Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ironman Texas 2012 – Race Report

Pre-Race: I went into the taper for this race concerned as I felt over-trained (and under-rested going into last year’s race). I spent most of the taper worried that I was not feeling rested soon enough, although in those last few days before the race I finally started to feel right. By race day, I felt ready to go—not just that, I felt great, and I knew that I was ready to go. During the week or so before the race I noticed my craving for saltier foods had increased. Although I did not gorge myself on anything unhealthy, I did allow myself to eat a greater level of these foods than I might normally. I feel that my body may have been craving these foods for a reason. It seems strange that while I did not limit my foods, and likely ate more than normal that week,
It felt great to see the whole OutRival Racing team, and so many friends (whether ORR or not) before the race that morning. In fact that morning set the tone for the whole day for me. Seeing the raw emotion on people’s faces brought together showed the greatness of Ironman—the mix of fear, anticipation, exhilaration and so many other emotions all at once charged the atmosphere. 
Erin and I before the swim. She had an awesome race! I am so proud of her!
Swim: Last year I started to the outside and this year I started to the inside—I would say the outside was a better choice. I thought I was generally swimming a good line, though I got angled off course at times by people who kept swimming at angles to the course. I also tried to position myself behind the fast swimmers and in front of the slow ones. Either I put myself too far back or I too many slower swimmers lined up near the front or perhaps I also did not push as hard as I intended or perhaps I just got caught in the crowd. I felt this swim was rougher than last year, though still not that bad compared to some stories I have heard. The few times I got pushed hard I was willing to push back, and the one time some guy tried to swim over me….well, he got pushed sideways towards the canal wall (when somebody wears a wetsuit you can push them away real easily). I took a slightly easier pace for the last 300-400 yards so I could exit the water not feeling out of breath. My swim time was 1:31:30, which was in the range of what I had projected before the race, though I had hoped for faster. It improved over my 1:40:03 from last year. I did have one physical issue during the swim; in the last 1/3 I felt some tightness in my right hamstring area. This was not quite a cramp but was noticeable for a short while. I slowed for a bit and then resumed normal stroking around that time.

T-1: My plan was to take a methodical approach to transition in order to be best prepared for the day. I did not go purposefully slow, though my longer than expected time does make me wonder….. Anyway I got out of the water and ran through the bags and ran to the changing tent. I noticed some minor chaffing and added extra body glide there, plus other potential chaffing areas. I had meant to leave my tri top in the transition bag and swim shirtless but had forgot to place it in the bag, so I had to swim with the tri top. I run out and grab my bike and go off to the next phase of the race with a T-1 time of 10:14 (versus 8:01 last year).

Bike: I felt surprisingly good early on the bike. 

I biked by heart rate though it was not getting that high (or at least not staying that high) until around mile 50 or so. I averaged just over 20 mph for the first 40 miles and hit the half way marker at 2:53:08 (19.41 mph) which is only slightly slower than Galveston 70.3 bike time. I was feeling good at this but also trying to not get excited and focusing on the plan. I stopped at the Special Needs station and took about 5 minutes to change out nutrition, change my socks and rub more anti-chaffing cream on my feet. (My feet were feeling sore from the pedaling by around mile 50 today, something which usually takes 60-90 miles to happen.). I’ve been trying hard to drink plenty of water and feel good about my nutrition plan at this point. I, and my feet, feel refreshed when we start back up and I resume the ride. Strangely it felt like I had a headwind from the west, south and east at times today—from the west by Richards, the south down 149 and 1486 and the east on 1488.  Around the time I turn back on to 1488 is when I notice I am beginning to feel a bit fatigued and losing a bit of focus. I probably lower my heart rate a bit so as not to overtire myself. During this period I notice my mind wandering a bit and I also start to feel some soreness in the lower back/kidney area. For some reason I start wondering if I have been drinking enough water (I had) and if I was having some kind of kidney issues since I had no desire to urinate even though I was drinking enough water to drown a small dog. After a near wreck at the aid station by the school on 1488 I stop to use the porta-potty and regain my composure (and am sure I don’t have kidney issues). Following a 3 minute stop, I am back on the bike and feeling a bit better as well. I bike better through the Westwood area but have a moment of panic when I’m passing another rider and I hear the sound of a tire going flat. After thinking “oh crap” and worse…..then I realize it was the other guy and not me! I feel pretty good getting through until May Valley (around mile 100) but feel like I am tiring as I go back through The Woodlands on the way back to transition and I am also trying to save energy by not going too hard late in the bike. I make it back in 6:13:20, which is well ahead of expectations (also well ahead of last year was 7:24:17, of course that race was having problems by then). 

