more »" />

Ironman Florida: My Pre-Race Jitters

by Meghann on November 4, 2013

If I had to list my two favorite days of all time, it would go my wedding day followed by the day I became an IRONMAN.


It was a journey that I can date back to 2008 and a dream I never stopped fighting for. It was my impossible goal I made possible and it’s a title I won’t take lightly. I fought hard and gave all I had to cross that finish line. It’s not a title given, it’s earned.


So sit back and relax, because I’m going to take my time recounting every detail. My head is still trying to wrap itself around the last 48 hrs and I don’t want to forget a minute of it.


We arrived in Panama City on Thursday, a full two days before the race. I thought my nerves would calm as soon as I arrived, but they didn’t. In fact, they intensified. After weeks of gorgeous sunshine and smooth waters, the weather decided to turn on us two days before race day. I was welcomed to Panama City with gray skies and rough waters. Gulp. All the butterflies that were already taking up residence in my stomach multiplied times a thousand.


We were told the bad weather was just moving through and to expect perfect weather on race day. I never trust a weather report, but I was trying my hardest to trust this one.

We headed to athlete check-in and went through the process of signing our waivers, picking up our bibs and collecting our sweet athlete bags.


We weren’t given our t-shirts just yet. Those would be waiting for us at the finish line.


Kelly was dying to get in the water to test out her new wetsuit and neither Ben nor I had been for a swim in our wetsuits in months. We decided to change and go for a quick swim, even if it was just to get our toes wet.


The water looked bad from our hotel window, but it looked even worse in person. The waves were high and the current was pushing everyone far right. Double gulp. The three of us felt like such rookies zipping up our wetsuits and heading to the water. There weren’t a lot of people in the water, but there were a lot of guys standing on the edge looking out and discussing how rough it was. A few of those guys wished us luck as we waded our way in.

We didn’t make it that far, the waves were just too rough. I went in just far enough to get thrashed around and get a couple of strokes thrown in the mix. I didn’t even try to fight the current, it dragged me far right without even trying. I cried uncle after a couple of minutes and climbed out. That counts as a test swim, right?

I found this video posted on the Ironman Florida Facebook page that gives an indication of just how scary that water was.

We tried to take our minds off of the race (and the weather) by relaxing the rest of the day. My parents arrived around dinner time and we met them at Mellow Mushroom for pizza (yum!).

The next morning we enjoyed the free pancake breakfast a local church was hosting in the lobby and attended the mandatory course talk. The course talk calmed my nerves just a tad. They repeated that the weather was supposed to finish making its way through that night and they were expecting excellent conditions for the morning. They weren’t planning on changing the swim, but if they needed to, they would make that decision in the morning. I kept thinking how pissed I would be if they cancelled the swim, I knew I couldn’t call myself a true Ironman without the 2.4 mile swim and I was not about to train for this race again for 2014.


The talk went over cut-off times and for the millionth time I did some quick math, trying to figure out if I could make them all. For some reason the cut-off times scared the hell out of me, especially if the water was still just as rough on Saturday. I knew if the weather didn’t change, I was screwed.

The talk ended just as the rain started moving in. We went up to our room and finished backing our gear bags that needed to be dropped off that day.


We had 5 bags (bike gear, bike special needs, run gear, run special needs, and morning clothes). The bike gear and run gear bags needed to be dropped off on Friday, but the other bags didn’t need to be dropped off until race day.

I made a list of what needed to go in each bag earlier in the week, which proved to be very helpful as I was a nervous wreck trying to put everything together.

In my bike gear bag I had:

• Bike shorts

• Cycling top

• Sunglasses

• Helmet

• Cycling shoes (I’ve never worn socks with my cycling shoes and wasn’t planning on starting on race day)

• Chamois but’r

• Small towel

• Nutrition

• Notes from friends

In my run gear bag I had:

• Two different pairs of running shorts (depending on what mood I was in at that point)

• Socks

• Running shoes

• Race belt with number attached

• Notes from friends

My brother helped me put my numbers on my bike and I saved my water bottles and fuel box to be filled and added in the morning.

