It's difficult to describe how I feel after the year long process of registering, training, and then competing in the 2013 Ironman Florida triathlon. It has definitely been more about the journey than the actual event. The journey is what consumes you, the event is merely a footnote. I suppose that I might feel differently had I gained a Kona slot. For me the adventure of my second Ironman Florida race started on Saturday evening on November 3rd, 2012 during the Southern Crescent Cycling club End of Season party. That just happened to be the same day as the 2012 Ironman Florida race. Two club members, Kimberly and Tommy, were competing. We installed a laptop and a big monitor at the party to watch the race video streaming live online. People gathered around the monitor as we watched both of them cross the finish line. Four of us made a pact to register for the 2013 race as soon as on-line registration opened on Sunday. All four of us got in. Another friend, Leslie also registered as did two more friends from Peachtree City (PTC), Chad and Jared. That made seven of us, Stephanie Critchfield, Jason Reeves, Carlos Talbott, my local friend Leslie Momper, Chad Daniel and Jared Hanson from PTC, and me.
Our plan was to train together and use each other for motivation. That didn't happen. We did train together a few times but, for the most part, we each did our own thing. I had a few good weekday rides with Chad and Jared, and their friend John, that I know I wouldn't have done had it not been for them. I also had a few early Saturday morning long rides with Jason and his brother Josh. We never did swim together even after several attempts. Over the course of the year Leslie pulled out of the race due to a bad BMX racing accident. That left six of us meeting in Panama City Beach to compete on November 2nd. So, without any further ado, lets get this party started.
|Big Busted mannequin|
|Two Big Busted mannequins|
Susan and I drove to Panama City Beach (PCB), Florida via Peachtree City (PTC), Georgia on Halloween, Thursday, October 31st. The car was so packed that our poor little dog Max didn't have any place to lie down. Max weighs 112-lbs. We left Big Max at Puppy Tubs in PTC. The 6 hour trip to the beach was an easy drive for the 2013 Ironman Florida triathlon.
|Susan and Max before we pulled out of the garage|
|Max says "I sure do enjoy a good road trip"|
|Max looking dejected says "It sure would be nice to have a place to lie down"|
|"Maybe you could get rid of some of this junk"|
|Ironman Foundation t-shirt|
|Susan in the kitchen|
|The hall bunk beds loaded with my tri gear|
|The second bathroom|
|The master bathroom|
On Friday the weather turned nasty. It rained on and off almost all day and the wind was terrible. Jason, Carlos, Stephanie and I got in a short practice swim that morning. Carlos, Stephanie and I followed that with a very short bike ride and run. It was very windy and I was afraid that one of us might wreck. We followed that with an even shorter run.
|Jason, Carlos, Stephanie and me|
|After our practice swim|
|Me, Carlos, and Stephanie in the elevator after our short ride|
|Carlos and Stephanie posing after our short run|
|Prince of Bahrain motorcade (on Saturday)|
|Another view of the motorcade (on Saturday)|
|New blue Yanks shoelaces|
|Rain on Friday|
|My bike racked in the transition area on Friday|
|Run bags on Friday|
|A wet transition area on Friday|
We watched the weather all day.
|A view of the clouds from our room on Friday before the race|
|Another angle of our view|
|The lake behind the condo|
|Susan presents her chicken Parmesan|
|Eating breakfast as I check the weather|
|The race day weather forecast|
|The race day ocean swell forecast|
|Road shoes on the left and worn-out tri-shoes on the right|
|John and Kristen with Samuel|
I got to the swim start just in time to see the pro's start at 6:50am. I wore a full wetsuit to the beach. The beach wasn't cold and neither was the water. It wasn't hot either. Probably the only thing that someone, not me, might have complained about was the rough water. Compared to the day before the water on race day was smooth as glass.
|5 minutes before the swim start|
My T-1 time didn't register either. It was all lumped into my swim time. Combined they were 1:27:16.
My bike was located on the northern most set of racks. It was a straight shot for me from the rack to the bike exit. It was a really good location. Earlier that morning I had filled my bento box with Endurolyte tablets and Gu gel packets. I had 3 water bottles, 2 behind the seat and 1 on a bottle cage tie-wrapped between my aerobars. I ran to the mount line and hopped on my bike. Sliding my feet into my clipped in road bike shoes was easy. Not as easy as my triathlon bike shoes but the better fit would prove beneficial over the next 5 hours. The more snug fit of my road shoes would provide a good transfer energy from my leg to my bike. I had clipped my shoes to my pedals that morning when I setup my bike. Two of my water bottles had a heavy dose of Perpetuim and the third was water and Gatorade. I also had a Clif Bar which I placed on my bike that morning but stuffed into my jersey pocket as I exited T-1. Everything was going as planned except, I could feel the sand stick to my socks as I ran to the mount line. I would worry about it all day.
