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Ironman Maryland 2018 Race Report

Created: Tuesday, 09 October 2018
This is my 3rd Ironman! As usual, I had my adventures and mishaps to go along with it. I had a great swim, and bike, but had a tough run. This journey brought me up to the Eastern shores of Maryland to conquer a 2.4 mile swim in the Choptank River, 112 very windy bike miles, and a 2 and a half loops to complete a 26.2 mi run.
This race almost didn’t happen. 4 weeks prior, I crashed my racing bike, a Quintana Roo PRsix, while on a 100 mile bike ride. At first, I thought the bike was OK, and even raced on it the following week in an Olympic distance race. When I finished, major cracks were discovered in the frame. It was about to shatter, not worth fixing since there were 4 cracked points, and I had to figure out a plan B. Should I defer the race, rent a bike, borrow someone else’s bike, or buy a new one? Thankfully, my wife was understanding, and agreed that a new bike was the way to go. I purchased the newer version of the same frame. It takes 2 weeks to paint the frame. Thank you Canon Cyclery for putting my new bike together in time. I picked it up on the Tuesday before the race. I hit the road heading to Maryland the very next day, Wednesday.
 
Rule #1: Don’t try anything new on race day! Derrick’s exception: Unless it’s a new bike. My practice rides on Thursday and Friday were my first time riding the bike.
It rained every day prior to the race, but the rain cleared on race day. The water temperature cooled down to 73º, making it legal to wear wetsuits. After a practice swim, bike, and run, I was ready. So I thought. Even though I had all my Hammer Nutrition prepared, I didn’t pack it to be carried with me on the bike. I prepared my fueling the same as what worked for me last year at IM Louisville: Hammer Perpetuem for hydration, Endurolytes Extreme (powder
and tablets), Anti-Fatigue tablets, Gel, and bars. I taped the supplements to the side of bike for easy access, while covering them with practice so they wouldn’t get wet overnight. I used a flask for my Gel, which was in my Bento bag.
 
📷

Swim - 2.4 mi

 
Swim Finish!
This was a rolling start. Swimmers lined by their own estimated finish time. I lined up at the end of the 1:25 - 1:30 group. It is a 2 loop swim, with a sensor in the water to ensure the second loop was completed. This was the first time I’ve ever seen that. I had visions of a major bottleneck. After IM Gulf Coast 70.3, I arrived prepared with jellyfish retardant rubbed on my exposed skin. After a prayer with some new athletes I just met, I was ready!
2 swimmers started every 3 seconds. The wind was calm, and so was the water. For a wide body of water, the swim was very crowded. I kept swimming into other swimmers with a lot of body contact. Swimmers would stop, causing a chain reaction. I often found myself on someone’s back, as well some a few swimming upon me when I slowed down. At one point, I got kicked! A heel to the forehead. He stopped, asked if I was OK. I was. I reverted to my safety technique of singing, and just kept it moving so I wouldn’t panic. At the loop, I saw the timing sensor. Fortunately, it was wide enough for everyone to swim under without congestion.
That wasn’t the case for the finish, there was a lot of contact there. I could not find any open space, as everyone funneled into the same finish shoot. Despite the contact, I just kept pushing through. When I got out the water, I had a chunk of skin missing from my thumb. Maybe I struck someone’s toenail.
It was supposed to be a 2.4 mile swim. I actually swam 2.7 miles!! Ugh! After looking at my GPS data, so did most everyone else. I did achieve my goal of a 2:10/100 yd pace, that's pretty darn good for me! Even better, I didn’t suck!! I’m usually above the 95th percentile of swimmers. This day, 74%. Training is paying off.
Actual Distance: 2.7 mi Time: 1:43:20 Pace: 2:10/100 yd (using actual distance) AG Rank: 179/241 OA Rank: 1209/1785

 

Glad to have survived that swim!

