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.


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!

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!


The other side to Triathlons…The Support Team!!

As many of you may or may not know, Dustin and I are heading to Kona, Hawaii this coming Sunday for Ironman World Championships. His brother, Michael (Bib #1808) was one of the 200 lottery winners this year and has been training like a crazy man. Although, he was scheduled to do a Double Iron this fall so I guess the training could have been crazier!  Anyways, we are going out as part of the Team Bernatovich Support Team.

There are many things to plan out as part of the support team as I learned last year at Ironman Florida. I ended up taking the lead for Dustin & Michael in making sure everything I could think of was done to make their race experience to be a positive one at IMFL! I’m going to bullet everything out in creating the best support team experience for the support team and the racers since I’m preparing some important ST things for Kona…

  • SHIRTS –  For starters, you need to decided if you’re doing shirts. If you decide to, make sure you get one’s you will be comfortable with – and plan for the weather! For Ironman Florida, we planned on long sleeve shirts & did white… I recommend a bright color so you’re athlete has a better chance of seeing you! For Kona, I went with a Holloway Unisex Dri-Fit shirt in yellow. I designed the shirt in Publisher, saved it as a PDF – going this route, you can save some extra cash. If your athlete is sponsored, put their sponsors on the shirts – it’s a nice touch! Also, the more colors you use or the darker the shirt, the more expensive they will be. Going with a lighter colored shirt is less money as you won’t have to do a white underlay of your design. (Probably more than you want to know, but may as well share my knowledge). Additionally, if you want to use a cool font, find a free font site on the web… I love using something no one has seen!
  • Signage on the Course – For IM Florida, I went all out! Make ’em catchy if you have a course you can put signs up for! I had glitter, paint, streamers – you name it, I had it going on! Now, for Kona – we’re going a different route… there will be signs but they’ll be more like huge pre-race support cards! I’m making these prior to us leaving and will post them up around the house we’ll be in…

It’s okay to get your athlete’s assistance!
  • HELPING YOUR ATHLETE – watch this as emotions and mood swings are usually known when your getting close to an iron distance race. As the support team, nod your head and smile A LOT! Don’t pick at your athlete, because it’ll get ugly quick. Before Dustin’s Ironman, I remember saying to him, “I love you but… (there was a pause cause I didn’t know how the next thing I was about to say was going to go) I don’t love these mood swings” – he knew he was being uber picky, super sensitive, and absolutely worse than any woman PMSing. But I remembered that anyone doing any long distance race, it is just as much mental as it is physical and they need all the support they can get… and it’s okay to take a break for yourself being the support team. Sometimes, silence is best. If you want to help, ask… or maybe they’ll let you draw out the tape lines so they can prep their special needs bags for race day. Do little things to let them know you care but get the hell out of their way as they’re prepping! 
  • TIMING – Timing is everything to see your athlete and you want to make sure you’re there anytime you can to whoop and hollar at them – or give them more cowbell (I’m packing mine!) Watch the swim, when you think they’ll be heading to T1, head for the sidelines so you can cheer ’em on as they head out to the bike. Then comes the math part – everyone has their estimate going into race day of how long they’ll be doing what… I take that estimate and take about 45 minutes off of it to get my sideline time… why you ask… well adrenaline plays some part into a day (as does flats & cows blocking the road) – you’d rather be there early than late but as a support team member, sitting around for 5 hours watching the road heat up, well, you can go sit at a bar and relax or grab lunch. Make sure someone has a watch and sets a timer – best advice I can give you. When they bike into T2, you run to the Run chute fence to send your well wishes as they head out on the course! 
    • If it’s an IM event, you can use your phone to track your athlete, but we all know it can be temperamental in when it wants to actually update. 
  • IF YOU HAVE YOUR PHONE WITH YOU – Take the charger in your own special needs bag! (Especially if you’re the emergency contact!!!) Because of the amount of people in that one area, your phone may work harder – be prepared!! Any restaurant or fine establishment you may be visiting in the area will let you use a bit of their electric – I know because I’ve done it!
  • Have a designated photographer so that person knows what they are up to for the day and can share them with the rest of the support team later. If you are the host, think about giving flash drives with the memories on it or post them up to an on-line photo album. 
  • IN addition to everything above, sometimes the support team needs to support each other! This year, I was able to find a great little company called Boutique Me – we’re about to head to Hawaii … 7 of us! So, I wanted to do something a little special for everyone since we’ll be there from Sunday through Tuesday… together, and probably having a great craft beer or two (or a can of Coke)… so, in comes customized koozies… this is a surprise, however I’m going to assume the cat may be out of the bag if any of the other 5 (Dustin already knows) reads this blog… 
Anyways, those are some of the things I’ve learned in being a support team member and a supporter of everything! Hope these tips help with your experience!!