{Ironman 70.3 Texas - Race Recap}

I AM AN IRONMAN!





Well, a Half Ironman anyway.  That's more than most people can say right?  I am proud to say I finished the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas in 7 hours and 32 minutes this past Sunday, April 6th!


Now let's get this recap rolling!

Morning Prep/Pre-Race:
Even after getting in bed by 9:30pm, and even though I took sleepy time medicine to help me sleep well, I still proceeded to wake up every hour on the hour from 12:30 am on.  It was unfortunate.  So, when my 4:30 a wake up call came I was pretty wide awake.  I never sleep well the night before races.  I think my body is concerned I'll miss my alarm or something.

I had a hard time eating anything since my stomach was in knots, but I forced myself to down two packages of strawberry oatmeal, a banana, one piece of toast with peanut butter, and half a Gatorade.  I made two pieces of toast and carried the second one around with me for a while and ate a bite here and there, but eventually tossed it.  The peanut butter seemed hard to get down for some reason.

At the early hour of 5:30 am, after getting everything packed up, we headed for Moody Gardens and the transition station.  Ryan dropped me off and then headed back for the hotel.  It was cold, windy, supposed to start raining any moment, and super early so I told him to go ahead and go back to sleep since I would just be standing around, getting things ready, and there was really no point in getting there until after my swim was over.  My family had planned to see me come out of the water and transition to the bike anyway.

They had closed the roads near Moody Gardens already for the race so he had to drop me off kind of far away.  As he drove away I walked with my transition bag the long way to the transition station.  Along the way, an older guy befriended me and we chatted about the race on our walk.  He told me he had done this before and that he was just using this as a training race for a full Ironman, I can't recall which now, he would be competing in in a few months.  His family hadn't been able to come see him race, and I was all the more grateful my family and friends had come to support me during this feat.  

As we neared transition his advice to me was to "trust my training".  I panicked a little, surprise surprise, thinking that what I had done wasn't enough, but tried to tell myself I had done plenty.  We parted ways and I didn't see him again.  I'm sure he finished with flying colors!

After getting body marked with my number, 1238, I headed to my bike that had been parked in transition over night.  Luckily I was on the end of our transition row, giving me lots of space to get my stuff together and not be in the other athletes' way.  Transition was already swamped with people getting set up, pumping air into their tires, spraying sunscreen, putting vaselines and gels and goos on themselves to keep from chafing, and talking about this that and the other.  

The day before as my mom, Ryan, and I had picked up my race packet, wrist band, other swag, and dropped off my bike I had felt extremely out of place.  Everywhere I looked were Ironman bags, tattoos, and primed athletes looking like they knew exactly what they were doing.  The morning of the race I felt that amplified to the 9th power.  People knew exactly how to set up their stations, what to do, and I would look at what I thought I should be doing and would periodically talk to the girls near me to see what was recommended.  We had tons of time to kill, and the girls near me were super friendly so it seemed to be okay.

After setting my station up, checking everything 10+ times, and killing maybe 30 minutes, I packed up my Morning Clothes Bag that had my jacket, some items to warm me up after the race, and my cell phone, and turned it in to the check in site.  Since my stomach was a wreck of nerves all morning, I stood with the other anxious athletes in the forever long port-a-potty line.  

When I went to put my wetsuit on I again felt out of place with my cropped sleeves and shorts wetsuit while the other athletes had full wetsuits on.  At this point I just said screw it.  I couldn't go get another wetsuit now, and what I had would be better than nothing.  As the announcer alerted us all that transition would close in 10 minutes, I grabbed my goggles, and hot pink race swim cap and headed towards our swim start location.

Along the way to the water I noticed several other racers huddled inside a building.  Since my heat time was easily an hour away from going and the race hadn't yet started I decided to join them in the building.  It was an excellent choice too, because being shielded from the wind warmed my core, AND there were real bathrooms.

In the entryway of the building where I sat, several of us began talking, both calming nerves and talking strategically about the race, and other Ironman races.  The majority of the group I was with were probably 15-20 years older than me, which was impressive and comforting to have them telling me and the other newbies to take it easy in the water and just have fun in the race overall.

About 15 minutes before my heat I got up and the group followed.  We all walked towards the pier even though they didn't have to go for another 20-30 minutes after me.  I met up with my age group and stood next to a girl who's bike was right next to mine in transition.  This was her second time doing this race, and though the water made her nervous, she didn't seem uncomfortable in the least.

Swim:
Our heat was running about 10 minutes behind, and as we stood on the pier, getting closer and closer to the water, the general buzz around the swim was to take it easy on the first leg until you got to the turn when the wind would be going across your body as opposed to directly in your face.  That was my game plan going in.

