Great Floridian (personal report, long(very))

Great Floridian (personal report, long(very))

Post by First M. Lastna » Fri, 28 Oct 1994 05:30:16

  After a few years doing triathlons, this year I achieved my goal of
finishing an Ironman.  The quest began many years ago while watching
the TV broadcasts of Hawaii.  I have always been involved in sports,
but when I came to college, my dreams of being a collegiate athlete
quickly ended.  I competed in a decathlon the summer before my freshman
year. I scored 5012 points, but this was not enough to impress the
coaches at a Division 1 school (who already had two decathletes in the
Olympic Festival) My track and field career ended at this time.  After
a couple months of freshman freedom exploration, I soon felt the need
to get back into shape.  I had done two triathlons a few years earlier,
so I decided to get serious about training and racing.  To make a long
story short, I got hooked up with the Penn State Triathlon Club and
started down the road(s).
   Bill Magagna and Shelly Bewick ( '93 Great Floridian overall
winners) both provided a lot of motivation and help in preparing me for
the race this year.
My training went according to my plan (no injuries, etc.) and I was
ready to race on Oct 22,1994. I gradually built up to a peak of 4-6 mi
swimming/240 mile biking/ 50 miles running per week.  I followed this
with a three week taper.

  On the morning of the race, I still wasn't sure if I was going to
wear a wetsuit or not.  As I looked around in the pre-dawn hours, a
vast majority of the athletes were wearing them, so I followed their
lead.  Coming to the sport with a fairly strong swimming background, I
chose a spot near the front of the pack.  I had been warned many times
by Bill and Shelly not to get carried away at the start - so I got into
a very comfortable pace early and concentrated on staying on a straight
course.  I got to the turnaround and I felt great.  At that point, a
small pack of swimmers moved up behind me, and I got into their draft.
Unable to find a straight swimmer to follow, I once again broke my own
water and kept to a straighter course than those who had passed me. At
about 45 minutes I looked at my watch and decided to push it in a
little bit because I felt so strong.  About 300 yards from the finish,
I felt like I was going nowhere, but I concentrated on keeping a long
smooth stroke.  By the increasing size of the swim finish banner, I
knew that I was making progress.  Soon, my fingers felt the sandy
bottom and I stood up and jogged toward the changing tent.  I finished
the swim in  59 minutes - exactly where I wanted to be.  Someone yelled
out that I was in 13th place.  Great! Everything was going well, I was
hardly even breathing hard in the changing tent. I probably could have
gone a little faster, (I've gone 26:30 for 1.2 mi) but I was pleased.
  This year I was forced to do most of my long rides by myself, so I
wasn't too worried about the bike course. In Pennsylvania, there are
plenty of  hills and I had ridden 120 miles by myself before.  The
first 33 miles of the bike course were fairly hilly.  I had received
advice from Bill and also from Bradford Rex that you need to take it
easy on the bike.  I maintained 20 miles per hour for the entire bike
leg.  I felt great on all of the hills, but I began to fatigue a little
near the end of the course. The wind and lack of cycling position
changes had me anxiously awaiting the start of my first marathon.  My
feet had started to get numb around 80 miles, and at 90 miles I
actually slipped them out of my shoes for a minute or two.  It felt
really good, and it didn't cost me much time.  During the bike segment,
I ate two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, two powerbars, four
bananas, and approx. 22 oz gatorade or water every 40 minutes or so.
Because I kept so well hydrated, I had to relieve myself three times.
The first and second times I went on the bike, but it was difficult (
not to mention gross ) so the third time I stopped at the top of a
small hill.  At the end my computer read 114.4 miles and my time was
5:45 (19.9 mph).  My average heart rate on the bike was around 145 bpm.
 On some of the hills I got as high as 172, but only for brief periods.
 My legs felt moderately stiff as I stepped off my bike, but they
loosened up a little during the transition. I was in 20th place after
the bike, and I felt pretty good ( except for some sun burn on my back
and razor burn on my legs).  I thought that I might have gone around
5:20, but the conditions were a little tougher than I had anticipated
so I was pleased with my performance.  Another of the pearls of wisdom
that I had received from Bill and Shelly was to take your time in the
transition area and make sure that you are comfortable.  I may have
lost a few minutes in transition, but the comfort and lack of stress
was well worth it.
I started the run 6 hours and 55 minutes after the start.  I wanted to
go under 11 hours, and I felt that it was in reach as long as the run
