Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - Triathlon

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The Woodlands, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
Total Time = 11h 52m 38s
Overall Rank = 532/2500
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 50/260
Pre-race routine:

My original plan was to drive up to Houston Wednesday just to settle in and get ready. As it turned out I had to be in Houston Monday and Tuesday for business so I drove up Monday morning and just stayed the entire week. I was able to get all my pre-race rides and runs in as I decided just to stay in The Woodlands and drive into downtown for my meetings.

I was feeling really good the entire week. My build was incredibly good and my volume was higher than it had been for any previous race. More importantly my recovery from the sessions was also really good. I was coming into the race very confident with my fitness. In fact, I truly feel like my fitness level was higher than it has ever been, and that includes prior to my KQ race at IMSG.

With all signs pointing to a strong race I was ready to go. My legs were strong. Even my easy 1 hour ride on the course Wednesday I was at 199 watts and I felt like I was barely putting any effort into the ride. I woke up Saturday morning ready to race.
Event warmup:

We stayed at the host hotel and it was incredibly convenient. I woke up at 4:00 and went downstairs to microwave my breakfast and get a starbuck's coffee. All fueled up we headed towards transition. I pumped my tires, put my nutrition/nydration on my bike and started walking to the swim start.

Once the pro's took off I made sure I was one of the first in the water. This always alllows me to get a quick 400 yard warmup swim to get my heart rate up. I then come back to shore to let my heart rate settle down and swam to the far left to get ready for the swim.
  • 1h 06m 5s
  • 3862 meters
  • 01m 43s / 100 meters

Absolutel shocker, the swim was wetsuit legal! I was hoping it would not be but since it was I was going to take advantage of it. Before I get into the swim specifics let me say this was the dirtiest, nastiest smelling, nastiest tasting water I have ever swum in. I have swum in a lot of interesting places but this takes the cake. OK, got that off my chest.

I started far left at the front as that was the straightest line to the first turn buoy. It also meant we'd be cutting to the left of some of the intital buoys. What a lot of people don't realize is that you do not have to be to the right of every buoy. You just need to make sure you go around each turn buoy. As were were lined up and waiting for the start there were a few boats and several kayaks just to the left of the first buoy. Several of us told them they had to move because we were going to swim right into them. They kept saying they did not have to move because they were left of the buoy but we kept yelling at them to move. Sure enough they eventually moved and when the cannon went off we had a straight line to the first turn buoy.

The first part of the swim really wasn't that rough. There were some close encounters but not the worst I've experienced. The bigger problem was the nasty water. 500 yards into the swim I couldn't wait to get out of the damn water. My stomoach started feeling nauteous and I just wanted out. I lost my concentration and tried to just keep going. When we got to the canal I was literrally trying not to vomit. The canal also wasn't near as bad as everyone made it out to be. It was a little choppy but not to bad and I had plenty of clear space.

I was so relieved to get out of that foul water. As soon as I got out of the water and stood up I let out a huge burp and actually threw up in my mouth a little. A volunteer asked if I was ok and I just said that was the nastiest water I've ever been in.

I looked at my watch and it said 1:06 so I was happy with that as crappy as I felt the entire swim. I had expected slower had it been a non-wetsuit swim so I was happy to be ahead of where I wanted to be.

Transition 1
  • 04m 1s

Pretty smooth tranistion. Strippers peeled off my wetsuit, grabbed my bag and got everything I needed. All I needed was my helmet, sunglasses, and shoes, everything else was already on the bike. Put on my helmet and sunglasses and carried my shoes to my bike. Put my shoes on at my bike and ran out of T1 with 1:10 showing on the clock. Once again, happy with where I'm at being that swimming is my weakest link.
  • 5h 23m 34s
  • 112 miles
  • 20.77 mile/hr

With a normal tailwind the first 40 miles or so my plan was to ride very easy and save everything for the back half of the ride. I figured if I rode 180-185 watts that would allow me to ride 200-205 watts on the back half. The plan was to be around 195-200 watts average for the entire ride which would get me off the bike around 5:05 - 5:10 and leave me plenty for the run.

I knew right off the bat the ride was going to be a struggle but I just kept telling myself it's a long day and let's see if it will come to me. It felt like there was never a tailwind in the first part of the ride and I just could not get my legs to generate any power. I just tried to stay steady and when we got to the faster forest section I tried to pick up the pace hoping my legs would come to me. But they didn't. I just felt completely flat and dead the entire ride.

My nutrition and hydration seemed good as I seemed to be taking everything in well. I peed at miles 40, 70, and 100. Considering my challenges with absorbing fluids in the past I was ok with peeing just 3 times. I was never thirstly and forced myself to drink knowing it would be hotter later. I believe my nutrition was eventually what caused my problems on the bike and later on the run. I think the hotter and race specific effort caused my stomach to not process my nutrition correctly and therefore my body was working harder to absorb the calories. I took in the same abount of calories I always took in during training, but the shorter amount of time on the bike threw off my calories per hour. I figure with my nutrition drink, Gatorade, and Perform I took in ~425 calories per hour. Too much, and it caused my stomach to shut down which hurt the bike and killed the run.

