Over the past weekend I was fortunate enough to participate in Ironman #2: Ironman Texas. Going in to IM #2 I used a similar training plan but ultimately thought I was smarter, stronger, and faster. I made sure my workouts were quality, I switched nutrition products, I rode in the hills, I trained with faster people when appropriate..... Going into the race my goal was to break 11 hours. I believed I could do it. Ultimately I knew this race would be a lot harder than the IMFL course..... Despite this: I felt prepared to do it..... AND..... to do it faster. My realistic goal was to swim under: 1:10, bike under 5:40, run under 4 hours. I knew heat would be a factor. Given that I live in the Louisiana swamp lands, I felt prepared to deal with a scorcher.
Fast forwarding to race day....
The swim was a little weird as they made us tread water for about 15 minutes before the race even started. Despite the annoyance, I tried to stay as relaxed as possible and not waste energy. As the gun went off I went out a little harder than I wanted but knew I had to stay on the feet of the fast swimmers. The swim was the roughest I have ever experienced. I was pushed, pummelled, smacked, tugged on...you name it. I know some of that is normal but this was INSANE.... I eventually stopped sighting because every time I did, the blows worsened. The violence continued for probably the first 2/3 of the swim. It wasn't until I reached the final canal turn that things finally calmed down. I exited the water at 1:09:14. For a non-wet suit, fresh water-swim, I was ok with that. Remembering my long 9 minute transition at IMFL, I made an effort to get out of T1 faster and I did with a 4:03.
"just make it through the bike..."
"just make it through the bike.."
My heart rate continued to drop into the the low 140s... I kept repeating my mantra. The wind was unforgiving. Finally I finished the bike in around 6 hours. I was in so much pain at that point that I really didn't know or even care what my bike time was. I just wanted to get off the damn bike. You can tell here that is exactly what I was thinking.....
I headed out onto the run at a walking pace. The course consisted of 3 loops of approximately 9-ish miles. At this point, I just said Heidi:
"Just run the first 9 mile loop..."
"Just run the first 9 mile loop...."
It was just plain ugly. I averaged around 9 minute pace for that first loop. The sun gave no sympathy. There was no shade to be found. Luckily for me, at the end of the first loop, my headache started to subside a little. Despite my small win, my second loop was worse with an 11:39 ave.
After the first 2 loops, I was simply over the gels and started going for the coke and water and grabbing ice/sponges. That was the best decision I made the entire race. I felt like a new person. Either the coke worked it's magic or the Wattie Ink boys in speedos inspired me. I don't remember. But I started to feel better and better.....
I was able to pick it up a little to a 11:00 min pace....Again not fast but big improvement from earlier. My optimism returned as I made it beyond the dreaded 20 mile barrier... I had no idea where I was time wise nor did I care. I knew there was no way I would break 11 hours. Regardless of the circumstances, I knew one thing: no matter how bad that pain got or how long it took... I would be an "Ironman".
And I did it again with a strong finish...... Overall time:11:58. Yes the marathon was an ugly 4:37 but still a small improvement from IMFL. Receiving a finishers medal from Chrissie Wellington it made it all worth it! And more importantly, I finished alert and oriented and didn't need an IV or projectile vomit. These small battle sometimes equate to big wins.
I'm convinced that an Ironman will never go as planned. But with each one that we survive, we learn that our bodies and minds are capable of overcoming greater pain, suffering, and challenges than we ever thought possible. Thank you for everyone for your cheers! As for the headache thing, hopefully a new bike with a better fit will solve that before IMFL :)