Ironman Florida 2013 Race Report
After Ironman Mont-Tremblant I just felt like I had unfinished business with Ironman in the 2013 season. Don’t get me wrong, I was very proud of my first “Ironman in the mountains” and honestly I was LUCKY to have even finished that race. I just felt like I was in the best shape of my life and that when I got off the bike at Ironman Mont-Tremblant my legs were destroyed. I knew that I had worked on my run and invested so much time to be a better runner all year and I couldn’t wait to lay down a decent marathon, but the mountains absolutely took that opportunity away and said, “You silly flat lander… You thought WRONG!”.
So I came home from Mont-Tremblant wondering, “What could I have done during the marathon with some running legs… What if the bike course was in my favor?” I emailed and texted my friend Ryan out west and we hatched a plan to race Ironman Cozumel but the more we added up the travel expenses the less likely it seemed. That night Ryan texted me and said, “Dude, what about Florida?” and I said, “Yeah but it’s sold out and pretty much the hardest race to get into besides Kona.” His reply, “RaceQuest Travel has a few spots left but we have to act NOW!!”. Without hesitation I contacted my sponsors, provided them with the info, and within 24 hours the race was paid for and it was time to rock and roll. We had less than 30 days to prepare to race Ironman Florida. ( A Special THANK YOU to Merrell, LockLaces, and Lift Training Studios for covering the cash expenses for entry and travel)
Two Ironmans in less than 10 Weeks?? (I said it out loud and my heart thumped an extra beat) My mind sort of blew up after I realized what I had bitten off the ole Ironman Stick but my confidence was up. I felt great, recovered nicely from Ironman Mont-Tremblant, my fitness was at top shape, I was running great, cycling even better, and my swim felt better than it had ever felt. So why not? I just pretended that this was a part of the years season all along and committed 100% to training REALLY hard for a few weeks then showing up and racing with little or no taper. I ditched my carefully watched diet and ate like a pig to make sure my recovery was full proof and that I showed up to race day with about 5 extra pounds. Why the extra weight? Well, I showed up to Ironman Mont-Tremblant too lean (or I showed up with leanness that rapidly occurred too close to the race) and I paid for it with lack of power and overall performance issues. I was going to show up to this race ready!
- Hit my sleep perfect
- Hit my hydration perfect
- Hit my nutrition perfect
- Got in a few short runs, a swim, and no cycling
- RaceQuest made race week so much fun with guest speakers and Ironman Champions Andrew Starykowicz, Jessica Jacobs, and Ironman Race Director Ben Rausa
- RaceQuest also provides an onsite bike mechanic which was AWESOME.. Thanks SagMonkey!
- My hotel was 200 yards from the swim start and that took SO MUCH stress away from the week knowing I just had to walk out of my door and race.
SWIM 2.4 Miles (NEW PR 1:26:13)
The day was shaping up to be perfect. I let my family sleep in and I strolled over to transition to put air in my tires, put my nutrition on the bike, filled water, and dropped off my special needs bags. I walked back to the hotel and woke my family up and met up with friends. Having your hotel so close to the start meant making one last bathroom stop in the comfort of your own room (worth every penny). We then all walked down to the swim start. I did a short practice swim, took a few pictures with my family, and then headed towards the start. I walked side by side with my mom along the beach and got caught up in the moment. I know my mom saw me a little emotional and I’m not afraid to admit it. The beach, the sun peaking over the horizon, the ocean, my family and friends walking along with me in support, and being lucky enough to have this opportunity and that it all came together like magic… I did get choked up at the beauty of the moment. It was beautiful… Not much else to say about that…
I walked under the red swim start arch and as soon as my chip was recognized and beeped the guy in front of me (who was screwing around with his friend) stepped back, with the ball of his heal, and sat it down right on my left foot and broke my toe. I knew it right away, I heard it, I felt it, and I immediately went into a state of denial. “The race is going to start in five minutes and it’s impossible that “THAT” just happened.. Surely I am mistaken… You are just hypersensitive right now Dustin so just RELAX, stop being a drama queen, and get ready for a long day of racing”, my inner dialogue exclaimed. The waves were a bit intimidating but I came here to race and I would have raced in any condition that Ironman allowed.
