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Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - TriathlonFull Ironman

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The Woodlands, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
89F / 32C
Total Time = 16h 36m 12s
Overall Rank = 1982/
Age Group = M 30-34
Age Group Rank = 234/
Pre-race routine:

First let me say that I did this race in support of Team Living Water and raised money to help build wells and bring clean water to those in need. The lack of clean drinking water kills approximately 1 child every 15 seconds. This is a ministry that is central to our church and it was amazing seeing the donations from friends and family to this truly awesome cause. By race day I had raised a total of $1330 which was well beyond my goal of $500! Amazing!

Second, this is probably going to be long. Very long.

I don't know what really happened with my training but I trailed off a LOT and was going into this race VERY undertrained. Comparing my actual training volume to what my plan called for I probably did 20-30% of the planned training. I knew this would be a long day, but I was ready and excited for it!

Drove up to The Woodlands with friends Justin and Derek on Wednesday to get checked in. Got to the Ironman village about 30 min after it opened and breezed right through the check in tent. This went very smooth since there were not a million people there yet. After checking in they funnel you right through the Ironman store and I had planned on not buying anything until after the race in case I didn't finish but I couldn't resist an M Dot and IMTX pint glass and a 140.6 and M Dot sticker that I had coveted for so long. I told Kylie that the stickers were going in a drawer and if I didn't finish they were to disappear.

After getting checked in we headed out to drive the whole bike course and ride a short portion of it. Even though I was so close I never made it up to drive or ride the course in the months leading up to the race even though I had planned on riding it several times. I was a little intimidated because other than Woodlands Pkwy there is not a flat road on the course and everything I train on is pancake flat. I had planned a section to ride on the north portion of the course but the roads turned out to be a little busy with traffic and lack of shoulder so we did an 11 mile out and back on one of the more less traveled roads. Had a good ride and was pleasantly surprised that I actually enjoyed the rolling hills. Back in the truck and drove the remainder of the course and then headed straight home to drop off Justin and Derek.

Thursday was my pack and plan day where I got all of my transition and SN bags packed. This went fairly smooth and uneventful. I was scrolling through Facebook and noticed that Joe (freeswimmingfish) posted that he was getting checked in and at the athlete dinner (which I hadn't really planned on going to). I felt like I was forgetting something so I checked the schedule and saw that there was a "mandatory" athlete meeting that started in about an hour. I frantically sent Joe a text and he told me that I didn't really need to be there and they would not know anyway. Phew, crisis averted.

Friday morning we planned on heading up fairly early and making it to the practice swim between 8-10 but things didn't go as planned. We got to The Woodlands about 9:45 and I was walking up to North Shore Park as they were herding the swimmers out of the water. Oh well, no big deal. I just wanted to feel the water so I walked down and sat on the dock and dangled my feet for a few minutes. The water felt great. I thought it might be a little cool to start with but knew I would warm up quick.

After leaving North Shore Park, we met up with Joe and Kevin and headed to transition for bike and gear bag check in. This went smooth and from there we walked down the waterway to the Ironman village. Shopped here and there and stood around for a while as Kevin had some race wheels put on his ride. It was great to get to talk to Joe for a while since other than a ride here and there we hadn't hung out in a few years. After a while Joe headed out and Kylie and I stopped a The Goose's Acre restaurant on the waterway for lunch. Food was good and we walked the long way back to the car. We have now walked probably 3-4 miles for the day. I didn't realize we would walk so much or I probably would have opted for running shoes rather than flip flops. Oh well.

Headed to the grocery store and then to my cousins house where we would be spending the night. Once there we put our feet up and relaxed the rest of the day. I drank more water this day than ever before knowing how hot it was going to be on race day. I cooked some penne pasta with italian sausage for dinner as a thank you for the place to stay and we enjoyed some great conversation with family that we don't get to see very often. Headed off to bed about 9:30 or so after a nice hot shower knowing that the alarm would be going off EARLY.
Event warmup:

Alarm went off early (I think 4:45ish) and I got up and dressed. I slept pretty fair considering the nerves. I made a piece of toast with peanut butter and nutella and ate almost all of it while drinking water. I am NOT a breakfast eater and usually have to force food down before and race and this was no different. Sipped a a Dr. Pepper in the car on the way to transition since I basically live on DP and knew that the caffein would be needed. I didn't want to get there super early so Kylie dropped me off at transition about 5:45ish and I put my bottles on my bike and nutrition in my bento box. Stopped to get a swim cap as I left transition since they had been left out of our race packets. From here I walked the mile from transition to the swim start at North Shore Park drinking water the whole way.

