Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - TriathlonFull Ironman

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The Woodlands, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
87F / 31C
Total Time = 16h 30m 21s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = 45-49
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Since this was my first Ironman, there wasn't any routine. I tried to get as many calories into my nervous stomach as I could at 3:30 in the morning. I had a cup of oatmeal, then drank a blender full of my normal "pre-workout shake" which consists of 2 scoops of Vega pre-workout energizer, 1 scoop of Infinit, and a scoop of whey protein. I had a bagel standing by, but it wasn't happening. I did take the time to give my piriformis a little wake up call by doing a little foam rolling to loosen up the lower back. My wife was tasked with being my personal assistant and sherpa, so she got up and accompanied me to the race. We had scouted out the parking situation during registration and were still nervous that we wouldn't get a spot. In any case, the designated parking was still a long walk from the swim start, and we still needed to drop off the water bottles at the bike.
Event warmup:

Susan and I walked over to the swim start from transition with about 8 other athletes and their Sherpa’s. Once we got in to the parking lot, I got body marked, then looked for a place to set up camp for an hour or so. I could see that the cool thing to do was find a section of curb to lay your head on, so I did that. Wetsuit, body glide, 2 GU’s, pictures with Mom, porta potty 3 times…
  • 1h 28m 2s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 05s / 100 yards

The official water temp on race day was 81 degrees, so you could wear a wetsuit if you wanted but you couldn’t KQ or podium if you did. It wasn’t a big decision for me to wear a wetsuit but it was decided we would be given a staggered start; pros at 650am, non-wetsuit at 7am, and wetsuit at 710am. I liked that because it meant I would have a better chance to swim without huge amounts of body contact in a single mass start. I’ve come a long way with my fear of OWS and mass starts, but if they were offering a staggered start at a full IM race, I was going to take it. Besides, if I got into some sort of panic situation all I had to do was float on my back. The 3rd and final canon went boom and we were off. I was surprised they weren’t playing Ironman by Black Sabbath but instead they were just playing music from the sound guy’s iTunes library and it just happened to be playing “Why I Am” by Dave Matthews Band, which worked, for me. There were other swimmers all doing the same thing; just looking for a clear path to start a rhythm. I would say it took about 5 minutes before we all found a little personal space and could swim. The water visibility was even worse than the lakes I had trained in up in Dallas (if that’s possible) and it wasn’t long before body contact was just going to be part of the deal. I would start sighting, find a buoy or landmark then someone would zig zag in front of me totally off course. Then I would be guilty of the same thing, accidentally swimming in front of someone else’s path. It was pretty much “Frogger” swimming all the way down to the turn buoy. After making the turn to the left, the sun was now on our right instead of the left, and it made me glad I wore my tinted goggles. Every once in a while I would pass a non-wetsuit swimmer and thought to myself “either they are struggling or I am having a good swim cuz they started 10 minutes before us” so that was cool. It was such a neat feeling to actually be swimming in an Ironman! There were a million people ahead of me and a million people behind me. It was awesome!

We finally made the right turn and began swimming down the canal. I had read some bad things about this part; it gets crowded because it’s so skinny, the concrete walls make it choppy, if you stand up there is broken glass, and the canal lasts forever. None of that happened. The canal was great because I could swim next to the wall and sight to the side and it was a lot like swimming in a pool. I didn’t realize how shallow it was until I almost ran into a guy who was standing up in front of me. I don’t know what his deal was but he started swimming again and I went around him. You could see more spectators now on the bridges over the canal as we swam underneath them. I kept looking for the swim exit but couldn’t figure it out so I guess it was just past the big building on the left and a few more spectator bridges later, I could tell I was getting close because I could hear a crowd cheering. There it is! I’m almost there! I took a moment to soak it all in, treaded water for a second, and found my path to the stairs exiting the water. I swam strong for the last 100 yards or so, then grabbed a handrail on the stairs and got out of the water. I stopped the timer on my watch: 1 hour 28 minutes and some change. Cool. I’ll take that. I had just finished a 2.4-mile swim in an Ironman race. Great way to start the day!
What would you do differently?:

