My first Triathlon
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Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - TriathlonFull Ironman
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The Woodlands, Texas
World Triathlon Corporation
97F / 36C
Age Group Rank
This is the story of my first DNF in 8 years of doing tris and at my 6th IM. I went into this woefully undertrained and knew this was a distinct possibility. If I hadn't paid $1300 for a foundation slot and another $1300 pre paid non refundable for a hotel plus taking days off I could not pull over to the next fiscal year I probably would have bailed on it. I Seriously considered just approaching it as catered swim bike brick and discussed it with my coach and pumpkin but in the end was able to do enough running I thought I could limp thru the marathon if I was able to swim and bike fast enough, so I decided to step up to the plate and take a great big swing.
My life really got in the way of my training this spring plus a hip injury slowed things up. I have ongoing pool issues too so bascially I did this on a 4 week build. I certainly have a decent base having 5 ironmans under my belt but as I say I am the grinder of triathlon. I don't have an ounce of talent. If I don't grind out the training I don't finish. Certainly this showed up on race day.
I drove up on tuesday and was so thankful to escape away to the magic that is ironman. Also my sweet pumpkin was to come thursday morning. A very different vibe than IMFL where I know everyone and there are big meet ups and I feel like I am trying to herd cats constantly. It was so calm. I actually think this worked against me not having people counting on me. I got checked into my hotel and unpacked. Slept losuy with excitment and got up in the am and rode my bike around the venue. Found the athletes village and transition and was trying to find the swim start but made a fortuitous wrong turn and ended up riding the run course backwards and wandered thru some of the lagest houses I have ever seen. CRAZY HUGE. Found the swim start and clocked it back to the transition area and to the hotel. 1 mile
After a shower I headed over to get registered which went super fast and smooth. My friend Deb was in a bike VS ar accident a few weeks ago and was unable to race and I retrieved her backpack for her. Got some ART on my hip and did a little shopping and I drove over to Fit Foods to pick up some grub. I had lunch and took a nap as I had awoken at 4am with excitement :
I got up and poked around in some stores and got a pre-race manicure. I got a shelack manicure for the first time. There is no going back now. Indestructible. Seriously I can ruin a manicure before I leave the store. Then the girl says "do you want me to do your eye brows" Why not? I have only had them done once and refuse to try myself because I would do something hideous and end up with NO eyebrows. Then I went to a middle eastern place for dinner
(ALL I can get is mexican, mexican, mexican or steak where I live
) which was good but not great and then off to bed. Did some stim and ice on my hip as the ART made it worse :
( They wanted me to come back friday but I elected not to for this reason.
ITS THURSDAY AND MY SWEET PUMPKIN IS COMING!!! OK so now I will reveal pumpkins name DAVID. You see his ex is a bit nutso and we have been very discreet because she has harrassed me to the point of filing a police report and siccing a lawyer on her nutty butt which we think has worked and honestly I don't know she is clever enough to find me here but that is the main reason my blog is private alas I digress.
Got up and did a little run in my new most totally awesome socks ever and contempleted if I should try and wear them race day. Breakfast and off to the airport:
) Living 1500 miles away from your soul mate just plain sucks. We went over to the expo to 1-get me a swim cap as they didn't give me one the day before and 2-get more SOCKS!!! Then we went to Tiffanys to look at rings :
) yes that kind of ring and to another jewelry store for more of the same :
) He was super tired as he had been up since 4am for his early flight so we had an early dinner and went to sleep early.
Friday was SWIM day. Only day we were allowed to swim at the venue. We drove over and snagged a parking place. What a zoo. VERY helpful tho to try and get my bearings from the water. I wore my BT shirt but alas saw no BTers. Shower change, some more shopping and we just watched movies and hung out. VERY relaxing pre-race day. Got my bags and bike dropped off and had pizza for dinner.
Up at 4:15 and got dressed quickly. We drove over to the transition area but then they would not let us in at 4:30 as advertised. No idea. I was once again the envy of everyone in transition with my air compressor. Pumped tires, filled bottles dropped off bags and we drove back to the hotel.
