Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ironman Florida Race Report: Run (part 2)

After crossing the timing mat in the park signalling the end of the first 6 miles, I saw my watch and was glad I was running a good pace. My pace was just over 12 minute miles - it was basically right on course with my usual long run pace. I was having a hard time eating though. I had a little gel but my teeth felt totally gross after just eating sugars all day. I just wanted to brush my teeth! I had some banana - the aid station volunteers gave me a whole, unpeeled banana after I explained the predicament of cross-contamination with the cutting board (powerbars aren't gluten free). I knew I wasn't eating enough to reach my 300 calories per hour goal, but I tried to keep taking the Endurolytes to keep my electrolyte levels up. Unfortunately I kept forgetting so I probably only took about 3 during the entire run.

The run in the park was very dark. I mean pitch black dark with the very rare street light every so often. I wondered if I would fall. I also wondered what the park looked like during the day! I was still feeling okay for the most part and was smiling whenever I reminded myself I was doing an Ironman. I was doing the race I'd thought about for so long!

Almost at the end of the loop in the park, I could see an electric billboard of sorts. Aha. This was the Ford message board! I wondered if I'd see the message to myself (something silly about Sierra) or the message Dave had written for me. I crossed the mat and about 30 seconds later, when I was right in front of the message board, it flashed: "63. Nielsam, K. Smile, you know you love this!" haha. I was still smiling a few minutes later.

Just outside the park was a stretch of sidewalk that we had to run on. This was where the Janus Inspiration Station was. Dave and I had made signs earlier in the week at the Ironman Expo. Janus provides the blank signs and markers and puts the signs up at Mile 20 on the run course.

Since our run course ran the same stretch four times, runners got to enjoy the signs four times. I knew what the sign Dave made looked like, so I kept my eyes open for it. Unfortunately the signs are on both sides of the sidewalk and placed super close together. Picture yourself jogging along 10 hours into a race, darting your eyes back and forth to read signs looking for your name. It's a little nauseating. I noticed the one I made for my STC teammates, but I didn't see the one Dave made.

We'd written on both sides of our posters because I think we assumed they would be lined up in a way you could see side 1 when running one direction and side 2 when running the other direction. But instead they were placed at angles so that the signs made a big zigzag and you saw different signs depending on which way you were running. Even though it was dizzying, I looked for Dave's signs every time I ran past them.

Most of the course was on asphalt roads, a lot of residential roads, and there was very little traffic on most of the course. There was one major street we had to cross, and the traffic looked so snarled. During my first loop the people were so close together it seemed like those cars were going to be there for hours!

As I wound my way back towards the finish line to finish my first loop, I was no longer forgetting to take my walk breaks. I felt a little weird. I couldn't tell what the problem was. Was I low on salt? Just low on calories? How bad was it? I felt so out of it that I started worrying about passing out. My head felt cloudy and my sports drink was the grossest thing ever. My feet were starting to hurt - not the way I'd expected though - my feet hurt because I had a huge blister growing on each foot in the same place - right on the balls of my feet. It felt like someone had taken a knife and scraped off the skin there. Other than those problems, I felt fine. My legs weren't sore; my IT Band was fine. I was a bit surprised. But the overall feeling of weirdness was not good.

With a mile or so to get to the halfway mark and special needs bags, I came upon Dave, waiting just after the road that I'd expected him on. (I thought I'd see my friend Wendy on that road cheering too, but I later found out her husband missed the bike cutoff.) It was so nice to see him. He cheered so loudly for me. His voice was so scratched and hoarse I had to smile. Dave is the absolute best cheerleader at races. He screams and yells for everyone and after a daylong race, he could barely talk! I started walking as soon as I saw him. It was time for a walk break anyway. He said something supportive and it made me start to cry so he tried the tough love approach instead.

I told him how I couldn't eat and I thought I was going to pass out so I was going to walk for awhile, etc, etc, it was just a list of complaints. I'd been so annoyed earlier on the run when I saw other athletes who had a friend or someone else not in the race running next to them to keep them company - it's against the rules to have a pacer! I mentioned that to Dave as I felt like a bit of a hypocrite, but he was probably only with me for about 5 minutes (during which I decided I didn't care at all because I needed his support then more than I needed to not get disqualified), and he was definitely not pacing me. I told Dave about my blisters and how I must have forgotten to bodyglide the bottoms of my feet. Woe is me. He mostly just told me to keep moving and get the broth from my special needs bag and that he'd see me back there in a little bit when I was on my way back.

The last mile or so before the finish was where the biggest crowds were. There was one faux aid station where the spectators were offering beer to the athletes. Just before Dave and I parted ways, we saw a guy take the beer and chug it - one mile to go before he finished his Ironman. The crowd cheered for him and chanted his name like it was a kegger party (well, I guess it was). The thought of beer nearly made me gag. I was a little bit jealous of the athletes around me who were going into their last mile, but I knew they were faster, better athletes than me and that's just how it is! I was a little afraid I'd have people telling me I was almost done (I hate it when people think you're on your last loop and you're not!), but it seemed like people were just cheering in general. It was so nice to cross another timing mat and know I was halfway done with the marathon!!

SECOND RUN SEGMENT 7.4 mi. (1:31:10) 12:19/mile


  1. Great job reporting, and racing. You rock girl!

  2. You know... you didn't miss much in the park. I wasn't too impressed with it in daylight but come the second loop at night, I really missed the light! I have fallen in a race before when the muscles are shot. No fun. Everything locks up. Next year... BIG HEADLAMP, I'm thinking a bazzillion watts.

    Beer?? I went through the same stop after the "chick crew" (or whatever that stop was called) had given me ibuprofen a few hundred yards back. Of course the only thing to swig it down with was... you guessed it, BEER! Now me, I was sorry I wasn't on my second loop because it tasted GOOOOOOD and made me want to hurry up and finish so I could really enjoy it.


  3. Dang, Bob. Beer on your first lap!! Impressive! I am definitely not bringing a headlamp! more on that in the next post.