Early Season Half Iron race in the Florida Sun
Ironman Gulf Coast 70.3 in Panama City Beach, FL.
What strikes me about FL how clear the water is. This amazes me so much, coming from someone that's only really been to Jersey shore most of his life. The only other time I saw water this clear was when I went to Nassau. The city itself it okay. Doesn't seem there's a ton of stuff to do, especially if you have kids, but it's nice enough. There does seem to be a Jeep thing going on while we're down here too, so there's a TON of Jeeps and a lot of traffic as a result.
We are staying in a condo just over a walking bridge from transition so it was prob the easiest time we ever had getting there in the wee hours of the morning. Ironman did temp checks pretty much at any access point to Ironman Village and Transition, so there was a decent size line to get in that I wasn't expecting, but it was pretty quick. Air temp was low 60's so a bit cool in just tri gear, but not bad. Water temp was called at 71.5* so swim was wetsuit legal.
This was the first ocean swim I've done. I swam a little on Friday and felt good about it. They line up swimmers based on self prescribed finish times. Jess lined up in the time slot in front of me so we said our goodbye/good lucks at the bikes. They let 3 swimmers in every 5 second, so at my release, there was a bit of walking, even in the water to get to a point where you can start swimming. This was also the first time doing a Tri where I can actually see other swimmers under the water! lol In my experience, at least, there was far less bumping around in the swim this time, possibly because of the clarity. The swim was basically a rectangle. 0.5 miles out, 0.2 miles across, 0.5 back. This first .5 went by pretty quickly. Coming across the back side, the was was a bit choppier and it was a little hard to see the 2nd turn buoy. On top of that, I was having some really bad chafing under my arms. After the 2nd turn, the swim kinda sucked. The water was pretty choppy and I drank a large portion of the ocean Even trying to time my breathing with the waves still didn't seem to work, so I felt like I was flailing a bit. Also there was a ton of sun glare that I wasn't expecting and buoy sightings were tough so I relied on trying to "swim with traffic". Talking to other athletes, they all seemed to have that issue too. lol Once I could see the bottom again, it seems the waves slowed a bit. I saw a starfish, so that was cool....
Swim time 41:04 - 2:08/100meters
I took my time in T1 to get all the sand I could off my feet before they went into the bike shoes and put some chamois cream on the chafing spot, hoping to get it to stop hurting for when my arms are going to start swinging on the run in a few hours.
The bike leg was pretty fast and flat. Knowing my knee issues the last few months, I planned to take the race, on whole, pretty easy. The first 5 miles were along Front Beach Dr which had a lot of traffic. With cars trying to get past and/or pull into traffic while the race was going on, it got pretty sketchy at times. Police did a good job at most major intersections though. Once we got of that road the riders opened up a little and we could relax. The bike leg took us to a 2 lane highway where they limited traffic to the left lane. Traffic wasn't too bad on there so I felt pretty safe for the most part. As I was pedaling along, I kept having to drop my power a bit to stay with the plan of just taking it easy. Eventually, around mile 12 or 13, I changed my mind. Knowing the run was gonna suck anyway, I just decided to go a bit harder and have some fun with it.
Around mile 50, we end up back in town and heading east down the main route through town into a tough headwind. I had to do 250+ watts just go over 17mph with my head tucked as low as I could get it. But being very congested traffic, it was dangerous to keep my head down for too long and there were a few times I had to sit up and slow down because cars were being pretty sketchy.
Bike time: 2:42:34 - 20.81mph
I REAAALLLLY took my time in T2. Walked through it, racked the bike, changed shoes, rubbed the legs, drank up, snacked up, walked out. I did a lot of walking that first mile to make sure I recovered from the bike pretty well. Eventually I just run/walked the 13.1 miles. It was pretty hot by then so I'd dump some water on myself at every aid station. Sweet nutrition wasn't sitting well after 5 or so miles so I just started having chips or pretzels. Mile 9 I started some cola. Around mile 10.5, my left quad wanted to cramp so I changed my gate and started grabbing Gatorade at each aid station. I realized around mile 7 or 8 that they didn't have any other electrolyte options and was hoping I wouldn't have to resort to Gatorade which usually doesn't sit well with my stomach. This time, it turned out not to be an issue, thankfully.
Run 2:42:43 - 12:26/mile
Overall time 6:24:03 with my lazy transitions. Apparently my slowest time yet, but meh. Whatever.
I think the heat on the run really slowed me down along with the aching knees. When, up in PA, we only had 3-4 days above 70 and now you have to run 13 miles in full sun at 80+ degrees, you might not have the best run lol. Everyone was covered in salt.
I'm looking forward to going to the beach today just to chill in the water and hopefully see some more stingrays But then I gotta pack up the bikes again for the trip home.