Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - TriathlonFull Ironman

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The Woodlands, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
90F / 32C
Total Time = 16h 08m 50s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 93/99
Pre-race routine:

This is going to be a LONG ONE! Get ready!

I want to start this race report with the training I did for this race. That is an important part of the story, so I want to include it here for my own future reference.

In November 2011, I decided to go with a coach, versus training myself. I felt I would get better results, as someone else would push me to do things I wouldn't push myself to do (aka: swim more than two days a week!). I picked my coach based on the fact that he had recently coached another athlete to a very successful first time IM. I figured if he could coach someone to do a 12-hour first time IM, he could certainly coach me to do my second IM in 14-15 hours. Why not? I have been doing tri's and training since 2005. It seemed very reasonable.

I started with my coach in December 2011. I knew going into it that his theory on training was different from mine. We had an open discussion about this prior to starting together, and we understood that at times we might end up butting heads with regards to what I needed to do training wise. Basically his theory is that you don't need to do a lot of high volume training to be successful at the IM distance. Mind you, I had the benefit of being able to view the training he did with the athlete who did his IM in 12 hours. So I saw the volume, and I saw the success. I knew it was possible.

Early on in my training, January to be specific, I ended up with an injury from running.

Here is an email I sent my coach with regards to my foot pain. I want to log it here since I gave a good synopsis of what has happened. I like logging this stuff so I can go back and review it later (years from now?):

I have been thinking about what brought this on, so we can ensure it doesn't happen again before IMTX. As I said before we ever started, I am VERY injury prone when it comes to running.

Week 1: 11.10 miles - 1 hour 54 mins (11-28-11 to 12-4-11 is week 1)
Week 2: 8.88 miles - 1 hour 30 mins.
Week 3: 11.98 miles - 2 hours 15 mins
Week 4: 7.47 miles - 1 hour 20 mins (sick)
Week 5: 4.63 miles - 49 mins (sick)
Week 6: 15.50 miles - 2 hours 42 mins
Week 7: 18.30 miles - 3 hours 11 mins (Looks like pain started this week on 2-10-12.)
Week 8: This week.

We go from roughly 9 miles a week to 12 (which is a 30% jump in volume- OUCH). Then, excluding my sick weeks, I go from roughly 12 miles a week to 15 miles (30% jump), and then 15 to 18 miles a week (30% jump in volume).

When I look at this, no wonder my knee hurts, my lower legs hurt, etc. If I had someone come to me saying they had running pain and injury prone, I would specifically tell them it is because they are not going up in volume properly. I would then have them go to 10% per week. If they ran injury free for 3-6 months, then I would go to 20%.

Here's the deal, while I appreciate your positive outlook on me being a runner, the reality is this... I get injured EASILY. I'm not kidding when I say this. In the past, when I have ramped up my running quickly, I get injured. Plain and simple. I could go back and show you the data and when I got injured since I log it all on Beginner Triathlete.

I want to go into IMTX healthy and ready to RUN the marathon. If we keep ramping me up like this, I don't think that will be the case. My body can't take the pounding of running like others can. And I say this simply because of all the injuries, and pain I have had over the years. I'm willing to push through it, but I also want to be smart about my training so I can keep running without injury.

With all of that said, I am pretty sure the pain started on 2-10-12, my long run on a Tuesday last week, where I used new shoes. So I was stupid and wore new shoes for that long run. Mind you, they are the same make and model I have always worn, and I had my old shoes beside the treadmill. I tried to change back to my old shoes, but that made my blisters hurt even more. So I went back to the new ones. But I have done this before... new shoes but same make and model... and it works fine. Maybe doing all that speed work didn't help the situation.?

Also, when I put on the new shoes they felt VERY TIGHT on my feet. I couldn't loosen them up because the bungee laces I had on them were at the end of the lace. So they felt tight before I started running and it only got worse as my feet started to swell while running. I'm also wondering if Brooks didn't put a different kind of insole in this model of the shoe that is making my arch hurt. While it is still Brooke Adrenaline, they go up a number each year and they might changes to the shoe (why do they do this?!).

After that, my running pretty much stayed the same week to week. I had to push the volume up to get more training in. As I look back on this situation, I should have taken control of the running situation in December, and ramped my run volume up properly. I should have also started a walk/run. Unfortunately, I didn't train for race walking for this IM, so when it came to walk, I couldn't walk fast. Of course, I really couldn't walk fast, because it made my left foot hurt even more to walk (the upward motion of the foot makes it hurt more).

I did a half marathon at the end of February (4th year for the course) and I had my WORST TIME EVER. Nice. *Sigh* I also incurred some kind of right foot pain during that run (thus the really horrible finishing time). It hobbled me during the race while resulted in me walking a lot of it, painfully, and very slowly. I had to take a week off running after the half marathon.

Now let's talk about February 2012. My volume was DOWN. WAY DOWN. It was ridiculous how LOW it was. There I was, 3 months out from IMTX, where the volume should ramp up, and it went DOWN. I had the SAME VOLUME a lady I was training for a May Oly. Not acceptable.

At this point I went to compare my training 3 months out from IMKY to what I was doing for IMTX. I was truly concerned. Mind you, I did IMKY in 2008, and I had only being doing tri's for 3 years.

Here is how the volume compared:

May 2008:
S: 30657.39 Yd - 8h 46m
B: 444.78 Mi - 28h 54m 35s
R: 75.45 Mi - 14h 31m
Sp: 8h 00m (Trainer)

February 2012:
S: 23685.04 Yd - 6h 33m
B: 73.02 Mi - 4h 26m 47s
R: 66.60 Mi - 12h 27m 26s
Str: 1h 45m
Sp: 13h 50m (Trainer)

Swim - Swam more in 2008.
Bike - 2008 37 hours. 2012 18 hours. OUCH. That hurts.
Run - Pretty close between 2008 and 2012. Not too bad.

