It’s taken me a bit to get around to this but I thought I’d give you the actual and my impression of the course at Ironman Texas.
It was 95 degrees in the afternoon, with wind coming in from the S-SE 10-20mph. Humidity was above 50%.
It was hotter than hell and to be expected in Houston, TX in MAY! Humidity pulled a lot out of people making it feel hotter than it was. There wasn’t a cloud in site either so the sun was really beating me up a bit! The wind was great on the way out but the way back in, it kind of sucked – but then it really just cooled me off a bit as I kept trucking through it (it also helps that my Fuji D6 2.0 loves cutting wind). If you didn’t stay up on your hydration/nutrition plan, and use the ICE COLD WATER bottles at each aid station to give yourself a quick shower, I’m sure it may have put you in the hurt locker.
Swim – Ironman Perform & water were available pre-swim & post-swim on your way to the changing tent
Changing Tents (Swim – to – Bike) – Vaseline and some other first aid type stuff was located inside in addition to AMAZING VOLUNTEERS helping people get changed, hiked, bagging their goods, etc. etc.
Bike – Ice cold Ironman Perform, GU Gels & Chomps, Bonk Breakers, ICE COLD WATER could be found about every 10 miles – Along with VOLUNTEERS cheering us on LOUD & PROUD or assisting those who needed assistance.
Changing Tent (Bike – to Run) – Loaded with the same stuff as before and more AMAZING VOLUNTEERS assisting athlete’s again. When you exited, there was a table with water and Perform as you were heading out on the run.
Run – Aid stations every mile filled with HIGH ENERGY VOLUNTEERS, ICE COLD Perform, Water, Ice Cups, Chicken Broth, Coke, GU Gels & Chomps, and in the 15-16th hour when I was in the last 3.5 miles, I was offered a Smucker’s Uncrustable.
Post-Race Medical – It was there and available. Wheel chairs were waiting at the finish line and volunteers were ready to get you the attention you needed. I overheard from one of the volunteers that if anyone needed a bag of fluid they were having to transport people to the hospital (16th hour)
Typically we don’t need much before the swim because of how we’ve been hydrating, etc. so I did have a glass of Perform before heading into the water since I sent my stuff with my parents (it was their first major event to be at so I wanted to make sure they had a good spot on the bridge to watch the swim start). Coming out of the water, I did grab some Perform as I ran into the changing tent. I had to utilize the vaseline because I had chaffed so bad under my arms (you’ll hear why in a bit). I pulled up my arm coolers with the help of a volunteer because I was still wet – IF YOU ARE DOING A 140.6 this year, I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE TAKING A TOWEL IN WITH YOU TO DRY OFF A LITTLE. And then I was off to my bike where a volunteer shouted “I’ve been waiting for YOU!! GO GO GO!” It was that little kick I needed to hustle my ass even more out onto the bike course.
