On November 6, 2010 I competed in Ironman Florida (my third full Ironman in my triathlon career) and achieved a personal best of 40 minutes by finishing in 10:14.
I really enjoyed this race a lot and I loved the course. Ironman Florida is typically one of the most competitive age-group races of the year. The swim takes place in the Gulf of Mexico. The water is warm enough for a comfortable swim, but cool enough to allow wetsuits. The bike course is flat and fast. The run passes through one of America’s most popular state parks, and just as it is on the bike, the run course is also flat, and, in theory, fast. The run starts with a mile along the beachfront before winding its way through a series of residential neighborhoods. During this part of the course, the athletes enjoy almost non-stop support as people wait outside their houses to greet them.
On race day, the weather wasn’t typically what you would consider “warm and sunny Florida” because the temperature was in the 30’s when the race began; the air and sand were so cold that we all huddled around in the water before the cannon went off. As soon as the race began, it was such an amazing sight to be swimming in the Gulf while getting a few glimpses of the rising sun. The swim itself was very aggressive since it was a mass swim start and it took about 500 yards to finally find some space to get into a rhythm. The swim portion consisted of two 1.2 mile loops, so after you finished your first lap you would get out, run by an aid station on the beach, and hop back in the water. I was planning to make a mad dash out of the water, get something to drink, and dive back in for the second lap, but for some reason my legs have a tendency to cramp during the swim so I jogged through the aid station and eased into the next lap. The overall 2.4 mile swim went great and I was able to set a personal record by improving my swim time to a 1:05.
As soon as we exited the water and made our transition to the bike, I was ready to go all out on this course that was known to be fast due to the single loop that wrapped around the long and flat sections of Florida highways. I kept a strong and steady pace as soon as I got on the bike and pushed through the headwinds that never seemed to go away during the entire ride; the air temperature was so cold already but to add the headwinds just made it even more brutal. My fingers were so cold at one point that I had some trouble switching the shifters to change the gears, but as the race continued on things gradually warmed up. I was able to make it to the halfway point of the 112 miles with a time of 2:23 and felt really good the entire way even though I knew I was using up some extra energy fighting the wind. I was able to maintain the pace the entire duration of the ride and finished with a bike time of 4:57, which I was so thrilled about because I really wanted to have a sub-5 bike split for this race.
The temperature had warmed up a little bit more by the time we started the run. The crowds of spectators really gave a much needed boost of adrenaline to start the marathon out with a good pace. I was able to keep the first six miles in the 7-7:30 range, which began to slowly rise as the race went on to 8 minute miles to even 9 minute miles by the halfway point and even a few 10 minutes here and there near mile 20. I was able to get back down to the 8 and 7 minute splits near the last few miles and made a strong finish with a marathon of 4:03.
When you travel to an Ironman event, you don’t just see the Ironman spirit in the athletes, you feel it. There is an energy in the air that is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
During the race, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much improvement has taken place since my first Ironman in 2007. To go from finishing in the high 14’s to the low 10’s is such a great feeling because I’ve been working so hard in this sport; I’m so fortunate to have had all the support from those around me on a daily basis. To everyone who has been a part of my triathlon and running career, Thank You for always believing in me.
Overall, Ironman Florida was a great success and I highly recommend it to anyone, both first timers or top age groupers. Congratulations to everyone who competed this weekend!
Brian Boyle #198
Swim: 1:05:41 Bike: 4:57:03 Run: 4:03:09 Overall: 10:14:20