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Ironman Florida Q & A

by Meghann on November 18, 2013

A little late, but here’s some answers to the questions asked in this post. I promise this will be the last Ironman Florida post for a while. πŸ˜‰   

Will Ben and Kelly write a recap?

I wish! I asked both of them and neither seemed to bite when I asked if they were interested. However, Kelly did want to put it out there how time consuming the training was and how hard that was for her.

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Did you gain any weight during training?

Shockingly, no.

It’s not uncommon for an athlete to gain weight while training for an Ironman. Sure you’re burning thousands of calories a week while training, but you’re also hungry all. the. time. and it’s easy to just grab whatever. As much as I tried – okay, I didn’t try that hard – my diet mainly consisted of carbs, carbs, and more carbs. I <3 carbs.

I pretty much dodged my scale the entire time I trained. My clothes still fit (minus some super tight skinny jeans on my calves) and that’s really all that mattered.

I had a doctor’s appointment a couple of weeks before my race and was really surprised my weight was the same it was when I was there in January. Even more shocking, I was weighed for a “wellness scan” at work this week and I had actually lost two pounds since my Ironman. Keep in my mind my diet has mainly been cookies and fired chicken since I crossed the finish line and, minus a half marathon, I haven’t moved from my couch. Go figure.

I am just wondering how much money you think you spent total?

I want to dedicate a full post to this one, just as I did for my 70.3. *Spoiler Alert* I spent A LOT.

What did you do for nutrition? Would you change anything?

I had a nutrition plan going in of consuming 200-300 calories every hour. I like variety on the bike, so I stuffed my pockets full of Clif bars, PowerBar Blends, and Gatorade chews during transition. I had one of the Blends in transition, then either 1/2 a Clif bar or 1/2 a pack of Gatorade chews every 1/2 hour on the course. I also went through 4 aero bottles total of Gatorade and Perform.

Probably the best thing I did was put two slices of pumpkin bread in my special needs. I had one slice just as I was leaving special needs and the second around mile 90.

On top of my food and drink on the bike, I also had 2-3 salt sticks every hour on the bike.

Basically, my plan on the bike was to just keep eating. I read way too many recaps before the race of athletes not consuming enough nutrition on the bike and bonking on the run. I think one of the reasons I felt so great on the run was because I ate and drank so much on the bike.

Of course, planning so much for nutrition on the bike, I didn’t have a plan at all for the run. I knew there would be nutrition at every aid station on the run, so my plan was to rely on that. Luckily it worked out for me, but looking back that wasn’t the smartest plan I’ve ever had.

Were you craving any specific foods after you finished?

Real food! I was starving the last 6 miles of the run, but nothing at any of the aid stations looked appealing. I wanted a real meal with a salty protein, carb, and vegetable. Not even 20 minutes after I crossed the finish line, my co-worker brought me a plate of chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, and a roll. It was the best meal I’ve ever had. All of my other co-workers have since joked that I couldn’t shovel the food in fast enough.

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What key advice would you share with someone who is interested in training for an Ironman?

Find a group to train with. I was lucky to have my sibling and my XP friends to train with. Groups are great for pushing you and keeping you accountable.

How would you compare your nerves and anxiety in completing an IRONMAN compared to your nerves and anxiety when approaching your first full marathon?

My nerves and anxiety were 100x worst with my first Ironman versus my first marathon. With my first marathon I knew I wasn’t nervous about making the cut-off. Sure i was nervous with completing 26.2 miles for the first time, but I knew that even if I had to walk, I would make it before the cut-off. With the Ironman, I was freaking out the day before that I wouldn’t make the swim cut-off (the red flags on the beach didn’t help calm my nerves).

I also didn’t dedicate as much time to training for my first marathon as I did for my Ironman. If something happened and I didn’t finish, I knew it wouldn’t be a big deal to try again. For my Ironman, I knew I only had one shot. I had spent way too many hours training and these races are NOT cheap. If I didn’t finish, it’s not like I could just register for another one the next day.

Did you use music / headphones during any part of the race (I’m not sure if they allow that at IM?)

Headphones (and even cellphones) are banned on the Ironman course. Surprisingly, I didn’t miss having something to listen to as much as I thought I would.

Do you think the run/walk helped during the marathon portion?

Heck yeah! I ran a 2:00 half marathon during my last 70.3 using the same method, so I knew it would help. I’m 99% sure my pace would have dropped a lot faster if I ran the full marathon without scheduled walk breaks.

How bad did your lady parts feel after the 112?

They didn’t hurt at all! But I did change into full bike shorts before the bike which definitely helped. The only problem I had on the bike was my right foot going numb, otherwise I felt fine.

Was the clothing change worth it? Would you do that again?

YES! First of all, my lady parts thanked me for going the full bike shorts route on the bike. It was also refreshing to change my shorts for the run. Everyone told me it was worth it and they weren’t kidding – it was awesome. I think the way I planned it by keeping the same sports bra from the swim through the run and wearing the same top for the bike and the run was perfect.

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What was the most helpful in preparing for race day, like the chaos of the swim? I’m a good swimmer, but swimming in open water with thousands sounds a little intimidating.

