Saturday, November 12, 2011
2011 Ironman Florida Race Report
This is the first race report I have ever written but it is about the most important race I have ever completed. Here goes....
Friday night off to sleep around 8pm woke at 0200 Saturday morning to down a pre made fruit smoothie with Vega whole food optimizer strawberries, peaches, grapes, 2 bananas, and coconut water. I drank about 20 oz of this smoothie and back to sleep around 0215. Up again at 0400 to shower and shave (my face). By 0425 off to drop special needs bags off and pump tires up and put computer and sunglasses on bike. Had a small chat with my bike asking for an event free day. Filled aero bottle with perform and back to the condo to relax and mentally prep for the race. I had already taped 12 gels to my top tube and that was going to be my nutrition, gels and perform and water.
Back to the condo and drink some perform and try to stay relaxed and calm. Then my wife and I Body glided every square inch I could before getting dressed with bib and Team EN kit, hr monitor and then the wetsuit went on around 0615. Old man slippers (to protect my feet from the cold sand) went on and left for the beach at 0635. Met a few Team EN athletes for a picture. Notice my face has been painted with 50SPF and is making it weird to smile plus I am usually awkwardly smiling in photos from too much happiness.
Then over the timing pad and into the corral. Nervous energy was electric, what an incredible moment to be in. The national anthem was being sung and the tension was building as this was my first mass start swim. Pro's went off at 0650 and I watched them and they were being pushed east due to currents so I seeded myself as west as possible without adding too much distance. The cannon went off and all that nervous energy turned into focus for about 30 seconds. Then it was bodies everywhere. Kicked in the stomach and elbowed in the chin but really it was quite friendly out there. I seeded myself too far back and all the way to the first turn buoy it was stop and go. Made the turn wide and then got into a bit of clear. Next turn was smooth and the swim in was great as current seemed to push me straight into swim exit loop 1 complete 46min as I remember it. I swam until it was about 18in deep stood up a bit dizzy from all the rocking back and fourth. Got my feet underneath me ran in across the timing mat. To the water (skipped the water table, too crowded) and I was plenty hydrated. Ran back to the water and started swimming again inside the buoy line, which is legal. The swim to the first turn buoy seemed effortless and uneventful I was really feeling smooth. Counting strokes by the hundred. Made the next turn quickly and I am almost done. Hooked on to a couple pair of feet to draft all the way into the shore. I was also able to urinate while swimming which proved to be quite easy once I got relaxed enough (thanks Melanie) and I felt so relieved. Out of the water in 1:14, that is a 28 min second loop, did not realize it was that fast at the time but damn I am proud of it. 1095th out of the water.
The hectic and disoriented T1. T1 began with wetsuit stripper I already had the top off and I ran to the last stripper and off it went nice and smooth. Grabbed T1 bag (I had reflective tape all over it to find it quick and easy and that worked great thanks for the tip @frayed_laces). I ran into the building and stopped right at the left corner of then entrance, not supposed to but all I needed was my helmet, socks, gloves and I was on the bike. Well it was not that simple. I should have dumped my bag out on the ground, but I sorted through it all in the bag mistake oh well. I gathered my stuff up put my wetsuit in the bag. Then realized my gloves were still in the bag and I had to rifle through the bag again (glad I did this my hands would have frozen for the first 50 miles). Found them both and tried to work my way through the building after a bit of waiting and a little pushing I handed my bag to volunteer and out I went. Got sunscreen put on shoulders and back of legs then trotted to my bike called my number out to rack volunteers and then walked right past her in all the excitement walked back grabbed the bike went to the mount line. Total T1 time was 10:29.
