My first Triathlon
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Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - Triathlon
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The Woodlands, Texas
World Triathlon Corporation
= 15h 14m 47s
Age Group Rank
This race has been a long time coming. I’ve dreamt about it, trained for it, and finally lived it. Here’s the entire day from beginning to end…the good, the bad, and the downright unfair events that took place.
Pre race 3:30am
I was awake before the alarm even went off. Having not slept the past two nights, I knew I was in for a long day, but sleep was the least of my worries. Robi and I woke up, and had some breakfast
(two pieces of toast, with almond peanut butter, ½ banana, Gatorade
). I knew I had to eat something, but my stomach couldn’t handle much because of the nerves.
We left the house promptly at 4:30am and headed to Ricks to give him a ride. The three of us were full of jitters and lively chat during the short 5 minute car ride. My bright idea was to park at 24 hour fitness and walk through Market Street to Town Green Park. It was longer of a walk than I expected, and will end up regretting this later on in the night.
Once at transition, we headed our separate ways to fill water bottles, put nutrition on our bikes, and add any last minute items to our T1/T2 bags. That’s when my first panic of the day set in…I forgot my straws. I have a bottle on the front of my bike which holds two separate canisters. I fill one with Gatorade and another with water. Without a straw, their useless. I cleaned the straws days before and swore I put them in the bag that morning. Obviously, I was wrong. They were nowhere to be found. After panicking for a few minutes, Robi calmed me down by letting me borrow one of his for the race.
We saw Will, who just didn’t look himself. He’s usually a happy-go-lucky kind of guy always cracking jokes. This morning, however, he looked a little paler than usual and grabbed us both for a quick hug. He told us both, “I really need hugs, guys” and he meant it.
As we made our way over to North Shore Park for the start of the race, my nerves started to kick into high gear. It helped to talk to others, though. We met this girl from Australia
) and she shared her story of racing with us. She was alone in this journey minus her parents that were in the crowd somewhere. That’s when I realized I was thankful to race right in a community full of family and friends. I would need them every step of the way.
Once we got to the park, we found Bill who prayed over us. I was able to give Dana-Sue and Lori and hug before heading off to the water. I wouldn’t let Robi out of my sight until entering the lake. There’s something comforting about a familiar face right next to you until the start. I lost him once I got in the water, but knew we’re both strong swimmers and we’d be ok.
1h 19m 8s
01m 52s / 100 yards
I don’t think I can put into words how crazy it is swimming with more than 2,000 of your closest friends, but I’ll try…
Imagine walking into a mall two days before Christmas. You’re surrounded by people holding way too many bags that keep hitting you as you try to pass them to get to your destination. Some people walk three people across so you can’t pass. Others stop out of nowhere right in front of you just to look around. Still others push past you just to slow down as soon as they get in front of you. Now throw in some water, have someone come on the loud speaker announcing you have 15 minutes until the mall closes and watch chaos ensue.
It’s kind of like the Ironman swim. Ok, not really, but I hope it paints a picture in your mind. I lined up on the far right-hand side of the buoys in the second row and treaded water for only 10 minutes. The energy was unreal before the start. I looked up at the bridge covered with spectators, and then behind me at 2,000 heads bobbled up and down in the water. It was a sight I’d never forget.
Then the cannon
(or what sounded like one
We were off!
From the get-go I was kicked, pulled, slapped, and swam over
(yes, this is possible
). On top of all that, I drank way too much lake water which was disgusting. The mile out to the first red buoy was pretty brutal. It was every man for himself. Some athletes were cutting the bouy and saved a good 25 yards. Cheaters. As much as I hated “waiting in line” to make the turn-a-round, I wasn’t about to cut myself short and cheat.
The swim back towards the canal wasn’t as bad. The most frustrating part was never finding a rhythm. The weeks prior in practice I was down to a 1:40/100 and feeling great. Now here I was swimming a 2:00/100 and there was nothing I could do about it.
The right turn into the canal
(900 yards left at this point
) consisted of pretty choppy water. It was cool seeing people on both sides cheering for everyone. The water was nice and cool which felt refreshing at this point. That canal is forever long. I finally reach the LAST buoy, made a quick left turn then roughly 25 yards until I reached the stairs and was pulled out of that murky water. Whew!!
What would you do differently?:
Don't drink the lake water.
Once out of the water, I ran up the grassy knoll onto the pathway to grab my bag. To my left, I heard Nelda screaming in my ear, “Robi’s 5 minutes ahead of you! You go girl!” I was relieved to hear Robi was out of the water and off on the bike by now.
The volunteers in the changing tent were awesome! Since I swam in my swimsuit, I had to do a complete change which I don’t regret one bit. The lady that helped me was calm, collected, and simply handed me what I needed. I felt like I was out of there in 3 minutes tops. Obviously not, but that’s ok.
