Ironman Florida


I was really excited about this race which made race week seem exceptionally long. My parents, brother, aunt, uncle, and a couple cousins made the trip to PCB and I was motivated to give them a good show.
The ocean was not too rough, but it did have a steady chop and it had been much calmer all week long before the race. I was hoping to find a group on the first loop and enjoy the ride. I never really found a good group until two thirds of the first loop was complete. I managed to bridge the gap to a very large group of 10+ folks and it felt like I had hopped into the flow of the river at that point. I really wanted to stick with this group so I moved aggressively as I ran over the timing mat on the beach before starting the second loop. This was not the smartest of moves. I was totally redlining with a heart rate close to 190 at this point. Whoops. I ended up losing the group because I needed a couple minutes to settle down once I started swimming again. I found another group to swim with, but my swim tactics were rather poor on the day. I went over the timing mat in 56:57 which was on the low end of my 55-57 minute goal, but it was still much better than my 61 minute swim in 2003 and my 64 minute swim in Kona last year.
You would hope the first transition would be uneventful, but as I pulled my helmet out of the gear bag I found that one of the straps had broken in all the shuffling. I spent about a minute trying to put everything back together and somehow everything turned out ok.
I got on the bike and started riding steadily from the get go. This was the first time I was using power in a race and it made it easy to get rolling without riding too hard in the first 30 minutes. My heart rate was in the mid 170s at the start and it slowly came down and fell in line within the normal RPE/power/HR ranges. Obviously the swim had been a bit aggressive for me.
I spent the first 20 miles riding solo, but eventually a group of five to six riders began to form. This group stayed together for quite some time and grew bigger and bigger as we caught more and more riders. I tried to get away at each aid station, but it was hard to put a surge on early in the ride and everything would come back together after a few minutes. It was not until mile 60 that I was able to break away and make it stick. I knew the course was about to turn west at this point and we would then be riding with a tailwind for the next ten miles or so. I lifted the effort as I neared the turn and the tailwind made the speeds over 45kph once I turned west. The group was eventually reduced to four and then just to two. My friend Lon stayed with me through mile 75 or so, but I eventually rode away from him and rode solo to the end. There was a strong headwind for the final 20 miles of the bike which was not exactly what anyone wants at that point, but it happens.
I got off the bike in 4:49 and met my goal of riding 4:50 or faster. I made it through T2 in a reasonable amount of time and started the run. Just as I was starting my brother told me I was nine minutes out of the top ten. The first few miles were rather uncomfortable for me. My feet sometimes swell on long rides in warm weather and the weather on race day had apparently been warm enough to do so. This made each step quite painful and if the same thing had not have happened in Kona the year before then I might have been a little more concerned. After the first 5K I started to feel a little better and I focused on just running steadily.
I finished the first loop of the run and at this point my brother told me I was one minute out of the top eight. The news my brother told me and my caffeinated Catapult drink (from my special needs bag) had me motivated to keep things rolling. I was still running decently on the second lap, but I had to slow down considerably when I hit the aid stations. It gets crowded out there on the second loop and I had to make sure I got my cola at each aid station. I felt solid on the last 10K (relatively speaking of course) and I was able to deal with the unavoidable discomfort it provides. I was actually able to pick it up over the last couple miles and finish strongly. I crossed the finish line in 8:57 (3:05 marathon) and made it to 8th place overall.
The race had its peaks and valleys, but none of the valleys crushed me. I’m looking forward to putting my feet up through Thanksgiving and I’m equally anticipating next season.