Monday, October 26, 2009

Great Floridian Ironman Experience

Official results: age group overall I got 61st or 63rd overall out of 227 finishers. There were about 325 people signed up for the race and at least 265 of them started. I got 4th out of 11 (only 9 finishers) in my age group.

My unofficial time / (and official times)
swim: 1:12:56
T1: 6:05
Bike: 6:19:37
T2: 7:33 (should be 8:27 because I accidentally stopped my watch!)
Run: 5:17:09 (they have as 5:37:08 which means I spent 20 minutes in the medical tent)
overall 13:03:22 (they have as 13:24:08)


Story:

Pre-race - got up at 5am and ate a good breakfast. all that other good pre-race stuff (better left unsaid). This is the first race where I had bags. I got out of bed a couple times Friday night to make sure I had the right stuff in the right bags. I had about 4-5 hours sleep (and 10 the night before thanks to Erica and her nice family).
Left the hotel just after 6am. Got to park. Remembered to wait to apply sunscreen until after body marking. Got body marked (first time I had my hands drawn on) and went to pick up my chip...Becky Richter was handing out chips. She was just there and decided to volunteer! How cool. (Not a total surprise to see her b/c I knew she'd be spectating). I got my bags and everything set up. Then I had to go put the water bottles on my bike.
Grabbed the wetsuit and headed for the lake.

Race -

Swim: I started back in the pack so I wouldn't get swam on top of. Ended up running faster than people through the shallows and was near the front and didn't like the way it was looking with a water churning machine right behind me. I dropped into a fairly comfortable rhythm and stayed on course pretty well the first lap. Some dude scratched the outside of my right ankle and drew blood. I guess that's better than goggles getting knocked off or a kick in the mouth. After the first lap, I took the gel out of my wetsuit sleeve, downed it on the beach with a cup of water, and headed back in. I think my first lap split was around 35 minutes. I swam a little bit off course but not much on the second lap. Had a little trouble spotting buoys with the sun right behind them. Definitely ahead of my goal pace of 1:20-1:30.

T1: Becky was my wetsuit stripper. Pic can be seen on http://www.greatfloridian.com/ with the caption "Is this a merman?" {edit 10-26: site keeps being updated...I don't see that pic anymore} The wetsuit got stuck on my right foot and it took 2 of them to get it off! The rest of T1 went fairly fast.

Bike: At the awards ceremony, they said that the bike course was the toughest it's been in the 19 year history of this race. The bike course was fairly sparsely populated with cyclists. Not like Gulf Coast. We did a 2-loop course (not identical loops). I climbed pretty well without too much effort, trying to keep in mind that I'd need my legs to run. I passed people all over the hills. The only people who passed me were on really expensive bikes. I saw plenty of people get flats but I was lucky enough not to. The course was really well marked and the law enforcement handled intersections very well. Volunteers at the aid stations made it easy to get some water. I drank at least 130 fl. oz. on the bike, probably more. I took at least 6 Hammer Endurolytes capsules, 5 fl. oz. of Hammer Gel, 2 PB sandwiches, one and a half water bottles full of protein/FRS/Hammer HEED/agave nectar, half a banana, 24 fl. oz. of coke, 2 granola bars, and I can't remember what else.
I finished the first lap of the course right on time, had a "special needs" break just as I had planned. Something got in my left shoe and was irritating me. I couldn't get it out while still riding, so I had to stop for that. It ended up breaking the skin, whatever it was.

The second lap took us out of the hills to flatter country where I started to cramp up. First it was the inside of my thighs. I stopped, dismounted the bike, and stretched while a few people passed me. After riding some more, the cramping didn't go away for long. Around mile 100 my bottom quads started spasming. It got to the point where I couldn't stand up on my bike (even if it was only to give my butt a rest from the seat and not to push hard) without cramping my entire quads. I couldn't stretch my hamstrings or calves while clipped in b/c that would make my quads cramp. It sucked climbing hills without being able to stand up at all. Good thing I have that small chain ring. I was really not looking forward to hills after mile 100. I still outclimbed people during those last 12 miles. I ended up finishing about 10 minutes slower overall (20 minutes slower on the bike) than I had planned.

T2: Almost didn't dismount in time! There was no line. Got my run bag and tried to stretch in the changing tent. Ended up laying on the ground. Changed then tried stretching again. Ouch! Stretching any muscled made the opposite muscles cramp. I put on some sunscreen and took off. Luckily neither the swim nor bike irritated spots on my foot were bothered by the running shoes.

