Race Report: Ironman Florida Nov 2, 2013

“I can’t wait to finish up this season”, is what my mindset has mostly been for the last month or so.  I have been training since January and racing about one race per month since May; once the days got shorter and cooler sometime in September (plus the major flooding Boulder sustained click here for more info), my motivation has dipped significantly.  My summer included a wedding and a job promotion, so I’m just feeling TIRED!  What I have been looking forward to was this trip to Florida – I’ve never been to the state, and our plans were to stay in a condo with Lucas’ dad (also racing IMF) and step-mom Mary Ann, and two of our good friends from Nashville.  So, I kept up with the training and hoped that I’d get my heart back into it by or before November 2nd!

All I feel like doing is baking cookies...

All I feel like doing is baking cookies…

 

I didn’t magically get back all that competitive motivation I wanted – not completely – but enough to race my fastest race ever!  The Ironman Florida course (in Panama City Beach) is known for being fast.  It’s incredibly flat (there were about 3 small hills in the whole thing – I thanked God for them!  (I love hills), and the run course is totally flat.  It’s an ocean swim, which often isn’t as fast as calmer bodies of water, and it can be windy on the bike, but this year the weather was just lovely.  A storm rolled through the day before and made us all nervous as it churned up the ocean, but it was forecasted to pass several hours before the race start and it did just that.  The low was 52 and the high was 78.  Sunny all day.

Pro Ironman swim start

Part of the Pro Ironman swim start

The pro women started at 6:55am, the sun just barely risen over the horizon.  It felt a little creepy to be standing on the beach ready to jump into the ocean when it was still dark.  The race obviously wouldn’t have started before the sunrise, but I was wading into the surf thinking, “is the sun really going to come up?  Come on, come on…!”  We ran from the beach into the waves – everyone choosing their way out by either diving below them or fielding them with their bodies.  I always do everything with a lot of finesse so I just know that however I got out into the open ocean was very smooth and athletic-looking (not!)  ;)

Rusty and Whitney exchanging some last-minute encouraging words..and possible final farewell before jumping into the ocean ;)

Rusty and Whitney exchanging some last-minute encouraging words..and possible final farewell before jumping into the ocean ;)

 

Whitney running into the surf (swim start)

Whitney running into the surf (swim start)

The swim course was two loops.  After the first one, competitors had to exit the water and run for about 50 meters on the beach, then jump back in and do it again.  I thought it was challenging enough to go in and out through the waves once, but we had to do it twice!  My suave methods of entering and exiting the water were shown in the second loop as well.  Swim time 1:02:52 (not my best performance!)

The bike course was fast, though I lost some motivation in the middle, after about 3 hours.  I was feeling very uncomfortable as I had been in the “aero” position for the whole time and my shoulders were aching and my saddle was making me sore.  I lost sight of the group in front of me, and began thinking very negatively.  I wrangled my thoughts and tried to be grateful for this opportunity.  I felt really good the last several miles and sped up coming into T2.  Bike split:  4:51:55 (avg 23mph)

Whitney on bike

Whitney on bike

The run course was great – it wove in and out of a couple different neighborhoods, and there was an out-and-back into a state park that was really pretty.  There was great spectator support, especially in the neighborhoods and near the finish line of course.  There were many creative spectators, and unless you’re really in the hurt locker, they are entertaining and help keep up the participants’ spirits.  As this race was two days after Halloween, there were lots of costumes, as well as music (even a live band in front of someone’s house).  People also get creative with their signs.  This race, my favorite was “Always give 100%, unless you’re donating blood”!

I ran my best Ironman marathon ever.  Last year at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, I finally did a 3:20.  Here in Florida, I ran 3:15 (avg 7:26 min/miles)!  I was very pleased with this, and I owe it to good training and also to sticking to my planned-out race nutrition.  Looking back, it is quite disgusting how much powdered carbohydrate and how many gels I consumed…but that is what works (right, Coach?)!  My final time was 9:17:27, and I came in 11th place (Pro women).  Every race varies so much with the course/terrain, weather, and who shows up and has a great day.  I have placed much higher than 11th before with a much slower time.  I am very proud of my fastest time that I earned here in Florida, and quite satisfied with my place, as well.

She's comin' in!

She’s comin’ in!

Our spectating friends and family were fabulous.  Mary Ann, Cary and Christy Graham got up with us at 4:30am, shuttled us and our stuff, waited and cheered, and waited some more, and took some good photos for us.  Then they drove us around through race traffic to find burgers – all the while with a great attitude.  They helped make the experience so much fun!

Cary and Christy Graham from Nashville

Cary and Christy Graham from Nashville

Christy, Whit, Mary Ann

Christy, Whit, Mary Ann

Other thanks go to my parents Nancie and Jerry, and Lucas’ mom Teresa and his brother Clint, who were spectating online.  Thank you to my sponsors TYR, GU Energy race fuel, Frasier Meadows (my workplace) (and thanks to my great Wellness Center staff who are so supportive of me), Swiftwick socks, Retul bike fittting, Zeal sunglasses, and my good friend Robin Sharp who buys my running shoes!  And a huge thank you to Tri Bike Transport, a service new to me that is SO helpful.  They drive your bike to the race location and you pick it up all ready to go.  No dismantling, packing it in a bike box and traveling with it, unpacking and re-assembling… And right after the race you just wheel your sticky bike over to them and they drive it back home for you!

Tri Bike Transport - what a great service!

Tri Bike Transport – what a great service!

I am so happy to end my 2013 triathlon season on such a good foot (hehe).  My new husband Lucas also ran a Personal Best – by 17 minutes as well!  Funny coincidence…aw, we are just such an adorable couple – ha!

The 3 McCain racers:  Rusty, Whit, and Lucas

The 3 McCain racers: Rusty, Whit, and Lucas

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