I continued pushing as best I could on the bike and just watched as my average power continued to decline. It was very frustrating knowing I had the fitness but just couldn't pull it all together. That's the thing about IronMan racing, you can have all the fitness in the world but if nutrition/hydration go wrong you are done. And as the bike rolled on, I felt more and more like I was done. It became a mental struggle just to keep going. I knew my goals were done and I just had to finish at this point. But just finishing isn't something that I found overly rewarding. Had I not had my blood clot issues that caused my DNF last year at IMCDA I honestly may have packed it in after the first loop of the run.

At mile 84 of the bike I got another whammy. I heard a big pop and one of my spokes on my front wheel snapped off. I stopped and tried to pull it off but I could not get it off. I rode the last 28 miles with a spoke hitting my fork the entire ride. It was like having a baseball card clipped to my spoke. On top of that, the wheel didn't roll true and it caused quite the vibration. I was just hoping the wheel would not completely collapse on me so I could get to T2.

Finally got into T2 after 5:23 on the bike and average power at 178 watts. That's 17 watts lower than my planned watts and lower than all my training rides on fatigued legs so clearly I wasn't feeling right. With 6:33 showhing on the overall time clock I figured if I could just run a slow 3:50 marathon I'd at least finish around 10:30. I could live with that knowing how crappy I have felt so far the entire race.
Transition 2
  • 04m 14s

Slower T2 than I expected. Not sure why it took me so damn long through here.
  • 5h 14m 44s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 12m 01s  min/mile

Started the run really not feeling good at all and was hoping that my legs would come to me at some point during the day. I started at an easy 8:15 and figured if my legs ever came to I'd pick up the pace. It was a struggle the entire first lap just to keep running. My stomach had shut down and I couldn't take any hydration or nutrition. I could start to feel my body lose all strength. As I got to the 2nd loop I just couldn't coax my legs to keep going. I started walking to see if I could setltle down a little. I just kept feeling worse and worse. I'd run and walk a little but could not hold any running pace and still couldn't take anything in.

When I got to the third lap I knew I was done and walked almost the entire 3rd lap. I started sucking and chewing on ice cubes at the end of the 2nd lap and it was all I could take in. FINALLY, after 24 miles on the run I felt like I could take in calories and hydration and my legs came to me. Problem was it was just to damn late in the race. I really didn't care about my finishing time at this point as I just wanted to get the hell off the course and back to the hotel. I rand the last 2 miles at a 7:50 pace with very little effort. I crossed the finish line and was happy to be done but very disappointed in how this race panned out. Much more disappointed than I was after my DNF last year. I knew DNF was a very real possibility last year as I probably shouldn't have even started the race in my condition.
What would you do differently?:

As I look back at this race I wonder about my lack of mental toughness. Could I have started running again sooner? Was I not in my "race mode" mentality because I knew going in that KQ was probably not going to happen being one fo the oldest in a tough age group.

I need to get that competitve edge back that I had during IMSG preparation and race day. Next year at IMTX I will have a real shot and I need to be in the right place mentally to execute the way I am capable of.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

I need to re-evalutate my nutrition and hydration plan. I think I need to go back to exactly what I did at IMSG and Kona. The fewer calories, more water, and less sugar seem to be much better for my body to absorb.

I have the base and the fitness to get back to Kona. I think I realize now how hard it really is to qualify. I wonder if I just got lucky for my first KQ? I realize now you have to be fit, you have to nail nutrition/hydration, and honestly you also need to have a little luck.

I ride once in a while with Kelly Williamson who won the women's pro race and her year started out very poorly. I was talking to her and she was saying how frustrated she was with how her season was going. She said she knew in back of her mind that she had the capability to win but until she had actually done it there was always doubt. I think that explains where I am at right now. I know in the back of my mind I have the capability to get back to Kona, I just need to go out there and dot it.

Event comments:

Other than the horrible smelling and tasting water this is a great race. The venue is fantastic, especially the run along the lake. My wife absolutely loved it and staying at the host hotel made their day even better.

I will be back next year at another attempt. this time I won't forget to chew on the most powerful peppermint gum I can find before I get in the water to hopefully kill some of the horrible taste of the water.

Last updated: 2013-10-01 12:00 AM
01:06:05 | 3862 meters | 01m 43s / 100meters
Age Group: 32/260
Overall: 303/2500
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 04:01
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
05:23:34 | 112 miles | 20.77 mile/hr
Age Group: 24/260
Overall: 238/2500
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 04:14
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:14:44 | 26.2 miles | 12m 01s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/260
Overall: 0/2500
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]