About Me

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Texas, United States
Welcome to my blog. What is a triathlon? It's a swim, bike and run usually in that order. My goal is to give exposure and insight to triathlons along with encouraging living a healthy life style. My post will also contain my collective thoughts pertaining to my training experiences. Feel free to send an email to ej@trilifeblog.com with any feedback or questions you may have. facebook: www.facebook.com/TriLifeBlog

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ironman Florida - Week in review Monday 10-31-2011 to Sunday 11-06-2011

Ironman Florida week! Where do I begin? I apologize for the late blog entry but, I needed a few days to soak in what just happened. I spent the last eight months training for an event that would last one day. The week of the event was finally here. I headed out of town on Wednesday at 2 a.m. and 13 hours later I arrived at Panama City Beach with a fellow Tri Junkie member who was also doing the event.

I was a bit concerned about the drive and how it would affect me once we had arrived. I was fortunate enough that the drive did not affect me. Taking turns at the wheel on the drive to Florida allowed me to get my regular hours of sleep in. We arrived in Panama City and the first thing I noticed was the number of athletes running and cycling the area. There was a different vibe in the air. I can now associate it with the Ironman event.

On Wednesday I had a run and short bike on my schedule as part of my taper. After unpacking I enjoyed a run along the beach side and finished off my workout spinning on the balcony of the condo watching the sun set. It’s a moment that would be pretty hard to top. The scenery of the beach, the colors of water and the sun sinking into the ocean was pretty breath taking. I was so caught up with the scenery that I forgot to put the earphones in my ears during my spin.

Thursday morning we headed to the beach close to race time to try and simulate race morning conditions. The first thing I noticed was the swells and white caps close to the shore line. It was an intimidated sight for me given that I do not favor swimming. Along with the weather conditions we also tried to get a good feel of the current. Knowing the current would be helpful come race time.

The water was crystal clear and as I swam out into the ocean I could see straight the bottom of the ocean. I could not tell how deep the water was. It felt like I was swimming in place but, when I stopped to spot where I was to my surprise I had traveled a good distance from the shoreline. After the swim we took a break for lunch and scouted the bike route. The route looked fairly flat. We had a good feeling that the only challenge may be the wind.

Thursday was an odd day for me. I got a in a swim, scouted out the bike route and picked up the race packet. There were several reasons for me to be pumped up and excited but, I wasn’t. I also wasn’t nervous. I was just there. I felt absolutely nothing knowing that in a couple of days I would lay 8 months of work on the line for a single event. What was wrong with me? If I went into the event on Saturday with this mindset I thought I would for sure be in for a long day.

Friday was a rest day for me and a day of mental preparation. The only thing I had to do was get a morning massage and drop off my bike, run bag and bike bag to the transition area. With so little going on it was an emotional rollercoaster for me. I went from a low to a high and back to a low in less than 12 hours.

While dropping off my bike and bags to the transition area I felt adrenalin rush through my body. It was like night and day. I was all of a sudden excited and looking forward to the race to see if all the training I did would pay off. I believe seeing all the other competitors’ bikes in transition triggered that reaction. Whatever the trigger was I was floating on a cloud and my mind and body felt ready to race.

Friday evening rolled around and my energy levels dropped again. I also started to feel ill. At this point I could not tell if I it was nerves or if I was truly coming down with an illness. Not taking any chances I decided to up the intake of orange juice and I drank a dosage of Airborne, an all natural immunity booster. It was 10 p.m. and my alarm clock was set for 4 a.m. Tomorrow was race day and I had no idea what it would have in store for me.

Saturday morning…Race Day!

The announcer in the mandatory race meeting went over what we as athletes should expect on race day. He said, “You swim a little, bike a little and run a little and you’re done, it’s that simple”. Reflecting upon my training I knew that I had not covered 140.6 miles in one training session. Had I put in enough training to get me through the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run? I found myself doubting but, as quickly as I doubted I talk myself out of it and placed my faith in the training I had done.

First up the swim, I felt like a true armature when I found out that it was a mass start. When the cannon goes off there would be over 2,400 age groupers starting the swim. I was nervous as I knew it was going to be crowded and I really wanted to hit my swim goal. I decided to start over to the right side of the swim area to try not to get tangled with the crowd. The current was also moving from right to left so I figured it would be easier for me to angle my way to the first turn buoy.

