Ironman Florida - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
Ironman North America
Total Time = 11h 47m 58s
Overall Rank = 818/2184
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 183/404
Pre-race routine:

Thanks to my family for enduring the “absent father syndrome” for the last several months. For coming to all my races, and not complaining when I said “gotta head out to train”.

Thanks to Kristin – 5x Ironwoman for getting me hooked on this sport, giving endless advice and even sending me her brother-in-law Jerry’s race report from IM CDA a week before my race which proved very useful and perfectly timed to give added motivation.

Event warmup:

On Wednesday 10/31 I had scheduled the day off work as I thought I would be leaving early that day to be able to get the Panama City Beach in time to check in. Well my wife works at our church and they were having a Fall Festival that evening which she could not miss. She compromised and guaranteed that she could be ready to leave town at 9:00 PM. We ended up heading out around 9:30 PM and made it to Gainesville (half-way) as a rest stop. I had also decided to work that day, which was good as there was some things I had to get done but just added a bit of stress to everything else. Hurricane Noel was just heading off the Bahamas that evening and it was really raining from South Florida about up to Orlando. Had gotten a new bike rack and wasn’t totally convinced that it would hold my bike. The wind had pushed it back on the rack, but fortunately was still pretty secure. Made it to Gainesville before 2AM. Got up the next morning when the room next door’s alarm clock went off at 6AM – the room was empty so there was nobody to turn it off. Ended up having breakfast twice, 3 waffles (thanks La Quinta!) and then headed out on the road. Now driving with 3 kids and my in-laws (one with a bad back and the other taking antibiotics for a urinary tract infection) made me pretty concerned about what kind of time we would make on the road with 7 bladders (only 1 in diapers) in a mini-van. Amazingly we made it to Panama City Beach in 4.5 hours without stopping! Maybe they noticed my facial twitch as every exit sign approached over the horizon. Found a McDonald’s with a playplace for the kids to get lunch, and then got dropped off to register. Meanwhile the family checked in early to the Long Beach Resort – about ½ mile from the race site. Thanks to the BT forum postings for the suggestion. Made reservations 3 weeks before the race and got an awesome 2BR/2BA oceanview 11th floor condo at a great price – yup, I tend to really procrastinate on accommodations and am usually very cheap – but this place was less than the price of 2 hotel rooms at any of the nearby hotels.

After registering (very quick process) and then waiting in line to buy a shirt (very slow processs) headed to the condo to unpack things. Took off for a quick ride and run mainly just to work out some stress. I hadn’t done much of any running or biking and absolutely no swimming all week.

Checked my watch and decided to head to the conference center for the athlete’s dinner. It started at 5:30, and when I got there at 5:35 noticed signs posted saying it was to start at 5:15. But there was no crowd, just a few people meandering around. Did my best to hide my watch and asked the lady at the hotel check-in counter for the time – it was 4:35. I had totally forgotten about the time change from EST! Oh well, I guess it had been a whole year since I registered for this race. But I was starving – decided to just relax in a lounge chair overlooking the beach. What a great spot for a race.

Once the dinner started met a girl named Lindsay that had driven down from PA. She had qualified for the 70.3 championships last year and I could tell she really wanted to qualify for Kona – she knew what kind of time she’d need and that some of her competition had moved up an age group. Unfortunately she didn’t, but I was really hoping she would as she was really nice. Met another guy that had already signed up for IMAZ’08 even though this was going to be his first IM – more guts than I have.

Headed to the condo after the mandatory meeting to organize all my gear. Really would have liked to have an extra day to do this. Kept feeling like I was missing something. Used all the checklists, and didn’t find anything missing.

I probably over-packed nutrition-wise. In training I had started using Accelerade on all of my long bike rides. Mixing 1.5 servings of the powder in a 20 ounce bottle and drinking every about 30 minutes. And then would alternate a gel pack with a protein bar about every 12-13 miles. This had been working very well until I got to rides longer than 60-70 miles. I would finish the rides and feel bloated and a little nauseous – with absolutely no appetite. Then within an hour I would be doubled over with cramps, then gas and wicked diarrhea. I knew this was NOT going to work. First tried to alternate the Accelerade with Gatorade thinking I may not be able to digest the whey protein very well and decreasing the amount may help. Noticed less symptoms, but still did not think that this would work for an IM distance race. My other thought was that I may be taking in too many carbs. I was counting around 400+ calories/hour which is higher than what’s recommended. With only one long bike ride before my taper I decided to switch from Accelerade to Amino Vital. Made sense since the amino acids would hopefully be easier to digest and the mix has few calories than Accelerade so I could get the fluids and still take the gel packs and protein bars (non-whey protein of course) to lower the overall carbohydrate intake. I finished my last long training ride with a huge appetite and a peace that I had finally been able to find MY nutrition plan.

