Great Floridian

by rchackman

When: Saturday, October 20, 2012

What: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

Why: Why not?

Where: Clermont, Florida

I took the day off from work and drove up Friday morning so I would have enough time to check in to the race, handle any issues, prepare all my equipment, grab dinner and wind down to prepare mentally. You know the deal. And good thing I had the time to drive around Clermont to find a store that carried salt pills…..because I forgot those in my apartment! Lucky for me, Clermont (also home to the National Training Center) was in no shortage of cycling and triathlon stores.

Pre-race Nutrition: I woke up at 4 in the morning, immediately started eating and eventually ate about 900 calories of rice krispies + milk (210 calories), 2 pop tarts (400 calories), 2 sweet hawaain bread rolls (200 calories), and baby food (90 cals). Yes, baby food. That was the best part of breakfast. It took me a solid 45 minutes to eat all that. I drank 20 oz water and a few ounces of gatorade as well during that time. I also took a salt pill at this time. After that, I didn’t take in anything else until 20 mins prior to the race because I was still feeling really full from all that breakfast. I was playing that by ear; if I was full, I would just take in gatorade. If i did not still feel full at any time before the race, I would have eaten a banana or gel packet.

setting up the bike

2.4 Mile Swim – 1:29:45

The swim was a two loop 1.2 mile course in Lake Minneola. There was a chill in the air and the water was warm, which makes great conditions for a swim. The race was actually wetsuit legal but I don’t own one and didn’t really care to use one. So that was that.

Also, I was pretty sure I added to that distance even before I uploaded my data to Garmin. Looking at the Garmin map afterwards only confirmed it! However, I firmly believe that a race entrant has the right to swim all over the course if the individual should want to do so. I gladly took full advantage of that opportunity. Check out this guy’s swim here (Garmin). I might add that I enjoyed every minute of it.

Having said all that, I felt good on the swim and just took it nice and easy. Didn’t really think too much about anything at all. It was the exact opposite of my bike leg.

T1 – 4:20

Really uneventful. Was just anxious to get out there and put some miles down on the bike….That was the case until I actually got my introduction to the bike course.

112 Mile Bike – 7:12:43 – (link to bike details on Garmin)

3 loop course with a slight variation (Sugarloaf Mountain) in the first loop.

The bike course starts out by taking us out of the neighborhood surrounding the lake. This is where I was introduced to the hills of Clermont. Climbing out of the neighborhood scared me a little. My main concern before the race was that I never get to climb hills like that in South Florida. I was right to be concerned because those hills were killer.

That bike was the hardest thing I have done in my entire life! I felt like I was getting destroyed and at points actually wondered how I would make it through. I literally wanted to cry. However, there was no doubt in my mind that I would continue to pedal until I covered the 112 miles.

Bike Nutrition: I used Hammer Endurolyte Fizz and Salt Stick caps for my electrolyte and salt needs. I started taking salt at every 30 min interval all the way through the bike. I used about 3 or 4 Endurolytes in water for electrolytes throughout the bike. I tried to eat a little something about every 30-45 mins as well. I ate around 3 honey stinger waffles, a Clif bar, 2 bananas, and 4-5 gels (some with caffeine).

T2 – 6:48

Was so happy to get off the bike ! I immediately felt ten times better upon getting off the bike and entering the shaded change tent.

26.2 Mile Run – 4:35:53 – (link to run details on Garmin) – 3 loop run course

After that soul-crushing bike and missing my time goal for the bike, I decided to enjoy the run. I took the first half of the marathon at a really comfortable pace. I also started chatting with another athlete and we ran together for the first 13.1 miles. We actually picked up a  third athlete, who we ran with from about mile 6 – 13. However, I knew I had a lot left in the tank for the second half of the marathon and I also decided that I wanted to finish before the 13.5 hour mark so I ventured onward alone.

The second half went by pretty fast as well. I just stayed focused and ran miles 14-19 at a solid pace for myself. I wanted to make sure I could make my revised finish time goal.

Run Nutrition: I had a little bit of water, Gatorade, or coke whenever I felt thirsty. I ate a packet of watermelon GU Chomps for the first half of the marathon and I only ate one gel packet for the second half of the marathon. I felt strong throughout the marathon, which leads me to believe that I did a solid job of fueling, mostly on the bike.

FINISH — 13:29:27

Overall, I had a blast! I am excited and extremely proud to finish this race. More so than any other race, more proud than the first iron-distance finish, first race finish and all the little battles along the way.

It was the bike that really tested my strength to persevere through pain. I highly underestimated those hills, mainly because I have never actually had the opportunity to ride rolling hills for 100+ miles. I didn’t even know what to expect to begin with.

However, this race was an amazing learning experience, not only as a triathlete, but as a person. My will was tested and I never stopped fighting. For that, I am proud.

sunset over Lake Minneola