I DID IT! I DID IT! Awesome race. This was my first Ironman finish on
my second attempt. I finished 10th in the 18-39 Clydesdale class
despite an injured & sore lower back that hampered me for 60 miles of
the bike and the entire marathon.
The conditions were pretty much ideal. Lake Minneola was calm &
wetsuits were allowed. The course was a two lap loop. The race started
about 4 minutes later than scheduled. The start was smooth. With
minimal contact, I was off and soon swimming with a group that was
keeping my desired pace. I was recovering from a bout with some
bronchitis-like bug I contacted after Ironman Canada so my breathing
was affected. In other words, I had to stop swimming every 50-100
yards & cough! I finished in a slow, but comfortable 1:44.
Wanted to start out very conservative & kept the pace around 16-17
mph, cadence about 85-90 rpm with a HR around 130 for the first few
miles before the hilly part of the course arrived. (Miles 8-35). Once
I hit the hills, it was obvious that training in NC was a distinct
advantage as I was picking off cyclists (Floridians?) left and right.
The infamous Sugar Loaf Mountain came up about 28 miles into the ride.
I dropped down to about 9 mph, cadence about 50 rpm with HR around 175
attacking this 11-13% grade, 0.8 mi challenge. The downside of these
hills were great as I hit 40-45 mph. After we circled back into
Clermont (mi 35), the course turned flat. I was feeling great and
pacing for a 6:00 hr bike at the 50 mi juncture when I experienced
overwhelming lower back pain as I got off the bike to go potty. I was
thinking that this might be the clincher to end my Ironday & I was
starting to get disappointed. After about 1 hr of walking my bike &
stretching, I attempted to continue. I was in luck! My back returned
to a steady, manageable pain state. I was ok as long as I was on the
bike. However, if I tried to get off, ouch! I had to slow down to 15
mph so as not to aggravate my back, but was able to finish in a shade
over 8 hrs for a 10 hr total split.
To pass the time, I wrote an ENTIRE Beavis & Butthead episode with all
the characters playing pivotal roles in Buzzcut's Ironman attempt.
I also played the entire new Cheryl Crowe CD in my head over & over.
'Every day is a winding road!'
With a very sore back, I trotted off onto the run. The first 5 mi were
through a rather hilly residential section of Clermont, but I managed
to hold a 12:00 mi pace. The pounding soon took its toll though and I
succumbed to survival, rather than a 5:00 marathon. After the 5 mi, it
was 3 laps around the lake which was flat for the most part. I
survived, although too stiff in the back to even bend over for water
at the aid stations. I met a really cool girl during the bike (Lucy,
a vet from Gainesville) that is planning on doing Ironman Canada next
year. She caught me at mile 20 on the run & we chatted. She talked me
into running some more & I held on until mile 23 where it was either
walk for awhile or hurl. I walked. I hit the great St. Pete Mad Dogs
Aid Station at mile 25, where when asked what I needed (water,
gatorade), I replied Bud Lite. Well, they came through. I slammed
the beer & ran all the way home including the obligatory 7 min mi pace
for the last 385 yards for a finishing time of 16:59:10 -and- a 10th
place finish in my age group.