One other realization I made midway through training is that I needed to be able to train mentally as well as physically. I decided to find a few scriptures to memorize that I would be able to distract my mind throughout an Ironman.

Psalms 20:
1 – May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. 2 – May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. 3 – May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. 4 – May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. 5 – We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God

  • 1h 17m 52s
  • 4156 yards
  • 01m 52s / 100 yards

Overall I thought the swim went great. Was hoping for under 1:40, would have been happy to be under 1:30 but never imagined I would be able to get under 1:20. After the first loop it was only 37 minutes into the race so I knew I could slow down a bit more and still make my goal easily, took a gel pack and ran back in. Could definitely feel the draft on the first loop, but on the second loop felt like there was a bit of current heading west down the beach – whirlpool effect maybe? Fortunately had started swimming a diagonal bee-line (as most others did) out towards the farthest buoy. Was nice to be able to look up and see the farthest buoy with such a calm swim. At one of the turns saw a local athlete not too far ahead, but was too shook up in the washing machine (Psalms 20:1) to be able to yell at him. Really didn't get beat up that much in the swim considering the mass start. Only one full on blow to the back of the head and the guy actually apologized. And then someone with a blue cap totally grabbed my butt - I think it was a girl so didn't really complain. Came out of the swim feeling very comfortable, no clue what I had set myself up for in T1… Got peeled in a half-second (thanks volunteers – they are really awesome), took a quick shower and headed to T1.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, except give some more time before the race in case I make mental mistakes preparing.
Transition 1
  • 08m 9s

I guess I wasn't clear on what the "MORNING DRY CLOTHES" bag was intended for as I put my bike jersey and gel shorts into this bag instead of into the "SWIM TO BIKE" bag. What was I hind sight everything made so much sense. I was figuring there would be a volunteer to hand me the “MORNING DRY CLOTHES” bag, I would change into the clean clothes, and then someone would hand me the “SWIM TO BIKE” bag to put on my socks, shoes and helmet. It made sense at the time.

To start off with that morning I got to the race site and checked on everything and realized that I had somehow forgotten the "MORNING DRY CLOTHES" bag back at the condo (Psalms 20:1). Fortunately my wife had come with me and agreed to run back (1/2 mile), get the bag and meet me at the "left" side of the swim corral on the beach. Well her left was the opposite of my left and we didn't find each other for over 30 minutes. Talk about being nervous....and meanwhile while I was searching frantically for my wife some strange lady was at the top of the beach yelling "BRENT"..."BRENT"...I yelled back at her "RIGHT HERE" and then she just yelled "BRENT" louder.... I ran closer and screamed "RIGHT HERE" and then she yelled back "WRONG BRENT". What are the chances of that happening. Finally met up with my wife – she was holding a yellow neon sign which I was able to pick out. I had originally chuckled when she bought the neon posterboard thinking “why is that necessary when they give you free boards to design”. NEVER chuckle at a supporter, they know what they’re doing. I was able to deliver the bag to the transition area and dump it on the top of the huge garbage can that was already overflowing with "MORNING DRY CLOTHES" bags only 5 minutes before transition closed. When I came out of the swim for T1 and was handed my "SWIM TO BIKE" bag I then realized the mistake I had made. AARRRGGHHH. THANK GOD I had forgotten the bag and had been able to set it on the top of the pile in the garbage can as it was only the 3rd bag that I checked and was able to get my clothes (Psalms 20:2). I had an extra shirt in the "BIKE TO RUN" bag that I could have worn in the worse case scenario instead of dumping out the can to look for my bag, but I definitely believe there was some kind of divine intervention to allow me to "forget" the bag back at the condo that morning so that it would be on the top of the pile.
  • 6h 03m 41s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.48 mile/hr