Try a swims skin or sleeveless. Yes, I could have and probably will swim without a wetsuit but this was my first Ironman so I was playing it safe.
Transition 1
  • 19m 51s

I already told myself months ago that this isn’t a Sprint, so take your time in transition. Don’t dally, but don’t panic about your transition time, especially at T1. You’re gonna be on the bike all day and you aren’t coming back for anything or stopping at some convenience store out on the route somewhere. After the wetsuit strippers took care of me I jogged through the nice soft grass and into the transition bag area. I had an idea where my bag would be, but it was still the Dewey decimal system even for the volunteers tasked with finding #2354. I felt like a 5th grader in the library all over again. I told myself the day before to let the volunteers find it, which they did. Luckily I had put a little pink ribbon on the bags the night before. Yes, it was crowded and yes it was steamy in the changing tent, but I knew that I would be spending most of the day on the bike and I wanted to feel solid when I rolled out. I found a chair, sat down, dumped my T1 bag and started getting dressed. I decided to put my cycling shorts over the tri shorts that I just swam in, that way all I had to do was take them off in T2 and I would be ready to run. I also donned my secret weapon: the DeSoto long sleeve cool skin. It was awesome in training when I wet the sleeves, gave me extra sun protection, and has 3 built in pockets that line up with your spine to put ice in. This was not a day to be lackadaisical about heat exhaustion. I would leave the Desoto on after the bike and just put my tri top on over it for the run. My #1 priority in T1 was to apply my own sunscreen, and my #2 priority was to make sure I turned on my GPS rental Athlete Tracker unit so that my on site crew could take a break while I was out on the bike and track me. When I sprayed my SPF 50 on my neck it burned big time…got pretty chafed from the wetsuit evidently. It was so nice to have a volunteer right there with you to stuff your wetsuit and goggles into your bag for you. Once I stuffed my pockets with all my solid nutrition, turned on my Athlete Tracker, socks, shoes, gloves, glasses, I was out of the tent to find my bike and get this party started. I was pretty happy, again, that the volunteers just started shouting out my race # and got me to my bike. Powered up the Garmin and started jogging with the Kilo to the Bike Out. “GO KENNY G!” was heard off to my left and it was Dr Leslie Maloy, my ART specialist who got my ITB back on line about 5 weeks before the race. Mount line…I’m on…let’s ride.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing...and everything. I'm always looking to improve. This was another "first" with being inside a changing tent. Next time...try to be so efficient that I could just do my transition outside the tent.
  • 8h 31m 17s
  • 112 miles
  • 13.14 mile/hr

My strategy on the bike was to take advantage of the tailwinds and smooth pavement going out of town. I knew I could easily average 18mph or more and still keep my HR down during the first 30 miles or so. Once I got to the forest, I would enjoy it….LOTS of shade. After Richards, I knew it was time to go to work as far as headwinds, chip seal, and hills. But for the first half of this bike I was looking forward to enjoying the scenery and sticking to the nutrition and hydration plan. I was to eat solids for the first part, then start working on my 2-hour bottle of Perpetuem. Worked perfectly in training. Wasn’t worried about it.

I knew my #1 enemy out there was going to be The Sun. My arms were protected with my Desoto long sleeve. My legs were sprayed with my own SPF 50 then frosted like a cake again by the volunteers at T1. There’s no way in a million years that I’ll ever post a ride time like that again. I’m actually kind of embarrassed about it. It’s not an accurate reflection of my fitness level or lack of training; I can see now it was a series of mental errors and simply a lack of experience. In my own defense I will say that yes, this was my first IM but it certainly was not my first century. However, looking back I can see my first mistake was I ate way too fast and drank too much as soon as I got on the bike. By the 3 mile mark I had a pretty bithchin’ side ache. I’m starving whenever I finish a swim workout and I knew the only time I was going to get solid food in was early in the bike. I thought, don’t worry dude, slow your pace a tad and it will go away. At the 30-minute mark, it’s worse, 1 hour and it’s so bad I had to stay out of aero. This is NOT how I had envisioned my bike going at all. I ate 4 tums and kept sipping on water. At the 2-hour mark I’m really in pain, and really not enjoying the ride. More Tums. I don’t even want to look at my Garmin for fear it would reveal how slow my average speed was. If this were a training ride I would have stopped. I decided to eat a banana at the next aid station, and 3 hours into the ride the stomach cramps went away. Thank God. But now I’m 2 hours behind on my meticulously crafted nutrition plan. Not a problem. Just add some ice to your warm 2-hour bottle of Perpetuem at the next aid station and move on.

