Ironman Florida Race Report
November 2, 2013
2nd Ironman, 26 years old. Previous IM 12:55:59 at IMTX 2011.
My goal was to get a new personal best. I knew racing Ironman Florida (IMFL) would be a fast course, so without a doubt I wanted a sub 11:30 (<11 hours would be ideal conditions). Now those that know me KNOW that I pretty much break down every course I race into sections. I have my splits laid out for those sections, best case/ worst case scenarios planned out, and I even account for the future wind/ day forecast when I make out these splits. Yep. I’m pretty ridiculous, I know, moving on… My day was actually overall an 8/9 out of 10! There is always the “what-ifs” in every race but overall I was pleasantly surprised!
Saturday, RACE Morning- My alarm went off and 4am never felt so good.. I was ready! I began eating, drinking my usual pre-race meal consisting of Applesauce, Whey Protein, Powerbar, 24oz of Perform, and a banana. Whew, it was a lot of food but I had been practicing eating this large amount before so it wasn’t as painful as it sounds. Kelly Mann, a friend and fellow athlete who stayed with me overnight to be close to the race, finished her similar breakfast as well, and then we headed over to Transition to check on our stuff. I aired up my tires with ease, did a once over on my bike , loaded up my “suitcase” of nutrition in my bento box as my Coach and Charles Payne call it and I was set! I was eager to look in my T1 and T2 bags as it had rained the whole day before. As I was heading to my T2 bag to put my dry shoes in, I tripped on a pot hole, fell, and “tweaked” my ankle a bit. Naturally there were about 10 people at my side freaking out, but being 6’2’’ I’m pretty much use to the whole ankle sprain thing! At the time I thought my ankles were invincible! Haha- naïve I know. They checked out my ankle, it looked fine, sore but nothing to worry about. I put my shoes in my T2 bag, checked everything twice and headed over to T1 and did the same thing. Kelly forgot her nutrition box, so she was heading back to transition as I was leaving- another good reason to stay at the Host Hotel before an IRONMAN! I headed back to the room and found my coach, Robbie already there, anxious… and with three huge cups of coffee in hand. It was just 4:30am. Impressive. Swim- With the new “swim start initiative” they had us lined up from left to right under predicted IM swim finish times. So starting far left (which was in line with the buoys going out) was the under 60min group, then 1 hour to 1:10, 1:10 to 1:20, and so on. As I looked at the current and after talking with my Coach, I just went ahead and lined up in the very front with the under 60 minute group. This was actually a great decision and I wouldn’t take that back! Kelly, Charles, and I all found each other and were lined up side by side as we heard the National Anthem play. Before getting ready to head off, I saw Bill Beecher, who is this amazing swimmer/ athlete in our town, he looked at me like I was insane for lining up where I was but we exchanged some quick words, he wished me the best, and I never saw him after that! The cannon went off and the “washing machine” began. It actually wasn’t as bad as I remembered. I think I just got kicked in the face once, which left a pretty good mark, but after the turn buoy it all cleared out quite nicely. If you are new to the IMFL race course, make note that there was one sand bar about 50 yards out from swim start. On race day, I decided that I would refrain from dolphin diving until after that sandbar. This worked out pretty well for me, especially since I’m tall and can stand my own to each wave. As I was ending the first lap I looked at my watch and the time had stopped, I had no idea how I was doing. I looked around and saw mostly green swim caps, which means males, so I figured I was doing decent. I asked a guy next to me what he had for time, he said 31 minutes. Score! I was determined to beat my brother’s PR (1:08:22), sorry Kyle! Lap 2 was pretty unremarkable, with plenty of room to swim. The swim finish came before I knew it, I felt fantastic. It literally felt like I had just done a 5 minute warm up! Swim Time 1:06:17, 6th in AG, 55th Female.
