Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ironman Texas 2013

It has been forever since I last posted, mainly because I was spending every waking moment training or studying. But with Ironman Texas over and done with, I have had time to process things...and finally get my random thoughts race report written down.

The days leading up to Ironman Texas were pretty uneventful. I arrived to The Woodlands on Wednesday afternoon. I had a little mechanical issue on the bike, but that was fixed before bike check-in on Friday. I was feeling good and ready to take on the distance.

So let’s just get to the dirty details -

Race morning - I had my usual breakfast of oatmeal with granola, raisins, protein powder, and coffee. The only difference is that I added a little extra of everything to fuel me for the distance. Not a lot extra. Just a little. Total calories were 500, taken 3 hours before the start time. I sipped on 1 scoop (100 calories) of Heed with 25 ounces of water through out the morning and had 1/4 gel 30 min before the swim start. I had done all this in training. Nothing was new. Nothing felt “off”. Nothing bothered my stomach. I was all peachy keen before the race.

With my Iron Sherpas!

SWIM - I had heard nothing but bad news about the Texas swim. One friend told me that it was the worst swim he ever did out of multiple Ironman races. I didn’t let this phase me though. I set my mind to take on the swim like a hockey player. I was ready to fight...

We were ushered into the water 15 min before the cannon went off, forcing us to tread water as we waited to for the beginning of chaos. Some people held onto the kayaks and lifeboats to save their energy. It didn’t bother me to tread water at all.

If you are thinking of doing Ironman Texas one day, just know that everything you hear about the swim is true - it is brutal. BUT it’s also a lot of fun. I got kicked in the head and sides multiple times. And I kicked right back. I never had a panic moment. I was comfortable in the craziness (story of my life). I made sure to always have an arm out in front of me and keep my strokes wide with my elbows ready to jab if a foot wandered too close to my head. I couldn’t avoid all the kicks, but I think I saved my face some bruises. The lake water was mucky and dark. I could not see my hands in front of me. Nor could I see the feet hitting me. It also smelled like fuel (maybe from all the boats out there). My swimming was all over the place, but I still managed to finish with a 1:17. I’m happy with that time. AND I didn’t lose my chip.

The only “uh-oh” moment I had in the water was when I swallowed a considerable amount of water after getting pummeled. I remember thinking, “I hope that doesn’t make me sick”...

T1 - Getting out of the water, I was disappointed to see 1:27 on the clock. I had forgotten about the pro’s starting 10 min before. My brother was yelling at me that my time was good (he knew I was shooting for another 1:20 IM swim), but at the time I didn’t process what he was telling me. All I remember thinking is “Forget the swim. Thank God I get to be on my bike for 112 miles...Woohoooo!”. I did take a little long at 5:15. I was somewhat confused on where to go...and needed some extra help.

BIKE - I felt awesome starting out. I told myself to spin easy at first and make sure my heart rate is down before hitting the bike like a rockstar. I felt so ready for this course! The excitement was overwhelming. I love my bike just as much as most people love their pets...and the thought of spending 5:40-6 hours riding in the heat sounded pretty awesome to me!

Ten miles into the bike, something was wrong. I didn’t know exactly what was coming over me, but I didn’t feel good. I felt very weak, like I was going to pass out. I kept trying to move my legs, but with each stroke I was feeling sicker. My stomach had ballooned up. My hands were shaking. My head was pounding.

It was too early in the day for the heat to get to me. I was’t hot. It was too early in the race for me to be tired. I hadn’t even hit the 20 mile mark yet.

People were passing me like crazy. I just kept thinking “What is wrong with me??!?!?”. My head was spinning. My stomach was hurting. I couldn’t figure it out. My 20 mph pace dropped to 13 mph... with the tailwind.

Before I knew it, I was throwing up all over my bike. I tried to remain calm and assess the situation. Asking myself questions like - What choices do I have right now? How can I make this work? My first thought was staying hydrated. I knew it was going to be very hot and I had to be able to keep water down. I dropped to the smaller ring to keep my legs spinning and my heart rate low. I thought maybe that would help the GI problems and nausea, since at this point my stomach had a stabbing pain.

I got to the 20 mile aid station. Stopped on the side. Unclipped. And puked again.

The next thing I knew I was in the medic tent being told to lay down. Cujo (my bike) was on a rack near the road. A couple medics were talking to me asking what was wrong. I didn’t know.

The conclusion was made that I had taken in too much lake water on the swim, which caused the bloating and nausea. A medic told me that last year he saw a lot of guys having the same problem. He wanted to make sure I could drink water before I started out on the course again.

