Rollin’ with the Punches

This is not a race report. This is a coaching opportunity to share with my readers how things can happen in a day and you can let them upset your or you can move forward and do what you can do with what you have in front of you. (run on sentence? I don’t care, this isn’t 6th grade grammar. Sorry Mrs. Frederick).

Ironman Florida started in true Ironman Florida fashion. The weather looked perfect a week out. Day after day, the weather forecast got colder, and windier. After a DNF in 2010 in Florida because I froze my buns off in 30 degree weather I had packed pretty much all my clothes in case something crazy happened. This leads us to our first lesson…

You can’t change the weather. You can only dress for it. 

The morning of the race I debated which coat to wear on the bike and decided the warmer one was better. I’d rather be too warm than too cold. I know cold can shut me down. Once I got all my goodies ready to go in the morning I shuffled down to the swim start. As I made my way to the water I had to decide if I was going to jump in the water for a warm up swim. I decided that I would but right at that moment the announcer said he had an important message for all racers. Due to rip currents and wind the swim would be cancelled. While most people cried, bitched, yelled or just plain whined, I was just glad I hadn’t peed in my wetsuit AND that I hadn’t gotten in the water to warm up yet. As I walked up to the transition area a girl behind me cried and cried and said “but this won’t mean I am an Ironman”. I guess she’s partly correct that she will not have traveled 140.6 miles and she will not have swam 2.4 of them in the ocean. I looked at her and said, save those tears and that energy, you’ll need it at mile 18 and when I see you out on that course you tell me if you feel like an Ironman or not!”.  I saw her as I was finishing and she was going out on her second loop of the run and I smiled at her and asked her if she was doing okay. She said, “Holy S#!@ this is rough”. Pretty sure she felt like an ironman at the end. This leads to lesson 2…

If something happens out of your control will whining really fix the problem? If it will, then whine…odds are you’ll waste time you need to prep for what is to come.

Instead of getting upset and thinking “oh man, the swim is one of my strengths, these runners and riders are going to kick my ass”  I thought, great, this is an opportunity to see how I REALLY stack up against these girls. If I can perform against the top girls in my AG on the bike and run then I’ve really made some progress. So I focused on getting some calories in me and then prepping for the 112/26.2. To be honest, I think my power meter was messed up. If it is telling the truth I completely owned that bike course. I even caught 2 female pros who went off 10+ minutes before me!? I wasn’t sure if I was seeing things. I had to break my own wind the entire day. Because we went off by number I got to leave earlier than most.  Drafting in Florida is really common and I was happy not to have any packs to deal with. Well, at least I didn’t think I would have to deal with them.  At about mile 70 a group of men who were very visibly working together drafting each other came up near me. They were riding fast enough to catch and pass me but as we turned into the wind they slowed down enough that I was able to stay (4 bike lengths) behind them. There were draft Marshalls all around the course which I was so happy about and I was so conscious of them.  I spiked my power several times to get around guys if I even SLIGHTLY thought I entered the draft zone from the rear.  (I was a USAT official so I know what 4 bike lengths look like). At mile 75 or so I hear a motorcycle pull up and a brunette shows me a red card. She says “You were drafting”.  I didn’t even know what to say! I knew I couldn’t argue with her because she’s not going to take it back once she gives a penalty (its probably karma for all the penalties I called in my officiating career, now you know why I don’t officiate anymore).  I was not sucking anyone’s wheel. I had worked so hard all day all by myself and now she says I drafted someone? Well, the only thing I can think is that from her perspective (behind me) she must have thought I entered the draft zone behind the guy in front of me and then I did not pass him.  Whatever happened, I knew I had to serve 4 minutes in a penalty tent and just let riders go by.  I got to the penalty tent and took the penalty.  The best (and funniest part) was the dude who was TOTALLY drafting showed up after me and bitched at the penalty tent workers. He was so mean! What are they going to do, nothing!!! The best part was he was so upset he didn’t hear them say he had to unclip and get off of his bike completely before the time could start. He added another 30+ seconds to his penalty because he was so geeked up. And here is lesson three:

If you get a penalty, arguing is not going to help. Be positive and use the time to eat and drink.

The rest of the day was pretty much just sticking with my nutrition and running plan. The last ‘issue’ that happened was some stomach upset that hit me in the middle of the run. If you know me then you know that I have some funny stories about missing my chance to go to the bathroom (yikes!). I also know how much time can be lost in the port o potty – it’s not a very fast place to be. When I knew the stomach gurgles were hitting me I took a tums and looked for my chance to take care of my business. The final lesson of the day…

Always keep your head on a swivel if you happen to get the tummy gurgles. You can’t go to the bathroom in public but if there’s an alley, a dense set of bushes, etc it may be your best bet!