Some more comments:
13. Be wary of low temperatures in the mornings…and at night when the sun sets! Not so bad in the morning with a wetsuit on, but if you’re still out running and the sun starts going down, better KEEP RUNNING or else walking will potentially make you hypothermic, given your clothes being damp from sweat and then your body just cooling down tremendously.
14. I hate 2 loop swims. Running out on the beach slowed me down by 2-3 minutes I think.
15. Panama City Beach is on the panhandle of Florida, which is actually in CENTRAL time while the rest of Florida is in EASTERN time. My watch was all messed up in calculating the local time and almost messed up my pickup time at the airport!
16. Watch out for 728 lbs. Mako Sharks when you swim….Just kidding.
Thinking back to IM FL, I thought I’d put down some notes regarding the race independent of the race report. Here they are:
1. Logistics were very well done. T1, T2 and the expo were all in one place so there wasn’t much walking around.
2. Since T1 and T2 were in the same place, this is a very good spectator race. Spectators don’t have to drive miles between transition areas to watch the race. The one loop bike makes it tough to see your competitor on the bike, but 2 loops on the run makes it easy to watch them on the run, as also for the swim which is also two loops.
3. Aid stations were well stocked. Nobody ran out of anything as far as I could tell.
4. Spectators were friendly and rowdy. This makes for keeping competitors’ spirits high as they aim for the finish line.
5. There were 2258 people who started the race. This makes for a huge pileup on the swim as they head out. Be wary of swinging arms and kicking legs, but enjoy the massive draft around the buoys!
6. There were 1000+ first timers. This makes for challenging elements. First timer swimmers tend to be very messy swimmers, with swinging arms all over the place. On the bike out, there were guys who didn’t mount until much later, which caused a backup since they were running with their bikes right in the middle of the lane. Once you get past them, then it’s not bad at all.
7. Big packs of bikers make drafting benefits almost impossible to avoid, even hanging back the required distance.
8. Lots of Ironman merchandise available; a shopper’s paradise! For some items, you don’t have to get there right at the moment the expo first opens. But still get there early to get your size. Contrast this to international races where they never order enough stuff and run out pretty quickly. For finisher’s gear, there was a line out the store to get in, so get there early to get great finisher’s gear. At least they let us order this cool shell jacket since they ran out of our sizes.
9. Eating healthy is a challenge. Panama City Beach is filled with fast food and bad eats. Rent a condo with a kitchen, go to the local Walmart and buy fresh food to eat, although one could argue that the produce at Walmart wasn’t all that great. No Whole Foods in this town!
10. The food at the awards banquet could have been better. It was a bit ordinary and didn’t taste all that great. They had pork ribs and sauteed fish. I had the fish which was OK, and ate more salad and pasta alongside.
11. I’d rate the course a 10+. Very, very low hills broke up the bike course and allowed you to take a small break from constant pedaling/watts output, but it wasn’t totally flat like IM WA which made for a pedaling challenge to keep constant watts with no breaks at all. Running was totally flat and very shaded. In some ways, I’d say the course was faster than IM WA.
12. The local airport is PFN which is 15 minutes away, but you can also fly into Fort Walton Beach which is about 1-1.5 hour drive away, but potentially gives more options to fly.
It’s been 1.5 weeks after IM FL. Sometime yesterday, my aerobic system recovered fully and I didn’t have that funny, “cool” sensation in my lungs any more. Muscularly, I am a bit sore on the top of my quads down by the knees; this was bugging me prior to Ironman and now it’s acting up. I have not done any high watts training for the bike but I did do some leg extensions and it was a little painful to do those. No more leg extensions until this is healed! Luckily I do not have a need for high watts bike training; I’m in the off season now and will do other types of training to let my body recover from the abuse of Ironman training. Also, it seems that running doesn’t bother my quad/knee area so I will ramp up on form training and also neuro-muscular run training.
So heading into:
1. weight lifting
2. a bit of Bikram yoga if I can get time to go
3. run form training and neuro-muscular training
4. bike neuro-muscular training and training strength/form with Powercranks
5. swim strength training with one arm swimming and paddle swimming
6. core exercises, like planking and stomach/back muscle building
7. balance exercises, simulating running stance and motions
Looks like I’m about at 1.5 weeks to recover from Ironman now. Feel pretty good about that after 5 Ironmans! Adaptation is coming along nicely.
Negative split and descend training really helped my ability to deliver high efforts even towards the end of the race, or the end of each segment. On the bike, I would train hills up to 5 hours and then go ride for an hour, completing intervals at high watts with rest in between. This helped me be able to accelerate and pass at the final stretch of the bike, even when I was tired. For the run, I would descend my long 6 mile hill loops so that each loop was run faster than the last. This trained my muscles to not collapse after many miles, but to be able to still give more when I demanded more speed nearing the end. Thus, after 24 miles of maintaining pace, I was still able to accelerate at the end to have a strong finish.