T-2: Off the bike and kick of bottle and my shoes and run in my socks to get my bag and head to the tent. I change socks and rub Body Glide on my feet. I also decide to change into running shorts for comfort. T-2 is 8:55 versus 11:15 last year. I can’t explain the difference other than I didn’t feel nearly as worn out this year at this point as I did last year. 

Run: The run was like the Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities: it was the best of times and it was the worst of times….. I started off the run feeling good and holding to running between aid stations averaging a little over 11 minute miles. In that time I was seeing my heart rising so I backed off to a 8-2 run-walk, plus walking the aid stations. 
This got me through the rest of the first loop before my heart rate started getting too high. According to my Garmin I was averaging about 11:39 through the first 9 miles.
Due to heart rate rising and the start of intestinal cramping and gas, I changed my run rate to a 4-1 run-walk, plus walking the aid stations. A few times in this loop I started to feel the start of cramping in the same area of the right hamstring from the swim but it was not a major problem, though when it started to flare up I did some extra walking. I stopped using the gels during this loop due to the intestinal distress and nibbled a few grapes along the way. 

During one of my tougher moments.
I also used the restroom around mile 11 for a bit of a relief of my distress. Miles 10-18 went by slowly this way with lots of little ups and some big and small downs. I averaged about 13:48 per mile over this loop. I noticed some temporary spikes in my heart rate that just seemed out of place that kept me walking at times. In any case I wanted to be careful enough to not push too hard and risk crashing my race as well. I entered the last loop knowing I needed a nutrition boost but feeling like I was having difficulty taking anything in. I tried a gel early for some extra electrolytes and it did not sit well with me. After that I tried some cola, and that seemed to work well so I stayed with it at each aid station. I stopped at the special needs station at mile 19 to change socks and use the rest room and felt a bit better. Not too far in the last loop I picked up with a friend, Brandon, with whom I had been leapfrogging with for a while. We were both running and walk and stuck together for several miles and helped each other along. I was able to pick up the pace some after that, although my hamstring was becoming more of an issue at times, and during those times I walked a bit extra. 
Brandon and I running along the Waterway with just a few miles to go.
Brandon and I stayed together for several miles before he went ahead about 2 miles before the end. My last loop averaged about 13:13 per mile, with a pick up of pace closer to the end. During the last few miles I was thanking cheering fans and volunteers more frequently, knowing I was about to finish and was not coming back. 
Just before the finisher chute!!!
When I came up near the finishing area I paused a bit to allow others to clear the area and I tried to high-five as many people as I could, maybe even more than last year. Then I approached the finish and tried to jump up through it for joy at the end. Run time was 5:37:09 versus 7:12:15 last year. I was hoping to run it a bit faster but it was my 3rd fastest marathon and only a little over 6 minutes slower than the Disney marathon earlier this year (more walking and less posing for photos).

Post Race: I was caught at the end by my friend Karen, who volunteered mostly to be there for me. 

Post race photo of me and my finish line "catcher" Karen, who is also my good friend, often times training partner and, at least on this date, guardian angle.
I got a big hug from her and felt a bit emotional and then she took me to meet Chrissie Wellington who place my medal around my neck and gave me a big hug and kiss and congratulated me. Talk about a big WOW factor for me! Chrissie really seems so excited and she must have been there for hours! After that I stuck around in the athlete area for a post-race massage, mostly my legs, and to eat. I would go get my bike and gear but I also hung around until after midnight to see the race close down and the last runners come through. 

During the time leading up to this race I had several goals I set for myself. My most specific goal was to improve by at least 2 hours over last year (and this was something I told most people who asked since it was easy to quantify). 
My next goal was to get under 14 hours (which I was less sure about but I knew was possible). 
My desired goal……well, somewhere in early April, I put together I “best case” estimate of what I felt comfortable estimating that I could do on race day. Try to keep it conservative enough to allow that race day would have some issues of its own and would not likely be perfect. Anyway, I wrote these goals down and stuck them to the back wall over my desk at work, where I have seen them as a frequent reminder for many weeks. Below is a photo of that paper:
This wasn't quite how the day went, but it wasn't too far off in the end.

Now, if they will just open up registration for IMTX 2013.......361 days away......


Rae! said...

Did anyone get a picture of you and Chrissie??
I am so proud of you. Cyber hug! What a great re-cap, and biting at the bit for 2013!

Amanda said...

Just as with last year you handled the ups and downs of the race with smart thinking and a well versed plan.

You know how proud I am of you and I love that you're already talking 2013!

Marv said...

Good report - thanks. I am signed up for IM Texas 2013 and using information and experience in your report to plan my own. I like it that you stayed at the finish to see the last finishers..that speaks volumes.