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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The Ironman Taper

One of my virtual friends, Mike Valdez, tagged me yesterday in this amazing Facebook post. I don’t know who wrote it but it is perfect. It is everything we go through during the taper…. during the race day. Since so many people asked me about it, I thought I would post it here… I think it applies to all of us… any distance. Remember “YOU WILL DO THIS!” Next week we toe the line with over 2000 of our closest friends at Ironman Texas. Good luck and know at the end you will hear, “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” – Donna

Remembering Kona...

The Taper…….. Unknown author

Right now you are about to enter the taper. Perhaps you’ve been at this a few months, perhaps you’ve been at this a few years. For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.

You’ve been following your schedule to the letter. You’ve been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take until next year to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

You ran in the snow.
You rode in the rain.
You ran in the heat.
You ran in the cold.

You went out when others stayed home.

You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.

You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you’ve already covered so much ground…there’s just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lies before you…and it will be a fast one.

Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won’t be pretty.

It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren’t ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn’t know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won’t believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish – that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It’s the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, “How will I ever be ready?” to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go…knowing that you’d found the answer.

It is worth it. Now that you’re at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.

You are ready.

You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You’ll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is finally here.

You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does.
The helicopters will roar overhead.
The splashing will surround you.
You’ll stop thinking about Ironman, because you’re now racing one.

The swim will be long – it’s long for everyone, but you’ll make it. You’ll watch as the shoreline grows and grows, and soon you’ll hear the end. You’ll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers. Three people will get that sucker off before you know what happening, then you’ll head for the bike.

The voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero’s sendoff can’t wipe the smile off your face.

You’ll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road. You’ll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman.

You’ll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It’s warmer now. Maybe it’s hot. Maybe you’re not feeling so good now. You’ll keep riding. You’ll keep drinking. You’ll keep moving. After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right?
You’ll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride for what seems like hours. You reach special needs, fuel up, and head out.

By now it’ll be hot. You’ll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You’ve been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won’t – not here. Not today.

You’ll grind the false flats to the climb. You’ll know you’re almost there. You’ll fight for every inch of road. The crowd will come back to you here. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you – your body will get just that little bit lighter.

Grind.
Fight.
Suffer.
Persevere.

You’ll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come – soon! You’ll roll back – you’ll see people running out. You’ll think to yourself, “Wasn’t I just here?” The noise
will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air – you’re back, with only 26.2 miles to go. You’ll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.

You’ll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike. You’ll give it up and not look back. You’ll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you’ll go. You’ll change. You’ll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer – the one that counts.

You’ll take that first step of a thousand…and you’ll smile. You’ll know that the bike won’t let you down now – the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a summer Sunday. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you’ve worked for all year long.

That first mile will feel great. So will the second. By mile 3, you probably won’t feel so good.

That’s okay. You knew it couldn’t all be that easy. You’ll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You’ll see the leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great – some won’t. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don’t panic – this is the part of the day where whatever you’re feeling, you can be sure it won’t last.

You’ll keep moving. You’ll keep drinking. You’ll keep eating. Maybe you’ll be right on plan – maybe you won’t. If you’re ahead of schedule, don’t worry – believe. If you’re behind, don’t panic – roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon. By remote control. Blindfolded.

How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don’t waste energy worrying about things – just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don’t sit down – don’t EVER sit down.

You’ll make it to the halfway point. You’ll load up on special needs. Some of what you packed will look good, some won’t. Eat what looks good, toss the rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people you don’t. You’re headed in – they’re not. They want to be where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into town. Share some energy – you’ll get it right back.

Run if you can.
Walk if you have to.
Just keep moving.

The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You’ll be coming up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving.
You’ll soon only have a few miles to go. You’ll start to believe that you’re going to make it. You’ll start to imagine how good it’s going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don’t want to move anymore, think about what it’s going to be like when someone catches you…and puts a medal over your head… all you have to do is get there.

You’ll start to hear the people in town. People you can’t see in the twilight will cheer for you. They’ll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, and when you left on the run, and now when you’ve come back.

You’ll enter town. You’ll start to realize that the day is almost over. You’ll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if you’re lucky), but you’ll ask yourself, “Where did the whole day go?” You’ll be standing on the edge of two feelings – the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible.

You’ll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles – just 2KM left in it.
You’ll run. You’ll find your legs. You’ll fly. You won’t know how, but you will run. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you’ll be able to hear the music again. This time, it’ll be for keeps.

Soon they’ll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You’ll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you.

They’ll say your name.
You’ll keep running.
Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours – for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you.

You’ll break the tape at the finish line, 140.6 miles after starting your journey. The flash will go off.

You’ll stop. You’ll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and suddenly…be capable of nothing more.

Someone will catch you.
You’ll lean into them.

It will suddenly hit you.
YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

You are ready.
You are ready.