Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pre-Ironman Florida Stuff

Now that the 2011 Ironman Florida race is over I'll try to summarize how my pre-race stuff including, travel, training, and prep went.

I had completed about 65% of the goals in my 20 week (304 hours) training plan.  That's just under 200 hours of training or 10 hours per week on average.  I completed several 100 mile long rides.  My longest run during the 20 weeks was 11 miles.  I did go heavy on the taper though.

I decided it would be a good idea to get a physical exam the week before the race.  Dr. Royston's staff got me in to see him with just a week's notice.  By the time of my appointment the office staff was probably tired of hearing about my Ironman adventure which was 6 days away at that point.  Dr. Royston was excited for me which helped me get in to see him so quickly, that and Susan's outward concern that I might die on the course.  She had setup the appointment for me.  In addition to checking my blood and stuff, Dr. Royston hooked me up with some sleep medication.  I work a weird schedule and often go several days with little sleep.  Races typically have the same affect.  I toss and turn all night long until it's time for me to get up exhausted and already feeling defeated.  That wasn't going to be the case this weekend.

I packed the car to the rooftop on Tuesday checking my list of stuff to bring several times.  Susan and I left home for the 6 hour drive down to Panama City Beach, Florida at 7am on Wednesday morning.  We stopped in Peachtree City to drop off our dog Max at Puppy Tubs.  Then we picked up Chad, a fellow Georgia triathlete and 2011 Inronman Florida competitor.  Chad's family couldn't make the trip to Florida until Friday.  We arrived at our condo at Laketown Wharf at 1pm local time.  PCB time is one hour earlier than Atlanta time.

The view east from Laketown Wharf toward The Boardwalk Resort 
The view south from Laketown Wharf toward the beach and the Sunbird condos
The view southeast from Laketown Wharf toward Pineapple Willie's and the Shores at Panama condos
The condo was only about 500 yards and across the street from the race venue.  We checked-in at the front desk and loaded all our gear into our condos shortly after.  Chad and I went to the athlete's check-in while Susan organized our room.

Chad getting his wristband
Checking-in was a breeze.  There were no lines and we were all done in about 5 minutes.  Then we went through the expo.  We met up with Chip soon after that.  Chip was ready to ride so I changed my clothes and got my bike to join him.  Chad's bike wouldn't arrive until Thursday.  Chip and I took a quick 10 mile ride west on the bike course and back to the condo.  In my opinion, that's the worst part of the bike course.  The wind whips between the buildings creating areas where there is no wind and other areas where the wind is intense.  The wind and sand are the worst hazards on the bike course.

Chip ready to ride
After our ride, Chad, Chip and I swam about 30 minutes with Susan and Jonna, Chip's wife, following close behind us in kayaks.  Jonna and Chip brought two kayaks with them from Atlanta.  On Wednesday night we ate at Montego Bay for dinner.  We'd eaten there before during our Gulf Coast Triathlon trip in May.

Chad and I swam early on Thursday morning.  We both wanted to get used to the early morning routine.  Chip, Richard and I rode later in the morning while Jonna and Susan went shopping and had lunch.  Richard had arrived around 9am on Thursday morning and he was ready to go.  After our ride I wandered over to the expo area to listen to the professional athletes panel discuss training, competing, and Ironman in general.

Pro triathlete panel
After that Susan and I rode our bikes to St. Andrews park.

A lonely ice machine in St. Andrews park
On Thursday night Susan and I ate at Pineapple Willie's.  It was right across the street from our condo so we walked over and ate outside on the deck.  Cold weather was coming on Friday so it was nice to sit outside before the chill.  After dinner Susan went back to our condo and I met Chip and Richard at The Boardwalk to attend the (not so) mandatory athletes briefing.

Athlete's briefing in the ballroom
Early Friday morning Richard and I swam again.  Richard and his family were staying in a condo at the Shores of Panama.  Like Chad, Richard's family wouldn't arrive until Friday.  Ken, Richard, Chip, and I took a few minutes later on to get some team pictures.  Chad couldn't make the photo shoot.  He had just picked up his bike and was checking it out.  First things first!

Neil, Chip, Richard, and Ken
After the photo shoot Chip, Richard and I went for a short ride again.  There are lots of things to do before the race.  Most of them have to do with preparing your gear.  After our ride I checked in my bike.  I also checked in my run gear and bike gear bags.  I had organized all my gear bags and nutrition on Thursday night.  The weather had been windy and cold all day so I got nervous and bought some better gloves and new leg warmers.  On Friday night we ate at Margaritaville at Pier Park.

Taped over vent holes
Bontrager Aero Pack straw shortened with an added Camelbak bite valve
The tie-wrap on the straw is loosely tightened to allow easy removal for cleaning and unclogging on the go
I used my half Ironman list to help me pack before leaving home.  I didn't want to forget anything.  I probably brought too much but that's the way it goes.

Gear bags
My bike racked and ready (except for my poor Shot Blok packet mounting job)
Bike gear bags in numeric order
Run gear bags in numeric order
Margaritaville at Pier Park (nice location - food okay)
Susan and I paid our $2 each and walk the length of the pier.  There were probably 20 people fishing.  Halfway out I saw a shark on the surface swim right by the pier.  It was probably about 5'-6' long.

The pier at Pier Park
We ate dinner at around 5pm.  As with the two half Ironman distance races I'd already done the day ended early.  I was in bed by 8pm.

Checkout a few other images from the weekend in the album below.
2011 Ironman Florida

Thanks for reading.