Tiring your body out for a long stretch, and THEN picking up the pace at the end during training is painful, taxing, and hard, but extremely great training for not fading during a race and potentially even going faster at the end.
In reflecting back on my training for and racing during Ironman Florida, I thought about what worked well and what didn’t work so well. Here are some thoughts:
1. I switched drinks from Accelerade to First Endurance EFS. Accelerade was upsettng my stomach. I think it was their use of soy protein and the way it froths up when shaken that caused stomach problems. First Endurance EFS remains a flat, non-bubbly fluid and uses whey protein which both don’t upset my stomach.
2. More long hill climbs really strengthened my legs. I started doing laps up Kings Mountain, which is about a 4.4 mile climb versus Old La Honda which is about 3.3 miles. I also added intervals up the climbs to stimulate getting my legs out of pedaling at only one speed.
3. I did many threshold workouts this time on both the bike and run. For the bike, I went through a series of high watts, long interval sets which strengthened my tolerance at lactate threshold for longer periods of time. On the run, I did fartlek sets which ended with hard intervals of long duration. This also helped bring up my LT tolerance.
The downside to this was I believe that doing too many threshold workouts and not getting enough rest between them helped set the stage for some lung constriction that developed.
4. Swimming in indoor pools placed in small rooms increased the chlorine content of those rooms and caused some lung constriction to develop. Medicine helped get me out of that condition, but now I try to avoid swimming in indoor pools as much as possible.
5. Neural muscular run training early season helped increase my leg turnover. Fast running for short duration on the treadmill helped train my nerves to fire faster and to be conditioned to do so.
6. Emergen-C upwards of 3 times a day helped keep me sickness free to whole season.
7. One arm swimming really helped build up my swimming strength and helped correct an imbalance in my stroke in my left arm. Pulling with paddles helped support this strength development. Focus on the left arm also helped build it up, although it was still behind in endurance relative to my right arm on race day.
8. I also worked a lot on head and body positioning while swimming. I tried to keep as relaxed as possible, work on the body roll and adding power to my arm while stroking, and also tried to keep my head and energy moving forward, not up or down or to the side while stroking. I am a definite hip dragger while swimming and think I’ve improved this a lot.
9. The disc wheel was amazing. It’s aerodynamics and mass helped make pedaling at speed a dream. I did not experience the sail effect on this race, but someday I hope to make use of it.
The Powertap on my disc wheel was a disappointment in that it was reading inaccurately. I hope to return it this week back to Zipp/Saris and get it fixed.
10. I wore compression sleeves on my lower legs during the run. While inconclusive as to whether they made a big difference, I believe that they did help a lot and contributed to my Ironman run PR of 4:19.
11. I ran more weeks at 3 hours, which amounts to be about 18 miles for me. Dealing with the energy and mental drain of long distance was something I really needed to do, to ensure that I would not collapse mentally or physically when I reached that point in the race. I was also fortunate to not have gotten injured during the process, but good form, regular ART/Graston treatment, and running on trails helped mitigate injuries. I also did these runs mid-afternoon, during the hottest part of the day to increase my heat tolerance. Didn’t really need that at IM FL this year, but you never know when you’ll have to race Ironman in 80-90 degree weather.
12. I subtly altered my running form to reduce my up and down of running. I found that my normal stride, while more comfortable because I was used to it, also wasted energy in my legs absorbing more up and down energy. I tried this time to maintain a level head the whole way and to focus on my legs churning underneath my body. This really felt better in terms of the reducing the pounding against the pavement. During the race, I also was able to maintain pace better this way; at moments when I felt that I had switched back to my old style of running, it felt more strained and taxing. Switching back to this style of running kept me going more comfortably. I do need to practice more with this form in order to increase speed.
For IM FL, I raced with compression sleeves for my lower legs by Zensah. I really like these for their compressive design, which is a ribbed, graduated compression that reduces up the lower leg. I also like sleeves as opposed to full socks as I prefer to wear my favorite socks for racing instead of potentially not liking the foot part of a full compression sock.
In retrospect, it was kind of dumb for me not to train with them. My ART doctor reminded me of this and it kind of slipped my mind that it would be one of those rare times I was going to try something new on the race and not before! In general, BAD IDEA. Thinking back, something bad could have happened, like the compression could have cut off too much circulation to my lower leg and caused numbness in my feet. Or they could have rubbed somewhere and chafed, or just been too uncomfortable.
I also had a decision to make. I was not sure if I should wear them on the bike, or put them on at T2 for the run. In seeing some races, I did see people wearing them on the run for sure. Certainly I have seen pro marathoners wear them. But I did not recall seeing anyone wearing them on the bike. So I decided that for this race I would put them on at T2 and use them only for the run. The next race I may try them for the bike and wear them through the run.
