Ironman Florida Race Report
14th Place Men 35-39
40th Place Overall
It's early morning on the day after the race and I can't sleep. I have a lot of thoughts about this race bouncing in my head and I figured I would put my sleeplessness to good use and get my race report done early. My overall result was not what I hoped for, but I poured every ounce of effort into yesterday. Although there were some mental cracks and dark spots along the way, I never quit and I kept fighting all the way to the finish. I left it all on the course and as a result I was more physically crushed at the end of this Ironman than any of the previous eight. I had to get checked out by medical which was a first. In short, I am disappointed in the result, but not disappointed in my effort.
The build leading up to this race was phenomenal and I arrived in Panama City Beach the fittest and most well prepared I have ever been. By every data metric I was in prime position to throw down a spectacular race. I was confident that a sub 9:30 was in the cards and thought a sub 9:20 was possible. I owe a big thank you to Eric Limkemann for having me so well prepared and especially to Trey McFerren. He trained with me virtually every day from August until race day and having him along for the ride made me tougher, faster, and he helped me re-find my love for training and the rigors of Ironman in general. Training alone for the last few years had ground me up more than I realized and for the first time in a few years, I was having fun training with Trey every day. Thanks for being my inspiration big dog!
Sher-pa and I woke up at 4:00 and I had an 800 calorie breakfast of oatmeal, cashew milk, a PBJ English Muffin and a banana. At 4:30 we headed out of for the short walk to transition. We immediately noticed that the wind was quite substantial in contrast to the days leading up to the race. I knew I was going to be in for some tough stretches on the bike heading into the wind. I got to transition about 4:50 and got body marked, checked my transition bags and got my bike set up. The SpeakUp crew all met in the host hotel lobby and we sat inside to stay warm and out of the wind. The atmosphere was loose and everyone was jovial as we passed the time and made our last minute preparations. About 30 minutes before the start I had a 200 calorie Picky Bar. Soon it was time to head down to the beach and thus would begin a host of errors that I made on the day.
As we walked down to the beach Moose said something that stuck with me all day. He told me, "you earned this every single day, go get it" it was the perfect thing to hear right before the start and gave me a last second jolt of confidence. As we walked through the hotel it was really congested and we began to realize that it was going to be difficult to make it down to the first corral of the swim start by the time the gun went off. Suddenly, things became really urgent and next thing I knew we were hopping fences and trying to squeeze through every tiny opening to get down to the start. We ran down to the beach and ended up running to the wrong side of the corral. We had to run all the way back to the other side, and by the time we got there it was so packed that we couldn't make it through the crowd to get to the first wave. The clock was ticking down and we were less than two minutes from the gun. I hopped two barriers and pressed toward the front and got to the line less with less than a minute until the start. It was a hectic way to start the morning and got the heart rate jacked before even hitting the water.
The gun went off and I got a good start through the breakers. I was dolphin diving and felt like I
made my way to the front without having to do much jostling. I felt really good in the water but I struggled with sighting. The start time of 6:45 a.m. was dark (sun up at 7:00 am) and I opted for dark goggles because of the rising sun (in hindsight this was a mistake as the sun was off to the side). My swim out to the turn was good and I held good lines but as we made the turn there was deceptively large swells you couldn't see from the beach. I would guess they were three to four feet. As I made my turn back to the beach I got totally lost. For some reason I kept looking for yellow buoys knowing full well that they are always yellow on the way out and orange on the way back. The combination of the orange dawn sky and looking for the wrong color buoys had me way off course and my swim lines were comically bad. I was all over the map, particularly on the first loop. I actually stopped three or four times because I completely lost my bearings. I did much better on the second loop, but the lines were not as clean as they should have been. The file reflects that I swam 250 yards too far and realistically cost myself somewhere around three minutes. On a positive note, I felt great in the water and leaving my SpeakUp speed suit on underneath my wetsuit was a good choice. Shoulder restriction was minimal and I will continue to do that in the future. As I finished the swim I got a great jolt from the crowd and saw most of my family as I ran through transition. The transitions were quite long and I feel like I was fairly efficient based upon my transition time. I ran through transition holding my bike shoes which was a good choice based on the long run.