I had some cereal for breakfast and re-braided my hair. We just relaxed watched TV and I was texting my friend Deb who was driving up from Harlingen. Around 5:45 we started walking for the swim start which was about a mile away. They did body marking at the swim start which I think was actually pretty smart. Made it less chaotic plus the volunteers didn't have to get up quite so early.
We found a quiet placwe to sit and I put on my swim skin. It must have been a good place because a bunch of the male pros were there too !! Then it was time to get in the water!!
02m 14s / 100 yards
I kissed David goodbye and off to my adventure. I got into the corral and they were being pretty aggressive about trying to get people into the water. They had non wetsuit start which is where I went and then a separate corral for people who chose to wear a wetsuit. I was not afraid of over heating I just felt like if it was not legal then I should not wear one. I am in no danger of KQ even on my best day but it is just my opinion. David said that at least 1/2 the field wore wetsuits
While I was in the corral I was talking with a guy with a farmers insurance shirt on. I took a stab and asked him if he was on BT as how many people were going to be wearing a farmers insurance shirt and it was our own Papson!!!! We had a nice chat but when we got in the water I lost him. No one was super anxious to tread water for 15 minutes so everyone was hanging back desptie the fact they were yelling at us to get in the water.
This was a very calm start. They had kayaks you could hold onto but honestly it was easier to float. The wetsuit people were not allowed into he water. The gun went off and we went. It was the least contact of any of my IMs. I heard them announce the wetsuit people could get in the water as soon as our gun went off. I was past the 500 meter marker when their gun went off 10 minutes after us, so I did OK the first bit I guess.
This was a complete disaster of a swim for me. I do think the course was a bit long. It just felt like it took forever...and I guess it did :
) There were some big houses you could sight off of on the way out but you had really very little to sight off of to see where the entrance into the canal was.
I drafted a little the first bit but as usual had trouble keeping up my pace during a swim of this distance. I had more contact on the back portion, just got caught up in people I could not get around. I was starting to get some chaffing on my neck and did my best to ignore it.
I seemed like it took about a year to get to the turn into the canal. The canal SUCKED. Its only about 15 yards wide and it was so super crowded. I swam into the melee of the normal IM swim start and was getting the crap kicked out of me. I swam to the right hand side where there were fewer people. Where is the bridge? Where is the exit? The exit was poorly marked and difficult to figure out. I was swimming the wrong way. Having the majority of the contact on the swim at the very end was really tough. Finally out of the water. 1:34? Seriously? Pathetic.
What would you do differently?:
Not sure what went wrong really. I don't think a wetsuit would have made me 10+ minutes faster. I had trouble getting around people and I did not sight well esp that first leg of the swim so I probably swam a few extra 100 yards but still. I continute to have trouble maintaining a good solid pace over long distances. I tend to just fall into a lazy easy pace but even so this was a pathetic performance for me. Undertrained for sure. Had some pool issues this spring as my good pool was closed and the other pool in town I could not swim in because it makes me sick. Anyway leave it behind and move onto the bike. I tend to not dwell on things. All you can do is move forward.
This was probably one of the few things that went well! The transition area was very well organized and the swim exit only a short distance from the bags and tent. Got my bag and went into the tent. Had my swim skin 1/2 off and ran past the crowd at the tents entrance to near the exit where there was plenty of space to sit down. I couldn't get my bag openand I didn't want to rip it and chance loosing the swim skin out of it so it took me a bit to undo that knot.......I had NOT knotted it, it just became that way.
Its WAY easier to get thru T1 when you don't have to put on 5 layers to keep warm! I dryed myself off and rolled my arm coolers on. Sprayed sunscreen first to the right OUCH RIGHT into the chaffed area. I had put some on in the hotel but I always re-apply. I think I gave it up as a bad job and didn't put any on the left side which was a major mistake because I got badly sunburned there. Dry feet, socks and shoes on, headband, helmet and glasses on and off I go.