Once at North Shore Park I did all that I could to stay away from the nervous energy and keep calm. I found a post to lean up against and just relaxed, drank water, and I think I may have eaten a clif bar. I did a fairly good job remaining calm and on a nervous scale of 0-10 I think I was about a 4. I finished my water bottle and dropped it and my morning clothes in my bag and dropped my special needs bags in their respective places.

Age groupers started getting in the water at 6:40 which gave them 20 minutes to tread water or hang on to a kayak. I moseyed down to the swim start and stood on a wall to watch the pro's go off. After watching them head out I stood around as long as humanly possible to minimize the time I had to tread water. This was probably my best move all day. As I was just about to head to the ramp I pulled my goggles out of my shorts leg and somehow pulled the nose piece apart and separated from the eye piece. Crap. Fumbled with that to put it back together and prayed that it wouldn't become a problem later. I shuffled down the boat ramp and into the water right in front of the start clock at 6:58:40 with just over a minute to tread water. Sadly, looking back and watching video's I somehow never heard the National Anthem sung. Oh well, here we go!
  • 1h 59m 11s
  • 3862 meters
  • 03m 05s / 100 meters

I managed to hold out as long as I could because I didn't want to tread water for 3 days and I headed down the boat ramp and got into the water and the big clock in front of mean said 6:58:40. Excellent, just over a minute and the cannon will sound and we will start this ginormous day! My 2 square feet of personal space quickly became 0 as more stragglers like me made their way into the water and then BAM, the cannon that was apparently RIGHT in front of my face went off! Ears ringing, smelling gun powder, and smoke everywhere was not exactly how I thought this day would start but here we go!

I was very wide to the right which is just where I wanted to be. I was able to start swimming almost immediately and the contact was really not too bad. Since the majority of the people were to my left I spent most of my time in the first 1000 yds or so breathing to my left so that I could see what was going on and protect my face. I got kicked a few times but nothing bad or troubling. I tried to draft when I could but the person in front of me would inevitably stop and breast stroke or swim all kinds of crooked. At one point, after swimming into the same goof ball 3 times because he was zig zagging he looked up and said "you again?" and I wanted to comment back that he was the one swimming like a snake but I just put my head down and kept trucking. I think it was Marcy (dodgers mom) who said in her previous IMTX report that she got groped but did some groping herself and this was kinda how I felt. I remembered that quote several times as I would get swam up on or swim up on someone else.

Looking at the map it appeared that this swim was basically broken into thirds. The southbound section, the northbound section, and then the canal. This helped a lot with judging about how far I was. I really didn't sight off of the buoy's too much, instead I just followed the big mass in front of me. Surely they were going the right direction.

I was very relieved to make it to the first red turn buoy and swam probably a little closer to it than I should have since it was crowded but did not have a problem getting around it. It was just before this buoy that the first wetsuit swimmers who started 10 min after us caught up to me. I was a little surprised that it was this fast but I am a pretty slow swimmer.

After rounding the turn buoy I rolled over and looked at my watch for a quick second to see where we were time wise and I think it said something like 36 minutes or so. I am OK with this. Just keep swimming. As we headed back north I started to pay a lot more attention to my stroke and made sure that I was breathing bilaterally swimming straight. I stayed way wide to the right like I had headed out and this worked great as there were not near as many people. At one point I noticed that I was really close to the retaining wall on my right and I actually put my foot down and was able to stand up. I had a flash back to my first tri ever 6 years ago when I knew nothing about sighting and my wave swam straight as I swam completely diagonal almost swimming straight head first into a retaining wall. Here I made an adjustment and was sure to get myself back on track and away from the wall. Approaching the turn into the canal seemed to take FOREVER. It was like I could see where the turn was, I just could not get there. The canal was much wider at the start of it than I thought it would be also.

Random thought: Throughout this swim I thought a lot. I really looked forward to this swim because when swimming in the pool my mind is constantly occupied by counting distance and is not able to wander. I was excited to have a swim this long where I could just let my mind wander and not focus on anything in particular. I prayed several times, asking God to remind me throughout the day of all the children who do not have clean water and how we can bless them. I thought about the day and what all was going to happen. About how big of a deal Ironman is and what a huge undertaking this would be.

Once in the canal I was just pretty ready to be done. I would occasionally look behind me just to make sure I still saw caps and I was not the last one since it kinda felt that way. We were swimming due east, straight into a rising sun which made sighting near impossible if you were trying to look ahead for the finish. We swam under a bridge providing some shade and I was fairly certain that I could actually see the finish turn buoy not far ahead of me at all. This made me excited but I didn't want to get my hopes up so I convinced myself that this was not actually the finish and it would actually be further up the canal.