I put my “toe” on the line (sorry I couldn’t resist) and the cannon went off!!! I ran out, ducked the waves, and got right to work. This was the first time I felt like I attacked the swim start with a bit of aggression. I didn’t line up to the left back or the right on the outside, I went right down the middle and said, “go fast”. It was definitely gnarly… Kicking, pushing, punching, pushing down, and it never really stopped… I thought after the first turn it would thin out but that didn’t happen. The entire first loop was a mosh pit. After I got out and jumped back in on the start of the second loop I was in a bigger mosh pit than I was in before.
If you are thinking about doing Florida please get out and do a bunch of open water mass swim starts that are very very VERY physical. Do not show up to this race having only cranked out a million pool laps… That won’t help you here nor is that safe for you or the swimmers around you. Find open water, swim it, swim it often, and practice getting very physical with other swimmers for extended periods of time, with salt water in your eyes, goggle adjustments, and just a general sense of being uncomfortable.
During the 2nd loop, while kicking out pretty hard, my toe nailed someones head and if there was a way to cry under the water, that would have been the moment. Luckily after the first turn on the 2nd loop things did thin out a bit and I was able to stretch it out, bilateral breath, and swim with a faster stroke and I felt way more comfortable. I exited the swim and felt really good about my performance but then I was faced with something else that really bothered me, the toe… I ran up through the beach and had the first taste of what the rest of the day would bring… “Awesome”, I said to myself… “This is going to really suck!”. I tested it out, put running pressure on it, and got a good taste of the current status of the toe. The only thing I knew for sure was that it hurt a ton, sharp pain, I couldn’t push down on it, and it was already pretty bruised. I slowly got to T1 and got ready for the bike.
BIKE 112 Miles (NEW PR 7:15:01)
I got my foot into the bike shoe and noticed some discomfort from the shoe being narrow and putting pressure on the toe. It was manageable but I wasn’t even a mile into the bike and I was already thinking about it. I started eating right away, was taking it easy and only pedaling with an effort that felt happy, and I was enjoying the last “nice view” part of the course near the beach. Once you take the turn to head north you won’t see anything worth seeing again and it’s all aero position except for a few sections. The roads were in good shape except a couple of VERY rough patches, but these patches were more like a battle zone. Bottles, tubes, nutrition, CO2’s, and anything else that can fall off a bike were scattered ALL over these sections. My stuff fit snug in my cages so I did not have any problems but my advice is for future IMFL racers to use rubber bands or get cages that actually fit your bottles because it was a little tough to dodge all of the debris. I ran over quite a few things and luckily I did not flat but many riders were not so lucky.
The bike is pretty boring with little or no scenery so be prepared to do nothing but ride in the aero position for 112 miles… Hilly courses offer their own challenges but also break up the riding positions so that you use different muscle groups and the gearing mixes up the mental part by adding variety to the course experience. At Ironman Florida this really doesn’t happen that much. You will ride in pretty much one position the entire time and will not be changing your gears a billion times like Ironman Louisville or Ironman Mont-Tremblant. The back section does offer some hills and with the wind and sun being in full affect it was certainly challenging in those sections, but for the most part this will not be the case.
I stopped and got off of the bike three times, about five minutes each, to just take my toe out of the shoe because it was killing me. I really didn’t have a choice and each time I stopped I had a goal of eating as much as I could and making the most of it. It definitely felt good to get my foot out of the shoe and it made the ride easier when I broke it up into sections. Towards the end of the race I felt really good, other than the toe. I was taking turns riding out of the seat and back in the seat to get the legs ready for the run.
I came into transition feeling great and ready but I asked a medical volunteer for some pain killers, advil, or anything that could take the edge off the pain. They said, “Yeah no problem let me run and get some” and I sat there for 23 mins waiting for them to come back only to say, “Sorry we can’t do that”. I said, “Thank you for trying but I wish I could have known that 23 mins ago.” I would not have felt bad about the 23 minute long T2 if I came out with pain killers but I lost 23 mins and came out with nothing, so yeah, I was bummed. Not the volunteers fault but maybe next year they can relay this experience to the volunteers so it doesn’t happen to others in the future.
