Monday, October 19, 2009

Next Saturday: The BIG Dance

How in the world could 9 months have flown by so fast? Or, for that matter, 3 years?

It seems like just yesterday I was dabbling in tris, learning how to swim and trying to stay upright on my bike. Yet, here I am less than a week away from the Great Floridian (GF), an iron distance triathlon that I would never have considered doing not long ago. Heat plus hills? NO THANKS!!

But GF has a rich and storied history. This year marks its 25th 19th anniversary and it's challenged many of the best triathletes long before Ironman became a household name. In fact, I'd heard it was a Kona qualifier at one time and used to sell out with over a thousand participants. Now the race director would be lucky to have a few hundred. Why???

Two words: Ironman Florida (IMFL).

Two weeks later, usually cooler and a whole lot flatter, IMFL now attracts most triathletes in the area who are seeking their first ironman finish, ironman PRs or a Kona slot. A large part of it is also probably the brand name marketing, i.e., getting called an "Ironman" when you cross the finish line of an Ironman brand race.

Me? I'm actually the type of person who would do an iron distance triathlon when no one is looking. What I wanted this year was a new challenge, not a new name. I already knew how to swim and could swim long (though not as fast as I'd like). I'd ridden 80-100+ miles several times and had run over 50 marathons. So just doing any ol' race with a 2.4 mi swim, 112 mi bike and a 26.2 mi run didn't stir those butterflies like it did back in 2006 when I was brand new to the sport. I needed more!

With the help of Coach Bill, we devised a plan so that I could tackle one of the toughest iron distance tris around and another one two weeks later that was similar to IMFL. This year I'd learn how to ride hills and handle extreme heat like my tri heroes, and I'd also have a shot at finding out what I could do on an flatter, cooler course. Both within the same training cycle and for about the same price as one Ironman brand race. Now we're talking!

And the excitement has seemingly made time fly. I never got really burned out from training this year. I was never more dedicated in getting myself to the pool or getting outside to deal with the horrible FL summer heat. Embrace the heat my @ss, it was more like try not to let it kill you! I never lifted weights and stretched more diligently. I never watched my diet and weight so closely. Critical when training long in serious heat!

So very different than back in 2006 when I trained myself for IMFL. Then, I basically got so that I could swim 2.4 miles, but only in the best water conditions, and I could get by on the bike and run. Unfortunately, Mother Nature would produce the worst water conditions making it a short race day for me -- Oh well!

Thus, it's ironic that the big question this Saturday is also what will Mother Nature throw at us? Namely, will the water temp be wetsuit legal (78 degs or less)?

Well, in its 2519 year history, GF has been not wetsuit legal only once before. Last week, someone measured the lake temp and found it to be 85. UGH! But then a cold front blew in over the weekend and that same person said the lake temp this morning was well below 78, perhaps even too cold and too rough for the swim to be held had the race been today. Later this week, the weather should be warming up again and the winds dying down some so who knows what it'll be by Saturday morning ...

Ahh, the uncertainty of ironmans.

Wish me luck. There's no athlete tracking available so I'll update you all after the race either late Saturday or on Sunday. Hope you all have a great week!

45 comments:

DaveP said...

Something I learned about putting time in perspective: Years fly by, meetings last forever.

Road Warrior said...

Good luck, Shirley. You'll be on my mind. Trust your training. You deserve to enjoy a great day!

Wendy said...

Luck wished Shirley, but I do't think you're going to need it!

Marlene said...

I love your attitude about the Iron distance tri... it's not just about the 'title' afterall.

Here's hoping for excellent conditions this weekend.

Good luck, Shirley! Can't wait to see your training and dedication pay off.

Rainmaker said...

Eeks on the water temp. Well, look at the bright side - you train that distance in the pool w/o a wetsuit, so at worst it'll be just like one big old pool.

Good luck!

Twincerely,Olga said...

wow! your amazing lady!!! Just found you!! Stop by! I am following you

Twincerely,Olga said...

oh and the picture in your header! Amazing!! Wishing you all the best!!

Jenny Davidson said...

Luck!

Yes, it's been fun following along with your training - definitely no burnout, it's been excitement all the way! A pleasure to behold...

Molly said...

Wow! How DID it come up so fast??? So excited for you, as you're the first of our little fall group to kick it off with a race!!! :)

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Good Luck and ENJOY!!

Runner Leana said...

Best of luck at the big race!!! Have fun!

Katherine said...

Ironmans? Ironmen? Either way, good luck!

Stef said...

All the best Shirley! Not sure you really need luck as honestly I feel like you are SO FREAKING PREPARED! It has been a pleasure to follow your journey to "double iron."

So, all the BEST for you out there!

Your description of the Great Floridian reminds me of the much younger Silverman. :) I'm probably just crazy enough to pick that as my first IM distance. In the next few years . . .

Honestly I could care less about the "brand" for me it's more about the course, the challenge and what arriving at the start line of whatever particular race means to me.

Anyway I can't wait to receive the update and then hopefully a lengthy report.

