One thing I learned about my body during the riguers of Ironman training was that fueling for endurance events before, during and after training sessions and races is far more important than I ever suspected. A big challenge I had during training was initially towards the end of long, hot rides in the summer and cramping. It was something I resolved through the time tested technique of trial-and-error. Something I never really got a full handle on though was how to refuel my body correctly so that my workout the next day was valuable. The end result was ok on race day as I performed at the level I hoped but with better nutrition strategy, I think my training and racing at events from Olympic through Full-course (Ironman distance) races would be drastically improved. This should also help me during running season as well.
I’ve hit a pretty big goal with the completion of Ironman. For many people, completing a goal race is such a big deal there’s nothing past that. That can be very dangerous! All of the work you put in making it to that goal can quickly be lost if you stop training after the race is over. I find the best way to avoid something like this is to have another race planned and ready so that there isn’t a reason to take a break. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy but make it something you’ll look forward to and you won’t be tempted to give up all the conditioning you just gave your body by taking up the sport of Channel Surfing.
Finally! Race morning! When I woke up on Saturday, around 3:45, I immediately noticed the very ominous howling noise. It sounded like a freight train was going by outside. I grabbed my phone and looked at the weather. Uh oh. I had a bad feeling when I saw that there were rip current warnings. But I put it out of my mind and continued my morning prep. Hugo and I got dressed and drove over to the Walmart parking lot to take a shuttle to our special needs bags drop off. It was COLD. I was not prepared for this weather at all. Leading up to the race I bought arm warmers for the bike and had packed gloves with fingers for the bike as well. I brought multiple running shirt options as well. I was feeling prepared to race in cold weather. I was not prepared, however, to walk around in it. I had flip flops on (of course) and my Space Coast marathon pullover was all that was keeping me warm. Once we made it to Pete’s condo, after pumping up our bike tires, we had a nice breakfast and Hugo, Maria and I headed to swim start while Kari stayed warm in the condo a little longer.
Almost a year and a half ago, I started a crazy journey that finally culminated at Ironman Florida this past weekend. Its crazy to think about all of the things that happened to get me to the starting line of the race. Some of it was cosmic intervention. A lot was pure grit. The journey was important though and for anyone that would ever consider taking on something like this, be it an Ironman, a 70.3, marathon or whatever your goal is, enjoy the journey. The end result should be the icing on the cake. I’ll get this part out of the way: Ironman Florida had no swim this year. Due to weather conditions that made it impossible for the safety crews to get and stay in position, the WTC made the correct call to cancel the swim. So this year’s Ironman Florida was a 138.2 mile race rather than 140.6.
Now that Ironman is over, I wanted to reflect for a minute on the chain of events that got me to the starting line in the first place because they were really quite remarkable. After I did my first triathlon in the spring of 2013 I decided I needed a trisuit. I went to Fit-2-Run in Tampa and one of the trainers there came over to talk to me. It turned out she trained with a bunch of other people and invited me to reach out to her and join them. I took her info and then didn’t contact her for a couple months.