Ironman Florida, 2009

The singing of our National Anthem.
And we are off.  Actually, I was standing well back on the far right.  I wanted to stay out of the way of the fast swimmers.
Two thousand five hundred swimmers headed for the red buoy 900 yards out in the gulf
It doesn't look like 900 yards to the red buoy in this picture.  I can guarantee that it is.
We go out to the red buoy, turn left 200 yards and head back to the finish area.  Then we turn around and do it all again.  2.4 miles in all.
The wind and waves picked up substantially by the end of the first lap and the second lap was brutal.  I felt like I miscounted and did three laps.  First Lap was 48:37 and the second was 55:48.  Total swim time: 1:44:25. BAD, even in rough water.  I had better swim a lot more before next year.
Perfect timing on the picture.  I was coming up off the aero bars for a corner.  If I had seen the photographer, I would have stayed down.  It makes you look fast.  Actually, the bike segment was my best time. 5:43:32. Much faster than I had expected to complete the 112 miles.  I only had two months to prepair for the swim and bike portions, thanks to Leadville, so I really thought my time would be more the 6.5 hours.
I claim to be a runner, but I am not so sure any more.  The first lap of the course was at the pace I estimated (10 min. per mile) and it felt good until near the end of the first lap.  Then I got really sick at my stomach.  I battled nausia the entire second lap and my pace dropped to 12:30 per mile.  The 26.2 miles ended up taking 4:53:35.  It should have been at most 4:20.
It sounds like I was pretty unhappy with my race, but actually I was really excited.  My major goal was to finish under 13 hours and I made it.  (Not by much but I did it!)  The real point of an Ironman is to be "And Ironman!"  Unless you have hopes of getting a slot for the world championships in Kona Hawaii, finishing is what really counts. 

There is a lot I will have to work on before next year.  My goal is to beat 12 hours.  I will have to swim a lot more.  Because of Leadville and a lot of really bad, cold weather, I missed about half of my planned swim workouts.  I only swam 4 times in September and 8 times in October. (The last three, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, one week before the Ironman.  I will also need to plan my transitions better.  Swim to bike took me 14:45 and bike to run was 12:52.  That is getting close to 30 minutes.  I know I can do better there.

What killed me in the run was the intensity of  the entire day.  I assumed that because I was in condition to run a 100 mile race the run would be no problem.  I found I could not handle the drink mix that works so well in ultras.  I also forgot to eat any of my gel packs.  That was not a good idea.  I have one year to work on all that.
Do you know what they call the very last finisher in an Ironman race?  An Ironman!
We arrived in Panama City Thursday afternoon to find beautiful weather.   High Temperatures were reaching the upper 70's and winds were light.  It was cool in the mornings, but the forecast sounded absolutely perfect for race day.  It was chilly Saturday morning and the wind was stronger than it had been the last two days.  As it began to get light I walked out to the boardwalk and noticed that the wind was blowing out of the southeast.  I thought that is really strange, the wind does not blow that direction.  The problem is, the beach at Panama City actually runs southeast so the wind was blowing parallel with the beach and beginning kick up some small waves.

As it neared race time I put on my wetsuit and make my way to the beach.  I swam out to the first buoy and came back to shore.  The water was still relatively calm and very easy to swim in.  I did get a mouthful of salt water and I had not thought to bring a bottle of water to the beach.  I would have to wait until the end of the first lap to get a drink.  I walked across the timing mat to be sure I was recorded at the start and walked to the right side of the start area and about half way back to wait. 

The started 10 minutes ahead of the rest of so we just milled around nervously for a few minutes.  Finally it was our time to start and off we went.  The water was very shallow for 40 or 50 yards so we just walked.  It was too crowded to run.  Finally the water was deep enough to start swimming and we were off.
This was my 4th triathlon with an ocean swim and for the first time, I was actually comfortable in the water.  (That is, not scared.)  I enjoyed the first lap.  I only had a few altercations with other swimmers although I did get out of the way a few times to avoid flailing arms and kicking feet.

Rounding the red buoy at the end of the first led we turned southeast and swam straight into the wind and waves.  I noticed they seemed to be much stronger than they had been earlier.  It was difficult to get to the next mark to turn back to shore.  As soon I turned back left again we were swimming parallel to the wind and waves so things got a lot easier.  It is easy to sight you course headed in to shore.  The left wall of the tall condo at the Boardwalk is directly in line with the finish, so you just swim at the left side of the building.  From 900 yards out, the beach is a long way away and you cannot tell where you are headed.  There were buoys every 200 yards but they were hard to spot because the waves were getting bigger.  You had to look up right on top of a wave to see where you were.

I finally made it back to shore and got that drink I had needed for oven an hour.  Then we headed back out into the gulf.  After going through the finish area you turn left again and angle across to the first yellow buoy.  Again we walked quite a ways until the water was deep enough to swim.  This time the swim was a lot harder.  I am sure part of the trouble was I was getting tired, but the water was much rougher and the wind was pushing you to the right making it very hard to swim straight.  I could not stay close to the course markers and every time I looked around to find on they were way off to my left.  I could not tell how far off course I was but I was probably 100 feet or more, especially as I neared the first red turn marker.  It actually took me a long time to swim back to the red buoy before I could make the left turn to swim across the end of the course.  Then the water was really rough and we were swimming straight into the sun.  I had trouble seeing the next marker.  That 200 yard section really wore me out.  The waves were coming so fast it was hard to get a breath without gulping down some seawater.  I guess I had plenty of electrolytes.
I didn't take my finishers cap off for the next three days.
My Results 2009 Florida Ironman



    1:44:25      5:43:32     4:53:35      12:49:09 1312        7

FIRST SWIM HALF 1.2 mi. (48:37) 2:33/100m
SECOND SWIM HALF    1.2 mi. (55:48) 2:56/100m
TOTAL SWIM  2.4 mi. (1:44:25)     2:44/100m    2221     30

FIRST BIKE SEGMENT   73 mi. (3:53:45)       18.74 mph
FINAL BIKE SEGMENT   39 mi. (1:49:47)       21.31 mph
TOTAL BIKE         112 mi. (5:43:32)      19.56 mph   14358

FIRST RUN SEGMENT    6 mi. (59:03)    9:50/mile
SECOND RUN SEGMENT7.4 mi. (1:14:28)     10:03/mile
THIRD RUN SEGMENT    5.6 mi. (1:10:56)     12:40/mile
FINAL RUN SEGMENT    7.2 mi. (1:29:08)     12:22/mile
TOTAL RUN   26.2 mi. (4:53:35)     11:12/mile   1312 7

T1: SWIM-TO-BIKE 14:45
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN   12:52
TOTAL    27:37