Ironman Florida 2015 in Panama City Beach, FL
This was my second Ironman of the season and final A race of the year and attempt at a Kona Qualifying Slot.
I’ve been working with a coach 1 on 1 this season – Scott Iott of Training Bible Coaching. I’ve been a Hammer Nutrition Sponsored Athlete since January 1 and racing for Team Training Bible Coaching (Team TBC) this year.
I rode my Felt B16, Zipp Sub9 disc wheel and Zipp 404 front wheel.
My target power for the bike was 220-230W, and target pace on the run was 7:00-7:30.
I fuel with Infinit on the bike (about 300 calories per hour) and Hammer gels on the run (one every 30 minutes).
The swim start was a rolling start with self seeded corrals.
Wake-up time was 3:45AM.
Breakfast was 1 cup of coffee, 2 eggs scrambled and 2 pieces of toast one with peanut butter one plain. I left for transition at 4:30AM.
In transition I put my nutrition on my bike, checked things over, aired up my tires, visited my gear bags to make sure they were there, re-checked my bike tires, went to the bathroom, and re-checked my tires ☺
After exiting transition I changed out of my morning clothes, put on sunscreen and my swim skin and made my way to the swim start.
The water temps where unusually warm for this time of year, as was the weather, resulting in the swim being non-wetsuit legal. I wore my Roka swim skim over my tri shorts.
The swim is a two-loop course out in the ocean and back. The surf was pretty intense resulting in the first 200 meters or so being a battle to get past the breaking waves.
I lined up in the first group of swimmers, a few back from the front expecting a swim time right around 1 Hour. I didn’t have much contact on the swim and felt like I was swimming within my target effort. Coming in from the first loop the wave action was so strong we were basically body surfing in and I was thrown over top 2 other swimmers and my goggles got knocked down around my neck. I got to shore, and headed back out for loop 2, which was much the same as loop 1.
The swim was slow from what I think I’m capable of and disappointing in that. This could be due to a lack of experience ocean swimming and dealing with waves, or maybe bad sighting, either way I was out of the water, put it behind me and moved on.
I made my way up the beach and ran through the gear bags to get to the change tent. Saw my coach as he was heading out of transition. Stripped my swim skin, put on my bike jersey, helmet, and sunglasses and on to the bike.
My tongue felt burnt from the saltwater of the swim, so I rinsed my mouth a few times with water as I got going on the bike. I felt good as I settled into things on the bike, my power target felt comfortable. I put in a few higher efforts to get around guys as I approached them to make sure I was clearing the drafting zone in time.
Things were on track with my nutrition schedule; I didn’t have to force myself to drink, I was usually feeling like I needed it by the time the next 15 minutes hit. Not wanting to get dehydrated on what I knew was going to be a hot day I made sure to grab a new water bottle from each aid station on the bike (about every 10 miles), using the old one to drink a bit more and dump over my legs, shoulders and head.
Around mile 30 I had a pack come around me and keep slotting in front of me causing me to keep dropping back. I put in a good effort after I realized I needed to pass these guys since they were riding too slow for my target power and were drafting so I didn’t want to be associated with them. At mile 70 I had 2 guys come around me one blatantly drafting and kept it up for the next 10 miles until we approached a penalty tent. I yelled to the officials that he’d been riding my wheel or the other guys for 10 miles. His drafting continued for at least through mile 95 when I lost track of him up the road. As I came in to T2 I saw him in the penalty tent and I let him know how happy I was to see him finally busted. In hindsight, I let that guy get under my skin too much and should have just ignored him and focused on my own race. Otherwise, it was a clean race from where I was on the road. I know there were a lot of drafting penalties given out, but I had pretty clear roads.
I stopped at special needs for my last bottle of Infinit and a small can of coke that I drank around mile 85 on the bike.
Starting around mile 95 my quads and hips began to spasm while I was in the aero position and I had to sit-up quite a bit. I knew this was a flat course and I would be aero most of the time, but I don’t think I got up out of aero enough to stretch things out and recruit other muscles early on in the race which I was now paying for.
I figure I lost about 5 minutes or so in that last 17 miles due to not being able to hold a good bike position. Conveniently, we had a gentle tailwind at that point so it didn’t hurt my speed much, but I did get passed by a handful of guys that I think I would have otherwise held off.
I had 6 servings of Infinit available on the bike course plus the can of coke. I went through about 5.5 servings, and the coke. So maybe 250 calories higher than the 300 calories per hour target I usually figure I need.
Bike power was 213W Normalized, with a 1.02 VI. A little lower than the target of 220-230W, which was mostly lost in the last 12 miles as I sat up and worked out my leg issues.
I knew it was getting warm as I was finishing the bike and with my leg issues I wasn’t feeling great in T2. I was moving and hopeful, but not optimistic of having an amazing run. I told myself to stick to the plan, keep eating, run easy for the first 5k and see what the legs had. I stopped to pee heading out of transition, which I figured was a good sign for hydration.
My legs were heavy and it was hard to get going, but my Garmin was saying I was running fast. I kept telling myself to slow down! I was able to settle in and get the pace under control over the first 1-2 miles. Going through the first aid station a guy was counting out our positions, I was 37th according to him. I was running with the guy in 36th for about half a mile talking with him but he wasn’t that interested and was slowing significantly so I left him.
I drank a bit of coke and had a gel in that first 5k.
After 5k I knew it was going to be a battle against the heat and saw my cadence was low. I switched my watch to show just cadence and time and tried and keep cadence up over 85. By that point I had decided to walk each aid station to make sure I got water in and ice on me to try and keep cool.
Very early on in the run my mental strategy became just run to the next aid station. Which pretty much meant taking on the marathon 1 mile at a time. In the state park area around the turn around point the sun and heat felt so oppressive on my first loop that I chose to walk for a bit rather than make it to the next aid station for a walk break. It felt hotter walking than running so I worked my way back up to running.
We had more cloud coverage on the second loop which was a bit helpful, but it was still really hot and I just didn’t feel like I could get much going. I don’t recall much of the second loop, it was mostly run to an aid station, shove as much ice down my pants and jersey as I could, drink water and start running again. I know I walked at one point and extended a few aid station walks beyond the aid station.
With about 1 mile to go a volunteer at an aid station said I was looking strong and race time was 9:43, that motivated me to keep pushing so I could break the 10 hour barrier.
Crossing the finish line was such a relief, I was just thankful to be done.
My swim time was slow but ranked OK in the age group. I blame the waves and less experience ocean swimming for that. The bike was about 7 minutes slower than I was expecting, if I had gotten out of aero more often early on to stretch and recruit other muscles that may have saved me the lost time and aerodynamics of the last 17 miles of the ride. I struggle getting my run together when it’s hot; as a result I think I walked far too much. Walking every aid station may not have been the best choice. That said – I don’t know that I had much more to give on the run. While it wasn’t the result I had wanted and I have disappointments with all 3 disciplines, I’m happy to have finally go under 10 hours and to have fought through a tough day. There were 3 Kona slots in my age group and they only rolled 1 spot to 4th. I’m a Cubs fan, so there is always next season…
Total: 9:51:44 10th in Age Group, 29 Overall