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Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - TriathlonFull Ironman

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The Woodlands, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
90F / 32C
Total Time = 12h 51m 9s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 151/470
  • 00m
  • 4224 yards
  • / 100 yards
Transition 1
  • 00m
  • 00m
  • 112 miles
  • 0.00 mile/hr
Transition 2
  • 00m
  • 00m
  • 26.2 miles
  •  min/mile
Post race
Event comments:

Ironman Texas Race Report
May 21, 2011
Todd Varney
Goal: Sub 14 hours
Finish: 12:51:09
Ave Heart Rate: 147
Rating of Event: A+
Rating of Volunteers: A+
Rating of Community Support: A+
I began my full training on December in my pursuit of completing Ironman Texas. My log shows that I completed 300 hours of training in the five months leading up to the event.
I worked with Richard Wygand on an overall training plan to train and get my heart rate down and to have endurance. I also used Rick Slifkin and Doghouse Performance Cycling Center for technical advice and strategy.
I remained relatively healthy and learned to live with a left knee that is always tender and a right shin that remains ultra sensitive after a stress fracture.
In late April I began feeling confident after a 112 mile bike followed by a 21 mile run the following day. I was doing very well but then came my ten days of taper, and all the mind and body games began. My back got tight and it felt like every body part was damaged. I got one massage and two chiropractic visits to work things out. I was still feeling sub par.
On the eve of flying out I told Sandy I would cancel the event if it were local. My self confidence was shot.
I was fortunate that my original tri coach and friend Rick Slifkin was able to join us on the trip. I knew he would help me navigate the race details and would be an asset to Sandy and Travis as first time spectators. Man was I right.
I began to feel mentally comfortable at the pre-race meeting Thursday night. The race crew seemed very organized. We had also been feeling a lot of love from the community and had the feeling this was going to be a great venue, which it turned out to be.
I had a tough time sleeping Thursday night and kept thinking that my achey muscles was a bout of Rhabdo coming on. I had a bad experience years ago and my mind wanted me to bail out yet again.
Rick said I should take part in the swim practice Friday morning. We all went down to the swim start and the energy was in the air. I hopped in the water that was comfortable but had little visibility. I swam a comfortable 500 meters and felt great. I was instantly confident again. Rick said to go do a 200 meter sprint and I went to it. Again I was feeling good.
I then went on a solo seven mile ride in some winds and heat, and did a quick and painful mile run. Despite shin pain, which is normal for the first couple miles, I felt good.
Rick kept telling me to eat and drink all day long. I proceeded to do so and got in bed at 7:45pm. It took me until 10:00pm to fall asleep, as I expected, but once I did I was out.
The alarm rang at 3:40am and I woke up fresh and suprisingly comfortable. Nothing really seemed to hurt and I felt ready and excited instead of nervous and tight. I loved the Ironman message Sandy and Travis had for me on the mirror. I showered and ate before Rick picked me up at 5am.
I got to transition and put my fluids on my bike. Rick had tuned it up on Friday so I had nothing really to do. The tires seemed fine so I didn't mess with anything. I hopped back in the car and we hit the swim start very early. There was a great energy in the air and the music they were playing was perfect. It got me humming and singing and ready to rock. Mirinda Carfrae, the reigning world champ, was there supporting her boyfriend. It was cool to have some top pros at the race both participating and spectating.
At 6:30am the pros got in the water for their 6:50am start. The race director kept yelling at them because about 50 of them wouldn't go in. I guess they didn't want to tread water for that long. Haha.
I was suprised when Rick told me to get in the water at 6:45am for my 7:00am start. Once in the water I saw why. While I was one of the first 200 or so in the water there were 2,167 starting. I was front and center for what has been often called the human washing machine.
I reminded myself of my key goals for the day:
1. Have fun
2. Acknowledge volunteers and spectators
3. Remember those who I was honoring in the race
4. No glowsticks (I will explain later)
5. Finish no matter what, and beat 14 hours the the body allows it.
