3rd times a charm… Ironman Texas Race Report

Well, I went. I did. I conquered. Not exactly how I planned for it to go down but seriously, it’s an Ironman and you can’t predict your race no matter how hard you try so you go with it… and go with it is exactly what I did.

We arrived on Thursday after stopping on our way north to get my ride at Bicycle Speed Shop and picking my parents up at the airport. The Westin got us right in and it was awesome! We were in the mix of things and there was nothing to worry about. I checked in relatively quickly at Ironman Village and then headed back to the room to get my bags and bike set up. I ended up having a pasta dish at Grotto that evening and went back, hung out with the parents, and headed off to sleep for the night.

Friday morning, was swim practice. Brent, one of my friends, joined me for the swim. It was his first Ironman so it was cool seeing him and going through the motions with a newbie! It’s also fun when you randomly run into teammates that you haven’t met in person yet, yea, I’m talking about you Katie Waters! I headed out for the swim, I was content. I did a little more than what Coach Lesley told me to do but only by a couple hundred extra yards. I felt good. I was ready. Next up, big breakfast at Another Broken Egg… yes, please!

We went back, got the bikes racked, T bags dropped off and made a quick stop at HEB before heading back to relax.

Friday night, we had some team obligations to attend. This year, Moxie Multisport partnered up with More than Sport and CeramicSpeed for our annual happy hour fundraising event. It was held at Crush on the rooftop – it’s kind of awesome when your parents get a room that overlooks the event! This was of course sponsored by the great folks of Blue Nectar Tequila – next year, I plan on having more than one of those margaritas! (but more on that later) I left early so I could get in bed and ready for the next day because we had a little thing like Ironman Texas.

RACE DAY: The next morning started smooth. I only forgot a bike pump. No biggy, I can borrow someones. Got to the new T1 and made sure everything was in order. Dropped off special needs bags and it was time to see the family before the race. Dustin was volunteering as a medical peep at Swim Exit so I got to see him for a minute longer. I felt good all morning.

Swim: I typically cry before it begins and not this year… miracles do happen! Water was 81 degrees. I had to pee so bad and I tried at the turn around but it just didn’t happen! A fog rolled in as I was swimming back. That makes sighting a little difficult but I kept on going. My garmin said I swam over 4700 yards with a 2:22 pace, I’ll take it! Even if I seemed to be on track most of the swim, it seemed a little long, oh well.

swimstart2

T1: Went by fast, came out – grabbed my pretty ribboned bag and headed in. My handler was awesome! I told her no matter what I needed a Q-tip – I think she was shocked at the level of brown that came out of my ears! Arm coolers on, shoes on, helmet on, at my Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars (one in the tent, one on my way to my bike) and I was off feeling strong the whole way through! I was like yes! It’s gonna be a good day!

Bike: I started out feeling really good, maybe it was that fig power, I’m not quite sure. One the east side of the course, I almost got hit as a result of a gentleman not paying attention to the Officer directing traffic on that particular intersection – it’s cool, I yelled “COME ONNNNN” at the driver while the Officer directed a profanity at him which I appreciated and it was not nearly as loud as my come on but it did tell me he wasn’t happy with the driver! 🙂 I really didn’t mind the turns, and I didn’t think the traffic was terrible. Sure we had a spot with exhaust but we always do on this course so it was what it was. Before I hit special needs though, I started feeling my knee aching. I stood up there to get more sunscreen and get my PB&J and go – I thought, oh it’s not to bad, I can run it out. Finished up the bike still feeling pretty good but I knew I could have done better. It was a little over 6 hours but it was the fastest I have gone at that distance in a while.

Meanwhile, while I was out on the bike, Dustin and the Moxie gang was setting up Moxie Bridge! Short shorts, speedos, and bikinis – what more can athletes ask for?!moxie guys

T2: I thought I was quicker than that but I guess I wasn’t. My feet were on fire since I left my shoes on my bike and I couldn’t run fast enough. Got in, got the arm coolers off, socks on, shoes on, handler thank you card and I was out!
t2

Run: It’s always nice coming out of the change tent and going down a short way to see someone waiting for you… Dustin ran back, told me to slow down, and after I got through the bridge, I let him know my knee was hurting but I thought I could loosen it up. I was having a great run when it started lightening, and raining, and then you’d hear thunder… and then it started raining heavier… then I came to a complete stop. In trees. Not exactly my ideal place to be in a storm.

That gives you an idea… and then it hailed. I was trying to keep warm, pacing back and forth and I could feel the pain in the back of my knee increasing… uh oh.

