Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ironman Texas 2013

Wow, what a difference.

Another year of experience behind me. Another year of training. What to expect no longer a mystery.

A few last minute fixes
A week or two out I had that feeling. It happens less and less now.  The "what did I get myself into?" feeling.  Where I'm not sure that I really want to do the race I've signed up for.  The feeling didn't last very long, but race nerves started a few days early.  By the time I left town on Thursday, my race nerves had peaked.

Thursday evening after athlete check in I put in a short swim - after that, the race nerves were gone.  I'd put in the training, logged the hours, the miles and the meters.  There didn't seem much of a reason to worry.

The race comes without permission, and happens - with or without me.  The weather would be what it would.  We were expecting high eighties, high humidity and about half cloud cover.

Bike check in.  Hot.  Few clouds.
Race day came.

I was more forgetful this race than for any of my others.  I had the essentials, but also had to arrange things differently than planned. Everything set up, then off to the swim start.

Age groupers piled into the water - where the pros were getting ready to start.  The pros started, then time for age groupers to line up.  We tread water for about ten minutes, and it got crowded.  Very crowded.  We were bumping into each other, getting kicked, elbowed, grabbed.  Finally, it was time to go, and.....

The washing machine
The swim felt like it went on forever.  And I felt like I wasn't going anywhere.  At first, everyone was packed tightly in and it was hard to get in a groove.  But in comparison to last year, I had a stronger pull with a slower cadence, and better endurance.  The overall swim was faster for me.

Into transition - that went better too.  Better planning and more experience lent itself to getting out faster.

Onto the bike.  I remember last year, it felt like I was flying and I had to hold myself back.  This year, no such feeling.  My body felt worn out going into the bike.  But still, I had a good pace, and consistent power.  In reviewing the files later, I can see that the power and cadence remained consistent throughout the ride.  But that's where the good news stopped.

The aerobar slipped
As soon as I got on the bike, my aerobar started slipping.  By the time I reached the first aid station, I had slipped enough that it would no longer support a water bottle.  I tried anyway, but dropped it.  So I couldn't start hydrating until I reached the second aid station, when I started putting the bottles in my kit pocket.  Long before then, my stomach started cramping.  But I did the best I could to get nutrition and water in. Fortunately, I'm completely liquid with my nutrition, so there isn't anything solid in my GI system to draw fluids away from the rest of my body.  The cramps got progressively worse, and by the time I got to 70-80 miles, they were so excruciating that I could not remain aero for more than a few minutes at a time.  AND, starting as soon as I could, I was drinking about 40 ounces of water an hour, keeping my kit wet, and dumping water through the vents in my helmet.  As with last year, around 80 miles is where it just got purely miserable.  And it was hot.

I was so glad to see the chute leading to transition.

This transition is where is started to become clear just how hot race day was.  I remember sitting in the tent and thinking "Where is everyone?"   I stayed in the tent long enough to get more water on and in, cool off and make a bathroom trip.  But it still took a while.

Then onto the run.  Once on the run, the stomach cramps eased up, and in reviewing the run file, cadence and pace stayed about the same for the entire run.   On the flip side...

It.  Was.  So.  Hot.

I'm really not sure how I kept going.  By the time I was nearly done with the bike, I was dizzy.  Later, I found out I hadn't had enough calories before I got to the run.  I hit the run dizzy, cramping, hot, and much more miserable than I expected.  My calves started hurting at some point, and I got to the point where I was afraid to eat or drink anything that I didn't have to.  I didn't want a spectator to catch a picture of me urping up my toenails.

 But I focused on what training had taught me: cadence - keep it mid to high eighties, pace - keep it steady, get the nutrition in, drink water, get ice in my kit, and try to figure out how to cool off.  Focus on one foot in front of the other.  One at a time. And again.  I knew sometime during the second lap that I was likely to need more after the race than several bottles of water.

I remember thinking "It must have been this hard last year."  I remember wanting to quit.

But I didn't.  Something in my nutrition plan helped me stay functional until the race was over, and some part of me - one of my defining characteristics - kept me going.  I don't quit - that's just who I am.
Just before my hugs

Race day turned out to be 95 degrees according to several, and mostly sunny.  It takes it's place as the hardest race I've ever done - mentally and physically.  I wound up in the medical tent becaust I was dizzy and nauseated. They gave me a bunch of fluids, massaged my lower legs so that I could walk, and let me go.

But I will be signing up next year.

The best part of my race was seeing my kids.  It always is.  My family is my best support crew and my motivation.  They braved the heat to come see me and to cheer me on.  And six miles into the marathon when I was miserable, I came around a corner and got the best hugs in the world from the two best kids in the world.
And finally, the finish

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