The cannon went off and we were on our way. My Ironman journey had begun. The swim was a two loop 1.2 mile course. The first loop was a beating. I got hit with hands, forearms, elbows, knees and feet. Before I could reach the first turn buoy I had to stop and let water out of my goggles. I had been hit in the face a couple of times each time let a little more water in. It was really hard to get into a swim rhythm. Every time I started getting into a rhythm I swam up on a slower swimmer.

It felt like driving through rush hour. When someone hit the breaks everyone else behind them had to hit the breaks. It was a constant go, slow down, stop, go swim for the first loop of the swim. The second loop was a bit more forgiving as the swim crowd began to thin out.

As I was finishing my second loop I was certain that my swim time goal was going to be a bust. I just wanted to finish the swim and get going on my bike. Finishing my second lap and exited the beach as quickly as I could. I got my wet suit half way off to allow the wetsuit peeler to get the rest of the suit off. I ran to a peeler and laid on my back with my feet up so he could strip the wet suit off. The wet suit got caught on my right leg and the peeler toughed and pulled on the suit causing my right calf to cramp. I was real concerned about what just happened. I hobbled away limping with a cramp calf muscle to transition one.

The muscle relaxed as I ran through T1 and into the changing area. T1 had four long run stretches. It was a good 400 meters from beach exit to changing room area. It was maybe another 400 meters to leave the changing area before reaching the bike out.

There were volunteers in the T1 area who were handing out bikes. My bike was unfortunately missed and I had to go pick it out myself. I had my bike in hand and started running to the mount line. The mount area was very narrow and I decided to run my bike at least a couple hundred yards down passed all the madness. I didn’t want to risk accidently running into anyone or anyone running into me.

The first 6 miles of the bike was quick and easy. I was out moving at a good clip with the wind at my back. I found myself passing riders during the first 6 miles with ease. After the 6 mile point we hit a turn and headed north. From mile 6 to mile 80 figuring out the wind was a guessing game. I would venture to say that 75% of the ride was against the wind. I was upset because I knew I was going to miss my set goal for my bike average. I also knew that I wasn’t the only one out here fighting the wind. I kept telling myself that everyone would be affected equally.

I stayed focus making sure that I was hydrating and consuming my calories as planned. I knew that if I missed my nutrition that would affect me on the run. I had a 24 ounce bottle filled with roughly 1800 calories. I planned on consuming calories every 10 miles of the bike with my last calorie consumption coming at mile 100. I also planned on consuming a couple hundred solid calories which I consumed at mile 40 and mile 80.

I knew I had passed a lot of riders during the race. I did so with ease and it felt great. I knew the training had paid off. I had a couple solid 5 to 5 and ½ hour ride sessions during my training where I did not stop peddling. I knew this would be and advantage. When we hit down hills I noticed some of the racers would coast to rest their legs. That was not the case for me. I was never resting and would pedal past the riders who were costing. I felt the conditioning paying off.

The last 6 miles of the bike were tough. Though the road was flat we road straight into an aggressive head wind. I kept thinking I really did not want put forth this type of effort before starting the 26.2 mile run. I got through the last 6 miles of the bike and headed into T2.

In T2 the volunteer handed me my bag. My bag was in the front of T2 so I had a good little run to get into the changing area. As I sat down to open my bag I realized that the volunteer had handed me the wrong bag. I was bib 1233 and she handed me bag 1223. Man what a mess. I was pissed for a second. Thank fully the volunteer in the area who was helping me sent someone out to get my bag. As I waited for my bag the seconds that ticked away felt like minutes. I was standing around in the changing area with nothing to change into.

Finally the volunteer came back with my bag. What took him maybe a minute felt like an hour of waiting. I reached to grab the bag from him and noticed that the bag he brought me was also not mine. Again my bib number was 1233 and he brought in 233. Now I was a wreck. I decided that I should jump up and get my own bag and that is exactly what I did. I darted out of the changing area and hurdled trough T2 jumping over rows of bags making my way to the front of T2 where I knew my bag would be.

I saw my bag and I finally had it in hand. I ran back into the changing area and quickly go into my shoes. I put my fuel belt around my waist and I was out the door headed towards the run out.

