Sunday, January 10, 2010

IMFL Run Report Part UNO

It’s been almost 2 months since Ironman Florida and I am not really sure why it has taken so long to finish my race report, but I think I have an idea. I am not ready to put it to bed. There is a part of me that feels once I am done here that the experience has ended and I am not sure I am ready for that.

No worries . . . I will finish the RUN report today and you can see the swim and bike reports below.

An Ironman distance race is different for every participant. I have friends in our tri club that they race an Ironman and they are pretty fast. One of my closer friends tore it up this year at IM FL and I think he is focusing in on a sub 10hr IM in 2010. Another Club member was 4th in his Age Group at Clearwater World Championship 70.3 and missed 3rd by on 30-40 seconds. Cats like that are the - IN IT TO WIN IT category.

I am the other side of the spectrum. I am the IN IT CAUSE IT IS IN ME group. Ironman is simple for me. It is a celebration of my battle and success with obesity. The race is more the culmination of the battle. The training, the sacrifice from my family, the joy of the pain, the FEAR of failure . . . That is all my Ironman.

I will never get a podium spot in anything triathlon unless it is there is a “smiles too much on the course” division. I do this for life. While other criticize me for simply completing the race I laugh it off because they have no idea what my journey has been and will continue to be.


The Run . . . Running 26.2 miles after swimming and biking all day was my biggest fear of all concerning this race. I am slow. I am very slow. I probably will never be fast, but I am horribly slow right now. Obviously the slower I am, the longer I will be out of the race course . . . That’s never good.

I’m going to break this run portion of my IM Florida race report into 4 parts. OS somewhere around 6.25 miles each portion. The fast for me was that the first loop was a completely different race from the second loop.

As I headed out on the first loop I reminded myself of my run mantra . . . Finish and Fun. Numero Uno was to finish and hopefully have fun along the way. Exiting the Transition area was a bit surreal. I was finished with more than half of this entire race, yet I was now at my most fearful . . .

I immediately saw my family as I exited transition.

I am sure everyone else looks at their races in hind sight and says, “Next time I can cut 5 minutes here and 4 minutes here and (You get the picture). I have PLENTY of that from IMFL. Without exaggeration I am SURE, 100% positive I could cut off a minimum of 45 minutes on my run by changing one simple thing. I must not hug EVERY person I know that is cheering me on in the race!! I hugged everyone and I loved every second of it. I suggest if this is your first IM that you do the same. SOAK IT UP!

Now I won’t be doing this in future races because my goals will be different, but I will miss this part in the future.

From transition to about mile 2 was the most fun part of the run course along beachfront road. The spectators and cheer tents set up along this area were awesome! There were women dressed in next to nothing (by the end of the night they were actually pretty much wearing nothing). There were Elvis people and people offering you beer . . . It was a party.

The first three miles seemed to move by in my mind fairly quickly.

My nutrition was simple. At each aid station I would begin a power walk and take in a solid type fuel (Gel, banana, grapes, etc) on odd numbered aid stations and liquid fuel (Water, Nuun, etc)at even numbered aid station and an electrolyte at every aid station.

I followed this plan for the first 6 miles easily. Some of the aid stations were remarkable. One in particular was back in the neighborhood area, around mile 4ish (I think). It was set up as a MASH unit. It was awesome. They were stocked full the entire run and had so much energy.

Let me take a second to talk about the aid stations. Obviously the number one request from most racers would be that the aid station be stocked with a variety of items to get our nutrition AND keep them stocked throughout the race for slow people like me and keep hot things hot and cold things cold and lastly when it comes to the nutrition, keep it all organized and inform us visually and verbally of what you have well in advance of your reaching your aid station. For example the MASH UNIT aid station had signs on the run route about a half mile ahead staggered leading up to it that listed in BIG BOLD print what they had – For Example COLA on one sign, POWER ADE 0 another, HOT CHICKEN BROTH on another – You get the point. And then as you approached the station they would stagger the tables with “LIKE” nutrition ie – Cola and chicken broth on one table, water and Gatorade at another, gels one on, assorted fruit on another AND the people manning the station would yell out what they had AND AND AND be able to say one table down for chicken broth if you asked for it etc.

Congrats to the MASH UNIT aid station on the run at Ironman Florida – YOU GUYS ROCKED IT!!!

The second thing I think in important at an aid station would be the attitude and atmosphere. The people manning the aid stations should be ubber hyper!!! I LOVE and appreciate all of the volunteers. It is a long day for them. I have volunteered for a few IM distance races now and it can be exhausting. When the volunteers are hollering and dancing for you having a blast – there is nothing better . . . THEN when you have an atmosphere with music and a theme . . . EVEN BETTER. I looked forward to reaching the MASH UNIT aid station each time.

To the contrary – and aid station that has young kids and teens SUCK. If they are mixed in with adults in even numbers then it is great, but an full aid station with 15 kids and two adults in a horrible combination ESPECIALLY late in the race. One aid station began to run out of items and the kids were all sitting down and if you asked for something their response was – I don’t know if we have that or worse – Actually my favorite . . . I asked a young teen if they had worm chicken broth – He was in the middle of a full on flirt with a girl he had obviously met throughout that day. He didn’t even look at me and responded, “Hold up.” And went back to chatting it up with the girlie and she just soaked it up. In my mind I was pissed, but I gave the guy kudos because she sure felt special at that moment and earned him some serious cool points!

