Ironman Florida 70.3 race report
This season, for me, is special because it is a celebration of my 40th birthday year (in December). That being said, I decided to make it a race filled year with the kickoff being Ironman Florida 70.3. With only about two months of preparation and a whole new concept with nutrition, I thought it might be a nice race to start out with. I threw out the idea to my local triathlon team, Cambridge Multisport and got a buddy, Brian Snow, to agree to come down for the race. Now how do two triathletes get from Maryland to Florida and then back in a 4 day span…well we drive 14 hours, of course.
We loaded up my new Quintana Roo PR5 and Brian’s Bianchi on top of the Subaru and left Easton, Maryland at midnight, early Friday morning. 14 hours…. Of driving……. Straight down US95 South….jeez. Once we got to Kissimmee, Florida, we opted NOT to go check out the course as it was 2pm, and we were tired and hungry. On the trip down I’d been snacking on meats and cheeses and trail mix to stay in my new, fat adaptive, state of nutrition. Once we arrived on scene, though, we found ourselves right next to a Logan’s Roadhouse, which is a southern steakhouse, so a nice salad (maybe with an adult beverage) with steak strips and time for a short run. 30 minutes to get the legs going. Felt good and we opted that we would check out the course, 30 minutes away, Saturday.
Saturday we plan out the day so that we can check in, view the swim course, and then catch an athlete briefing where they would explain all of the rule changes and anything special about the course. Brian had said that he had never been to one and, if you haven’t either, I HIGHLY recommend going to one for each race you attend. Not only did they discuss the new rules (which some I believe they misinterpreted) but they also kept hinting about a hill on the run course… A LOT. Mental note… go check out the run course.
After the briefing we racked our bikes, though this was only optional. Apparently at IMFL70.3, you are allowed to bring your bike race morning. Instant recipe for disaster, but folks were excited. I’ve seen the chaos that is transition and was glad that we didn’t. Mainly, if you have never done Florida, because the transition is a SPLIT LEVEL transition. Not split, like your bike transition is one place and run transition another, like TWO LEVELS, meaning we were on the lower level and would have to run our bikes up an incline to get to a second level. And then we would run DOWN to our level on our return. Wow…little different…
Anyway, racked the bikes, walked transition to catch the flow of it, and then went out to the practice swim. Again, glad we did that. We wanted to try out the M design of the swim course. Fortunately, some of the corners were longer than shown on the map and it was a decent design. So out of the water, a little chicken gyro for lunch, and then in the car to drive the bike course. The first 10 miles were very short, twists and turns, but it didn’t seem bad. We actually left the course around mile 20 and headed back to check out the run course…. We should have kept driving… then we wouldn’t have been surprised on race day. We found the hill on the run (ouch) and I instantly decided I would walk the uphills to keep my heart rate under control. Course check done and starting to feel a little shaky so off to get some food. Delicious grilled chicken over rice from our new watering hole, Logan’s.
Race morning…. 4 am…. Everything was packed and ready. With my nutrition strategy in hand I opted to eat a banana mash for breakfast, and munch on a Ucan Bar while waiting for the swim. The biggest question I had in the morning was whether I wanted to have coffee with Coconut Oil and Butter (Bulletproof coffee) race morning or not. After two sips, I decided I did not…
Got a nice parking spot only 4 blocks from the start/finish and, as we walked in to transition, we noticed that there were a LOT of empty bike racks. Now we were there about 5 am, with transition closing at 6am. Like LOCKED DOWN closing.. We spent lots of time just doing fine setups of our transition areas, and got to go out and use the port-o-johns because the lines were short. About 5:40 we opted to go back in to transition, as I just had an odd feeling. Sure enough, people were starting to come in with their bikes and try to rush through setting up their spots. Brian had a few guys with him that started peeling numbers off the racks and moving them down, so they had more space. Fortunately, neither of our bikes got really messed with. At 5:55 we had folks come through and tell us that transition was closing and that we had to leave. The funny thing was, there were still people, A LOT of people, still walking their bikes TOWARDS (not even IN TO) transition. I wonder what happened to them……
We sat down and tried to relax until our swim starts (mine at 730am and Brian’s at 745). I met with the Peachtree Tri Club members, where one of our Board Members and another racer for Team BlueLine (for Eagleman) were waiting. We made arrangements for me to be able to grab the Thin Blue Line Flag for my finish line run. This organization is comprised of law enforcement officers that are racing to raise money for the families of fallen officers. We are a 501c3 and this would be the first big race where one of us was racing in a kit (another member, Melissa, raced a few weeks ago but we didn’t have our kits in).
