Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ironman Florida 2013 – 11:53:28

(Check back for updates with pictures)

My goal for this race was to have a good day and a strong run.   IMWI 2011 was awful for me, and after suffering through flat tires and nutrition problems I wanted a better day this time.   So, my definition of success wasn’t tied to a particular time or split but more to a feeling, which is odd for data driven Mike.  I think it worked out pretty well for me though. 

Time:  1:10:49
Pace: 1:50/100m

The swim was a mass start to Van Halen’s ‘Panama.’   At the cannon almost 3000 people ran into the ocean, and almost immediately the ocean hit back.   Three foot breakers pushed us back towards the shore.   The swim was tight, where I had seeded myself.   It was a very congested push to the first bouy, with a lot of contact.   My goggles were kicked a few times, my ankle got grabbed once.   I really had to fight for every inch until the first turn.   The first turns was very congested so I dove under some other athletes hanging onto the buoy and sighted the next buoy. 

The course was two loops in the ocean, with a brief beach run in between.  When I got to the shore the first time I saw that I was at about 35 minutes, which was great.  Better than expected.  Luckily the second loop was less stressful.  

In general, I just kept reminding myself that it was a long day, and to not be in a hurry.  I just got the swim done, and I was out in about 1:10.   My ‘best day’ prediction was 1:12 so I was really happy with the result. 

T1 12:46
The T1 run was pretty long, but not as bad as the IMWI helix run.  Things went to plan, I didn’t run but I just moved ‘purposefully’ through transition.  I noticed that for some reason my left heel was hurting, but I couldn’t really do much about that. 

Time:  5:21:19
Pace:  20.91 mph

The bike was also pretty congested.  There was a combination of deliberate and involuntary drafting going on for most of the bike.   I kept my distance the best I could, but there wasn’t really anywhere to go.  Every time I’d back off to eat/drink I’d get passed by pace lines that I’d have to again repass.  

There was a NW wind, at less than 10 mph that created a minor headwind on the way out, and a minor tailwind on the way back. 

For the most part I just tried to put my head down and do work.    That said, being in your own head for 5 hours is just a long time.  It’s hard to focus that long.  

Just like cedar point 70.3 I had problems either with my power meter or my effort level again.   My quarq said I was riding about 20-40W under goal.   My RPE said I was working hard enough.   My speed indicated I was holding right around 21 mph.   So, I road mostly by effort.   This is a big problem I need to solve though.  It might be that there is something wrong with my electronics, or my calibration process.   It could also be that I’m so mental about the run that I’m afraid to push the bike even a little, and that’s giving my RPE a bit of a false read.  A third option is that in a race there is always a pack to avoid, nutrition to eat, aid stations to go through, and turns to negotiate, and maybe I’m just not good at holding power while doing those things.   Whatever the cause, I was happy with my pace and if I left some on the table so be it.
At about mile 70 I hit a real mental low point, and I started singing songs from ‘The Little Mermaid’ to myself.   I remember passing this girl singing and getting a funny look.  I shot back, ‘come on, you know the words.’  I’m just about positive I heard her singing behind me! 

I saw Lana and Tam on the bike around mile 90, just when it seemed like it would never end.  I hit the century mark at 4:46 and I was jazzed about that.  My fastest century by 14 minutes. 

My ‘best day’ goal for the bike was around 5:10 and my ‘average day’ goal was 5:30.  So, 5:21 was really right where I should have been.  It also lined me up for going sub 12 hours if I could run a 5 hour marathon, which would be really neat.

T2 8:27
So, T2 was thankfully much shorter than T1.   I did what I needed to do, but still didn't run in transition.  I knew I’d get plenty of running soon enough.  The volunteer helper I had was in such a hurry he took my T2 bag away before I got to put my shoes back in it, or get my sunblock out.   So, I’m sitting there in T2, with bike shoes in hand and run shoes on.   I yell to him ‘Dude, I still have my bike shoes.’  He says something like ‘sorry, it’s been a long day.’  Yeah, funny, me too…  

Time: 5:00:07
Pace:  11:27/mile

I noticed that every time I put my left leg down my heel would hurt.   Same place I noticed in T1.   Not much I could really do about it, but it was there and painful. 

I ran by heart rate, trying to stay in zone 2, for the first few miles.   That was working out really well at first.   But, then, my heart rate dropped to between 90 and 100 bpm after the first few miles.  That wasn’t right.   It wasn’t something I had experienced in training however, and had no idea how to fix it.  So, I just did my best to ignore it and run the marathon on feeling.

At mile 5 I noticed the 18 mile mark on the run course, for the second loop, and made a mental note.  That’s where the race starts, mile 18.   That’s where I’m going to have to really work for it. 

Somewhere on the first loop I ran into Mirinda Carfrae, on her second loop.  As she ran by I sped up just a bit and was like ‘hey, you’re Mirinda Carfrae.’   I guess it’s sorta stupid to tell famous people who they are, because, well, they know.   Anyway, I was like ‘ok, I’m gonna let you go ahead, you got this.’  And so I let her go, since she was leisurely jogging my 5k pace.   That was cool though, we’re totally running buddies now. 