YOU are one of MY tri heros and I think when things get hard out there you may want to fully bask in how far you've come. For a short time anyway. Then you will need to GET BACK TO WORK!!!!

GO SHIRLEY!!!!!!!! YEAH!

Meg Runs said...

I really respect your choice and decision to compete in this tri, you'll have the time of your life and I can't wait to hear how well you've done! Go girl, you've done all your homework!

Shannon said...

You Rock~No luck needed for you. Have Fun!

Sherry said...

Shirley, I am just soooo excited for you! I really wished that I lived closer to Clermont. I would totally be out there SCREAMING for you... banners flying!!! :o) Please know that I'll be doing a lot of cheering here at home, instead!

You have trained SO hard; you have dealt with the heat like a trooper... you are READY!

Missy said...

I'm with you sister, I've done one full distance WTC event and now...I'm good. Go non-WTC for half the price and double the fun, that's what I say.

Rock out. Can't wait to see YOU in November. Weather for that????

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

Have a great race and I am sure with all your training and coach's instructions, etc. you will finish in a very good time. I have been thinking recently that many of us are capable of great achievements if we really want something and are willing to pay the price for it. That is probably why my swimming is kind of so-so now. I just don't want to sacrifice the other things in my life to make it happen. Anyway, in your case you are making it happen, and I am sure soon I will be hearing your name shouted out at the finish line in Kona by none other than Mike O'Reilly. I wish I could stand by the finish line in Florida this week, too, with a microphone.

Eliza said...

The Great Floridian sounds awesome!

I am at the beginning of my journey of "dabbling in tris, learning how to swim and trying to stay upright on my bike"

You are very motivating!

Like Wendy said: Luck wished but I don't think you'll need it :)

jen said...

Good luck this weekend Shirley!

You have already accomplished so much with your incredible training. We are all so proud of you already. I have no doubt you can complete this race and I can't wait to hear all about it. I'll be thinking about you all weekend. Go get em!! :)

Regina said...

You are so ready for this race! Like everyone here, I've following your progress and training and know you are prepared. I look forward to hearing how awesome you are going to do, because I know you are. I certainly will be mentally cheering you on this weekend.

Good luck and kick ass!

Cliff said...

I like the strategy..why do one when you can kill yourself twice :P.

Yeah...over 50 marathons, u are ready for an IM :DD

yeah..who wants easy IM anyways :). The hillier the better!

Calyx Meredith said...

Good luck! Enjoy it all!

MaineSport said...

Good luck this wkend. You've definitely done the work, now it comes down to race day! Just don't look across the lake when you're running!

Lesser is More said...

Amazing that the temps dropped so quickly! Here's hoping the water stays under 78 and you cruise through the swim (and of course the bike and run). You're ready to crush it!

KodaFit said...

Good Luck Shirley!! You're going to rock it!!

lindsay said...

eh, what's one iron-distance tri when you can sandwich two together instead ;)

i didn't even know there were full-iron tri's other than "ironman" until i read about your endeavors. i did know how pricey the "ironman" brand events are though! yikes.

good luck this weekend!! i am looking forward to the post-race report.

Tina said...

I love that you had a plan and a coach to keep you motivated and excited about your races! I can't wait to read about it.

Mel-2nd Chances said...

what a great reflection of how far you've come! I'll be thinking of you... good luck this weekend!

sharon said...

There is a quite confidence you get when you are prepared. You are ready. It doesn't matter what the weather brings this weekend or how rough the water is, you KNOW you can handle it and you will do great!

Bootchez said...

This was a really great post and speaks to your *great* character . . . wishing you good luck, fair weather and cold water!

PLANET3RRY said...

Rock On!

Keri said...

Good Luck! You are going to kick some serious booty!

Spokane Al said...

Good luck Shirley.

Keep rocking and smiling!

Iron Eric said...

Have a great race Shirley!!! You have trained hard for this race and it will pay off. You are going to rock, rock, ROCK!

Vickie said...

Best of luck Shirley! I have some fond memories of GF, since this was my first exposure to Ironman back in 2001. I've swam in the lake, and biked and ran on the course (all when I was much faster). It was hot the years I was there, getting my feet burned while volunteering at the transition bag area. The afternoon sun can be extremely hot! I actually have been to Clermont about a dozen times, have swam at the triathlon training center pool, and just love the area. Watch out for the gators!

RunToTheFinish said...

Good luck this weekend...I know temps won't be great but I have this feeling you are going to kick it in the head!

Sarah said...

After doing Florida Challenge last year, I know what kind of race you have ahead of you, even with the change in route. I know you will kick this race's arse. Good luck and have a blast!!!

Mark said...

Good luck!

Brent Buckner said...

Have a great day out there tomorrow!

X-Country2 said...

I was curious why you weren't doing IMFL. Sounds like Great Floridian is a great fit for you. Good luck!

Susan said...

Best of luck my very accomplished friend!

lizzie lee said...

Wish you the best Shirley. Remember: Mind over matter!!!!

Dori said...

Go Shirley Go!
I set my calendar to remind me that you were racing today. Looking forward to your race report.

Sunshine said...

Very belated best wishes!