I was happy to be on the bike and hoping that there weren’t going to be any more surprises. My computer isn’t exactly accurate and it overestimates distances by about 2-3%, maybe I haven’t adjusted it totally right but never took the time to fix it. This is only a problem when you get to 100-plus mile rides and your computer is saying 102 miles, but you haven’t yet seen the 100 mile sign. I had reset the computer when dropping off the bike but for some reason it was still reading a few miles on the odometer. Reset it after about 2 miles, so for the next 100 miles the odometer was slightly behind the mile markers – this was huge mentally as it was nice to see the miles come before it felt like they were due. On the first downhill of the bike I shifted over to the big chainring, but then after shifting back noticed my cable had loosened up in the bar-end shifter. This had slowly happened about a month earlier, but I had fixed it and had no problems through several weeks of long and short rides. But this time it was really loose – why do things like this happen on race day? Was really afraid that I wouldn’t be able to shift down to the small ring – not a huge problem for this course as I knew there would only be a few more hills, but scary nonetheless. Decided to just get in the small ring and keep it there – knew that I would not be averaging higher than 19 mph at the very best and can maintain 20-23 mph in the small ring without too high of a cadence. Had to really slow myself down as I knew it was smarter to conserve energy than push myself at all, I had a good sense of what my body could tolerate and what would consume it (Psalm 20:3). The weather conditions really could not have been better.

Saw a 60-year old lady racing with her name Helga on her bib, said “You’re amazing Helga”. Saw her again around mile 80 or so but she was passing me this time so again I told her “Your amazing Helga!”

I hadn’t decided what to do about having to pee on the bike. Was tempted to just pee on myself, but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to. Without too many downhill spots there wasn’t a lot of times to stop pedaling – but took full advantage of every chance I could. My bike split wasn’t the fastest, but I would rather spend time mixing the Amino Vital in my bottles than waiting in line at a port-a-john. I was also using an Endurolyte cap every hour which I hadn’t always done for training rides. I don’t know why – riding in South Florida can be brutal through the summer so these are pretty much necessary, but I plan on using them in the future. Definitely think they helped for this race.

Saw my wife around the 50 mile marker. She was all by herself on a side road of HWY 231 – was a great spot to get some support. While she was waiting for me she had a few requests from athletes to throw some trash away – then she started asking people if they had trash, said she felt like a volunteer when it all started raining on her. She had made it back to pick up the family and then would get to see them all around miles 90 before heading south on HWY 79. Another great spot for some support, right before the “Degree” hill, the "toughest" part of the course for what it's worth. All I was thinking is “cool, something else to see other than pine trees” and then “finally another downhill on the other side of the bridge to be able to pee”. Man those endurolyte caps and 4x sodium gel packs really were keeping me tanked up on Na+ – probably why I had to pee 6-7 times on the bike.

Drafting was inevitable. Really had to back off a few times to avoid hanging right on some people’s wheels. Got a little close to two lady riders when I was getting passed while passing - surprising how crowded it can get on a 112-mile course. From what I could tell there were only a few blatant drafters, maybe all the really bad cheaters were way ahead of me and I missed their peloton. In the last 10 miles there was one guy that was totally drafting every chance he could get. On the last turn back there was a beautiful tail wind. This guy couldn’t keep up with the wheel he was following ahead of me and when I was coming up on him I knew that he would be right on my tail. Sped up to 25 mph and sure enough there he was. Then I had an awesome idea. If I could only take a leak (I did really need to) I would give him a nice spray and then maybe he’d learn his lesson. Darn it, if only I could pee and pedal to maintain 25 mph at the same time. Had to stand up and by that time he managed to pull a bit ahead of me. Oh well, needed to go anyway. Passed him again and took off towards T2.
Transition 2
  • 06m 17s

T2 went smooth. Found my bag and headed to change. This was another decision point for what to wear. I had originally planned on just wearing tri shorts for the run, but had gotten some nasty chaffing on a 20-mile run earlier with these. Decided it was best to just change into fresh running shorts with nylon boxers under – has always worked the best. And also had been able to get the Body Glide back to my “BIKE TO RUN” bag before the race which definitely helped. Had a fresh pair of unpeed on socks (another great decision) and set out for the run.
  • 4h 12m
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 37s  min/mile

I ran out of T2 thinking I might be able to do a Boston qualifier marathon. And then I remembered a little bit of Jerry's race report and figured I definitely need to SLOW myself down. Settled into a 9:35-9:45 pace and felt awesome for the first half - great spectators for most of the course. On the first lap caught up to the 60-year old lady Helga I had seen on the bike and again said “You’re amazing Helga” to which she replied “sure wish this was the last lap”. Saw her once again as I was heading in for the last several miles for one last “You’re AMAZING Helga” – Helga is TRULY amazing – Kona Qualifier!!!!! Woohooo, Go HELGA!

