Wow Ironman is another kind of beast, entirely different from any other kind of race I have done. Ironman Florida did not hold back any of the experience even with a flat course.
It was a cold day to race with the morning starting off cold about 8c but the ocean water was probably around 20c just making it Wetsuit legal for the pros. I was a little surprised with temperature drop and had been preparing myself for a hot race. But it workout well giving use the added benefit of the wetsuits swim and I had been training in the Canadian cold.
With the race starting a few min before the actual sunrise we were not allowed go into the water so I chose to warm up with my bands on the beach. With it being such a long race a lot of the other pros did not do much of a warm up. But I always find I swim much better after a good 20min of activation.
The Pro field was called down to the start line at 6:25 and as we filed onto the beach I thought that this was going to be a long day with a few ups and downs. I new I had to go hard at the start but quickly settle into an even pace in the swim.
The start canon fired and my first Ironman race was underway. We all stormed down the beach into the water and after a few dolphin dives and a little scrap with some other pros I settled into my pace with a small group. I believe we were in the chase group but it was hard to make out with the sun in our eyes. My first loop of two was very relaxed and focused on long strokes threw the water. As we exited the water for the first time I was in 18th place. I tried not to spick my heart rate running along the beach and really focused on a better second half of the swim. The second loop was crazy as we had to dodge countless age groupers starting their first lap. I put my head down and just kept working. I was able to exit the water in 11th place and quickly moved threw T1.
This was where I made my first mistake. The water was so warm that I could not feel the coldness of the air and I chose not to put on gloves, luckily I had arm warmers on. Ones I got onto the bike I had to focus on keeping my power under control while still seeing if I could go with people on the bike. But after the first 20 miles I was riding solo and just focusing on my own power and trying not to let my hands freeze. By about 90min into the bike things started to warm up and I started to feel better on the bike. Finally at 70miles into the ride a group came up to me and I was able to latch onto them and just focus on staying relaxed. As we neared the final miles of the bike things started to get pretty tough and I had to put in a couple of pushes to stay with the group.
I came off the bike feeling pretty good and thinking that I was in a good position to run fas. I started the run off in 14th place and had the 8-10th place in my sights. I made the decision to run with those guys no matter what. That was my ticket into the prize money. But I quickly learned that is not he best way to race an Ironman. We went threw the first 10km in about 37min and by about 15km I was starting to fall apart mentally as they pulled away. I went threw the first half of the marathon in 1:22 but that was all I had on the day. I quickly started to fall apart and slowed to a grueling 5-6min per km. I was no longer racing but just surviving. I new that I had to finish the race to fully understand it, so that I could come back next year with a much better understanding. Over the last 10km I just walked the aid stations and ran the rest eating chips and pretzels. It was far from what I was looking for but I was not going to cut this one short. I finished the day in 21st in about 9 hours. This was a very humbling experience that I will use to have a much better second Ironman.
Now I will be taking a few weeks off to let my body and mind recover before I refocus on Challenge Daytona a much shorter and faster race.