As it turns out, cold water or ice was starting to become hard to come by at the aid stations. After I did my Ironman Video water bottle hand up (I’ve always wanted to do that J) at the first couple of aid stations, it was around noon, the sun was at it’s strongest, and I needed to get my core temperature down. My first pee was dark and there was very little of it, so I knew how to fix that. So, the routine for the aid stations then became: stop the bike at the far end of the aid station, lean my bike against the porta-potty, give the butt a rest and fish out some melted ice chunks floating on the top of a kiddie swimming pool amongst the floating warm bottles of water. Put a palm full of ice in the aero bottle, another in the Perpetuem bottle, and another in the bottle reserved exclusively for pouring on my head and sleeves while in motion. Cool. The chip seal finally ended around mile 70 at the Grant/Montgomery county line. Ahhhh….feels like riding on glass. Not even concerned about the 16 mph headwinds or the toughest hills of the course at this point. Just happy to be on smooth pavement. Even the cows looked up at me and seemed to sense my improved mood.

“I see Dead People.”

I had gotten used to seeing cyclists laying in the ditch along the way. I thought, “they’re just taking a break…getting’ some shade…looks like fun but I gotta keep moving.” But at the mile 80 aid station is where I saw my first ambulance of the day. Yep. They’re loading him into the ambulance. The other unconscious cyclist was sitting in a folding chair under a sunbrella and 2 medics were pouring water on her chest and arms while she waited her turn for an ambulance ride. I thought to myself, “It isn’t THAT bad out here. They must be from Canada or something, the poor saps.” As I dismount my bike to start my search for ANYTHING cold, I could tell by my gait that it looked like I was walking like a drunk. I felt like I should have my own spectator sign that reads, “Out of work Ironman, Will Work for ice or cold water.” Oh well. Only 20 miles to go to the 100 mile mark. This baby is almost over.

“To all citizens of the Woodlands and surrounding areas: If you have a cement truck, a diesel powered ranch pick up truck, or a Harley Davidson motorcycle, please support the Ironman race by blasting by any cyclists you see riding on FM 1488.”

Miles 90 thru 95 was pretty tough along 1488. No shade whatsoever. Cars and trucks whizzing by at 65 mph. Just plain stressful. The field was really thinned out by now, but at least I’m back to civilization. I stopped to pee at the mile 95 aid station and conversed briefly with 2 cyclists sitting under a canopy. They both just DNF’d themselves. The one chick was from Vegas; the other guy was from the bay area. “Good luck.” Thanks. The century mark finally arrives and I turn left into the Woodlands. I pass a guy at the 102 mile mark and try to encourage him by saying, “Is this the longest 10 miles on the planet or what! We’re almost there!” and he’s like, “NO sh*t!” so I felt a little better knowing I wasn’t the only one being a baby out there. Ahhh….Woodlands Parkway…cops and cones…almost there. Started thinking about my T2 and the upcoming marathon. I enter the bike chute system and cross the timing mat, but don’t see the dismount line so I’m still on my bike. There’s a lone volunteer there, the timing mat tech, who I hear clapping for me and saying, “You made it! Three minutes to spare! Good job!” Before that thought could register in by brain I see my wife Susan who is running along the outside of the barricade and she seems to be very excited about something but I’m concentrating on not going over the dismount line. “Oh my God! You gave us a heart attack! You BARELY MADE THE CUTOFF!” I’m like, what the hell is she talking about? Then you could actually hear the relays engage in my brain. Click, click. Remember the safety briefing 2 nights ago and they were blah blah blah about all the cutoffs but you weren’t paying attention because they didn’t pertain to you? Do you remember them saying you had to complete the bike by 530pm? I look down at my watch. 5:28pm.

