A lot of things, most things actually, went really really right during Ironman Texas. One thing, however, went really really wrong. And it cost me big time. It's a shame to blow an opportunity at a big championship race but apparently some lessons require a reminder now and again.
As with all ironmans, I had quite a bit of anxiety leading up to Texas. Honestly, the distance still overwhelms me! It doesn't help that my track record at this distance has not been great...but for some reason I keep coming back. The new bike course and last minute change to the swim course made for lots of extra buzz. There were tons of opinions and theories on how best to approach this shortened technical bike course. My main concern was just trying to make sure I stayed on top of my hydration and fueling. I knew it was going to be a hot day and I knew it would be easy to get distracted with all the twists and turns.
The Thursday night before the race I had the honor of sitting on a pro panel at the Memorial Herman Sports Institute. The facility was amazing and there was great turnout. It was fun to share my story and offer advice but even more fun to listen to the men trash talk each other!
The swim was non-wetsuit and one loop (no swimming down the poop canal this time!). I lined up maybe a bit further back than I should've and the gun went off. I'm not sure exactly what happened during the chaotic start of the swim but I somehow managed a horrible start and found myself way in the back before we even got to the first buoy. I attempted to do some damage control, managed to catch and pass a few women and got myself onto some feet. I sat in for a few minutes trying to determine my next move. I decided to hang there for a bit. It felt a bit slow but sometimes it's hard to get a good sense when you are drafting and hey, it's ironman, it's a long swim right?! By about halfway through, I began to get the sense that maybe we weren't exactly swimming in a very straight line. I wasn't sure though. At this point, everyone else was long gone so I figured I would just stay where I was. I hoped the damage wasn't too bad and that the energy savings from drafting would somehow pay off. That was my attempt at optimism... As a ran through T1, I knew my swim was not good but fortunately I did not know just how bad it was. In the end, the accumulation of all my bad decisions left me about 10min off of where I expected to be.
The bike course went by without incident. All the twists and turns made it go by very fast and kept me from losing focus or getting bored. I felt strong and solid through the whole course. I was drinking like a feign. It was so humid! My biggest challenge during the bike was trying to avoid the “groups” of amateur men. I mean, giving the pro women a 5min lead only before the amateur men is NOT enough time! I caught a few more women just at the end of the bike which gave me a little extra pep as I came into T2. My legs felt great running off the bike but my stomach was not too happy. I saw my coach as I exited T2 and told me just to slow it down and let my stomach settle down. I got passed pretty early on by a couple of the faster runners which was a bit frustrating but patience is important in ironman I tried to remind myself. My stomach did finally settle down after a few miles and I was able to ease my way back into a more reasonable pace. Things were starting to change at the front of the race with heat taking it's toll and the distance catching up with people. I made some headway catching a few but in the end it wasn't enough. I ended up 11th which was not at all what I had hoped for. The good news is my fitness is right on track. My bike and run were both solid and I KNOW I can swim better than that. With all the time and energy and blood and sweat and tears that go into ironman racing, it's both disappointing and frustrating But, it's time to pick myself back up. Time to start planning the next round of racing!