Ironman 70.3 Florida
The night before the race definitely could have gone better. After getting a nice meal full of carbs in my stomach, I was just about to fall asleep when the fire alarms started going off in our hotel. At 11:00pm. When we had a 4:00am wake-up call.
There was no fire, and nobody knew what had caused the alarms to go off. I'm betting it was a racer in another hotel trying to sabotage me and the other racers in my hotel. Dick.
So then I finally got back to my bed after the alarms had been turned off and proceeded to not fall asleep until around 2:00am. So after nearly a year of intense training, I was about to finally take on the big race on 2 hours of sleep. Woo.
- Time: 1:04:47
- Distance: 1.2 miles
- Pace: 2:46/100yd
The morning was cool, with the temperature in the mid-50s. The water, however, was in the 70s, which felt like bathwater compared to the air. Still, it ended up being a wetsuit legal race, so there were plenty of racers in wetsuits. Not sure why though, because it really wasn't that cold, and the incremental time they gained while swimming was probably lost trying to get the damn things off.
But I digress.
My swim was horrible. Absolutely dreadful.
It may have been nerves, adrenaline, or not getting 100% focused on my technique right out of the gate, but I had what felt like a panic attack shortly after starting the swim. My suit felt insanely tight, I could barely breathe, and I started questioning if I could even finish the damn swim.
But I started slowly paddling toward a buoy, resting for a moment, then on to the next. This continued until I started to feel normal again, and then I was able to get into a good rhythm. You can even see it in my Strava data, how I began really slowly and then gradually improved until my last 400 yards when I hit my best pace of 1:58/100yd.
Also, huge shout-out to the volunteer in the kayak who followed me the whole way, giving me encouragement every time I came up for air. You da real MVP.
- Time: 3:11:33
- Distance: 56.0 miles
- Pace: 17.6 mph
Now that the swim had finally ended, I sprinted to transition to refuel and hit the road for cycling.
I had a LOT of time to make up, and that would not be easy with the insane amount of hills on the course. My legs are way stronger than I had thought, though, because it wasn't long before I was passing other riders, and a lot of those were overtaken on uphill climbs.
Squats, people. They're magic.
I think this was my best ever ride, even including my training rides. I averaged 17.6 mph for 56 miles, with a max speed of 31.5 mph. I timed my nutrition perfectly, taking electrolytes every 12 miles, and hydrating on the downhills so as not to lose too much time.
The only issues for the ride were my lower back, which hurt a lot with me being aero most of the time, and then there were rough patches of road that had me worried about getting a flat.
Thankfully I was able to handle the back pain, and I didn't get a flat.
Now it was time to run.
- Time: 2:35:11
- Distance: 13.1 miles
- Pace: 11:50/mi
Let me start off by saying that I had a sick transition. I screamed into the bike dismount lane. I unclipped my shoes as I was still passing riders. I was about a foot from the line that all riders have to be on foot by, when I swung my leg over the saddle, jumped off my bike, and hit my sprint in perfect stride all the way through transition.
It's hard to explain, but it was badass. Believe me.
So, the run.
It started out well enough, and I was able to maintain a good pace for the first 4-5 miles. The hills didn't seem too bad on the first lap, but that was not the case on laps 2 and 3.
My legs were in so much pain, and it was difficult to keep pushing myself mentally. But I knew that if I kept walking, I would get that much closer to my goal. I wasn't about to quit just a few miles from the finish line of sometime I worked my ass off for a year to accomplish. I would finish this race even if it meant I crawled on all fours to do it.
I gathered up the last of my strength about a mile from the end, with me finally sprinting and smiling through the finish line.
I had done it.
It feels strange to finally be done with something that had taken over my life for so long. Triathlon training had become so normal in my day to day life that I had lost the excitement for the big race, and had become more engrossed in the individual daily workouts. I trained so frequently and so hard that I had started to get mentally burnt out by it all.
But I am so proud, and so happy that I did it. That I set my mind on a goal that had once seemed impossible, like this far away dream that could never really happen. But it did, because I made it happen.
It wasn't easy. It sure as hell wasn't easy.
But this will not be the last triathlon that I compete in, Ironman distances included.
I am an Ironman athlete now.
I'm Zach, and I am an entrepreneur, triathlete, and blogger living in Tampa, FL. I do a lot of things, and I try to write about them as best as possible.