About this time there were more and more people lining the walls of the canal and the next thing I knew Kylie and Derek were on my left yelling my name! That made me excited and I gave them a big cheesy smile. Looked ahead and saw the turn buoy meaning the finish was here! I rounded the buoy and swam until I hit the awesome ladder leading out of the water and a volunteer grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the water. First IRONMAN open water swim, DONE!

I smiled and Kylie and Derek and yelled at them that I wasn't last and lapped my watch as I crossed the mat. I saw 1:59 on my watch and was just glad at this point that it wasn't 2:20!

As I headed toward transition I heard Mike Reilly call my name and thought this may be the first but it will NOT be the last time that I hear him call my name!
What would you do differently?:

Swim more! I had done 1 full IM distance swim in the pool and did it in 1:44 so this was quite a bit slower but oh well. I seriously neglected swim training for this race and it showed. It was an absolute blast thought and I was glad to be out of the water and headed into transition!
Transition 1
  • 14m 19s

I headed through the transition bag area and a nice volunteer directed me toward my bag and into the change tent I went. Being a SLOW swimmer has the advantage of a not so crowded change tent for sure! I grabbed a chair and dumped out my bag being careful with my shoes since I had my sunglasses, socks, and some nutrition stuff in them. I swam in some old tri shorts and tri jersey so I was doing a full change here. I had a small hand towel and did my best to dry off before changing shorts. I glanced back at the opening to the changing tent and noticed lots of female volunteers there directing traffic as we are all in here naked but didn't give it much thought and continued on. Got my Oomph tri shorts on (which I LOVE BTW) without any problem but then had to have the volunteer help me get my jersey on since I was still fairly wet. I sat back down and worked hard to get my feet dry and all of the grass off before putting on my cycling shoes because I didn't want anything jacking with my feet today! Loaded up my pockets with clif shot, clif bar, and more accelerade mix and then realized I hadn't put on my heart rate monitor strap. Was careful getting this on since I didn't want to dump out my pockets and have to re-pack them. Helmet, sunglasses, and gloves on and I headed out of the tent.

Once out of the tent I stopped at the sunscreen team and got all oiled up. I already had a burn on the back of my neck that I didn't want to make any worse!

Jogged to my rack and found my bike without problem since it was one of the only one's left on the rack!
What would you do differently?:

Not take so long? Seriously I don't know what I did for this long but I wasn't exactly in a huge rush either. I think changing clothes here actually helped because I didn't want to be covered in lake water all day long. Would try to be faster and more methodical next time.
  • 7h 56m 21s
  • 112 miles
  • 14.11 mile/hr

Alright, here we go. I love to ride my bike so this is going to be a lot of fun, I am thinking. Everywhere that I train is flat as a pancake but very windy so this is going to be a big change for me. I am not too intimidated by the hills, I just know it is going to be different. Let's get started!

I have discovered that I have a strange problem. I swallow a lot of air when I swim. The longer I swim, the more air I swallow. This is not a good problem to have.

As I head out on the bike my belly is hurting! I have swallowed so much air that I am bloated and cramping bad. At times it hurt so bad that I would audibly moan in pain. OK, this can't last too long I think. Surely it will be gone by the first aid station or so. Aside from this abdominal pain, my legs feel GREAT! Headed out Woodlands Parkway is flat, and I am actually passing some people right off the bat. Even though I love cycling, I am not very fast so this is a little surprising to me but we will just go with it. I start noticing the water bottles and gel flasks on the ground and am reminded that I really have to pay attention because I don't want to go down as the result of someone's abandoned water bottle. I was very surprised along this section to actually see 3 aerobottle's on the road. This section is FLAT and SMOOTH. How in the world do you lose you aerobottle and why in the world would you not go back and get it??? Anywho, to each their own.

Cruising right along and excited to be on the bike but really wanting this cramping to go away! The cramping is preventing me from getting down into the aero bars but I am keeping good speeds and feeling good so no biggie. I dropped my chain along Woodlands Pkwy for the first time ever on this bike but I just stopped and threw it back on real quick and was on my way again. My plan for the bike was to go easy. This was going to be a LONG ride and I wanted to save something for this little marathon at the end. Made the turn to head north and started with the rolling hills and the legs are feeling great. There were several of us who would leap frog for quite a while throughout this section. I was drinking water like crazy and sipping my accelerade some as well. I took a Clif Shot mocha along through here too.

