Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ironman Texas Race Report

Well, writing a race report for an Ironman is literally not something I thought I would ever do. But here it is.

How did this happen
Good friends (bad friends?) got me to pull the trigger. Beer was involved but not much so can't really use that as an excuse. I have never really wanted to do an Ironman, but the stars aligned that I would have an almost full time training partner (Carrie) and the timing worked out where I felt I could actually fit all this training in. It was now or never. Marty's excellent coaching got me to the start line feeling confident and injury free.

The travel, logistics, bags, packing, nutrition - these are all a royal PITA.

Swim: 1:01:17
Carrie and I were separated after dropping off our special needs bag because of bad communication and bathroom needs within our group of 7. Noooooooo. I surprisingly ran into Marty at the start who I was not expecting to see and he was able to call Whit and tell him where I had seeded myself for the rolling start. But it got crowded quick and I couldn't find her. I'm sure the people around me must have thought I was the most fidgety person as I was constantly spinning circles and standing on my tip toes looking for her. We were set to go off at 6:40am and at 6:38am I feel a tap on my shoulder! CARRIE! (she immediately got smothered in a hug - emotions were high). She said she spotted me because I was the only one (spinning circles) while everyone else was focused and looking straight ahead. We entered the water together and swam almost stroke for stroke the entire way. We had heard that the swim here was rough, but we stayed way to the right and didn't find it too bad at all. On the return trip things got a bit more crowded as we were surrounded by people swimming about at our same ability but nothing terrible. The final turn into the canal was a bit more rough as it was narrow and shallow and more like a washing machine. All this stuff doesn't bother me, though. I can only point to the many, many open water swims I've done throughout my whole life. Growing up in Florida doing triathlons in the ocean has some advantages - particularly when they NEVER cancelled swims back then. All in all I felt like the swim was super easy and enjoyable. I got out feeling like I hadn't done much at all, which was exactly my goal for this part.

Finding Marty and recreating the picture on his t-shirt

T1: 4:10
This was so amazing being in there early and having a personal assistant. I asked her to do things like take my socks out of my shoes and my sunglasses out of their case. She even put my socks on my feet like I was a 3 year old while I put my helmet on!

Bike: 5:11:57
My #1 goal for the bike was to keep my power at 70% or under of my ftp. Whenever I saw it get above 70% I told myself to back off. 112 miles is a long time to be on the bike and I knew how easy it would be to go too hard at the beginning and pay for it later (and I remember Marty clearly doing this at the Great Floridian back in 2004 - that was a mistake I was not going to make). Coming out around an hour in the swim means you get passed by lots and lots of people. I didn't worry about that at all. I only worried about keeping that power number in check.

Running to my bike

The first 18ish miles you wind around town until you get to the Hardy Toll Road which is completely closed off to traffic for 20miles. You do a down and back twice so you get 80 miles of mostly flat roadway with only 3 u-turns. We had little wind out there this year (it started to pick up at the beginning of the second lap) but all this meant supah-fast bike times. If you haven't heard by now, there were also MASSIVE draft packs that formed. For me, I would let them swallow me up and spit me out. This was not very hard to do as they were moving faster than I would've been so once I was out of them, I could go back to my own thing. I guess for someone who is faster this tactic would've been harder to do, but for me this worked. At Chattanooga 70.3 last year, it was not the case - I felt that there was almost nowhere to go, but I just didn't feel like it was like that out there. And it's very easy to see the people who won't make that decision to back off and race on their own. Most of the packs were men, but there were always, always a handful of women who were tucked in there getting sucked along at a faster time than they most certainly could really ride (and then of course they came off the bike with fresher legs). It's hard to not let this bother you, but my goals didn't involve a Kona spot or a podium finish. They were much more intrinsic. And I did not train this hard and spend all that $$$ and to come all this way to sit in a draft pack.

I felt great on the bike. Keeping my power where it should be and getting all my nutrition certainly helped. The miles clicked off and soon I was at 100 and getting off the toll road to head back into town. This was probably the worst part of the bike course, the last little bit back to transition. Ironically, I was completely by myself through this part. It was so weird to be in this huge race by myself for the last 10miles. And yes, that was only 10 miles. Turns out the bike course was 'only' 110 miles.

T2: 3:54
Again, rock star treatment in the changing tent. I had a semi circle of 5 women around me asking what I needed. The volunteers were simply amazing.

Run: 4:17:51
Time to go do my first marathon! The first 3 miles I had a knife-like cramp in my side. I could only drink water at the aid stations not sure what else to do to get rid of it. I knew stomach troubles were possibly going to be a problem as I just in general don't have the strongest stomach. I never got nauseous or sloshy stomach, it just hurt. Also - the weather. I keep hearing, oh wow you guys had such amazing weather. Let's be clear here. It was a high of 84 with zero cloud cover. The humidity was ok (in the 60% range) but this is by no means a 'cool' day. I think what people mean is it could've been so much worse (agreed) but it got very hot out there. My entire jog/walk was a pretty typical first IM marathon, I think. I jogged to each aid station and walked though getting all the water/ice/coke/gatorade I could. Sometimes I walked a little extra. I took one bathroom break that was a "don't trust that fart" scenario. The run course was awesome, though! I thought 3 loops might be monotonous but the volunteer and spectator support was truly amazing. There was hardly any length of time that you didn't have someone cheering for you. There were some serious low points for me out there, however. At mile 7 I couldn't fathom how I was going to run another 19.2 miles. My right hamstring tried to fully cramp on me about 2 dozen times. In all honesty, I never felt good the entire run. But I just put my head down and got to the next aid station. I high fived everyone who offered. I hit any poster board that promised me I would power up if I did. I stomped on chalk drawings on the ground just so I could hear the girl there yell, "BOOM!" every time. I wish I could've run faster, and I certainly know I'm capable of it, but not that day. I did what I could with the hand I was dealt.

Jogging with a smile

The Finish: 10:39:08
I had a few people around me as we were nearing the finish line so I slowed up a bit to get a bit of space for my own finish picture. Of course I end up with "I'm-foreign-and-need-to-wave-my-flag-guy" in front of me. And Mike Reilly didn't even say my name as I crossed the line but I did it. I did the damn thing! And no, I didn't trip right after the finish line, that was just my leg giving out on me. That's also the quickest way to get a bunch of volunteers to rush at you, in case you're wondering.

Fantastic racers from North Carolina!
Post Race
I had a fantastic time and have zero regrets. I'm so glad I signed up for it and did it. BUT. I'm still one and done. IronBri OUT!!!!! ;)