism #2 for WTC. WHY no bike bottles? They can be sanitized and reused right? Surely they could get some sponsor to donate them? I realize that a lot of folks fill aerobottles or whatnot, but a lot of people don’t. I would really like to see them go back to real bottles. Or maybe I should just go to an aerobottle. We’ll see.
I made the right turn onto 77 South. I knew I would have a tailwind here and I knew it would be a false flat downhill. So I had fun with it and tried to gain some time back. Still staying in Z2 mostly. After 37 miles I was allowed into upper Z2/lower Z3, so if I saw Z3 I didn’t worry about it. But I was really mostly Z2.
Turned left on 388 and the fun ended. Wind. Pooey. Very blustery and swirly, but mostly headwind. At least I was having a hard time telling exactly where the wind was coming from. Eventually it felt like a tailwind. This kind of confused me so I had to look at the map to figure it out. This road generally tends EAST, but at the beginning it’s NORTHeast hence why the North wind felt like a headwind. At the END right before the turnaround it trends SOUTHeast, hence why the North wind felt like a tail. The last few miles were the only bad pavement on the course. Compression cracks every 5 feet or so. VERY annoying! When I pre-rode the course I discovered that if you hug the white line the cracks aren’t nearly as bad. So, that’s what I did. I rode as close to the white line as possible. And it made it tolerable.
On the outbound part of this out and back I really started to have to pee. I had been bypassing aid stations because I didn’t want to wait in line and all of them had lines. Finally it was getting to the point where I wasn’t going to be able to wait too much longer. So I decided that if the line was short at the next porta potty I would stop. There were only one or two people so I decided to stop. And there wasn’t anywhere to put my bike because people who were DONE with the porta potty were leaving their bikes leaning against it. I was getting annoyed. I finally dumped my bike in the grass several feet back from the road. And a porta potty opened up right about the same time. So I dashed in and peed
These porta potties were pretty much as special needs. So when I got out of the potty I got on my bike but didn’t clip in. I just pedaled easy until I got to the box with my number on them. There were no volunteers so I had to get completely off my bike and go hunting in the grass for my bag. I found it and stood next to my bike sorting things. I switched out my nutrition bottles. Took the ear warmers
(that I never wore
) out of my pocket, and took the vest off and stuffed it in. I decided to keep the arm and leg warmers because I wasn’t hot at all. Retied the bag and pitched it in the box. Back on the bike and got moving. This was the only other time I had to clip back into the bike and it was definitely easier than it had been coming out of transition.
Back on the bike and I feel MUCH better now that I’ve peed. But now I’m into a headwind again. Pooey. We finally get back off the crappy pavement and onto Blue Mountain Road northbound. We have a headwind
(partially blocked by trees thankfully
) and the pavement is AWESOME. It is very smooth and feels even smoother because of the poor quality of the previous 10 miles of pavement! This segment is very short and next thing you know you are back at Hwy 20.
And here’s where life kind of starts to suck. I made the left onto 20 and immediately notice that the wind has definitely picked up. Steady wind out of the Northwest and it’s not fun. And there’s about 20 miles of this I think? This was definitely my low point on the bike. Miles 60-82ish. You’re getting tired and the wind was about the worst I’ve ridden in this year. I mean, on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is calm and 10 is Texas Windy, it was probably a 6 or 7. So we’re not talking HORRIBLE wind here.
But more than annoying. And fatiguing. And constant. And it was killing me how much further I had to go in it. I could think of NOTHING except making the turn onto 79! It consumed my brain! There were less people passing me here and even the aid stations seemed desolate. Yup, definitely the low point. I nearly cried when I finally saw the “reduced speed ahead” sign that indicated the Hwy 79 intersection was approaching. I was SO excited. On this leg I took my gloves off. It was an experiment at first, but I was pleased with it so they stayed off. My arms and legs were not cold, but they were also not hot. So I didn’t do anything with the arm and leg warmers.
I made the left turn onto 79 and pretty much decided just to enjoy the tailwind. I stayed in Z2 mostly. Because not only is this a tailwind, but 79 is a false flat heading downhill. So. Incredibly. Awesome.
