Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ironman Florida Race Report: Swim Bike Runs Part 2 of 3

A quick reminder - the way this race report works is like Mad Libs from grade school.  Before you read the story, write down answers to the numbered prompts.  Then when you get to the number in the story - insert your own word or phrase.  And it obviously makes more sense if you read Part 1.  Enjoy.

1. To move quickly.
2. Another word for rock star.
3. Something flat.
4. Something that blows hard.
5. Another word for ugly.
6. A great distance.
7. Another word for toilet.
8. Something people wait in long lines for.
9. Something very slow.
10. A really good NASCAR racer.
11. Another word for slow.
12. What fat people do for a hobby.
13. Something disastrous and messy.
14. Verb meaning "to pop something out."
The Bike and T2:
I was [1]__ towards my bike when I heard the volunteer say "Bathrooms are on the right before you get to the racks!"  Good idea, I thought - why start a 112 mile bike ride with a full stomach?  I'd take a couple of inconvenient seconds here and save some real time and discomfort out there on the course.  Racing smart - atta boy.
I made a quick pit stop and "emptied out" as much as possible, but still felt pretty "full."  Well, I could't stay in the port o' let all morning - and I could't put a good swim time to waste.  So I headed back out into the madness, got my bike from one of the [2]__ volunteers and headed out for the ride.
Everyone's concern going into the day was the wind.  In the days that preceded the race, there had been a steady 10-15mph breeze and some heavier occasional gusts that promised to make make the [3]__ flat bike course less than enjoyable.  As I made my way down the first stretch of coastline the crosswind was blowing through the high-rise buildings like [4]__.  I reminded myself not to fight the wind, but to simply take what I could get in a headwind and enjoy the tailwind on the way back.
After a couple of beachfront miles I made a right hand turn out onto the Florida panhandle roads.  As the crosswind switched to the first real headwind of the day, I tucked in and try to get as "aero" as possible.
Heidi, my wife, zipped up on the back of a Harley.  She had volunteered as a race marshal and was out putting the hammer down on bike course drafters.  She congratulated me on a good swim and asked how I was feeling.  "Pretty good!"  I told her, and she assured me that she would be back by transition by the time I got there.  She smiled as she sped off to enforce.
And then it started to get [5]__.
The fullness in my stomach was replaced by a sort of stinging ache that started high and moved its way down.  I sat up in the saddle to provide some relief.  Welp, guess that first pit stop wasn't enough.  Wierd, I thought, because I hadn't eaten anything weird - the same stuff I'd had before every morning swim, bike or run for months.  That's okay.  I planned on stopping at the first aid station, taking care of business and then getting on with a solid bike ride.
I could see the first aid station and the port o' lets around mile 12 from [6]__ away.  However, the reason it was so easy to find them was that there was a line outside of the the [7]__ a mile long.  Unwilling to stand there with my bike like I was waiting for [8]__, I decided that I could take the discomfort for ten more miles until the next  aid station.  Another slow motion moment.  Sigh.
No more than two miles later - it got worse.  Aero was definitely not an option, but neither was pushing the pedals with any semblance of pressure.  I backed off and gingerly made my way over the next eight miles as bikers sped around me like a [9]__ on a beach cruiser.  I didn't dare press on the pedals or release the immense pressure in my stomach for fear of "sharting."
The miles to the next aid station went by like and escalator ride when people are in front of you and you have to just stand there.  But the station eventually appeared like a stream in a desert, and I anxiously made my way in to find some relief.
I can only describe the experience by comparing it to a trip I once had to Mexico.  Or perhaps asking if you remember a particular scene from Dumb and Dumber.  Needless to say, it was bad.  It took a while.  But then - it was over.  I felt all better.  Game on.
I darted out and hopped on the bike - ready to make up some lost time.  I was down.  I was hammering.  Like [10]__, I was zipping by the folks that had passed me during my pit stop.  It was great.  And then, at mile 20, it was back.  I sat up and made my way to the next aid station, where I enjoyed such a wonderful pit stop that just prior to re-mounting my bike, I decided to go back in and make it a two-rounder.
This process repeated itself at least five more times throughout the course of the bike.  And I found myself sitting up in the headwinds, enjoying a [11]__ pace, so often that I simply laughed and sang the Wicked Witch of the West song as old women and pedestrians passed me by.  "Duh-dah-duh-da-da-da, duh-dah-duh-dah-da-da..."
Inconvenienced and a bit frustrated, I reminded myself of my original goals:
1. Finish.  I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to quit twelve months ago when I signed up, so that made that decision simple.  All I had to do was not lose focus or do something stupid and I could still meet goal number one.
2.  Enjoy every minute of the day.  You only get to do your first Ironman once.  And remember, this whole thing is a hobby.  It's what we do for fun.  Other people [12]__.  We test ourselves to see what we can accomplish.  On this day, I was going to see what I could accomplish while battling a case of dysentery.  And I was going to smile the whole frekin' time.
A long and bumpy stretch of highway just prior to the halfway mark tested my will to enjoy, as each random bump led me to say out loud to myself, "Do not crap yourself in front of all of these people."  I had seen pictures and video of people who had done it as they neared the finish line at near World Record pace.  To do so prior to the 66 mile marker on the bike seemed unnecessary.
The rest of the bike was relatively unremarkable.  A couple more pit stops at the aid stations became as much a part of my routine as sitting up and riding beach cruiser style.  Patience became as important as endurance.  I focused on taking in nutrition and water.  As much was going out of me, I knew I needed to keep the calories coming in.  I stayed on schedule nutrition-wise and passed some of the slower miles trying to figure out what might have caused my current distress.  (In hindsight, the best conclusion we can come up with is that I took in a substantial amount of saltwater during the swim, which science will tell you can lead to [13]__.)
As I made my way back into Transition, I kept my cadence high and realized that the silver lining to my intestinal meltdown was that I had barely taxed my legs at all for fear of pushing too hard and [14]__.  Seven hours and one minute after I had started the bike, I headed into T2 - ready to try and salvage a decent marathon, with a smile on my face.
I dropped off my bike and made my way through the maze of bags and volunteers to retrieve my run gear.  As I did, I removed my sunglasses and was surprised to find that my vision was cloudy.  What I had attributed to sweat smeared on my lenses was actually the result of sweat in my eyes.  The chaotic scene that was T1 was replaced by a much more controlled T2.  I found a small corner of my own and made a relatively quick change.  One more stop by the toilets on the way out (Why not?)
and I headed out on the run.


  1. Ouch, that does not sound like fun but great job on making the best of it!

  2. That sucks that you had such bad stomach issues. You rock for pushing through and continuing. Way to go! Great write up, and I can't wait to read the rest!

  3. Way to not ruin the day with frustration! Seriously, I've heard of too many people lose it because of the smallest bump in the road.

    And this is like a chapter that leaves with a cliff hanger. Depending on the GI Issue, I could see you pulling off a great marathon.

  4. wow, I took 2 dumps on the bike course at the mile 33 and 80 aide stations and I thought I had it rough. I hated those winds too, and was also out there for about 7 hours. So you were in good company!

  5. way to go! I love this mad lib- this was my funniest line:

    (In hindsight, the best conclusion we can come up with is that I took in a substantial amount of saltwater during the swim, which science will tell you can lead to [13]giving birth.)


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