Race Report: Shawn Day Ironman Florida 2012

Friday, May 10, 2013 by admin

Ironman Florida 2012
Panama City, Florida
November 3rd

1st let me send out a big thank you to all the family and friends that were cheering and keeping track of me on race day. Knowing someone is watching you by satellite and cheering you on keeps you moving, believe me!!

Thanks to Robin Ray, Kris Parks, and Lea Kirdatt for making the time to come to Florida to cheer us all on. A huge thank you to Denise Whitson, Clean Budenosky, Allene Cashmore, Yvette Vernor Dye, and Kathey Carreiro for keeping me motivated for a year to do this crazy thing.  Todd Coddish, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and knowledge. I really was listening. To two of the most amazing nephews in the world. I can’t thank Chris and Adam (and Adams girlfriend Amanda) enough for being there for me. I can still hear their cheers!  To try to put a value on the guidance and friendship of Coach Kristen is impossible. This journey would not have been half the fun if it weren’t for her. This past year has been a blast. Most of all, thank you to my partner Gregory for his unwavering support!!!! For taking care of everything while I was out swimming, running or riding.

The week leading up to the race was a little busier than I thought it would have been. It started with a 12 hour drive with Coach Kristen and Allene Cashmore on Tues. from Dallas to Panama City, Florida.  Wed. morning included a swim, then athlete registration followed by (the most important part) shopping at the Ironman Store!!! Somewhere in there we drove part of the bike course followed by the grocery store. Then took time for a nap!! Thursday morning was a quick swim, bike, run. Friday friends and family started to arrive. It was great to be surrounded by so much good energy. We went to Bike Check-in, then through transitions 1 and 2 and checked out all the exits.  A great dinner out and then it was time to go to bed!

Race Morning, 3:30 a.m. While I had my race breakfast I was thinking about the last year. When I had decided to do this, I turned all my trust over to my coach. I trusted she would get me there as long as I put in the work. I knew that I had done that to the best of my ability. I knew I wasn’t fast at any of it, but I knew I could do it.

I got to race sight a little late. The shuttle buses were not running as promised. Coach Kristen took my special needs bags for me and I went to put my last minute things in my T1 and T2 bags. Got to my bike to put my hydration in place and they started to clear transition. Now I’m rushed, but hey “I can handle this”, “it is what it is”. I didn’t have time to check the bike or air pressure, I just went on faith. Fortunately the air temperature hadn’t changed a lot.

So I get my wet suit on (halfway) and I got in line to go to the beach when I realized I had missed body marking. I found a volunteer with a marker and took care of that, then followed the crowd to the beach and started looking for a familiar face. I remember seeing Lea Kirdatt, then Jeff Bennett and if I’ve forgotten anybody else, sorry. I was a little distracted that morning.

Out of the three sports, I am most comfortable with the swim — until it comes to ocean swims. To date, I hadn’t had a great experience in the ocean. Motion sickness was my biggest obstacle. I had tried ginger, medicated patches and prescription drugs. The pills seemed to work the best so that’s what I was going with. I was just hoping my adrenaline would keep me from getting to drowsy. This was a double loop swim from the beach. However a large number of people were already in the water. So I positioned myself in the middle of a crowd, about knee deep and just to the right of the buoys (big mistake, huge mistake).  The canon goes off!! It’s time to Rock this thing!!!

Chaos begins immediately!!! It was a constant struggle (which I had trained for) that never let up. I was just trying to get a rhythm in my stroke, but that was interrupted with people swimming on top of me, or hitting me in the head or getting kicked in the side. Trying to get a breath was a lot of fun as well (but I had trained for this). To help me get my mind in a good place I tried a mantra, NOPE, how about a song,…NOPE…..Ok, now my heart is in my throat. So for the first time in a race, I grabbed a kayak. I took a few breaths and got my breath back pretty fast and I got back out there.

First turn done (hated it); second turn done (hated it). The constant battle for space was exhausting! Next time I’ll pay much more attention to my positioning when I start a race!  Now all I had to do was swim to shore, but this was also the time when I figure out the motion sickness medication is only so strong. The world starts to move.

I finished the first loop of the swim, got out of the water to see and hear the crowds. Everyone is cheering so loud. I got to the beach and the first person I saw was Lea Kirdatt, next to her was Coach Kristen. A few words of encouragement from Coach (I won’t repeat what I said to her…… well sure I will—-This is so F…… HARD) and I’m back in the water.

About 20 yards into the ocean the nausea sets in and decides to bring it’s friend dry heaves. I try to gather myself, say a few choice words (amazing how you can curse under water and nobody is offended) and get back at it. I so wanted out of there, I wanted this to be over real bad, but I knew I couldn’t stop —-( I had spent way too much money at the Ironman store and I knew I couldn’t return all that merchandise!) I had to keep going!! I started counting strokes (a great tool that I had been reminded of the day before by my nephew). Then the drowsiness from the medication decides to visit, I’ve just about had it by this point!!

