Monday, May 23, 2011

IRONMAN TEXAS - Race Report Take 2

Some of the other experiences along the way:

This Ironman thing is a richman's sport. Chatting with a few experienced Ironman athletes around the Expo I find the routine for many is to go to the site of the ironman a couple weeks in advance, have the bike shipped out, acclimate to the new environment and train along the course. Multi-thousands of gear - especially the bike. Massages, club memberships, large entry fees - on and on and on. The lady I happenned to be behind in line at the packet pickup happened to be a very good age grouper who has qualified for Kona on a number of occasions but doesn't ever go because to her it's not worth the $15k bill. This gives me some pause - two kids coming out of High School - college bills starting up this year - I can't go dropping $15k to go runs some race - sure I could do it on the cheap and cut that down but still. I'm not sure I want that choice even should all the stars align perfect.

As we tread water like bait in the Pacu infested waters of Lake Woodlands (seriously one was caught here just a couple weeks ago) this 7am day of May 21st a few questions are thought but not asked:

- Who will make it to the end before the 6pm Rapture?
- Will these Pacu infested waters let all of us out alive?
- Can I swim to the left of the bouy's where it's not likely to be so crowded - will those Kayak'rs really stop me?
- Is it rude to be holding onto the bouy instead of giving up my spot for a Purple Hat Lady?
- Where does that canon ball land after it's fired?
- This kayak'r is pretty cool letting 20-30 swimmers grab a hand around his boat but I wander how smart that is - might they flip him over by accident?
- Where's my hand under the water 3" away - I can't see it.
- Should I have shaved all this body hair off like so many others around here?
- What's the point with putting on all that suntain lotion a 7am before an hour in the water - can it really last that long?
- Was it a smart thing to line up at the front of this race when I expect to be in the lower half at the end?
- Those poor people who didn't get into the water in time - I could easily be one of them - I was just coming over to the start to see the pros start and noticed everyone was getting in the water so I tagged along - blind luck I guess.
- Saw in someone elses volenteering race report siting of a couple water snakes swimming across the water a few minutes pre-race - I'm sure 2000+ swimmers scared them off pretty good.

The cannon fires and all I know is the ball didn't land anywhere near me - thousands and thousand move it out. Despite stories of abuse on the waters - I actually found others to be quite tolerant as I slammed my hands into them and they slammed there's into me. I didn't hear a single foul word - even heard several appologies - these are good people just put into violent sport. Clawing pushing knocking breathing taking strokes in whatever means was available I finally get enough clear space after 15-20 minutes to get in a groove.

Drafting - yeah I'm supposed to do that - but each time I try I seem to get into this foot tickling routine with the person in front. At least once my foot comes into contact with something a bit hard and not flesh - probably goggles - sorry about that. That happens once to me too so I suppose comes around goes around.

I'm no swimmer - I'm a runner - most runners I know don't swim - don't like to swim even and I'm kinda like that guy but I want the Ironman T-Shirt and I'm going to get it - I can tolerate 90 minutes of this because the rest of the day will be divine.

Cool - I can walk in the canal - would I be DQ'd if I just ran along the bottom - I seriously considered this strategy:).

Out of the water to transition.

How are all these people changing outside the tent? I guess they don't change their shorts.

In the tent I go with my bag - I guess I should have got away from the door - I hope I didn't flash any ladies going by out there.

The arms are just too short to pull the back down on the shirt bound up at the neck.

How do people get 5 minute transitions anyway - there's just too much to do here - I suppose maybe practicing more than zero times might have helped a little:).

Off I go on the bike right according to plan - plan was to let most everyone get ahead of me so I can pass them all back in the bike run - that's the way to boost the ego:). These riders are just dang slow - I'm cruzzing by them by the dozens - what a blast.

Age 41 dude - "Why do you have a calculator on the back of your seat" - I don't ask but wonder - no matter - he's in my age group he's going down - onward.

Poor guys along the side of the road changing tires. One apparent fall around an hour in - actually the only one I saw evidence of the whole day - that's pretty amazing actually.

Calculator guy passes me back - whatever - we're cruzing by everyone else.

I pass calculator guy again....he passes me back.....I pass him.

All these rules to follow - no drafting, after being passed must drop back 4 bike lengths, all passing must be done within 20 second - Pass only on the left - although I never saw any inforcement at all of these rules - I was rather amazed most actually made some efforts to do them - much of the time the 4 bike lengths was impractical with the density of riders but for the most part things were followed.

Here comes calculator guy again......I'm asking myself higher math questions about how many oz/hr or cal/hr or mg/hr I've had trying to forecast what time each bottle is supposed to be empty - man do I wish I had a calculator - how many bottles of this stuff have I had - what kinda flavor is that anyway - Mango maybe - interesting.