Transition 2
  • 07m 16s

Volunteer grabs my bike and racks it for me. Another “first” for me. Thank God. I had gotten wise by this point and learned to just start shouting out my race # so the volunteers could find my T2 bag in the library. Thank you volunteers you guys are awesome! (Thanking the volunteers was part of my race plan, and I executed that part perfectly.) All I was tasked with accomplishing was to change into my running top, leave the DeSoto on, take off my cycling shorts, already had the tri shorts on underneath, don my Batman hydration belt, and head out.
  • 6h 03m 56s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 53s  min/mile

Ok. Feels good to be off the bike. Let’s not call this your first marathon. No. It’s a series of one-mile runs with catering at every mile. And you have until midnight, technically, but again, this really doesn’t apply to you because that’s like 6 hours away from now and you’re already pretty sure you can trudge this thing out in 5 hours. Let’s just walk this first mile. Your stomach is still not interested in taking in anything and you need to let your legs adjust. Walk until you can get at least a couple hundred calories in you. You’ve got time.

Fired up the Garmin. I had 2; one for the bike and one for the run. I knew I was really gonna be hitting that lap button a lot and needed my pace numbers so I waited for it to get satellite lock and hit the first aid station. I walked the first mile and it felt so good and so right that I decided to continue walking until mile 2 then start my run/walk plan. Oh look! Ice! Nom nom nom crunch crunch crunch. Ice down the back. Ice down the crotch. Ice under the hat. Ahhhh. I look down at my Garmin. “Are you indoors yes/no?” NO I’M NOT F’ING INDOORS YOU STUPID GARMIN! Little grouchy Ken? Complain much? Great. No satellite lock which means no pace numbers. We’ll deal with that later. Just start your brick. You’ll get into the flow soon enough. And don’t worry about the fact that you left your cycling shorts ON when you departed T2. You’ve run with a wet diaper on before, many times. NOT. Grrrr. Gonna have to dump these cycling shorts when I see my crew. Way to go Ken. Squish squish squish…

Loop 1- 1:49:49. Just wanted to mentally download the course along the way so that I knew what to expect on loops 2 and 3. Oh look. A little bit of dirt…a trail? Nice! Oh look. There’s a turnaround point then we run a little 20-yard section straight up a hill. STRAIGHT UP. Just walk it dude. Everyone else is and you ain’t got much left in your legs after that bike. No problem. Oh look. We’re running through a parking lot with enough cones for a motorcycle safety course. Oh look. The overpass by the swim start. This is steeper than I thought it would be. Not a problem. Wish I could eat something, but every time I do the nausea increases ten fold and I really wanted to avoid vomiting. Speaking of which, there’s a chick in the ditch on my left puking right now. Yep. Pure green Gatorade. I already decided I wasn’t touching the stuff. I’ve got my own stuff. The course starts to take us along the canal and the energy, excitement, and stress of the spectators begins. I say stress because, maybe I was a little teeny weeny grouchy at that point and the clapping and cowbells and yelling out of your name is a lot to take in all at once. My name rhymes with Ben and Jen and Sven and Glen and no one was calling out my name but it sure sounded like it. If they did, I wasn’t recognizing them. I really just wanted to establish where my Mom, Aunt Dian, and my wife…”MY Crew”…was on the run course so I could look forward to that on the next two loops. At mile 7, I saw a dude in a fireman suit with an oxygen bottle on his back jogging along with us. You’ve got to be kidding me. He’s doing an Ironman, representing all the NYFD guys who died at 9/11, and I’m about 80% full of self-pity. He didn’t look so good either. Still pretty cool though. I run past my coach’s crew and one of my teammates, Ironman Jonny Brashear is there. I stop and strip off my cycling shorts without saying a word. “Hey there speedracer, what are you…oh…well they’ll probably end up in the trash.” That’s fine. If you see Susan give them to her please. He starts jogging along side me for a second and informs me that I need to run at least a 15:00 pace to finish by midnight. He amended that when I came back after the turnaround and said “I was wrong it’s 14:45. Anything faster than that is money in the bank.” K. Thanks dude. I keep jogging/walking/schlepping and the spectators-bless their hearts-are all excited and exclaiming, “You’re almost done! You can do it!” I’m like, what the hell? Shut UP! I’m on my first lap you potato heads! But they guy next to me wasn’t. Or the person behind me. Or the person ahead of me. THEY were almost done. That was right at The Split: “Turn right to the Finish Line! Turn left for loops 2 and 3!”