Once again a very nice transition area. All grassy and easy to walk/run in bike shoes. I ate a few bites of my uncrustable but because the transition area was so short compared to FL I literally only got 2 bites before I threw it into the trash. I walked to my bike and retrieved it and out onto the bike course.
What would you do differently?:
I think I did well. I wish I had put more sunscreen on my back and I wish I had eaten more of the uncrustable. I only had a tiny bit of cereal in the morning maybe 120 calories worth and I probably could have used the calories in the uncrustable.
I was looking for David or Deb on the way out but didn't see them. Turns out D was RIGHT at the bike out and he got some good pics. So off I go. I really had the thought WTF am I doing this for? I kind of was not into it but then I started cruising and I was OK. I have never been passed by so many people on the bike....just when I was thinking I was dead last on the swim at least I figured I might have been MOP :
Yeah and whoever told us that it good to have tailwind on the way out and headwind on the way back? Did you take your medication? And that its slightly uphill on the way out and dowhill on the way back? ARE YOU KIDDING? You are insane.
I actually was really enjoying the first part of the bike. I am usually a fairly intuitive drinker. I NEVER felt hot the whole time. I was dripping sweat and blew thru the first 20oz in my aerobottle quickly. That shouldhave been a warning sign to me. I can carry 40oz in the aerobottle and another 40 on my frame. I had a total of 6 servings of accelerade. The idea was when I emptied one section of the aerobottle refill it with 1/2 a bottle on the frame and then water it down with water from an aide station. Bike mistake #1 was that I by accident filled the whole empty section of the aerobottle with hyperconcentrated accelerade which is unpalatable to me.
I drank from the other section of the aerobottle occasionally trying to work on the hyperconcentrated section so I could water it down. I was starting to crave plain water which restrospectively was probably a bad sign. I got to the second aide station and grabbed water and was able to water down what was in the aerobotttle and drank a bunch out of the water bottle. The hyperconcentrated stuff was still really just too sweet for me.
I was still REALLY enjoying this course. We had shade. There were small rolling hills but seriously they were small and easy even for someone who has litterally NO HILLS whatsoever to train on. The hills were NOT a factor to me at all. I actually found them fun and entertaining. More than on the IMFL course but much smaller. I TOALLY DID NOT GO TOO HARD ON THE BIKE. I raced my own race at my own pace. No ego.
3rd aide station I threw off the empty water bottle and took another. Plain water tasted SO GOOD. I hardly ate solids. I had laffy taffy and took maybe 3 during my whole time on the course. I kept at the accelerade and kept watering it down. At some point I broke into the second bottle on my frame and watered that one down correctly but I dont' remember when.
At 2 hours on the bike I was still averaging over 18MPH. I was thinking I might just pull this out. I started slowing down after that but really didnt' think too much of it. I probably should have. The 56 mile bike split is actually at 57.8 miles but at the true 1/2 way point I think I was under 3:15 so still lokking at a sub 7 hour bike which would be good for me on that day with the training I had.
This is where things got bad fast for me. I have no idea. I went thru special needs and did not stop as I didn't need/want anything in my bag. At mile 65ish? on my bike computer I stopped on the roadside and refilled my fluids. My upper back was in spasm. When I stood up I was very dizzy and I felt nauseous. At the next aide staion I stopped got more water topped things off got another water and a piece of banana which I only ate a bite of and went on my way.
My day went qucikly from WOW This is great fun and I think I can pull out a respectable bike split to WOW I really dont' want to throw up to WOW I really really don't want ot throw up and I hope I can finish the bike. There were people stopped everywhere sitting in the shade, standing in the shade etc. I STILL did not feel hot I just felt like CRAP. I had already decided doing the marathon was out of the question and I would DNF after the bike at this point. Probably not a good mental choice. The hills which had been easy and fun at the beginning of the race seemed insurmountable now. My HR which had been under control was climbing higher and higher with each effort. At mile 80 on my bike computer at the top of a hill a racer was standing in the shade by the side of the road. That looked like a spectacular idea so I stopped too. I was super dizzy standing up and was thinking that stopping was a bad idea just trying not to throw up. The thought of eating or drinking anything was out of the question. I was less dizzy riding than standing. Then someone else stopped
)and he got off and laid down. 2 more people stopped. Seriously it was road kill at mile 80. I decided to get off my bike and sit down but as I brought my leg over the bike I got even more dizzy. I fell over as I was on the verge of passing out, my bike fell over. I just sat down.
