Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - TriathlonFull Ironman

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The Woodlands, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
90F / 32C
Total Time = 12h 08m 57s
Overall Rank = 579/2270
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 98/470
Pre-race routine:

I stayed at Iain and Holly's house who live inside the run loop Friday night which was ideal - I got a good 6 hrs sleep. Todd and Derek picked me up at 5am and we headed to transition. Got bike loaded with front bottle and two rear bottles of gatorade/water/nuun fizz tablet plus bento box with Bonk Breaker bars cut in zip bag and gels. Pumped tires to approx. 118psi. Walked on my own to the swim start and found a quiet spot in the park to apply body glide for the wetsuit. Ate a gel, and wandered over to the swim start. After the excitement of the days building up to the race I felt very calm race morning.
Event warmup:

I had decided to wear the wetsuit under the 'wetsuit optional' conditions to save energy, help with contact and help should I get a cramp. Entered the water soon after the first gun and swam to the far (left) side of the start line maybe 4 back from the front.
  • 1h 14m 22s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 46s / 100 yards

Started on the left as I breathe to my right and I like to sight off the inside line of buoys. I think the amount of contact rarely meets the expectations prior to the race. That said I took one kick to my left eye but the goggles stayed on and I just kept swimming. Rounding the first buoy put the sun in our eyes but quickly we were making the second turn. Shortly after entering the canal I cramped badly - and I mean badly. Calf, hamstrings and quad seemed to go together locking my leg stiff. Fortunately I was to the side of the canal and could touch the bottom. I stood there for what felt like a couple of minutes while the cramp dissipated. Anxious to get going again to took off and soon thereafter finished the swim. Dream goal was 1.10. Expected time was 1.15 so I was happy with this performance.
What would you do differently?:

Stretch more beforehand and during the week leading to the race. Electrolyte intake had been good so I don't know why I get the cramps on long swims.
Transition 1
  • 07m 28s

Used the wetsuit strippers. Saw my friend Cory volunteering offering water as I entered the tent. Last year he was racing and I was volunteering so that was fun. Found a chair. Top on, belt, socks, shoes, helmet, sunglasses .... go. Found bike no problem, felt the tires to make sure they were still pumped, which they were.
What would you do differently?:

Not sure how to cut time as I didn't feel like I had wasted any.
  • 5h 51m 56s
  • 112 miles
  • 19.09 mile/hr

I was excited to bike as I had rented Zipp 1080 wheels front and back. Always a relief to get out of the water and feel the wind the ride down Woodlands Parkway seemed like a breeze at 22mph. I felt euphoric for the first 45 miles, headed north, wind behind, hydrated well, maintained nutrition - I set a 25 min timer on my watch and alternated between Gu and half a Bonk Breaker bar. Pee'd on the move at mile 30. I saw friends halfway down Osburn Road who were really whooping it up which gave me a boost.

My average speed at 45 miles was 21 mph, but I knew the fastest section was behind me and what lay ahead were poorer road surfaces, head/side winds, more heat and hills. On training rides I always stopped in Richards for a break at the gas station so it was bitter sweet pushing on through. There were a couple of times where someone had written 'DRINK' in tape on the road - thank you for that, it was a good reminder.

At mile 70 we got back to a better road surface but I think I lost focus a little. Still maintaining hydration/nutrition I got to 1488 in good shape and picked up speed heading back to the Woodlands. It was nice to get some support from the crowds in the last 10 miles. Dream Goal was 5.45, expected 5.53 so very pleased.
What would you do differently?:

I raced at 185 lbs and could afford to lose 10 more lbs which would have helped. Otherwise nothing. I am convinced that as important as the physical discipline of biking the distance is the discipline of drinking when you don't 'feel' like it.
Transition 2
  • 07m 23s

I came to a complete stop and unclipped. Handed the bike off and started the jog through transition. I quickly realised that I did have to run in bike shoes so I stopped and slipped them off. Called out no., received bag and found a chair easily. I was surprised that my time was 7+ mins. The compression calf sleeves probably took a minute or two to put on and I do remember cramping in my left hip a little.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing of note.
  • 4h 47m 48s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 59s  min/mile

It is impossible to consider running a marathon whilst still pedaling on the bike. I had to dispel those thoughts until I stood up from my chair in T1 and then only focused on getting to the first aid station with 'baby steps'. Fortunately for me the aid station was very close and I set about my routine which was to be repeated a further 26 times: Force down some perform, then water, cool head, wet arm sleeves, drink coke, sponge down my front, ice in my arm cooler sleeves and hold ice cubes in my hands. This routine only was adjusted to accommodate salt tablets and taking some chips later in the race.