As the announcer hollered at folks to hurry into the water, the DJ was cranking Ozzy's Ironman. Everybody cheered and I was pumped up. I hardly remember the gun, because it was a fight for space immediately. For the first fifteen minutes it was arms and elbows and feet hitting me from all directions. I kept my head up a bit because there was no visibility in the lake and I didn't want to lose teeth or my goggles. I got to look at some massive 8 - 12k foot houses along the shore, but all I wanted was some space in the water without people. I knew all this was coming, so I kept my cool and just tried to find my spot of clear water. I found a gap and found a nice groove about 800 meters in. I still got bumped and slammed at times but I was steady and focused. I kept counting to sixty strokes sighting and counting again. I was pleased at how I felt and was getting more excited with each stroke. Once I passed the first buoy, about a mile into the race, I knew it was going to be a good day.
The final leg of the swim was down a shallow canal that was lined with spectators just a few feet away. I decided to have fun and splash some spectators that were literally above us on the short sea wall. The kids particularly liked it. The adults not so much.
As I rounded the final turn the shores were mobbed. The announcer was blaring something I could not make out, but all I wanted to do was change and find my bike.
My day with the amazing volunteers started after my swim. This event had 3,500 volunteers and were they awesome! I got a hand out of the water and then had two people strip my suit off. Another screamed out my number while another brought me my transition bag instantly.
I saw the clock read 1:33:37 and I was pissed. I knew I swam faster than this. I then hear them say that was the pro clock so my time was 1:23:37.... Sweet. I figured I was about 12-17 minutes ahead of my schedule. I hadn't worn a timepiece for this portion so I would not break form and stress over numbers. It proved to be a smart move.
I went for the tent but it was packed and over a hundred degrees in there. I sat down on the grass and geared up for the bike. Rick told me not to put my stuff in ziplocks but I was afraid of rain overnight. I cussed the ziplocks as I struggled to get everything sorted and chuckled too, knowing Rick would say "told ya bro". He also told me to swim in my jersey. I didn't and lost a solid 90 seconds putting it on a wet body.
As I grabbed my bike I wondered where Sandy, Travis and Rick were. I found out as soon as I started pedaling. I heard Sandy as I passed her and turned my head. When I did I almost crashed. Seriously. I am so glad I was away from the curb and other riders. I laughed at myself and started mashing the pedals. I finally remembered to turn on my Garmin about a mile into the ride.
There was merciful cloudcover for the early bike and about ten miles of community support as we headed out of town. While I planned to go about 19.2 mph on the first 56 miles I found myself comfortable at about 20.5 mph.
We had a small tail wind and more rolling hills than I expected. Nevertheless I kept cranking. I was so happy my heart rate was staying under 150 at 20+mph. I trained well on the bike and I was thankful for the guidance I was given.
We got out into the National Forest saw some pretty country. There were very few spectators in this area, but when we came to major intersections where cars were backed up because of us, the people waived and supported us. This was a total 180 from the idiots in Miami who yelled and tossed things at us the the October 70.3 event. Texas hospitality reigned all weekend long!
On one country road we passed a pretty little farm house that eptiomzed the amazing hospitality we found the entire trip. There was a table at the end of the driveway with a blue pitcher of water that was sweating. No chairs. No signs. Just a pitcher of cold water. The folks had clearly left it for anybody who needed it. I wish I had a photo of this.
Fortunately the race support was tremendous. There was more food and drink every 10 miles that I could have imagined. While I planned well, I broke form and ate 3 bananas instead of some of my Hammer Gel. My body craved it and I decided to oblige the senses.
As I crossed the mile 58 mile timing mat I grabbed my special needs bag and headed for a bathroom break along the road. I again laughed at myself for how much stuff I had in the bag. I grabbed some Aquaphor for the sore spots and one Jolly Rancher and tossed the other dozen items aside for the volunteers to take care of.
As I got on the bike, I realized I was on pace to ride around 5:44 in the bike split when I planned 6:10. I decided to scale it back just a tiny bit because we had more hills and a headwind coming back. It proved to be smart, because event though I was a little slower, I was passing people and feeling fresh. My left ITB bothered me a bit so I stretched it when I made a quick stop in the bushes at mile 80. It never bothered me again after this.
The sun broke through at the same time and I started to heat up. My heart rate went up to low 150s and I just kept on pace for what I was now shooting for, a 5:56 bike split.
