|The view from our hotel - directly onto the swim start|
All of that being said... I must be honest, leading up to this race I had minimal weekly training. No joke, I cannot lie. I averaged 6-8 hours a week and peaked at 14 hours. But I have an indomitable will and based my decision to continue self coaching from my successful performances leading up to this race - in 2012: a few Olympic distance triathlons, some shorter stuff, 3 specific IMFL workouts, a bike leg for a 70.3 relay and a 50 mile run. It's far from the ideal training/coaching standard but it would have to work. Working as a full time firefighter/paramedic for an organization that has several open firefighter positions and continues to show and increase in annual call volume proved to be very challenging. We are up a lot at night and cannot truly rest during the day. With the rotating 24 hour shift, I haven't had a 'normal' month of sleep for over 12 years. In the past I have been able to get in an hour of training / workout on shift, not so much in this past year. With lower staffing levels and higher call volume, we don't have that luxury very often. On the home front, I am a stay at home dad for my youngest daughter (still too young for school) so my training at home needed to be very flexible and sometimes needed to include her. Of course, the evenings take priority for my family and I wouldn't have that any other way!
So while that all seems crazy and maybe even like a lack of appropriate coaching expertise, I knew what I was up against when I signed up for this race. I mapped out my periodization plan and scheduled specific events throughout the year. My specific training plans changed week by week and sometimes I chose to skip workouts in order to catch up on sleep. I did hit 3 specific events leading up to this race that I really believe helped me create that DETERMINED attitude. Three of them were specific training days and one was a run: The first was a 5,000 yard swim in a short course pool (25yds) - I completed this with NO rest breaks, no food/water/rest. I did hurt but I forced myself to work through foot/leg cramps and to stay focused on how I would resolve similar problems in the Gulf of Mexico. Another workout was a planned 56 mile bike ride where I chose (20 miles in) to completely change my mind and go for 100+ miles and to NOT stop for extra food/water. What I took with me for the planned 56 miles needed to last for almost double the distance. I had to be smart about pacing myself and to stay in lower HR Z2/3 for fueling purposes. Lastly, I chose a 21 mile run over a very flat area near my home. I asked a few friends to run with me (they knew they were part of my experiment, but maybe not to the specific degree). I completed that feeling exhausted. The 50 mile run - yeah, about that. I chose that event a year ago, before I signed up for Ironman Florida. But having completed a 50 mile Ultra Marathon before, I knew that this would be good mental training for IMFL. Turns out, The North Country Trail Run (50 trail miles in the hills of Manistee) was the best mental training that I could have completed. The second 25 miles of that course changed the way I approached all of my long distance training - write this down - "First Half/Second Half" That is what I took to Ironman Florida.
Arriving in Florida - The 3 flights to Florida before the race turned out to be draining. Becky (my wife, who came with me to Florida - no way I would go without her!) and I had a flight change at the last minute... literally, just before we boarded our first of 3 flights we got a phone call stating that our middle flight was changed and that we had to be switched to a different flight. NOTHING that we could do about it, but IF we missed the 3rd flight in to Panama City Beach... I would miss the on site registration area and not be allowed to race. I needed to stay calm and figure it out after the first flight was completed. This was the first part of the trip where Becky was able to take over the "rational thinking" and help me stay calm. As it turned out, we literally got off that flight and straight onto the connecting flight to PCB, FL. We got there, our bags didn't. We did however pick up a hitch-hiker from the plane who was staying at our hotel and wanted to ride with us. I think that she is Becky's TriWife Twin - her husband was also racing IMFL for his first Ironman, and he was also raising money through the Ironman Foundation -- In fact, he is among the leading fund-raisers this year. Unbeknownst to his wife, he was chosen as a featured athlete and spoke at the athlete banquet Thursday night. Our checked bags - they were delivered to our hotel much later that night. Again, Becky was able to take over that aspect and kept me from freaking out. Ha!
|The athlete banquet|
|Knee to waist high waves on the Friday practice swim|
I had to finish organizing my race bags for drop off and get my bike to transition. By the way, I used TriBike Transport for shipping - amazing! I'll be using them again, look it up if you need your bike to go somewhere. There wasn't a lot to do think about once the bike was dropped off. I had a massage and rested. In the evening, Becky and I were able to go back near Inlet Beach. That's the spot where we got married. We then went to the restaurant where we had our wedding dinner party. It was a great time and it was very cool be back at that place, the food was amazing!