When I hit the first aid station I grabbed a bottle of water and refilled the aero bottle as I cruised up to the port a pot. I stopped and went pee and was pleased to see that the everything was still coming out clear and I was staying on top of my hydration. I headed out from this aid station still cramping pretty bad but with my legs feeling great. I was really enjoying the rolling hills and the beautiful farm land at this point. The gently rolling hills give the legs a break from the constant pressure of riding on flat roads. I was changing gears left and right and making sure to keep my cadence high and my legs feeling light. I did notice the age on the calf of one of the guys that I was leap frogging and realized that he was the one 79 year old guy who was the oldest racer out there today. He was looking great and I was very inspired.

As the miles continued to tick by I continued to re-assess the abdominal pain that I was having. It was not seeming to get better or worse despite all of the things that I was doing. I was wondering if it could be a calorie or hydration issue but I finally dismissed all of those considerations and came to the conclusion that I simply had gas and it would be gone eventually. Either that or my abdomen would explode. Either way, I would feel better eventually.

My nutrition plan was fairly simple. Lots of water, sip my accelerade bottle since I usually finish a bottle over about 20 miles, eat honey stinger waffles, jelly belly sport beans, clif bar and whatever else I happened to grab from aid stations as I was hungry with either clif shot or gu roctane mixed in and a vague consideration for counting calories. I have done this over and over in training. I am not a huge eater as it is and I know that the majority of GI distress in endurance racing is the direct result from calorie excess and not deficit so I would try to assure that I was getting a couple hundred calories an hour but really just eat as I was hungry. The one problem that I experienced was the lemonade accelerade that I have drank for a year and loved on every single ride and post run, simply did NOT taste good today. I expected to drink 5+ bottles throughout the ride but only managed to finish 1 and a half. My nutrition plan few straight out the window fairly early on. Oh well, this is Ironman, just go with it!

I had noticed a few times that my HR monitor was not reading and knew it was because I had not gotten it wet when I put it on. At the 3rd aid station I finally squirted some water on my chest and it started reading instantly and was showing the numbers that I expected to see based on my feel so all was good. About mile 25ish my computer just stopped working. Hmm. I stopped and adjusted the magnet and sensor and was unable to fix the problem so I just decided that it was no big deal and I would just keep cruising. I was actually enjoying not knowing exactly how far I was going or how fast and just concentrating on riding by feel. At some point a little while later it randomly started reading again. Now since there were mile markers every 10 miles (who knows how accurate they actually were) I would compare the distance on the sign to that on my computer to figure out what I needed to add to the comp distance to know how far I had gone. My computer ended up about 6 miles behind the signs for the majority of the ride.

I continued to pass mile markers and aid stations with the abdominal cramping getting a little better. At each aid station I would take water to top off my aero bottle and occasionally a banana half. I stopped again at the 3rd aid station (roughly 35 miles or so) to pee and all was still looking good. I was making a very conscious effort to drink a lot of water because it was starting to get HOT. I was looking forward to the short section on Osborn road through the national forrest after driving it just a few days earlier. This road is completely shaded with HUGE trees that create just a beautiful place to ride. I knew that a lot of this road was slightly uphill and the road condition was not the best but I didn't care because it was such a beautiful place.

Once off of this road I was riding on a section that I had ridden earlier in the week wit Derek and Justin. Turning westbound on the road we had ridden was another nice spot since it was familiar. The road conditions were getting worse and I knew that we were approaching the one spot where there was about 8 feet of gravel at the bottom of a hill that we had negotiated on our previous ride. This spot was uneventful for me since I knew the better line was up the middle of it rather than on the sides.

As I approached the halfway point the cramping was starting to really get better and I was finally able to pass gas. Maybe TMI for a race report but once this happened, my belly problems were gone. I was now looking forward to my special needs bag and the pringles and dr pepper inside of it. Special needs was actually at mile 60 and I was very happy to see it. I had a nice volunteer help me with my bag as I stood straddling my bike. I opened the dr pepper and took a few sips and sat it on the ground. Moving on to the pringles I was eating them 3 and 4 at a time. I had about a serving and a half in a plastic baggie in case someone else needed some too but I ended up devouring all of them in a matter of seconds. I was not interested in the fig newtons but I put the pop tarts and extra honey stinger waffles in my pocket in case they sounded good later. Took a few more sips of the DP and headed out.