Loop 2- 1:58:23. That’s when the sun went down. TWO…MORE…LOOPS. I started caving in mentally pretty bad right then and there. It was all a surreal fog as I started that second loop. Every negative thought you could imagine was playing loudly in my head. My poor Mom, blessed Saint, finds me at mile 16 and starts jogging along side me on the canal. Thanks Mom! I needed that! I am reminded that this was supposed to be fun. Above all else, have fun out there. “I CAN’T have any fun because I CAN’T stick to my 4/1 run/walk anymore and I have to run as much as possible to put money in the bank! Have FUN???? I remember a scene from a movie that captures the flavor of Loop 2 regarding the ‘Don’t Quit Just Have Fun’ strategy:

“I think you're all fu*ked in the head! We're 4 hours from the fuk*ing (finish line) and you want to bail out! Well I'll tell you something, this is no longer (an Ironman), it's a quest. It's a quest for fun, I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun, we're all gonna have so much fuk*ing fun we'll need plastic surgery to remove our g*damn smiles! You'll be whistling Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah out of your assholes!” -Chevy Chase, Vacation

Wally World. Wish I was there. Yep. The wheels came off on that 2nd loop. But I was jogging longer distances without stopping and chiseling away at the miles. My Garmin was on-line now so I could see what I was faced with. When I walked, fast, it was around a 17 minute pace. When I jogged; a 12:30. Well then, just don’t walk. Then after a while it was: ok, just walk the aid stations and run in between. I was taking in bananas, coke, watermelon, pretzels, and the world famous chicken broth. It was as if anything that I brought with me or trained with is taboo and will make me sick, so don’t touch it. Live off the course. I was keenly aware of how little calories I had taken in all day. And I was obsessed with making sure my Garmin stayed below 14:45. I jogged along side another athlete for a little while who revealed he was on his 3rd loop and about to finish. He said he was a Baptist minister and asked if he could pray for me just before the finish split. The voice in my head was saying “Sure! That would be great! I need all the help I can get right now! Thank you pastor!” and what came out of my mouth was “Sure.” (like that’s all I need right now is some dude praying for me.) We jogged, we prayed, said amen, and I congratulated him as he made the turn to finish his second Ironman and I continued on to my final loop.

Loop 3- 2:06:22. “I’m not gonna finish this thing. Everyone will understand. I can come back next year and do it right next time. Lesson learned. I clearly bit off more than I can chew here. It’s just too much. I’m gonna pass out any minute from not taking in any calories. This is the suckiest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s not worth it. I didn’t train hard enough or long enough. At the next aid station just stop and get in line with the other DNF’s and they’ll understand too.” Blah blah blah. Now wait just a minute there Kenny G. Remember? This is Ironman dude. This is the Catalina Wine Mixer. This isn’t a 70.3 this is the REAL DEAL! You’re supposed to put a 140.6 sticker on your car and you’re supposed to get an MDot tattoo! Think about how you’ll feel, looking at your wife, your coach, your mom, your teammates, your coworkers and telling them that you DNF’d! I couldn’t face that. No way. Not tonight. Not now. Not EVER. Just keep moving.

That may have been the moment I became an Ironman. Not just on the course. But in my soul.

