Below is the race report I wrote after my 2006 IM Florida race. I wrote it in part because I needed to document my experience for future reference, but also to motivate my training for the next season. There are lot of interesting insights in the report, especially because it was written shortly after the race, when the emotions were raw.
I felt like I had done about 90% of the training I needed to be fully prepared for the race. I could have used about 2 more weeks of swim training. I only did 2 swims over 4k and was just beginning to feel comfortable at 1:20/100y pace (on some days).
My bike training went very well. I was able to get in a lot of quality rides. My bike was dialed in and spec’d out to be fast 🙂 (see pic above). I had enough long rides to feel like I had endurance and enough short, fast rides to feel like I had speed. My run training was going well also. I felt like I needed 2 more long runs and 2 more tempo runs to be fully primed. So, overall, I was confident with my preparation but not fully satisfied.
Swim. I knew I would be facing a deficit coming out of the water, so my swim goal was to try to hang on the feet of some 55 min swimmers and see how long I could stick. I also wanted to stay relaxed in the water and not go anaerobic.
Bike. I wanted to be conservative on the bike but still competitive. I was planning on riding no higher than 250 watts and 150 HR. If either the HRM or PT read anything higher, I’d back off.
Run. My plan was to start out easy and continue at an easy pace. Hopefully I would have something left in the tank for the last 8k and I could pick it up. I hoped that my easy pace would translate to 7:00 min/mile.
Swim. The days leading up to Saturday were windy. Race day had NE 10-15 mph winds. Standing on the beach and looking out at the water, the wind was blowing from left to right causing a surface current pushing us to the right (outside the counter-clockwise rectangular course). There were just over 70 pros starting, so there would be many choices of feet to hold on to. I lined up on the inside (left side) just behind Lothar Leder and Blake Becker. I suspected that Lothar would take it out quick, but Blake is more of a 55-58 swimmer. He was my initial feet target. The cannon went off at 6:50 and we ran/dolphined/swam out to the first wave break. Once we got over the sand bar, we were off. I felt really relaxed and hung on to Blake’s feet for a while. The “out” section was pretty nice, but when we turned left and headed south, we had huge chop. This continued around the second turn and back to shore. I hit the mat in 29:xx and headed back out for lap 2. The second lap was much like the first lap except there was more chop and a stronger current. I lost the feet I was following and ended up swimming a good part of the second lap solo.
Swim 1:03. Max HR 189 !?! (I think this was the beach section at 1/2-way) Avg HR 164; 37/49 male pros; 217/2100+ athletes.
Bike. No problems in transition except for trying to get my arm warmers over my wet arms. We had a nice tail wind for the first 4-5 miles, which enabled my HR to drop to the low 140’s. Once we turned north and headed out of Panama City Beach, we had a headwind until mile 50. I kept the watts under 250 and the HR under 150 (a couple of times I noticed that I was pushing 270-280 so I backed off). I was slowly picking off people (a couple of pro guys, many pro women and a couple of fish-like age groupers that managed to swim over 10 minutes faster than me!). By mile 40, I passed the lead woman (Andrea Fisher). This was the first time I had been ahead of all women in an ironman. Miles 50-100 I kept is steady and continued to pick off a few people. On one section of bumpy road, my aero bottle dumped some water onto the PowerTap computer. I rode without power or speed for about 30 miles until the thing dried out. That was a bit of a bummer. There was a out and back section around mile 70 and I saw that I was about 12 minutes back on a group containing Lothar Leder and Dave Harju and Spencer Smith (past IM champs); this was a bit of a mental boost. The last 10 miles, I kept is steady and took in the remainder of my calories. I never experienced a bad patch. Legs felt good throughout. My Valdora bike rode awesome. PR bike split.
Bike time: 4:55; Avg speed 22.7; Max HR 160; Avg HR 146; Max watts 450; Avg watts ???; 24/49 male pros; 35/2100+ athletes. My ride was TOTALLY SOLO.
Run. I took a bit longer in T2, changed socks, went to the bathroom, etc. I started off easy. I felt like I was just plodding along through the first mile, but my watch read 7:09 for mile 1. I kept plodding along, and my legs started to feel good. Mile 2: 6:59; Mile 3: 6:57, Mile 4: 7:01. Pretty good. I was right on pace, AND I felt like I was out for an easy run. I was kind of giddy at this feeling, but I realized that this was what I trained for, so I shouldn’t be surprised that I was actually executing it. Mile 5: 7:08, Mile 6: 7:45 (that included a pit-stop). Mile 7: 7:07, Mile 8: 7:05, Mile 9: 7:10. Mile 10: 7:26. When I saw a 7:26, I knew that I needed to either take in more calories or back off the pace a bit, or something… Anyway, I maintained mid-7’s for the rest of the first lap and hit the 1/2-way point around 1:35. I started walking aid stations during the second lap and taking in as much Coke and Gatorade and Water that I could handle. My legs were getting that IM fatigue that I am all too familiar with, but other than walking the aid stations, I kept it going forward. I was running about 8:high during this time. I must have found some inspiration the last 2 miles because I was back in the low 7’s for mile 25 and 26. Makes me wonder if I had low 7’s in me during the second lap??? The finish chute was different this year than the last time I did it. We wound up a drive and did about 10 turns. After each turn I expected to see the finish line, but never did. Finally when I rounded the 10th turn, I saw the finish line. I was so annoyed with all the turns up to this point that I was really not too excited to finally see the finish line.
Run time: 3:30 Avg HR: 149 (155 bpm first 1/2 144 bpm second 1/2 – I have some work to do on that second half…) 29/49 male pros, 111/2100+ total athletes.
Total race time 9:37 26/49 male pros; 53rd overall.
I feel like I had a pretty good race. I executed the bike the way I wanted to and ran the first 10 miles the way I know I can. I’d give my race a grade of B-. I know that I had a 9:1x or better in me on Saturday, but the second half of the run didn’t come together like I would have liked. With a steady run, (20+ minutes faster) I would have gone 9:1x. There is about 5-8 minutes I can gain on the swim over the winter. I can bike faster and will NEED to bike faster to be more “in the mix.” My run is getting close to being good. I can cruise an IM marathon at 7-flat pace, but this will need to come down to high 6’s. Maybe it is too early to think about goals for next IM, but if I had the same conditions in Florida next year as this year, I’d expect: Swim: 55-58 Bike: 4:40-4:50 Run 2:55-3:05. Doing the math, that gives 8:30 – 8:55. There it is. I’ve written it. I know it is in me. Now I need to do the work.