On the bike course I saw some drafting and a few packs. I came up on one group of about 20 riders just as the referee rode up on a motorcycle behind me. This was the one point in the race where I actually got mad. I yelled out "ON YOUR LEFT" and the pack of riders gave me some room to pass. There was a double yellow line where I eventually passed the group. I received a brief scolding from the referee. Sadly, at around the 71 mile mark I saw a terrible accident just after an aide station. Three riders went down hard. I was too far away to know what happened but I'm pretty sure that the riders were hurt.
I had planned to have my bike's loose back brake lever fixed before the race. It had been an annoyance during my recent training rides. After seeing the accident and bunched up groups I was glad that I didn't have it fixed. The chatter would be a signal that I was coming as it rattled when I passed other riders. I finished the 112 mile bike course in 4 hours, 59 minutes, and 55 seconds. I figure that I passed about 1000 riders in those 5 hours. I entered T-2 in 406th place overall.
|The start of the bike segment|
|One of the princes from Bahrain|
My second 13.1 miles was much faster than the first. I'd recovered some of my energy and the temperature which had climbed to near 80-degrees was now much cooler. Passing by my friends and family near the finish line was a real push to keep moving. As the sun went down I was within 2 miles of the finish. I started to move faster as the finish line neared. I could hear the crowd get louder. As I made the turn from Joan Avenue onto Thomas Drive I felt like I was moving pretty fast. As I turned onto S. Thomas Drive I was in an all out sprint to the finish. I hate to be the guy who passes anyone in the chute. I figure I've made my bed (my placement in the finishing results) I should lie in it (be a gentleman and wait your turn to cross the line). I couldn't be so polite on that day. I had plenty of kick left and I used it.
What about the sand I had been worrying about since T-1. Well, my Asics shoes were the were the right choice. I had no blisters at all. The sand however did a bit of exfoliating on my feet. When I took my shoes off my feet were red and tender with a few areas that had worn down to a scab. After a day or so they were fine. My toenails were no worse for wear. All ten made the trip unharmed.
I finished the run segment in a disappointing 4:57:57. It was not my finest hour. I had plenty of juice left but it was all over.
My finish time was 11:28:50. I was 743rd overall and 51st in my age-group. Unlike when I finished the race in 2011 I was still able to walk and hang around the finish area for a minutes. In 2011 I headed straight to the medical tent.
|Me and Susan after the race|
After the race I took a shower before returning to the race finish and transition area to recover my bike and gear bags. I took two pictures of my bike computer a proof of my awesome ride.
|5:02:11 time (includes racking time in T-2)|
|Susan in front of Laketown Wharf|
|A small part of our huge and enthusiastic cheering section|
|The family eating breakfast at The Egg and I on Sunday morning|
|My great-nephew and future Ironman Samuel|
Thanks for reading.
See the rest of our pictures here.
Update 11/22/13: After being home in Georgia for about 12 days I started to get the inkling that I had misplaced my bike club's GoPro. I brought it to PCB to record our adventure but as always I didn't use it. The GoPro and all its accessories were safely packed in a plastic shoe box sized container that went from the car, to the condo and, on Monday when we left, back to the car, sort of. It got put on the elevator and that's where it stayed as we drove away. Now 2 week since IMFL I know the GoPro was gone. Susan and I looked all over the house. Susan contacted the condo owner. I called the folks who kept Max. Nothing! Susan said "lets call the condo front desk". She did that weekend and lo and behold they knew exactly what we were talking about. One of the maintenance men at Laketown Wharf found it in the elevator and turned it in to the front office. That's where it sat until Susan called.
The condo referred Susan to a service who packed up the camera and mailed it to us for about $28. What a deal. The club got their GoPro back. I didn't have to replace the camera and all the accessories which I expect would cost just about what we paid when they were new earlier this year - $600.
Thank you Laketown Wharf maintenance man!
I have to ask though, since the club's website and Facebook page were printed on a business card located inside the box and visible from outside the box, why didn't anyone from the front desk contact the club? The club's website even has a video page with a complete list including a picture of all the GoPro items in the box.