I could have been on Mars for all I knew. It had been dark for quite a while, and the glowstick ring-around-the-neck thing wasn’t staying on top of my running hat so I put it around my neck where it promptly started bouncing and hitting me in the chin when I ran. I’m gettin’ rid of this thing. The streetlights are good enough to see in the dark. Kind of. All the aid stations on the 3rd loop were starting to clean up, Special Needs at mile 19 was long gone (I wouldn’t have stopped anyway. It would have taken me 45 minutes to change a pair of socks at that point) and I’m not seeing anyone else out on the course along Panther Creek just before going off the road into the trees. Am I off course?? Where’s the turn onto the path with all the trees??? Jesus Christ it’s almost 11 o’clock at night and there’s another dead body on the side of the road complete with puke and medics. Ah- HA. There’s the turn into the trees. This is kind of creepy. It’s really dark in here. Wish I would have kept my glow stick. Oh look. They hung the glow rings in the trees every 20 feet so you can see what direction to go. Wow. This is like a haunted house. I snagged one of the glow rings from a tree branch and held it in front of me. That’s all I need right now is to trip and fall. Keep following the glow rings. There’s the diesel generator with the spotlights. You’re almost out of the trees. Whew. Helloween moment there for sure. All right, heading in. Just a couple more aid stations through the neighborhood and you’ll be back on the canal.

All the crowds are gone. I felt like Will Smith in I am Legend. There are civilians just walking on the path, holding hands, enjoying their Saturday night, oblivious to the fact that they were on an Ironman run course. I really couldn’t care less at this point. 5k to go. Brian and Heidi Lueb, fellow teammates who had volunteered all day, were on the course with their volunteer shirts still on and started jogging along side me in their flip flops. Thanks guys! Man this canal is long. Whatever. I can hear the crowd cheering at the finish line. My man Jonny Brashear starts jogging along side me for one last time to give me some navigation pointers. “It will look like you’re heading for the finish but you’re not. You do one more up and back through the chutes and THEN you run to the finish.” Another mini loop? Another turn around point? For the love of...doesn’t matter. This is IT. Thanks again Jonny.

What would you do differently?:

The Finish:

I was toast. And here I was actually IN one of the YouTube videos that I had watched a million times. Everyone has their hands out along the barricade and I’m high fiving as I run by. From out of nowhere I started running really fast. Mike Reilly’s voice was really loud on the PA system and the crowd was going bananas for the finisher just 50 yards ahead of me. This was it! The adrenaline rush was unbelievable and I held up my fist and just screamed! KEN GILSTRAP! YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! My life changed forever at that moment.
Post race
Event comments:

Would you do another one?

I am already starting to plan my next thing. What would THAT be? Anything that’s the opposite of the IMTX course. For example, how about a ONE LOOP 50k trails run in December? How about an XTerra race where you’re not worried about chip seal, you’re worried about boulders? How about Windsurfing to actually look forward to high winds? Ten minutes after the race, my wife asked me if I would do another Ironman. I don’t remember it, but she said my skin turned green, my muscles got so huge that all my clothes ripped off and I roared like The Hulk. It was unclear if the superhero said yes or no.

What I would do differently:

1. Train in the heat. Run at work during lunch in the noonday sun. Embrace the heat. Make it your friend. Sit in the sauna at the gym for hours on end. Love the heat with all your heart.

2. Do Ironman 70.3 Galveston as a training race. This year it almost DNF’d Lance Armstrong because of the heat. Should’ve done it.

3. Do more races in general during the training cycle. I hadn’t done a Tri since Ironman 70.3 Longhorn the previous October. I was lulled into a false sense of security on the bike. Just another training ride. I was in Rally mode, not Race mode.

4. Bike: Wear Camelback. Could have jammed it full of ice and it would have stayed colder longer than a water bottle on my bike.

5. Bike: Allow myself more flexibility with nutrition. Although I only ate one bar and washed it down with maybe 8oz of water, it still gave me stomach cramps, which never happened in training. I switched to bananas at the aid stations and it helped; yet I never trained with bananas. It would have been easier to live off the course on race day.

6. Bike: The only bad thing about the aero bottle is you can’t see the water level while riding. What I would do differently is practice drinking smaller sips more frequently rather than waiting for the alarm on my Garmin to remind me which made me drink bigger gulps.

7. Have a more specific plan for each aid station. For example, do I need a GU or do I need to pee at the next aid station? The heat had made my decision making process longer.