went as smoothly as the swim and the bike had gone.  The run is usually
my weakest link, but it is also what I had focussed on in training, so
I felt confident at the start.  Coming from Pennsylvania, I was not
accustomed to the sun and heat of Florida.  I had arrived in Florida on
Tuesday to try to acclimatize, but most of my time was spent indoors
relaxing so I wasn't really ready for the conditions.  The first mile
and half were rolling, and I was feeling pretty good. My heart rate was
around 158-162, just where I wanted it to be.  Soon, I came up
alongside another comptetitor and I began to talk with him a little
bit.  We soon got into the hills and a very exposed section of the run
course.  A lot of people looked to be in much worse shape at this point
as we did.  Jeff and I actually ran up the one monster hill (well, we
did actully walk a few steps...but not many).  At this point my heart
rate shot up to 185 and we decided to slow it down a little bit. On the
downhill that followed, my heart rate came back down to about 140 so I
felt better.  We walked through each of the aid stations and took in 2
or three cups of water and gatorade, plus occaisionally some pretzels
and oranges.  We ran along at about 9:00 pace for the***8 miles. At
that point we were in 12th and 13th place, then I began to feel it.
First my stomach became a little bit unsettled - I didn't want to eat
and drink at the aid stations, but I knew if I passed them up now, I
might not make it to the end so I managed to keep fueling.  My legs
were the next victims, and they felt more fatigued than they had in any
training run or race.  I told Jeff to go on ahead if he wanted to, but
he told me that just before I run along side him and began talking he
was very seriously contemplating dropping out. He ran another mile and
a half with me, but I was feeling way too bad, and told him to go ahead
- which he did.  I run the first 11.4 miles or so around the the lake
to the transition area in about 1:50 (9:40 pace).  My family and
girlfriend cheeringfor me helped maintain my motivation to keep going -
as did a Leppin Squeezy(yes, I did throw it near a trash can) and a
chocolate chip cookie.  The thought of two more laps around the lake
began to eat away at my mental reserves ( which were already draining)
- but I continued on my way. I now understand what Ironman finishers
describe as those feelings that you can't describe - you just can't put
the feelings and thoughts into words.  Halfway around the lake I began
to seriously wonder whether I was going to finish. At this point I
decided that no matter how long it took - I was going to finish.  My
heart rate had fallen to 135-140 bpm, and leg fatigue prevented me from
getting any higher.  I jokingly asked one guy who went by me whether he
would swim across the lake and cut off a few miles from the run with
me. He seemed interested, but we decided that it probably wouldn't be
too safe - nor would the race officials aprreciate it.
  I continued running, and soon(?) made it around the lake once again.
 The 7.4 mile lap took me approx. 1:15.  I had slowed down (10:08), but
my stomach was feeling better - too bad my legs weren't.  The last lap
is sort of a blur. I remember that my heart rate stayed around 125 bpm
and at one point I had to walk about 100 yards before an aid station
and then for another 200 yards after it. I continued to run/trot.  Once
I made it to the 24 mile mark, I decided that I was going to run the
entire way to the finish line.  I realised that I wasn't going to
achieve all of the goals that I had set out, but the major goal -
finishing - was in my grasp. The encouragement of all of the volunteers
really kept me going, and the thought of seeing my family, girlfriend,
and a big steak for dinner helped me run all the way in.  About 20
yards from the finish some guy sprinted by me, I tried to hang with him
for about 3 steps but decided that it wasn't worth hurting myself or
falling down at the finish to beat him, so I jogged across the line in
11:47:03. This was good for 45th overall and 3rd place in the 18-24
year old age group. Jeff who had run with me for a little while,
finished 23rd overall in 11:17:58.
I finished.  That in itself is one of the best feelings that you
acheive.  To all of the other Ironman finishers out there -
congratulations.  The race was probably the hardest thing that I have
ever done in my 21 years, but it was also one of greatest things to
happen in my life. During the run I told myself that I wasn't going to
do another Ironman for a long time - but now who knows? maybe next
For those of you still reading - Thanks


Great Floridian (personal report, long(very))

Post by John Kruempelstaedt » Sat, 29 Oct 1994 03:17:50

> For those of you still reading - Thanks

No, Thank you.  I enjoyed reading this (all of it).  I am now a
3 time IM distance veteran (well 2 2/3s really) and your
descriptions really brought me back.  I particularly enjoyed
them because your experience was not unlike my own.  Thanks
again for your excellent write up!

John K.