As you can see, the bike was a HUGE concern! I can't hardly run, so I should be swimming and biking more... right? Nope. In fact, I barely swam or biked. It was just silly. Especially since I lost my job February 15th. I was ready to focus on training and to train my butt off! At this point, my coach offered to coach me for free since I lost my job, and I took him up on the offer.

Here's an email I sent him when I realized my volume was way too low.

So, I'm super bored with how few hours I have training wise. I REALLY want to take advantage of my time off of work. I feel like this is my only opportunity to REALLY TRAIN for triathlons... and for this Ironman. Just seems like a HUGE opportunity for me, and you!

As you will see, I have been adding workouts to my training plan. I WANT TO BIKE MORE. In fact, I need to bike more. I'm not a great cyclist. If you notice, my average speed has been 15 mph in steady state HR zone. I'm going to have to ride 7 ish hours to get in 100 miles. I am fine with that.

Here's the deal, we have 6 solid weeks of training left. Then a 3 week taper (maybe 2?). Six weeks are left of training and I don't even see a "big day" on the schedule. And 3-31-12 you had me only riding 4.5 hours. Keep in mind, that during the summer, a 4 hour ride on the weekend was common for me. So we can do MORE with Ironman training. Yes, consistency is good... but so is volume. Honestly, the volume I am doing for this IM training is about what I do for HIM training... and it still takes me 6 hours and 30 mins to finish one of those! I'm not a great athlete. We need to keep this in mind. I need the volume and hours to pull off a mediocre race.

I want more cycling. I have put 3, 100 mile rides on my training calendar. Let me do these. I can do them with my client, and they will get done. I WANT to ride 100 miles at least 3 times. I just feel like time is slipping away here, and we aren't using it wisely. Otherwise, during the week you might see me drop in additional rides. I won't get injured cycling, so why not? I want to RIDE MORE.

Also, I understand that I get injured running. But, we can up my long run by :15 each week. That's pretty much following the 10% rule. I'll run slow and do the 9/1 to help prevent injury. If we don't have me go up 15 minutes per week on my long run.... how will I ever run more than 2 hours in training? And I WANT to run at least 2.5 - 3 hours in training. Times moving quick here! Think about it... 6 weeks before our 3 week taper... if I didn't do any recovery weeks (not realistic) and we do 15 minutes more per week on the long run... I will only get up to 2.5 hours ONCE in training. So I'll never get the run training in at this point. That's gone. We can't get time back.

I know my running sucks, but I was hoping to make up major time on my IM on the run. Last time I did a 16 mm. If I just do a 14 mm, I can save an hour overall. Although, my dream is quickly slipping away. My bike sucks (that 77 mile ride last weekend wiped me out more than it should have! My fitness is NOT there!). Run sucks. All I have is the swim. I always had the swim. My dream of a 14 is hour IM is quickly slipping away. So let's try to use these last 6 weeks wisely so maybe I can have a strong bike and somehow pull off running some of the marathon.

I know you are doing a me a huge favor by coaching me for free. And if I'm being too much of a PITA at this point, I'll understand if you want to set me free. I feel bad not paying you... especially since I am being high maintenance right now. I just know that my volume was low in February (I basically had the same volume my gal who is training for an Olympic did) and now it's up a little in March. But I want more. So lay it on me. Give me two a days. Let's do this! Please!

At this point I took matters into my own hands. I couldn't go down without a fight. I knew things were going down the tube, and I knew how to fix it. I couldn't fix the run volume, as I couldn't go up more than 10% per week, but I could fix the cycling. So I did.

It was also around this time that I started to consider pulling out of the race. I wasn't going to have the race I wanted. My training wasn't there. Why go if I couldn't do what I wanted to do? If it hadn't been for my client racing, I probably would have pulled out. But I stuck it out and fixed my training as best I could. I wasn't going down without a fight.

Here is how the rest of my training worked out:

June 2008:
S: 24036.57 Yd - 6h 55m
B: 442.75 Mi - 26h 51m 48s
R: 65.00 Mi - 13h 00m 19s
Sp: 7h 05m (Trainer)

March 2012:
S: 38127.56 Yd - 10h 45m 06s
B: 423.66 Mi - 27h 48m 40s
R: 55.91 Mi - 10h 08m 16s
Str: 1h 00m
Sp: 11h 05m (Trainer)

Swam 4 more hours in 2012. Rode 5 more hours 2012. Ran 10 miles less in 2012 compared to 2011.

July 2008:
S: 20966.14 Yd - 5h 55m 04s
B: 490.19 Mi - 30h 00m 57s
R: 47.47 Mi - 9h 09m 02s
Sp: 3h 00m (Trainer)

April 2012:
S: 28803.76 Yd - 8h 17m 10s
B: 465.19 Mi - 31h 13m 53s
R: 58.35 Mi - 11h 34m 51
Bike Trainer: 2h 30m - 41 miles

Swam more in April 2012. Rode a little bit more in July 2008 but not by much. Ran more April 2012 (shocking!).

After February my bike training got on track (because I added time to my workouts). My run was what is was. My swimming was fine. He had me swimming A LOT. I'm a strong swimmer. Whatever. I swam.

I think that is a great snapshot of my training and how it went off the tracks. Towards the end, I got in five, 100+ mile rides, and I even rode the IMTX bike course once. I felt good about the bike. Slow. But good. I knew I would be fine on the bike. Which gave me hope for a good run. Or at least some running with less suffering than I experience at IMKY. Of course, my longest run in training after February, was 9 miles. Yep. And I think good runner can pull that off, but I can't. My coach had only trained up to 1.5 hours running for IMTX 2011, and he pulled off a 4:30 marathon. His best yet. So he figured I would do around a 5 hour marathon. He kept telling me I would be fine. I knew differently. I'm not that kind of runner.

Now, I want to give a special shot out to my Team Nu-Gen members! I had met DiAnn at the pool one day when I was out of work (only out of work for a month). Found out she was training for IMTX so we exchanged numbers. I also had a built in training partner, since my client Ken was doing IMTX too. We did all our 100+ mile rides together. It made training much more bearable and fun! I couldn't have done it without them! Thanks Team Nu-Gen! It was also great getting to train with two first timers. Their excitement was contagious. I loved listening to them on long rides talk about the race and planning for it. It took me back to when I was saying all the same things in 2008.

Now that I got all that done, here's the race report!

Jonny and I got to Houston on Thursday afternoon. Since I live four hours away, I was able to drive in, which was nice.

Made it to the hotel and checked in. Then off to the athlete's village to check in there. Quickly got through the athlete check in. Then met up with DiAnn. We were hanging around till the Athlete's Dinner. It was SO HOT and we had sweat running down our bodies. So we walked over to the mall and hung out in AC until it was time to sit around to wait for the athlete's dinner.

Went to the athlete's dinner. The food was better than I remember having at Arizona (spectator) and Kentucky. The Marriott did a good job there. There were speakers, but I could barely hear any of them. I sat at a table with BTers (I had a sign), and next to Amy (BTer), Ken and DiAnn. The dinner ended and the race debrief started. I didn't go to the one in Kentucky, so this was a new experience. Can't say I heard anything that I didn't already know.

Got back to the hotel around 9:00 PM and went to bed.

Friday I woke up early, ate some breakfast and headed to the practice swim. Met DiAnn, then I got in the water for a little bit. I really wanted to see what the temperate felt like to decide if I would need a wetsuit or not. I splashed around some, and then got out. Water felt fine without a wetsuit.

After that I checked in my bike and transition bags.

This is where I need to talk about I screwed up with my transition bags, because it hurt me on race day. So, as I'm leaving the hotel Friday morning to go to the swim, I noticed that I had my bike stuff in my run bag, and my run stuff in my bike bag. Dang it. So I took all the stuff out, on the sidewalk at the hotel and flipped it. What I didn't flip were my Garmins. I had a bike Garmin with HR strap, and a run Garmin and HR strap. I flipped the HR monitor straps. I didn't flip the Garmins.

After the swim, bag and bike check-in, I met my Dad for lunch. Hung with him for a little bit, met his dog Honey, and then headed back to the hotel. Then my Mom and David (her boyfriend) came into town and we all had dinner together. My Dad was picking my step-mom Evelyn up at the airport that night. Also, my friends Tim and Sabrina were in town to cheer me on. I was very lucky to have such a large cheering crew! I even made shirts for them. Since I'm turning 40 this year, I have a theme... "Giving the Finger to Forty". Their shirts read, "Karen's 'Giving the Finger to 40' Crew". FUN!

Friday night I went to bed around 9:00 PM. I was fine going to sleep. I wasn't nervous at all. I sleep well before races. Unfortunately, I had some elephant in the room above me, and he was stomping around ALL NIGHT LONG. So he kept waking me up. It was miserable.

Alarm went off at 4:30 AM. I dragged my butt out of bed and got ready. Then we left.

Event warmup:

Parked at a parking garage near the finish line. Once the race was over, we would be walking back to my car, and I would drive us back to the hotel (only 2 ish miles).

We walked over to transition, so I could put my Uncrustables sandwiches, water bottle, and Infinit nutrition bottle on my bike. I put the bottles on, then I look for my Uncrustables. I can't find them. GREAT. I left them at the hotel. Luckily my Mom was coming after us. So I called the hotel explaining the situation. Then I called her so she would go to my room and get them, and they could get passed to me before I started the bike.

Once that was done we walked over to the swim start. It was a LONG WALK. OK, maybe only a mile, but still. When you are about to go 140.6 miles, every extra mile counts.

Got to the swim start staging area, and got in a Port-o-John line. Jonny took my special needs bags to the trucks while I was waiting. My Team Nu-Gen members were sitting down relaxing.

I FINALLY got to use the restroom and when I came out it was time to get in the water. DiAnn was yelling at me to "COME ON"! And I was trying to get sunblock on, suck down a gel with no water, and put my cap on. I was rushed big time. I hugged and kissed Jonny goodbye and got into the water with DiAnn.
  • 1h 15m 38s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 47s / 100 yards

DiAnn and I decided we were not wearing wetsuits and we would start in the pack. We are both solid swimmers, so we figured why not. Eased into the water, and BAM! My freaking goggles come apart. Nice. I have to swim over to a kayak to try to fix them. Mind you, there are like 50 people hanging on a kayak so they don't have to tread water for 15 minutes. I finally pass my goggles to the kayaker and he fixes them. Thanks! I then swim with DiAnn to a spot in the middle a few rows back from the front.

Then we tread water. Oh, for about 15 minutes. Eh. It wasn't fun, but it was manageable. Finally the cannon went off.

The start of the swim wasn't too bad. I was actually digging the whole "this is a real Ironman swim" vibe. It felt REAL. (Kentucky they do a time trial start, not a mass start.)

Then it felt too real. I was getting hit, kicked, and I couldn't swim. At all. I was barely able to get any strokes in. I decided it was time to move to the outside of the pack, to my right. I then had to play "Frogger" (remember that video game?) with the pack. Ouch. That hurt too. My stomach got kicked a lot on that move to the outside of the pack.

I finally got to the outside and my only goal was to stay as far away from the pack as possible. I did a great job. In fact, I never saw a buoy. The only one I saw was the red one at the end to turn. I then swung wide and stayed as close to shore as possible. It was nice. No contact. No one holding me up.

We got to the part where we turn right into the canal, and again, I was free of anyone impeding my progress.

The skinny part of the canal sucked. Lots of waves and swallowing water from the water splashing back in on us. No biggie. Just annoying. I was just ready for the swim to be over. I couldn't see the swim finish to sprint for it. So I just kept swimming.

I thought we were coming to the dead end, and I turned my head to the left and FINALLY saw the swim exit. Thank goodness! Swam up and got out. I then ran to my transition bag and into the tent. No walking for this gal!
What would you do differently?:

Starting IN the pack was stupid. I wouldn't make that mistake again. I'm sure my swim would have been faster if I had just started on the outside.

IMTX time: 1:15:38
IMKY time: 1:15:50

I'm so glad I put in all that extra pool time to shave a few seconds off my swim time. *snerk* Of course it was preached to me, to swim more so I would have an easier bike and easier day overall. Yeah, didn't work that way at all. In fact, my bike sucked way more at IMTX than it did at IMKY.
Transition 1
  • 13m 11s

I was trying to move fast through transition. Uh, what a joke. I had even packed my transition bag so stuff was grouped in baggies for ease of use (one baggie had "bike jersey" on it, for the stuff going in my bike jersey). I tried hard, but dang I was still slow. The volunteer who helped me was very kind and helped as much as she could. I appreciated the help.

During this time, I noticed that my Garmin wasn't reading my HR. Hum. Weird. I thought it might have been because I turned it on when I didn't have the strap on. So I turned it off, and back on again once the strap was on.... but it still wasn't working.

Once I was ready to go, I ran to my bike, and saw Jonny, Evelyn and my Dad by the fence. I ran over and Jonny gave me my sandwiches. THANKS! Saved my bike nutrition plan!

I then rolled out to start the bike, but once I crossed the mount line, I sat on the ground to clean off my feet. I still had my socks and shoes off because I didn't want to risk getting my cleats mucked up with grass in the bike transition area. Once my feet were clean and my socks and shoes were on, I went to get on the bike. A volunteer took my towel to throw it away. Thanks! I then saw my Mom on my left and I said goodbye to her. She tried to take a picture but wasn't fast enough. I told her I had to go!
What would you do differently?:

Not sure how to speed up here. I guess I need to NOT dry off and not change. But I really wanted to dry off and make sure I could get sunblock on.

IMTX time: 13:11
IMKY time: 13:39
  • 7h 49m 13s
  • 112 miles
  • 14.32 mile/hr

Started on the bike, still trying to figure out why I didn't have a HR reading. Hum. Then it hit me. I had the WRONG GARMIN ON. DANG IT. No fixing that. It also meant that I wouldn't have a 15-minute timer going off reminding me to eat. See, my run Garmin (which was now my bike Garmin) was Jonny's old Garmin. He bought a new one, because the old one no longer made audible alerts. I told myself NOT to panic. It was going to be a long day and if I freaked at the start of the bike, it wasn't going to help anything.

Plan B: I had ridden the IMTX bike course before. I knew that the first 60 miles were going to be relatively easy with a tailwind. I knew what my pace should be generally speaking. My goal for the first 60 miles was to take it as easy as possible, and to not pass anyone. That's right. Let everyone pass me. "Don't eat the paste." I wanted to save it for the end of the ride.

So I took it super easy going out. Probably too easy. If I had had HR I probably would have been OK to push it a little harder. But I didn't. So I cruised. Everyone passed me. No problem. I'm use to it. Although, along the way I ended up passed 3 people in total. REALLY? Shocking. And it kind of ticked me off. Ha!

Otherwise, I took joy in seeing the guys with the fancy bikes passing me at miles 40-50-60. I mean really, how bad do they suck on the swim that it has taken them 40-50-60 miles to FLY by me going 20+ mph? Hey, a slow gal has to get her enjoyment where she can. They probably finished in 12 hours, so good for them. :)

The first 60 miles were pretty uneventful. I stopped a couple of times to refill my water bottle and Camelbak. I was really wanting some ice to fill up my Camelbak, but alas... no ice... just luke warm water. No cold water. REALLY? It's freaking 90+ degrees, no shade, no cloud cover, humidity, and wind... and no cold water. Nice one.

Got to special needs and was really happy to drink my 20oz Coke. I had put it in a small soft-sided ice chest with some ice packs wrapped around it at 5:00 AM. It had sat in my special needs bag till roughly 1:00 PM and that Coke was colder than anything I found on the race course. Maybe I need to help the race director with how to make cold beverages for racers?

Special needs looked like a bike rally. Meaning: People were laid out on the grass, in the shake, resting. There were a lot of people chilling and not worried about getting on the bike again. I thought this was a race people!

I wanted to use the restroom, but there was a line, so screw it. I got back on the bike, and then tackled the hardest part of the course. Miles 60-80. This is where you go into a headwind (and the wind picks up the longer the day goes on), uphill, and on chip seal. It's brutal. Really tough. I had done it before. I got into the drops (rode my road bike) and just spun it out.

Here is where I will talk about nutrition.

Bike, per hour:
1- Uncrustable (220)
2- Uncrustable (220)
3- Uncrustable (220) (roughly 45 miles- I am slow)

I realized in training that I needed to get solids in early on in the ride, so I wouldn't get a headache or dizzy later on.

4- Infinit (my mix is 250 calories per serving) (60 miles)
5- 20 oz Coke in special needs (I did this in training too), some gel, some Infinit (somewhere between 60-75 miles)

My stomach started to feel a little queasy at this point, so I backed off the nutrition and just took in water. Mind you, up until this point I had kept on schedule and eating on time. Even without a timer going off, I was able to stay on top of it by looking at the Garmin and sticking to the 15-minute intervals I had done in training. I drank water when I felt like it.

6- Some gel, some Infinit
7- Some gel, some Infinit

I had packed 3 hours of Infinit in a bottle, and I didn't take it all in. I maybe had 1/2 a serving left. I had packed 2 gel flasks, that held 4 servings of gel in them. I took in maybe 1 gel flask.

With all of that said, I felt fine and my stomach settled. I didn't feel like I was hungry or needing more nutrition coming off the bike. In fact, I didn't take in a gel on the run until 1 hour in. I didn't want to vomit. I really did feel fine.

Now, at both IM's I have done, this is how my nutrition shakes out... and it is not how it goes in training. Two different beasts.

All right, so back to the riding.

After mile 80 is where the real ride starts. I have always thought this with regards to any ride in the 100 mile range. Something about mile 80 is where you have to start digging deep. It just gets old being on the bike, and this course isn't easy going back. All of that together makes for a tough ride past mile 80.

This is when it was getting really hot, and the lack of cold water was making the ride miserable. I saw a convenience store and considered pulling over to get ice in my Camelbak, but I didn't want to waste anymore time off the bike. So I pressed on. I should have just stopped.

It was also when the ambulances started heading out on the course. I wasn't shocked that they were going out to pick up racers. I saw some on the side of the road (people were with them), and I knew the heat was going to take some people down. I know I didn't get any heat training in, and I live in Dallas, TX. I'm sure people from up North were hurting pretty bad.

Going back into town is kind of a beating. There is a lot of riding on the shoulder of a two-lane highway. So either cars were flying past us going 60+ mph, or they were stopped, idling, because racers had to cross over the freeway, turning left. Honestly, when they were stopped, it was worse. Imagine it... 2-3 miles of cars on our left side. The cars are stopped, and running. So they are kicking heat on us, and exhaust. It was hot, we didn't have any cloud cover, and the cars were kicking more heat on us. Miserable.

Finally got past that part, and into the neighborhoods. Better. Still hilly though. Still windy. We had roughly 12 miles to go, but it was the longest 12 miles ever. People around me were commenting at how LONG it was. Of course, when you are riding 14 mph, 12 miles means another hour on the bike. That is a long time!

Got back into The Woodlands and saw the bike finish. Saw my cheering crew and said a few words to them. I was coming off the bike with some sports induced asthma as well (or I think that's what it is- basically when I try to breathe, I start coughing and it is hard to take a deep breath). I told them about it, and then moved on.

I missed the bike dismount line by a few feet, realized it, and finally stopped. YES. SO HAPPY TO BE OFF THE BIKE.Walked my bike in a volunteer took it. Thank you so much volunteers.

What would you do differently?:

What was I doing out there? There is no reason why my bike should have been slower than IMKY. No excuse for it. Even with my paused time of 20 minutes, I should have made the bike in roughly 7:15. I did a 15.3 on that bike course in training. There was no reason why I couldn't execute that on race day. Not to mention, my bike training was better for IMTX than it was for IMKY. I rode more 100+ mile rides, and I took less rest stops. I just took it too easy going out. I needed to push a little bit harder. Without my HR monitor I didn't know what my HR was, but I still could have gone a little bit faster. I'm pretty sure that's why killed my bike time.

IMKY bike: 7:07:11
IMTX bike: 7:49:13

I will also say that IF I ever do another IM again, I will train in zone 2, and race in zone 2 (if I have a HR monitor! Ha!). In training, I did half zone 1 and half zone 2 on my 100+ mile bike rides. I need to push it more in training and stop taking it so easy. I understand not "eating the paste", but there's a balance between "eating the paste" and just flat out riding like it's a country bike tour with sight seeing stops.

On a positive note, my quads never started burning like they did when I was in training. So that was good. Overall, I felt pretty good coming off the bike and had hope for running some of the marathon.
Transition 2
  • 16m 58s

Oh gosh, what was I doing? Ugh. I suck at transitions. No clue what took me so long. I really did try to go fast. Didn't work apparently.

I basically changed from my riding gear to run gear. Run gear were run shorts, and a Triple Threat Tough tri jersey, and my race belt with my second number. I wiped down my face with a wet towel, and put more sunblock on. Then off I went.

What would you do differently?:

Speed up? Ha! I need to get better at transitions.
  • 6h 33m 51s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 15m 02s  min/mile

My race plan for the run was to do a 9/1 run/walk as long as I could. Then I would switch to a 4/1 run/walk. After that I would switch to running to landmarks.

Started running. Dang it. My Achilles hurt SO BAD on BOTH LEGS. REALLY?! Are you kidding me? This happened in Kentucky. But I thought that happened because I stood up too much on the pedals. Therefore I made sure to not stand up on the pedals at all for the Texas ride. Yet, I still had the pain I had in Kentucky. WEIRD.

Running was going to be painful. No way around it. I had taken some Tylenol in T2, and had some in my special needs bag. I will say though, they didn't do a bit of good. Useless.

I tried to do a 9/1. No way that was happening. It was hot, and I was in pain. OK, let's switch to a 4/1. Uh, yeah, not happening. OK. The plan was to run as much as I could, and walk as needed. Run the downhills and walk any uphills. Got it.

When I got to aid stations I took ice and some water. Mostly just sucked on ice. I wanted to cool off in the heat. At 1 hour in I took in a gel. My plan was to take in a gel every hour. Worked fine.

The first loop was nice because there were a lot of people on the course still. Mind you, most of them were getting close to finishing, but it was nice to have people around me. Helped motivate me to run more.

Running hurt, and walking wasn't much better. With the pain in my left foot, I couldn't really race walk. It also didn't help that I wasn't trained to race walk. It uses different muscles in the legs and takes training. So when I was walking, it was a 15:00-15:30 mm. And that was on loop 1. I use to be able to walk a 13 mm, when I was trained to race walk. Obviously, I would get slower as time went on. Not good! I was very worried that I wasn't going to make it in before midnight. I was running a 12 mm, and walking a 15-16 mm. I suck at math when I haven't been working out for 9 hours... so I wasn't sure I would finish in 17 hours.

I was hurting so bad, and I wasn't sure I would be able to finish at all. I told myself I had nothing to prove. I had already done one. Why keep suffering in pain? No. I had to keep going. Had to finish. Why? Not really sure. Just needed to keep moving forward.

Towards the end of the first loop, I saw Jonny on the canal and asked him to calculate the per minute mile (mm) I would need to keep to finish in time. I told him I wasn't sure I could make it, but I would stay on the course till they pulled me off.

Now, where Jonny was positioned I would see him, my dad, Evelyn, Tim and Sabrina two times due to an out and back.

When I came back and saw them the second time (from the out and back), he told me, and said I should be fine to finish in under 17 hours. I wanted to put some cushion between me and 17 hours though, so I ran as much as I could possibly stand. It was pain every step of the way. Suck it up. Suck it up.

While most of this run course kind of sucks, the part where you hit the canal is awesome. People cheering on both sides, close to you, pumping you full of energy. Amazing. I wish all 26.2 miles had been on the canal. As it was, only roughly 6 miles of it was. But when I was on the canal for the first 2 loops, I felt like I had wings and I was able to run.

I was also really grateful to see my cheering crew out there! They were great! Thanks for being out there! I know it is hard spectating. So, thank you. I needed your cheering!

I didn't see my Mom at the end of the first loop (she was wiped out from the morning, had taken a really long nap, and was eating), but I did see her and David at the end of the second loop. She was in good spirits and really happy to see me. She gave me a hug, but it was a bit too tight. I had to ask her for an easy hug because my body was in a lot of pain.

Miles 1-14 ish basically involved me running as much as possible and walking. They bad, but manageable mentally and physically. It was still light, and there were a fair amount of people on the course.

Special needs was at mile 11, and I wanted to take my Tylenol and get my good socks out of the bag. Right before getting to special needs, I saw this guy lay on the grass and curl up in the fetal position. He looked to be in his late 50's... not a good sign for anyone at any age... when I hit special needs right around the corner, I made sure to tell them about it. Hopefully the guy was OK.

On the second loop I saw DiAnn's husband, Blake and he asked me how I was doing. I replied, "I'm hurting". He said, "Your sister is too! She has thrown up 5 times! She started walking, but started running again." It was nice to know DiAnn was out there doing good. I had already known she came off the bike before me, so I knew she was good to finish the race.

Mind you, while on the run course, from start to nearly the end, there were people here and there who were laid out with medical over them. I even saw someone on the ground late into the night. That's the hard part about doing an Ironman and finishing late... seeing all the carnage on the course. I think that's something people need to be mentally prepared for. You see it, but you have to not let it get your head. Instead you tune it out and keep moving forward.

The third loop is where it got really dark for me... mentally, physically... and literally (you know, the sun went down). By mile 15 I was having to tell myself, "Just make it to mile 16... just make it to mile 16." It was time for me to start eating this elephant one mile at a time. I figured if I could make it to the next mile, then I would focus on the one after that. So that's how it went till mile 21... "Just get to mile X... just get to mile X..." repeating in my head.

Running was becoming near impossible at this point. My legs felt like bricks and it hurt too much to even run. I would try, but it ended up being the most pathetic Ironman shuffle anyone has ever seen, and heard. My feet were just barely making it off the ground. Although, it felt good to have my body do something other than walking.

My whole body was hurting. Behind my knees, my back, my arms, everything! I was just tired of being in an upright position. The third loop is where I would stop, bend over, and put my hands on my knees, to take a short break. I would also lean over and hang in railings when I saw one. At one point I sat on the curb and curled into a ball just to get in a different position with my body. I also sat on a medics cot. When they came over I said to them, "I am lucid. I am no dehydrated. I am fine. I just need to sit down and rest a minute." So they left me alone. All of that occurred on the third loop, over the last 8 ish miles.

On the third loop it had gotten dark and there were these sections of the path that were surrounded by trees. It was pitch black. I wish I had put a headlamp on. We shall call this area the forest of death. Mentally it broke me being out there alone, and not being able to see a foot in front of me. Scary too. I was scared of hurting myself. I could see the glow necklaces in the trees so I wouldn't run into those. Those parts of the course, in the pitch black darkness had me whimpering. Someone may have been near me. Who knows. But I was whimpering and saying, "I'm not going to make it..." So when I say this course broke me mentally, this is when it happened. I'm not sure how I kept going.

I was also thinking about Ken and hoping that he was holding strong and that he wasn't getting beaten up as bad as I was. Him finishing was of the utmost importance. As his coach, I earn my pay on race day. If he didn't finish, then why did he pay me? That's how I see it.

Finally, I came out of the dark woods, and hit the neighborhoods again. I knew the canal wasn't too far away and I would get to finish after that. I probably had about 5 miles left to go. People kept saying, "you are almost there!" I finally told someone I wasn't almost there. At my pace it was going to take me nearly 1 hour and 30 minutes to finish. Ugh.

Walking through the neighborhood I passed a girl who was walking and sobbing. She was saying, "this is so hard". I wish I would of have the mental strength to comfort her, but I was mentally broken myself. So I just replied, "Yes, this is very hard", and kept on walking.

