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Ironman Gulf Coast 70.3 2018 Race Report

Created: Tuesday, 29 May 2018
My 2nd race of the season, 2nd in two weeks, 2nd race in Florida. This was my first time in Panama City Beach, FL though. I felt ready, and eager to test my abilities. I learned from my decision two weeks earlier, I now plan to wear my Zoot wetsuit. My goal, was not to be the slowest swimmer. The bike is flat and fast, so the plan was to crush it at 20 mph. I knew it was going to be hot, so plan for the run is to be fully hydrated before I start, stay cool, and just hold on until the finish.
 
Course was longer than it should be. I loved my swim and bike numbers. Run was a struggle.
I arrived on Thursday, 2 days before the race. The plan for Friday was to go for a quick bike ride, check in, do a practice swim, drive the bike course, and enjoy the excitement. I had just received my new Smith Podium TT helmet, so I was eager to see how it performed. The practice ride went smoothly. There were no bike issues, so I checked it in. The practice swim didn’t go as well.
I swam without my wetsuit, it was way too hot. As I was swimming, the waves had me bouncing up & down. I couldn’t see clearly over the waves, which made it hard to sight, and swim straight. Other than that, the water felt great. It was clear and warm. When I got out the Gulf, I was looking everywhere for my keys. “Where are they?” I then remembered that I placed my key fob in my back pocket before my bike ride. Oh my, there it is! Thank God it didn’t fall out during the swim. But will it still work? It’s going to be a long weekend if I’m locked out. Fortunately, it worked fine. That was too much excitement for the day. I returned to the hotel to rest up, and prepare my nutrition.
Race day morning, I ate my typical breakfast of oatmeal and fruit. For my nutrition, I filled up my Speedfil with Hammer Heed. I placed my flask full of Hammer Gel inside my bento bag. The flask is much easier and cleaner to use than trying to manage a bunch of individual packets. Also in my bag were Hammer Anti-Fatigue and Endurolyte supplements. In my run belt, I added 4 packets of Hammer Gel. Pre swim, I ate a Hammer Energy Bar, and some supplements. I was determined to be prepared for the heat. I never forgot how I didn’t follow my nutrition plan at IM Choo in 2016 when it was 97º and I ended up passed out on the run. Never again!

Swim

 
Survived the jellyfish, here is the swim exit. I had started to take off my wetsuit.
2 weeks ago, at St. Anthony in St. Pete, it was barely a wetsuit legal race, and I opted to stick with my plan to wear a skin suit. All the wetsuit swimmers blew past me. This race’s water temperature was also hovering around the cutoff temperature of 76º. That morning, it was 75º. Lesson learned, despite the warm water, I’m wearing my wetsuit.
It was a rolling start. Each swimmer start one at a time, about 3 seconds apart. The order was self-seeding based on estimated finish time. I started in the middle, with the 43 minute group. It was a running start from the beach. I’m not sure why some were running deep into the water before they started swimming. The smart ones, like me, started swimming as soon as the water got above our knees. The race was was on!
 
GPS swim route
There were 5 yellow buoys before I got the to red turn buoy. I was definitely counting. I was usually able to see the next buoy. When I couldn’t, I just followed the feet in front of me. As big as the ocean is, I kept wondering why folks kept crowding me. I stayed away from the buoys so I could find clear water. A couple times, I would stop, to avoid getting pinched. One time, a saw a swimmer heading right towards me. I checked my sighting numerous times, and he was definitely off. I stopped, treaded water, and let him swim towards Cuba.
The clear blue water was refreshing! I can’t see my elbows in the lake I train in. Slowly, the sandy bottom disappeared. I realized I was swimming very, very deep into the ocean. Thoughts of whales coming up from the deep started to entered my mind. To avoid panicking, I started my karaoke session using my DJ skills. The more I sang, the more I could keep my mind on task and not allow my mind to wander. This keeps me safe.
 