I’m not sure anyone could ever be really prepared for that. I think the best training I did for the swim start was the beach start triathlons I did leading up to the race, but even that doesn’t even come close to the chaos. The best way to not let it be intimidating is to not think about it, once you’re in it, you’re so focused on your own swim, that you forget you’re one of three thousand out there.

Why do you think you underestimated your finish time by about 2 hours?

I had no idea what to expect on race day. I knew what all of my times had been in training and had spent countless hours talking to past participants, looking up previous times, and trying to get somewhat of a gauge of where I thought I might finish. If you were to look at all of my training times and compared those to my 70.3 times (I’ve done 2 70.3s, both coming in at 6:30), they all said I should have come in a lot slower than I did.

However, all of those calculations didn’t mean anything on race day. What it came down to was I just had a really good day out there and I’d probably been underestimating myself all along.

My co-workers all took bets on when I would finish. All of their estimates were scattered somewhere between fourteen and sixteen hours. Even my coach didn’t even predict anything under fourteen. I shocked everyone (including myself!) when I came in at 13:05.

How many miles were you able to swim non-stop before training for the Ironman?

We did 2000 yds non-stop at swim practice about a month before race day. That was my longest non-stop swim before Ironman. That’s why I was sooooo nervous going into the swim. My siblings did a 2.2 mile swim a couple of weeks before race day, but I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding that weekend.

Despite the 2000 yd swim being my longest non-stop swim before race day, I still felt great in the water. In fact, the swim felt much easier than I thought it would (maybe it was because I was drafting off of 3000 of my closest friends?). I think it also helped

You may have mentioned, but did you have a swim background? I know you said that you are the β€œslowest” in your training group but you nailed the swim in the race! Just wondering how you started swimming.

I do not have a swim background. The extend of my swimming background includes playing little mermaid at the pool as a kid or boogie boarding at the beach. I only started swimming seriously a couple of years ago. I learned a lot in that short time and I have my swim group to thank for that!

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Do you think your marathon background helped with your overall race? You seemed to have stayed quite strong in the marathon portion while I’ve read other race reports where the athletes have really fallen apart during the marathon.

I felt great during the run, so yes, I do believe my marathon background helped with my overall race. I’m used to pushing myself really hard during marathons, so it felt good to go at a semi-casual pace. I also think my nutrition on the bike helped me nail the run, as well as my walk/run intervals I stuck to.

Are you going to get an Ironman tattoo?

I don’t know! Part of me wants one, the other part has no idea where I would get it.

Have you convinced Derek to do a tri? I remember you convinced him to do some running races with you a few years ago.

Ha! Nope. Derek has retired from the racing world.

What’s your plan now with swimming? Your swim team seemed really close – will you still swim with them lots/work on your speed or just hang out outside of the pool?

Yes, I plan to keep swimming with them. We’re all taking a temporary break from training.

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What’s the next goal for the Iron Siblings to tackle together? It is so awesome that you guys motivate and support each other to do amazing things!

We’ll have to wait and see! Ben is all set for another Ironman in 2015, but I think I can talk him into a 70.3 in 2014.

How did you find time for all the training?

I got up really early, came home late, and turned down a lot of weekend outings. Sometimes I look bak some of my training weeks and still can’t believe I was able to do it.

Where will you display your medal?

Currently it’s hanging up in my cubicle at work, but my parents bought all of us custom finisher’s frames as an early Christmas gift. I can’t wait to put my medal in the frame and hang it in my office.

Are you going to start growing your family now that you have this huge accomplishment??

We’ll just have to wait and see. πŸ˜‰

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MissPinkKate November 18, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Thanks for the post! Very curious to read the post on the $ breakdown so I hope this is the penultimate and not the ultimate! I think you’ve given me the bug, I’m hoping to do a (sprint!) triathlon in the next few years…

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2 Niki November 18, 2013 at 9:08 pm

I loved reading the answers to all of these questions, thanks Meghann! What a huge accomplishment.
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3 Anna November 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm

I loved that you did this post! There has been so much I’ve been wondering about. My husband did an Ironman this year and I have gotten more information from you than him! I was totally wondering about the Ironman tattoo too. My husband got his a few weeks after the race. He was unsure as his placement of it until the end of his race he saw another racer with one on her heel.

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4 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun November 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Loved all these questions and answers! I find it so fascinating to read anything involving your ironman! I have done marathons but to me that seems like nothing in comparison and I can’t imagine all the thoughts going through your head right before the start!
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5 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs November 18, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Great post! There’s so much that goes into these races — it’s nice to see it broken down like you’ve done!
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6 sarahf November 19, 2013 at 3:26 am

Triathlons came up in a reading text in my class today (I teach English in Japan), so I told my students what an Ironman consists of, they all sat there, mouths wide open, looking at me like I must be insane! I didn’t even mention doing one, just that the concept exists and there are a lot of people who do them! I should show them your recaps!
Great answers, I can’t help but wonder what the next adventure will be! I’d be really interested in the money side of things, it’s easy to forget that part!
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7 Ali November 19, 2013 at 3:43 am

