Tuesday, November 09, 2010

IM Florida: Race Day Part I

On race morning I awoke at 4 am. Breakfast consisted of an Ensure and half of a wheat bagel with peanut butter. No matter how hard I tried, I was only able to get down about half of the half of the bagel. I've never been a huge breakfast-eater on race day or for long training days.
Leading up to the race start I drank 2-water bottles: one water and one melon flavored Heed. About 30 minutes before the start I took in a gel. After I set up in transition I stayed inside the hotel to keep warm.
About 6:35am we headed out to the start. We watched the pros head off and I kissed Scott goodbye! Before the age-grouper start, I took a dip in the water to make sure I was adjusted to the water temps and to make sure my goggles were sticking. I lined up slightly right of the buoys as there was a westerly wind about 5-7 rows back. I think I made I good call on that one.
The swim start was chaotic as I'm guessing any Ironman start is. I was hit in the head, eye, ankle and even had people try to sink my legs. Despite the craziness, I just kept telling myself: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming", following Frayed Laces advice from the day before. In between, I counted one-two-three breath, one-two-three breath. I wanted to make sure I was keeping my heart rate low and not going too hard.

The course consisted of tw0-out and back loops. The first loop was a bottle neck the entire time. My self talk went as follows: "Wow- Heidi this is going to be so freaking slow"! Despite what was going on in my head, the first loop was over before I knew it. It found it quite strange how the water was cooled as I neared the shore line not the opposite. I exited the water ran up on to the beach and saw 30:29. Oops maybe too fast. The second loop I aimed to keep around the same pace and tried my hardest to relax and take it easy. The bottle neck continued until probably 3/4 through the swim.

Final Time: 1:03 Goal Time: 1:10

Extremely pleased with my swim, I was off to T1. The nice part about the Ironman sanctioned events is that volunteers actually hand you your transition bags. The bad part about doing the Ironman sanctioned events is that the volunteers are required to FIND your bag. This proved to be a challenging task for the high-school kids that seemed clueless. I waited impatiently for a minute before they were able to track it down.

Off to the changing area. I grabbed a chair and haphazardly threw on my Jaggad jersey, my cold-weather get-up (gloves, argyle sox, walmart gloves with the fingers cut off, and calf compression sleeves), and inserted my Jaggad crotch pad. The high school girls in the changing area looked like deer in head lights as naked-ness was everywhere. They seemed afraid to help. I ended up doing all of it alone. Chloe ran in and sat next to me, and then I was off.

On the way out of transition, I caught a glimpse of my mom and Scott. My mom was holding a sign with this picture on it:

Yes my friends-wiener dogs.... Flex and Chewbacca. I couldn't help but laugh and wave.

I don't know if it was the inability to find my bag, donning all of the cold weather clothes, or the wiener sign distraction but my T1 time was just plain ugly. (somewhere around 9 minutes: Yikes!)

As soon as I started the bike, I felt awesome. I reminded myself once again to keep my heart rate low and keep my cadence high. I set a limit of 160 bpm and tried to keep it within the 148-160 range. Looking back, that may have been a little too ambitious of me. Having rode part of the course with Chloe earlier in the year, I felt a little more comfortable about where I was going and what to expect. Everything was going perfectly minus the numb fingers and toes.

"Perfect" is not often the word of choice used to describe any Ironman race. My perfectness didn't last long. About 10 minutes in, my Garmin beeped "low memory." Boooo not now! I thought I cleared my watch. I knew the outcome but thought I would ignore it until it permanently died.

In the mean time, I sipped on water the first 15 minutes of the bike to test my stomach after the salt water swim. All was well. I took in my first gel at 25 minutes. I knew I should have taken it in earlier but was distracted by the turns and the drafting that was going on around me. After that I starting drinking my Heed/Sustained Energy Combo every 15 minutes and alternated with water. Every 40-45 minutes I took in a gel. I felt awesome. Getting nutrition in was more of challenge than I thought it would be due to the frigid temperatures.

Crazy middle aged men in peletons kept zipping by me. I tried my hardest not to let it phase me. The wind was pretty obnoxious as well. I stopped at 56.6 miles at the special needs area to switch out my water bottles and to grab a few more gels and my 5-hour energy. I continued to feel strong and relaxed. It was finally starting to warm up. I ditched my gloves and one of the arm warmers. I kept one for a snot rag. I took in half of my 5-hour energy. My watch died shortly thereafter. Luckily, I was able to clear the memory and had a rough idea where I was time-wise.

Scott and my mom surprised me out on the course around mile 95. I was all smiles.

After doing one last out-and-back portion, I headed south over the bridge into Panama City Beach and hit the home stretch along the beach. There was a decent tail-wind and I could tell the athletes around me were a little too anxious to get to T2. I dropped back and stayed in "Heidi" zone. Now was not the time to go hard and waste energy. I knew this race was no-where near over.

Bike Time 5:40 Goal Time 5:35-5:45 Ave Pace 19.75mph

For bike nutrition: I took in 5 gels, 5 water bottles (2-water, 2-Hammer Melon Heed/Sustained Energy, 1-Heed only), 1/2 bottle of 5 hour energy, and 1-packet chews. I probably should have taken in a little more.

Stay tuned for Part II: the run/medical and Part III: Ironman Newbie Lessons Learned!


  1. I am on pins and needles waiting for the next installment!

  2. Can't wait for Rart 2. That pink planet X looks sooooo sweet!

  3. trying to find the words to describe how much I liked this post. That fist pic is awesome. It captures that pre-race tension perfectly. Nice work out there.

  4. way to rock the swim and bike... please don't let us hanging for long!

  5. So far so good!! :) But it does sound cold!!! BRRRRR!! Can't wait to read the rest!

  6. wooo hoo! i can't wait to read the rest :)
    lookin' SO fly in the bike pic-rockin' the hot pink too! love it

    I gotta wonder how cold it is in PBC FL this time of year...heck Im in Maine so it's not really cold until you hit the single digits!! LOL

    Great post

  7. LOVE IT! of course.. you look like a rockstar in all your pink gear!! GREAT swim (but I already told you that!!)

  8. Way to rock the swim and go exactly on target for the bike! Let's pretend I don't know how the run turned out... ;)

  9. 56 miles without a flat tire?? Thats a new concept to me. Sounds like your training prepared you well for this race, and of course it helps to have some familiar faces along the way.

  10. How exciting, ok on my way to part II

  11. Awesome swim and bike! Other than the slowish transition, sounds like everything started off pretty well! I love the dog poster :)

  12. It was so awesome seeing you, Larua, Carla, and my friend Cari in T1. What a way to start the race.

    The men are crazy - in the swim and the bike. But I'm sure there are quite a few that have 'heidi and chloe' bruises on them.

  13. holy swim time AND bike time girl! you smoked it! Isn't it hilarious how you garmin faithfully works for hour upon hour but when it actually matters it breaks down? lol... don't know how you withstood that cold or rode a 5;40 in the wind!