Ironman 70.3 Texas Recap
Ok, so one thing’s for sure… I’ve gotta get better at blogging. I avoided Facebook for a long time, but I must admit that it’s more my speed, technology-wise. I can hop on, make a quick comment, and continue on with whatever else I’m doing. Blogging, however, requires finding the time to sit down and put my thoughts into a more organized format. Usually when I’m sitting, I’m either on my bike or in my car; neither of which is conducive to typing a blog. I’m working on it though…
So, onto a Galveston recap… better late than never.
This was the first time in a very long time that I’ve done an early-season race that was of major significance. IM TX mid-May was a little early for an A-race for me last year, but this one falling April 1 required some altering to the pre-season training and ramp up. All in all, my training was going pretty well. I was getting in the rides and runs I needed to, and I was putting down some good wattage numbers and times. Swimming was a little up and down, but such is life for me.
I made the trip down to Galveston Thursday, and I must say, there’s a reason I don’t live in Houston. I simply could not handle that traffic on a daily basis. I spent the night, got in a couple of quick workouts Friday morning, then headed over to pick up my packet and check out the expo. Dr. Lezlie Maloy and her husband Jason were also racing, along with another SVSS athlete, Jason Soria. SVSS was kind enough to rent a beach house for our whole gang, and we all got settled in there on Friday. Saturday, I got in a couple more quick workouts early, and then it was time for the last minute race prep… bike check-in, pack bags, pre-race meeting, etc. After that, it was back to the house to hydrate and keep my feet up.
I awoke early Sunday morning, had a light breakfast, and we headed over to transition. I did my last minute prep – bike computer, check the tires, fill water bottle – and then we headed over to the pier. One challenging thing about big races, especially ones with wave starts, is that it’s hard to warm up before the start and actually stay warmed up. I was in the second to last wave, so it was about a 40 minute wait… nice and long to let the nerves really build up.
Finally, my wave went off. I started about 10 yards to the right of the buoys, mostly alone, with good clear water in front of me. I took off, and when I looked up a few minutes later, I was probably 10-15 yards to the left of the buoys. So, I correct, swimming right again, and was back to the right. A few minutes later, I was back on the left. “Eesh… swim straight!” I made myself sight more for the rest of the swim, so I think I straightened myself out along the way. I managed to get out of the water in 29:56. I wanted to be out under 30 minutes, so I was relatively pleased, especially given the way I started off swerving.
Back on land, I made my way through the crowds and into transition. I grabbed by bike, and I sprinted to the mount line. Since the bike is usually the strongest part of my race, I felt like it would be a good place to make up time lost to others in the water and give myself some wiggle room for the run. I hammered the pedals, heading out onto the bike course. I was anticipating a headwind for the first half of the race with a tailwind on the return. Well, there wasn’t the headwind I was expecting, but I hammered anyway. My bike computer wasn’t registering, and apparently the saltwater freaked out my new watch, so I had no idea of my speed, cadence or time. Also, my nutrition was being ballparked, so I just did my best to stay on track. I think I did pretty well, but I would have liked a few more aid stations out on the course.
I made the turn around, and I realized that I wasn’t getting much, if any, tailwind. So, I just kept hammering, trying to make my way to the front. At one point, I realized I was all balled up, sitting on the front of my seat, hunched over with a white-knuckle grip on the aero-bars. I knew I needed to stretch out to avoid cramping on the run, but I just couldn’t seem to convince my body to relax and stretch out. Before I knew it, I was passing mile 50 and then quickly turning left to head back into Moody Gardens. I finished the bike in 2:17:53, not quite where I wanted it to be, but overall still feeling like I was in a good place.
It was time for the run, the make-or-break part of the race. I still felt confident that I’d have good running legs. My biggest concern was that since my watch wasn’t working, I was just going to have to run by feel. I headed out on the run course with my legs and butt a little stiff. As I went out, there was a male pro running by, so I figured, “What the heck?” and started pacing off of him. I had no idea what we were running, but I estimated it was between 6:00-7:00/mile. Later, I found out I was running about 6:10’s at that point. At about mile 5, what I feared might happen because of not stretching out on the bike happened. My legs felt great, but I had the mother of all side stitches. I tried everything – changing my breathing, stretching, even walking – but it would just not go away. I pushed on anyway, trying to salvage what I could of my run, and managed to somehow hold between 7:00-7:15/mile. At about mile 11, I saw Lon, my PowerBar rep, and he was in the first of our age group’s three waves. We were about to loop around, so I was able to get a sort-of time check on him. He was just one person, so I had no idea where anyone else in my age group was. I decided to go for it, with whatever I had left and push harder for the last two miles. I managed to get my pace back down under 7, and Amy said my last 1/2 – 3/4 mile was showing at a 6:00/mile pace on the GPS. I staggered across the finish line in 4:21:16 with a run split of 1:29:55.
I grabbed all the water I could find and started dumping it on my head, trying to cool off. I also walked – really slowly – and finally got rid of the stupid cramp. I ran into Lon, and he was with a friend who had the results up on his phone. We found out I was 2nd in the age group and he was 3rd. I also ended up 9th amateur. Of course, I was shooting for overall amateur, but it is, after all, only April, and I don’t really want to peak right now. My first goal for this race was to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas, which I did, so I’m happy.
I can’t wrap up without a shout out and big CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Lezlie Maloy, who finished her first Ironman 70.3 in Galveston as well. 8:11:34! Also, special thanks to Lezlie and Jason Maloy for the wonderful hospitality in Galveston. Congratulations to fellow SVSS elite athlete, Jason Soria, as well as Jason Maloy, team Betsy Parmer-JackWeiss-Shawna Gibson, all of my Team Ironhead teammates, and Team Imagine Sport athletes who competed. Thanks to everyone who was in the Team Ironhead tent and along the course cheering me on. I promise, even when I don’t respond because I’m “in the zone,” I do hear you and I really appreciate you.
Training continues in preparation for Ironman Texas in May. Stay tuned, and I promise to try to be better about giving more frequent updates.