Race Report: Ironman Texas 2014
My top five tips for IM Texas:
1) Always pack your wetsuit. Too many people were unprepared for a wetsuit swim.
2) Always train in your wetsuit for one to two swims. No the chlorine won’t kill it. Just rinse if off post swim. Being comfortable in your wetsuit will help you swim confidently and faster.
3) If you think the temps are going to be cooler (according to the weather report) that doesn’t mean it is cool. It ended up hotter on the run than anticipated. Be proactive to manage the effects of heat on the bike and the run.
4) Stop coasting on your bike on downhills. Texas has no big climbs but lots of rollers. Don’t push up the roller so hard that you need to coast down it. Only consider coasting when you reach 30mph on a descent.
5) Stay aero. We had lots of headwind and too many athletes were sitting upright. Getting comfortable in aero takes lots of consistent practice on your rides. I only come out of aero when my speed descends lower than 12mph climbing.
Up until this weekend, I would have described this season as the search for great.
This weekend we started to find the answers. Who is we? It takes a village to do an Ironman. My journey started with Gordo Byrn. He taught me the sport and planted the seed that Kona was in my reach. He brought me the friendships and support of our amazing team at Endurance Corner. And at the right time, he pushed me out of the nest and into graduate school with Coach Marilyn Chychota (@chychota).
Marilyn believed great was there if I did the right work at the right times. She inspires me, pushes me and makes me be better every day. I can’t thank her enough for making my dreams come true. She is the professional’s professional.
This winter was the most challenging I have experienced since I started the sport. The snow, cold and wind felt never ending. I spent far too many hours on the turbo and treadmill. The pain cave was starting to look and smell like one of those old boxing gyms. Cue Rocky theme! At times it looked like a trashed aid station with empty water bottles and discarded Gu packets on the floor.
In the end, every moment was worth it as this formerly overweight, back of the pack triathlete, won her second Ironman as an age group champion smashing my PR with a 10:35 finish and a new women’s 45-49 course record at Ironman Texas.
The swim: This is the first year Texas was wetsuit legal. Texas also happens to be one of the more violent swims on the circuit. I knew that wetsuits would only make this worse. I was kicked in the eye, the teeth, the foot and the hip.
I made the smart choice to stay out of the buoy line and work the outside circle. It helped me to avoid most of the congestion. The canal was a cluster with too many bodies and no place to go. I chose to soft stroke it in (protest swimming) and rest up for the ride. I felt great on the exit and finished with a PR.
In the future, an aid station in the middle of the canal would be nice. I had ample time to slam a Gu and go!
The bike: Hello headwind. I had another PR as well despite it. My new fit from the Indy branch of Speed Shop 51 decreased my drag and increased my comfort. I would say it is the best I have ever felt during an IM bike. I pushed every step of the way and attacked the ride.
The run: The run felt hard. Really hard. I went out at our goal pace and realized about five miles in that it was hotter than forecasted. I backed off my pace slightly and implemented my heat protocol. I had some stomach issues and actually had to stop for two minutes to vacate. It was totally worth it and reset my body.
After my stomach issue, I decided to drink as much as I could during the run with a goal to pee. I never quite got there but I did start to feel better. Once I hit the Cola, I felt things come around and knew I could hold my backend speed.
KT told me at mile 24 that Coach Marilyn wanted me to haul it in so I didn’t get beat at the finish. I was pissed. I knew I was in first thanks to the unbelievable work of Team Sherpa and I thought I could just hold my pace coasting to the finish. Kicking it up another gear hurt. Until mile 26. Winning makes everything in the last .2 miles feel great. I burst into tears as soon as I saw my finishing time as I crossed the line.
I found out after the race that KT may have embellished Marilyn’s directions. There will be retribution.
Nutrition: 75g per hour on the bike, 50g first two hours of the run and then Coke until the finish.
Equipment: Bike was great. I rode latex tubes again and the new Conti 4000S II. They felt smooth and fast. I am loving my new Mavic cycling road shoes for long course racing.
Changes: I have been experimenting with my pre-race dinner. I have decided that what worked before (veggie pizza) may not be working now. I am going to start rolling my normal daily diet of protein, brown rice and/or sweet potato.
I seem to have a bit of a lag the first hour on the bike. I need to get more comfortable going hard on the swim and dialing in my bike pace right away.
Thoughts: This race was exciting because we ended up with eight women in my age group who were previous Kona qualifiers or finishers. There is something amazing about competing against that type of energy. This included one of my top competitors and friend Dawn Elder. Dawn and I had a goal for both of us to finish one and two. This included an agreement to help each other with info via our support teams if we were in contention. We kept true to that agreement, both ending up with Kona slots and the joy of pushing each other to our limits. I could not ask for a better competitor.
I can’t thank my Sherpas enough (my wonderful wife Katie, my Doc David, my sister Jane and her husband/training partner What About Bob) I was never flying blind. I had the data and the motivation. They even had me memorize competitors numbers and made sure I was focused on “erasing hope”.
Congratulations to our Endurance Corner leader and pro triathlete Justin Daerr on his third place overall finish. I am very thankful for the pep/strategy talk he gave me at our team dinner. Thanks also to friend and pro triathlete Blake Becker. You were right. It hurt more than I imagined and I still didn’t blow up!
I swear Marilyn put them both up to their little chats. I smell a conspiracy!
Thanks to everyone for the shout outs this weekend. Still looking for great. And the search never ends…