Last year, Aaron and I volunteered at Ironman Florida so that I could register for Ironman Florida 2014. I spent a year training and the day was finally upon us. I started the day with a goal of crossing the finish line in under 13 hours. I also expected this to be my first, and only, full distance triathlon. The training became very trying. There were days that I trained for seven hours. Going into this race, I had no interest in repeating the long training days required to complete an Ironman.
The race forecast was not too favorable. Winds were forecasted to be 22mph sustained out of the north. It was also chilly. The temperature at the start of the race was about 48 degrees. I knew the bike portion would have difficult segments. Fifteen minutes before the start of the race, I was informed the swim was cancelled. The swim safety personnel were unable to get/stay into the proper positions. I was bummed. This meant my first Ironman would not be a complete Ironman.
Race officials decided to do a time trial bike start. This meant I would not begin the bike until after 9:30 (the swim was scheduled to begin at 7). I changed clothes and got ready for the bike. In the mix, I lost my family and had to turn in my morning clothes bag. This was my warm clothes. I spent two hours shivering waiting for my turn to start the bike. I would have much rather swam and started my bike ride around 8:30. People were released in order, by their bib numbers. This meant a lot of the older people would start near the end. I felt bad for them. For two reasons. It meant they would spend more time waiting in the cold and also meant they would have less time to complete the bike ride. I was told that all of the cutoff times remained.
The bike ride was not as bad as I anticipated. The first 24 miles or so were brutal. It felt like I was pedaling uphill the entire way. In fact, I only averaged about 16.2 mph for the first 15 miles. Once I turned off the headwind, everything seemed so much better. There were other times I was going into a strong headwind. Around mile 75, there was a bad crash. There was a female laid out on the road waiting for an ambulance. She looked pretty bad. She was face down in the ground, not moving.
I completed the bike in 6:06:10 and averaged 18.35 mph. My goal was sub six hours. After the wind forecast, I threw my goal out of the window and just told myself to stay within my comfort zone. At the Gulf Coast Triathlon (half iron distance), I pushed myself to make my goal of averaging 20mph or better on the bike. I paid for it dearly on the run. I wasn’t too far off of my goal. I was pleased heading into the run, I felt comfortable and knew I didn’t burn too many matches on the bike.
The run: Holy cow. I never ran more than a half marathon off of a bike. That was after only 56 miles on the bike. I had no idea what to expect. Except the suck factor. During the start of the run, I had to work hard to keep my pace above 10 minutes per mile. I wanted to run faster. I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain a faster pace. My goal was a 4:30 marathon. I was on track to reach my goal until mile 20. I stopped to use the bathroom. After that I could not get back into my rhythm. I ended up running a 4:39:20 marathon. I averaged a 10:39 mile. The last 10k was the toughest running I have ever done. My thighs were on fire.
I read a lot of recommendations to make sure you separated yourself near the finishing chute. As I neared the last 1/4 of mile I slowed a little to get some distance from a guy in front of me and I could not see anyone behind me. I am glad. I enjoyed the finishing chute. I saw my family near the end. My coach from my first triathlon was volunteering as a catcher. It was a nice surprise to see him. He grabbed me and got me through the finishing area.
I was so thankful to have so many friends and family out there cheering me on. Of course Susan and Aaron were there to chase me around Panama City Beach. My mom and stepdad came over from New Orleans to see me. They chased me around the run course on their bikes. Lisa, Nicole, and her friend MLA drove down from Montgomery to see me. My friend Brandon also followed me around after he was done volunteering at the race. I got to see them several times during the run. They kept me motivated when times got tough.
Will I do another Ironman? I have to. I have to do a complete one! Probably sometime in 2016 though. I need some time off.
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