As we rolled back into town, it was toasty, but the support again was outstanding. While I tried to go easy and have my legs fresh, I found myself wanting to fly by everybody. I did a little of both. It is at this moment that I started focusing on my mantra for the day. NO GLOWSTICKS!
At the registration, there was a lady telling Sandy to buy glowsticks to give me when I am running after dark. While sweet, it presumed I would be finishing after 9:00pm or so, or over 14 hours. No way. I told her not to buy a single glowstick.
I came to transition and dismounted perfectly. I took my helmet off, then got worried that I would be DQ'd for taking it off before transition entry. I asked quickly as I ran and a race crew member said I was fine as long as it was on when I dismounted. Whew! I ran through the transition canopy and before I knew it, there was a volunteer taking my bike and another helping take off my shoes. Outstanding!
I was jogging toward my gear bag when I saw Rick. I put my arms up in celebration because I knew I rocked a sub 6 hour bike split in the Doghouse uniform. It was important for me to represent them well. The volunteers tossed me my bag and I hit the tent because I decided to change shorts, and they don't allow naked old guys out in the open. Haha. In the tent there was some carnage. Several guys were packing up and going home. While I felt bad for them, I felt energized to go tackle my first marathon. I was scared of the long run, since I had never run a marathon, but refused to finish after dark if I could help it.
I took a quick bathroom break and took off for the run exit. As soon as I got out Sandy and Travis were there to cheer me on. It pumped me up and got me in the right mindset for my first of three loops on the run course.
As I started running I was at a 9:40 pace. I knew it would be tough to sustain, and I was hot with a wicked headache early in the run. I decided to mix in a bit of walking early because I was worried about hitting the wall. I really wanted to go under 5 hours, though my true goal I trained to was a 5:22 marathon.
The first 4 miles of the run course were pretty but away from most spectators. We ran by some massive houses again and I crossed the bridge where the swim start was. It literally felt like yesterday that I was on that shoreline jumping in.
The best part about the run course, besides the aid stations that seemed to be every .8 mile, was the 4 mile section along the waterfront that took us through the main street of The Woodlands. The waterfront is full of parks, hotels, condos, shops, bars, and tons of people. The support and cheering I heard all day was incredible. While many people cheered "Go Todd" because names are on our race bibs, I heard "DOGHOUSE!" well over 100 times. Some women loved the pink stripes on the jersey and let me know.
As I finished the first loop I got to stop and kiss Trav and Sandy. It was awesome. I was feeling great, was on a decent pace, and was ready for lap 2. Rick chatted with me for a few seconds to give advice and take a few photos. As I passed the finish line (adjacent, not through it), knowing I had two loops to go, I waved to it. I will see you soon my friend. NO GLOWSTICKS tonight!
The second loop was going ok but my stomach was acting up. I decided at the last minute not to mix my own Heed drink on the run, because it was a pain in the ass on the bike and my bottle with my starter mix of coco water and Heed smelled putrid. I had to dump it and use the Perform drink on the course. Perform is full of sugar.
At the half marathon point I was somewhat pleased with my time but knew I could do better. Then the stomach revolt came on. I started gagging and struggled to hold down my fluids. I knew that if I vomited once, it would likely be my downfall, because once I start I cannot stop. Fortunately I carried that same 10oz bottle that had the Heed in it and would fill it with water at each stop in addition to the sips of Perform I had been taking.
At the mile 14 aid station I elected to abandon all drinks except for water, and a little defizzed Coke later in the run. I also scaled back on the Gels and figured I would finish dehydrated instead of collapsing with GI distress from sugary energy drinks on the course. At mile 16 I started feeling better and mile 17 was among my fastest. I would run 9:55 for 5 minutes then walk for 2 minutes to conserve energy and bring the heart rate out of the 160s.
I got to see my supporters one last time before my last loop and Travis made my day. He was holding a sign he had made with Sandy and it was upside down. It was so cute. More kisses, a bit of whining about how beat I was, and then on to run. Sandy was so sweet and proud. Man I love her. "NO GLOWSTICKS" I said out loud as I ran off.