Dropping everything off was fairly simple. We had to wait in a bit of a line to have a photo taken of our bikes. This was just their way of documenting what we came in with, just in case something happened.


We racked our bikes and dropped our bags off in a matter of minutes.


After we dropped our stuff off, we headed to lunch, then drove the run course for a bit. My parents had a whole tailgating set-up in mind and was scouting a location on the road.

It’s funny because the whole day we kept making statements like “when we’re on the run” or “when we finish” and every time we did my stomach would turn a little. I was so nervous I refused to say the “when” part and instead kept saying “if.” I even knocked on wood whenever anyone said “when” because I was so afraid of jinxing myself. The water still looked rough and I was frantically texting my friends with my doubts. They kept reassuring me everything was going to be okay and reminded me of all the training I had put in. Still, I was scared. I’m pretty sure I’d never been that scared before a race.

We had planned to distract ourselves with a movie, but the day got away from us. Before I knew it, we were heading to dinner. We played it safe with an easy pre-race dinner at Carrabbas. The place was PACKED with other racers, but they managed to seat our party of 14 (!) relatively quickly and we enjoyed a quiet final meal.

I wish I could say I slept like a baby that night, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The water was still rough when we went to bed and my nerves had gotten the best of me. I probably got 3-4 hours TOPS. My 4:30 alarm couldn’t come fast enough.

This was it, there was no turning back. I was going to be an Ironman in the morning.

I thought I could keep this all to one post, but it’s getting really long. I’ll end this post here and get the rest of the race recap up tomorrow!

1 Deva November 4, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Ooh, I have shivers reading this – I cannot wait to read more. I think you’re BADASS for finishing, Meghann – you may have inspiried me to try for a half ironman!
Deva recently posted..Weekending: Friends, Hockey, and Project Life

2 Kayla @ Fit Life Forward November 4, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Ya Ya Ya YA! I absolutely love reading this and can’t wait to read the rest!
Kayla @ Fit Life Forward recently posted..A Marathon Like No Other: Silver Falls Marathon Review

3 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs November 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Can’t wait to hear the rest! 🙂
Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs recently posted..Weekend Update

4 Sarah November 4, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Notes from friends – can u explain?

Congrats!!!! Can’t wait to read more 🙂

5 Adrienne November 4, 2013 at 10:05 pm

You’re awesome. I’m so happy I found your blog a few months back. It’s been huge in inspiring me to do better. Congrats, Ironman!
Adrienne recently posted..Rise. Shine.

6 Courtney November 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm

I can’t tell you how much this is helping me stay sane for IM Arizona in 2 weeks. Especially after getting so amped up watching you guys finish on Saturday, I don’t know how I am going to make it without an ulcer from all this nervous energy. And I totally hear you about the cut-off times. I SHOULD be totally fine making them, but yet I think about them constantly and typed them out to tape onto my aerobars.
Congrats again!! Are you going to get a tattoo? 🙂 I can’t wait to read the rest!

7 Jessica November 4, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I’m so proud of you! I can’t even imagine.
Jessica recently posted..New Work: Host A Cookie Party! Photography Art Direction

8 Misspinkkate November 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm

So exciting!! What did you eat the night before the race at Carabbas?

9 Michele November 4, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I can’t wait to hear the rest!!
Michele recently posted..My Husband Ran Instead

10 Lisa November 4, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Delurking to thank you for sharing this journey with us, I’ve been reading for a while and kept checking in on race day to see how you were doing and was so excited to see you did so freaking great! I’m totally inspired and am so looking forward to the rest of your recap!