T1

My goal was to get through in 7 mins. There were wetsuit strippers. My goal was to find the biggest men to rip the wetsuit of quickly, but no luck. Ended up with a man and woman. The man pulled off his leg cleanly, but the woman had trouble. Ugh! He helped her complete her task. In the changing tent, I put on my bike shoes, helmet, and stuffed my swim gear into my gear bag. I didn’t see my nutrition bars, so I just hurried on out to my bike. Apparently, I forgot to pack them in my bike gear bag.
Time: 5:49

Bike - 112 miles

 
Now it’s time to see how this new bike will perform! The bike started fast, averaging over 20 mph for the first 43 miles. Other racers were giving me a ton of complements on my bike. Not only was the color striking, and matched my kit, but I was really fast compared to them. I always thanked everyone that spoke to me. Then the winds kicked up, and kept getting stronger. These were not the typical winds I’m used to. There seemed to never be a tail wind, like it was swirling. My average pace was dropping. I ended up with a 19 mph avg.
 
The course was very flat. That means there was no moment of relief. A hard grind for near 6 hours. I’m not going to lie, everything was hurting by the end. I had driven the course the day before, but there was really nothing noteworthy about the route. There was a last minute route change due to flooding from high tides. That just replaced flat roads with more flat roads.
While on the bike, I realized I didn’t have my Hammer Bars on me. I had plenty of Perpetuem and Gel. I actually made a paste out of the Perpetuem and mixed it with fresh water from the course. But I needed some calories. I was hungry. Without my bars, I grabbed whatever solid food was available on the course, which was bananas. I would eat a banana, felt that my stomach didn’t like it, get hungry again, then repeat the cycle. Although I finished the bike strong, my stomach was a mess.
Distance: 112 miles Time: 5:54:00.0 Pace: 18.98 mph AG Rank: 108/241 OA Rank: 617/1785

 

T2

Again, I was hoping for a fast transition, but my legs and butt were REALLY enjoying the break. I did have all my planned nutrition for the run, four Hammer Gels in my run belt. I grabbed them, my Smith Optics shades, Team Zoot Visor, drank a couple cups of water, and headed out.
Time: 7:24

Run - 26.2 mi

 
I had an aggressive goal to average 10:30. I started off strong for the first few miles. Then my stomach was really messed up, fallout from the lack of calories on the bike and the bananas that made it worse. At mile 6.5, I lost my motivation and started feeling a little dizzy, and my stomach was really churning. I decided to play it safe, and relax in the shade. I didn’t want a repeat of Chattanooga, 2 years ago, when I passed out on the run. I laid down, drank water, electrolytes, and waited until I got my energy back. Some concerned volunteers called the medics over. They checked me out, I was fine. I knew I was. I just needed a break. After about 30 mins, I continued with my run.
With each mile, I picked up more energy and felt stronger. It was 2 and 1/2 loops. When I hit the 13 mile mark, It was huge relief. Halfway done!! The next milestone was the 23 mile mark, which was the turnaround point for the 3rd loop. I really pushed hard then towards the finish. The other racers were filled with the same determination to finish strong as well,
boosting my will. The loops led me pass the finish line FIVE times!! It’s finally my turn to run down the red carpet.
The lights and music were blaring loud. I was going to enjoy every moment. I ran down red carpet with spectators cheering. On the mic was the Voice Of Ironman, Mike Reilly!! With enthusiasm, he yelled, “Derrick Britton, from Georgia, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!”
Distance: 26.2 miles Time: 06:35:10.0 Pace: 15:04/mile Final Time 14:25:43.0 AG Rank: 148/241 OA Rank: 969/1785
My mom, Sarah Britton, and her sister came down to watch me from Cleveland and Detroit! Their presence and support means a lot. Thank you! Big thanks to my wife, Stephanie, for putting up with me training 30 hours/week and understanding that I need a safe bike to ride on! It’s time to go on a bunch of vacations now!!! I have the best sponsors! Thanks to Team Zoot for keeping me geared up, and Hammer Nutrition for keeping me fueled right. I received awesome support from Canon Cyclery, Smith Optics, Garmin, Speedfil, and Quintana Roo. Lastly, thanks to all my many training partners and the Killer Whales swim team.
 
 
My mom and aunt
 
Finisher Medal
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