On the bike, I had no issues with slowing down for hand-offs, actually each were text book! The volunteers at the aid stations deserve a medal for what they did time and time again for so many of us! After I drank and tossed my bottles of Accelerade Hydro, I started packing an Ironman Perform & bottle of water. Aid stations were about every 10 miles and everything was EXTREMELY COLD which was AWESOME on such a hot ass day. I stopped at Special Needs for the bathroom and to get some more HOO HA RIDE GLIDE – I probably traumatized the volunteer, I unzipped my onesy and slapped it on and headed off… right in front of him!! lol. Oh well. & THANK GOODNESS I had that since my sham split in 2 and was OFFERING NO SUPPORT! Ugh! Then a guy asked me if I wanted more sunscreen – what a volunteer! Of course I did because I kept having flashbacks of Dustin’s brother’s MASSIVE blisters from Kona. Ok, back to Aid Stations: Between miles 75-95, I noticed more people dropping on the side of the road and I would slow to check on them or stop & see what I could do – give the water up to cool them down, get help, etc. We had an aid station at mile 80 which I reported a couple down within the mile of getting there however, they were EXTREMELY busy with other athletes and there was an ambulance present there. A few miles down a woman was severely dehydrated and I would assume over heated and I was asked to get help when I stopped to give them the water off my cage… IT TOOK FOREVER! I was like yea, it should be 4 miles up the road, still thinking in 10s and it was another 8 up the road. IN MY OPINION, there should have been 2 more aid stations on the course (after 80)- especially when you take into account that IT GETS HOTTER on the bike course & towards the end of the bike, people are exerting themselves more – or they haven’t been in this kind of heat yet… so I reported about 3-4 people at the last aid station and then headed on my way as some of the VOLUNTEERS headed out to try assisting the downed athletes – if they were still there (& I always said that). I truly think there needs to be more of an effort to have Mules or Gators out in the later miles as people were dropping like flies and needed assistance but couldn’t get to it. Yes, a lot falls on the athlete however, there has to be a better way…
Coming in for T2, I was quick – running in and then handed off the bike to a volunteer after putting down some impressive numbers on the way in from the last aid station, grabbed my run bag and headed into the tent… I felt my fuel belt and said screw that – it felt like the bottles were ready to BOIL it was so hot! I put my shoes on – took another hit of vaseline and was on my way. It was great having aid stations every mile and they NEVER RAN OUT OF ICE – coming in at 16:31, I feel as though I can say this with confidence. Everything was good and cold/warm (but the broth wasn’t ever hot I found) The VOLUNTEERS were AWESOME and so full of ENERGY and keeping us going till we got in! They were on point and they had EMTs out on bicycles patrolling the run course so it was better than good in my eyes!
I ended up going straight to medical on a wheelchair because of my feet and I was a bit nauseated. When I arrived I felt like I was in the part of the movie Pearl Harbor because they were screening so heavily and kind of short with athletes and other volunteers a like. Not cool – but it was a long day. I got assisted by 2 fabulous doctors outside the tent for the blisters & cuts on my feet. They were great and I got to gimp back to the car.
It was 2.4 miles in an extremely murky, dirty body of water. Pros started, we started 15 minutes later and 10 minutes after the non-wetsuiters was the wetsuit athletes. The swim up in the canal provided issues as it was very shallow on the sides – standing water about waste deep on my 5’51/2″ body. Kayakers were seen on the outskirts and I could see them asking people if they were okay when they were having issues sighting, unexpectedly kicked, or swam over.
This was the MOST VIOLENT swim I have ever been a part of! I got nailed in the ribs a couple of times and someone didn’t clip their nails and scraped the bottom of my foot. I tended to stay to the right where less people were at however, that didn’t stop the nastiness! lol. I stayed with my tinted goggles since I sight only to the right and I knew the sun would be on the flip side of the course – this proved kind of difficult with the water being so dark! You couldn’t see 6 inches in front of your face which made you have to bring your head a little more out of the water (I’m sure my goggles didn’t help either). When the wetsuits caught up, you could tell because the nice zone you were in was immediately dismantled. I felt like I was getting next to flippers who wanted to see how much water they could splash in a persons mouth – yes, I swallowed some of the mystery water – but hey, I probably tried eating it as a kid growing up too! lol. In the canal, I got another rib shot that kind of knocked the wind out of me and when I came up to tread water, I hit the bottom and stood on mystery moss and scraped my foot again (I’m hoping it wasn’t duck poop). The stairs were at the end and the volunteers were helping people get out – in true form, I fell up the steps! I’ve never had good luck getting my feet back under me after a swim. I was happy when I say 1:49 on the clock since I was going a little wider and swam a little longer.
112 rolling hills course. It had combination roads of chip & seal and nice, smooth pavement, and a couple short sections with freshly paved patch spots. Approximately every 10 miles was an aid station.