I think there were about 6 or 7 of us under the tree at this point. Garrett and I were ready to DNF. A guy stopped and said "I have done Kona and Kona is frigid compared to this course" Awesome. Honestly I didn't really feel that hot. I train hot all the time. No one was sure where the next aide station was. Garrett decided to go on. Someone was going to send a truck for me but I didn't want to sit there for an indeterminate amount of time and I was worried about David and Deb worrying about me. I decided to get to the next aide station. Now my glasses are fogged so I am dozzy, nauseous, my back is in spasm and I am blind. awesome.
I start riding and its immediately apparent that my bike is broken. CRAP. Luckily the next station was only about a mile and a 1/2 down the road. I stopped said I was done. There were 2 girls waiting for a ride but they had been waiting 2+ hours. Sat down got some water in me. The bike tech guy came and fixed my bike. At some point Garrett came and went. Something about the front deraileur but I honestly dont' remember what it was. At this point I realy didn't feel like sitting there for several hours, was worried about David and Deb worrying about me and figured I could get back faster by bike so off I went. Big mistake. HUGE.
The first 3-4 miles were OK. They said the next aide station was 10 miles away. LIE. There were still lots of people pulled off to the side standing or sitting whereever they could find some cover. We turned onto this horrbile road. It was basically a highway. The highway from hell. Only good thing I can say is that it was flat, but by now it was the hottest part of the day and we had 20 MPH wind in our face with not a stick of shade. Nada. I seriously considered pulling into a convience store to buy a diet coke. I had a 20 in my saddle bag after all.
Mile 92 rolls by........10 miles from the last aide station......93........94 nothing in sight but dry pavement. Cars whizzing by at 60 MPH. I was dizzy and feeling ill, my back was in such spasm that not only could I not stay aero all I could manage was to sit with my hands on the elbow pads. I was thinking they probably didn't have another station til we pulled off this busy road. I was very afraid of falling over and into the traffic. FINALLY I saw the damn aide station. Right in front of me a girl pulling in a fell off her bike. I pulled in said I am done. The girl wo fell was all "I AM NOT DONE" geez o pete.
They took my bike and I walked to the other end of the aide station where the med tent was. I was only vaguely aware of the fact I had not peed since the swim start. There was quite a collection of us. There was a guy lying on the ground, another in a chair. I took a chair and a water and a cold wet towel which I put on my head. My buddy Garrett rolled in and quit too. I guy I had seen standing in the shade of a fence rolled in and quit. I was dizzy and fuzzy headed. Retrospectively not one of us was sweating. It was 97 degrees out.
The wind was blowing hard enough it was nearly ripping the tent out of the ground. The guy working the med tent there had been at the same station last year and said it was much hotter and windier and many more people were dropping out than in 2011. The truck finally came and took 8 of us back to the transition area. I wear a sweat band under my helmet. Normally I can wring the sweat out of it and it was bone dry when I took it off. Of the 8 of us 6 had successfully completed other ironman races. We were just cooked. I was confused enough that I could not remember my race number. I looked at my arm but I had sweated it off. I think I told them the wrong number. I didn't care.
What would you do differently?:
1-Drink more earlier
2-Be better about sunscreen application
3-I don't really think calories were a factor in the DNF but I could have done better there
5-Not mess up refilling my aerobottle
6-Not fall over and break my bike
6-Better mental attitude
7-More electrolytes. I took a few tabs but it was too little too late I think
So we get out of the truck and get our bikes. Everyone was confused. No one could tell us what to do. We knew we needed to turn our chips in but there was seemingly no one to help us. I did not know where D&D were or where to look for them. We were just standing there staring at each other. I saw people coming off the bike course and was happy to not be trying to run. I finally found an officious looking person to turn in my chip but she took my bike too. We were not allowed to get our T2 bags either. It was 4:30 and we were told we could not get our stuff til 5:30.