Running to the frest water shower and T2!
About a third of the way through the swim, I was feeling something gooey with each stroke. Was that.... Before I could finish the sentence, I went back to plan A, singing “It’s the, eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the night...” I confirmed later, everyone swam through a school of jellyfish. I didn’t hear of anyone getting stung.
When I made the turn back to shore, the sun was directly into my eyes. I couldn’t see further than 20 feet in front of me. I had polarized goggles, but the sun rise was really bright. I followed other swimmers a lot more than I did sighting for the buoys. I also started using the building to sight off of. I checked my GPS data afterwards, I swam pretty straight! Lots of folks were complaining that the swim was longer than it should have been. Sure enough, my data showed the same. It wasn’t even close, and extra 200 yards. So the official swim pace is misleading.
Distance: 1.2 mi Time: 00:48:28 GPS swim pace: 2:07/100 yd AG: 118 Men: 733 Overall: 1010

T1

Feeling victorious after the swim, I wanted a fast transition. I started taking my wetsuit off, then I saw the cameras. There’s only one chance for a good photo! So waited until after I passed the cameras to finish taking my Zoot wetsuit off. There were no wetsuit strippers, as they have at other IMs. This is the first race I’ve been in that had fresh water showers. I tried to rinse off much of the salt, then proceeded to grab my bike.
Time: 04:04

Bike

Enjoying my favorite of the 3 events!
Since I drove the course first, I was familiar with all the turns. Once I had the last turn, and jumped on the highway, it was just a very long, flat, and fast ride. My goal was to average 20 mph. I was passing everyone I saw. There were a few small climbs over bridges. Others really slowed down, I blew past them. I flew past most everyone! It was fun. It was a constant headwind going out. I averaged 19 at the turnaround point. I felt very aerodynamic with the Smith Podium TT helmet. It seemed that the headwind was affecting others much more than myself.
 
Slicing through the head wind
The second half of the bike had a tailwind, so my speed really picked up. I was often cruising at 23 mph. I kept this up most of the way. My main goal was to stay hydrated. I emptied out my Speedfil water bottle and grabbed a water on the race course. I had grabbed a Gatorade Endurance first, but my body didn’t like it. I tossed it, and used the water as my backup. I slowed down the last couple of miles of the bike to allow my legs to have some energy for a strong run.
Distance: 56 mi Time: 02:45:05 Pace: 20.35 mph AG Rank: 70 Men Rank: 421 Overall Rank: 528

T2

I took my shoes off while on the bike about a mile before transition. I should have identified some landmark to indicate I was near the transition line. My estimate was too early. I’ll improve on that next race. Without wasting anytime, I put on my new shoes, New Balance Micro Force 1500 T2. I love the motto on the back, “First In, First Out”. It has the Boa strap, so I was able to tighten them up real quick.
Time: 01:56

Run

 
Beginning the run. That white glaze is all salt from the swim!!!
 
Determined to push through a boiling hot run!
The temperature had climbed dramatically. It was very hot! The sun was bright, and there was no shade. As soon as I started running, the heat zapped all my energy, and I could not reach my target pace. With every mile, it was getting hotter, and harder to run. I was able to run the entire race though. Only walked through the water stations.
There was always ice at every water station. At most stations, I would grab a cup of ice and dump it down the front and back of my race suit. The run consisted of 3 loops. It was so hot and tough, I just swore I completed the third loop, but my Garmin watch said I had only ran 8.75 miles. Something wasn’t right. Couldn’t have been me, right? Had to be the watch. I asked a volunteer what mile marker was this, and she was no help. I asked another runner, and he said he had 8.75 miles also, and had another lap to run. UGH!!! OK, one more lap. I lost about a minute of time.
 
There were sprinklers from many businesses throughout the course. I ran through all of them. Everyone else was suffering too, so I kept on pushing all the way through the end. Finally, I completed the third loop. Now it’s time for the Finisher’s Chute. I made a turn, then another, then another. *Goodness* This was the longest finisher’s chute, EVER!!! A quarter mile later, I finally reached the red carpet, crowds, and heard my name across the loud speaker. I finished! Very, very tough race.
My body temperature was extremely hot. There was no shade to cool off. One of my training partners, Khadijah, was concerned with my condition. She led me to the medic tent, and where the doctor confirmed I was fine, just needed to cool off. A couple cold ice towels on the back of my neck and about 15 minutes, I was fine. It was a great race, other than the heat.
Distance 13.1 mi Time: 02:40:44 Overall Race Time: 06:20:17 Pace: 12:16/mi Max speed: 35.1 mph AG Rank: 73 Men Rank: 454 Overall Rank: 600
 
Always finish strong!
 
 
The heat was too much for me! I had to cool off, with assistance. Nurse is taking my blood pressure. All vitals were normal.
 
Team Zoot teammates
 
 
Standing next to two great triathletes!
 
Hard Earned Medal!
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