RUN 26.2 Miles (NEW PR 05:13:04)
I started the run with a limp and some pretty intense pain. The first mile was filled with some doubt and I started to think, “Is this smart?”. I made it through the swim, the bike, and with my family and sponsors all sacrificing and giving me their full support I just felt that there was no possible way that I could quit, smart or not, I had to finish. I threw my race strategy right out of the door from the start of the day. My original, practiced, run strategy was going to be a carefully structured run/walk that would give me the opportunity to attack the last 8 miles of the marathon. My broken toe logic changed that plan and I just said to myself, “Run as fast as you can for as long as you can then figure it all out when that doesn’t work anymore LOL.” Plus it was obvious from testing it out in transition that my walk hurt more than my run, so it made sense to just run.
So I ran the first split with a 9:54 pace then settled into a 10:10-10:30 pace for a while. I saw some friends during the run, Demian (finishing his 3rd IM great job bro) and Michael (finishing his 1st IM!!! SO AWESOME), and then saw my family at mile 14 which was cool. I made it to about mile 17 and then the wheels started to fall off a little. I stopped, sat down, took my shoe off and assessed the damage. It was black and blue and it was pretty damn mad at me by this point. I put my sock back on and limped back out and did a run/walk for a while and kept trying to put together a final rally but I was pretty burnt by this point. My motivation to pretend my toe pain wasn’t there was all but gone by now and I slipped into the “I don’t really care about anything anymore” phase of the race LOL…
At mile 25 I saw my friend Jonathan and Paul and they gave me a couple high fives and then I decided to put on my big boy pants and take it home as quickly as I could. I quickly passed a pretty big fan zone with some interesting women in leather all dressed up for Halloween and started to see the wall to wall partying, drinking, rock n roll cranking, dancing scene that was the final mile of Ironman Florida. If you are wondering how tough the final mile is then don’t worry about it because there is so much fan fare and partying going on that you will float to the finish regardless of what shape you are in. It was a ton of fun and I had a pretty big smile on my face and I was feeling pretty dang good and I told myself, “Good job man.. You did something pretty special here today, stayed positive, had some grit, stuck with it, and I am proud of ya.”
THE FINISH LINE 140.6 Miles (NEW PR 14:32:20)
I went passed Alvin’s island, made the left turn, and found myself running down the very long Ironman Florida finishing chute (which was cool). There were a ton of fans, they reached out to get high fives, there was plenty of screaming and praise for everyone, and this was the first time I was finishing with a time that made me feel very good about myself. The third time was a charm at Ironman Florida! I PR’d every single part of the race. My previous best was 15:55 and I finished this race in 14:32. Broken toe or not, I couldn’t have been happier to pass through that finish line seeing that time on the clock.
I hugged Krista from RaceQuest (she is the best) and she was waiting for all of her athletes to come in one by one. I walked over to my family and gave my mom, grandma, brother, friend Ben and Austin all big hugs and then proceeded to the medical tent to have my toe checked out. I sat down in the medical tent and the Doctor took my shoe and sock off and said, “ohh.. yeah.. I bet that was fun. Where at on the run did you break it?” my reply, “5 minutes before the swim start a guy stepped on it and broke it.. I heard it but just kinda pretended it didn’t happen.” his reply, “You broke this before the race? and then raced?” my reply, “Well.. umm.. yeah..”. He messed with it and asked several questions and said, “Yeah you have a broken toe but there isn’t anything I can do about it. Plus you won’t be able to do anything about it in general because it’s a broken toe and unless it’s broken off completely requiring surgery then just stay off of it and let it heal, take some anti inflammatory’s for the pain.” The doc was really cool and he shook my hand and said, “Way to tough it out, that’s what Ironman is all about.” There is something about a doctor giving you a pat on the back for toughness that really does something for the ego.. LOL…
I had no idea this year I would knock out two Ironmans, let alone two in 10 weeks… I couldn’t be happier with this race season and I learned so much about myself and what I can push through. Ironman Florida 2013 will definitely hold a special place in my heart and this race will hold me to a higher standard of racing from here on out. I want to thank all of my sponsors, my family, my friends, and my fans, readers, and supporters for all of the great comments, fan mail, shirts, signs, and private messages of inspiration. I do not take you guys for granted and I know I am one lucky guy… Love, RunDustin.com 😉
p.s. – Apparently Beards make you faster… Most people that have commented seem to think having a beard is the key to a good Ironman race… Who am I to argue? haha
IRONMAN.com Gave me a special home page shout out.. I am one lucky dude to be mentioned in the company of world champions.
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