Ironman Florida – Day 1

(Note: These were written pre-race and are set to auto-publish once per day for the next few days)

There are a lot of reasons I’m looking to do Ironman Florida – but the biggest being I just wanted a second crack at it this year.  Ironman Canada (IMC) back in August didn’t quite go as planned and I know I trained better than I raced.  I honestly don’t care too much what my final time is – as long as it’s a better than IMC.  While I certainly have expectations, I’m just not as hung up on them as before.  Just want to go out there and at the least, learn something.  Since signing up I kept it pretty much under wraps from everyone except Coach and The Girl – just wanted to keep everything low-key until it’s done.  A fair number of you via the comments have wondered what was up with the increased mileages post-IMC.  And a small handful of you actually figured it out and sent me e-mails on the side (just in case you didn’t know, all Ironman races show all registered participants pre-race). :)

So with that…onto the show (note, all pre-race posts were written pre-race and posted post-race)…

I flew into Florida last night (Wednesday) by way of Charlotte.   I was happy to be able to see my bike get on and off each leg of the journey.  Here it is in DC getting ready to ride the belt into the plane:

IMGP7878 IMGP7883

Because it was dark out when I arrived, I didn’t really know what things looked like – except that I was on the beach in a high-rise near the race start.  I had booked a 1-bedroom condo via Expedia for super-cheap – about $109/night.  Which – btw – is about a 1/3rd of the nightly rate compared to Ironman Canada.  One of the advantages of Panama City Beach, FL is that they have a significant city-wide bed-count, and thus even an event like Ironman doesn’t really make a dent in the overall capacity of hotels/condo’s.  So, I present you my pad for the stay:

IMG_3831IMG_3843IMG_3832IMG_3841Yeah, pretty damn sweet – up on the top floor – floor 23.  Woot!  Oh, and it’s less than a mile from the start.  Double woot!  I could live in a place like this.

After I was done looking aimlessly out at the ocean, I decided to head out and do my brick workout for the day.  I had a swim and run scheduled, and was set to start at 7:30AM – or basically the point I’d hopefully be finishing up the first loop and going into the second loop of the swim.  So my workout for today was to swim one loop of the swim course (1.2M each loop) and then do a 25 minute run brick-style.

IMGP7929 I headed on down and swung through the bag check area before deciding to simply leave my stuff on the beach like everyone else.



From there, it was out into the water for a nice little jaunt.  They were just starting to setup the buoys at 7:30AM, so I waited until around 7:50AM to give them a bit of a head start so I wouldn’t catch up.

IMGP7922 The water itself is very clear – quite nice actually.

IMGP7908Clear enough in fact that you can see all the little Jellyfish hanging out.  Not tons of them.  I tried to get a picture of them but failed, but it wasn’t like the below when my brother and I went to Palau and swam in Jellyfish lake:


The nicest thing about the salt water is that you’ve got extra buoyancy.  Add to that the fact that it was pancake flat – like glass – and you’ve got a fast course.  I’ve been in bathtubs more choppy than this.

IMGP7901So adding in the flat fast water and the recent taper – I was fast.  Damn fast.  My first loop took me about 31 minutes – at a relatively easy-moderate pace.  Not even race pace.  Sweet candy!

image After I was done swimming I headed on out for a nice run along first part of the run course.

imageAfter that I headed back to take a few pictures from some of the upper floors of a random hotel near the swim start:

BeachPanoIMGP7933Following my workouts (but still before 9AM) I headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit.  Relaxing is a key part of my pre-race plan.  Lots of lying around is planned

Though, you can only sit so long before you have to get other tasks done.  So right before lunch I headed over to pickup my packet and get everything I needed.

IMGP7953 IMGP7957

However, my hope for a quick packet pickup was quickly dashed by a massive line.  Stretching out of the expo area it meant a long time to wait.  But, there really wasn’t much to do except wait.  So I grabbed a water bottle and had fun standing in line for an hour…in the sun.  One step forward, two steps back with respect to relaxing.

At least the line meandered past all the booths in the expo, so you could check out their wares:

IMGP7960IMGP7964IMGP7968Finally, I found the front of the line – where two nice ladies started the whole process of getting checked in.  First up – ID’s and forms:

IMGP7969 Then the scale weigh-in – so the med-tent can triage you better if you’ve lost too much weight:


Next up was getting the actual packet pickup piece:IMGP7974I got a lady that was about as Southern as they come.  Nicest women evah!.  Would have made Paula Dean look like Cruella Devil.

IMGP7975After that they scanned my chip to ensure it matched my name:

IMGP7976 Then I went to the Community Fund line, to pickup another bag of goodness.

IMGP7977 IMGP7978Finally…the poster lady!  Perhaps the best part of the whole tent journey.

IMGP7979 Here’s what the poster looks like:

IMGP7947 I then swung by the ART (Active Release Therapy) tent to get my lower back and left knee worked on a bit.  I have ART appointments at home, and after the plane flight yesterday my back was a bit sore.  But about 15 minutes later all was awesome.  ART has been my best friend for almost a year now.

IMGP7980 Finally, it was back to the Rainmaker Penthouse (hey, it was the top floor and nobody else was up there that I could tell) to unload all the bags of goodness:

IMG_3846 Turns out the regular goodie bag didn’t really have anything but some paper junk inside.  Oh well…

But the Community fund bag did have in it a t-shirt and a visor, so not all was lost.

I spent the rest of the afternoon just lazing around watching TV and surfing the Internet, along with a bit of a nap.  I awoke just in time to find the sun setting (rather early here mind you):


Then it was time to head out to the Athletes Banquet.

IMGP7989After getting through the first line, I stumbled into the dude from Ironman the movie.IMGP7990 Then it was time for the good stuff – FOOD!


Got breadsticks?

IMGP7993  My plate:

IMGP7995I will give them props here – the food was better than IMC. :)  But, I think the evening’s presentation (though basically identical) was smoother and more genuine at IMC.

IMGP7998I thought it was funny that the President of World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) referred to the area as the ‘Redneck Riviera’ during her little speech….which…it basically is. :)  Oh, and Mike Riley was the emcee for the evening.

IMGP8003After the banquet I swung by Wally World to pickup a couple of essentials I’ll need for the rest of the weekend.  From pasta to sunscreen to Gatorade.

IMGP8005 Then finally, it was back to the room to get my bike all put together for tomorrow morning’s brick.

IMG_3888With my bike successfully functioning, it’s off to bed before it gets too late.  Catch ya all in the morning.


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  1. Wow…the penthouse looks awesome!

  2. tim

    I just signed up for Ironman Florida 2010 a few hours ago. I can’t wait to read all about your experiences!

  3. Looking forward to the rest of report. Well written/photographed as always.

    I’m not even gonna cheat and browse to the results page.

  4. I am glad to hear that it was not just me who wondered where I had missed your stylistice left turn towards IM FL.

    I am amazed at the price and quality of your penthouse.

  5. Is it bad that the number one reason I want to up my workouts is so that I can eat heaping plates of carbs like the one you had? Can’t wait to hear about the rest of the race (pimpin’ condo by the way!), but am not sure you’ll be able to post a prettier picture than your dinner plate!

  6. So that was the big secret!!!

  7. I love all the old ladies that were volunteering…nothing like strengthening the stereotype of old people in Florida!