I started the bike and was going an average 18-19mph on the way out. The rolling hills were actual rollers and since I trained on hills much longer and steeper, I was owning it. My Garmin said my high mph was 31 so I was happy with that too! Chip and sealed roading slowed me down, however, that was also when we were happily seeing some shade coverage (and some not)! I felt like I was stuck in the road, still moving but going. I stopped at special needs for a pee break and some HooHa Ride Glide and continued on. After aid, I was still getting my legs back under me when some ASSHOLE came up on me and said “Donna, I can’t let you make me look bad” with a snarky smirk and little did he know he PISSED ME OFF TO NO END (we shared words again during the run – stay tuned)! I CHICKED his ASS and didn’t see him again – I must have been cutting through the 10-20mph wind on the way back because I didn’t see him again! I did slow a few times to check on other athletes and stopped in one case to give an extra water I picked up for a severely dehydrated woman who was leaned up on a fence and another athlete stayed with her while I went for help… 8 miles later. The 80 to approximately 95 stops were tough – athletes were dropping like flies and no support was out there for them, presumably because it was a busier road. After I let aid know at 95, I was hauling ass back in – averaging 19-20 and taking names and numbers as I was going by. I got in for a great hand off to a volunteer and took off running to the tent.
I started on my Accelerade Hydro in my front bottle and 2 in the cage, frozen the night before so they’d be okay for the bike. I was stocked up on GU Tri-Berry and GU Island Nectar Roctane (if you haven’t tried it, you need too). I always stick to a Tri-Berry after the swim since my heart rate is so high. Every 45 minutes, I was doing a GU (1 no caffeine: 2 with caffeine) every 45 minutes and taking a bottle of fluids every hour. After 2 GUs, I would have a SMUCKERs UNCRUSTABLE PEANUT BUTTER & GRAPE JELLY… it was heaven. After the Accelerade Hydro bottles ran out, I ditched them (I used old bottles) and started grabbing a Ironman Perform every aid station. I also grabbed water at each aid station to cool me off and towards the end, I’d grab a bottle of H2O rack it, Perform and rack it, and then grab a bottle to shower myself – it was SO COLD and so GOOD!
It was a 26.2 course through wooded areas, parking lots, canals, and sidewalks – 3 loops. Aid stations were located every mile and were HIGH ENERGY!
I came out of the tent, grabbed fluid because I didn’t know when I was getting my next aid station. I had to leave my Fuel Belt in the bag because it was so hot, it felt ready to boil (let’s face it, I was on the bike for a while and Texas heat wanted to see what it could do! Almost immediately, we were running in this fine dirt in a grassy area and then up a hill that had seen some erosion – THAT SUCKED! And I wear Newton’s and I HATE SOCKS (I’ve done a marathon and 1/2s without socks before) needless to say, the dirt kind of got in the shoes through the webbing. UGH! Aid stations were great and we had 3 opportunities to get our special needs if we needed them, since it was a 3 loop course. At around mile three, the ASSHOLE caught up to me and said, “Donna, I said you can’t make me look bad” My replay was… “You shouldn’t talk shit you can’t back up” And we both laughed however, I was thinking who do you think you are? and he went on his way.
We ran through some neighborhoods and then came onto the canal – even on the far side it was awesome! You felt like a crowd favorite and it continued to motivate you! It was starting to get dark and I made the mistake of getting into my special needs on the second loop – well, I placed my sunglasses in there not thinking that I wouldn’t get them back and I LOVED THEM! 😦 At least I bought them on bonktown and can only hope they come up on chainlove again… I knew better. Oh well. My feet started feeling how torn up they were about mile 8… it made for a long marathon. I could have ran but my feet (which had problems with long distance running in high school) kind of said screw you… I think this was more for the deep scrapes in my heels and the blisters in the seam at the front of my arch. Anyways, on the second loop, I noticed in the wooded area they had placed glow necklaces on some of the trees as it was hard to get light through the areas… and when I came back on the 3rd loop I HATED THEM! It was pitch black out, your kind of on your own through there. There was a busy road next to the woods with a couple small openings… I was TRIPPED OUT BY THE LIGHTS… I felt like I was back in the 60s with free love… I said to another athlete how as a woman, I didn’t feel safe going through there with the darkness, not seeing the sidewalk too well (and it curves) and having that busy road… and he said, as a man I don’t feel safe with it! Great minds think alike!!