For the most part ALL of the aid stations were on their game at IMFL excluding the one I mentioned above that was at about mile 6ish or so.

It was nice to be on the run. I enjoyed seeing friends out there racing form our club. I was honored to be out there with so many people working their own plan and seeing their focus. At times I would chat with people and then they would take off and leave me. I passed NO ONE, but saw some of the same folks a few times during the run.

I focused on my HR the entire run. Even when I felt strong in the beginning I remained focused on keeping my heart race in the 145bmp (which is low, but what I’d trained for). There were times I wanted to kick it up a little but, I would remind myself that I had 19 miles remaining and I would pull it back.

As I reached the backside of loop one I was still feeling good. I saw several friends out cheering and in particular was Scum (Stephen Branscum) and his fiancée. They will never know how AWESOME and motivating it was for me to see them out there until the very last mile. Thank you thank you. The State Park was actually a welcoming change in the run. There was another good aid station here. It was nice to know I was heading back towards the transition area and that my mind was still very focused and I was enjoying myself.

Kathy and Mike were hanging at a really great spot to cheer us all on in the run. They picked a parking lot that was kind of in the middle of the aid stations and in a VERY DULL area. There was nothing to really look forward to for about a 3 mile stretch – EXCEPT THEM!! Thank you Michael and Kathy.

It was still light at about mile 9 but quickly becoming dark each stride I took. By the time I made it back to the MASH UNIT aid station the sun was pretty much gone and we were depending on streetlights. This was not good in some places and HORRIBLE in one place in particular, which I will discuss on the second post. Back in the neighborhoods the streetlights were hot and miss, but for the most part you could see well enough.

About mile 10 back in the neighborhood about 1 mile before the MASH UNIT station there were 4 or 5 fells (I use fells on purpose) sitting in their yard chairs, drinking beers, smoking it up and I am not sure they were only cigarettes. They were using a unique form of motivation. The women ran faster because the men were saying redneck sexy things to them (And they fully thought they were funny) and I ran faster because I was to tired to respond and a response might have led to a front yard brawl and I would have been on the losing end of that one. So I just gritted and ran on off into the dark.

At about mile 11 you can see the lights around the turn around and finish area. It is such an awesome sight to a tired racer IF YOU’RE coming in for a finish, but still welcoming to those like me who were heading in for the turn around since we would be able to see family, friends, etc.

The half mile stretch of beachfront rd with all the awesome crazy people wearing next to nothing and the Elvises, and now the tent of really drunk college guys and gals trying to get you to do a tequila shot was so much fun.

One of the best was the woman with the ass-less chaps. She would run up beside a really tired runner and ask how they were doing. Then se would run up a bit and say, “Does this make you run faster?” and she swished her bare butt from left to right. I will admit that it took my mind off of my sore feet for that few seconds!

As I made the turn onto Thomas drive about a quarter mile from the turn around I saw my Dad and his Wife Mindy. Guess what I did . . . Yup . . . Stopped Hugged him and headed on.

At the turn I saw Tater, my wife, my sister, and so many other folks. It was awesome. I truly don’t remember much about this 2 miles or so, accept how much fun it was. I hugged everyone.

I did the old turn into the finish as a joke thing (It was funny to me) and then pointed to it and said “I’ll see you in a bit).

At this point I am pretty tired and nasty. ERY NASTY. I have sticky, hot, salty skin. I’ve been hugging so many people who are more than likely no longer my friends because of that!!! I WAS NASTY!

Good news is that I was at my run special needs bag. In that bag I had a small towel that I soaked in water and then put in a BIG ziplock bag. Oh it was so refreshing. I almost stripped down and took a towel bath . . .

I changed socks, which I would highly recommend and I ate my last small bag of Pringles. Yeah, Yeah, make fun of it all you want to – It was such a welcoming treat . . . YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY!

Jeff has left a card in my special needs back. He had Amanda put it in there for me. Another very nice touch and very welcomed, thank you Jeff.

After refreshing and revitalizing I was ready to head out for my 2nd loop of 13.1 miles. I remember looking at my garmin and feeling happy about my pace to this point, but worrying whether or not I could hold that pace. Only time would tell.

I hugged several more friends and kissed my wife and baby (man it is hard to stay unemotional when you kiss your baby during a race) and began the final leg of this ultimate goal – I would be an Ironman. I would be.

I will complete the run report soon. Sorry it is taking so long.

Work was very demanding at the end of the year and I had surgery on this past Tuesday (which will be another blog report in itself).



Oh how I remember the lights and the crouds at the finish, as well as the blisters.

amybee said...

Run Report part One: well worth the wait.

Where is part two? (Now I'm impatient!)

Good for you!


I thought you were in Uber focus mode. Didn't know I could stop and hug you!! Actually, even though I thought I recognized you, you had already passed and I was too tired to turn around.

I do believe I remember the "kid" aid station. It stuck out in my mind also.

But the aid station (probably Mash) that gave me ibuprofin and the one right after that gave me beer to chase it down, on my first loop.... now were talkin....

Ironman Virgin said...