Finally I got to the canal section... YES! FINALLY! Although I still had 4 ish miles to go, and that was going to take me another hour. The crowds had thinned out considerably and I wasn't able to run, only shuffle pathetically at times. The thought of laying down after crossing the finish line, motivated me to keep moving forward.

At this point I came across two guys who were talking and walking, so I made it my mission to keep up with them. I then started chatting with them as well. What was said? Who knows. I can't recall. It was nice to be able to get some human interaction at that point though.

Made it back around to my cheering crew, and Jonny went on the out and back section with me. He and I talked, but yeah, I hadn't a clue what was said. I know I probably got an update on Ken though. I wanted to make sure he was going to finish. It was nice to know Ken was good for finishing before midnight.

I made it around to see my Mom on the course again before I headed for the finish line. She was still peppy and good spirits and even walked with me a little on the course. Which made her very happy. While she's never been an athlete herself, she always watches Kona on TV, and knows about triathlons and the Ironman. Thus she was really pumped and excited to be able to watch her daughter do one.

After that I got to turn right and go for the finishers chute. WOO-HOO! This time through, I ran it. OK, slowly jogged it, but I finally felt what people have talked about... how all of a sudden you don't feel any pain and you can run. I felt it! I started my jog and high-fived everyone who held their hand out. Then I turned left and WHAT?! I have to run uphill? Ha! I said to some spectators, "I hope I can make it!". I kept slapping hands and then right before I got near the actual finishing line/mat, I heard Mike Riley say, "Karen Hicks"... and I stopped, put my hand on my ear, "You are an Ironman!" YES! HE finally said it for me, and I was lucid enough to hear it! At Ironman Kentucky, the announcer couldn't say my name right, and it wasn't Mike. I also don't remember him even saying anything.

As I crossed the finishing line, I made sure to look straight ahead (I screwed up my last picture by looking sideways), and to smile. I was DONE! YES!
Run Data from the Garmin:

0.50 mile, 13:44
0.50 mile, 13:05
0.50 mile, 13:02
0.50 mile, 13:15
0.50 mile, 14:15
0.50 mile, 12:28 (3 miles)
0.50 mile, 13:18
0.50 mile, 13:35
0.50 mile, 13:48
0.50 mile, 14:19
0.50 mile, 14:37
0.50 mile, 13:23 (6 miles)
0.50 mile, 14:09
0.50 mile, 14:17
0.50 mile, 13:31
0.50 mile, 13:43
0.50 mile, 13:03
0.50 mile, 13:58 (9 miles)
0.50 mile, 13:28
0.50 mile, 14:14
0.50 mile, 14:46
0.50 mile, 14:00
0.50 mile, 14:48
0.50 mile, 14:13 (12 miles)
0.50 mile, 13:57
0.50 mile, 14:18
0.50 mile, 15:09
0.50 mile, 15:57
0.50 mile, 16:31
0.50 mile, 14:45
0.50 mile, 15:01
0.50 mile, 14:26 (16 miles)
0.50 mile, 14:33
0.50 mile, 14:40
0.50 mile, 15:25
0.50 mile, 16:11
0.50 mile, 15:15
0.50 mile, 15:07
0.50 mile, 15:54
0.50 mile, 14:57 (20 miles)
0.50 mile, 16:17
0.50 mile, 16:31
0.50 mile, 16:08
0.50 mile, 16:05
0.50 mile, 16:55
0.50 mile, 17:05
0.50 mile, 16:20
0.50 mile, 16:10 (24 miles)
0.50 mile, 16:51
0.50 mile, 17:41 (25 miles)
0.50 mile, 16:47
128 feet, 23:18

Zone 1- 4 hours and 48 minutes
Zone 2- 13 minutes and 3 seconds

What would you do differently?:

I shouldn't have ever thought I was going to run most of that marathon on race day. I should have trained to race walk and run. Had I been trained for a race walk, my walking would have been faster. Of course, not getting injured in January would have helped this situation too. I couldn't train to race walk. So there was that.

With all my moaning and groaning about my lack of run training and not being able to race walk, the run is the ONLY PART OF THIS RACE I HAD A PERSONAL BEST.

IMKY: 6:49:18 (walked the all 26.2 miles)
IMTX: 6:33:51 (ran/walked)

I also did a walk/run marathon in 2009, and came in around 7 hours. So I did PR this marathon. Nuts.
Post race
Warm down:

Once I crossed the finish line, I found my cheering crew and took some pictures. They were all shocked at how "perky" I was. To tell you the truth, I felt way better than I did after my Kentucky finish.

Talked to Jonny to figure out where Ken was and how he was doing. He said Ken was about 4 miles out and he was going to bring him in.

I then wandered over to the food tent, but all I got was chocolate milk to drink. I really didn't want to consume anything else. I was tired of drinking and eating.

Sitting felt good, and I hung there until I thought it was time to see Ken across the finish line. When I got over to the finish line, he had just crossed. Dang it. I missed seeing him! We did get a picture together though, so that was nice. He was pretty glazed over and immediately took off with his wife and Mom to go home.

It was about 11:45 PM, so we went and stood by Tim and Sabrina by the finishing chute fence. We saw one more guy cross and then that was it. No last minute finishers. Once the clock struck midnight, the magic was over and they promptly started tearing the finishing chute fencing down.

Jonny and I headed back to the car (it was close to the finish line), and we headed back to the hotel. I was able to stand and shower this time, which was nice. I then laid in bed with stuff cramping up. First my right foot. When I tried to lift my leg to un-cramp my toes, my leg cramped up. Then my left hand cramped up at some point, and so did my oblique.

Finally fell asleep but had a night of tossing and turning and using the restroom.
Special Shout Out to my Ironsherpa!