|Becky and I before the IMFL start|
|What it looks like to tell 3000 people to swim towards 1 buoy|
|IMFL 2012 Swim course - 1.2 mile per lap, 2 laps|
BIKE - Lola was ready to dance! I felt great, calf was no longer cramping. I got out on the bike course and started getting in some food. I had planned for about 400 calories an hour and since I just finished an hour and a half swimming, it was time to eat! I settled in on the bike. I kept my cadence high, just like coach advised :) It was easy staying over 80 for my cadence - at the end my avg was 84. I had a few miles over the course where my avg cadence was over 100. I used the PowerCal for power data but really wasn't prepared to use it for performance, I wanted to see where my avg would be afterwards - turns out that it was 174 watts over the bike course and with the expected 10% difference vs an actual power meter, it matches very closely to previous threshold tests putting me right on track for this 112 mile ride. Last data point on the bike was my HR. I knew that I needed to stay comfortable and I fully subscribe to using HR as a performance indicator (yes, Power is definite, but I don't have a PowerTap - PowerCal is great but it cannot be used for shorter interval training and it's partly based on HR, so the data can be inaccurate based on different non-absolute variables). The bike is the longest 'leg' of any triathlon. I planned to be out for a while and I didn't want to focus on the time - it's hard to comprehend 6 hours on a bike holding a high cadence AND trying to stay mostly aero. So I wore my Garmin 910 on my wrist and really didn't look at it except for the infrequent HR check. The aid stations are placed about every 10 miles and the first one seemed to sneak up on me. I refilled my water on the go - volunteers hand water out to you and you grab it as you pass by. The weather slowly became more warm and I really felt good the whole ride. When the sun peaked, I did start to sweat so I started drinking more water and stayed pretty close to my nutrition plan. I did use salt supplements and an amino acid supplement and a drink mix in addition to solid foods. I only used 2 gel packs the whole day - yeah, you read that right, only 2!! The 56 mile mark came up quickly. I did pull over to open the bag, grabbed my food and left. I made a PB and jelly sandwich (actually, Becky made it for me) had an apple, salt/AA supplements - stuck it all in my tri top pockets. I felt great eating real food. I ate slowly and drank water with the food, just like any other day 'at the office'. Miles 75-85 seemed to take the longest and I did have some minor cramping in my upper/inner legs. Not a big deal, extra nutrition and water and they subsided. There had been pretty funny signs along the road that entertained me most of the ride (I'm easily amused) but the last part of the bike was back into the city. The last hour of the bike seemed to be a straight head wind off the beach. I still kept my cadence up and tried to keep comfortable. While I was still keenly aware of the next part of the race, I didn't want to fall off pace. Once back on the beach front road everyone was spaced out fairly - I'll write up another post someday on the aspect to "Drafting at IMFL" (it's illegal but hard to avoid). Getting off the bike felt great! I took out some of the nutritional stuff that I hadn't eaten yet and grabbed my Run transition bag then went through the changing area and headed out on the run.
|At the 13 mile mark, only a half marathon to go!|
|I opted to lift up my hand for my first completion, for my family and friends who are number one in my life, for God and my church family, for Team Motiv8 and of course, in remembrance of my mom!|
Jeremy Hagerman! YOU. ARE. AN. IRONMAN!
After my finish there was the biggest part of the race still to come. The hours leading up to midnight, the race time cut off. The music continued to get louder and the crowd had a hype like no other party! A few of the pro's came back to the finish to participate in the final hours of the race. They hung out in the run chute and brought in the runners. It's an honor to have met them and to been there with them. There is no other sport like triathlon - you race with the pro's and they come back to support you!
|My IronWife - she deserves more than that simple title after all of her support these past 5 years. For IMFL she was completely selfless and thus I deemed her, my Iron Wife.|
|Mirinda Carfrae - Among MANY other Podium placements: 2010 Ironman World Champion, '11 2nd place World Championships and 3rd place at the World Champions 2 weeks prior to IMFL'12 where she placed second.|
|Festivities during the final hours of the race - this... for the 500,000 Ironman Finisher of all time.|
|A view of what each athlete see's as they approach the final steps of the run chute to the finish!|
|Andrew Starykowicz the race winner with a new Ironman bike split and new IMFL course record - here he celebrates at the finish line as more athletes approach.|
|T1 Bag setup|
|T2 bag setup|
|The swim start madness|
|The middle third of the bikes in transition|