For the first 13 miles, the sun was pretty hot and it was sort of humid.  Those conditions are not great for me to run in.  I did my best running between aid stations and walking/recovering my HR as I drank between aid stations. 

Every mile I’d take a self-assessment of my condition.   How was I feeling?  In general I was less hydrated than I wanted to be.  My pace was ok, but not what I was hoping for, but being a terrible runner isn’t exactly news worthy.  From my first few splits, it looks like I had a shot at that sub 12.    Energy level was ok, all things considered.   Stomach was going between good and bad, back and forth.   I wasn’t cramping at all.  Things were all green across the board, given where I was.

At mile 13 I had a minor asthma problem and hit my inhaler.   I thought I’d walk for a bit and see if I could recover, but it didn’t get any better.   I used my inhaler again, but it still really didn’t improve.  So, at that point I just decided to run again.  Running didn’t really make it worse, so I kept back on my plan.

When I hit mile 18 I had a massive side stitch.   Self-fulfilling prophecy I suppose.  I don’t normally have issues with side stiches, so I wasn’t sure what to do.  I walked again for a bit, it eventually went away.

At mile 22 I looked down at my watch and realized that if I pushed I could still hit the 5 hour mark on the run, somehow, after all that walking.  Admittedly I was a little bummed that I had a shot at sub 12 after this deep into the marathon, because it meant some hurt was coming.  So, I made my mind up to do it.  At mile 23 I stopped walking the aid stations and just ran.   It’s funny, I was pushing so hard I felt like I was running 7 minute miles.  In reality, it was more like 10 minute miles.   I saw Lana right before I crossed, but couldn’t really do much more than try to smile.  I crossed the finish right a few second over 5 hours, and for some reason had it in my head that I had finished in over 12 hours.  

A volunteer immediately grabbed me and took me to medical because I was clearly smoked.  I sat down, drank some chocolate milk and got my head back together.  While I was in medical I heard someone say ‘these guys are right at 12 hours’ so, I looked down at my watch and realized I had finished in under 12 hours as well.   I met a worried Lana outside of medical and made my way back to our condo. 

Post-Race Thoughts

I really had a great day.  Because of the awfulness that was IMWI 2011, in some ways it feels like my first ironman. 

Of course I usually want more, and today was no exception.  I would have liked, given all the training I put in, for my run split to be closer than an hour off my open marathon.  I did the best I could with what I had though, and it was pretty good result.  My ‘best day’ prediction was 4:30, so I guess in the back of my mind I think there’s another 30 minutes in there somewhere, but that’s about as deep as my genetic well goes I’m afraid.

Our Panama City Beach ‘Vacation’
After IMWI I think I laid in bed for two days.  This time I was much better prepared in general, and I hurt a lot less the next day.   I was sore, but it wasn’t awful.

That painful heel I mentioned was the worst of it.   I had a big puncture wound on my left heel.  My best guess is that I stepped on a sharp bit of shell on the beach as I was heading to T1.

I got up at about 6am to go with Lana so she could register for 2014.   We had to get there two hours before registration opened, to secure a spot.  With WTC, it seems the 4th discipline is standing in line.
My legs were of course really sore, but that was to be expected.   We joined some friends on the beach for drinks and that certainly took the edge off.  

Two days out I felt way better.   Most of the pain was gone.   I was experiencing some episodes where I’d go from ‘fine’ to ‘I’m going to kill someone if I don’t get some food’ in a matter of seconds, so I gave myself a pass to eat pretty well. 

The highlight of our dining experiences in PCB was ‘Buddy’s Seafood Market’ where we went in, picked some fresh seafood, and they steamed it while we waited.   I ate about a pound of fresh shrimp and some scallops, along with potatoes and corn.  It was really delicious. 

We also ate at ‘The Boathouse’ with some friends.  It was great as well.  I had grilled local grouper with a bottle of Beaujolais.  

I have many people to thank for this big epic day, and the training to lead up to it.   

First and foremost, thank you Lana for getting me to the starting line safe, healthy, and sane.  And for keeping the house together while I trained.  And for all your love and support.  I really can't thank you enough love.

Thank you friends and coworkers, for supporting me in doing this and talking about it non stop for the last 12 months.

Thank you trisharks and fellow Epic Endurance team members for your support and well wishes on facebook!  You guys are an inspiring bunch.

And last but not least thank you to Laura Wheatley for pushing me further than I would have pushed myself.   


  1. Way to dig Mike... a puncture wound?? seriously, ouch!! So glad you finally got the day that you deserved!!

  2. I've been following your blog on and off for a few years. In that time I've lost about 100 lbs and am only about 20 lbs from my goal weight. Your blog has served as inspiration and I plan to try a sprint triathlon in the next year or so. I'm not sure if I've ever commented before, but thought I'd let you know there are people out here keeping up with your ongoing progress. Just wanted to say thanks.