The Days Before Ironman Florida. Race Report Part 1

I know I did not post a race report for Half Ironman August. Let me explain why before I move forward with Ironman Florida. As I sat down at my computer to type out the August 70.3 report my mind could not get over the fact that I was disappointed in myself and I felt that the negativity I was feeling would come across in the report so I decided to just let it be and move forward. I broke my big toe in two places coming into T1 during Augusta and while I pressed forward and finished the race my time was no where near what I was currently capable of doing and while I know I obviously could not help the fact that I got injured I had high expectations of myself and I did not meet them so there it is I was disappointed as silly and ridiculous as it may sound. We are our own worst critic, right? I still managed to set a higher PR in the half coming in at 6:04:01 so I should not be so hard on myself but it is what it is. Now on to the biggest race I have ever done, Ironman Florida 140.6.

November 3, 2012 had been a date I had been thinking, dreaming, some would say obsessing over for almost a year to the date it would be the day where I would push my body through the largest endurance challenge its ever faced. Something I had dreamed of doing for a long time. People kept asking me what my time expectations were leading up to the race and honestly all I wanted to do was finish. Some understood this others thought I was keeping my goals a secret which I wasn’t. I really had no real set in stone race time goal. This is somewhat out of character for me but I just wanted to be an active participant in all the activities and challenges of the day. When I am in “race mode” I miss things because I am so focused on the next person to get in front of or I am focused on the beeping of my Garmin warning me my pace is lacking so by “active participant” I mean I was not worried about being passed or passing another and as far as the Garmin the pace warning was set to silent.

Mathew and I left Valdosta on October 31, 2012 and headed to Panama City Beach. I had taken the entire week off work because a less stressed Summer is a more focused Summer and I really wanted to be focused on the task at hand. We got to PCB around 2pm and went straight to Publix and loaded up on food for the four days we would be there. After we got all our things unloaded and put away we walked to the athlete check in where I was able to go straight in, I love it when there are no lines. It took me less than 10 mins to get checked in which is a PR in and of itself! I got to say the IMFL swag bag was outstanding. Not one of those silly string bags you get for doing a 70.3 its an actual race gear back pack. We were only about a 1/2 mile from the race site, if that, so we walked back to the condo along the beach which allowed us to see the conditions of the water… Umm can I say hello waves.

Check – In complete

On November 1, 2012 I got up and decided I would try out my new wetsuit and see how bad swimming in such large swells was going to be. This particular day the ocean waves were insanely large. I literally swam out about 200 meters and turned around and came back. I told Matt that I had to stop because it was making me nervous and the last thing I wanted to do was go into the race with a larger fear than I already have with the swim.  I then went for a short four mile run along parts of the running course. That was nice and just what I needed to clear my head. My parents got to PCB later that evening and we sort of just hung out at the condo for the night chatting and watching tv.

See the dang waves blah

November 2, 2012 I stated the day out by doing a nice easy run with my buddy and mentor Kc. She showed me around the transition site and gave me a few final tips for the upcoming day. Bless her for putting up with my novice questions and fears. After I got back to the condo my mom and dad wanted me to take them down to the race site so they could look around and do so IMFL gear shopping. We were almost at the tent when my mom moved over to get out of the way from a group of runners and her foot slipped off the sidewalk causing her to fall and twist her ankle. It was swollen within seconds and we all knew she would not be able to do any walking or spectating for that matter. I felt so horrible for her as I know she had been looking forward to this day as much as I had. I have to say every person that walked past us on the street as we were waiting on Matt to get my truck was very kind and helpful. She was offered food, drinks, cell phones, Gu’s and the general “you alright, or can I help”. I have said it before and I will say it again I have met very few triathletes who are not all about helping another even to the point where it affects their race. The rest of day I sort of walked around trying to calm myself down. I listened to a lot of music and just found a quite place to sit down and get my mind ready. Matt made me dinner around 5pm which I was thankful for because I was not able to eat again when the rest of my family did which I had planned on due to my anticipation being in the red by then. My buddy Sam came by the condo to see me and wish me luck which was a nice break from my inner thoughts. I figured I would not sleep since I hardly ever sleep the night before a race but I still got in bed at 8pm and oddly enough I slept till my alarm clock went off at 3am. I got up and had some water and a bagel with peanut butter. I was able to eat the entire thing for once. I got back in bed and went back to sleep for 45 mins before alarm number two went off and I got up and got ready to eat again and head down to the race start. I had a cup, more like 1/2 cup of coffee, and a banana before Matt and I walked down to the transition area. I located Koa and fixed up my aero bottle, my bike bag containing my food, and checked the air pressure in the tires. I found Matt again and he said he needed to go back to the condo and get ready for the day. For the first time in my life before the start of a race I got choked up at the thought of him leaving. I don’t know what my issue was but the thought of him leaving caused me to panic. I did not allow him to know this at the time, although he probably could tell, because I knew if he reacted in the way I was feeling I would loose it. So I said okay, kissed him, and hurried off in the other direction to drop off my special needs bags. I found Sam again at the Special Needs area and he helped me locate where I needed to drop off my items. I had about 1.5 hours before the start of the race and I am not sure where all the time went but just as I was putting on my wetsuit Matt calls my cell phone and tells me he is back and is looking for me. I met him on the way out to the water. This was the first time I had seen the water today and the waves seemed to have grown. And that panic feeling of flight or fight  came over me. For the second time I said goodbye to Matt while holding in the tears that were threatening to come out. I got into position on the beach and was standing there trying to get a grip on my panic. Then it happened. The announcer said we had less than 60 seconds before the start of the race and my mind finally shut up. I was in my zone. No more worry, no more panic, no more feeling like I had not done enough. I was simply at peace and I knew I could take on anything the day brought my way. And just like that the gun went off and the race was underway.

Part two was almost done when I hit the wrong, no going back, button and deleted the rest of my race report. So I will post this and be back once I have re-written the second half. It was getting long anyway. Stay tuned.

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