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October 20, 2001
To cap off a year of doing many rides together this year, my friends
and I decided to enter the Great Floridian Ironman distance race
in Clermont, FL. There were 6 of us which broke up perfectly
into 2 teams of 3. Each person took one of the 3 events,
swim, bike and run. The first team was the Snails consisting
of Stephen Jaynes to swim, Don Buggeln to ride and Joe Bowman to
run. The second team the Turtles had Jack Murray to swim,
me to ride and Kevin Wessigner to run. There was good-natured
spirit of competition in the air, but I don't think any of us cared
who won; we just wanted to have good races and a lot of fun.
The race was on Saturday, October 20th. Don -the
biker on the other team- did the 6 hour drive down Thursday night. I
rented 2 nice little cottages at a place called Vacation Village,
which turned out to be quite nice and convenient.
My personal race
plans were to ride hard but sensibly. I wanted to follow
my heart-rate monitor keeping my heart rate just below my anaerobic
threshold of 150 beats per minute (BPM). I had been traveling
for work a whole lot in the last few months and about the only
training I could do was on the weekends or on a crumby hotel stationary
bike. Don and I did several long bike rides together, but
we hardly completed the miles we thought we really needed to be
fully prepared. As a result our approach was more relaxed
and casual than competitive.
All the individual
racers (the ones who were doing all 3 events on their own) started
at 7:35am. The Rely teams began 10 minutes later at 7:45am. There
was a nice little ceremony before the start and some words were
said in memory of the September 11th tragedy.
Off Stephen (Snails) and Jack (Turtles - my team) went. This
was my first time watching an Ironman race from the sidelines.
It was interesting to see the looks on all of the swimmers faces
they came out of the water from their first lap around the elongated
rectangle in Lake Mineola. Jack came out from the first lap
in 26 minutes. "WOW!", we said. This was going to make
for a 52 minutes 2.4 mile swim which is phenomenal.
I went up to the area where all the relay team bikers were waiting
to have their timing chips handed off from their swimmers. Jack's
swim time was about 53 minutes. When he ran up he took off
the timing chip and handed it to me. I strapped it to my
ankle and ran down the transition area, got my bike, ran over the
timing mats, hoped on the bike and rode away.
We exited the rear
of the transition area and did a 5-mile lap around the back end
of Lake Mineola where the marathoners were to do their run. Completing
the lap, I passed right by my car where Joe - the Snail's runner
- and Andrea - the wife of Kevin who is our runner - where just
leaving my car. They had apparently got my camera and took
a shot of me as I whizzed by. I said, "Feeling good", as
a pedaled furiously.
I was passing a lot of people to start and I noticed my heart rate
was much higher than I had planned. I knew, however that
it usually took a little bit of time to settle it down at the beginning
of the bike. The beginning of the course was quite hilly
and challenging. Many first timers on this bike course figure
a race in Florida will be flat and a piece of cake. It is
fun to hear their exasperated comments at the end of the ride about
the difficulty of the hills.
I was surprised at my pace and speed and the fact that I felt so
strong. I was keeping a solid 23mph average while passing
large groups of riders. The more riders I passed the more
time it took me to see the next rider. Eventually, I was
told by a spectator that I was the 5th rider on the
course. I gradually came up to the 4th place rider
at about mile 20. He kept looking back and speeding up as
I approached. I did not want to get into a situation where
I was riding beyond my limits just to catch him so I just backed
off when ever he sped up. On the steep hills I would get
close then on the flats he would always dart off. He was
never more than ½ mile ahead of me. As I was passing people,
I was telling them that I was in the Rely division and that I was
not competition for them. A few times I thought of trying
to dart up and catch this one guy who would not let me pass him
and tell him that, but I just did not want to kill myself for that.
My heart rate was up around the mid 150's and I was starting to
get a little worried at my brisk pace. I knew that spending
the energy here meant that would not have it towards the end of
the race... when I would run out of calories and bonk. Additionally,
my high heart rate made eating and digesting solid food very difficult. I
just threw caution to the wind and kept riding.
At the halfway point the course loops through the transition area
so the spectators could see everyone. I was in 3rd position
at this point, still behind that guy who did not want me to pass
him. The crowd always gets me pumped up and I turned up my
effort just about to its max as I navigated the tight corners in
the parking lot. The crowd cheered and I heard, "Go Adam" shouted
by at least 2 different voices.
It is very interesting about your senses in a race. The only
sense you have available to search for friends is your hearing. Your
sight is incredibly focused on navigating the tight corners one
usually finds in areas of spectators. I find I cannot, even
for a fraction of a second, take my attention off the road, as
a result, my hearing gets incredibly acute. I listen very
hard for familiar voices and encouraging words. It is very
uplifting. After the race, Stephen said that he
has never seen such an intense and determined look on my face when
I came through the transition area.