Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ironman Florida Race Report: Swim Bike Runs Part 1 of 3

Okay, so I know race reports can start to all sound alike, so in an attempt to make this one a little bit more fun to read, I thought I'd write it Mad Lib style.  For those who don't remember Mad Libs from elementary school book fairs, the way this works is pretty simple:
Before you read the story, write down whatever words or phrases that you first think of as designated by the numbered prompts that precede the story.  Then when you get to the point in the story with a number, look back and insert your phrase with the corresponding number.  Okay, here goes:
1. A food you see on the Biggest Loser.
2. Adjective describing an angel.
3. Something that spills out and just keeps coming.
4. Describe a mosh pit.
5. Name a body part someone shouldn't touch without buying you dinner first.
6. Describe a crappy traffic on your commute to work.
7. Name a body part.  Any body part.
8. People or animals who are lost.
9. Something that spreads apart.
10. A large body part.
11. A small space.
12. A time when people eat a lot.

A bit of a disclaimer: I've found that triathlon blogs can often offer a bit too much information for some people.  Things can get real out there.  And sometimes it's pretty gross.  I'm talkin' about bodily functions, ya'll.  So if you're easily grossed out - you might just wanna skip the race report.

The Swim and T1:
If you tell most folks what is involved in an Ironman, they very often reply with: "Oh, that sounds tough.  I could probably do all of that except the swim."  Then they go back to eating their [1]___.  Perhaps because of the mass start and hysteria, the swim seems to be the most foreboding event in the race.  I guess people figure they won't drown while biking or running.  I simply don't have much of a swimming background myself - and so the day would start for me with a 2.4 mile question mark.  Could I make the 2.4 mile loop under the cutoff?  Could I do it without being smoked for the rest of the race or demolished by the mass start?  Heidi told me she thought I could swim a 1:20 - anything around a 1:30 and I should be more than happy.
As I made my way to the water's edge for the start of my first 140.6 mile journey, I watched as the Gulf current set the professional racers a solid 50 yards inside of the marker buoys.  Current out of the west.  Noted.  I said one last "thanks" to my [2]__ wife, we said a quick prayer, and I made my way to the middle of the pack for the race start.
As the gun went off the mass of pink and green swim cap clad racers entered the water like [3]__.  The first minutes of the swim were [4]__, but with neoprene and salt water.  After a few elbows to the eye, kicks to the head hands groping over my [5]__ I remembered to simply remain calm, and look for a route to open up my stroke (even if it meant going around a few piles of flailing arms and legs - I just can't bring myself to swim right over folks the way some people do).  And if possible, find someone to draft off.
The mass of bodies continued like [6]__ through most of the first lap.  During that time there were more than a few instances where a random arm leg or [7]__ landed on my head mid breath and offered a large gulp of Gulf of Mexico saltwater.  (If this were a movie - I'd show this part in slow motion as a bit of foreshadowing.)  The frustrating/funniest part of the swim was seeing just how poorly some people sighted.  It was as if [8]__ drifted every which direction looking for a black pool line on the ocean floor to direct them - sometimes even swimming perpendicular to the masses around them.  With all of the chaos and the fact that I had spent more than a few seconds literally treading water at the turns, trying to find a way around the masses - I put any type of "goal time" out of my head.    
The second lap of the swim was much more enjoyable.  The masses spread like [9]__, and I was able to swim my own pace for most of the loop.  Though on the final stretch into the beach, the lack of a crowd worried me a bit.  Was I that far behind?  I didn't bother taking a second to sight backwards, for fear that I might not see many swim caps behind me.  After a much smoother and lonelier trip around the course and one very near miss with a jelly fish the size of my [10]___,  I exited the water to hear the announcer note a time of 1:13.  Wow.  How'd that happen?  A bit bewildered by my early success, and feeling great - I made my way into transition.
Nothing prepared me for the chaos that was T1.  Like a thousand mostly naked men crammed into a [11]__, the room was worse than than any episode of Tosh.0.  (No pictures - you're welcome.)  In hindsight, I can't help but recall the pre-race advice I got from some of the female racers who had done IMFL before - who described an empty room with volunteers who personally assisted each racers as they sat on foldout chairs and changed out for the bike...(a quick tip for the ladies - rumor has it that IMFL has historically had about 5-1 male/female participation.)  I elbowed and boxed my way into a 2ft x 2ft space where I could change out into my bike gear and dumped my T1 bag out on the floor.  I made a relatively quick change (allowing time to ask the dude who was dripping all over my gear to kindly get his naked butt off of my race belt so I could go) and I headed out the door.  As I clipped my belt around my waist and headed for the bike racks, I noticed that my stomach felt fuller than [12]__...  


  1. Love the race report! I can't wait for the next episode.

  2. uh oh! I see where you are going with this. Cant wait for the next report! Congrats on surviving the ass in your face and making it to the finish line, Ironman!

  3. LOL this race report is awesome, it is making my brain hurt though ;)

  4. I like the idea of the Mad Libs. Quite creative!

    Great time on the swim!!


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