Saw my wife on the start of the second lap and told her I though I might be able to finish in under 12 hours. Mixed some Endurox powder with some iced down Gatorade which tasted great – wasn’t sure if this was the best idea as I was still hesitant with the thought of possibly not being able to digest whey protein. At about miles 15-16 I could tell I was hitting the wall, and I think the Endurox was taking a little bit for me to digest. After mile 15 I calculated that I had 121 minutes to do 11 miles which would be 11 min/mile to be able to finish in under 12 hours (love the easy calculations when they happen like that). Forced myself to slow down for miles 17-20, figured if I could keep it under 11 min/mile I would see how I felt later on. Starting with mile 21 everything clicked – the nausea was lifting, I was belching, etc. (didn't care who heard what at that point) and felt awesome that I could work myself through the lowest part of the whole race (Psalms 20:4). Started picking up the pace - although I had used a port-a-john twice already in the run, couldn't find one readily available and didn't want to break my pace so was able to take a leak on the run at mile 22. A bit later caught up to a guy named Dave from Indianapolis and offered to pace with him to the finish - mile 23 was 9:18, mile 24 was 9:20, mile 25 was 8:57 and the last 1.2 miles was under 10:00 so I know we were doing well. Felt great at the finish line, like I could have run another 10 miles. My wife and middle child Elli crossed the line with me and then my in-laws along with Madi and Jack all celebrated after the finish (Psalms 20:5).

What would you do differently?:

Nothing, the run was what worked best for me.
Post race
Warm down:

Choked down a piece of pizza and a soda, picked up my bike and rode it back to the condo. All I could stomach eating the rest of the night was a Root Beer float. Really wanted to head back to the finish line, but just couldn't handle leaving the condo. Decided to take the coldest bath I could and then see how I felt. I started getting shaking chills and couldn’t stand the water. Got out and then was alternating between chills and sweats. Really disappointed I missed being able to watch other athletes finishing. My wife and I slept on the double-wide futon chaise lounge on the balcony listening to the waves, and then woke up to see the sun rising over the Gulf.

I am definitely sore, but NO injuries or pain that won't be gone in a few days. Blisters underneath broken blisters on both pinkie toes, but no chaffing at all thanks to BodyGlide.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I think I surprised myself with this race. Was figuring on a 13-14 hour finish time and had no idea I would get anywhere near 12 hours. Did I say how awesome the weather was?

Profile Album

Last updated: 2007-11-05 12:00 AM
01:17:52 | 4156 yards | 01m 52s / 100yards
Age Group: 266/404
Overall: 1402/2184
lap 1 - approximately 37 minutes
Suit: yes
Course: awesome conditions, beautiful clean water, calm.
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 08:09
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:03:41 | 112 miles | 18.48 mile/hr
Age Group: 257/404
Overall: 1249/2184
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 06:17
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:12:00 | 26.2 miles | 09m 37s  min/mile
Age Group: 106/404
Overall: 509/2184
(mile) pace - (1) 10:11, (2) 9:08, (3) 9:30, (4) 10:32, (5) 9:31, (6) 9:39, (7) 9:35, (8) 9:38, (9) 9:42, (10) 9:43, (11) 9:59, (12) 9:34, (13) 9:03, (14) 9:38, (15) 9:15, (16) 9:34, (17) 10:16, (18) 10:15, (19) 10:25, (20) 10:14, (21) 9:29, (22) 9:52, (23) 9:18, (24) 9:20, (25) 8:57, (26+0.2) 9:51
Course: Flat, two-loop course - some concrete sidewalk, and a fair amount of spectators including some Girls Gone Wild about about mile 2! Kept telling them "this is the best spot on the whole course" and then realized I hadn't yet experienced the finish line.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]