I loved reading all of your answers. Following along with your training and your race was so much fun for me! I’m glad to hear that you were into the walk-run thing for the run course. I have my first 70.3 of the season on Saturday, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be rocking that routine, too.
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8 Elizabeth @ Positive Change November 19, 2013 at 7:48 am

I loved following your training so reading the Q&A was great! My husband and I are thinking about doing a full in the near future so this post was really helpful!
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9 egb November 19, 2013 at 8:04 am

Great post! It’s really interesting to hear everything that goes into IM training and racing. The logistics kind of baffle me!
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10 [email protected] November 19, 2013 at 8:07 am

great post! I can’t get over how crazy amazing it is that people run Ironmans! great job on your time, your training clearly payed off
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11 CaitlinHTP November 19, 2013 at 8:20 am

CLIFFHANGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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12 Laura @ Sneakers and Spatulas November 19, 2013 at 8:24 am

Such a bummer your siblings won’t write recaps! πŸ™ Can Kelly share what was so hard about training for her? Injury, etc.? I love reading these types of posts. I’m racing my first 70.3 next June and these help me feel more prepared!!
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13 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution November 19, 2013 at 10:22 am

Meghann: I hope you realize how TALENTED you are! I can’t believe how amazing you did – and I hope that doesn’t come off as insulting. I had no doubt you would meet all the cut off times, but 13:05???? Not to mention running a half marathon (faster than I personally have ever run one on my best day) the WEEKEND AFTER!?

You have blown away any expectations that I had of you. I hope you’re saying, “Suck it, haters” right now, and I hope you know what I mean by that πŸ™‚
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14 Beth November 19, 2013 at 11:24 am

Yay! Thanks for answering my questions! I’m so excited to start training and I know that I’m going to want to die after all of it but it will be so worth it. Thanks so much for paving the way. πŸ™‚

P.S. Did you get my evite?
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15 Ashley November 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Love all your answers…but especially the last one ;). I mean a baby Anderson would be pretty flippin cute!

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16 Coco November 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I’ve LOVED reading every post about this and I really really really want to do one someday- I think its more of a 5 year goal at the point.. Your awesome!
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17 Stephanie November 19, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Great recap and follow up Q&A. I didn’t post this before but I’m wonderin…with the all the busyness are you still making signature meghann meals (crazy but yummy combos/hodge podges) or have you been eating more standard meals? I miss occassional meghann meal recaps because they inspired me in my cooking πŸ™‚

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18 Meghann November 20, 2013 at 6:11 am

My meals have been all over the place lately. I’m starting to find my groove again, but Derek has been a big help in the cooking department lately, so that usually calls for easy to follow recipes that I can email him at work. I’ll work on doing more meal posts πŸ™‚

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19 Jess November 20, 2013 at 5:37 am

I see you followed the 24 week ironman plan from a book, but you keep referencing a coach. What did the coach provide you? Did he give a plan? Do you think a book was enough or would you pay for a coach in the future?

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20 Meghann November 20, 2013 at 6:10 am

I followed the book for my overall plan of what workouts I should fit in each week and how much distance I should be building each week. However, I did all my swim and track workouts with my team. The coach is really just a friend I referred to as a coach. He coached me in swimming, as well as other general advice for the race. He’s a retired pro-triathlete so he had a lot of great advice. For me, it was nice supplementing the book with the team’s program, which just happened to fit with what the book called for.

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21 Runner Girl Eats November 20, 2013 at 6:48 am

I loved reading your IM training posts and sitll don’t know how you did it! It is such a committment and such a great accomplishment. I can’t wait to see what you tackle next πŸ˜‰
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22 Melissa @Tryingtoheal November 20, 2013 at 11:11 am

Great recap/Q&A of the race! I really enjoyed your recap and am so proud of you for finishing the race! You did an awesome job!
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23 [email protected] November 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Amazing Job!!! I cant even wrap my brain around doing something like that. πŸ™‚ Way to go!!!!!
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24 Jen @ The Happy Homeowner November 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I just discovered your blog and this is a perfect first post for me to read as I want to start doing triathlons in 2014! Congrats on completing your race so well! πŸ™‚
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25 L November 21, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I might get a bit of flack for posting this (I never post comments), but I just got done with Ironman Arizona, and I had a couple of comments on your answers to the Q and A. First of all – if anyone is going to ride in bike shorts on the Ironman bike, they need to make sure their bike fit is done in bike shorts. If you practice in tri shorts, then switch to bike shorts, or vice versa, the height of the pad changes the fit of the bike. Important to know because knee issues creep up over higher distances.

Also, with the largest number of triathlon deaths occuring during the swim, I find it extremely disturbing you are reccommending the longest nonstop swim you did prior to race day to be 2k. Everyone who tackles IM should be VERY comfortable in the water, particularly open water, if they have the chance. Swimmming the full distance, or at least 3k, in open water, is extremely helpful at combatting the axiety that often accompanies OWS. If you reduce the anxiety and increase fitness, then you can help reduce the deaths in the water at these larger events. I just find it really misleading, and while you are a natural athlete, most who tackle IM trained hard and long, and need to know what they are getting themselves into.

Congrats on your IM finish.

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