Queue up for the swim and enter in to the water. The swim was wetsuit legal, at 75 degrees so I opted to wear my sleeveless wetsuit. Looking back, I should have swam just in my kit. It’s how I had been practicing and I’ve tried to develop a decent kick and kick pattern in the pool for propulsion and body position. With the wetsuit on, I couldn’t get that kick OR pattern, as my legs were floating on top of the water. Another lesson learned…. But overall I was happy. My Garmin would show under a 1:50/100 pace, yet the Ironman clock showed 2:03 or so… It all depends on where they stopped and started their timing. The swim felt great and I came out without being short of breath or light headed.
Ran in to transition and my buddy Wei was in there laughing and joking with me. He was taking photos of me stripping out of the wetsuit and putting on my cycling. There were a few that looked like I had to pee really bad and we would laugh about them later. I had to take a moment to look through my transition bag because I had forgot to lay out my knee strap for Patellar Tendonitis. Probably added another 30 seconds to T1….boo. On the bike, with a Speedfill full of Water and Nuun and a Bottle with 3 scoops of Ucan Superstarch (lemonade flavor). And BAM…. Hills. Lol. They might be little hills to some of you but I’m from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where our races have 10 feet of elevation. It was a hill. Fortunately I was able to just spin up them and keep my heart rate under control. All in all, an enjoyable ride. On the back of the course (Where we DIDN’T drive) there were some big climbs that I went in the little chainring for and STILL went slow, but not too difficult. My primary focus was to ride in Power Zone 2.5 to 3.5, which I was able to do for most of the ride. My secondary metrics for the ride were to ride at around a 150 bpm Heart Rate (AVG 147HR) and maintain around 80-85 cadence (AVG 80). Perfect. On the ride I ate one Ucan bar in the first 45 minutes and had two servings of the Ucan drink, concentrated in a single bottle. I also took Base Salts on the ride, two licks every 5 miles, like the packaging said. Finally, I had 40oz of water in my center Speedfill bottle with two tabs of NUUN electrolyte drink. Every time I would hit a rest stop, I would get @20 oz of clean water and drop a new NUUN tab in the reservoir. PERFECT!!
Enter in to transition and….. there’s Wei again. Lol. More laughing… more pictures. But this time I DID have to pee. So bad that I ran away from my transition area WITHOUT my bottle of Ucan or my BASE Salts. I did turn around and go and get them and that was the smartest thing I had done all day. Out on the run course in my Team BlueLine kit, with my black Team BlueLine hat on. I was worried about over-heating but I stayed cool and comfortable the whole time. The only nutrition I took was in the bottle of Ucan, that had two servings concentrated down with about 12 ounces of water. When I would approach a rest stop, I would take a swig of the mix, and then grab a cup of water to wash it down. As the race would continue, I would grab a cup of ice and add to the Ucan mix, to keep it cool. My metric on the run was to maintain between a 155bpm HR and 160bpm. My average through about 10.72 miles, was a 157 HR. This included walking up some big hills and slowing down when my HR would start to climb. This would be about a 10:13 moving pace which wasn’t bad considering the walks were almost two minutes on the big climb. Only one port-o-john stop too.. but silly Jason didn’t bring his charger for his watch so… DEAD at mile 10.72, leaving me in no-man’s land on metrics for the last 2.5 miles. I ran those on RPE, or Rate of Perceived Exertion. I think they were about the same pace, but I probably went over the 160HR.
So I start on the last little bit and see the Peachtree Tri Club guys looking for me!! There is Jay with flag!!! I grab it and realize that someone is right behind me so I hold the flag up like a cape and encourage him to run by. He does and I’m able to get some really good finish line photos to cap off the day.
Overall I’m happy with my finish time of 6:03:49. New bike, relatively warm compared to where I’m used to being, few hills on the course and testing out the fat adaptive nutrition strategy. I certainly want to than my wife, Laura, and the rest of my family for putting up with my training in the winter, as well as my Team BlueLine family, for making sure that we are there to show people what we stand for and make a difference. For my teammate Brian Snow for trekking down there with me (consequently, Brian would get his 70.3 PR by about 4 minutes so GREAT JOB!!) and my massage therapist Kiley Shipp (http://www.kileyslaglemassage.abmp.com/) with Slagle massage for helping to keep me on track so far. I also want to thank Susan McNamee of www.macper4mance.com for helping me understand how to use Bob Seebohar’s concept of Metabolic Efficiency to have an awesome race day nutrition strategy and use my body’s fat stores as fuel. With the use of the Ucan, I was able to use only 510 calories of fuel on the whole course. That doesn’t include the 620 calorie breakfast I had a few hours before the race. Pretty awesome!!
My next race is the Nanticoke Sprint Triathlon in Nanticoke, Maryland on May 1 and then I have to take a short break till Vineman 70.3 in July, then NYC Tri two weeks later. The big daddy, and the icing on the cake, will be Ironman North Caroline in October of this year. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has to hold!!