Iron Star Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Conroe, Texas
United States
Out Loud Productions
46F / 8C
Total Time = 5h 48m 11s
Overall Rank = 192/593
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 7/26
Pre-race routine:

Angel and I drove up on Saturday, nearly five-hour drive with stops. Picked up packet that afternoon and decided to do the race-sponsored pasta party that evening for dinner. Since we had a couple hours to kill, we rode the bike course. Took an hour and a half, including a few missed turns, but I was glad we did it. Gave me a good idea of what to expect, where to turn, what the road surfaces were like, what kinds of hills,and so on.

Pasta party was OK, decent food, met a few nice folks. Pre-race meeting afterwards was informative, race director and USAT officials answered most of my questions and then some. Saw Chris (rugbykid), Angel talked to him while I asked the RD a couple questions. Back to the hotel, set the clocks, was in bed for 9pm.

Got up at 3:30, felt like I hadn't put together 10 consecutive minutes of sleep together all might. Ate two bagels with my coffee, showered and dressed. Drove, about a half-hour from Conroe to the race site, very little traffic, easy to park.
Event warmup:

No warm-up per se, too much to do. Unloaded the car, getting the bike, transition bag, and nutrition together. Got body-marked (short line), racked my bike (middle of the row), then picked up my chip and found Angel. Checked out the other racers, looking for familiar faces, then set up transition. Was nearly finished when they announced that transition was closed, so I hurried and finished what I could, then grabbed the wetsuit and left. Had Angel help me bodyglide and get into the suit, then I lined up for the swim.
  • 40m 57s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 56s / 100 yards

Have I mentioned how much I love this wetsuit?

When I started thinking about doing this, I estimated an hour to get through the swim. As I got more experienced, I ambitiously figured on 50 minutes. With the wetsuit, I shaved over nine minutes off of that.

From a beach start, I let the mad rush of my wave go off while I walked to the water. Got in about hip deep and started swimming. Even with the small wave and the slow start, it was wall-to-wall swimmers.

As we came out of the cove, we turned directly into the sun. Couldn't see well, so just tried to go with the crowd. Got a little off course and had to correct a couple times early. After a while, I got into a rhythm and was flying along. I breath every fourth stroke, and sight every five breaths. I was moving so well that there were times when I sighted and could not see the buoy ahead of me (where I expected it) because it was on my side or slightly behind me.

Did well enough that the ladies in the next wave didn't catch me until the last 100 yards or so. Swim exit was mushy at first, then found solid ground and got out easily.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, other than that learn-how-to-swim-correctly thing that I need to work on.
Transition 1
  • 05m 37s

I made up my mind before the race that this was going to be a total learning experience, a feeling-out-the-distance race with only secondary time goals. As a result, I planned the transitions exclusively for comfort on the next segment.

Exiting the swim, I needed a volunteer to help me find my zipper cord. Got the suit unzipped and down to my waist with no problem by the time I got to the strippers. Angel said the strippers were unexperienced and hilarious, if not a little frustrating to the racers with their ineptitude. Mine did a decent job, only took her a couple yanks to get it over my heels. Put the suit over my shoulder and walked to the transition area, even stopped at the porta potty to empty the old bladder.

Going with the comfort thing, I carefully folded my wetsuit, then sat down and put on socks and shoes. Strapped on my HR strap and my Garmin, decided NOT to put on the long-sleeve UnderArmor as it was warming up nicely. Put on the sunglasses and helmet then walked out to transition. Did a slow, careful bike mount and was off.
What would you do differently?:

Probably could have shaved as much as 3 minutes here if I hurried, but it wasn't my game plan.
  • 2h 55m 11s
  • 59 miles
  • 20.21 mile/hr

Goal here was to stay aerobic, HR in lower- to mid-140s, stay comfortable, keep hydrated and stay with the nutrition plan. Soft time- goal of 3 hours. Nutrition plan called for a 3-hour bottle of Perpetuem sipped on the quarter hour, Hammer Gels on the top of the hour and Endurolytes on the bottom, all with adequate water.

