Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - TriathlonFull Ironman

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The Woodlands, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
90F / 32C
Total Time = 14h 32m 24s
Overall Rank = 1433/2017
Age Group = 30-34
Age Group Rank = 188/237
Pre-race routine:

Event warmup:

We woke up at 3:15am to make sure I was at the transition area right at 4:30. I ate some cereal and part of a bagel and a little of some leftovers from the night before. The volunteer fixed me up with a new wristband... and by 'new' I mean one that had the number crossed out and my 1123 written next to it. Not a big deal, and I could breath a little better after that was taken care of. There wasn't a whole lot to do since everything was already in bags for T1 and T2. I should've double checked them; not sure why I didn't. I just went around the areas like I would during the race and made sure I would be able to find the bags quickly. Borrowed a pump from somebody and got the bike ready. Nothing else to do but head to the swim start.
Walking over the bridge and seeing the swim course made me smile. This is it. It all starts here. And for once, I'm feeling confident (though still nervous) about the swim. I've swam more in the last 4 months than I swam ALL of last year. And since the weather turned HOT recently, I was even doing my last OWS's without a wetsuit... ya know, just in case.
We setup camp along the shoreline and watched the kayaks get into position. NOW, I'm a nervous wreck!
  • 1h 34m 9s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 14s / 100 yards

A full 30min before the start, they have us get into the water. At the same time, they start playing the National Anthem. And if I choose to stop and salute the flag, don't be rude and tell me to keep walking. I'll get in the water as soon as it's done.
I'm almost in the water before I realize I still have my sandals on. Go back through the crowd and hand them to Shelly, then run back and get in the water. I stopped along the dock but they kept yelling to get out towards the buoys. The swim was going to be hard enough and I wasn't about to start treading water 20min beforehand. I slowly swim along the dock and see the other side goes all the way to shore. Sweet! I (along with a few others) 'hide' behind the dock and stand up near the shore. About 3mins before the cannon fires (man, I love that sound!), we all start swimming to the middle of the lake.
The countdown starts, your adrenaline kicks in and before you know it, you start racing... you start racing an IRONMAN! Just to get to the start of this crazy race is something I'm really proud of.


We're off. I had this preconceived notion that with all these people, I would be able to draft for most of the way. I tried to draft someone and got ran over. I drafted someone else and ended up swimming over them. This went on for a while. Not even 10minutes later, I felt something I thought was just more seaweed. On the next stroke I realized it was a chip strap. I grabbed it and swam a little while with it in my hand deciding what to do. I remembered hearing the chips cost $75 to replace for whoever's it was so I velcroed it to my chest strap until the end.

I gave up trying to draft people and just sighted for an open area to swim in. It worked better than the full-combat swimming I was doing but I'm sure it added some yardage going back and forth a little.

Made the U-turn and it was just more of the same. Still had to stop several times because of the contact with other swimmers but my arms weren't tired yet and that made me pretty happy.

Turned into the canal and knew we were nearing the end. I wasn't sure exactly how far it was down the canal but it didn't matter. I could hear the announcer, the music, and the crowd along the water. It was a great feeling and kept me going strong. The canal narrowed and was now lined on either side with concrete. I heard it was real shallow but never scraped my hands or saw anybody walking so it didn't bother me any. I was on the far right side so I ended up going to the last set of stairs. My whole body was getting tired at this point but I was done with the swim. Up the stairs and SMACK! I tried to walk up the stairs and even had help from a volunteer but fell right down. My legs just didn't work right and I landed on my left foot. What a great way to start a long bike and run. Looking at the time clock put me in a better mood: only 4 minutes slower than I wanted.
Transition 1
  • 10m 20s

Walked/jogged/limped towards transition and grabbed my bag. Off to the changing tent. The smelly, disgusting, smelly, crowded, smelly tent. Changed into my bike clothes and ran out to grab my bike. It felt like I spent an hour in that tent. And even though my foot hurt (and was slightly swollen), I was eager to start the bike. I'm not used to running in cleats any more but managed to go around a few people and jump on my bike without incident. As I was doing this, I saw a guy to my right trip over his bike somehow and superman over it. It didn't look like any permanent damage to him or his bike but what a way to start the ride.
  • 6h 11m 12s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.10 mile/hr

The first hour flew by like it was mere seconds. I don't remember much of it other than we were headed out of town. There was a few turns here and there but a whole lot of cyclists. The biggest race I've ever done only had about 500 people and it became clear that with 2500 there would be people around me the whole race. It was good and bad. I got to draft at times but I had to accelerate faster than I would've like to get around some slower people. I was pretty impressed with everybody holding to the rules. I didn't time anybody's passes or anything but it looked like people would only draft for a few seconds before making an effort to pass. I've been to several where so many people were just blatantly drafting each other for miles and miles at a time.