The announcer called for my age group, the 25-29 year old women, and the 44-49 year old women to hop in the water, while "Sexy & You Know It" blared behind his words.  My new friend and I said, "good luck", and then hopped in.  The wet suit and salt water combination made us float easily which snubbed the fears I had about treading water for 2 minutes and tiring myself out before I even got started.

At last the countdown came, and we were off.  I hung back in the group trying to avoid being kicked and elbowed and any other combination of limbs flying into my body I could avoid.  Once I finally got going it, I felt like I was in molasses.  The wind was so strong, and the water was so choppy, that freestyle wasn't an option.  Every time I tried to get myself in freestyle form and then tried to turn my head, I choked on delicious disgusting ocean bay water.

After struggling to keep my head above water, and water out of my mouth for five minutes, I discarded the plan to freestyle this part and went about making my way to the first turn by utilizing breaststroke.  Several other girls started doing the same and swimming backstroke when they got tired.  This method wasn't exactly fast, but it was better than chugging ocean water and choking.

At the first turn I felt myself relax a little bit with relief.  The wind was now a cross wind instead of directly in our faces, and breaststroke wasn't really an option anymore.  Utilizing breaststroke meant one stroke forward followed by the current dragging you the wrong way.  It was time to settle into freestyle and get this thing done.  Having not spent any time in open water, I wasn't used to having to lift my head to spot the buoys, but I had known all along I would have to do so.

Oddly enough, I felt more comfortable I was headed in the right direction when I could feel others near me.  When I couldn't feel anyone close enough to kick I immediately picked up my head and checked my direction.  I got a little paranoid for a while since a spotter boat stayed around my pace, but I decided that was silly.  Even some pro girls had gotten pulled out before our heat had even started, so I knew this water was rough, and I was thankful for all the water support.

Last turn.  Heaven.  Wind at our backs.  Definitely settled into my stoke.  Killed it.

Official Swim Time: 00:44:42 - only 4 minutes slower than I had done in the pool the Monday before.  Woot woot!

Transition 1: Swim to Bike
I was so incredibly grateful to be out of the water, and feeling pretty proud as I ran down to the transition station from the water.  There were wetsuit strippers that would, just as the name implies, strip you of your wetsuit.  After being told to lay down and having my wetsuit ripped off of me, thank goodness I tightened my shorts..., I passed Paige and her sister, Holly, into transition!  Immediately I was energized and motivated to get moving again.

Paige and Holly stood outside the fenced area across from my transition spot, since I was on the end cap, and cheered me on.  I did not want to put on socks.  I was soggy and salty and I had such a hard time being motivated to put on socks.  I managed to put on my shoes and socks, grabbed my sunglasses, stuffed my pockets with GU and Shot Blocks, clipped my helmet, and was off to start biking.

After walking down the long row of bikes to get to the bike exit I realized that walking with my clips on definitely harder than it looked and next time I'll just run in my socks or something to avoid slipping on the concrete.

Official T1 Time: 00:06:26 - a little slow, but I anticipated 10 minutes because I'd be moving slow.  Beat my goal, but DEFINITELY need to move faster next time.

Bike:
Once on the bike and out the gate I settled in for what I expected to be a very windy ride.  The wind was at our backs for the first 30-45 minutes on the bike, which was great because I was moving at 18-20 mph without putting much effort into my ride.  About an hour in the wind shifted and we had a little cross wind action.  I kept thinking, "is this the wind at my face or is it going to get worse when I turn around?"  I decided not to focus too much on it because there wasn't much I could do, and focused instead on entertaining myself.

I sang Frozen half a dozen times, Ke$ha, some other great jams, prayed and talked to the LORD, cheered on riders as they passed me on the bike, heard, "on your left" more times than I can count, smiled at the spectators cheering us on, and told myself what a stud I was, that here I was competing in a HALF IRONMAN!!!  Despite not having music the time flew and it wasn't as wretched as I anticipated it being.

I had been told that once I saw the bridge, and went over it, I would be halfway.  That wasn't the case as we still had easily 10 miles to go before the turn around came about.  I was a little deflated that I wasn't at the turn around just yet, but 10 miles is nothing and I kept on pedaling.  

I stopped at the second aid station to grab some more GUs and to take a potty break since they were few and far between, and hopped back on my back to make the turnaround.  I appreciated the volunteers encouragement and their playing music since whatever was on I could usually rock out to.

About 10 miles after the turnaround I saw a car off to the side of the road and people sitting in the trunk in the distance.  The road was littered with people here and there to cheer on the riders, and I didn't really expect to see anyone I knew.  Low and behold as I got closer I recognized my sweet husband's car and as I rolled up to, and by, it I saw my Mom, Dad, and sweet husband holding signs and cheering loudly.  IT WAS AWESOME!  Since I had not expected to see them it was such a surprise and highly motivating.  They are the best.




Ryan had a grumpy cat sign that he had had drawn.  It was a huge success as people frowned and laughed as they passed by, and my parents each had signs they had made.

