and other thoughts...

and other thoughts...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ironman Texas 70.3 Race Report

I know I never write anymore, and I'm done promising I will write more. I won't. Or probably not, anyway. I am very busy with a rather massive gardening project right now. In truth, I am trying my hand at being a farmer. I have pictures to prove it. Here are a few:

Seedling setup in the basement.

Taking out trees to make room for the beds.

Piles of compost to create the beds.
What will be the vegetable garden. 

Farming is my next career. or hobby career. or something like that.
Please refer to me going forward as FarmingMatron as opposed to IronMatron. Or, perhaps, IronFarming Matron? IronFarmingMatronDogRescuer?
Maybe just Farmer Mary.
I've already decided upon the name of my farm:
Mary's Farm.
I know. It's brilliant.
(Actually it is brilliant, for many reasons... such as the wholesomeness (oh, the irony!) of the name Mary--back to the earth--mother, simple, kind, etc. Wouldn't you like to buy some vegetables at Mary's Farm?)

Anyway. Ironman Texas 70.3.

What a day! I haven't raced a triathlon since 2014. Starting back at it with a half Ironman... in April... in Texas.... well, that was a big risk and challenge for sure. It's hot and windy in Texas. It's not hot and windy in New England in April--or in the months leading to April, of course. I knew the heat and wind would be an issue for me, but I just had such a hankering to get out there and race that I decided I would give it a shot.

I traveled to Houston with my friend, Melissa. We had a great time being lounge lizards in the days leading up the race. We also got out for a few short workouts, during which we noted how hot it was and how windy. On Friday we rode part of the bike course. On the way out we flew, but when we turned around we realized we were in trouble! The head wind was crazy!

Onto the race itself:
I was a bit uneasy about the swim, because although I'm in decent swim shape, I hadn't been in a wetsuit since... like 2014. I did some open water swimming last summer, but not a lot. The swim was a wave start, and my age group was the second to last group to go off. Our start horn went off a full hour and twenty minutes after the pros! To start the swim we jumped off a pier and then swam to the start line. The water was the perfect temperature. It was cool, but not cold, and the water was quite calm considering it was an ocean swim. At the start I tried to stay calm and relaxed. I knew that many of the women swimming with me would drop off in a just a few minutes, and they did. I kept two other women in my age group in sight, and for awhile I was able to draft off of one of these women. Because we were one of the final waves we had to swim through a lot of people. The swim course was crowded and navigating was a bit tough, but not impossible. As usual, I didn't want the swim to end. The water was so refreshing and I was working only comfortably hard. I exited the water in about :31 minutes. I was 3rd in my age group, which I'd be more proud of if I wasn't swimming against so many land-locked Texans. Still, it was a fine showing for a first race back.

The transition was not as awkward as I worried it would be given my tri hiatus. I was a bit unsteady starting the bike, but I quickly got into it. The only problem was that my power meter--or my Garmin, rather--was behaving a bit wonkily. At first it said I was averaging 65 watts, which I knew could not be right. I turned the Garmin off and on again, calibrated, and then I was averaging 365 watts. I also, of course, knew that could not be right. I continued to turn it on and off again several times before giving up and just riding my damn bike.

Because I was in the second to last wave, I spent the entire bike passing people. Think about it. The fast people were far ahead and I never even saw them. But the slower people? There were many of them and I had to pass them all. The road was packed! I felt like a rock star passing so many people--and worried I was working too hard. (Remember I did not have my power meter to keep me in check.) The ride flew by. I felt great. The wind made it feel as if it were not hot at all. I took in a bottle an hour, several gels and a few licks of salt. This wasn't enough, but it felt like enough at the time. Yep. Rookie error. My only defense is that it really has been awhile since I have raced, and I actually rarely race in windy, hot conditions.

I got off the bike having lost four spots in my age group. I don't even remember those ladies passing me! Oh well. They must have, because I was seventh coming off the bike. My bike split, a 2:46, was decent given my nearly two year bike hiatus, but only decent. These Texan women are super fast on the bike, too. I think it's because they ride outside year-round. That's my story. :) Anyway. I felt okay getting off the bike. My first miles of the run felt relatively easy and I was holding sub 8 pace by quite a bit, which was my goal. It wasn't until about mile 6 that I knew I was having trouble. It wasn't a bonk... it was more of a melt. I could not get cool. I would put ice down my shirt and shorts, and dump water on my head, but I was burning up. I slowed down hoping this would help. It did a bit, but then I started to feel that old familiar dehydrated, heat-exhausted confusion and dizziness. I felt wobbly and I kept losing my balance on the many stupid turn-arounds of the run course. I tried taking a gel. I took a lick or two of salt. I drank Coke. But it was too late. I was in full-spiral into floppy, weak, over-heated and dehydrated mode. I trudged on as best as I could, but I was too confused and weak to really go faster than like 10 minute pace. At mile 11 I had a little tantrum. I was SURE it was mile 12! I actually was delusional enough to think that someone was trying to trick me into running longer than 13. I finally stumbled to the finish. It had been a very, very ugly last 10k.

I felt okay when crossing the line, but when a volunteer saw me stumble and took my arm to balance me, I allowed myself to sink. He and and another volunteer helped me to the med tent. I was so relieved to lie down. They took my blood pressure and it was 80 over 60. I guess this is normal when you are very, very dehydrated. They put ice all over me and gave me some oxygen (my heart rate was very high even though my blood pressure was low). Then, after a half hour or so, I felt better. Lesson learned: (for the 10th time). Take in more on the bike. A lot more! And in the heat, be conservative in the first miles of the run, even if you feel just fine. I just wasn't careful enough. I had the fitness to run a semi-decent half marathon, but I didn't set myself up to run a semi-decent half marathon.

Melissa was waiting for me, God bless her! She had seen me enter the med tent, and I'm sure she was shaking her head and rolling her eyes the whole time. I ALWAYS go to the med tent!

I ended up 11th in my age group and with a 5:19. I'm pretty pleased with that place and time. The women ahead of me were all from Texas except for one woman who, yes, was from Massachusetts. She finished about 20 seconds ahead of me. I didn't even know she was near me at the finish, which goes to show how out of it I was.

That night, Melissa and I went out with my good friend from high school, who was also competing. What fun to be done with the race and relaxing! John suffered a flat on the bike course, which sort of messed up his whole race, but he still got it done. Melissa executed a fantastic race (because she was careful, unlike me) and was 5th in her age group! Go Mel! John's friend Holly PR'd for the half, which is just awesome. She is from Houston, so I think she was a little better prepared for the heat and wind than we New Englanders. She rocked the course. Very impressive.

John and me
Mel and me after the race.

Next up is Patriot Half Ironman in June. I probably won't write again until then--let's be honest. ha!