After a 42’ish minute delay in the race, I started walking with one of my teammates, Mark. I walked probably a half a mile and then attempted to run again… the back of my knee HURT! I started run/walking… it wasn’t pretty but I knew I had to get through a couple more loops and I had a goal time in mind. Unfortunately, the longer I went, the tighter it got and after a loop and a half, I started to call it to be more walking and then ALL walking… not knowing what was going on, I decided to error on the side of caution. This may have been a tough decision but I really felt it was the right one.

moxie donna
On the first loop and seeing one of our friends, Jody! Glad he was able to capture the moment…

So I met Arthur and walked with him for a while on the end of the second to beginning of the 3rd loop. It was his first and his coach was his sherpa! He was awesome! Then with about 1/2 of a loop left, I met Dennis from California. We chatted and made it through together – seriously, not how I planned it but when the going gets tough and you find someone you can band together with, it works! Well, it at least helps make the time go by a little faster…

I finally got to the chute before 11:00pm – that’s cool, not planned but you know the saying, “Anything is Possible” and when you have a long distance like that, well, anything is possible! I ran just the chute and it hurt like hell… when I got there, I thought to myself, “Oh no, they’re already tearing everything down!” What I didn’t realize was how bad the finish line got destroyed in the storm.

finish pain
So much pain. I was focused on just hitting the line so I could hit my bed.

I am pretty at peace with this day. No it didn’t go as planned. Does it ever? I mean really, does it? I also think after the 3rd #imtx, it’s time to hang it up. I want to play at Moxie bridge and have a great time cheering people on at what I consider the hometown race. Maybe in time, I’ll change my mind but right now,  I’m breaking up with this course and looking for destinations where we can enjoy ourselves and see places we haven’t been before. I’m calling it with my Garmin at 15:24:28 and 123.77 miles. Sometimes you just have to overcome things you don’t think you can and do what you can to get to where you need to go…

Next up is Vineman 70.3 with the Moxie crew and I’m a little under 6 months out from Ironman Florida! Until then, I’ll be rehabbing this injury – back to pool running, etc. I think I’ll be okay to race Indian Creek in a couple weeks as a feeler and then we’ll take it from there. Thankfully the x-rays and ultrasound showed nothing major and best estimate is that it’s muscular. After crutches and a knee stabilizer for a week, I’m thankful to be on the mend!

 

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Lessons Learned…

This past weekend, Mississippi State Triathlon put on its first ever triathlon, the Skool of Hard Knox 15.6. There were good parts and certainly hard lessons to learn. I think this goes with any part of our lives, we’re continuously learning. When I was showing horses as a youth and into my Amateur years, my horse trainer Art O’Brien and I had a conversation that I will always remember. I was young in my teens and I said to Art, something along the lines of wanting to know everything like he did. He was quick to tell me that he didn’t know everything and that he learned something new everyday and that would be how it would be for the rest of his life. That conversation has obviously stuck with me! I credit him (and my family) with a lot of who I am today in regards to my work ethic, compassion for others, and knowing it’s better to ask questions than to assume – it all adds up to lessons learned (and probably why Art grayed early… it took a while to sink in for me! lol). 
Art, myself, and Sophie – my amazing pony who I’ve had since she was 2. Happily retired now.
This weekend, I was proud of the team members and volunteers we had show up. We had an amazing crowd and participants from all over the southern states. That being said, there were some first time event glitches but at the end of the day, we owned up to the mistakes and will plan better next time. After all,  college students put this event on and lessons will be learned (timeframes, balancing schedules, etc., etc.). There was some great feedback from the athletes and being an athlete I would have addressed some of the same concerns. We will be having a debrief and Sarah (the other advisor suggested & I strongly agree) that there needs to be some sort of document created for future years with checklist items of how to put on a triathlon. Sometimes, the best way to learn is to not have it handed to you or have to learn from feedback received (whether it be from coaches, trainers, peers, etc.) & I know this group will improve this event. 
With that being said, it kind of made me reflect this past weekend on my injury. There are possibilities of coulda, shoulda, woulda but at the end of the day, I’m left with a bum knee. I’ve been able to get an appointment bumped up to September 13 – still a ways off but better than the 22nd. I’m listening to my PT and doing what I’m told to do. I’m asking questions, taking their advice, and working through this. Wednesday, I was told I could get on the bike trainer… today, I finally got back on the horse. It was great! 20 minutes light spinning, built up a light sweat, I felt like I was accomplishing something. As soon as I was done, I iced my knee and it was okay ( a little achy, but okay). I didn’t want to overdo it and I didn’t. I’m still really hoping we can get it back to normal so I can run the Goofy but if it doesn’t happen, it’s okay because my eyes are set on becoming an Ironman finisher.
Mylee & Stella watching me on my new bike! Day 1, in the books.
  After an amazing weekend full of events from the off-road tri to driving down to New Orleans in TS Lee to spending much needed quality time with Dustin and the pups to driving back through TS Lee to be on call for the week at work (so glad MS State football is playing away this week!). Stella stayed with Dustin, Mylee, & Apollo so I am home alone until I head back to NOLA on Oct.1 to fly out the next day to Kona, Hawaii for World Championships! I’m super excited to be cheering on Michael (Dustin’s little bro and lottery winner) and all the other amazing athletes out there! One final thought, my motivation comes from lessons I’m learning a long the way from injuries, to nutrition, to being a person, an athlete, a mentor. But there is one photo I took last year at Ironman Florida (while Dustin was out on the run course) that keeps me going… my path may not be the easiest (at least it seems that way right now) but life throws you curve balls and you just have to roll with them (Art taught me that indirectly on our search to find Sophie) because I will accomplish being an Ironman!