Rick decided to run along with me for a few minutes, which for those of you who are purists, yes, I guess I had "outside help". Whatever. I told Rick I was getting worn down and that I could walk it in and still finish in a solid 13:40:00. Rick told me to settle down and go for sub 13 hours. He reminded me that I had done the hard work already and could do this. While he wanted to run the whole loop with me, we both knew it was best for me to continue this journey alone. Most of my training was solo, except for some rides with Joe Cardenas, so finishing solo was what I needed and wanted.
As I crossed the 20 mile marker I looked for "the wall" that people talk about. I did not see it, hear it, smell it or feel it. I went faster. I started doing math and realized that I could slow trot and finish in 12:58. This wasn't good enough. Just walk enough to ensure you will have legs for a strong finish. NO GLOWSTICKS is what I kept thinking. Stupid but appropriate.
At mile 22 I picked up the pace again. I was about to enter the crazy zone with thousands of wonderful supporters, and I wanted to look good. I walked in little gaps and ran strong with the crowds. I got a little teary eyed at mile 23, because I knew I had to run a 36 minute 5k to finish under 13 hours. I can run a 22 and figured I would do around 27 at this point.
When I crossed the last timing mat with 1.8 miles to go I made a strategic decision. Walk for .4 miles then run it in strong. This is what I did, and it was a dream finish. I ran the final mile at a sub 9 pace mainly because there were so many people cheering and hollering. More Doghouse cheers, etc. I passed about 40 people and was feeling great. In the final quarter mile I rounded a couple corners and found myself hooting, hollering, fist pumping, while finding a nice clear spot so my supporters could see me. I was all alone down the chute when the announcer said "Todd Varney, West Palm Beach, Florida, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" I crossed the line a few seconds later with arms raised, a fist pump, and a big smile. Holy shit. I did it. I looked at the clock and it was around 12:51. Wow!
I immediately heard and saw Rick, as his tall frame and unique hair would stand out anywhere. I was making my way to find him and my family when the volunteers helped me with my medal, timing chip, water, a photo, etc. The guy was so friggin nice. He said he was my personal assistant if I needed help with anything. In a blur I said thanks and found Travis, Sandy and Rick. Travis jumped in my arms for kisses and photos, and my biceps were screaming. I knew I was dehydrated but felt good to be with him.
We decided to get out of there and get some fluids. One the way to the car I was proclaiming how happy I was when nausea hit me like a bat to the head. I dropped and lost everything right at the edge of the course and adjacent a police officer. Before I knew it I was hooked up to an IV and being wheeled to the medical building. They were wheeling me on the actual course for a short cut, and people kept asking me if I finished. Sandy had kindly taken my medal because I barfed on it. It's cool how at least 10 random people thought to ask if I finished. Individual accomplishment meant something to the people of The Woodlands and it was appreciated.
The medical visit was about an hour and the 2 IVs were perfect. I felt very well and was good to go. More praise is needed for the medical volunteers. They had a full house of wounded on their hands on this hot and humid day. I had a hard time finding Sandy and Rick after exiting the medical building, and for the first time thought that it would be cool if I had a glowstick. Haha.
I took a quick shower and had a huge burger, fries and Cokes with Rick. While he had a 6 pack of beer for me at the finish, we kept those on ice until Sunday night. Rick presented me with a great Ironman charm from Debra and him. It was very thoughful and touching. Thank you!
Special thanks to Sandy and Travis, along with Rick Slifkin, Doghouse, and Richard Wygand! Outstanding support and advice!!!
Now I am off to cut 14 pounds and kick ass at Augusta 70.3 in September.
Todd Varney

Last updated: 2011-05-26 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 4224 yards | / 100yards
Age Group: 0/470
Overall: 0/
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 00:00
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
00:00:00 | 112 miles | 0.00 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/470
Overall: 0/
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 00:00
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
00:00:00 | 26.2 miles |  min/mile
Age Group: 0/470
Overall: 0/
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2011-05-26 9:35 AM


Subject: Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas

2013-05-21 6:49 PM
in reply to: #3519779

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas
Nice job, congrats. May race Augusta as well.
2013-05-21 9:33 PM
in reply to: #3519779

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Muskego, Wisconsin
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas
Well done. Congrats on finishing a tough day.
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