Ironman Florida

After two weekends of bad luck in September I was eager to race well. I picked Ironman Florida over Arizona as it is 2 weeks earlier so there was less chance of having to train in cold weather. Plus “Badger” Sue Rubens was racing Florida so there was definitely going to be beer after the race. None of my usual posse was able to make the trip down so I mooched off her cheer squad for support during the race. I owe Sue, Janie and JRob a big thank you.

The race itself was fine. I was hoping to either do really well or terribly. This would make it easy to pick race distances for next season. Unfortunately it was just ok so there is no clear answer.

I was in a fine position early in the swim with the main group that went around 51 minutes. Finishing out the first lap I just couldn’t keep it together and watched them swim away. Two swimmers caught me in the middle of the second lap and I went with them. The last stretch went better and I pulled a little away from those two as we hit the horde of age groupers wrapping up their first lap. I felt horrible for them as the water was just starting to get rough so their entire second lap would be harder. My watch said 54 min as I ran up the beach so I was relieved the swim wasn’t a total disaster.

The bike started well. I was aboard my Felt B2 and Kevin had loaned me a Zipp Sub 9 disc with a powertap and a Joule head to keep track of my power. We had my watts from Arizona last year so it would be interesting to compare the data. I was negligent of taking in calories and paid the price with a bit of a bonk about half way through. On the north end of the course there was a 20 mile straight section with a tremendous tailwind. It’s hard not to feel better when you’re sailing right along so I was able to rally. The last 6 miles are along the beach through town and went right back into the wind which was a huge downer. Last year there was massive bunch of guys riding together and thankfully this year things were more split up. The only bigger group was a few minutes back and apparently everyone in it was just chilling behind Christian Brader. Of course these guys went flying by a few miles into the run.

The run also started quite well. I went through 10 in 70 minutes and half way around 1:32. From 13-18 I struggled. Miraculously I rallied at 18 and felt pretty good coming home. At mile 25 my legs were pretty tired so I hurried as best I could to finish. The entire second lap I was recalculating by the mile what it would take to drag my sorry ass across the line under 9 hours. In the final few miles I figured I had it but wanted to get as far under as possible.

In Florida has you pass through a tight corridor of spectators at the turnaround then you shoot out to go to the finish and have about 1/3 mile to go with absolutely no one around. You are suddenly both tired and lonely. I was chugging along when suddenly this big cheer goes up behind me. Shit. I took a glance back and saw the lead woman’s motorcycle and knew Jessica Jacobs was going to run me down in the final stretch. Son of a gun. Chicked again! Damn it. Chrissie got me in AZ last year but she had the decency to pass me 10k into the run so we were 30 min apart at the finish, not within a minute! It was pretty incredible to see how strong Jessica Jacobs was running. A 2:53 is no joke and this was her second Ironman title this fall as she’d already won Wisconsin.

Anyways, it was a long day filled with discomfort and delicious nutritional product. I finished and immediately texted Dan Hedgecock, berating him for letting me do this to myself. Though 2 weeks younger than me he is wiser when it comes to Ironman. By wiser I mean he’s wise enough to avoid them. I was pleased to go 10 minutes faster than AZ and that I only ran terribly for 5 of the 26 miles. AZ pays alot better and features a few big names and I was 16th male pro there with my 9:04. With my 8:55 at a lower key race I was still 16th male pro. From a competitive standpoint I should either get alot faster or stick to halves. We’ll see. I, like many triathletes, seem to have an irrational attraction to these Ironman things.

Hanging with Sue and her crew made the weekend a ton of fun. They had cold beer ready at the finish in true Wisconsin style. One of the best things about Florida is that it’s a Saturday race so we all just sat on the beach and relaxed Sunday. I think my man Harvey Skees (the guy you should call if you get yourself into trouble with the law) would probably have liked the post race beer and beach action.

I am very grateful to have the support necessary to go and do these things. TYR kept me afloat in the water with the Hurricane wetsuit. TYR’s carbon race suit served me well the rest of the day – its nice that they put a decent chamois in the tri shorts so there was no changing in transition this year. Gear West Bike and Tri has put me on the right bike for me and made sure I was dialed in appropriately. I can’t imagine riding in the aero position for 112 miles without a good fit. Enterprise Lighting and Harvey Skees have been great supporters of my fledgling tri career and I appreciate their help immensely. Finally a big thanks to OptumHealth Performance, the company I coach with. OptumHealth Performance has a world class facility I can use for my own training and more importantly where I can help my athletes get faster. Please go see Gear West Bike for extra speed through equipment and go see OptumHealth Performance for extra speed through training. For the training secrets to break 9 hours you will have to hire me as your coach.

Check back for 2012 plans and enjoy your off season

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