Ryan's cute grumpy cat sign.  I love this man.  He knows me so well.

Signs my Mom had made, that she and my Dad were holding.

As I kept riding, they caught up to me in the car and drove alongside me for a few minutes until we hit the 40 mile marker.  Papa McD shouted that I had 16 miles to go.  That was nothing in the grand scheme of things.  I was almost done with the bike and then I would only have to run and be done.  They drove off and said they'd see me on the run and to keep looking awesome.  My family was incredible support y'all.

As soon as they left I came to the last aid station and stopped since it was the last one on the bike.  When I got back on my bike I noticed my speedometer wasn't registering my pace or anything.  I stopped two or three times trying to adjust it, but nothing helped so I just went on hoping it would kick itself back into the right spot or something.  It didn't.  Thank goodness I was only 15 miles out though and hadn't lost it for the whole bike portion.

When we rounded the corner for the last few miles back into Moody Gardens, I saw a huge line of cars that were being held up by the police to allow us to pass on the course.  I didn't see Ryan's car, but thought they very well could have been stuck in the long line and I just missed them.  I decided to stop looking for them and focus.  Our last few miles were on a rundown airplane runway which was pretty cool, but I'm sure blew a few rider's tires.  It was not good to be riding on, but luckily it was at the end.

That's another praise -- I didn't blow a single tire on my ride!!!  PRAISE THE LORD!  I had been so concerned I would blow a tire since my luck with tires lately hasn't been the best, and I saw a few riders that were waiting on the side of the road for a van to help them change their tires, or were actively changing their tires.  I felt bad for them, but also thanked sweet Jesus it was not me in their position, though I had practiced changing my back tire the Friday before the race, and had had quite a bit of practice changing my tires lately.

Official Bike Time: 03:45:03 - I averaged about 15 mph on the bike which isn't bad at all, but I'd like to improve my speed for the next one I do. :)

Transition 2: Bike to Run
If I thought I was moving slowly during my first transition, sitting on the ground and changing from my clips to my running shoes was even harder to stay motivated during.  I just kept thinking run and done, run and done. 

Official T2 Time: 00:08:23 - slowwwwww.

Run:
The run was a 3 loop, little over 4 mile course through Moody Gardens.  Ryan and my parents stationed themselves so they could see me twice during the run.  It was glorious.  I ran, I walked, ran, walked, looked at Ryan's awesome signs, jogged.  The first lap really wasn't bad because I was getting my bearings.  The second lap was harder because I knew I still had another lap and I saw the finish line over and over.  The third lap I was tired, but had enough left in the tank to push harder.  In hind sight, I should have pushed it a little more on the run.  I was slow, but I finished.


I promise I'm running, though it looks like I'm walking...




Official Run Time: 02:47:29

Sadly, I have finished a half marathon in that time without doing a swim and bike before that.  I didn't train well for that race... whomp whomp.  This one I did, and I am proud!

All in all, I finished in 07:32:03!  I am a proud, proud girl and had a fantastic time racing!  I can't wait to do another one, and surprise surprise, want to do a FULL next May. :)

I AM A HALF IRONMAN!



Getting the medal I earned!



So happy!







My transition spot.

After taking off a full week, I ran Saturday and yesterday, and did a yoga class Sunday to help stretch my muscles.  I am starting training for a sprint next week and can't wait to be back at it!  In 18 days I'll ride in the MS150 too, so it's definitely not time to slack.  Can't wait to see what the world of triathlon has in store for me!

Official Times:


What's your next race?

3 comments:

  1. Loved reading this recap! Your times are all about where I'd expect to be so it's nice to hear perspective from another normal (i.e. not crazy fast) person! The bike is the part holding me back the most...I think I can get through the swim, and the run probably won't be the best but I think I'll make it...but the bike and I aren't great friends. It's just SO boring to me! The farthest I've ever ridden is 34 miles (I threw in the towel on HIM training the day I was supposed to ride 40 miles). How did you train for that part?

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    Replies
    1. So, the bike has never felt super bad to me. There's something really cool about getting on a bike, biking for an hour and having gone over 10 miles.. something I could never accomplish on a run, haha. Really though, the training for the bike is actually pretty hard. You have to buckle down and be like yep, I'm going out for 3 hours to get my 40+ mile ride in and just settle in. I listen to my ipod which I know is generally frowned upon because you can't hear everything going on as well around you, but it really helped me to jam to pandora or my itunes bike list (aka all songs I know almost by heart haha). Riding with groups helps because then, at least for me, I didn't want to be the slowest person, but I didn't want to lead the group either. You don't have to think about where you're riding because you're following the group, which is true in race cases too because it's marked for you. Since I rode by myself, I stuck to trails I knew by heart that had lots of people on them in case I blew a tire, and also didn't require me to be direction savvy. :)

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