Race started with a one-mile ride out of the resort complex along a boulevard with speed bumps and a 15-mph speed limit (ignored!). Hit the first gel shot with water on the way out. After a little manipulation on Walden, 105, and the Lone Star Parkway, the route settled down for a long stretch of FM149 that was the best part of the ride. Great road surface, rolling hills, very little traffic as the road passed through a serene and heavily wooded section of Sam Houston National Forest. Played pass-me, pass-you with two young ladies and a male relay cyclist for most of this 21 miles, took right at an hour to cover this segment.

At Mile 21, we entered Grimes County and the road turned to chip-seal. Speeds immediately declined while efforts increased. This segment took us into Richards and the first bottle exchange and about ten miles west. Here, we took a turn to the south on FM2562. The road didn't get any better, but now we had the wind in our face out of the south-southeast. It would continue to be a headwind for most of the remainder of the ride, and intensified to about 15mph by the time we were finished.

After a few miles on FM 2562, we turned east on FM2819 and got a slight respite from the wind for a few miles. Here I was able to hold long stretches of 23-25mph and got my average over 21mph for the last time. Then we turned south on FM 1486, decent surface but direct, intensified headwind. From there we turned east again on Dacus-Johnson Road, which, after the second bottle exchange, turned out to be the worse surface of the entire ride. You'd hit a section of poorly disguised potholes and could pick out the casualties: several water bottles, CO2 cartridges and inflators, gels, and other assorted paraphrenalia that had been ejected by the high-speed bumpy ride.

After Dacus-Johnson, the course followed FM1097 south, then east where it closed the loop at FM149. From there, maybe four miles backtracking along the original route into the resort.

Overall, I did a good job of pacing, probably hit the uphills too hard in many spots, topping 150, 152 bpm at times. Also did a good job of staying with my nutrition/hydration plan, though the single aerobottle for water was barely adequate. I would probably take other measures if I did this race again, or any other with bottle exchanges 20 miles apart. Had just enough Perpetuem to last the ride, and took my last shot of gel on the boulevard leading back to transition. By the time I finished, my legs were hurting and I had concerns about them being too fried for the run.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. This was a nice, fun, fairly fast ride. Don't think more than a couple people passed me on the ride that I didn't eventually pass back. In hindsight, I probably could have gone a little harder, but live and learn. Could also ride more hills in training, not so much for the effort and the strength but to get more practice shifting gears in the correct places to avoid losing momentum.
Transition 2
  • 03m 27s

Again, going for deliberate action and comfort. Stopped the bike, then dismounted and walked bike to rack. Sat down, put on another pair of padded socks on top of the thin cycling socks, then put my lace-up running shoes on, foregoing the speed laces that constrict my feet. Hit the porta potty again, then started the run.
What would you do differently?:

Probably could have saved another two minutes here, but comfort was the key.
  • 2h 03m
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 23s  min/mile

After the bike, I expected my legs to be fried, but 100 yards in, everything loosened up and it was like I hadn't ridden at all. Don't know if this was the benefit of the tri bike, good training, or the excellent Hammer products, but the legs were fresh. Maybe too fresh, as the first mile clocked in at 8:42, about 30 seconds faster than target. Second mile wasn't much slower at 8:47, third was at 9:06 before side/diaphragm stitches reminded me to slow down. All this time, HR was edging, then slightly exceeding, my goal of 148bpm. When it hit 152 the stitches started. Need to pay more attention to the HRM.

By this time, temperatures had risen into the mid-70s, which didn't help a bit.

Run course was a lot more boring than the bike, as you run the same ~2.5-mile stretch four times. Believe me, that stretch wasn't that interesting the first time, by the fourth time it was mind-numbing. Did have plenty of time for people-watching of the other participants, from the graceful antelopes who were ahead and getting ready to finish as I was starting, to the plodders and survivors who were just hitting the course as I was finishing.