Aid stations remained strong and I had looked at it like I have 2 hours to finish 7 miles – Chicken broth and Coke became my BFF during the last 2 laps. I’d take a GU every 5 miles and had another Smucker’s PB&J waiting on me for the second loop. I continued on Perform and Water (but only had some sips of water for a couple aid stations). We had plenty of ice and I chips to put in our kits so I was keeping cool too. So when I determined, I’ve got this…and since my knee was starting to pop and did a funky move backwards a couple of times, I chose a more ‘relaxing’ experience and talked with other athletes and loved hearing about their experiences and keeping moving forward in true Ironman spirit. I met one athlete who I walked with to the finish and he was telling me all about his first finish and giving me advice like – listen for your name, I missed that my first time and sometimes they announce it early… I gave him a look as we were heading towards the chute and he said this is your time… and I gave him and smile and took off running one last time. I got lost in the cheering and high 5’s and the YOU ARE AN IRONMAN that I missed my name! We had to run down and then back up and I said to one girl, I’m sorry but is it okay if I pass you, if I stop now, I won’t start again and she said you go girl so I took the lead – next thing you knew I was taking off my glow necklace and lassoing it in the air – TRUE TEXAS STYLE!! (Bringing a little bit off my horse show down time fun days to the stage! It was a BLAST! And I finished at 16:31.
As soon as we got back, I did a double dose of Fluid Recovery. The next morning I woke up swollen but not feeling horribly sore – I swear it works miracles… I did another serving in the morning and one in the afternoon… I was moving really good and come Monday – I wondered if I’d even done an Ironman. I used RockSauce to help my muscles out too. My feet got some soaking in Epsom Salt… the swelling is almost out.
My Mom was wanting to go with me for the 3rd lap on the run and I’m pretty independent and told her I needed to do this on my own… because when I’m in times like I was, I tend to lean on them and that day, I wasn’t – I wanted them to sit back and enjoy and know what their daughter had worked so hard for. I had one woman come up to me on my 3rd lap when I was in my last mile and told me how much I inspired her. And how she’d been pulling for me all night – actually I got that a couple of times… you see, I gained 30 pounds when my knee injury happened and instead of my body letting go of the weight, it just built muscle… probably after later night training sessions, I was eating too late. Anyways, people thought that I had lost a lot of weight when doing this when it wasn’t the case at all… I was in a sense offended/hurt/bring a self-concious girl. When my Mom got back home (she’s a Weight Watcher’s lifer), folks from back home, wanted her to tell my story… I started to cry when she told me this! But she put it to me this way, no you didn’t lose what you thought you would and you are inspiring to so many people because there were some people who wouldn’t have even toed the line gaining the weight. They would have rather stayed at home. She said you were the one people were pulling for because you were brave to do what you did & you were inspiring. She said you pushed through and you proved to everyone that you did what you needed to and you finished. I guess when I hear it that way, I get it a little more. And at the end of the day, I can say I AM AN IRONMAN! and I’m SOOOO PROUD of myself for it! I’m hoping the 140.6 in Key West makes it for a second year because that’s how I plan on bringing in my 34th birthday in January, 2014!!
I was happy Dustin was there racing with me although I didn’t see him after our kiss when he headed into the water except for once on the run course but he didn’t see me. He had had back issues going into this so it had been a rough week… he’s been my rock through this training, long distance has sucked but I’m moving in with him in Jersey beginning of July and I couldn’t be more excited about it! He gave me a surprise when we got back to the hotel… it was shiny and round… no, not a ring – well it is but it says Zipp and 1080 on it! I’m one lucky girl to have his support!
There are so many people to thank and you know who you are… I couldn’t have done any of this without you!