11 Ali November 4, 2013 at 11:53 pm

I was worried for you, looking at the water the day before! I can’t wait to read the rest. 🙂
Ali recently posted..This Week in Training: WC 28 October

12 Mary November 5, 2013 at 1:52 am

Can’t wait to read the rest! What notes did you take from friends?
Mary recently posted..What a runner does when she can’t go running

13 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun November 5, 2013 at 7:07 am

You are seriously so inspiring! This is something I have talked about before but never had the guts to even think about doing! You did amazing and I really look forward to reading every single detail!
Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Eating Healthy on The Road

14 Anna November 5, 2013 at 7:29 am

Can’t wait to hear the rest of your recap! Isn’t it amazing how organized Ironman races are? My husband did Ironman Texas this spring and I was blown away by how they had everything with the bags and bikes down to a science.

15 sarah November 5, 2013 at 8:30 am

this is so amazing. looking forward to reading more about it!
sarah recently posted..whats your thoughts on food…friend making monday

16 Elizabeth @ Positive Change November 5, 2013 at 8:43 am

Just reading this made me so excited to read the rest of your recap! I am also so inspired to want to sign up for a triathlon now!
Elizabeth @ Positive Change recently posted..Boots, I Need Your Help!

17 Alison (FitFriend) November 5, 2013 at 8:47 am

Great pre-race recap so far! All of the pre-race set up stuff looks so intimidating. Before I even knew what an Ironman was, I had no idea there was so much behind-the-scenes stuff to deal with in addition to racing. I’m so glad your family was there to cheer for you as well. Can’t wait to read the race recap!

18 Lisa @ RunWiki November 5, 2013 at 9:01 am

NO! You can’t leave me hanging! I can’t wait to read part 2!
Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Sweet Potato Dip

19 Steph November 5, 2013 at 9:02 am

NOOOO!! I wanted to read more!!!!

Seriously though, a million congrats. So proud of you!
Steph recently posted..Monthly Goals – November 2013

20 egb November 5, 2013 at 10:03 am

I love your finish line photos. The joy on your face is awesome! So glad the weather passed and you all got to swim. Congrats. Can’t wait for the full report!!
egb recently posted..October Recap!

21 sonia the mexigarian November 5, 2013 at 11:15 am

my stomach is full of butterflies just reading this and anticipating the recap!! the look on your face as your crossing the finish line. pure joy. 🙂 love!
sonia the mexigarian recently posted..Marathon Training Week 11

22 Ashley November 5, 2013 at 11:47 am

Talk about cliffhanger! Cannot WAIT to read the rest!

23 Natalie @ Free Range Human November 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I’m so in awe of this! This accomplishment is such an inspiration and encouragement to me. Congratulations!
Natalie @ Free Range Human recently posted..I Only Have A Month?!

24 Ashley November 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Great post! So excited to read the rest. You are such an inspiration! 🙂 🙂 Also, I have always been curious about the recovery process after an Ironman. It would be interesting to eventually hear about that too, if possible. 🙂

25 Paige Phillips November 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I am so proud of you and for you! You are definitely someone who can accomplish anything that they set their mind to. I love it!!!
Paige Phillips recently posted..Quick and Tasty

26 Shut Up and Run November 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I LOVED seeing you out there in your polka dots. What an amazing day we had, right? Congrats to you and the Iron siblings!

27 Angie November 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm

so excited for you!

28 Colleen @ CSmith Run November 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Congrats! I can’t wait to read about the race!!!
Colleen @ CSmith Run recently posted..I Want to Run For Boston in 2014!

29 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions November 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm

While I certainly can’t relate entirely, I feel like I more or less understand your concerns about the weather. I ran the Chicago Marathon for the first time this year (it was my first marathon), and early on in the week they were predicting thunderstorms for race day. I have never been more stressed in my entire life. I was so scared they’d cancel the race and I would’ve gone through all that training for nothing. I imagine those feelings would be 2039485234 times worse if I were staring down an Ironman! I’m excited to read more about your race! I’m so proud of you and inspired by you!
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions recently posted..Even More Sunshine

30 Runner Girl Eats November 5, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Ah I can’t imagine what my nerves would be doing with that weather. I am so excited it cleared up for you adn can’t wait for the recap 🙂
Runner Girl Eats recently posted..A birthday, football and can’t get enough music

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: