Ironman Texas – Swim Recap can be found here.
Ironman Texas – Bike Recap can be found here.
After telling Scott I felt great it was time to head to the Run Gear bags. I yelled out my number and the volunteer pointed me to where it was. I ran down there and was handed my bag and toward the changing tent I went. I noticed that not everybody was running into the changing tent and I thought to myself why would I go in there. I can slip on my shoes (I had removed my feet from my cycling shoes on the ride so I had no bike shoes on), turn my race belt around, put on my visor, grab my handheld and go. So that is what I did. I got out of T2 in an un-MattyO like 3:55.
Now here is where this is screwed up I thought. I still had to run through the changing tent to get to the run course. Why? That was the flow of traffic and it slowed me down. Probably a good thing though. As I exited the changing tent I had them slap that goopy mess of sunscreen on me because I did not pack any into my Run Gear Bag (remember this for Ironman Arizona in November.) They lathered my shoulders, my legs, my neck, nose and cheeks and off I went.
I looked down at my watch and it was still running so I was happy to have it with me to check my heart rate. As I looked down at my watch I saw my goal Heart Rate for the run of 155bpm. That was going to be the top end for me and so I started out with that in my head. Within moments you are at an aid station. Following my plan of stopping at each aid station and walking 30-45 steps I began to implement my plan. I took in some water and squeezed a sponge on my head and then about 5-6 sponges into the top of my race kit and zipped up.
You head out onto a grassy section where you do a complete 180* turn and then head up a steep grassy hill. Now the hill is only about 3 steps long but it could be dangerous because the footing is not solid. Once over that hump you are into a parking lot and doing a lot of turns and zig-zags. The best part is that you are under a canopy of trees but this also screws with your satellite connection to your watch. I saw I was at an 11:00/mi pace but told myself not to move faster because the data was getting screwed with because of the turns and trees and having to locate the satellites. Keep steady, keep strong and only walk at the aid stations.
Each aid station is so loaded you could get through without bringing any nutrition or hydration of your own. If you train with what is going to be on the course then you would be all set. Since I love the EFS Liquid Shot Kona-Mocha I trained with it and was using that in my handheld. I also had two HoneyStinger waffles broken in half in my race kit to be consumed every two hours.
As I was running I started to notice a lot of people walking. The problem is you don’t know if they are on Lap 1 or Lap 3 and are walking. Either way my observation was that there were going to be more and more walkers along the way. I got passed by a few people here and there but for the majority of the time I was passing people. I could hear people complaining about the heat and I thought to myself this isn’t hot. I again go back to the fact that I trained with 5-6 layers of clothes on and forced my body to adapt to the heat and humidity that we would face. This helped immensely at this race.
About one-third of the way through Lap 1 I heard footsteps coming up on me. They were moving fast but there was no heavy breathing. My initial reaction was that this person must have just started and they are going out too hard. Sure enough as I got passed and I looked to my right this person was hauling ass. They were not breathing heavy and their cadence was quick and light. I looked down at the calf to make sure they weren’t in my age group and noticed the P. I just got passed by Caitlin Snow as if I were a volunteer handing out water. She looked effortless and within 30 seconds she was out of eyesight. It was unreal to see that speed at what proved to be her third and final lap.
The run course is gorgeous. There are some easy rolling hills but nothing that saps your energy or takes your breath away. Having aid stations approximately every mile apart was perfect. I knew that I would drop off the sponges, grab a cup of water or ice, then more sponges and be on my way. It was a perfect cadence and rhythm through these aid stations. At one point I thought I need to really keep everything cool and so I stuck two sponges down my short and into my crotch. As I was running I was thinking what if I have to pee will I take the sponges out and go or just pee on the sponges. I’m not sure if this was the same thought from the volunteer who just handed me the sponges or not but after she saw me jam down my shorts she made this look of disgust. I laughed so hard and said: Jason take them out if you have to pee.
After the 30 minute mark and the 2nd 15 minute alarm the watch started to really go nuts and beep. At around mile 5 I looked down to see where my heart rate was at and my watch was blank. The battery finally died and it became a race of perceived exertion. Where am I? How do I feel? Are you breathing heavy? Are the legs hurting? All questions I would ask myself for the remainder of the race. Each time I asked the response was you feel great keep plugging along.
Toward the end of each lap you get onto the canal and it is lined with spectators. People cheering for their athletes but as I came around for Lap 1 it was kinda dead. I yelled out to the crowd that I understood we were having all the fun but let’s hear some noise. Let’s get some cheers going and they responded. Right after that I came up on the Kingwood Tri Club tent, which Jeff is a part of, and sure enough a sign. Powered By Veggies….Go Jason! I almost peed’ myself from laughing. It was the perfect sign to see.
Right after that I caught up with a guy and we started chatting. He told me he was on Lap 2 and ready to be done. I told him he has to look at this like a 5K. The first mile you fly and love life, the 2nd mile sucks and you are wondering why you are out there, the third mile you are so geeked to be finishing that you turn up the speed. He thanked me for the analogy and off he went. I kept at my pace because I was still on Lap 1.
Midway through Lap 2 and the bladder was yelling at me. I knew it was about time to release and so I took out the sponges and started peeing everywhere. It felt magical and made me feel a lot lighter until my stomach rumbled. It wasn’t a rumble of you have eaten too much and drank too much but more along the lines of having eaten a big meal and your body had to get rid of the waste. I crossed over the bridge and into the Swim Start area where there were 15-20 porto-potty’s. Stupid me ran past them thinking I could hold it. Looking back: Hold it for what stupid? Anyway about 1:00 past the porto I was faced with turning back and going, keep going forward and potentially be the cover of a poster for Ironman who doesn’t quit regardless of situation but then I remembered the bathroom I used at 6:30am was right around the corner.
I must have had this look on my face of desperation because a volunteer was about to enter the bathroom when he gave way. As a matter of fact he did not enter with me either. I blew that place up and I apologize to those that had to go in there after me. Let me tell you though about 5 pounds lighter and this race was ON. I got out of there ready to roll. My pace felt like it picked up and I started passing more and more people. Keeping steady to not overheat myself though.
Toward the end of Lap 2 I saw Karen sitting at the Kingwood Tri tent and I yelled at her and she yelled back. It was great to see a friendly face at that point knowing that within the next 8.5 miles I would be an Ironman. I chugged along and each time you pass through this section you hear Mike Reilly calling out somebody else’s name and saying YOU ARE AN IRONMAN. I played this vision over and over in my head. My goals times were out the window as I didn’t have a watch and just wanted to keep running. Walking was never an option and especially on Lap 3.
I was on cruise control and running strong when Jeff of Apex Endurance caught up to me. I asked me where we were at because I had no watch. He told me it was 6:40p and that we had about two miles to go. I said to him that we have 20 minutes or 10:00/mi to beat 12 hours. I was ecstatic to think that. After hearing that I came up on Karen again and handed her my handheld. I honestly wanted that thing gone at Mile 18. I was tired of drinking the EFS at that point and even more tired of carrying it. At Mile 20 I took in some coke and a mini-brownie. Then at Mile 24 took some more Coke and that would be the end of the nutrition/hydration. Giving Karen that handheld felt like an anvil was being let go from my hand.
Jeff began to pull away and I just kept running. When you know you are getting closer your pace picks up, and the volunteer directing traffic between the 2/3rd laps and finish was awesome. When she saw me veering for the finish she smiled bigger than me and said you are almost done so soak it up. Coming up that hill and into the finisher’s chute was something I will never forget. Karen, Jeff, Scott, Annie, Shannon and Lesley were all there cheering hard. Hearing their voices was incredible.
Now the finisher’s chute starts but then you have to make a right turn and then a 180* turn to head back toward the Finish Line. I was beyond word and high-fiving people when I heard some spectator say you only have 30 seconds to beat 12 hours. Mike Reilly said something along those lines as well. Then I saw our friend Stefanie yelling my name and cheering and I just bolted up the hill. I saw 11:59:4X and knew I would be in under 12 hours.
As I neared the finish line I pumped my fist and just let out a yell then jumped high over the finisher’s line. The catcher grabbed me and put her arm around me, then asked me to dinner and a movie…..just kidding. She asked how I was feeling and I told her great that I just needed a moment. To them that means medical and ice. Told her I didn’t need any of that and I was just overwhelmed with the enormity of the whole process. From training to racing to finishing. The whole idea was incredible and now it was over. She walked me to get my medal and lo and behold: Chrissie Wellington. She put the medal over my head and then said to me: Way to crush that course Jason. I smiled and thanked her and kept moving. Another volunteer poured ice down my back and chest, I was handed a shirt and cap. They took me over to take pictures and were going to shepherd me to the athlete lounge when I told her I wanted to hug my wife.
I walked over to Karen and grabbed her and held on for dear life. Each second that passed my grip on her got tighter as did hers on me. My tears were flowing (as they are now) and I could barely keep my composure. I kept telling her how much I loved her and thanked her profusely for going with me on this journey. As tough as it was to wake up at 2:30-3:00am every day to train it was harder on her. Lots of missed family time and friends but through it all she kept me moving forward toward this dream. I cannot say it enough but without her this day never happens. Thank You Karen…..You Are An IRONMATE!
After the crying and hugging we walked into the athlete lounge where the worst part to the whole adventure took place. I walked to Freebirds to get a burrito and asked for the veggie burrito. The lady handing them out promptly went into the whole you need protein…..OMG LADY I JUST RACED AN IRONMAN. GIVE ME THE F’N VEGGIE BURRITO NOW! I then told her that the burrito had plenty of protein in the black beans and what I really needed and anybody out here needed was CARBS. After that moment came a better moment and that was running into Susan and Neil again. Just two great and wonderful people.
After all that was over Karen and I went alone to our favorite after race or hard workout spot. IHOP!!!!! Those pancakes never stood a chance.
4:09:43 (9:31/mi) –> Goal 3:55 – 4:00
First Lap: 8.4 miles: 1:11:01 for 8:27/mi pace
Second Lap: 8.5 miles: 1:26:08 for 10:06/mi pace
First Lap: 8.4 miles: 1:26:24 for 10:04/mi pace
0.7 mi: 6:10 for 8:48/mi pace
Division Rank: 113 (moved up 91 spots from the bike; moved up 171 spots from the swim)
Gender Rank: 544 (moved up 481 spots from the bike; moved up 1010 spots from the swim)
Overall Rank: 443 (moved up 404 spots from the bike; moved up 771 spots from the swim)
And for those keeping score at home:
#1s on the run: 1x
#2s while on the run course: 1x
#3s while on the bike: 0x
Thank you for reading. Come back tomorrow for the overall experience and wrap-up.