The good and bad windy bike. The mount area was chaos, people were struggling to mount everywhere, and the chute was quite crowded. I found a small area and hopped on, and in a low gear I snaked my way through the struggling athletes. As I mounted I heard coach Patrick say patience discipline as I ran by but never actually saw him. Eased out and put my sunglasses on and it was smooth sailing to the turn onto 79 then wind right in my face but still passing people I found Marc Robards (Team EN athlete) and we got to talking about FTP and we were about the same, but with him being lighter I knew we could ride near each other for a bit. We then got to the bridge and sure enough there were people standing up and pounding huge watts. Whole time I'm thinking see you guys soon and I stayed in my aero bars and granny gear just enjoying the spin up. By the bottom of the bridge I had past the 3 guys who pounded up and then a couple more still pushing steady power. Got to the first aid station I took on perform and refilled my aero bottle and put the rest of the bottle in my cage. Easy riding got me to the next aid station just before the turn onto 20. Same idea got threw away trash and reloaded on perform. Then we turned onto 20 where I saw the penalty box was full of riders. Lots of drafting in that first bit on 79. Once on to 20 the drafting had eased up a bit. I always kept my distance but it was frustrating. There were many people riding beyond their ability. No big issues just riding along at this point. Now on 77 wind at our backs and tempo picked up it was nice and I was hanging right where I wanted to be power wise. Turned then onto 388 stiff head wind, but tolerable. I slowed to urinate and then picked tempo back up power numbers right where I wanted. Got into the bumpy part of the road, but I rode the white line and it was not too bumpy over there it was only tough when I had to pass other riders. At the turn around it was fun time. Flew through special needs area, I felt great and did not need anything so I rode right through. The bumpy road was about to end as I turned onto blue springs road and kept moving forward turned left back onto 20 and we were flying through the rolling hills out there lots of fun and only issue I had was I pushed the chain off the big ring on one of the down hills twice. I could not be in 53-11 gear but that was fine by me I just stayed in 53-13 and pushed through. My heart rate started to climb at this point when we crossed 388 again. The whole time I had been eating gels every half hour and drinking perform. Once I turned back onto 79 I started falling apart a bit. Stomach was not processing perform or gels well. So I switched to water and bananas. Still kinda spiraling I thought this is going to work. At the mile 90 aid station I grabbed a whole banana and another water ate them quickly before the bridge and downed a whole water bottle. I started coming around and felt really strong. By the time we got back to front beach road I am passing people again. Feeling great. The cross wing and tunnel effect of the condo buildings were slowing everyone down but I felt less impacted and continued on to pass another 10 athletes. I got off the bike 777th, which means I passed over 300 people on the bike. Very happy with that considering the level of athletes there are at Ironman races.
The lengthy t2. Got into t2 chute and took my left foot out of my shoe and pulled right foot off and swung it over top tube and cruised right to the dismount line where I bent down and pulled my left shoe off the bike to bring with me to put into t2 bag. Started yelling my umber to get my t2 bag. At this point I started feeling relief, only a marathon to go, which seemed so easy considering where I was at that point. Being my first ironman I had a feeling of completion already even though I had done 112mi rides several times during my training this felt different and it was. Total bike was 5:48:07 avg heart rate was 141. I felt amazing in t2 just sat there glowing. I took my right bike shoe off and emptied my bag out. I used an action wipe to clean my face and feet and legs off. I felt even more refreshed. A volunteer came up and helped me pack the bag with my helmet and bike shoes. I enjoyed T2 for 12:12 which is excessive, but I am glad I got to soak in the moment of being there and being a part of this race. On my way out of T2 I had sunscreen reapplied to my shoulders and face. Stopped by the Porto John for another pee break and off to the run.