Hitting T2, I put on those sleeves and went out for the marathon part of the race. It’s hard to tell whether or not they really helped or not. This year, I trained more at the 3 hour/18 mile run level to increase my tolerance for running at speed at that time and distance. The course was totally flat the whole way, so no hills to tax my legs that way. The weather was very moderate, and the course with lots of shade so no super hot day to ruin my ability to sustain a pace or increase chances of cramping.
What I did notice, taking all these into consideration plus my compression sleeves, was that I was able to maintain a constant stride all the way through to mile 20. Post mile 20, I was still able to maintain stride although I was slowing down more. My fascia did not tighten up around my legs or knees and they remained nicely loose the whole way. Mentally, I did feel a bit tired and did more walking through aid stations. So I may have maintained pace between aid stations, but adding in more walking time through aid stations slowed my average pace.
Then my surprise at hitting mile 24 instead of mile 23 (brain fart for not noticing the mile 23 sign before then) and being able to accelerate at that point to the finish meant that I still had energy to do that even after 24 miles of running.
It’s inconclusive to say that compression sleeves were the sole cause that enabled me to run better, but I think that they helped. Certainly there were no negative effects. As I always say, “that which does not kill me, can’t hurt and probably makes me faster.”
I’ll have to think on whether or not I want to train with them. One part of me doesn’t like to use them as a crutch, but the other part of me tells me that I can have more good workouts and really push harder with less fatigue, and feeling less wiped out at the end of a long run or bike. Something to try next year.
I also wore 2XU Compression Tights post-race for recovery. I wore a size small and there were tight portions on my legs, but some parts like my thighs felt not as tight. 2XU uses circular/spiral bands of thread to create a graduated compression up the legs. However, I don’t think they work as well as they should even though I sized down a size and they were tight to put on. But I did wear them all day the day after, and slept in them. I think they did help me recover as my legs felt very fresh and my hips didn’t feel restricted after the race. I could tell by comparing my walking to others post-race and many others were definitely very stiff looking whereas I was much looser.
On the plane ride back, I wore my Zensah lower leg sleeves which always help on plane rides.
Yesterday I went to a local running store and bought a pair of Skins Sport Compression Tights. These use a different weave to achieve their graduated compression. I put them on and they felt better than the 2XUs. I had more compression all the way up my leg, instead of feeling like the compression disappeared up on my thighs. I think I will use these from now on for recovery.
I am also considering trying the Skins Sport Long Sleeve and Skins Sport Arm Sleeves next year at IM CDA. I wonder how full body compression affects my performance during race.
For some great information on compression, check out the Skins website for How Skins Work.
So my finish time was 11:36. I looked at my watch and noticed that my stopwatch read 11:32. Where did 4 minutes go? I’m pretty sure I would have remembered starting it again if I had noticed it stopped. All my splits were pretty consistent, with the exception of T1 where I forgot to hit the split button. Weird. Was I running so fast that I entered a time warp and lost 4 minutes somewhere in local Dshen time?
[Please play Twilight Zone music here]
From ASI Photography. Some pics of me on my bike:
Here is me running:
Here are some of me crossing the finish line, and happy with my medal:
And yes, I thought I was grimacing when I crossed the finish line. Look at that roar of happiness!
Some pics of the awards banquet, with Mike Reilly announcing, Graham Fraser CEO of Ironman, and Greg Welch with some of the Janus Charity Challenge winners:
These guys are amazing: the 75-79 men age groupers who finished Ironman. They just blow me away:
Here are the women pros with Bella Comeford coming in first once again:
Here are the men pros with Tom Evans winning:
By the way, Tom was kind enough to show us what was caught in the waters off Panama City Beach just the week before:
A 728 lbs. Mako shark! Holy moly! And here we are, us triathletes in our wetsuits looking like a big school of a shark’s favorite food, seals!
One more shot of the two pro first place finishers, Tom Evans and Bella Comeford:
Getting up this morning wasn’t too bad. I think my body is adapting to the abuse I give it every Ironman!
I drop off my bike at TriBike Transport and then head to the expo. There I pick up my pics which I will post later once I get home to my scanner. I also go to get my finisher’s certificate.
Walking then over to the store, I wait in line to get in to buy finisher’s gear. What a zoo that was. I did buy a cool finisher’s jacket which I can use during cold Ironmans. I hope to get that 6-8 weeks from now since they ran out of my size.
Then, Dan and I go to get lunch at a strip mall which actually makes Panama City Beach not look like a redneck riviera but like a normal place. We stop in at the Hofbrau Beer Garden where we buy 1 liter beers and some Roladen and Bratwurst to celebrate our PRs at Ironman yesterday:
Those beers were huge! I don’t think I’ve drunk a liter of beer in…decades?