I arrived in Panama City Beach, FL a few days before the race. I had never swam in salt water before so that was the one thing I was itching to get at. The Thursday morning group swim at 7 am was great. I felt very comfortable and the waves were similar to the rolls I feel swimming in Lake Michigan at home, unsalted of course. That was my biggest unknown for this race. Getting over that hurdle. Done. Friday, the day before the race, I awoke to double red flags on the beach. Crazy winds and waves. So, no swim practice for me.
A storm blew through and the humidity and wind were near non-existent on race day. The waves were a bit big at shore, hard to navigate and walk through, but not unswimmable. I had never done this mass swim before… Whoa. Aqua kickboxing. The swim rocked, my time did not. I thought I was doing so well until I got out and ran up to the showers and into T1 and saw the time. What?! My rock star efforts, or so I thought , had me at 1:24. So that whole time that I thought I was a bad ass in the swim, boom, over.
Running through T1, I unracked my own bike, started off with the mission to make up for my swim time, and to prove to myself I could bike a better time than in my first Ironman in August. The bike was flat, fast and really a great ride with the exception of miles 50-60. The bumps on that stretch had me cursing and angry, it was very frustrating and had to get out of aero for most of that time. I was glad to get to the halfway point and snag some snacks from special needs. I’ll tell you I have never been so happy, almost giddy like a schoolgirl, for a Tootsie Pop sucker… All in all it was a great ride. I loved seeing the kit and bike combinations. Hmmm… The last 12 or so miles were just great and fast. I finished in 5:37.25. I was pleased.
Cruised off bike and again fetched my own bag, glad to have remembered exactly I had placed all of my transition business for both areas (eh hemm…)
Lost the shrug, added compression calf sleeves, threw on my trucker hat, Ray Bans and chugged a bit of Coke with a smile. Two other 39 yr old AG off bike at the same time and I was bound and determined to not let them ditch me. Grabbed my bottle and ran out the door (no tent, but giant conference center room). Tried to stay on target of what Jill has always said, chill… But my body was in this fast leg motion, I swear I had no control of to slow it down, until of course, later! Felt great and in sync with my idea of a time. In my head just wanted to get under a four hour marathon. I was bound and determined to have a great run. I did. I had interesting and fabulous interactions and sites along the 26.2 miles. I saw all of the leads for men and women twice in passing, so fu*&ing cool and a bit star struck, a Bahrain prince with a motorcade escort and a dude who recognized me from my run the day before from my e2 ( exercise envy) trucker hat that had flown off. I was able to retrieve it and wear for the big day… Another highlight, at the special needs point, snagged the ever so pined for Tootsie Pop. Swear those things are magic for me! Feeling good and happy and without any GI issues this race, I finished with a big smile and made my run under 4 hours, 3:53.48.
My race time 11:12.59. Very satisfied, since I just started racing in this crazy sport in June. IMFL was almost a year to the day that I You Tubed how to swim and started this adventure! Can’t give enough credit to my coach, Jill Fry. Knowledge is Power…