Jack Nunn’s Journey In Ironman Florianopolis, Brazil 2009
In 2009 on the way to Florianopolis, Brazil my flight was cancelled because of a broken windshield on the runway at LAX 3 days before my Ironman race was set to go. I barely made it to Brazil on time in order to register for my race. The flight to Florianopolis, Brazil was about 20 hours on 3 connecting flights. The weather in Brazil was about the same as California and as I arrived to Florianopolis I had just enough time to make it to the pasta dinner at the Ironman tent and they provided us with some live entertainment (if you want to call it that) more like Vegas showgirl dancers on steroids. Wow! These girls are out of this world and they make the Hawaiian ‘Hula’ seem boring! Since I came alone to do the Ironman I found myself talking to Jans Gregg, a 5 foot tall Norwegian guy who happened to be next to me off the plane and then at hotel check in. He was an amazing athlete from Norway and actually knew two of my former rowing teammates from UC Berkeley, Nito Simonson and Olaf Tulaf (2 Former Norwegian Olympic Rowers). Jans was a really humble guy considering he had done 5 ironman’s in the last 3 years and his last Ironman time was 9hrs 45min. I felt smaller than he was after he told me that. He ran his marathon in 3hrs 20min in his last Ironman. However I beat his swim time by 2 minutes in Nice, France :). So funny because I really don’t swim! My father, John Nunn, will tell you that I cant swim either after I was cut from a junior high water polo team when I was a teenager…and there were NO CUTS! I stayed at the International Juerre Hotel right on the beach and it was amazing.
I had a great introduction by the City of Florianopolis and the 2009 Brazil Ironman Committee on doing a job well done for having raised so much money ($4,000 total) for various children’s schools in Brazil. I spent the whole day Saturday (before the race) organizing my race gear, catching up on sleep, putting my bike together, and eating lots of pasta (carbo- loading). I was pacing around all day trying to see if I remembered everything and I did. I was ready to go.
*Nutrition and Hydration play a HUGE role in Ironman distance training and racing. I asked many former Ironman athletes about getting the best advice possible in order to finish this race in the best time possible. Months before the Ironman I started Juice Plus+ and it made a massive impact on the way I thought about nutrition. I changed my diet and started eating more fruits, veggies, and berries.
The Nutritional Shakes I had once a day, every day, made me feel like I had more energy than ever to get through the grueling daily workouts.
My journey through Ironman Brazil was unreal…
I woke up at 4am to get my wetsuit on, throw some water bottles on my bike and get last minute preparations for the race. There were 1,500 people in the race so it wasn’t really as crazy as France in the last year with 3,000, but it was still crazy. As we were lined up on the beach, 3 helicopters were swirling above our heads and they were getting everyone all crazy and fired up for the start. They announced that they were not going to use a countdown start (kinda like in rowing) but however just a ‘loud sound.’ And as soon as they said that a cannon like sound hit, then lots of dance music, and everyone was off into the water. I was kinda laughing because the music was hilarious! Only in Brazil 🙂 Watch this video and experience the Ironman Brazil race start with 2,000 + competitors… I was actually really looking forward to the swim in Brazil because I heard it was a nice, calm swim. However, it turned out to be horrible from the start because the riptides and currents were brutal. I must have made at least 2 wrong turns because it was so rough I couldn’t see the buoys. I was fighting my way through ocean chop and waves. A couple times when I came up for air I ended up swallowing tons of salt water because wave after wave would hit me with my mouth open. Everyone after the race discussed how bad the swim was for them and some people took over 2 hours to do the swim. I was 1hr 24min and proceeded to laugh when I was running up from the beach because I noticed my time was slower than last year by nearly 15 minutes and I was in much better shape in 2009. I ran up the beach and they had people assisting competitors in taking off our wetsuits. Since I was behind and needed a little assistance I took the opportunity to have there help in taking off my wetsuit. I was wearing my speedo with flames (i thought it was funny).
As I transitioned to the bike I made sure I was cautious this year instead of the previous year in France when I almost crashed at the start trying to get on the bike and in the process losing 2 water bottles, my gloves, and some food. This time I kept everything got on my bike but then moved forward but I did manage to cut myself in the back on my calf with the gear crankshaft. (Totally hurt but whatever… I looked tough with blood running down the back of my leg) The bike stage of the Ironman Brazil was a breeze compared to hilly France the previous year. Florianopolis, Brazil was a flat and fast 112 miles and I rode it in just under 5hr 30min compared to France 6hr 17min with dead legs. However, throughout this course many people crashed because they had these crazy speed bumps in the middle of the road. Some of the streets were cobblestone and you had to ride through on narrow roads with big road reflectors. Many of the competitors had launched themselves off of the bike by riding over these reflectors. I was good and kept my cool and used my endurance from Rowing, Spinning, and the weight training to help me keep balanced and strong on the bike. I must have eaten 12 bananas and drank 20 water bottles. It rained throughout a 40 mile section on the bike which was scary but it was a bonus because the weather was cool and the sun came out later. Perfect weather throughout the Ironman just like Long Beach, Ca.
As I approached the 80-90 mile mark on the bike ride stage I started to worry and get overwhelmed about the run stage because it was a full-marathon (26.2miles) that I had to finish under my total Ironman goal of 12 hours. My legs felt really good and I felt very strong when I got off the bike to run. I decided that I was going to run 13 miles straight and then stop and walk a bit. As I got further into the running course I noticed how good my time was getting and how no one was walking. So I didn’t want to walk either and kept running only to stretch once and finished very hard by passing about 30 guys in the last mile to finish almost 2 hours faster than the France Ironman the previous year. A time of 11:41. Not bad for a guy over 210 lbs. But then I sat down…. and couldn’t get back up until I let the effects of 2 vicodin and 3 tylenol w/ codeine later do the trick (thanks Mom). It was an amazing, well planned, organized race, except for yet again more flight and actual travel issues. But what are you going to do.
I wanted to thank you all for your support and love of fitness. It brings happiness and peace to me knowing that everyone is having a great time here at Roworx. I always strive for the best in each and every workout we do at the Boathouse and Warehouse. I still have the fight in me to keep going and keep working as hard as I possibly can in order for you all to achieve your personal fitness goals sooner! I was thinking about my father, John Nunn in the last mile and was telling myself to ‘crush it’ and go for the gold. I sprinted to the finish line and felt that adrenaline deep down inside. I live for the struggle and like the pain only to feel so good on the other side. I love the challenge to never give up and never give in and to let your spirit push you over that finish line. The drive to live…the will to succeed! I love it!
Jack Nunn is the head trainer and owner of Roworx. Jack is a former national team rower who has competed in more than 100 triathlons, including 9 full Ironmans. He has created a system of rowing that prepares the whole body for both competition and fitness longevity.