25 minutes later.... I got back on the road. My stomach was still hurting, but the nausea medicine seemed to be helping a lot.

For the rest of the bike, I did the best I could considering the circumstances. I sipped on my waters. I continued to take the endurolytes and aminos every hour. I focused on staying hydrated and making it through. I didn’t push my body because I wanted to be able to finish the race. I was afraid of getting dehydrated with the limited amount of liquids I could drink without getting sick.

I started the bike with 3 nutrition bottles and finished with a little over 2 full bottles. I wasn’t able to take my bars or gels either. The temps were in the 90s so I focused on staying cool too. I grabbed 2-3 cold bottles of water at every aid station (about every 10 miles). Even if I couldn’t fit all the bottles on my bike, I still held onto them. I poured at least 1-2 bottles of cold water over my body every 10 miles. The heat really wasn’t a problem to me.

Unfortunately, I finished the bike in 6:20, which is much slower than I had planned.

T2 - I dismounted my bike, handed it to the volunteer and jogged to my run gear bag on the far side of transition. As soon as I hit the pavement where all the bags were laying out, my feet lit up. The ground was crazy hot and I didn’t have any socks on. I eventually made it to the tent with my bag but it took a while. Sitting in transition, I took my grand ol’ time. I knew that my day wasn’t going to go as planned because I was unable to keep calories down. I ditched all my nutrition since it wasn’t helping, but held onto the endurolytes and aminos. And I chatted with the lady volunteer helping me...trying to laugh and smile...because I really didn’t want to cry. Total T2 time is a whopping 11:53

RUN - My legs felt great! This was probably because I wasn’t able to push as much on the bike. I felt like trying to push out a good run, but at the same time I was cautious. I knew it was hot. I knew I wasn’t feeling good. I thought maybe I could walk the aid stations to keep my heart rate down.

All along the running path there were people sick. Some were laying there with medics and IV’s hooked up. Some were puking. Some were shaking. Most looked defeated. And that’s what made me want to be extra careful with hydration.

I don’t have as much to say about the run (it was less eventful than the bike). I stuffed my sports bra with ice at every aid station. I drank water, took my salt bites (my pills had exploded in the baggie so I had to lick the salt out - pretty nasty tasting, but I didn’t know any other way), and kept on moving forward.

A couple of times I thought I had to use the port-a-potty, but then I’d forget about it by the time I’d get there (it’s amazing what 112+ miles does to a persons brain). Plus, I didn’t care if the potty was only 15 feet behind me when I remembered I had to pee, I wasn’t going backwards.

This run didn’t feel as bad as Ironman Florida. Partly because I didn’t have a hurt knee. But also because my muscles were still feeling pretty strong despite what my stomach was telling me. Around the half-way point in the run, I started sipping on coke and I was able to keep it down. This eased my mind a lot because I knew I could run a marathon with mostly just coke (I had done it in FL).

Things that helped the run: Seeing my friends out on the course persevering alongside with me. Having my family jump and down cheering me on. And the guys in speedos who danced as we ran by.

When I started the run, my only goal was to get under 5 hours if possible. Total run time was 4:59.

Not quite the whole marathon, but close.
I felt pretty good after Ironman Texas. I was still wobbling around some, but the pain wasn’t as bad as Ironman Florida by any means. I walked around with my family, got my bike and bags, changed, tried to eat a little, and walked back to watch the last racers come in...and then walked back to the hotel.

My total race time was 12:54.

Wearing my comfy sperrys afterwards
Sunday morning I was still feeling good. My stomach was still a little iffy, but my muscles weren’t crazy sore. I took my family to the airport and then went and walk/jogged 5 miles. I also took time to have a good cry over missing out on such a good race due to sickness.

In the end, I didn’t have the race I wanted, but it is all about having the right perspective. I was able to persevere through the hardship and finish the race. For that, I am thankful.

Other things I am thankful for -
~I was able to overcome the brutal 2.4 mile swim when 2 year ago, I was too afraid to even sign up for a sprint race because of the water.
~I was able to spend time with my family... Having them there to cheer me on meant the world to me.
~I was able to help the Dumont family raise funds for Sgt. Paul E Dumont’s memorial playground. The fundraiser is still open (and I am short of my goal by around $600) so if you would like to donate $10, $25, $50 towards this amazing cause to honor a Fallen Hero please do so here: Donate to honor Paul
~I was able to come back from a knee surgery in late December and recover in time for an Ironman
~Lastly, I was able to grow from this learning experience. I found out just how strong I am during those 13 hours of swimming, biking, and running.

There will be another chance. There will be another year. There will be another race.

But until then I plan on drinking lake water every morning to toughen up my stomach.