Thursday, November 6, 2014

Triathlon Tuesday - Ironman Florida Race Report Part 1 - The Storm Before the Storm

I'm splitting this up into two parts since it's so long. And, because what happened to me the days leading up to the race definitely affected race day itself.

Ironman Florida wasn’t the race I was expecting or hoping for, but it was the one I was given, so it was the one I raced.

Wednesday 10/29/14
The packing. The lists.
Due to life, I was rushed packing Tuesday and Wednesday morning for my Florida trip.  (Not my race day items, mind you, because I had very meticulously packed those things a few days before based on my checklists, but everything else.) Because somehow it had escaped me that I would need more than just the items I would wear/use for the race itself. Plus, the weather forecast kept changing. 

So Tuesday and Wednesday morning were pretty chaotic. Did not leave me in a very low stress level.

PCB map I made for family coming in town
I arrived at our rental house in Panama City Beach (about a mile from resort where all the IM hoopla was taking place) late after a 13 hour drive from Virginia on Wednesday night. I was pretty stressed about the house and what it would be like, but it was fine.  I was tired from my drive, so just dragged a few items inside and got ready for bed. I was supposed to meet people for a Gulf swim near the official swim start the next morning, so wanted to get good sleep. 

Thursday 10/30/14
Woke up 1.5 hours before the scheduled 7am swim, but somehow that STILL wasn’t enough time for me to get myself together. I was very nervous and stressed about EVERYTHING Thursday morning. The house, the race, the practice swim.

And, again, although my race stuff was meticulously packed, nothing else was. So I couldn’t find everything I needed for the swim. Heck, I couldn't find just about anything I needed for that swim. Couldn’t find my bathing suit, so I put on a tri kit for under my wet suit, then found my bathing suit so took off the tri kit and put on my bathing suit, then realized I had forgotten a swim cap from home (knowing IM would give me one for the race).  

Rushing back and forth. Finally got in the car. Remembered I had left my towel inside. Ran back to get that. The rental property already looked like a tornado had hit it.

Finally, made it out the door to drive down to the swim start (where is it? where do I park?) only to realize I had left my goggles back at the house

At this point I was so frustrated with myself I just blew a gasket. Seriously, threw a full-on fit. It involved me screaming at myself (inside my minivan):

I have a Ph.D., am a mom of four kids, and have written four novels in the last nine months. WHY COULD I NOT GET MY SH*T TOGETHER FOR ONE SHORT SWIM???

The last week had been so incredibly stressful: me travelling out of town for a few days, then my parents coming into town, then my husband getting big news about a relocation happening for us in January, then me getting a huge curveball thrown at me with my writing career… 

And did I mention I was about to do the hardest physical endeavor I’d ever attempted? I. Was. Freaking. Out.

And... scene.

Yeah, check out that calm water.
This hissy fit marked the turning point for me. Work-the-problem Janie showed up and punched hysterical-fit-throwing Janie in the face, and took over. And not a moment too soon. Because I could not have kept up that level of emotional intensity. Too exhausting.

From that morning, for the rest of week, up through and including the race itself, I was calm and focused.

Finally, the calm before the storm. Literally. And figuratively.

Swim ended up being great (I borrowed a swim cap and drove back to the house and grabbed my goggles). Did about 1.5 miles. Of course, if I had known that would be my only swim for the whole week, I would’ve enjoyed it more.

Spent the rest of Thursday picking up my race packet, attending the athlete briefing, and just generally hanging out. Did not either ride or run, although saw multiple people who did.

Friday 10/31/14
IM provided us a nice backpack
Spent the morning packing my bike (T1) and run (T2) bags into the official IM bags. Ironman gives you five separate bags for a race: Bike gear, Bike special needs, Run gear, Run special needs and morning clothes bag. I, being the obsessive
list-maker that I am, had a check list for each.

(As an aside, for anyone doing an IM: seriously, you need lists. The story of the swim emotional breakdown above is what happens if you don't have lists. With a race this long and this involved, there's too much to try to keep track of in your head)

Got my bike down to Transition around 1pm. It was crazy. Unlike IM Augusta 70.3, your gear was not set under your bike. The bikes were racked very close together and the bags were sent to other locations in the transition area.

3000 bikes in one parking lot.

Transition area from one of the hotel rooms

Run bags for T2 - this is why a ribbon or colorful tape on your bag is a good idea
Spent the rest of the day relaxing, having dinner with my grandparents who came down from Atlanta to see me race, and checking the weather every few minutes. 

The weather was already forecasting 20-22mph winds (with gusts up to 35 mph) and colder temps (lows in the 40s). I knew Saturday wasn’t going to be an optimal racing day. 

Finished packing my bike and run special needs bag and called it a night around 9pm. I could already hear the winds picking up but still hoped for the best. 

My hopes were not to be realized. Continued here.


  1. Can't wait to read the rest. Sorry it was a wonky race, but so excited for you that you DID IT!

  2. Leaving us in suspense; you are such a brilliant writer. Sounds like how my race planning goes. (except I nearly die in my story)

    1. Steve, you can definitely do a full. If you don't have strep. Or maybe even then.

  3. Love this!! MFL was supposed to be my first as well. Your graphs are very accurate as to what all happened...

    1. Aren't they though? Are you going to do another IM race so you get the full 140.6?

  4. Your hissy fit cracked me up! Sometimes, you just gotta let it out. And once you did, it was all good. :-) You've inspired me to blog about my little race. I never thought anyone would be interested, but I've been hooked on watching your training, so maybe someone will think that about mine. Can't wait to read Part 2.

    1. :D My fit was a sight to behold, I'm sure. Can't wait to read about your training and race!