Ironman Florida Race Report

2012 IRONMAN FLORIDA
22nd Professional
Swim - 57:50  Bike - 4:27:11  Run - 4:03:24
Finish - 9:33:15

This race would be my 26th Ironman start and an opportunity to build on some momentum that I had coming out of this past season.  Consistency with my race results had come back, as well as balance in with my training, coaching and the rest of my life. Needless to say, I was excited.  

Leading into the race I felt strong, confident and was clear minded as to what I would do.  My swimming was going extremely well and though I wan't hitting life best numbers on the bike and run, I was routinely clicking off days that could yield a very strong finish and perhaps a shot at the podium.

Travel went off without a hitch on Wednesday and I had a great place to stay away from all the excitement with defending women's champion, Jessica Jacobs. Thursday went smoothly with the press conference, catching up with friends and the athlete meeting. Before I knew it, Friday was here and I was racking my bike.

I awoke on race day to the sound of crashing waves on the beach and lots of fog.  WTF!?!?! This wasn't in the forecast and I found it especially odd, because there was very little wind, but I guess that's the ocean. I tried to put it out of my mind and went about my business.  This year our start was bumped up 5 minutes. This doesn't sound like a lot, but let me tell you; when it's already dark, 5 minutes means it's even darker. I stood on the beach, 15minutes before the start and knew immediately I needed my other, lighter pair goggles. I sprinted back inside transition, grabbed them out of morning clothes and made my way back to the beach with about 10minutes to spare... what followed was a lame attempt at a warm-up. It involved getting knocked over 3x by 4-5' breaking waves and losing my goggles once...it got to me and I was rattled....60seconds to go and I had lost sight of my plan. Now, just making it through the swim sounded appealing.

The cannon sounded and I carefully picked my way through the waves and somehow made it out the first buoy a bit easier than I did in warm-up.  Thanks to a far less than aggressive start, I found myself rolling up and down in the swells somewhere between where I wanted to be (1st pack) and where I didn't want to be (the 2nd pack).  I decided to just swim on my own and soon I found myself back with the 2nd pack.  The remainder of the swim was largely uneventful; I swam solo, I didn't get knocked over by the waves and came out with a number of others who didn't have good swims either.

After a quick transition, I was essentially first onto the bike behind the pack that was about 2:30 up the road.  The watts were coming very easy today, but I stuck to my plan and soon found myself towing about 10 guys at the 15mile point.  By mile 20 we had picked up a few more and by mile 30, a few more still. Packs are not something that I seem to care for and for a number of reasons, I followed a few of the stronger veteran cyclists to the front of the pack, to get away from the mid pack antics.  The watts were reasonable and the legs felt fantastic.  Mile 40 clicked by and then 50 and then there was Starky; riding solo with a moto and car and he had at least 10 minutes on our group.  We all expected that he would put time on us, but 10minutes in 50miles?!?! Not only that, but we made the 90km mark(half way) in 2:04.  WOW.

We rolled through mile 60 and eventually bridged up to the first chase back. The good news was that I was rolling at 27mph+ through a lot of the ride, the bad news was that so were the 25 other guys with us.  

At mile 85 and within a few miles, I had familiar issues with the pistons and had to let the group go.  I thought that it was an ok time for this to happen because we no longer had a headwind and I thought that the group would maybe have 5-6minutes on me by T2.  With a gap like that, I knew that with a solid run, I could get back into the top 5.  One problem, at the turn at mile 95, the group already had that 5 minutes on me...in 10 miles... power of the pack I guess!!! I tuned the split out and just did my thing back to T2. The gap to 2nd, a whopping 12minutes....and I rode a 4:27.

Onto the run, I knew (or maybe hoped) that the guys would implode in the heat and I just took care of myself and stuck to my game plan of 6:25's.  I rolled through 7miles and found that I had taken 5:30 out of 10th and knew that if I could just run like I did in Wisconsin, I would end up top 8.  The next 6 miles were uneventful; my gap to 10th was down to 3:40 and the gap to 6th was about 5:15. Perfect!

The second loop started with a port-a-john stop which skewed the tracker splits a bit (about 70 seconds), and I kept rolling 6:40-45's, which I knew (relative) to still be taking big chunks of time out of the rest of the field.  At mile 17 I slipped down to about 7' pace, but it was warm and thought I could hold that until the en. This would give me a 2:55 or so... I just took care of myself, or so I thought, until about mile 19.25.  My pace went from about 6:45 to 8:45 in a matter of about 400m.  This posed a few problems:

1) I was over a mile from the next aid station and I needed COKE, NOW!

2) I run in tiny run flats and when my mechanics go south, the knees and feet get VERY painful.

"S#*! I am in a bit of a predicament here," I thought. I got to the turn around on the far side of the course and the gap to 10th was under 2minutes and 8th only about 4:00. The guys were running very slowly, but my charge had stalled and now, so was I.  The pace had slipped to 9+ and still had over a km to go.  By the time I made my way to the aid station I took 2 full cups of coke, perform and salt, but I couldn't get the pain (not the good, pushing hard pain) to subside or the pace to come back. I_ was_walking...

The reality then hit me about a half mile later at mile 21,  my day was done. I am not going to lie, I had thoughts of walking off the course.  I was tired, the body didn't respond how I wanted it to, how I had trained it to, or how it had 7 weeks prior.  But about that time I remembered what it felt like to quit, even when walking for 90+ minutes was the last thing that I wanted to do. In addition, I wanted to stick to my new rule, which is that if I start, I will finish, even if it means I walk it in.

+++

So that's all she wrote for Ironman Florida, 2012.  I did not accomplish what I had set out to on the day, but enjoyed racing and another attempt at the Ironman Podium.

A huge thank you to my Team of BBMC athletes and family for you support. A big thank you to Trek Bicycles and the Trek Stores of Madison, as well as Powerbar, Peak Performance Massage and K-Swiss for their support.

It has been a great year thus far and I am looking forward to seeing what the future brings!


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