Great, now my belly feels back to normal finally but by now I am starting to tire. Despite the best laid plans for century rides, my longest ride in training was only 68.5 miles. As I neared this point I was considering how the rest of the day would feel. I think it was either at aid station 6 or 7 that I grabbed a Bonk Breaker bar for the first time of the day. I had tried them at the village and really liked them. After sitting out in the heat all day, the consistency was perfect. Not as hard to chew as a Clif Bar. The peanut butter chocolate chip went down great.

Pressing on I could definitely tell that I was tired but knew that there was still a long road ahead. I kept thinking about the elevation map and how there was an overall net elevation loss on the trip back to town but you would not know it given that the worst hills of the day fall between miles 60-80. There were some heartbreakers here. Some 8 mph sufferfest climbs took place for sure. The roads were still beautiful during this section and I continued to really enjoy the scenery but I was starting to really be ready to be off my bike and on my feet.

Passing the mile 90 point and turning left onto 1488 was good and bad. It was good knowing that there were on 22 miles to go. My normal out and back route that I trained on was 22 miles. I can do this in my sleep. In fact, I'm sorta wishing I was asleep. The bad was that this road is a 4 lane hwy and the traffic is moving. The westbound people are backed up for miles due to our turn and you can tell they are not happy. There is NO shade through here and it is now REALLY HOT. I can feel that the tops of my thighs are getting burned and I am now almost coasting on the downhills just for a little break.

The turn onto Tamina was welcomed as there was some shade in through here even though it was short lived. Turning right onto 2978 knowing that we were in the home stretch into town was great. I was even more surprised because this section was shorter than I remembered it being and I somehow missed noticing passing Woodlands Pkwy so we hit the turn on Windfern into the neighborhood much sooner than expected. I knew this road was mostly uphill though gradual but I was glad to be on it. There was a nice lady on one corner sitting in a lawn chair with a garden hose stretched from her back yard. I was very grateful for this burst of fresh water on my face and body!

Cruising in the last few miles knowing that this ride was almost over brought a time of reflection. I was almost finished with my first Ironman bike. I had planned to be around 7:15 for around a 15.5 avg and knew that I was coming in at just under 8 hrs and just over a 14 avg. This was a bummer but this is Ironman and things do not typically go as planned. My nutrition plan was lost but I had still done good with some new things from the course. I had no idea what this marathon was going to bring but even though it hurt, I really enjoyed the bike.

Coming down one of the last roads through the Woodlands one of the spectators yelled something that struck me hard. This lady yelled "way to go, hero" as I rolled by feeling somewhat defeated. I thought hard about the word hero. How in the world did I qualify as a hero? I guess to many people who believe that they could never do it, we are hero's. But I will be the first to tell you that if I can pull this off, ANYONE can! I may be skinny and look fit, but I'm slow!

Cruising into transition I saw Kylie and Derek on the side of the road and I could tell that they were relieved to see me! I know Kylie was worried since I was behind schedule a little. As I came into transition a nice volunteer took my bike and I told her that she could have it!

Ironman bike, DONE. It was a long ride and took longer than planned but it is now in the books!
What would you do differently?:

Train a LOT more. I rode a fair amount but having my longest ride only be 68.5 miles kinda hurt me. I had trained with my nutrition plan for quite a while and never had an issue with it until today so I don't know what is to blame there. Overall the only thing limiting my ability was myself and my lack of training.
Transition 2
  • 09m 1s

As I came into transition along the fence line to the transition bags and change tent I talked with Kylie and Derek a little. I had done the math and semi knew what my run pace needed to be but my brain was becoming mush. I asked Kylie to figure out what pace I needed to keep and she told me I needed to maintain a 15 min/mile pace and that would give me a little cushion.

Into the change tent and got the bike shoes off, changed into my favorite running socks and got my shoe's on. Put my visor on and some new chamois cream and off I go. I really have NO idea what took so long. I gave my bag to another great volunteer and headed out of the tent. I stopped at the sunscreen folks again and made sure that they put some on the tops of my thighs since I was getting burned there already.
What would you do differently?:

Not take a nap? No clue what took so long here!
  • 6h 17m 20s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 14m 24s  min/mile

As I headed out of transition I was really curious as to what my legs were going to feel like. In all of my training I had done a 9 min run 1 min walk rotation and that was my "plan" today with the addition of walking the aid stations no matter where they fell within that time space. I had hoped to be able to use this rotation for the first half marathon and then just do whatever necessary to survive for the second half. This plan went out the window fairly quickly!