Saw Celeste (CitySky) at the first water stop, she had chalked up the road with "GO BTers," "Go the bear," and the names of other BTers. She told me Joe (freeswimmingfish) was just ahead, and finally introduced herself when I asked, "Who the heck are you?" Thanks again, Celeste, the chalkings made me smile all four times I ran past them.

A little past the first water stop, I passed a guy who asked, "Are you John?" This, of course, was the famous Joe=freeswimmingfish. We ran together and talked for a while, then I slowly drifted away. Saw him at all of the subsequent turnarounds, he looked strong and happy every time.

With no scenery, it was more interesting to watch the people, fun to see how they change with each passing, some getting stronger, some slowing down, most appeared in good spirits and doing what they needed to get through. Saw two guys from my tri club, and Tim, a Lafayette dentist that we run into at all the local tris. He's in the AG older than I, a good triathlete who usually finishes well ahead of me in the tris we do together.

Me, I felt pretty good the whole run. Paid closer attention to the HRM, most miles were in the 9:05- 9:20 range, a couple of the mid-late miles, especially those with hills, were closer to 9:40, Mile 9 (9:43) was the slowest. Walked the occasional water stop just to make sure I got the full glass of wate where it needed to be, but otherwise ran the whole thing fairly comfortably. Took Hammer gels at Mile 4, 7 and 11.

At mile 11, I FINALLY completed the fourth stretch of the perpetual monotony and was able to proceed into the final loop through new terrain. Upon approaching the final turnaround, I high-fived Tim, who told me I was going to catch him before it was over. Told him I didn't think so, that I was at my top speed and I was not making up ground. But, about a mile and a half later, as we took the final turn into the resort, I saw him only fifty yards ahead with only two hundred yards to the finish. I took off, and just nipped him at the finish line, hollering "Gotcha" as I passed. He got a good laugh at that, gave me a sweaty hug while the finish line photographer took some pictures.
What would you do differently?:

Not much, maybe could have pushed a little harder through the mid-late miles and a little earlier at the end, but I was happy just to finish.
Post race
Warm down:

Found Angel, got my finisher's mug, then hit the pizza and talked with some of the other finishers. After a few slices, Angel made me go back to the cold water to soak my legs. After I left the water, didn't see any familiar faces, so I packed it up, changed clothes, and hit the rode. My wonderful support crew and guardian Angel drove the whole way home.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Pacing, primarily because this was my first HIM, a testing of the waters. Also could have trimmed five minutes just on the transitions, at the sake of comfort, but would have moved only one spot in AG.

Event comments:

This was the fourth year of Ironstar, and the race organizers have it down pat. Great venue, perfect weather today, events started all of three minutes late. Plenty of volunteers, every intersection on the bike course was well-manned and well-managed. USAT officials were out in force, even had one give me a thumbs up when I fell back after being overtaken. Bottle exchanges were well-staffed (Yeah, Boy Scouts!) and efficient, as were the water stations on the run. All of them had water, Gatorade Endurance, Hammer Gels, Endurolytes, and enthusiatic volunteers. Thanks to all of you!

For a non-qualifier, independent race, I thought this was a great event. Can't see how a branded 70.3 could be run any better.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2006-07-03 12:00 AM
00:40:57 | 2112 yards | 01m 56s / 100yards
Age Group: 15/26
Overall: 383/593
Performance: Good
Suit: Full xterra
Course: From the beach, out of a cove into the lake, then a mostly rectangular course.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 70F / 21C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 05:37
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
02:55:11 | 59 miles | 20.21 mile/hr
Age Group: 4/26
Overall: 124/593
Performance: Good
Wind: Headwind
Course: Big loop, through Montgomery then northwest to Richards and back again. Bottle exchanges at 23 and 43 miles.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:27
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Below average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Below average
02:03:00 | 13.1 miles | 09m 23s  min/mile
Age Group: 8/26
Overall: 202/593
Performance: Good
Course: Two-loop course, actually a double out-and-back along Walden road and Bois d'Arc, an approximately 2.5-mile stretch that you run four times. After that, you take a circuitous route through a subdivision bordering the resort, then back to the transition area and the finish.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4