8. Yell out exactly what you want at the aid stations and let the volunteers either get it for you or guide you to it.

9. Mental Training: This should probably be number one on the list. Read every book, every article, and every blog. Train your mind. That was where war was waged the hardest for me. Ironman was one big fat Attitude Adjustment.

10. Run one loop of the course in training. It would have been less stressful knowing where the turnarounds, parking lots, dirt hills, spectators, and haunted houses were going to be. I brought my headlamp but decided against it at the last minute because it really seemed like an urban area with lots of lights. That wasn’t an entirely accurate assessment.

11. Have more patience: I went from Sprint to Ironman in about 11 months. Sure, it’s doable, but I suffered more than necessary because I lacked the experience of several seasons’ worth of triathlons under my belt.

12. Don’t be so hard on myself for my finishing time. All the reasons, explanations, excuses, justifications and mind games after the race do not erase the fact that I’m still an Ironman.

Looking back, I'm happy to be a newborn Ironman. I’ve already noticed how much it has changed me for the better. Triathlon is fun, but the Ironman distance deserves respect, and I hope I did that in spite of my finishing time. With Ironman, as in life, it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

The Attitude of Gratitude

Ironman is a team effort, and I couldn’t have done it without my wife supporting me throughout the entire process. Anyone who lives in the same house as an athlete training for an Ironman deserves their own medal. I would also like to thank my coach who toiled over my training schedule every time there was something that put my training in jeopardy, all the while training for an Ironman herself. To my teammates for all the Facebook conversations and text messages of encouragement. To the other coaches who gave me advice even though I wasn’t technically their client at the time. To Di Ann Bogus who joined me and my coach as a training partner for her first Ironman. There’s nothing more reassuring than sharing all the fears and doubts with someone else going through the same exact thing you are. To my Mom who flew down from Oregon to watch her son demonstrate the ethics her and my Dad instilled in me that “you can do anything you set your mind to.” To my sister Trese in Eugene Oregon for providing text message support during the race when local cell phone coverage wasn’t working. To my sister Debby in Sacramento California who was also frantically providing updates during the race. With support like that, nothing is impossible.

Ken Gilstrap

May 22, 2012

Dallas, Texas

Finish Time: 16:30:21


Ken Gilstrap That run course was mental torture. MAN it was lonely out there. It was like a haunted house going through the trees after dark. And I STILL saw carnage with medical people hauling dead bodies off the course AFTER the sun went down. Just brutal dude. Just brutal.

Karen Hicks It was a suck fest. Once it was dark, and I was on that path, unable to see where I was going, I mentally melted. I was whimpering and begging for it to be over. It never got that bad for me in Kentucky. Had the entire run course been on the canal, I would have been much better off. I mean really, how many parking lots did we run through?

Ken Gilstrap I know EXACTLY what you mean Karen Hicks. It's like "Well, we need to find a way to add another .6 miles to the run course. Hmmm...let's have them run around the parking lot where the swim start is." Oh wait, we still need another .4 miles....ummm...let's have them run through the employee parking lot behind those office buildings between High Timbers and Lake Robbins Drive. I'm like "REALLY?"

Karen Hicks Yes!!!!! And I was still seeing people on the ground with medical teams on them late into the night! That run course was just stupid and lonely. It kicked my butt hard. I was worried what it was doing to you.

Ken Gilstrap Yep. I must say though, the ITB thing never came up, thank God. I did NOT have enough time remaining to walk the entire marathon, which I was more than willing to do. So I HAD to run. And I HAD TO average faster than 14:45 to make it before midnight. Thanks again, Jonny Brashear, for that. And thanks again Coach Karen Hicks for giving me the run fitness for Cowtown. That saved my ass out there for sure.

Karen Hicks I am super impressed with the fact you kept a steady pace on the run. That was hard to pull off! You dug deep on that one. Glad you did!

Last updated: 2012-05-21 12:00 AM
01:28:02 | 4224 yards | 02m 05s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Suit: Xterra Longsleeve
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 81F / 27C Current: Low
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 19:51
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
08:31:17 | 112 miles | 13.14 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Wind: Some with gusts
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 07:16
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:03:56 | 26.2 miles | 13m 53s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Below average
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]