I felt pretty good and was keen to get into a 10 min pace with short, quick steps. I ran the first 6 miles in 62 min, just concentrating on running to each aid station and walking through doing my routine. I peed on laps 1 and 2 (I include this detail as it reminds me that I was indeed hydrating well). I passed the 13 mile mark in 2hrs 15 min.

It was awesome seeing my family at the end of each lap. I nearly lost it when my 15 yr old daughter ran with me for a few yards and told me how proud she was of me. The mental resolve to execute these races is underestimated. I race for Multisport Ministries and it was very cool the number of other athletes and crowd who would encourage me because of my faith communicated on my tri top - I too felt like an ambassador of Christ encouraging others.

Passing the exit to the finish the second time meant that next time I would take the turn to the finish. My pace was slowing and I knew that running a 4.39 would get me under 12 hrs, I had even set my alarm to ring at 11.55 race time. By my calcs I had to run the last 9 miles in 1.37 - normally a breeze but with each mile it was evident I wouldn't break 12 hrs. However, my PR was 12.39 from Arizona and I was executing well..

On the final lap I passed my buddy Mike who was suffering in the heat. But with 6 miles to go he ran with me and we pulled/pushed each other to the next aid station. Once back on the Waterway I knew we were almost home. I told him I wasn't going to sprint so he went on ahead giving me space in the finisher chute.

In my first IM I was so dialed in to the finishline that I didn't take time to enjoy the finisher chute at all - this time was different. I had an amazing day, a massive PR in harder conditions, so running down the chute I put my hand to my ear and the crowd responded. I was ecstatic - lots of high fives and fist pumps. I even heard Mike Riley say those immortal words, "Phil Vollands from Spring Texas, You are an Ironman!"
What would you do differently?:

I am most proud of how I ran tough. I had a strategy for the heat and I worked my plan. The only thing would have been to try and maintain a faster pace for longer - easy to say now right?
Post race
Warm down:

Crossing the line I was helped by one of a thousand fantastic volunteers and I was aware that someone had a medal for me. I bowed my head, received the medal and looked up - it was Chrissie Wellington! I was so surprised, all I could say was 'Thank you SO much!' - She gave me hearty congratulations. It was very cool - what a neat sport this is where the pros are so willing to go the extra mile like that.

Friends Virginia and Gary were there to celebrate the moment and then Cory appeared. We called Stacy and the girls and soon we were walking back towards transition along the waterway. I was wearing my medal and a big smile. The crowd were generous in congratulating me as I walked - I totally wasn't expecting that.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Not cramping in swim 2 min
Maintaining concentration miles 65-85 in bike.
Leave shoes on the bike in T2
Race at 175 lbs

Event comments:

I enjoyed this race enormously. As I already hinted,key for me wasn't in the physical training of swim, bike and run but rather in hydration, nutrition, heat management and mental focus. My PR went from 12.39 to 12.08 so I guess I will have to have another go..... in 2014.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2011-05-22 12:00 AM
01:14:22 | 4224 yards | 01m 46s / 100yards
Age Group: 75/470
Overall: 484/2270
Performance: Good
Suit: Sleeveless
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 81F / 27C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 07:28
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
05:51:56 | 112 miles | 19.09 mile/hr
Age Group: 126/470
Overall: 673/2270
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Big loop. Wind behind heading north and then against on the return (plus hotter and hillier)
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 07:23
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:47:48 | 26.2 miles | 10m 59s  min/mile
Age Group: 112/470
Overall: 681/2270
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
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