Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - Triathlon

View Member's Race Log View other race reports
The Woodlands, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
95F / 35C
Total Time = 10h 49m 9s
Overall Rank = 141/2417
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 13/384
Pre-race routine:

Woke up at 5:30, ate breakfast and headed to transition.
Event warmup:

After setting up T1, walked about a mile to the swim start and used stretch cords to warm up the arms. With 15 minutes before the start, I got in and swam around a while.
  • 52m 42s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 15s / 100 yards

I positioned myself front and center. When the pushing and shoving started with about 8 minutes til the cannon, I decided to just ask people what they were looking to swim (time-wise) so I would know what kind of fight I might be in for. The guy to my right was hoping for a 52 min swim, so I figured I would see him for a while. Almost immediately after I asked the question though, I was completely caught off guard. About 5 feet behind me a women chimed in and said, "Are you TJ Fry". A little startled I said "yes". Then she said, "I love your blog. 'Window to the Soul' was a big help. Thanks". I couldn't help but smile. Not exactly the moment I was expecting to talk about my blog. So to Ashley in Georgia, thank you for the kinds words!!...... Then I asked the guy on my left, and he had a goal time of 1:25. Now I don't mean any offense to any 1:25 swimmers out there, but I immediately thought "Really, You're throwing elbows in the front line and hoping to be middle of the pack?". And they wonder why people get run over in the swim. So I told the guy, (and I know this might have come off brash) "Look, if you get right behind me for the start, give me 6 strokes and you will have clear water to swim in." He wasn't having any of it, so the elbows and jockeying continued from all sides. So with about 3 minutes to go I caught a lucky break. A kayak was coming through the swimmers to the immediate left of us and I quickly ducked under the kayak so that now it was on my immediate right. Then I may or may not have "nudged" the kayak over to my right, opening up a hole on the front line right next to me. Then I kept it there. The kayak then got the warning from Mike Reilly and started moving out of harms way, but the swimmers to the one side of me didn't have enough time to regroup and completely fill the hole back in, which left me with some nice space. Then BANG. I hit the gas, and in about 6-10 strokes I was clear of all traffic and swimming up front. A teammate of mine and former LSU swimmer, Sean Leneave got an even bigger jump on everyone and had gapped me before I had a chance to get on his feet. So I stay at my own pace and quickly found myself all alone, with Sean a few dozen yards ahead, and a small group a few dozen yards behind. Both gaps grew as the swim wore on. Before I got to the canal, I began passing some of the pros. Once in the canal, I could no longer see Sean or his lead boat, and likewise couldn't see anyone behind me. The canal, or waterway section of the race is great because the navigation is minimal and the crowds are lining the course, which is unique in the swim. So you can see family and friends cheer you on as you finish that last half mile. In the last 100 yards or so I eased off the pace almost like a warm down, and get my head on straight for the transition.
What would you do differently?:

train more. a common theme for this race. This race coincides with the busiest time of year at work, and workouts get missed. otherwise I'm pretty happy with the time.
Transition 1
  • 02m 31s

raced up the stairs, grabbed my bag and had my helmet on before I even entered the ten. Dumped my bag, put on the shoes and belt, grabbed the food and glasses and took off. I stopped briefly at the sunblock station and they got me good. Grabbed the bike and left.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. T1 went well.
  • 5h 17m 20s
  • 112 miles
  • 21.18 mile/hr

The first few miles of the bike always feel more like a sprint race than they do an Ironman. Heart Rate is high, excitement is up, tons of energy, and you're still soaking wet. I immediately ease up on the effort to try and get everything under control as quickly as possible, but the legs felt good on the SHIV. In the first 2 miles, one of the pro men that I passed in the swim came up and passed me. He wasn't riding that much faster, so after he got about 50 yards ahead, I paced off of him as we headed out of The Woodlands. Average speed was about 25mph, but it felt very comfortable. Around mile 8 I caught up to Sean (swim winner) and he fell in behind me at a good bit more than the legal distance. The 3 of us picked off a few pro women, and then the pro I was following, #26, started riding away. That left me leading the amateur race overall with empty road ahead of me. Pace was brisk (time split at 30 miles was an average speed of 24mph) but felt good (and heart rate was right where it needed to be). At the 40 mile mark, first Sean, and then another athlete came by putting me in 3rd. At this point I knew it was only a matter of time before the super bikers started showing up. And they did, but this year they came by at a much slower rate, which told me that I was riding well. Came through the halfway point right at 2:30 and felt comfortable and ready to take on the headwinds as I headed back to the finish.
This section of the course had the rough roads and the headwinds, so while the elevation is a slight net drop, the ride home was much tougher. Add to that the sun, which was really starting to beat down. The temperature on my Garmin showed 98+ degrees here, which I'm sure was including the radiant heat off the road. It became really noticeable with my aerohelmet as it only has 1 real vent. My head felt like it was cooking at times. Other than that, I fared pretty well here and remained comfortable.
Then right as we got to the end of the chip seal road and hit the smooth asphalt I heard the dreaded hissing noise of a flat tire. I knew immediately that the hopes for Kona were gone. Given the limited training I'm able to get in, I need everything to go right to grab a slot, so a flat tire was all but a nail in the coffin. I could feel the motivation die. Regardless, I grabbed the aerosol fix-a-flat and crammed it on the valve, but because it was a clincher, the tube wouldn't stay put and I would just bury the valve in the deep rim. Even with my thumb holding the valve in place, I couldn't get enough pressure on it to engage the aerosol can. A Total bust. For me the lesson learned was two fold. #1. The rolling resistance folks may feel that a lower pressure tire (mine was 115 psi) offers a lower resistance and a better ride, but the softer tire pressure also allows greater opportunity for a flat.( I train on a minimum of 120 psi to avoid flats). #2. Clinchers with deep rims don't work with fix-a-flat. A tubular would have been fine here as the valve is glued to the rim.
Of course none of this is helping me get off the side of the road. I have a tube and CO2, but it's going to take a while to pry out, so right as I resign myself to a much longer time on the side of the road than hoped, an athlete rides by and tells me the support crew was back a ways headed my way. Perfect! Sure enough, about a minute later up rolls the motorcycle. He switches my wheel and then had to go back to his tools to adjust the Garmin receiver, as it was stuck in the new wheel. A short adjustment later and I'm back on the road. 10 minutes total time lost.
Almost immediately I found myself in a really bad spot. I usually feel a little rough for the first few miles after stopping at a gas station on training rides, so I'm thinking this was related, but I felt like hell. Just couldn't get it together. So I started switching things up. Some solid food, different drinks at the aid station, etc. Then I finally, FINALLY started feeling better and watched the pace pick back up to pre-flat speeds. The final 10 miles through The Woodlands felt smooth even though it had gotten really hot, and I got ready for the run.
What would you do differently?:

