2016 Ultraman Florida Race Report
By Jessica Deree - First Overall Female Finisher
This was my second trip to Ultraman Florida. I competed in 2015 and struggled in all aspects of the race due to improper training and an inconsistent nutrition plan. However, I was able to finish the race with a time of 32:16:54. When I got home from the race and had time to ponder my performance, I knew that could do much better and decided to change my approach to racing.
Prior to and during Ultraman 2015, I was not using power or paced workouts and had not developed consistency in my training mostly due to a demanding job as a general surgeon and a prior coach with very little flexibility. I wasn’t seeing much improvement in my times at any distance and decided it was time for a change. I had heard much about Chuck Kemeny and Lifesport Coaching during my time at Ultraman but specifically through the 2015 Ultraman Florida female champion Julie Paquette. I began working with Chuck in July of 2015. I chose him because he knew not only what it took to physically train for an Ultraman but also understood the mental aspect and stresses that daily life can have on progress. He also had a large focus on race nutrition which was important to me.
It was not long before seeing results. I was able to obtain my first ever Boston Marathon Qualification and ran a marathon PR in September under Chuck guidance. I then went on to set an ironman personal best at Ironman Arizona with a time of 11:43. We spent a lot of time dialing in a nutrition plan I could adapt and extend to Ultraman over the next few months. I practiced this plan with every workout so come race day it would be completely automatic. My rides and runs were becoming faster each week despite high volume training and this was very exciting.
I went back to Ultraman Florida in 2016 with two race goals – to finish in less than 30 hours and to try and get into the overall top 3.
Three of my crew members from last year returned with me for the experience and were well versed in my nutrition plans and needs for race weekend. Since I had a background as a swimmer, I always enjoy Day 1 of the Ultraman which consists of a 6.2 mile swim and a 93 mile bike. My husband kayaked for me and I felt strong and relaxed the entire swim. I came out of the water at 3:05 which was a 10 minute improvement from last year. I was 1st female out of the water, and the second fastest female time ever on the course. I had a swift transition with the help of my crew and I was off on the 93 mile bike.
In all honesty, the bike is my weakest sport, and I was worried about the forecasted headwinds. This mentally took a toll on me but I remembered to stay aero and remind myself that everyone was battling the same wind. I finished the bike in 5:29:27 with a total Day 1 time of 8:34:33, first female for the day and second fastest recorded for the course. I had dropped 41 minutes off my time from last year and felt remarkably good. I immediately got a massage, recovery beverage, and headed back to the condo for a Normatech session and dinner.
Day 2 arrived and I was feeling great mentally and physically. I knew this would be a long day for me and I was hoping to finish around 10 and a half hours. When the race started I kept my pace where I was comfortable and did not let the speed of the other competitors disrupt my plan. I had a timer set on my Garmin to alert me every 10 minutes so I stuck to my nutrition plan flawlessly. My crew was amazing and had everything I needed at every handoff. When I got to the latter, hillier section of the race I was able to continue at a consistent power and effort and finished the day as the first official female finisher with a time of 9:53:25, almost 90 minutes better than my performance of 2015 and third fastest female course record! I duplicated my recovery plan from day 1.
I was so excited to have Day3 and the 52.4 mile run ahead of me. I really enjoy running and have over 30 marathons under my belt. This was also going to be a day of redemption for me since I had such a terrible run the year prior. Again my physical and mental game were ready for the day. My crew did a great job with feeding me but also keeping me cool with arm coolers, a neck wrap, sponges, and ice in my palms every mile. I had some nausea issues the last eight miles but struggled through with the help of my pacers. I crossed the line as the first female with a time of 9:25:08, a two hour improvement from my last attempt.
When I realized I was the female champion, the emotions were overwhelming. When I heard that my finish time was 27:54, I was even more overwhelmed! I came in 10th overall with an over 4 hour improvement from the year prior. I did not think I was capable of such a drastic improvement but it is a testament to my determination, my amazing crew, supportive family, and Chuck’s coaching.
This year I will be running the Boston Marathon in April and am very excited to traveling to Germany for Challenge Roth. My A race will most likely by Ironman Cozumel in November. Ultraman World Championships is on my radar but I am still unsure of what year I will be undertaking this. For now I am happy to be recovering very well and spending time with family. I will be back to Ultraman Florida in the future to crew and volunteer so I can try to give back just a small fraction of what this race has given to me.
Written by Jessica Deree - LifeSport Coaching Athlete