The spectacular marathon. The best part of the day was coming around the corner and seeing my wife, son and parents (biological and in-laws) got a quick high five from my son and kissed him then kissed my wife and thanked them all for coming. I was smiling with my whole body I felt so great and seeing my family just added to it. I told them I would see them in a few hours. Feeling really good I was aiming for a 12:30 pace for the first 10k and was unable to go this slow. It worked out to be about a 1145 walking at every aid station taking in water. Around mile 3 I found the Turner family, parents of a friend and competitor Melanie Turner, cheering me on. It was great having there support out there. I just kept fwd progress I saw my new buddy Tim Dux out there and we were both thinking all these people passing us would come right back to us between mike 18 and the finish line. Pacing myself I worked my way through the park and back towards the turn around. At mile 10 I saw the Turner family again and saw met head to head with Melanie Turner coincidentally, where I said I am going to beat her to myself she was 8 miles behind and would not be able to bring me back that much. As it turns out she was having GI issues otherwise she may have been much closer to me. About mile 12 I started taking in chicken broth this worked great. I saw another supporter and friend and 8 time Ironman finisher, Kevin Swenson and told him I had no idea what was going on but this is too easy. He said you are doing it you are becoming an ironman and I realized at that moment I was. It felt great all I had to do was keep moving forward and stay positive. I stopped by special needs to get my running jacket not knowing how late I would be out there as it was getting cooler and sun was going down. I told Kevin how well the race was going very briefly and he said go finish it. Moving forward the plan was not to drink coke until ingot closer to end and needed it. It turns out I needed it at mile 14. Then it was alternating chicken broth coke until mile 17 where I started doing both. By mile 18 "the line" I was ready to pick the pace up. I had my "one thing" a picture of my wife and son with me. I packed it in my t2 bag and looked at it throughout the run periodically as the pain started getting more intense. From mile 18 into the park to mile 26.2 I never stopped except to walk the aid stations to take on nutrition. My fastest mile was 22 at a 9:32, then mile 23 & 24 were 9:47. Mile 25 was 10:09 and mile 26 was 10:39. You want to talk about dead bodies they were everywhere walkers and shufflers and here I am flying by them. Mind you I have never ran further than 15 mile in my lifetime let alone an Ironman marathon. The pacing was perfect. On the last mile I had some admin stuff to handle and compose myself for the finish line. I was running next to someone but I wanted a good finish line picture so let him go ahead of me and I ran through the finish line raised my arms with joy. What a race! Marathon time was 4:45:53. This picture is moments after the finish when I first saw my family I felt a lot better than I look. Side note Long distance Triathlon training and meth teeth go hand in hand, all we do is drink sugar water and eat sugar gels hence the stained teeth (Teeth whitening will be my Christmas present this year). Bloodshot eyes and whipped look that is leaving it all out there, butt the smile at the end of an amazing day for me is priceless.
The emotional finish. I crossed the finish line and bent over exhausted and then I stood back up and first person I saw was Todd Neville. I shook his hand and standing next to him was 4th in the World Ironman championships Dirk Bockel. Shook his hand also and it was an amazing moment to cross the finish line and see one of the best in the sport supporting and cheering on all the weekend warriors. I walked a couple of steps the a volunteer walked up and asked me if he could get my chip and I said no I got it, I needed to stretch. Reached down to get it and handed it to him. Got my finisher medal and space blanket and walked right through the picture opportunity for finishers's looking for my family. I found them, I finished early enough to see my son at the finish line before his bed time. I pulled out the picture of him and my wife and gave it to him and told them both that this is why my run went so well and gave it to him. This was an emotional moment for me but I was able to hold it together. My son was yelling "go daddy go" still it was the best part of my day kissing him and thanking he and my wife for allowing me all the hours to train. I handed them the picture of that i carried with me on the whole run and said to them that this is the reason my run went so well and that i was thinking about them and how much they gave up for me to be here today. Not only making a dream come true of completing an ironman but finishing in 12:11:10 which was well beyond any expectation I could have ever imagined. I was 131/265 in my age group, 822/2285 men, and 955/2921 (only chicked by 133 women) total starters for the 2011 edition of Ironman Florida. I negative split the swim, bike, and run not many first time Ironman athletes can say this. I will do another Ironman and look forward to trying a different venue, but I have family business to take care of and I am not sure when it will be. My expectations were to finish the Ironman in 17 hours and while I was on the race course I found a strength that propelled me to having a once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten or taken away from me. This experience made me dig deep to see what I was made of and I found that I am a Husband and Father first, but I am an athlete and I can achieve any goal I seek.
The 2012 plan is to do a 70.3 in the fall, but family will be my priority and I will not miss as much of them this year coming up. Endurance Nation's execution plan was key to my success I am not getting paid to say this but following the 4 keys made my race look like my fitness was better than it actually is. I put in the work but I am much closer to a 13 hour Ironman fitness. This day was perfect I and if you follow the 4 keys and listen to your body you can also achieve your optimal race. If you want to learn more about their training click here.