Really standing around in the sun for an hour seemed a BAD IDEA. One of the guys from the truck just sat under a tree. Only thing I could think to do was start walking for the hotel and pray they gave me a key to get into the room. I had some cell phone offers but I don't know anyones phone # because they are all in my phone! I didn't want to wander in the crowds looking for D&D so I started clopping towards the hotel in my bike shoes.
I made it across the parking lot of the supermarket and 2 angels in a SUV stopped and aaked me if they could give me a ride. Now I would not normally jump into a car with 2 strangers but I jumped right in, more evidence I was not exactly thinking clearly but I was feeling like poop on a shingle. They kindly gve me a ride bck to the hotel and the hotel staff took pity on me and gave me a key to the room. I promptly called D and let him know I was OK and back in the room. Turns out he and Deb had gone out on the bike course and were about 5 more miles down the road. I took a shower and started pounding fluids.
I was still nauseous and afraid to eat but knew I needed sodium and ate some baked lays. Best thing I ever ate. Sodium and carbs are seriously the most brilliant things! David wandered back after a while bearing food. Eventually he and Deb retrieved my bike and bags. Deb said the bike was broken and rubbing. Great.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Broken bike last 16 miles I did
Overall I was impressed with the organization of the check in process.....smooth and much better than at IMFL. They had a very nice expo with a variety of vendors. I liked the floating swim start. The water was murky but seemed clean enough. I think the swim course was long. I did NOT like finishing in the canal. At all. The transition area was well thought out and efficient. I actually liked the bike course it just wasn't my day.
I had 80 oz on the bike with me and probably drank 70 of that plus another 80 in water. Add in another at least 60 in the aide stations and I am up to 230 oz and I had stopped sweating. I drank another 60 in the room before I peed. I did loose some fluids on the ground when I dropped my bike and in the mile 82 aide station.
I was freezing after my shower but when D touched me he said I was hot and dry. D is a urologist. He says pee is his life. Fluids and electrolytes are his life for sure. He thinks I had heat stroke. I don't think I was sick enough because that is some serious shit but I definately had heat illness going on. I had stopped sweating which for me is quite telling as I sweat more than any 5 people you know. I honestly don't know at what point I stopped sweating. I probably stopped being good with fluids around the 70ish mile mark. I drank nothing between 82 and 96.
Honestly I have no regrets about pulling the plug. My coach and I had talked about doing a plaaned swim bike and DNF off the bike but my running started to turn the corner and we both though I could probably pull it off although certainly I would not PR or set any land speed records. If I were a stellar runner and an experienced marathoner this would have been a different story but I need every second I can get on the run. I HAVE to be ble to swim and bike fast enough that I can be prepared to walk the whole marathon.
I was sitting at mile 82 at 2:30 was at 96 at 3:30 so I probably could have limped thru the end of the bike but I really did not feel safe riding anymore. Say it took me til 5 to get off the bike I would have 7 hours to do the marathon in an extremely compromised state. I dont' think I would have made it. I would have either got pulled for not making a cut off or been one of the very last finishers or been one of the last people out on the course nd NOT finished. And at what cost? 2 months of recovery and crappy training? I cut my losses. On the upside it turns out its easier to recover from heat stroke than a marathon. At least for me. And my legs are feeling great so I can continue to build my run for IMFL :
) NO REGRETS!!
Last updated: 2011-11-16 12:00 AM
01:34:00 | 4224 yards | 02m 14s / 100yards
TYR torque swim skin
Out and back and then into a canal
81F / 27C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:30:00 | 95.88 miles | 14.75 mile/hr
Strong with gusts
One BIG LOOP
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
00:00:00 | 26.2 miles | min/mile
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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