22.8 mph, Avg Power- 230, Norm Power- 232
Avg HR- 144, Avg Cadence- 84
In hindsight, I made a deliberate choice early which probably negatively impacted my run. The goal was to ride 225 watts which is quite conservative for me. However, the race required about 240 watts in the early stages to stay with the pack. 240 watts is also well within my wheelhouse but it was harder than I wanted to ride. Ultimately, I made the choice to stay engaged with the group and that required 235-240. I don't regret it, but I think it may have hurt me a bit on the last 10 miles of the run. Sometimes you need to go where the race takes you and thats where I went. At about mile 20ish we turned east and right into the teeth of the wind. I went to the front of the group and actually led the pack for the majority of the first section into the wind. This may have been a tactical error and I probably would have been better served to sit in, but I am relatively strong into wind and I took advantage of that fact. After a long section into the wind we turned back towards the beach and then once again made a turn east into the wind. It was in this section that I got my first ever drafting penalty. I was riding in 5th position when we hit one of the few hills on the course, and the guy in front of me slowed down dramatically on the uphill. I immediately sat up and hit the brakes and tried to avoid his draft zone. Unfortunately, I got too close and the marshall immediately carded me. By the letter of the law he was right and I technically deserved the card. However, I also felt that by virtue of him having ridden next to us for two hours, he knew that I was not trying to cheat. I guess it was a letter v. spirit of the law situation. It was a frustrating penalty and it gave me some consolation that the guy behind me came around and told me that it was a bullshit call. His view was that the marshall was just waiting to card someone in our group and unfortunately it was me. From my perspective it felt similar to when you are in a pack of cars on the highway and a cop pulls over one of the cars from the line at random. I guess it was just my day. After getting the card I kept my head in the game. I vowed to stay with the group until I hit the penalty tent. The penalty tent was about 10 miles away and it was frustrating to watch the group ride away.
I stayed positive and used the time in the tent to stretch and get nutrition in. The folks in the tent
As we headed back toward town I focused on stretching out my back and staying loose. I felt good but I was ready to get off the bike and attack the marathon. I felt confident and knew that I was in around 20th place (give or take a few spots) coming into T2. From a nutrition standpoint I opted to go back to some solids and increased my overall intake. I had 5 honey stinger waffles (750 calories), and 1000 calorie bottle of Infinit and Carbo Pro. I planned to consume 1/5 of the concentrate bottle every hour but I ended up drinking it much faster. I ended up killing most of that bottle by the 3 hour marker. I ate 1/2 of a waffle every 10 miles along with 2 salt stick caps. I felt good from an energy standpoint but also felt like I was on the razor's edge of queasiness all day. I think it may have stemmed from getting tossed around in the salt water and drinking the concentrate too fast but it stayed with me all day. I had one bottle of water at every aid station and felt good from a hydration standpoint. I peed three times on the bike which was perfect. As I pulled into T2 I was excited to see a split well under 5 hours even with a five minute penalty. I thought I could ride under 4:50 and without my penalty that is exactly what I did.
Run- 3:48:03, 8:42/mile
As always, my biggest relative weakness is the run. I have spent countless hours focusing on form
The plan was to run the first loop at 150 HR at 7:50/pace and increase my pace and HR on lap two up to a cap of 160 HR. Coming off the bike I felt good but not great. The legs were a little heavy but I was running well and my HR was totally under control. At about mile 3 I started to settle in and I was walking the aid stations to keep the HR right where I needed it. I got to the halfway point at 1:46 with an average HR of 149. It was a little slower than I would have liked but still on pace for a 3:32. As I made the turn onto loop 2 I had a brief period where I started to feel really good. For a couple of miles I increased my HR to 155 and my pace dropped to 7:40-7:50. For a few minutes I began to think that this was finally my day and I was going to negative split the run. Unfortunately it was not to be and I started
I am obviously not pleased with the result but I was pleased with my attitude and my effort. That being said, I am not really sure where to go from here. I am growing fatigued of torturing myself for months on end chasing a goal that feels increasingly impossible to attain. Every year there are additional races, deeper international fields, and less slots to go around. It is basically to the point where you need to be top 2 in the AG to even have a shot. The flip side is that I am having more fun and there are always things to improve upon. I think I am going to let this marinate for a few weeks before I make any decisions on a future race schedule. Its time to focus on Sloanie and Britt for a little while and enjoy the holidays. Overall, Ironman Florida represented overall forward progress for me and I won't be hanging my head. I can sleep comfortably knowing that my best case scenario yesterday would have been a 9:25 and even that wouldn't have punched my ticket.
Many thanks to my family and friends who continue to make this possible. I love you Britt, Sloanie-Bear, Mom, Dad, Jackie, Lummy, Ricky, and Bobby. None of this is possible without you and thanks for chasing me all over the country. Im not very good at expressing it in person but I can do it in writing for all the world to see. Thank you and I love you. As always, thanks for reading and I welcome any feedback and questions. Happy Training and Racing.