There’s one short out and back section off this road as well. You have to head west but I knew that would be the absolute LAST of the headwind. However, I had no idea how far we had to go down this road. I wish the course map had mile markers! I just kept telling myself that as soon as I got this part done I could ride the tail all the way back. I was quite happy to finally see the turn around
(2.5ish miles I think????
) and head back east.
I got back to Hwy 79 and this is where the TV crew found me. They must have videotaped me for 10 minutes! Thankfully mostly headed downhill with a tailwind. I :heart: the TV crew! They did video me climbing the bridge though. And going down the back side. And passing the 100 mile placard. They were with me forever! I didn’t think they would video for that long and I was avoiding messing with my Garmin to check the time. Which meant I didn’t know if I was supposed to be eating. So by the time they were done taping I looked down and I had missed my last eating interval by 8 minutes. I had my bloks and then 7 minutes later drank my infinit. Then picked up with the regular 15’ intervals after that but despite my reduced effort
) my stomach started to hurt a bit and feel bloated. I had been a bit gassy the whole race, but nothing to really concern me. I was now under 30’ left on the bike so I didn’t think much of it.
Back on Front Beach so it’s a quartering tail, but still pushing me. Still Z2 and still just enjoying it. I didn’t find Front Beach blustery or swirly. Everyone always complains about this but I just didn’t see it. The condos were not causing wind tunnels or anything. Maybe I’m crazy. But my bike wasn’t hard to control at all. I started counting down the miles. With 2 or 3 to go I kept getting impatient and tried to figure out which condo was the one I was looking for. I finally picked out Shores of Panama. And then could see the Boardwalk. I was excited to finally get off the bike, but not ready to pitch it into a bonfire, so I’ll call that success, right? Rolled in at 7:03. No flying dismounts for me. I stopped and unclipped my right and AGAIN the left gave me trouble. I tried a very firm heel kick and it took the whole bike with it. Second kick got it though.
What would you do differently?:
I’m not sure if I would do anything differently. I hoped to be faster with the race wheels. This is exactly the same amount of time it took me to pre-ride the course. I didn’t count any stops on the pre-ride, but I didn’t have the race wheels for the pre-ride. And I only made that one stop at the porta potty/special needs. That couldn’t have been more than 5’. I’d have to check the Garmin to know for sure. It was definitely a windy day. See the IMFL weather.jpg picture. The gusts at noon were over 20 according to intellicast.com. And that’s when I was on Hwy 20. Not much you can do about that. I’m guessing that the worse winds and the 2.4 mile swim first cancelled out my race wheel gain.
As I wheeled into transition there was a volunteer right there trying to take my bike. I went with him for a minute trying to undo my Garmin. He saw what I was up to and stopped long enough for me to remove it. I’m quite proud I remembered.
Got my bag and into the tent. Went to the back and sat down. It took me awhile here. I first took off my shoes and then stripped off all the clothes I didn’t want. So that was the arm and leg warmers. Helmet and halo. Next I attacked my feet. I used the towel to get rid of any remaining sand
(though there was some left
) and then slathered aquaphor all over my feet and put on the socks. Then I aquaphored the crap out of my sports bra and HRM. The HRM had actually been rubbing a bit on the bike. Probably the salt water. And my lips were stupidly chapped from the wind and cold on the bike so I actually took a second to put chapstick on rather than try to do it on the run. I finally changed the stuff in my pockets and left the gloves
) and put my running shoes on. Put on my hat and tried to think if I was forgetting anything. Didn’t think so, so I left.
I ran towards the run exit and had to pass the porta potties. I kind of had to pee and I thought I might have to poop
(re: gas on the bike!
) so I thought it would be worth my time to stop. Succeeded in peeing, but not pooping but knew that it was probably going to loosen up in the first few miles. Still not concerned.
What would you do differently?:
Nothing. I took my time and made sure I was ready to run 26.2
7h 23m 6s
16m 55s min/mile
I started running out of transition and I actually felt pretty good. My first few miles were 11:XX. Miles 2 and 3 were 12:XX. And I was thrilled to bits. I tried to start getting nutrition in early at aid stations and I might have overdone it. My stomach started to feel a bit bloaty. Then shortly after the mile 4 marker and probably about a quarter mile past the last set of porta potties my bowels staged a mutiny. They told me that they would not let me run another step until I visited a porta potty. I had no choice but to go along with them. I think I walked about three quarters of a mile before I finally got to some porta potties. And I was in there WAY too long. And I knew I was in trouble. DEFINITELY the runs. DEFINITELY.