Sitting on a 1" plank crouched over across the bike for many hours - what happens - sore butt and back maybe? You betcha. I cross the 70 milemarker and I'm 1/2 way to the the finish - hurray. I cross the 70 milemarker and I've still got 70 miles to go - crap!

How did this lady clearly more than 50 lbs over weight take 70 miles to pass - was my swim really THAT bad?

Wow that ~5 miles stretch of road - if you were there you know what I'm talking about - I don't recall a rougher road ever - anywhere - I think they might have just stripped it down making it ready for the asphault trucks to come.

A story I heard from others - apparently a good guy cop trying to help with all the congestion all the cars were facing decided to take it apon himself to help things out a little and direct traffic. He was pretty quick to figure out the real problem with all this traffic was all these bikes charging into the intersection without regard for the rules so he's stop them and wave the cars along to clear out the traffic - several lost many minutes waiting for this good guy to straighten them out.

These long long lines of cars at many interstions I'm so sure were filled with people thinking to themselves - "Go Ironman - push it to the finish!" - yeah - that's what they're thinking.

Hey - I caught calculator guy again - is it me yo-yo'ing or him?

Cross mile 100 at 5:05 - darn-it - I think a 5 hr centry would have been pretty darn cool. I am now riding farther than I've EVER ridden before - at least as far as I can remember. After so much headwind this last many miles it was a very nice respite for a few miles to turn north near this mile marker - what a perfect place for a tailwind.

I haven't seen calculator guy for a while - seems I haven't seen several of the people I was yo-yo'ing for a while - and I'm hardly passing anyone anymore - just on occasional biker coming by me - guess I'm slowing down.

We ride by about mile 4 of the run and I glance over and sure enough - there's a few runners out there - man they are way far ahead.

I must say all the way through the ride - these are a talented group of volenteers! This was not just a group of people that show up on race days - it was clear every one of them was trained to do what they did and do it with a smile and encouraging word - what a pleasure it was at every point of contact.

The final miles - ready for a good transition - Loosen the shoes - it must have taken a while because there's 3 pictures on the website capturing me loosening the right shoe - a magical moment I'm so glad they captured in triplicate.

Off to transition again - what a pleasant surprize I don't even need to take my bike to the rack - a volenteer jumps right out and takes care of it - cool stuff.

Ok - a hot/humid marathon - this is going to something!


- I didn't expect a run/walk strategy going in but it did create opportunity to chitctat with other racers and hear stories along the way. The most interesting was one guy I walked with for a while was conserving his energy because he wanted to finish fresh - huh? - turns out he had a big proposal planned ~100m before the finishline to catch his girlfriend totally off guard - now that's pretty cool!

- The Woodlands canal system is very cool - I'd never been down the trails around the canal before and its beautiful. The crowd support all around it was incredible too. Seems like the locals really embrassed this event and came out in force to chear everyone on.

- This certainly didn't feel like a race - all were wearing a number and all but there was more walking then running - and of the running there was much more suffling than jogging - even of the joggers there was almost no real running by my thinking of it. 1st place lady came by me at one point and I looked at how fast she was moving and figured maybe 7:45 pace - of course that was still faster than I was moving at the time so good on her!

- At mile 21 I look down at my watch and see it's exactly 6pm - I turn to the jogger next to me and say looks like the world isn't going to end - guess we'll have to finish this thing - she gave me a wierd look like what are you talking about - get away from me wierdo - so I jog on ahead :).

- Incredible aid stations - again every volenteer appeared to be well trained, enthusiastic, empathetic, helpful in every way possible. I've never seen a better run aid station in any marathon and every aid station at every mile was the same.

- Ironman aid stations are very well prepared for the heat! Lots of ice, cold drinks, cold sponges, chicken broth, different kind of real foods, drinks - everything needed to deal with a hot day.

I think someday I'll need to do another one of these things. Probably I could take what I learned from this race and put together an effort around 10.5 on the next - but I'm just not feeling it. I really don't like to swim - it's a very expensive sport - and I'd need about double the training time. Maybe in a few years when college expenses are forecasted to drop off - we'll see.

I'm finding the words "I'm an Ironman" a bit awkward - I felt similar about "I'm a Marathoner" until I felt I'd actually done the race right which wasn't until my 3rd Marathon. I guess technically I can say I am - but I won't really feel it until I've done it right.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey John!
As always: thanks for sharing! Great amount of detail, greatly appreciated.
This "Take 2" title somehow reminded me of "Hangover 2"?! :o)
Hope you are recovering from this nicely. I may bug you in future how nowadays you became "competitive eater"! :o)
Considering that you provided me with such a great IM insight, I will probably never attempt to get that "silly", therefore I would never really fully understand how much I should be grateful to you for keeping me away from big trouble! Sure thing is that I will buy you beer anytime...! Anyway, your blogging is greatly appreciated and great fun to read. Stay healthy and have fun!