Run: 3 lap course. I thought my legs would feel better after I started running. WRONG! The good news is that my achilles didn't flare up on me. Anyway, I'd be running then both calves would cramp at once and my quads would lock up and I'd stumble along. Walking hurt worse than running since I had to straighten my legs more. I didn't get any better after a couple miles into the run. My goal pace had changed from 4:30 before the race started to 4:00 in order to break 12 hours. I ran/walked the first 8 miles at an average of 10:03 pace, including stops for stretching. I decided about 4 miles into lap 1 that I would take advantage of the next medical aid opportunity I had. That came at the finish line.
I checked myself into the med tent and they weighed me at 148.8 when I had checked in on Thursday at 159.2 (but that was with street clothes & stuff in my pockets). I still probably lost at least 8-9 pounds since then. My blood pressure was about 120/78 and my pulse was at 96. The medical people told me I was dehydrated. I hear that the road temperature on the bike was 105°F. It was also not as humid as I'm used to so my sweat evaporated really fast...but I'm pretty sure I drank just as much as I should have. One guy didn't want to let me finish and I told him that wasn't an option. They made me drink a 24 fl.oz. Gatorade Endurance Formula and said I could go when I finished it...but then they changed their minds and said I needed to drink a half liter of water. I could hardly drink any more. I had about 5 fl. oz. and asked if I could walk with the bottle and make progress on the course. They said yes.
Starting lap 2, I saw my parents and told them I was in bad shape. My dad told me that I didn't have to finish and I gave him a look which said I was going to. He said not to worry about the 12 hour mark because the course closes at 1am (I ended up finishing around 9pm). I also got about 1/2 mile past the special needs station before realizing that I forgot to get my stuff! Later on I think I heard a rock cover band playing Black Lab's "Sleeps with Angels" and I'm pretty sure I wasn't auditorily hallucinating. I took a water, coke, and gatorade at just about every aid station and had to go pee a lot. I had to stop and stretch a lot. I was getting demoralized. I felt like I didn't deserve to beat anyone in this race.
At the beginning of lap 3, I was feeling better than the beginning of lap 2...especially since Becky called Carmen and I talked to her for about a minute while on course (don't tell the officials). It was starting to get dark. I put my visor and sunglasses back in the special needs bag and grabbed my PB M&Ms. I got to my parents and told them I was feeling relatively better and I'd see them at the finish line. I also mentioned that I'd like a beer. My dad said he drank them all. Immediately after that I felt pretty good and ran a little over a mile non-stop. I got to one of the aid stations and a volunteer told me that I looked better than the last lap. They gave us glow-necklaces for safety. I said something about it feeling like a party. It was really nice to see the mile markers start with the number 2. My mind cleared up a little and my body felt better after starting to drink chicken broth at the aid stations. It sucked that I was still in agonizing pain. It was hard to drop down to the ground to stretch. I was doing better than the first 2 laps. I ended up being able to run the last 2.5 miles or so to the finish. I decided that I would take water on the run at the last aid station because I didn't know if I could start again after stopping. My run was a good pace, probably around 8:00 miles. After the last aid station, I saw Erica & Buddy. They ran with me to the finish (in flip-flops). Buddy called my dad to tell him to get ready. They were impressed with my finish. I feel like I could have ran the entire thing nearly that fast if my stupid legs would have cooperated. Finishing was a relief.

Post-Race: I got my finisher's medal & t-shirt. I went to the medical tent for a final checkout. Somebody kind of massaged my quads & calves. I didn't know that there were "real" massages only a hundred feet away so I missed them. Did I mention that it hurt to walk? Instead of being mad about it, I was glad that I got to go to dinner with Erica & Buddy (and my parents). We walked back to transition to pick up my stuff. When we got to the van, my dad presented me with a beer...he hadn't drank all of them! So good. Dinner at Ay! Jalisco V. I ate almost a whole flauta de pollo. Not too hungry. Tired. We talked about if I should take an ice bath (using ice from the hotel's ice machine!) and thought it would be good if I didn't think I'd cramp up. Instead I decided to go the hot tub route. I massaged my legs and stretched while in the hot tub & that made a difference. I was in bed by 1am after checking the preliminary results online.
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