IM Florida 70.3 RecapHistory is written by the winners. Except for this history. This one is written by the guy that came in 87th in his age group. But it’s an extremely difficult age group for what that is worth.
Because most people have better things to do than follow a lengthy ramble about exercise, I will thank a few people because that is most important.
Thank you Lauren for always being supportive and engaged in my foolish endeavors. Thank you for standing in the sun all day with minimal sustenance to give me the opportunity to see if this would kill me. You are too kind.
Thank you Hector Torres, TriPeakAthlete, LLC, for all of your time, guidance and encouragement, so that this would not kill me. It may have without you. High probability.
Thank you Julian Perez, Dan Greib, David Berlant for reminding me every day somebody else is working harder, without saying a word.
Thank you Coaches Hill for stepping up at practices so I am not just running in circles until a fuse blows when Hector is out.
Thank you all the members of the Central Florida Tri Club. I don’t know who else is lucky enough to have a supportive group with so much knowledge and so willing to share.
Thank you Dave, Jess and Nick for coming to watch me finish.
Thank you Andreas for making it look a lot easier than it is. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it.
To the race…
We started the morning at 3:30 a.m. and were out the door by approximately 4 a.m. because the transition area (your “homebase” of approximately 12 inches on a bike rack where you set up your supplies) was set to close at 6 a.m. despite the first swim wave not leaving until 6:50 a.m. Of course my wave was at 7:50. This meant nearly two hours of standing on the beach with the temperature in the 50’s. I put on my wetsuit hoping for mercy from the cold, but no luck. I considered peeing in the suit on dry land in a desperate cry for warmth. Then realized this was one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had.
Once my mind moved from warming myself, it began to consider the distance I was going to have to cover. Particularly that the open water swim distance of 1.2 miles in the shape of an M (how clever!) was something new. An added concern was that I would be wearing a wetsuit so cheap that its own specifications were misspelled down the back of it. It also gives me more side-boob than you would see in a normal session of browsing peopleofwalmart.com.
The biggest thing that I had to keep reminding myself, was to not “look down.” This was going to be a difficult activity and dwelling on it beforehand was not helping matters.
My deep thoughts nearly caused me to miss my swim start. Just as I got past the boob chafing, I realized my group was already in the water and the next had already packed into the inflatable gates through which all must pass to record their start. So for my warmup, I had to use the swim move normally used by defensive ends on a pass rush to pull myself through the horde and into the water.
Once I got to the water, things went pretty well. The lake gets a bad rap for its greenish hue which I understand to be from some mix of phosphorus/urban runoff and algae. But this rap must be coming from folks that never swam in the Saginaw Bay before the zebra mussel infestation. This lake seemed fine to me.
The biggest downside of grouping swim starts by age rather than ability, is that the dozens of people immediately next to you may be former college-level swimmers, or they may not belong in the deep end of a community pool without a waiver and strict supervision. You don’t know until they climb over top of you and use your face for leverage (college) or try to use you as a life preserver (the latter).
The swim went off like clockwork until the home stretch. A couple things floated into my mouth that I was never able to identify, but I think they made their way back out.
On the home stretch, I became the victim of a relentless search and destroy mission by a 35 to 39 year-old woman from the prior wave. I swam out of my line several times to escape. But she honed in on me like a threatened bottle nosed dolphin. Her cycle of full stop, sharp arching sprint into my ribs, played over and over like the Groundhog Day of the sea until she made a reverse-arch to outsmart me one last time and run me into the exit buoy.
After fighting off the nautical attack, I made it to shore a couple minutes ahead of my goal time. I then started a long bike ride.
At 25 miles, I was impressed with the speed I was holding and thinking about how fortunate I was that everything was going to plan.
At 28 miles, a bottle containing the nutrition I needed for the last hour of the ride, jettisoned from my bike and was committed to the depths of a Polk County ditch. Funny how quickly things change.
I dug in my storage box and found a couple vanilla gels from last season that just about made up the caloric difference. Any literature that says they don’t go bad is almost certainly industry research. I think they gave me a buzz. Add a little sports drink from an aid station and I was no worse for the wear, except of course some nausea and a headache that I am still enjoying.
Though I felt a bit green, I finished the 56 miles on the bike a ahead of schedule and started the run.
Prior to the race I learned all kinds of interesting places you can put ice cubes to lower your body temperature while running. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Next issue.
The entire run course was lined with people cheering and many houses had hoses set up to spray us. It was really great to have so many people out cheering and helping. Best race fans I have seen, all the way through.
As the run wore on and the headache continued, I considered perhaps a lack of caffeine was the issue. The next aid station had Red Bull. I had only a moment to contemplate that Red Bull could either be the best thing do, or the worst. Slammed it. Headache cooled down. Must have been the best.
At the next aid station, I thought that if one was good, two should only be better. This one turned out to be the worst thing I could do. But I was alive and nearing the end.
So I rattled on through the 13.1 miles with my suit full of ice stomach full of Red Bull, until I crossed the finish line well ahead of my expectations.
The finish chute was packed with people screaming and ringing cowbells. It got really loud when I got in there, so I must have been mistaken for somebody else. Either way, I enjoyed it. Thanks to all!
Very pleased with my race. You don’t always hear that from number 87. But I am not your average number 87.