I headed out of the changing tent and counted 15 rows until I reached my rack. 13…14…15…where is it? I stood there dumbfounded looking for a pink seat. I must have counted too many rows because I turned around and there he was…FELIX!! Then it was off on the bike.
What would you do differently?:
Put sunscreen on my wrists and quads. It's bad...really bad.
7h 01m 24s
Having ridden the course numerous times, I was comfortable with it. Woodlands Pkwy flew by and before I knew it, I was on 2987. For the first 30 miles or so, I kept getting compliments on my pink compression socks. I wasn’t the fastest, but at least I was racing in style.
My mile 40, I’m still feeling pretty good. Mile 50 and still good. The foot cramps set in around mile 60. Every couple of minutes I’d get these sharp pains in the bottom of my feet. They didn’t shoot up my legs. My calves and quads were fine, just the bottom of my feet were on fire. It was the worst feeling I’d ever experienced on the bike and had to come up with a plan. So at mile 70, I finally gave in and stopped at the next aid station. Those volunteers were amazing. Before I even hopped off, a guy held my bike steady as I tried to dismount with grace. It didn’t go so well. He held my bike while I visited the port-a-potty
(toilet paper AND sanitizer!
) and handed me a banana and water. It was like a personal bike assistant which was awesome! After filling up my water bottle, I was on my way.
Five miles down the road and the cramps start up again. They were getting worse and worse, and I didn’t know what I could do about it. This is where I started getting nervous about the run. If my feet are cramping now, what would I do? I decided to focus on the present and only think about getting though the remainder of the bike course.
I made it to mile 95 before stopping again. The aid stations were roughly 10 miles apart. Mile 62…72…82….92…93…where’s the next aid station? It seemed like forever until I saw it on 1488 at mile 95. Three extra miles makes a heck of a difference that late in the day. I stopped, used the restroom,
(still TP and sanitizer!
) had the LAST banana…or that what they told me, and was back on the bike in no time.
Once I made the turn at Tamina, I saw this crazy girl holding a cardboard sign that said, “You Inspire Me”. That’s when I realized it was Nelda!! This was the second time I got to see her during the race! She went crazy when she saw me.
…About a month prior to the race, Nelda surprised me with a necklace the words “Will Inspire”. She went on to explain that I’ve inspired her through my dedication and training to complete such a huge goal. I wore that necklace through training and had it on the day of the race. She’s an amazing friend and I was honored to be given such an inspirational gift…
Nelda’s presence gave me a boost and I was able to smile a little knowing I was almost done with the bike portion of the race. The best thing I saw during the bike course was the sign, “100 Miles”. I sat up on my bike and cheered at the sight of it.
Two miles up the road I turned off 2978 into a quiet neighborhood not knowing this was the exact spot where Robi's fate took a turn for the worse. Little did I know his front wheel got clipped by another cyclist which sent him flying over his handle bars knocking him unconscious and sending him to the hospital. By the time I got to this spot, he was long gone, and I pedaled by without a clue. This still upsets me that his race was stolen from him in a matter of seconds.
Having not a clue of the previous events, I picked up my speed dying to be off the bike. Once I turned onto Flintridge with less than five miles to go, I saw Ron and Robin on the side of the road cheering for me! I would be seeing lots of them throughout the day.
Finally I reached the last turn onto Lake Robbins to the dismount line. My goal was to not make a fool out of myself and fall off my bike at the dismount in front of all those people. I didn’t. Small victory! After the dismount, I saw Dale and Jason to my left and Erin and Andy to my right. I stopped for a photo opp, and headed into transition.
Once in transition, Dana-Sue was there to walk me to the changing tent and check on me. It was great to have another smiling face with me. I honestly have no idea what she said to me, but I do remember her smiling face and she walked with me all the way to the changing tent.
Again, the volunteers in the changing tents were amazing. This is when I realized the severity of my sunburn. I changed from head to toe, applied gobs of sunscreen, ate a nutrigrain bar, and headed out the tent for the run.
What would you do differently?:
Still needed that sunscreen.
6h 29m 39s
14m 52s min/mile
The first water stop what just right outside of the changing tent where I was greeted by Lori and Natalia! Natalia took tons of pics on the run course which turned out great. I walked through the aid station, said my hellos, and then ran down the waterway towards the dirt path.
The run course consisted of three 8+ mile loops. Aid stations were every mile and had the following: water, perform, coke, oranges, grapes, chips, watermelon, GU’s, chicken broth, and I’m sure some other stuff I’m forgetting.
The first couple of aid stations I had water, coke, and oranges and felt great. For the first four miles I was able to run to each aid station, stop and walk, and continuing running.
Once I got to Northshore park, I was greeted my Aunt Kris! What a surprise! I stopped gave her a hug, and asked her where Robi was. She showed me the app on her phone and it had Robi at mile 102. But that’s the bike course. He’s well ahead of me by now? What’s going on? My Aunt had no clue. I told myself that there was a glitch in his tracker and he was out there something. I hung on to that hope for the rest of the run always keeping an eye out for him. I also saw my crossfit coach, Micah. He was out there at Northshore Park for the first two loops and again at the finish line. It was awesome seeing an old coach out there cheering for me.
Somewhere around mile four, I ran into
) Curtis. We met at the banquet dinner. Robi and I met up with Rick and his wife Natalia and sat with them along with a group of Rick’s friends. One of these guys was Curtis. Little did I know he’d be my saving grace for the next six miles. I’m not one to run with people, but with all the pain, I welcomed the company. We would run for a bit then walk. Having someone to talk to eased the pain a little. The energy on the water way was crazy! I was feeling good until I reached mile 8. I saw Ron and Robin again somewhere around this point which lifted my spirits. Within minutes of seeing them, my body started to shut down. Nothing sounded good to eat or drink, but I knew I had to in order to keep going. Curtis walked a while with me, but I finally told him to go on without me. I was afraid I’d be walking the rest. My fear turned into reality.
This is when I truly felt alone for the first time all day. Sure, there were runners all around me, but nobody was talking to one another. It was hot, I was dizzy, and just wanted to lay down somewhere. But I kept moving. I would find some land mark and use it as a goal. For instance, if I can just make it to that stop sign, or traffic cone, or aid station, I could walk for a few minutes. It was very small victories at this point that kept me moving.
As I got closer to the waterway once more, I heard cheers which pumped me up for a bit. Without those cheers, I would not be running. Erin, Andy, and Leah were out there on this loop among the crowds.
Towards the end of the second loop the pieces slowly came together. I finally saw Robi with my two sisters. A rush of emotions rushed over me, but I held them in for that moment. His eye was swollen and he didn’t look happy. He assured me he was ok, and to go finish my race. I gave him a quick hug and kiss and went on my way before he could see me cry. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair at all. I went on to finish a race alone that we had started together.
Once I rounded transition for the last time, I saw my dad and father-in-law standing together. I stopped and chatted with them. I let them know I just saw Robi, yet still didn’t know the whole story. These would be the last familiar faces I would see for the next two hours. I was on my own with the only thing pushing me forward was a tiny spark of determination that was slowly growing with each step.
It’s so hard to leave the comfort and lights of the crowds only to head straight into the dark with just your thoughts. I hated that last loop. It was dark, and I was slowing down to barely a walk. Nothing within me wanted to stop, yet it hurt to move. My stomach was queasy, and all I wanted was coke. I couldn’t stomach much more than that. I knew I had to eat, but was afraid of throwing up. I would make myself stop at the aids station and just graze at the food table. I would munch on chips, watermelon, and oranges. Then I would keep going.
It was on this loop and I reach the lowest point on that course. I just crossed the bridge on Woodlands Parkway and had to walk the dark path that lead into a neighborhood. Years ago when I first had the dream of doing an ironman, I found this YouTube video entitled “You vs. You.” Look it up. It’s here in this course that I told myself it’s “You vs. no, You vs. giving up, You vs. your thoughts.” I had to mentally dig deep and pull some motivation for a small spark that hadn’t died yet.
My spirits finally lifted once I entered the waterway for the last time. The crowds were sparse, but at least there were lights and distractions to keep me out of my dark thoughts. I could hear the finish line as I passed right under the bridge it was on, yet it still seemed forever away. The last ½ mile was forever long. I had no run left in me. There’s a stretch where you run to the end of the waterway, turn around, and come back the same direction heading straight to the finish. It was there when I finally realized I was going to finish this.
I’ve dreamed about this day. I’ve imagined myself crossing the finish line thousands of times. Yet I never knew it could be more amazing than I’d imagined. It was late in the night with under 2 hours for the remainder of the athletes to finish and the crowds were still amazing as ever.
All the pain left my body and….I ran. I ran for my hopes, my dreams, my pain, my glory. I RAN. The lights, the announcer, the crowds were unbelievable, and I enjoyed every second of it. 15 hours 14 minutes and 47 seconds later, I crossed the finish line.
I am an Ironman.
What would you do differently?:
Work on mental toughness...it's the hardest part of the run.
Last updated: 2013-04-30 12:00 AM
01:19:08 | 4224 yards | 01m 52s / 100yards
0F / 0C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:01:24 | 112 miles | 15.96 mile/hr
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:29:39 | 26.2 miles | 14m 52s min/mile
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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