This was the 19th running of this race, and by far the hottest. Temperatures reached the high 80’s early in the day and set a record of 90. This did not bode well for me.
Race day started off with a 2 loop swim in Lake Minneola. I have no idea what the water temp was, but even with the recent heat in the area they were able to find some place in the lake that was below 78 degrees. Water felt warm to me, especially in a wetsuit. Each loop was 1.2 miles in length, and followed a triangular course. Typically, you’ll see swim courses that have yellow buoys along one side, orange down the other, and red indicating turns. This isn’t law, but in general there is some colorful indicator of turns, and then consistency in buoy colors between the turns so you know you’re on course. In this race, that was not the case. Not the big of a deal but confusing. The biggest event for me on the swim was getting a solid kick directly underneath my right eye socket. A little water came into my googles, but not too much – I dealt with it. However, this triggered a headache that would not go away.
Transition was fairly uneventful. I was stripped of my wetsuit, headed into the changing tent, and prepared to ride. My heart rate was definitely in check. I was ready. I mounted my bike and headed out on the course.
I thought Florida was flat! Nowhere had I found an elevation profile of this year’s course. It amazes me that an event that has been around for 19 years is radically changing its bike course. I found a profile from last year that had 1800 ft of climbing, with most of the hills (including Sugarloaf) being in the first 30 or so. That would’ve been no sweat under these conditions, but turned out not the case this year. Sugarloaf Mountain was not the challenge. My Garmin shows ~4200 ft of climbing this year. What was the race director thinking??
On top of this, the aforementioned heat began to take its toll. I had a migraine at mile 40. A steady breeze felt like I was pedaling head first into a hair dryer. This was not my day. Throw in not being able to eat any longer and my sweat rate dropping, and I withdrew from the race. It was simply not worth the risk to continue on. Early race results indicated a roughly 40% DNF rate, but results that I looked up just now came in at around 25%. Both are much higher than what you would typically see at an iron distance race. I made the smart choice for me.
Here is this year’s bike profile for those of you that are interested. The course rolls a lot and those all add up!
2009 Great Floridian Bike Course
The Ironman Florida elevation profile appears below. It is ~1000 feet of climbing for the sake of comparison. The scale is what makes it look hillier than it is.
Ironman Florida Bike Course Profile
I can’t speak for the run, but my primary concern as an athlete would be lighting. I heard from numerous people that there are places on the run course that were not well lit. My fear would be stepping wrong on something you can’t see. Or being chased by an alligator in the dark. Usual stuff, right? Other than that, it appears the only elevation change on the course is to cross two bridges.
That’s all for now. Time to finish recovering and get my run back on. For some, it’s the offseason. For me, it’s MARATHON season.
There is no offseason.
There is no finish line.