Looking at my watch I started running as I came out of T2 and was surprised that at the moment my legs actually felt pretty good. I was able to run without much issue and this made me excited for now. We did a short little out and back on a patch of dirt along the waterway and the first mileage sign that you see is 18 miles...hmm, that sucks. Long way to go before that sign is for me! At the end of this little out and back we head up a short (maybe 15 feet) but STEEP hill and find ourselves looping a blacktop parking lot before making our way down one of the wooded trails and out onto Lake Woodlands Dr. Here we hit the first aid station and I remember grabbing some chips and water here and a few cold sponges for my head. Still feeling OK we head over the bridge over the lake where what seems like days ago we were swimming and down into North Shore park for a loop through there too.

While running through North Shore park I hit my second walk break and I can feel that I am now hurting much more than I was 10 min ago. I am trying to walk a pretty fast pace and now all of the iron math is going through my head trying to figure out if I am going to be able to make cut off.'s. I walked up on the guy who was walking the whole thing in full fire fighter gear and asked him about what pace he was walking. He was not sure but thought it was around a 17min/mile and I knew that wouldn't cut it. This right here was my dark part of the run. I had a very real fear that I was not going to make the 17hr course cut off but I was going to do everything that I could so that if I didn't I would at least know that I tried. Now I know that I have to take whatever means necessary to make this work so it is time to experiment.

I decided to try a 4 min run 1 min walk and did that for a rotation or two and it didn't seem to work. After walking off and on for a while I finally came up with a winning plan, at least for now. I found that I felt OK when running 5-6 min and then walking 4-5 to recover. I decided to do this for as long as I could knowing that the more 12 min miles I could hammer out now, the more wiggle room it would give me as the day got longer.

Coming along Woodlands Pkwy you cross a pedestrian bridge over the lake that is about 8 feet wide and fairly long. One runner beside me asked another runner if the bridge was moving and the reply he got was "I sure hope so!" which made me laugh out loud.

Now I am just ticking off aid stations, mostly drinking water, coke, eating oranges and whatever may sound good with some cold water and sponges on the head to cool off. I was very careful all day to keep my feet dry and think that saved me since I had NO blisters when the day was over. Headed through the neighborhood on the east side of the lake was beautiful. Huge mansion homes, people out in their yards, amazing. At the end of the neighborhood you wander down a short sidewalk and whaaala, you are back on the waterway! This is now just past the mile 6 marker and at this point I am mostly running 6 and walking 4 and feeling OK.

Quick thought about the course: About half of the run is along the waterway and absolutely packed with people out cheering, eating and drinking at the restaurants, and generally having a great time. The energy through this section is electric. The second half being on the roads and neighborhood, etc, is much more sporadic with spectators and much more quiet. I have heard a lot of people say they didn't like this section being so quiet but I actually really enjoyed it. For me and this being my first IM, it was nice to have a little quiet and alone time after being bombarded like a rock star for a few miles. Anyway, back to the RR.

Headed along the waterway this first lap I was looking for Kylie and Derek but not quite sure where they would be. I eventually saw them across the waterway and I know they were happy to see me. Running the rest of the waterway I learned where the turns and aid stations and things were which made me feel better for the next two loops. Coming back up the other side was great to see them and give them an update on my condition. Continuing on along the waterway and past transition was very happy to be starting loop 2.

As I started the second loop and looked at my watch I was happy to see that I was right about 2 hours and knew that if I could maintain something similar to that for the next two loops I would be OK and make it in before midnight. It was also great to be starting the second loop because it seemed like everyone that I had been running with the past 2 hours were either on their second or third and that seemed so far away!

Down the short dirt out and back and past the mile 18 sign again knowing that next time it was for me, I thanked the nice volunteer at the top of that short dirt hill. She was a very sweet older lady who said that she missed the swim cutoff my 2 minutes and had been out volunteering the rest of the day. That was humbling. Big time.

At this point I know what to expect from the loop, I know where the aid stations are, it is just about keeping moving. I am still running about 5 out of every 10 min and power walking to recover. Aid stations are more of the same, water, coke, oranges, piece of banana here and there, etc. Somewhere toward the middle or so of this loop I tried the chicken broth. After hearing for years how it is simply heaven in a cup I was excited and then VERY disappointed. I didn't like it at all! Later after the race talking with Joe (freeswimmingfish) he made a good point. He said that the chicken broth is one of those things that if your body needs it at the time it tastes fabulous so I must have just not needed it.

When asked in North Shore park if I wanted my special needs bag I declined because nothing sounded all that good but asked if I would have access to it on my third lap and was told that they thought I would. Turned out they were not available that late but it didn't matter. I had just planned to get the clean socks out and stuff them in my pocket cause I didn't want to lose a good pair of running socks. Oh well.