I was finally on the run course. The run course was a two 13.1 mile loop. I pushed what just happened aside and focused on my run. I had my Garmin on to help me keep pace. I got through the first mile and I was at a 9 minute pace. Wow, I thought to myself. I was really concerned about my legs. I was expecting to run my first mile in the high 6 to low 7 minute area. I grew worried that I had pushed to hard on the bike and used up too much leg.

Mile 2 rolled around and my pace dropped. I had settled into a low 7 minute mile pace. I was at home and felt good about what was now happening on the run. I had a goal of finishing the marathon in the low 3 hour mark but, at the same time I was willing to move that needle as needed. I also had the calf cramp which took place after the swim in the back of my mind. I did not want to have to stop and stretch. I had given into the fact that the 3 hour marathon was not going to happen today.

I changed my run goal to finish the marathon in 3 and ½ hours. As the run pushed on I passed several other competitors. I was able to see the pros on the run course which I thought was pretty cool. The 1st place male had a great pace going and looked real comfortable on the run.

I was feeling pretty good as I finishing the first 13.1 mile loop. I was on top of my nutrition and my legs were holding up well. There were aid stations set up on every mile of the run course. I made sure I took a sponge at every station and I took in some water at ever other station. I planned on taking in my nutrition every 30 minutes of the run. Everything was going as planned until I hit mile 18. With 8 miles left I noticed my pace was starting to slow down.

My legs were not heavy but, felt a bit fatigued. My concern was back on cramping. I did not want to cramp mainly because I did not want to stop. I approached the rest of the race with the thoughts of keeping the pressure of the run nice and easy. I kept telling myself do not do anything stupid. This meant do not run faster than your body is allowing you to. I felt there was a fine line between what my body would allow me to do before it would cramp. I did not want to cross it.
Last year I had a bad experience when I did my first ½ Ironman. Given I had to run the ½ marathon with a growing injury I ended up cramping the last four miles of that race. It was pretty bad. My body slowly started to give up. First my right calf cramped then my right hamstring cramped finally my left hamstring cramped. I had to stop and stretch each time I had a cramp. That was about a year ago and it was still fresh in my mind.

I with about 5 miles left in the race my pace was in the low 8 minute range. I wanted to make sure I was able to hit my new 3 hour 30 minute goal so I decided to role the dice and push my body a little bit. I did not allow myself to get any slower than an 8:30 pace at any given time. Mile by mile I was getting closer and closer to the finish line.

I was two miles out from the finish line and the reality of what I was about to accomplish started to hit me. Three years ago I was learning how to swim and to ride a bike to be able to compete in sprint triathlons. Three years later and I find myself about to finish my first full Ironman. Words cannot explain how good I felt. I had a smile from ear to ear as I chipped away at the last two miles.

Someone mentioned that the last mile would be the easiest mile of the race. That someone was right. I was on an adrenaline high. What was a low 8 minute mile pace was now a 6 minute mile pace. Yes, that’s right. I was pushing about a 6 mile pace for the last mile and I was still carrying that huge smile on my face. As I approached the finish line I noticed that I was under the 10 hour mark. That was pure icing on the cake. I was completely ecstatic.

Finishing under the 10 hour mark was one of my last minute goals I had set for myself. I wasn’t sure I was going to hit it given what felt like a horrible swim followed by a head wind bike and a missed goal time on my run. At the moment I didn’t care how I was under the 10 hour mark. I was overjoyed with the accomplishment at hand. I crossed the finish line and I knew I was now an Ironman. I heard the announcer say it I also hear several people in the finish shoot say it. I could not hear it enough.

Here are some quick stats on the event.

Event distance: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run.
2,439 competitors, this included 24 pro men and 10 pro women.
Swim Time: 1 hour 13 minutes 58 seconds
T1 Time: 7 minutes 3 seconds
Bike Time: 5 hours 7 minutes 49 seconds
T2 Time: 4 minutes 20 seconds

Run Time: 3 hours 21 minutes 25 seconds
Finish time: 9 hours 54 minutes 33 seconds
Finished 83rd overall (included the pro field) out of 2,439.
Finished 20th in my age group out of 356.

I still owe a few of you some email responses to questions asked about this event an training leading up to this event. I will get to you guys as soon as I can. Please feel free to send me another email or if you have my number text me or call me. I’ve had a lot going on since I got back into town and I want to make sure I get back to you.

Thank you for reading this blog entry. My next entry will talk about the off season and my training preparation for the Boston Marathon.


1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this! Congrats on such an awesome finish!