T1- Wetsuit strippers were right when you got out of the water, very fast and efficient. I took time to try to wipe the sand off my tri-suit in the showers overhead but didn’t stay for long. Since my bag was in the front, I just grabbed it myself headed to the changing area, put on helmet/ sunglasses/ wiped my feet off with the towel I packed and decided to carry my bike shoes with me to my bike. I passed a lot of people who were trying to make the long transition “running” in their bike shoes. I put mine on while the volunteers were busy getting my bike out from being racked- worked out perfectly! T1 Time- 5:02
Bike– Have patience!! So my plan here was to take it easy for the first half of the bike and then at that point I could start my race. The first half was also unremarkable; I was passed by pretty much everyone! There was a small headwind heading out on 75N but I just went by feel and didn’t pay attention to everyone else around me. I always heard and even made a note about this “special needs road” people kept writing about in their race reports. This is no joke. This road is absolutely horrible. Bike parts, bottles, nutrition everywhere.. it was just a mess and pretty miserable. I lost my Flat Kit on this road somewhere and just made the daring decision to not go back and get it! At the turn around, mile 56, I looked down at my TIMEX 2.0 Cycle Trainer and the roads were SO bumpy, I think my hand or water bottle holder must have hit the stop button so I had no idea what my time was. Good thing this bike computer is so easy to use, I was able to clear my previous time and restart my bike computer all while in aero. I love my Cycle Trainer- the GPS and heart rate synced immediately and I was good to go! As I was approaching special needs, I saw one my buddies, Charles, about a 0.5-1mi going towards the turn-around. This is where my competitiveness stepped in and I couldn’t let him pass me! My coach always said I was “nice until I put spandex on,” haha this couldn’t be truer! I took my first shot of caffeine for the day and started my race on the bike! I actually felt fantastic from that point on. On the 20 mile road heading West, it felt like a pretty good headwind but I was passing people left and right, so I didn’t mind it much. I knew once I headed South, I would get a good tailwind and it would be smooth sailing from there on out. I saw a pretty good crash literally right in front of me, I didn’t stop but I did my part by telling the next aid station which was only a couple hundred feet ahead. Charles finally caught up with me somewhere in between miles 75 and 80. At that point, it was just good to see a familiar face as we talked a little bit about how our day was going. At the small out and back-mile 90- my ankle that was “tweaked” started hurting a bit and I was just asking people for Tylenol. Charles took a look at it and said it was “FINE” so I thought I was just being a pansy and started refocusing on my nutrition for the remainder of the bike ride. From mile 90 to 112 we played “leap-frog” and legally drafted off each other the remainder of the bike ride. BIKE TIME- 5:35:31, 20.03mph. 6th in AG, 82nd Female.
T2– Same thing here, I grabbed my bag before the volunteers got to it since I knew exactly where it was (put purple tabs on my handles) and headed into the changing area. I ate my banana, reapplied deodorant and sunscreen, put my shoes on, begged for Tylenol- but no one had it- and then headed out! T2 TIME- 3:35
Run– As soon as I exited transition I saw Betsy, Jamie, and John Temple cheering me on. It was so good to see them and have their support! I asked them what my swim time was, since I still had no idea, Betsy yelled 1:06 and I was so happy. I knew my brother was going to be ‘mad’ at me for beating him, so it made me laugh a good bit just thinking about it!! I rounded the corner and saw my coach where he gave me my stats for the day- where I was in my AG, how I was doing, etc. I loved that! The crowd was amazing, the volunteers were even better and just people cheering/ playing music made the whole experience a blast. The first 6-7mi felt great, I didn’t feel any pain in my ankle so I ran on! At the turnaround, I think my adrenaline started wearing off and the pain was getting worse with each step. I had two decisions, I could walk and prolong the marathon or I could keep running and get this sucker over with! Obviously, I went with the later. I reminded myself of my Mom and her always telling me “Elyse, no pain no gain.” I literally grimaced and repeated this for the remainder of the marathon, not joking! Nutritionally, I was taking in coke at every aid station and PowerGels (Double Latte, Tangerine, and Vanilla) every 45-60 minutes. As I hit the Run Special Needs, I grabbed my nutrition for the second half of the course-that was in a sandwich baggie- and stuffed it in my tri kit pocket. I saw my coach and friends again which got me going. I asked if they had any Tylenol for my ankle and I think one of them said yes and that they would get it to me. Whew, thank goodness! Little did I know they sent JOHN TEMPLE to try to catch up with me on the course… so long story short, I never got any Tylenol but nice effort J.T.! Towards the end of the race I knew I had done it, I was going to go under 11 hours. I honestly couldn’t believe it! One of my nursing co-workers told me I’d better finish before shift change and I knew I had done just that! I was STOKED! RUN TIME- 3:58:48, 4th in AG, 64th Female. I crossed the finish line and pointed to the camera thanking all those who had tracked me that day, and gave a kiss to my Husband who I knew would be watching me from work. The volunteer asked me if I needed medical attention for my lip, I asked why and she said it was blue and purple, “probably from the kick to the face on the swim,” she just look at me like I was bazaar. I saw my coach, family, and friends at the exit area. I tried to walk towards them and couldn’t take another step. My ankle was done to say the least. I looked down at my right foot and it looked like I was a 500lb diabetic! My coach and brother walked me to the cold outdoor pool to “ice” my ankle and assess the damage. It looked like the same thing I’ve always done in years past- definitely an ankle sprain! We had a medic come out to wrap my ankle and I finally got some medicine from somebody (who knew at this point) and I headed to the room to start my R.I.C.E. process. I had friends update me on everyone else finishing and people came by my room afterwards to change and share war stories. This was an awesome experience- we all did absolutely amazing and it’s just honestly so cool what your mind and body can accomplish when you push yourself to the limit. TOTAL TIME- 10:49:13, 4th in Age Group, 64th Female, top 13% Overall