Along the backside of this loop coming down the trail along Woodlands Pkwy I made a comment to a guy that I knew was on his second loop too because we were in the change tent together in transition. I told him that I was wishing this was our third loop instead of our second and he asked me if this was my first IM. I told him it was and he told me congratulations and we had plenty of time to make it in. After asking him if it was his first I learned that this was actually his 31st IM so I decided that he probably knew what he was talking about and I could believe him. He and I would continue to leap frog each other for the majority of the run.

It is now dark and cooling off which I am very thankful for. This section of trail is heavily wooded and has glow necklaces hanging in the trees to light the way. This was really cool but also kinda messed with my depth perception. Out of the woods and through the RWB aid station we go and back over the pedestrian bridge and we are headed into the mansion neighborhood again. The neighborhood was pretty uneventful this time aside from a nice lady who had come out of her house and was handing out popsicles out of a cooler. I told her she was a savior and enjoyed my red popsicle until I got tired of it and threw it at a tree. I am now getting pretty tired and as we head out onto the waterway, my 5/5 run/walk has decreased quite a bit. I am now trying new things and running 2 walking 3 or 4, etc. Whatever it takes to keep moving.

I saw Kylie and Derek across the waterway and Justin where there now too. I think I told them that I hurt and just kept plugging along. There are still a bagillion people out cheering and the energy is still amazing. You can still here Mike Reilly up on the bridge calling people Ironman. Just past the 16ish mile mark on this loop I pass the turn for the second time where finishers head up to the finish and the rest of us continue on straight. I really wished that I was heading up that hill!

As I passed my crew again Justin rode his bike along side me for 50 yds or so to see how I was doing. We joked a little and then I headed off into the darkness again with my newly acquired glow necklace, pretty much power walking the whole time. I passed transition and down the little dirt out and back again. I wanted to kick that mile 18 sign over when I saw it because it had haunted me all day. I don't know what it was about that particular sign but I was glad to see it go.

The majority of this loop is a blur. I walked the vast majority of it going as fast of a walking pace as I could but would occasionally pick out a cone in the road or a street lamp and run until I got there. Doing more iron math I knew I would make it and just continued on reflecting on the events of the day. I commented to several others that I had no clue what made us all think this was a good idea and one guy replied as we were going through North Shore park around the 20 mile mark that in a short 10k it would all be worth it. Good point. Just keep moving.

Somewhere at the start of this loop I got some coke that was not defizzed and it kinda upset my stomach so I didn't touch it for the rest of the way. I took about half a gu in North Shore park but it didn't really hit the spot so back to water and oranges I went. Along the back side of the loop, the Bicycle World aid station which is my local bike shop was amazing again. They had disco lights, great music and great people. Continued ticking off a few miles, through the wooded trail, along the south side of the lake and back through the mansion neighborhood for the last time and back out onto the waterway knowing it would all be over soon.

Here is where it got scary. I was doing more iron math and somehow something was not right. I had been ok on time and all of the sudden I wasn't. What happened? I had not seen the mile 23 marker and that was not good. If I was not there yet, I was potentially not going to make it. I started running and it HURT. Every time I ran my knee would hurt and I would only manage about a minute before having to walk again. Nervous at this point is an understatement of the century. I ran up on another guy and asked him if we had passed the mile 23 marker and he told me he thought so but wasn't too sure. That did not build confidence. The next thing I knew we came down a short hill and hit the mile 24 marker. Holy crap! Huge sigh of relief. Don't know how I could have missed the 23 marker but now I have about 55 min to go 2.2 miles. I can crawl that if I have to!

These last couple of miles were amazing. The feeling of almost being done and knowing that barring some kind of major disaster or bone protruding from skin I was going to finish was such a relief. As I left the waterway for a short time past the Anadarko aid station making my way back across the bridge to the other side I remembered the bald guy who had been standing on that corner for hours telling people that if this was there last lap they had a mile and a quarter to go and there he was again, but this time that message was for ME!

Back down onto the waterway and down the little out and back at the end through that last aid station and I was on a mission. The finish is close and I can feel it! The look on all of our faces as we are making our way through this section was awesome! I passed a few people who were finished and on their way back to their cars and the one thing they said was it didn't matter how late it was, the finishers medal was the same for everyone! Just as I made the right turn up the hill where I had previously had to go straight for the last two loops I glanced across the waterway and saw two runners still making their way along. I knew that unless they start running hard they are not going to make it in time and that was upsetting. Quick prayer for them and off we go.