I went back to running again. The plan was to run except at aid stations where I would walk to get nutrition in. But I was definitely moving slower than before my first stop. I think because I spent so long in that porta potty my legs stiffened up a bit. If I was able to run long enough they would start to loosen up and I could hold a 13:XX pace. But within a few miles I had to stop at a porta potty again.
I'll save you the gory details. I'll try to hit the highlights. Over the next few hours I kept up that pattern of running a bit, walking aid stations, and walking when I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. Rinse repeat. Sometime in the park on the second loop I realized that my running pace was only a few minutes per mile faster than my walking pace
(i.e. 20 minutes per mile walking, 17ish per mile running
). And every running attempt was getting harder and harder. Finally I realized that I was hurting too much to run at all. I think I walked the last five miles in their entirety. My ankles and knees were hurting a lot. I think what happened is that every time I stopped to use the bathroom my legs locked up a little more which made me go slower. As I went slower I was out there longer which made me colder and then I would stop in a bathroom and my legs would lock up more which made me slower and it just kept spiraling downward.
With a few miles to go I ran into Betsy on the course. I walked with her and another woman for awhile. With a little over a mile to go Wendi and Jeff found us and were saviors. They walked the last mile with us. It was great to talk to them to keep my mind off the pain. Jeff even waited for me when I had to stop at one last porta potty.
Right at the end of the chute Wendi and Jeff stepped out and I mustered up about 100-200 feet of a run to cross the finish line. I did hear my name called but he didn't say "You are an Ironman" which disappointed me. And the cowbells were so loud that I could not tell what song was playing.
What would you do differently?:
Um, not get the shits? I did the best I could once that happened and wouldn't change anything I did. What I would do differently is try NOT to get the shits in the future. :
After I crossed the line Wendi and Jeff found me again. Then a friend of mine from work
(who did IMFL in 2008
) and his wife found me. I stood around talking to them for awhile and they all made me go get some pizza. Then we talked some more until finally we decided that I should get moving in the direction of Sue's condo. Wendi and Jeff left me there and I hung out at Sue's until the race was over and I could get my car out. I drove home trying not to fall asleep.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Digestive system. :
Ironman Florida is in the books. Definitely not my day. I had a great swim, a pretty darn good
) bike, and then just completely fell apart on the run. I need to figure out why I get the shits during Ironman. It really ruins the day for me. And the cold temperatures didn't help. It was definitely an unseasonable day for Florida. i doubt we'll see temps this cold during the race again for awhile!
As for the actual race, great swim course, great bike course, the run course could use some work. It was quite dark and desolate. And the aid stations are not very evenly spaced. Sometimes they would be very very close and other times it seemed like forever before you got to one. And they were running out of things late in the race. And unlike IMAZ the support at them really dwindled as the evening wore on. I swear that a few aid stations were manned by a handful of people as I finished the second loop. Really weird.
Not sure what else to say. Glad I finished, but definitely not my day.
Last updated: 2010-02-28 12:00 AM
01:09:05 | 4224 yards | 01m 25s / 100yards
Two loops out into the Gulf and back.
72F / 22C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:03:53 | 112 miles | 15.85 mile/hr
BIKE SPLIT 1: 55mi 55 mi. (3:26:03) 16.02 mph BIKE SPLIT 2: 95mi 40 mi. (2:37:42) 15.22 mph FINAL BIKE SPLIT: 112mi 17 mi. (1:00:08) 16.96 mph
Strong with gusts
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
07:23:06 | 26.2 miles | 16m 55s min/mile
RUN SPLIT 1: 6mi 6 mi. (1:18:19) 13:03/mile RUN SPLIT 2: 13.05mi 7.05 mi. (1:51:36) 15:49/mile RUN SPLIT 3: 19.05mi 6 mi. (1:43:44) 17:17/mile RUN SPLIT 4: 26.2mi 7.15 mi. (2:29:27) 20:54/mile
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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