"My Private Ironman" by Carlos Torres de Navarra
The week before the Great Floridian proved to be a very nervous time for
me. Not only was I about to enter into my first Ironman length
Triathlon and first Triathlon in over six months but I managed to catch
a *** cold. Here I had managed to avoid catching a cold for over six
months and I get one five days before the big day. Funny how things
happen in life. Oh well, I knew it was going to take more than a cold
to keep me from completing a goal which was many months in the works.
The day before the race I arrived in Clermont to register for the race
and to meet Terry Stout from North Atlanta and Tristan Fiedler from
Miami for a light workout around the lake. The day was beautiful -
sunny and mild (70 - 80s). We hoped that the weather would hold up for
Saturday. The lake was 74 degrees and very flat. In my mind the swim
was the most intimidating part of the race. I had never swam 2.4 miles
at once before. Plus, just thinking about swimming for over an hour can
be very intimidating. Especially when there is nothing to look at. At
least if I was swimming in the ocean you can stare at the ocean floor.
But in a lake all you can see is a brown abyss - it actually looks like
you are swimming in a big tub of Coca Cola. Terry, Tristan, Paige
(Triathlete from Miami who came for the Sizzler), and I had a very light
swim, bike and run. Just enough to loosen the muscles up. I was happy
that I was able to get through the workout without feeling dizzy - the
dizziness was a by-product of the cold. After the workout, there was
the pre-race meeting. No real new information was brought up except
that the organizers changed the course somewhat to insure the safety of
the racers. But in the process of securing our lives the course was
made tougher. Like the Great Floridian bike course needed to get
tougher. The last eight miles of the course was now a series of hills
which could prove to be challenging at that point in the race. You know
when someone tells you that its got to be bad. Coming from Miami I had
only ridden a hilly course when I came to Clermont on two previous
occasions to ride the Old Ironman course. My luck they decide to
change part of it on race day.
I was surprised to get a full 8.5 hours of sleep the night before.
Before my previous marathons and long Tris, Ive had trouble getting a
good night sleep. Woke up early and headed on out to Clermont from
where I was staying at Disney. I was starting to get real nervous as I
got closer to Clermont. I kept seeing other Triathletes coming into
town with Bikes on roof racks - must have been the ones racing in the
Sizzler because we needed to check in our bike the night before.
Havent you ever noticed that on race day you do everything in slow
motion. I must have taken me half an hour to fill up both of my tires.
Something that usually takes me less than five minutes on any given day
has now managed to last an eternity. Looking back on it now I must have
been really nervous. I was not the only one. It seems everyone just
wanted the race to begin. There was a feeling of fear, anticipation,
and energy in the air. One can only imagine the amount of collective
hours, among all the athletes, that went into training for this race.
All those times I woke up at 5 AM to go riding, I can only imagine how
many these men and women were up at the same time with the same goal in
mind - finishing an ironman in October. Up until swim time I kept
wondering around the transition area like a headless chicken.
Finally the time had come. Nowhere to run now. I think humans are
procrastinators by nature because when the time came to start the race,
I found myself wishing I had another day to get mentally prepared for
the race - I betcha I was not the only one thinking the same way. But I
guess you never really feel ready. I can only compare it to the idea of
having kids for the first time. You never feel ready for kids, you just
have to go for it - at least that is what they tell me. After the
national anthem a one minute countdown began. I was really nervous
now. I gave a good luck handshake to Terry and I began the swim.
Now I dont consider myself a great swimmer but I can hold a pretty
steady line from buoy to buoy. However, I must have been cutoff, hit
and swum over by every Triathlete in my general vicinity. I usually
hang out in the back of mass swim starts. But this time around I
started in the middle. Sometime during the swim some guy ran into me
and instead of saying excuse me he tells me to watch where I am going.
