The Intimidator is a half Ironman distance triathlon hailing from Clermont Florida. The main focus of this race for me was a tuneup for my A race, Ironman Texas. Six weeks between events is about perfect to shake out the racing gunk from winter and get the mind into race mode. It’s also a fantastic way to test the bike setup, nutrition and pacing plan for Ironman Texas. Florida is generally known as pancake flat; however, Clermont is the exception. There are about 2100 feet of climbing on the bike course so it is a tough, honest bike course. The run is pancake flat for sure.
Alarms went off at 4:30am. I slept fairly well, I thought as I popped the lid off the thermos and filled a cup with some coffee. Breakfast was 2 hard boiled eggs plus two slices of banana bread. Total coffee was about 18oz plus some water. I did a bit of light stretching to wake up the glutes, hips, and shoulders. All of my gear was prepped the night before so all I had to do was load everything into the car and drive to the race site.
Transition setup was uneventful. I went with a minimalist approach and kept everything very simple.
Swimming in central Florida… alligators… snakes… OH MY!! The water was incredibly calm, 65F, and stained an iced tea color. None of that bothered me except the gators. Good news!! The women were in the first wave, I was in the second wave, and the youngsters were in the last wave. Thinking the gators will have plenty of option; I convinced myself that I’d be ok. I gradually meandered into the water for a warmup swim. I did a few minutes easy with a few hard accelerations. I got out and did a quick practice start running into the water with high knees and diving at just the right depth so I could get a good purchase on the water immediately.
I lined up in the front of the wave towards the outside. The horn ripped through the pre-race calm and we were off. I had a great start and put down a solid 3-400 yards. I’m not normally in the lead of the swim, but that’s where I found myself. As I peeked over the surface of the water to sight on the course buoys, there was no one around. I got a little anxious being out front so I decided to settle down and work towards enjoying the day. 32:57 was not bad, but not great either.
My power plan for the bike was to ride 190-200 watts with zero spikes. My nutrition plan was 1000 calories in sports drink plus two bottles + of water based on temps. I race with a bottle between my arms and one out back behind the seat. I deleted the downtube bottle to gain some aero efficiencies. I started with two 500 calorie bottles made up of 400 calories of Carbo-Pro and 100 calories of Gatorade plus about 1500mg of sodium. This is basically half of my Ironman plan.
There were a few rollers towards the beginning with some nice aero sections all leading toward Sugarloaf mountain or hill or whatever it is officially called around mile 45. The hill looks ominous from the bottom, but it really wasn’t that bad. I kept the power steady and motored up with relative ease. The whole ride was relatively uneventful. I rode by myself a lot wondering if I was on the right course at times. There was a fair amount of vehicle traffic which was a bit unnerving and many of the cops were sitting in their cars rather than directing traffic. I haven’t ridden in traffic for the last 4 years so that was a bit of a distraction. Normalized power was 196w so that was on the target. More importantly, I felt pretty comfy at that output.
Ahhh…the run. My archnemesis, the destroyer of dreams, the breaker of souls. As I entered T2, I thought, hey I feel pretty good…for a change. As I exited T2, Nanc tells me that I’m second and that first is just up ahead. Typically, the run for me has been a strategy of defense. Run as hard as possible to limit the damage from those charging from behind. Not this time bitches. I felt good. Not sure why or how and didn’t care at that moment. After about a mile, I could see the next guy up ahead. A quick check of the watch revealed a 7:32/mile average pace. I thought wow really and I still feel good. Huh…WTF let’s see what happens. I started to gradually reel in the guy and when I got close I saw his age printed on his calf was 40. Ut oh…That’s not the guy in first. Crap. Check the watch…7:28 average pace. No way… I’m getting faster and WTF…I still feel good. Where’s the next guy?? When I was coming up to the turnaround, I saw a guy with a black kit and multi-colored stripe, but I couldn’t see his age. He was about a half mile ahead. I thought that must be the guy so I worked towards reeling him in. For the first time ever, I was able to speed up a bit and hold around 7:20/mile. I was gaining on him, but I was running out of course. I could see him which made a huge difference, he was about 1/4 mile ahead. Somehow, I found another gear – 7:10/mile. I was floating. Everything hurt, but nothing hurt at the same time. I could tell I was closing the gap. Another gear…WTF…where did that come from? 7:05/mile. I caught him. Shit. He’s 35. I’m second.
Winning is cool; don’t get me wrong. The best thing is that I ran well off the bike. 2018 is off to a fantastic start. My bike power is a bit lower than I would like at this time, but I executed the plan perfectly and finally ran to my potential. Why?
- more running miles per week in training
- long run as 5x4miles @7:30/mi
- min 400cal/hr on the bike
- gel every 4 miles on the run
- it was fun again!