Ironman Florida- 5 weeks and counting….

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Week 5 gave me a chance to finally chase the carrot once again!

While I was excited to finally be at a race, I felt very disconnected from it at the same time.

I wasn’t nervous, excited, or even remotely anxious. I slept the ENTIRE night before, which is totally unheard of for me. This was very much a business trip.

I mentioned last week that Augusta was about testing the plan. I did EVERYTHING I planned to do in Florida, to be sure it would hold up and for the most part it did. There were a few snafus along the way, some things I determined I would not be doing, and a malfunction (or two) as well. But through it all, I was able to remain levelheaded and get the job done.

The Augusta course is a lot like the New Orleans 70.3 course except with hills. The roads are narrow and rough which leads to a very crowded 56 miles on the bike as everyone is trying to find their own piece of smooth ground. I’ve never seen so many water bottles, cages, bento boxes, and flat kits all over a course as I did last Sunday.

The run is 2 loops through downtown and while some parts have great spectator support, other parts are pretty desolate. Fairly typical I think. The streets are chipseal and cambered for drainage. I was constantly searching for level ground, usually found right down the middle of the street. If you’ve ever run in a southern city, on roads that routinely flood with a heavy rain, then you know what I mean. New Orleans is the exact same and after a while the ankles and ITB typically voice their displeasure. Luckily, mine were quiet till very late in the game.

Oh and that infamous Augusta swim….

I think people must flock to this course because of the swim and the notoriously fast current. I decided (in the middle of my swim no less) that weaker swimmers probably benefit most here as far as times go. The “better” swimmers, on the other hand, can just sorta coast through and conserve their energy for later in the race, still banking an acceptable time in the process.

Let me just say, the weather was PERFECT! We started the day at 55F and 42% humidity. I CAN NOT even begin to express how nice it was to be cold! I didn’t sweat until the last quarter of the run when temperatures reached 82F and I’m not 100% it was happening at that point. There was never a point where I was hot or even thirsty. The sponges actually gave me chills! It was such a foreign feeling to be cool and not just wet! At one point, I actually questioned my need for salt tablets, but opted to “stick to the plan” and not make any changes.

It was so, so, SO nice to be out doing this stuff; to be fairly comfortable and not always be focused on managing my core temperature or be attempting to rectify early heat stress.

Very nice indeed! 😉

Here’s how the day turned out….

relaxed, not sleeping...I swear!

relaxed, not sleeping…I swear!

SWIM: The current was unusually fast this year and as a result we had to jump off the docks instead of treading water, prior to starting. My plan was to ease into things and conserve my energy. After the initial pulling and clawing for a lane was over, I went to some very relaxed swimming. If only Florida could be this easy! I had no concept of time, but the buoys were cruising right on by so I figured that was a good sign. Eventually, I was ready to ride so I swam harder to wrap things up.

Time: 27:33 (24/222)

T1: It’s a long run up from the water, through a mouse maze to reach transition. I was SMACK in the middle! I got to my goods, got my stuff, and out I went…Took forever (5:30)

BIKE: Ohhh how I love the bike and ohhh how I hate the bike….All week I had gradually seen my strength return as my legs finally got some rest, but then I developed all this glute pain. I think it was basically just part of the taper, only I didn’t really go through a full taper so it never went away…UNTIL AFTER the race….as in 2 hours after I crossed the finish line…POOF! Glute pain…GONE!  Bizarre.

Anyway, the course is hilly and I don’t care what anyone says about being a fast course or having their fastest times here…blah! blah! blah!

Its hilly….

My “plan” was to ease into the ride. Basically getting settled, riding at Ironman watts, and starting my nutrition plan. I hit the first climb and my wattage skyrocketed and I knew, despite everyone telling me to stay in my big ring, I was going to need the smaller in order to achieve the days goals. So I shifted….and dropped the chain!

Got off, in front of a course photographer, no less, repaired said chain and took off again! Rode along for a bit, shifted again to the smaller ring again and off it went…After that repair, I decided NO MORE of that!