Yes it was that kind of a hell swim. It stayed packed until the end. I
purposely took it easy early on the swim because I was concerned that I
would get sick because of my previous dizzy spells. My objective was to
finish between 1:10 and 1:20. I managed to get out of the water in 1:16
so I was pretty happy to come in within that range. Next it was a
leisure jog to the transition area. In front of the changing tent were
racks of bags with bike and running gear for each participant. It
actually felt kind of cool getting your clothes handed to you before
entering the tent. I had seen it so many times on TV at the Hawaiian
Ironman and wondered how it felt to be in that situation. Here I was in
the middle of the action - in the game. Enough of the daydreaming. Get
your bike gear on and haul ass. I made one small mistake as I exited
the transition area. I should put on my shoes once I exited the area
because the transition area was positioned in soft sand. So when I
tried to get my cleats clipped onto my pedals they would not go in -
even after soaking them under a stream of water from my bottle. It felt
like when you go skiing and you cant get clipped into your skis because
the bindings are all full of snow. Finally they clipped in. I felt
like Peter Ried must have felt like in Roth this year. I didnt fall in
front of everybody, but I sure felt like a moron not being able to get
my shoes clipped in.
The bike course first went around Lake Minneola and then out into the
Central Florida country side. Central Florida cannot compare with the
beautiful country sides of the California Vineyards or of the Northern
US, but it definitely has its charm. Lots of Orange Groves, lakes, and
quiet rural roads. After about 20 plus miles I was staring up Mount
Sugarloaf. Sugarloaf is a really *** hill. Its extremely steep and
long. There is nothing in Miami that could even compare to this
monster. Thats why I went to Clermont on two previous occasions to get
accustomed to the hill. Who was I kidding. The hill is *** and I
was just happy to get it behind me. Now the race, in my mind, could
My plan was to eat two PB&J sandwiches, two PR Ironman bars, five
Leppins and six waterbottles of Gatorade - roughly equivalent to 650
grams of carbs. Life starts out as a good plan then you improvise. The
Gatorade that was being handed out was so concentrated that my stomach
was starting to reject all food. I had to force feed myself. I knew
that if I didnt feed myself I would pay on the latter half of the ride
and the run. I managed to eat only one and half sandwiches and one
Ironman Bar. Not enough but I hoped for the best. I hoped that the
Gatorade would carry me through and for the most part it did.
Throughout the entire bike ride I had some serious doubts about how I
was going to be able to run a marathon after a 112 miles bike ride. I
knew I could run a marathon by itself. However, the combination of a
112 miles bike ride and 26.2 mile run remained a big question mark. In
training, the longest bike/run training I had was 95/10 miles. As a
result I still had some big worries about the transition to the run.
When you are riding for that long you fall into a zone where everything
around you feels like a dream - one big blur. I felt like I was in a
trance - its really weird. By mile 90 of the bike ride you start
giving some serious thought to the run. You start to take an inventory
of your body. You start questioning whether anything on your body
aches. By this time the balls of my feet were in some serious pain.
This was mostly in part to my pedals. I love my Speedplays, but I have
found that after really long rides, my feet begin to ache big time.
Thankfully, this pain does not spill over into the run. By this time, I
was pulling my cranks up and not pushing down - my feet were hurting
My spirit got a boost as I realized I was a couple of miles from the
transition. I had made it past the swim and bike and now the only thing
that stood between me and extreme happiness at the finish, was a QUICK
26.2 mile run - yeah right.
By the way, I just have to tell you that I saw some crazy stuff out
there on the bike. Mind you most of my long training rides were done
solo. Plus I am a relative rookie to bike riding (4 years). So I am
really not that familiar with this Peeing off the bike Idea. Nor am I
very keen to the idea of peeing while riding at 17+ mph. But for the
first time I saw lots of people slowing down and either peeing to the
side or just sliding off the saddle and peeing in mid-air. It was
really weird to see this going on around you. But I wasnt the only one
who was surprised. As I was going through a bottle exchange area, a guy
in front of me was peeing off the bike while the volunteers just stood
frozen viewing the spectacle that was unfolding in front of their eyes.
I got a good laugh out it, but I can just imagine the stories that these
folks will tell their friends and family when they get back home.
As I got back to the transition area, someone was there to give me my
running bag as well as to take my bike. The volunteers would then rack
your bike for you. This is actually a very good system which results in
a very orderly transition area. It
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