It has taken me a week and one day to find the time to sit down and get my thoughts on paper concerning Ironman Florida 70.3. Without further hesitation here we go.
Word to describe the swim:
The swim, which was planned to be a normal out and back loop, was changed due to the low water levels and ended up looking like a giant “M” literally. There were a total of 4 turns during the swim. I knew this would affect my time but I did not think it would do more damage than maybe 1-2 minutes worth. I pushed it out of my mind because there was a slight fear there would be no swim and I would much rather do the swim – bike – run rather than a run – bike – run. Surprising, being that I am a runner not a swimmer but I worked my tail off in the pool for this dang race and I wanted, needed, to prove to myself it’s no longer a big deal. My swim group was off at 07:15 and just before the start we waddled out into the water which came up to about waist level and hung out till they set us off. I was surprisingly calm considering the other races in which I was super apprehensive. Good right? Yeah, great if I could have stayed that way. I don’t know what in the world was going on but I got hit more during this swim than any other swim. It was, for lack of a better word, stupid. I kept trying to find my own space but it was near impossible. About half way down the first straight part some of the men’s group, which had set out after my wave, had caught up with us. I was already fighting for my area when a guy got right up beside me. We were both going along about the same pace in a relatively straight line. Which is fine but then one of us moved closer (not sure if it was me or him) and our arms kept hitting. All of a sudden, as I was taking my breath on the left side, I felt a thumb on my back and four fingers around my rib cage on the right side of my body. The dude had grabbed a hold of my side and was pushing me away from him. Instant reaction was fear, split second later was anger. In my head I was screaming WTF are you doing donkey. As I was bringing my right arm back to start my stroke I grabbed his forearm and proceeded to apply pressure and twist. I know I must have caused some pain due to the speed in which he released my side and jerked his arm away. I know it’s a race and all but seriously why would you do that – jack wagon. I could not for the life of me calm myself down after that. I am not sure if it caused me to panic or if I was just that angry. I may or may not have space issues. I struggled to get my breathing right again and ended up swimming off course twice. The whole rest of the swim was just a struggle. People were getting bottle necked at the turns which meant more contact and I just did not care for it. I was so HAPPY when it was over! I felt going into this race that my swim time should be around 38-40 minutes.
Swim Time: 45:54
I feel like such a terrible time needs to be graced with a reason as to why it took me a day to get out of T1. When I got to my bike I looked down and the person who was beside me had taken my gear, which was not in her way, and basically tossed it. I don’t know if it was by mistake or not. I was so happy to be done with the swim I did not even care that much. I did find my running shoes and hat and put them back in a pile so I would not have to look for them on my return. We were not allowed to swim in compression sleeves thus if you wanted to wear any you had to put them on after the swim. If you have never tried to put compression sleeves on wet legs try it but I suggest you’re sitting down so you don’t bust your face. I felt like it took me forever to get them on. I would have gone without but I did not care to deal with my calf muscles cramping up on me during the run so I spent the extra time putting them on. You live and learn.
I got to say I am really starting to enjoy my time on the bike. The bike course at first was nice and flat then about half way it turned into hills. Florida has some strange hills. I swear it was like you would climb up and expect to go down the other side just to realize it would get flat for a moment and climb again. What happened to what goes up must come down Florida? Overall I felt comfortable on the bike and I worked for every hill being that I am a flat land rider. I was averaging 18-20mph during the first part but that went away as soon as I got into the hills. I was able to successfully implement a hydration/ nutrition plan suggested by my buddy Jason from Cook Train Eat Race . I set my Timex to go off ever 15mins and I would drink a few sips. I had 4 PowerBar Energy Blasts (80 calories) at the 30 min mark and have a Gu Gel at the hour mark (100 Calories). This seemed to give me enough calories to keep my body going. This worked out for me very well. I never really got tired. The last three miles were probably the worst for me. My thighs began to start cramping up and I had to stand up a few times on the peddles to stretch out. I know that I was properly hydrated so I guess it was just from my efforts on the hills. As I was turning to make my way down the last hill before the transition area I noticed a girl on the sidewalk running with her bike on her back. I asked if she was okay and she stated she was but her bike was broken and she had to make the last four miles on foot. I was in AWE. This girl when faced with the decision to call it a day due to a malfunction issue said, not no, but Hell no, slung her bike on her back and ran 4 miles to the transition area. If that is not inspiring then I don’t know what is.
Bike Time: 3:21:26
T2 was uneventful. I was happy to see my gear was still in place from where I picked it up during T1. I had spent the entire time on the bike having to pee but I refused to stop. I tried several times to go on the bike but my mind will just not let me so I did make a pee stop during T1, sorry Jason I promise I tired =)
The run was as expected hot hot hot. I knew it was going to be hot and I had made a mental note to make sure I was drinking something at each aid station. I have a bad habit of sometimes skipping aid stations because I don’t like to drink while running but not today. The run course was one hill after another and once again they only seem to go up and not come down. Florida has a twisted mentality. I checked my watch around mile 3 and I was averaging a 8:34 min mile which is right where I wanted to be. My quads and hamstrings began to cramp up again and I would stop and walk though the rough twitches but as soon as they went away I would go back to running. This went on for a while. My knee, on the other hand, only gave me minimal issues on the larger hills which made me extremely grateful. I don’t recall what mile I was on but sometime during the second lap I face planted into the invisible wall. My body was just done. I tired to walk it off, took a gel, drank some nasty hot coke, but nothing seemed to help. At this point I knew I was not going to make my goal run time. I was disappointed but once again you live and learn. This course proved to be tougher than I initially thought it to be but it was a fun course, other than the swim, I really did not like the swim at all.
Total Race Time: 6:40:15
I think I would do this race again next year as long as it not a M swim course. I went into this race expecting to finish around 6 hours or better but it seems the day had other plans for me. A few people pointed out that I was just coming back from my knee surgery so I should not beat myself up about my overall time, and they are right, I guess I just did not want to think of anything in terms of holding me back. After taking the time to get over my initial disappointment I realized that I had made progress despite my time difference. Augusta is the only other 70.3 race that I have done and there is no way to compare the two courses because Augusta is 100% flat and Haines City is not. However, taking that into consideration lets compare my times.
Augusta: Swim: 30:34 : Bike: 3:32:13 : Run: 2:18:41 Total 6:30:46 Down current swim, and a flat bike/run
Haines City: Swim 45:54 : Bike: 3:21:26: Run: 2:21:46 Total 6:40:15 No current swim, Hill bike/run
I definitely feel stronger on the bike which I think can be seen in my time. I went faster on a harder course and I am absolutely satisfied with that. The run time was slower in Haines City but not by much when you take into consideration the degree of difficulty. So I am happy with my results and will take what I learned form this race and walk away a better informed athlete! Forward Progress.
A special thanks to my husband for his constant support and willingness to allow the alarm clock to wake him up at 0430 most days! You know you love me =)
Till Next time – keep moving forward.