I arrived out in Florida the week before the race and got collected at the airport by my home stay John who was also doing his first Ironman. When I arrived at his house and I was seriously shocked at how amazing it was. I was living in luxury for the week plus he was a great a chef he was which made it easy to eat really well leading up to the race. I spent most of my days worrying about how bad my legs felt and watching Dexter. I got through 2 and a Half series which is a lot of TV time for someone who doesn't usually watch much TV! My legs kind of improved through the week but right up until the day before the race they felt knackered just standing up! I wasn't sure if this was normal or if there was something wrong or what was going on so I just hoped and prayed that they would be ok on the day.
Two days before the race I did an interview for ironman live and then headed to the expo to register. It wasn't until then that I started to feel excited about the race. I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing but I don't tend to suffer much with nerves before big races. I spent some time chatting with Chance from Blue and Dirk Bockel another Blue athlete, they gave me a wooly hat and a blanket to keep warm as I had totally underdressed for the cold winds that day! Both of them had raced IM Florida in the past so were able to give me some info and tips on the course.
The swim started out fairly well for me, I was with a group until around 1k then after a momentary lapse in concentration I lost the feet of the swimmer in front and was left on my own. I did most of the rest of the swim by myself and exited the water in 1.06. Not great but not a complete disaster. Through transition and the gloves went on, I had my arm warmers/ Fusion hot wings on under my wetsuit. It was cold and windy so they were definitely needed. I started the bike really easy and planning to build in to it but as it happened I just stayed very easy through the whole thing. I was told by my coach to undercook the bike but I don't think he meant to go That easy. When I did try to push I felt like I hadn't much power there and I was a little worried about the fact that I had to run further than I had ever ran before off the bike! The bike course was horribly flat and windy and was definitely not one to suit my strengths. It seemed that the whole world was passing me and I honesty was very disappointed with my bike split as it was way off what I am capable of.
In to transition for what felt like the slowest transition ever but actually it wasn't as slow as it seemed. I had forgotten to take my arm warmers off before starting the run and considered dumping them but kept them on for a while, I soon realised that this was a great idea as they were actually the white Fusion Hot Wings and when wet they really helped to keep me cool. When I started running my legs felt pretty good. I went through the first mile in around 6.20 at which point I told myself to back way off!! This was going to be the furthest I had ever ran but I found it hard to hold back in first part and now and again found myself upping the pace without really realising it. I loved the fact that it was a 2 lap run, it seemed to help me deal with the distance and made it very easy to just break it in to four 10ks in my head rather than setting out to do a marathon. Lap one felt good and it was easy to get what I needed from the aid stations. On the second lap there were thousands of people out on the course which made it quite difficult to get things from aid stations and I ended up missing quite a lot of them. I had no idea how I was going to feel on the run and judging by how I felt on the bike I actually thought that it was going to be a disaster however I strangely found it enjoyable and was probably the only athlete out there who was wishing for a longer run. In hind sight I definitely undercooked the whole race as I'm pretty sure I shouldn't feel as good as I felt in the last part of the run and I was able to run hard in the last mile. I finished the race and I'll be honest I was a little disappointed as I felt It was very far from what I am capable of however on reflection it was a solid performance and not a bad one for the first time out. It gives me something to build on for next year and has allowed me to see that this is probably going to be a better distance for me.
The day after the race my legs were sore and judging by the other people hobbling around at the awards banquet I wasn't the only one. Two days after the race my legs surprisingly felt fine.... I lived in Compressport full legs for a few days which really helped plus I think the dancing at the after party must have loosened them up a little ;)
So now it's time for a little break from training and all things triathlon. That means minimal exercise and maximal partying for a couple of weeks! I'm beginning to think about my plans for next year and can't wait to get in to some winter training!
A big thanks to all those who have helped me in my first year as a pro especially my coach Mark Booth without whom I probably wouldn't be doing triathlons at all, Corley Cycles for the lovely Blue Triad SL bike plus all the tech support, the guys at Multisport Distribution who have been supplying me with plenty of kit throughout the season and many the others who have helped along the way.