I would like to say thank you to Jonathan (Jonny) Brashear for being the most amazing Ironsherpa a gal could have. First, he had to live with my through my training. That alone meant him having nerves of steel.

On race day he went to transition with me and walked over to the swim start with me. Then he walked back over to transition. He was there when I left on the bike, came back from the bike, and each time I hit the canal on the run.

All the while he was trying to help my Dad, Evelyn, Mom and David figure out where to be, and when. He also had to go get my transition bags and bike, and take them to the car while I was on the run course. It is HARD WORK being an Ironsherpa!

Finally, his math skills helped me and Ken figure out the pace we needed to keep to finish before midnight. He also gave us support on the course and ran/walked with us when he could.

Thank you Jonny! I love you very much!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

What limits my ability to perform faster? Good question. I am trying to figure that out myself. My hope for this race was to come in around 14-15 hours. It never crossed my mind I would go SLOWER than Kentucky.

Initially I blamed it all on my lack of run training. Really though, that's the only part of the race I PR'ed. Although I felt like the suffering was way more at IMTX than it was in Kentucky. Yet I felt better in the finisher's chute and better after the race. I would say I did a horrible job on the bike because I wasn't trained for it, but I was more ready for this bike than I was for the 112 miles in Kentucky. I had the potential and the ability to do better on the bike.

I'm very torn about this race. On one hand I'm glad I finished. There were a lot of moments on the run course I didn't think I would finish. The course broke me mentally and physically. So just finishing was an accomplishment. On the other hand, I'm really p@ssed off I didn't beat my Kentucky time. I should have beaten it.

DiAnn and Ken (mostly DiAnn) are talking about going back in 2013 to get revenge, and I have considered it. Although, I think I'm chasing an unobtainable dream. I'm not great at long distances. I'm not great at running long distances due to being injury prone. While I can ride 100 miles, I can't do it at 18-20 mph. So even my cycling is passable, but not great.

Just finishing an Ironman isn't good enough for me at this point. I want a better time. Period. I don't want to finish 93rd out of 99 ladies in my age group. That's a freaking joke!

Then again... as I think on it some more... I wonder if just finishing is enough. While I won't ever be great, I do like the mental and physical challenge the Ironman distance gives. There's so much drama to it. Everything hangs in the balance... and you have to dig deep mentally to keep pushing yourself physically when every fiber in your body is screaming "STOP MOVING".

Yet, I keep moving. I love coming up against that wall... that demon... and conquering it, even if I do only conquer it in the 15-17 hour time frame. ;)

I ponder, if I coach myself, will I get better results? If I train on the bike all in zone 2 and really focus on riding a lot till December 2012 to get a solid base, will I be faster at IMTX 2013 on the bike? I wonder if I train to do a walk/run, and get back to race walking, can I PR the marathon again? Who knows. It's all a gamble really. No guarantees. I could go back and go even slower. I have to keep reminding myself that I get injured from running easily, and I'm not great at long distance races.

I'm still tossing it around in my head. No decisions have been made.
Really at this point I have to figure out why my left foot has been in pain for 5 months, in a very specific spot. I have a Dr. appointment on June 4, 2012, since my insurance will finally kick in.

Event comments:

Overall the venue is great. The Woodlands is the nice part of Houston, and there are lots of places to eat, etc. Although, you and your spectators need to be prepared to walk, a lot. It's not an easy venue to spectate, and the parking is limited.

Only my young, healthy spectators were able to make it to the swim start. Since we had to walk over. My older spectators weren't going to find parking close enough to the swim start to watch it. So they had to catch me at T1. Even then, it was hard to spectate T1 and forget seeing people come out of the swim exit.

The swim itself is fine, and most of the swim is in the wide part of the canal. Start on the outside and you won't get beat to h@ll.

The water in the canal is gross. I live in Texas though, so I'm use to it. If you are use to clean water, and want to swim in clean water, this isn't the race for you.

The transition area was compact and well laid out. Didn't have to go too far to get my T1 and T2 bags, and didn't have to go far for the bike in/out and run out.

The bike course for the most part is scenic. It isn't an easy course though. If you want flat, this isn't the course for you. It is not flat. If you don't like wind, don't do this race. You will ride into a headwind for the second half of the ride. The chipseal on the course was minimal and compared to some chipseal I have ridden, it was fine. Barely shook me.

The run course is annoying at best. I loved the parts on the canal. Outside of the canal it was not fun. You run through parking lots, through neighborhoods, there a couple of out and backs (annoying), and that weird off road section. They were desperate to find the right amount of miles. Oh, and the part through the trees on the path- dangerous.

The finish line area was really nice. I really loved the fact that you couldn't SEE the finish line until it was time to go to it. Mentally it was a beat down in Kentucky to see the finish line, only to turn around to do 13.1 miles. I know Cozumel is setup where racers see the finish line as well. Tough! So they did it right in Texas by having your view obstructed until it was time to finish. Thank you!

In closing I want to give a shot out to ALL THE VOLUNTEERS. It is hard racing, but I know it is just has hard spectating and volunteering. So many of those volunteers stood in the heat, with no shade, to help us out. THANK YOU so much! I can't say enough to thank them. I did make sure to say thank you when I was at aid stations though. Even if I didn't take anything. As racers we should always do that no matter how fast or slow we are!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2011-06-13 12:00 AM
01:15:38 | 4224 yards | 01m 47s / 100yards
Age Group: 13/99
Overall: 99/
Performance: Average
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Good Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 13:11
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:49:13 | 112 miles | 14.32 mile/hr
Age Group: 97/99
Overall: 99/
Performance: Below average
Wind: Strong with gusts
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 16:58
Overall: Bad
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:33:51 | 26.2 miles | 15m 02s  min/mile
Age Group: 91/99
Overall: 99/
Performance: Below average
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4