The rest of the ride was just a lot of up and down, bumpy roads, and some wind thrown in for good measure. Most of my ride was spent focusing on nutrition and effort, with a little bit of “OMG, I can’t believe how cool it is, I’m not even sweating!” thrown in as well.

Someone told me it was downhill from mile 40 on….

That someone lied!

I was still going up at mile 50. It wasn’t awful, but we were rarely flat….a BIG a test of my mental fortitude with my biggest concern being my ability to run 13.1 after this kind of riding.

I was able to follow my IMFL nutrition plan to a tee and it worked like a charm!

Time: 3:01 (46/222) damn chain! 🙂

T2: Moved through pretty quickly, but I had to stop and pee….YEAHHH!!  Well hydrated! Legs felt good, I felt good…I was ready to run! (5:49)

finish line!

finish line!

RUN: I run out of T2, at what I think is a snail’s pace, get around the corner, look at my watch, and see 7:48. Immediately think, “Slow the f*%k down!” And I try. I get to mid 8s, then I’m back to 8 flat…..Finally I reach an aid station and I slow to a quick walk…Start to run again and I’m in the 9s. phew! Sanity prevails.

I ran in the mid 9 range, walking only at aid stations. Some had ice, some did not. Few had sponges, most did not. Sometimes they were every mile, other times they’d be every 2, and then maybe every 3/4 mile in some spots. There was no continuity so it was hard to plan, but something is better than nothing. However, it did add a nice chunk of time to my “aid station walk through”  waiting for them to find ice, coke, or whatever I needed/wanted….

Mile 9-10 I was met with the usual urge to start taking walk breaks, but this time I was ready for it. I waited for it to come and I could feel it creeping up on me….slowly.

In the past, I’d try to ignore it, pretend it wasn’t there. This time, I brought that feeling of discomfort to the forefront and faced it head on. I knew the sooner I acknowledged it, made the conscious decision NOT to succumb to it, that it would dissipate.

And it did.

By mile 10 I pitched my gel flask and switched to coke.

Something about that stuff, it’s like a jet fuel and an anti-depressant all in one. Almost as soon as it passed my lips, all was right with the world.

The run nutrition worked perfectly. I was having some issues with caffeinated gels while training and ultimately elected to keep them on the bike, but eliminate them for the run. It turned out to be the right choice, although it does take about 24 hours for my body to forgive me for dumping so much maltodextrin in it.

The run itself was a bit slower than I wanted, but knowing I would stop at the aid stations in Fl, my goal was to average a 10 min/mi (or less….hoping for less) for the 13.1 with stops. My run pace held steady 9s and so I just need to focus on being a bit more “forceful” at the aid stations. I’m picky about what I need/want, so I’m going to HAVE to speak up in order to get through quicker.

Time: 2:11(46/222) 10:01min/mi…

  • Overall Time: 5:51:58
  • 46/222 40-44 AG

So the question all week has been, “would you go back?” And my answer is, “Yes, but…”

I’d go back, but not because it’s the greatest course in the world. Galveston, is still by far my favorite because I like a 3 loop run. But like everything else, that’s a personal thing….

I really like the timing of Augusta. It’s a great race, don’t get me wrong, and its challenging. It gives me the opportunity to do some quality riding during the summer months when running billions of miles is near impossible with the temperature. It’s the perfect race, at the perfect time….

I don’t think I’ll train for an Ironman through the summer again. It’s just too hot and too humid. But having Augusta on the fall schedule would be perfect to keep me in shape THROUGH those dog days. Then, I would be ready to tackle the longer training once the weather broke to prepare for a spring Ironman…

hmmm, Texas???

First things first, gotta get through Florida!

28 more days!

Train Happy, My Friends!

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3 thoughts on “Ironman Florida- 5 weeks and counting….

  1. Solid! Congrats! So happy you got some perfect weather too!!
    Your swim is INCREDIBLE!!
    Damn bike chain! Still, you nailed the bike!
    And the run, HOLY SMOKES girl! Amazing! Your training is really showing with this tune-up race I think. All 3 events were strong in my eyes.

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