My nutrition plan called for 100 calories every 20-25min and I was following the plan pretty well. I had enough gu gels and chomps to get me through the ride and only planned on picking up water bottles at the aid stations. Those aid stations were the best I've ever seen. Fully stocked with everything you could want. Every water bottle or Perform bottle I got was ice cold. I couldn't help but remember handing out HOT water that had been sitting directly in the sun all day at WhiteLake just two weeks prior.

The first half of the ride went really well. I remember counting all the disc-wheels I was passing :). The roads weren't nearly as good as everyone was saying and the ones through the national forest were just tore up. That part was amazing though. I really like going through the woods.

The course got a little tougher, it seemed, right after the 56mile mark. We turned into the wind and the hills were a little bigger. Had I drove the route beforehand, I would've known the second half was a little tougher but don't think it would've changed much. I would just have been more mentally prepared for it, I guess.

I finally hit a wall of sorts at mile 95. Looking back, I realize that anytime I can feel good for 95 miles, it's a good day. I think it was a combination of the Perform, the heat and I'm sure I was getting very low on sodium. I don't feel I was dehydrated as I was going through water bottles pretty regularly.

I saw a lady in pretty bad shape being put on a stretcher at mile 82. I think it was a reality check for me and several other racers. We race for many reasons but we can't forget that it can still be dangerous. I found out later that some guy came up behind her, pretty much cut her off causing the accident and rode off like nothing happened. Unbelievable.

This last hour was the toughest. And I don't think I was alone. It was nearing the hottest part of the day. My longest training day was about 7hrs and I just passed that. The roads were much worse nearing the end. My body was not feeling good and I was starting to feel nauseous. I could no longer keep track of my calorie intake like I was doing on the first half. I couldn't remember if it had been 20min, 30min or 40min between “meals.” I was getting cookies and bananas (yes Shelly, I ate bananas!) from the aid stations now. I was so sick of eating gu's.

The neighborhood was terrible simply because of all the turns; I couldn't keep what little speed I had. Knowing I was almost done with this portion was the only thing keeping me going through the end.
Transition 2
  • 09m 12s

I saw my friends as I entered the gated section just before T2. It was good to finally see familiar faces and even better to see the end of the bike leg. I jumped off the bike and handed if off to a volunteer. It wasn't until just now that I realized I had put my sunglasses on. I don't remember putting them on and I certainly meant to have them in the run bag; not the bike bag. No wonder my ears were hurting and the sun visor wouldn't go all the way down. I felt pretty stupid. Anyway, I slow jogged around the transition area and grabbed my bag. Stopped by the port-a-johns before setting up camp in a corner of the tent.
A volunteer immediately came up to me and asked if I needed help. I don't remember what I said but I do remember dumping my bag out in the chair next to me and he started laying the shoes on the ground by my feet. He even put the socks on top! I've never been so pampered and couldn't help but laugh a little. As I was putting my shoes on (I didn't change socks after all), he was putting my helmet in the bag. I slowly put the fuel belt (overflowing with gu's!) and my hat and was ready to go. I asked where the bags go because I didn't see the bins they had this morning and he said he'll take care of it. I got a second helping of sunscreen and was officially on the last leg of the Ironman.

  • 6h 27m 33s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 14m 47s  min/mile

And I do hate this last leg. The race clock was just around 8hrs so I had plenty of time to finish today. I already knew I wasn't going to finish a sub-13hr just because of how I felt. There was going to be a lot of walking ahead of me but I just needed to keep moving and focus on that. As soon as I got out of transition and on the run course, I realized I still had my bike gloves on. Seriously? Well, I guess it's better than running with the helmet still on. I took off the gloves and stuffed them in the already overpacked fuel belt.

The course was 3 laps and for the first lap, I was just taking it all in. Ok, there's an off-road section here; there's a cool and shady park here; ridiculously extravagant houses here; hot as balls here... and here... and here!

The first lap was tough (of course, any running done after 8hrs is going to be tough) but it really wasn't terrible. I ran some; I jogged some; I walked some. I tried to watch my heart rate but no matter what I did, I couldn't get it down below 140 without walking. Unfortunately, I just started to ignore it because it wasn't showing me what I wanted to see. Then, I thought to myself, “I don't think I can run any slower [about 10:30m/m at the time] so maybe I can just keep this pace throughout”. Spoiler Alert: I couldn't!

It felt like I had just started running when I hit the first aid station. I think I grabbed some cold water to splash on me and a sponge but kept moving. Another mile and another aid station. At this point, I was thinking about the uselessness of the fuel belt I was carrying. It was bouncing up and down and didn't carry anything that wasn't on the course. I decided to leave it by a sign so I would remember to get it after the race. By the end of the day, there were many, many fuel belts strung along the course.

