Back home from a great weekend down at Panama City Beach.
I spent the first half of Friday running around getting everything taken care of before heading out of town. The last thing on the list was to drop Caesar off at the kennel and then head over to pick up DJ and KJ from school. We got on the road about 3:30 and made it to PCB around 7:00pm (6:00pm local time).
We went straight to the host hotel. I registered and picked up my race packet. I put my bike together, put on the race number decals and racked it in transition. We then hurried over to the athlete’s meeting and caught the last 10 minutes.
We made it to the condo about 8:00pm and checked in. After cooking supper, eating, getting everything organized and packed up for the next morning, it was 10:00pm. I got into bed about 10:30 and fell asleep about 11:00. I slept until about 3:00am...I never sleep well the first night away from home. I got out of bed about 3:30 and cracked open a frosty bottle of Gatorade. Nothin like Gatorade first thing in the morning. I got D and K up, had breakfast and we left for the race about 5am.
We parked at Spinnaker and walked to the race site...maybe half a mile. The line for bodymarking was very long. It took about 20 minutes to get marked. There wasn’t much time left after getting inked before transition closed and I had to hurry to get set up...not really something I like to hurry through.
Me and KJ before the start
I got my wetsuit on and we made it down to the beach about 6:15...my wave was to go off at 6:55, so I had some time to chill before starting. Even though I hadn’t gotten much sleep and the morning had been a bit rushed, I was totally relaxed. It was kind of strange actually. I usually get nervous before a big race. But I was calm and ready to go.
They soon called for my wave to get ready to start.
The crowd on the beach was huge before the swim start
The cannon sounded and we were off. My plan for the swim was to take it easy and not burn up too much energy. I started at the back of the pack to avoid the carnage. The water was fairly calm and I soon settled into a rhythm. Other than a leaky right goggle socket and some zig zagging, the swim was fairly uneventful. I hit the beach in just over 38 minutes. Definitely not a smokin swim, but I felt great and hadn’t gone too hard. I made the long jog up to T1 and stripped off my wetsuit. I took about 5 minutes in T1 and headed out on the bike.
I'm in there somewhere...
Getting the wetsuit off in T1
My goal for the bike was to take in 1 bottle of Gatorade Endurance/2 gels per hour (350 cals), average 18mph and save something for the run. I started off easy and let my heart rate settle down. I’d settled into a good rhythm by the time I turned onto hwy 79 to head out of town. I was soon going up the bridge over the coastal waterway. Right after the bridge, the course turns right onto highway 388. I was feeling good, so I increased my speed a bit once I made the turn onto 388. I didn't notice as many "packs" this year as last year, but about 10 miles after turning onto 388, I was overtaken by a pack of about 10 riders. One guy actually passed me on the right. I guess he didn't want to lose his spot in the group. Luckily I held my line and avoided what could have been a day ending crash. I hit the turnaround with an average speed of 18.3mph. I was getting in my nutrition and still feeling good. I kept my speed going and made it back to hwy 79. I crossed back over the bridge and felt the headwinds kick up a bit, but it wasn’t as bad as the previous year. I made it back into town and made the turn onto Front Beach Rd. I was still rolling pretty good and still felt great. I finished up the bike in 2:56:35 with an average speed of 19 mph and an average heart rate of 170bpm. I was stoked with my bike time, but hoped I hadn’t overdone it. I made it through T2 in about 3 minutes and headed out on the run.
Heading out of T1
Not long after starting the run, I heard DJ and KJ yelling for me. They held up a sign they'd made for me and cheered me on. I was really happy to see them and it was just the boost I needed. I started out at what I though was an easy pace, but hit the first mile marker in 7:18. Whoa! Gotta back off. I slowed down and hit the 2 mile mark in 10:33. Mile 3 - 8:51, Mile 4 - 7:51, Mile 5 - 9:10, Mile 6 - 9:15. It was getting very hot by now, but I was still feeling good and started to wonder when the implosion would take place. I was doing way better than I’d expected. I was close to the halfway point of the run and still had an hour and a half left to reach my goal time of 6 hours. I did mile 7 in 8:57, mile 8 in 10:22. Mile 8 was where I had started cramping last year. This year, I was walking every aid station and taking in at least one cup of Gatorade at each station to help avoid the cramps. I was also taking in a gel every 30 minutes with water. My pace for mile 9 was 9:05 and 10:21 for mile 10. I was beginning to get tired, but was starting to think I’d be able to hold on and reach my goal. Mile 11 pace was 7:13...not sure what happened there. Mile 12 - 10:34. I had my first cramp (hamstring) just after mile 12 and walked for about 50 yards to work it out. I finished up the last 1.1 miles in 13:43 and finished the run in 2 hours and 2 minutes. My pace for the run was 9:22/mile with an average heart rate of 173. I crossed the finish line with an official finish time of 5:45:42.
Starting the run
Nearing the finish line
Gettin some lovin from KJ
Me and KJ with the sign she made for me
After the race, I headed straight back in the ocean to cool down my legs. I also had a recovery drink right after the race. I gathered up my gear from transition after cooling down and headed back to the room for a much needed shower. We hung out in the room for a good while and then headed out for PIZZA. Three huge slices of Salvatore’s later and all was right with the world.
Heading back into the water to cool off
I was...and still am...blown away with how well the race went. I set a new PR for this race by nearly half an hour. There are a few reasons I can think of for the improvement. I skipped the early season running races this year, which allowed me to build the base miles I needed. I was able to keep my training consistent and stayed healthy and injury free. I was in much better swim shape this year. My swim time was only a minute faster than last year, but I came out of the water feeling much better this year. I was also on a new, much lighter, bike this year. My nutrition plan was also much better. When Coach John and I spoke, he urged me to increase the amount of calories I took in through the race and it made a huge difference. I didn’t start running out of energy until late in the run.
The end of a great day
It was an awesome weekend and I couldn’t be happier with how the race went.
I’ll be taking it easy this week, but then the real training begins......