Ride a high pressure, tubular tire and not read the internet forums.
Transition 2
  • 04m 16s

Shoes off, hopped off the bike and ran for my bags. Because of the way the transition is set up, there is a long run down a sidewalk, then a u turn back to enter the section where you grab you're T2 bag. Because of the heat, the sidewalk had gotten extremely hot. So hot that my feet actually started burning. At first I thought I was being a sissy. It would just be like when I was a kid at the pool, as soon as I jump in the pain would go away. I was wrong. I felt the pain in my right foot from the first step in the run to the last step, and still feel it as I right. That, of course was some nice foreshadowing for the run. It was going to be hot. Extremely hot. Burn the skin off your feet hot. Got myself together and got going....
What would you do differently?:

run in the grass immediately adjacent to the sidewalk.
  • 4h 32m 21s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 24s  min/mile

Heading out for the marathon I knew this was going to be rough. The temperature was soaring and there was no help from the clouds. Reports from the course were that the surface temps where hitting 106 degrees. I started slow, and let everything adjust to the run before I made any decisions. One of my big concerns on the run is my breathing, as I've had trouble from time to time with my breathing in some of these races. At mile 1 the airways were clear and the running legs were starting to show up. Shortly after the first mile I came up on Sean. He was cooked, and told me as much. This heat was intense. I got into a comfortable rhythm and was surprisingly comfortable. Pace wasn't fast and my burned foot was killing me, but the effort seemed liked it could be easily repeated for at least 26 miles.
I made the left onto Panther Creek and felt like I was in an oven. The sun was cooking me from above and the radiant heat from the road was suffocating me from below. This wasn't going to be a performance based marathon. It was going to be a survival based one. I was in my 8th Ironman and soon to be 7th finish, and every one of them have been done in 90+ degree heat. So I've learned when it's time to drop any time goals and move to mindset to survival. This switch was going to happen very early into the run.
Considering the conditions the first loop was going well. Entering East Shore, I caught Chris MacDonald, aka "Big Sexy" , who was a loop ahead of me but suffering. I encouraged him to run with me and he did. For the next mile we swapped stories of each others shitty days. His was a big effort to get away on the bike and then a time penalty. Mine was a flat, and both of us were absolutely cooking in the heat. As we entered the waterway, he dropped back down to a walk and I ran off. I thought to myself, "If I am catching and passing Big Sexy, then everyone has to be suffering."
The crowds on the waterway were building and I was able to see lots of familiar faces which helped me keep the pace up. At the beginning of the 2nd loop, just like the first, I came through the first aid station where my wife Amy was, and it was a big lift. She seemed to be having a good time and her spirits raised mine. The second loop was very similar to the first, but after 15 miles, the pace started noticeably slowing. The heat was just getting to be too much. As I started loop 3, the wheels began to come off. I was having some real trouble regulating my body temperature like before and the pain in my right foot from the burn had become overwhelming at times. Any turn in the course would cause me to wince. I was no longer able to run continuously as I would start to get dizzy and light headed despite having energy in the legs. So my run would come down to negotiations with myself. Not the good kind I had hoped for like "Just hold this pace until you run that guy down", but rather, "Just run to that light pole and try not to pass out". And that's how my last lap would play out. Run to the light pole. Run through the shaded section. Run 10 steps. Each mile got a little worse despite the amount of ice I stuffed in my clothes. As the dizziness got more acute, I walked. As it got better, I ran. This was going to be a race for the thin runner build or the younger athletes, and I was neither. The final run through the waterway helped my moral with the crowds all cheering, but the day was not to be as hoped.
And that's the Ironman. You can't fake it and you can't force a great day. You take what the day gives you and you adjust to the punches. Like every boxer, we all have a plan for the perfect day, until we get punched in the face.
Post race
Event comments:

It's just such a great race, and the run support is immense. You just need to be prepared for the heat.

Last updated: 2013-03-06 12:00 AM
00:52:42 | 4224 yards | 01m 15s / 100yards
Age Group: 1/384
Overall: 14/2417
Suit: Aquasphere Energize
Course: Point to point
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 77F / 25C Current: Low
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 02:31
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
05:17:20 | 112 miles | 21.18 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/384
Overall: 0/2417
Wind: Some
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 04:16
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:32:21 | 26.2 miles | 10m 24s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/384
Overall: 0/2417
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]