Ironman Florida was my second full Ironman this year. After not being able to race Tahoe in 2015, I vowed that I would never put all my eggs in one basket again.
By doing my first 2016 race in April, at the Ironman North American season opener in Oceanside, it was feeling like a very long season of consistent training and racing by the end of October. We were starting to see some rainy days in Northern California which dampened my motivation a bit. As November approached, I was telling myself to just hang in there for a couple more weeks. I must have been getting a little worn down, as I woke up with a sore throat on Tuesday before the race. We had flights, we had a condo, so we decided to head to Florida and see how my illness progressed. By Friday, the day before the race, the sore throat was gone and I just had a congested chest with a cough. What the hell, last race of 2016 so I would have plenty of time to recover.
I felt OK in the morning, as far as I could tell when getting up at 4 am. I still had a bad cough and a migraine to top it off. Not perfect, but I took a prescription migraine pill with breakfast and away I went.
|WHERE IS WALDO?|
Swim – The Ironman Florida swim is a two-lap swim in the Gulf, each lap being 1.2 miles. I checked the weather in the morning and noted that there was a small craft advisory in effect until 7 am. The swim start was a self-seeded rolling start, and we lined up by our expected swim finish times. Based on my Ironman Boulder swim finish in August, I seeded myself with the 1:10 swimmers. The wet-suit legal race started on time at 6:45 am. The waves were not big and it was shallow quite a way out from the beach. I wasn’t crazy about having to exit and re-enter the water mid-race, breaking my rhythm and adding to the time.
|LONG SHALLOW ENTRY INTO BEAUTIFUL CLEAR WATERS|
|STILL KIND-A HAD MY SWIM CAP |
AFTER THE FIRST LAP
As I was swimming the first lap, I realized I had forgotten to put my computer on my bike and it was in my morning clothes bag which I wouldn’t be able to access after the swim. That, with being sick, waking up with a migraine, and my right glute giving me some pain already during the swim, I wasn’t in the best mental race mode for about 2/3rds of the first lap. I was thinking maybe I wasn’t meant to do this race and hoped there wouldn’t be any major catastrophes. I had a little conversation with myself, in my head, and managed to get my attitude in the right place before the end of the first lap. This is when I started to “race.”
I read after the race that a buoy had moved and swim times were slow, mine was 1:20:57. My Garmin says I swam 4,591 yards (2.6 miles) but those extra yards may have been my zigzag or the run on the beach between laps. Not a good swim time for me but eighth out of the water in my age group.
|HEADING INTO T1|
Swim to Bike Transition (T1) – I skipped the wet-suit strippers because they were having people lie down in the fine sand and the last thing I wanted on a 112-mile bike ride was sand in my pants. It was a fairly long run up the beach, through the transition area to the changing tents. A volunteer yanked my wet-suit off and got me through the changing tent fairly quickly. Although I didn’t have my bike computer I did have my wrist Garmin 920XT on. I wanted to be able to see my watts during the bike without turning my wrist all of the time, so I took the time to put it on my bike in transition. That took a few minutes of fumbling. Lesson learned – empty my morning bag just like I do my transition bags to not miss anything. (T1 was 10:20, way too long)
Bike – Ironman Florida is a mostly flat bike course and I stayed in my aerobars almost the entire 112 miles and it was comfortable. I sat up at the aid stations to get water. I changed cadences consciously now and then, stood up a couple of other times at the top of the few rollers. I started feeling more in the groove at 60 miles through the finish. It was very windy on the bike course with significant cross winds in places. I was thankful that I have ridden so often on the Big Island because those experiences helped me with the cross winds. I thought about FEAR, stay focused, efficient, aero and relaxed. My official bike time was 5:40:29.
I definitely didn’t go too hard on the bike. If anything, I probably could have gone harder. Link to my bike file.
- Turning out of a head wind at about 80 miles and saying “Thank God!” out loud
- Seeing the time of 5:01 when I got to 100 miles
- Passing a young guy at just over 100 miles who said incredulously “Are you really 58? Wow.”
Bike to Run Transition (T2) – Approaching the dismount line, I got my feet out of my shoes and left them clipped into the pedals. The inner thigh of my right leg cramped as I swung my leg over to get off the bike. It took me longer than I would have liked to get my wrist Garmin off the bike and onto my wrist which was counted in my bike time. I had an otherwise smooth transition with a time of 4:35 (3rd fastest in my AG.)
Run – I was pretty overexcited when I passed my husband at the start of the run and he told me I was in second place after the bike. I didn’t feel like I was running hard or trying to push it on the way to the first turnaround. The first 7 miles were in the 11:30 minutes per mile range (which was my target) and I thought OK you can do this, but even with the same (or harder feeling) effort my pace started to drop off. I got a cramp in my inner thigh again at 7 miles, took two salt tabs, and kept running. The cramp resolved pretty quickly but my pace dropped to ~12 minute miles. Learning from my husband that I was in third place at the halfway mark of the marathon, motivated me to work hard and hang onto a podium spot.
My stomach started getting upset at 17 miles. I had been eating a gel every half hour so I skipped the next one. My pace slowed even more at about 19 miles and I was feeling uncomfortable. I finally broke down and did a port-a-potty stop at 22 miles. I felt better after that, stomach wise, but I wasn’t able to speed my pace back up significantly.
I took 2 salt tabs every hour and water at every aid station. I also carried a flask of water with me to drink when I ate a gel. At the 4th through 8th aid stations I also took Gatorade then later switched to coke and water. After 22 miles I switched to broth. I think it was the Gatorade that upset my stomach, but I’m not sure. My quads were starting to feel sore at 22 miles. My glute was hurting though the whole run but I was able to just ignore it.
Run time 5:3, which was not good enough to hang on to that podium spot. Run file link.
|KNEW THIS WAS MY FASTEST IRONMAN.|
HAPPY ENDING TO AN AWESOME 2016!
Finish - Total time 12:47:48, my fastest Ironman. First time under 13 hours. Eighth place in my age group. This was my second time at Ironman Florida. I did my first Ironman here in 2004 and the conditions were perfect. This year was windier and warmer and I’m 12 years older. Apparently experience trumps youth as I bested my previous time by 47 minutes. No matter what time you finish, nothing compares to crossing that Ironman finish line!
Recovery - I’m glad I went ahead and raced even if I felt miserable for quite a few days afterwards. I had a total relapse on sickness, with a horrendous cough, achy body and completely lost my voice. I have an appointment with a sports medicine doc to figure out what is going on with my glute and I have PT scheduled. Two weeks after the race, I’m mostly recovered. I’ve ridden my bike a couple of times just because I wanted to. Training resumes tomorrow and my next half ironman in 25 weeks.
Thanks to: my coach Chris Hauth for a great 2016 season (http://www.aimpcoaching.com/) , Shift-SF (http://www.shift-sf.com/) for all those early mornings of productive bike training, My Soxy Feet (http://www.mysoxyfeet.com/) for keeping my feet comfy, colorful and cheerful, and to Pierce Footwear (http://piercefootwear.com/) for fast bike-to-run transitions and light feet.