I finally can touch bottom, I stand up and the dry heaves start again. Now, there is no way I’m going to be “that guy” who gets his picture taken by all those spectators and cameras “blowing chunks”.  So for just a second, I turn to face the ocean, get it together, and then jump back into the crowd of athletes headed for T1.

The volunteers are amazing and eager to help, but honestly, I just want the room to stop moving. I take my time! A pathetic 20 minutes later and I’m headed for my bike. When I hit the bike racks, part of my stomach just sinks. There are hardly any bikes in the lot. Then I hear my family and friends screaming as if I were tied for first place. It made me feel so good. I grabbed my bike and took off.

The bike is my weakest sport for me so I already knew I had to pace carefully. I was feeling good; stomach was getting better, nutrition going well, hydration check. I still wasn’t sure where all my team mates were.  At about mile 11 we’re on a highway and cars are going by as usual but I hear a car coming up behind me, making a lot of   noise. I turn to look and see my nephew Adam hanging out the window yelling, Amanda in the back window ringing her cow bell and Chris driving and honking the horn. It was so great to see (and hear) part of my support crew. It just made my day.  I realized it didn’t matter if I was first or last, they were just as excited for me as I was. It wasn’t until the turn around point that I could see my team mates ahead of me and they all looked like they were having a good ride. I was feeling pretty good and didn’t want to blow up on the run so I stuck to my plan for the bike and kept my pace. I finally finished the bike feeling really good. 112 miles, done!

T2 went well!! The volunteer who helped me said he was signing up for this race next year, I told him to practice a lot of ocean swims 🙂  So now I’m off for a marathon. Once again I got to see Gregory, my nephews, Kristen and all the great friends that were the best cheerleaders around! Kristen jumps out on the course with me and I asked her the stats of the team. Yes, I was second out of the water, but my transition had killed me and still behind my gang. So I took off and tried to find that rhythm.

The Florida run is double loop run. So it was a little hard to tell who was on their first loop or second, but I was shocked at how many people were walking. It mentally just slowed me down. I took this time to evaluate things. I had to get my stomach switched from all those Cliff Bars that I had on the bike, to GU’s on the run. Problem was, I didn’t want any GU’s, but I knew I had to get some sugar going. I found I could handle an occasional Chomp, orange slice and Perform so that was good.

When I caught up with Yvette, she was doing a plan of 4/1 (four minute run, one minute walk). So I jumped in with her, which got me onto a plan because mine was slow to start. Part of the reason mine wasn’t working was because I had broken a major rule. That rule being—Don’t try something race day you haven’t tried before! I had borrowed a Garmin watch from Becky Cummings Vander Upwich for my marathon. My Timex that I had trained with wouldn’t have made it through the marathon. The battery life had gotten shorter and shorter. So even though the Garmin was giving me the same information that I was used to, it was just different. I had a hard time finding “that rhythm”.

So I had gotten my heart rate to a good place, had all the ice I could handle and discovered my stomach could handle the flat coke they offered on the run. This turned out to be a very good thing! Yvette had helped me get myself together, and I had helped her speed up a little ( I walked faster and jogged a little faster so her time was speeding up) so at the halfway mark we got our orders from Coach Kristen, to “run our own races”.

OK, let’s get to work. I started running the second half and wasn’t hurting much. It was great! This time, passing the cheerleading squad and seeing Robin Ray and Kris Parks added to the gang. I took in flat coke at every aid station and kept going. I was shocked to feel this good in the last half of the marathon. I had finally caught up to my team mates that had helped me so much to get to this race. It was great to see them, but I couldn’t stop, I had to keep going!

After the final turn around in the (dark) state park, there wasn’t lot of running, accept for me. As I passed people I would hear things like “where did he go last night” or “I’ll have what he’s having”. It just made me laugh.

When I got to mile 23-24 I looked up and saw a figure in the dark jumping up and down in excitement. It was Coach Kristen! She said “I want you to pick it up and get in under 15 hours.  When I first heard her say 15 I was a little bummed. I wanted to be closer to low 14, but I said “O.K., but I gotta pee first”. We laughed and I took care of business at an aid station, then we took off. She was pacing me to go faster and faster. As we approached the final turn and she was telling me to pick it up some more, I replied “I’m at “throw-up zone and I’m not puking at the finish line”. We laughed and I turned to go down the final Ironman shoot. Hi- 5ing all the way down. It was AMAZING!!

Looking back at the day I think we all wish we were stronger, faster but for me the best part of the whole experience was sharing it with such incredible family and friends. The ones here at the race and the ones I knew where home cheering me on. I can’t thank them enough. Their words of encouragement were so loud, so great you would have thought I won the darn thing. But really, I was just another Ironman that night!! What a great experience.

The final time was 14 hours, 55 minutes and 30+ seconds.

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