Headed up the hill and toward the finish shoot the energy is huge. You can not tell that it is almost the middle of the night at all! Finally make a right hand turn into the finish chute and head down the the hill and wait, where the crap is the finish?!?! Apparently I failed to realize that you have to go down the hill and turn around, then come back up to the finish. Oops, I started running too soon! At this point I walked for a short 25 yds or so and made the turn around and I was off again.

Running up this hill, high fiveing everyone in sight, running like there is no tomorrow! I am by myself and it is awesome! Ran right past Jordan Rapp (todays race winner) without a clue and heard Mike Reilly say those beautiful words that I had waited for all day: "From Houston Texas, Luke Riley, YOU are an IRONMAN!"

Just like that, it was over. In a time of 16:36:12, I was finally done. It was hard to believe that I had just passed under that Finish arch that I had coveted for so many years.

What would you do differently?:

Train more. My longest run in training was 14 miles which I did 4 times and was comfortable with that. Overall I am a SLOW runner but I had hoped to be able to run much more of the marathon than I did. I attribute this to lack of training and lack of sufficient base prior to training. For a first marathon though, who can beat an IRONMAN marathon???
Post race
Warm down:

A nice volunteer put a medal around my neck and gave me a bottle of water. I was walking OK but she seemed pretty concerned and hovered to make sure I didn't fall down. She got me my finishers hat and shirt and I saw Kylie and crew on the side of the chute. I sat down in a chair which felt AMAZING! Kylie asked if I should be sitting and I told her probably not but I didn't really care! I saw our friend Sandra who is an official and had been VIP that day and she told me that if I wanted to wait a few minutes until they got the last finisher through she had a golf cart that she could take me to the car in. I thanked her for the offer but told her I would be OK to get back on my own two feet which had just carried me 140.6 miles.

We walked down to where our morning clothes bags because I wanted my shoes OFF and my flip flops ON! Once this was accomplished, Kylie walked me to the car and was then going to go to transition to get my bike and bags for me. Well, upon getting to the car we realized that the battery was dead because Kylie had sat in the car for a while during the day. Oops. Luckily Koby was still close and he came to the rescue and got us jump started while Kylie retrieved my gear.

We headed back to my cousins house and I immediately got in the shower and got all of the salt off. This hurt because I was tired of being upright and then upon putting on deodorant discovered that I had somehow chafed under my left arm put and this HURT! After getting in bed, I got nauseous for a minute but that passed fairly quickly. Kylie said I slept a little less than an hour and then I stared at the clock the rest of the night. Super frustrating to be exhausted but completely unable to sleep!

At the finish line I swore up and down that I would never do another Ironman and had no idea what made me think it was a good idea to begin with. After a few days of letting it settle, I absolutely want to do another, though it will be a few years at the least.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Complete lack of training and athletic ability! I will for sure train more for the next one plus have a much more solid base going into it. This is not a distance to play with!

Event comments:

For an Ironman race, this is amazing. The course is beautiful, the volunteers are absolutely amazing, and the organization is unmatched. The weather is hot this time of year but you absolutely can not beat the atmosphere at a WTC Ironman race and this one is no different.

Last updated: 2011-05-31 12:00 AM
01:59:11 | 3862 meters | 03m 05s / 100meters
Age Group: 258/
Overall: 2178/
Performance: Below average
Suit: Tri shorts and Jersey
Course: Start from North Shore Park, swim south almost to the end of the lake, make a left and swim 50ish yards, make another left to head back north and then when almost back to the north end of the lake turn right and swim up the canal to transition. Looking at the map the swim was broken into 3rd's (southbound, northbound, and canal).
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 81F / 27C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 14:19
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:56:21 | 112 miles | 14.11 mile/hr
Age Group: 252/
Overall: 2139/
Performance: Below average
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Beautiful. Rolling hills to this flat lander but others call the course flat. Single loop headed north up through part of the Sam Houston National Forrest, through the small town of Richards on the north end and then back south again. Looking at the map you actually have a net elevation gain for the first half and net loss coming back but you wouldn't know it as the worse hills are between miles 60-80.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 09:01
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Good
06:17:20 | 26.2 miles | 14m 24s  min/mile
Age Group: 234/
Overall: 1982/
Performance: Bad
Course: 2 loops through the Woodlands with half of the loop being along the waterway near transition packed with spectators and the other half through some trails and neighborhoods with much less excitement.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
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

2012-06-04 3:18 PM

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Houston, TX
Subject: Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas
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