As the time passed by slowly and the miles passed by even slower, I was feeling worse and worse. I know what it's like to be dehydrated; I know what it's like to bonk from not enough calories. This was different because I KNEW I was taking in enough calories and water. I was a little nauseous, fatigued (can't really count that as a symptom after 8hrs of exercise though) and could not focus. I started blaming the Ironman Perform sports drink. Looking back, it was really hyponatremia (sodium deficiency). I have had many long training days and none of them required additional salt. This day did!
I finally finished the first lap and saw my Shelly and Brandon and Michelle (God bless them for coming out!). Told them “This is really hard!” Trying to make a joke but pretty damn serious at the same time. It was great to see them but having to move on and leave them behind was tougher than expected. Knowing it would be another 8miles before I saw them again, I hit a really low point. And let me tell you, it doesn't take much to get negative thoughts in your head during a race like this. By the second lap, my physical state was 100 time better than my mental one. One negative thought leads to another and the next thing you know, you're sitting in a chair for 20minutes with a wet towel on your head, draped over your face to hide the tears streaming down. As I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself, the firefighter walked past. It's in the 90s now and this man is dressed in boots, pants, jacket, helmet, and yes, even a 20lb oxygen tank on his back. He was doing it to raise money for his local charity. A few minutes later, I pulled myself together, slowly stood up, thanked the volunteers and started moving forward again. I didn't stop for the rest of the lap... I didn't run either though. I just kept taking in chicken broth, pretzels, flat coke, and grapes. Those were some good grapes!

I finally came around to my friends again but this time, I didn't want them to see me... not like this. I was so embarrassed it took well over 2hrs to do 8 miles and I know my eyes were red and my face pale. They had nothing but good and encouraging things to say but I felt broken.
I walked a few more miles and somewhere along the way, I actually started to feel better. Maybe it was all the salty foods, maybe it was the mystery drugs I picked up off the ground, maybe it wasn't as hot with the sun slowing fading behind the horizon. Whatever the reason, I was grateful... eternally grateful. My whole attitude changed and I started jogging (well, marathon shuffling) and even talking to the people who say they loved my “I'm not obsessed, I'm dedicated” shirt.

The last 5miles, I began to smile again and managed to go progressively faster with each mile. The physical pain was there now. My legs hurt; my neck hurt; my arms hurt. But this was fine with me. I expected this day to be painful, I can deal with pain and keep going. The pain just let's you know you're still in this masochistic race.
During these last few miles, I met a man from Houston. We both had blown our time goals and were in pain with every step. We didn't talk about that though. We talked about how hard it must be for our loved ones. The ones who were probably bored to tears sitting in the hot, hot sun ALL day and much of the night. The ones we told we would be done by now and having dinner with them by this time. The ones who sacrificed as much as we did to get here and don't even receive a medal for it. They are the only reason we made it this far and we keep going for them.
For the third time, I see the older lady directing runners. 1st and 2nd laps to the left, 3rd to the right. I grin the biggest grin ever and make my way up the hill to the right. I can hear Mike Reilly now; telling others they are are now an Ironman and I know I'm just seconds away from hearing my own name called. I jog around the final u-turn in the chute to see and hear Shelly calling for me. She's smiling through her tears and I can't wait to hold her again. I make my way through the final feet to the finish line and hear those glorious words: “Jason Los, You are an Ironman!” I practically collapse on top of the volunteer. He asks me if I'm ok, how I'm feeling, if I need anything. “I'd very much like to sit down now.” He rushes over to someone else who gets a wheelchair for me while he keeps me propped up. I just wanted to be pointed in the direction of chairs but who am I to argue. I sit down and wait for Shelly, Michelle and Brandon to find me. Finally, all the hard work and training and sacrifice has paid off. I am an Ironman. As long as it's under 17hrs, time is irrelevant, I AM AN IRONMAN!
Post race
Event comments:

Amazing venue and incredible support from everybody.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2011-11-20 12:00 AM
01:34:09 | 4224 yards | 02m 14s / 100yards
Age Group: 204/237
Overall: 1552/2017
Performance: Good
Course: Out and back in Lake Woodlands, then about 1000 yds up the canal to Town Green Park.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 81F / 27C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 10:20
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
06:11:12 | 112 miles | 18.10 mile/hr
Age Group: 161/237
Overall: 1140/2017
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Single big loop. Tailwind heading north and then headwind on the return (plus hotter and hillier).
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 09:12
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:27:33 | 26.2 miles | 14m 47s  min/mile
Age Group: 188/237
Overall: 1433/2017
Performance: Bad
Course: 3 loops, mostly on concrete paths and through a couple of neighborhoods.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
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: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5