Depending on how you structure your year, racing at Florida in November is either really early in your season or really, really late. Most folks are in the latter boat since, being newbies, they spend the better part of the year getting ready for this one single day. The pressure is high, but the course is friendly and pretty straightforward. If you hit it on a tougher than average day, like this year’s event, your ability to execute and pace become critically important.
Coach Patrick was on hand to support the 28 members racing and the handful of Training Plan athletes. Across all these folks, we have a pretty good sense of how the day played out. To view the pictures from the weekend, go to our Florida Gallery. To learn more about Ironman® Florida, read race reports and listen to athlete podcasts, please visit our Florida Race Site. Athlete videos are on line on the Endurance Nation YouTube channel.
For those of you concerned about a mass start, once again Florida proved that it’s not really of a concern here. With a standing beach start, people naturally begin to spread out as they wade into the water.
Even though there was a slight wind from the North / NorthEast, the water had minimal waves as compare to some of the more epic years. The water was pushing folks left to right, so into the buoys on the way out and away from the buoys on the way back in. Time lost here was most likely mitigated by the water pushing folks across the buoys on the stretch of the swim that paralleled the shoreline.
Consensus seems to be that starting the second loop — with the diagonal swim back out to begin the trip around the buoys — was the hardest part of the day. At this point most folks were swimming directly into the waves. The top overall swimmer, who went sub-45 minutes, decided to avoid this challenge by running down the beach. I think a lot of the other competitors would have done the same had they known!
While the day started out innocently enough, by the time the swim was over competitors were facing a stiff headwind for the first 30 miles of the bike. Peaking between 17 and 20 miles an hour by 11 am, the wind did eventually drop to about 6 to 8mph later in the day on the run. That said, the wind played a significant factor on the bike. From forcing athletes to be patient in the early headwinds to rewarding their ability to keep pushing the pedals in a beneficial tailwind, the wind remained consistent.
This meant the wind had a net zero effect on the overall race (assuming you paced properly). In other words, your steady effort into the wind might have netted you 14 miles per hour, but the same effort with a tailwind gave you 20mph. Not the way you’d necessarily plan to average 17 miles per hour, but effectively nonetheless.
The wind also reputed affected the drafting, especially the mid-race sections with a significant crosswind. Combined with the hard work of the marshals, things seemed to have operated about as fairly as they could.
The biggest hiccup people seemed to have was flat tired due to debris or poor road conditions. Whatever you do, make sure you have your bike 100% ready to go by Florida 2012 and that you have total confidence in your ability to change a tire!
By the time folks started the run for most age groupers, the day had warmed to just over 70 degrees. While this isn’t warm by any stretch, it felt quite hot given the cooler temperatures from the morning. The wind remained constant on the run, pushing athletes out of T2 towards the run turnaround, but slowing them down on the return trip.
Without a doubt, the serpentine nature of the run gave the racers a reprieve from the wind and maybe allowed folks to actually run. As the day word on and the temperature began to drop back down, your body’s ability to digest food and handle the rigors of the event grew exponentially. Of course, not everyone was actualy ready eat.
Standing out by the entrance to the state park, you could see by about 5:30 pm that quite a few people had started walking.. It was about this time that the sun truly dropped taking the temperature with it. Standing on the side of the road, Coach Patrick was wearing two shirts, a fleece and a cycling jacket….with jeans…and he was still cold!
The consistent nature of the wind seemingly kept the run very fair,..the fast folks still went very fast. If anything, people paid the price for out-performing their fitness on the bike. But that’s the nature of the beast in Florida!
At the Finish
Coach P was able to make it to the finish line by about 6:30pm, and he caught more than 50% of our athletes exiting the finish. You can watch the interviews on our YouTube Channel. Hearing about the race, firsthand, moments after crossing the finish, really gives insight as to how powerful the Ironman® experience is. To see the excitement on our athletes faces, you’d think they had just won the lottery instead of surviving 140.6 miles!
If you are looking for more information about Ironman® Florida, be sure to explore our Florida Race Site or ask the Coaches/Team on the Endurance Nation Facebook page. If you are an age group triathlete looking to train for Florida and want to get faster while keeping a life and a job, create a FREE 5-day.Trial Membership and explore Endurance Nation for yourself!