Ironman Texas was an incredible day all around. I cannot say it enough but this day was exciting, fun, phenomenal, inspiring, motivating, intense and a just a great time.
In case you do not know I finished the race in 11:59:51 and for every second of that day I smiled. There was never a moment when I thought of quitting or slowing down on the bike, or walking on the run or floating on my back in the swim. The day did not go exactly as planned but what Ironman race does? As I write each section of this extra long race report I will get into my feelings of each section, but know that I did exactly that: I compartmentalized the race and once one section was over it was over and onto the next part.
The night before the race we went to dinner with a ton of people at Bucca Di Peppo. Well, let’s be honest it was more linner than dinner since we got to the restaurant before the blue hairs. We sat down to consume grub at 4pm. Yes, we were done and the normal early crowd was just getting there but it was perfect timing as I could get back to the hotel and setup all my drinks and food without rushing through it. I wanted to make sure I had enough calories for the bike and run and that all my bags were packed with everything that needed to go in them.
After everything was set I sat on the bed and went to talk to Karen and realized she was already asleep. It was 7:30pm…..but I will give her a pass as she ran 12 miles early in the morning with Jeff. So sitting there with all my thoughts was perfect. I went over my race plan, my nutrition plan, my hydration plan. I took out my sharpie to write these plans down on my hands. I knew it inside and out and was going to follow it no matter what happened.
I fell asleep at 9:30p and when the alarm went off at 3:30am I felt refreshed and ready for the momentous task that lay ahead of me. I made a smoothie and had two slices of vegan rye bread with homemade almond butter, honey and sliced banana. I chose not to have a bowl of granola or eat the rice cakes. I was concerned about the fiber in both and did not want to have a too full feeling when the swim started.
Karen and I left for transition around 5:15am and got to the area around 5:30a. This is where the day could have fallen apart on me. I could not get my extra tire attached to my bike because I had put on water bottle cages and could not figure it out. After struggling with this for what seemed like forever and sweating a ton I finally got it attached and I loved how I did it. Everything was set after I put my bags in and pumped up my tires. I ran into Coach at the Run Gear bag section took a picture and said our good lucks. Coach was in the zone and ready to race.
Walking over to the swim start I was loose and just looking forward to the start of the day. After standing in line for what seemed like forever for the bathroom I used TriSlide and kissed my wife good-bye and started to walk to the swim start with Juan. This is when the first butterflies showed up. I wasn’t nervous about the swim distance or pace or MMA like scenario that was going to unfold. I was worried about having to float until the cannon went off. I got in the water with around 6 minutes to go and found a spot that seemed fairly empty. I floated on my back and then used the sculling method while on my stomach to create space. I looked around and had somehow floated to the front. I pushed back but kept moving forward. It was there that I engaged in conversation with a guy from Waterloo, Iowa. He was so fired up and excited to be doing this race that this eased my nerves. We were embarking on a memorable moment in our lives.
The cannon went off and I went to hit start on my watch when I noticed it was off. WTF can I do now? I turned on the watch and hit starts as I was swimming and getting slam danced on. Seriously this is like trying to squeeze 1,000,000 golf balls through a garden hose at the same time. Contact is unavoidable. You get hit, you hit and it is all in the name of the swim start. I managed to keep my composure and just kept swimming hoping to find a lane at some point. I did not get my heart rate elevated and kept my breathing on pace.
It was about 200 meters in when I took a heel to the eye and was thrilled to know I had goggles on. The goggles did not move but the suction to my face was magnified. It is what it is and just kept on swimming. Eventually I found a hole and just kept going and was in a great rhythm. This happened throughout the entire swim. You find a lane and you feel great to just be swimming when all of a sudden you catch a hand to the back.
At one point I had somebody grab my ankle and start to pull. Silly goose didn’t realize I had another leg and I landed a Chuck Norris style kick to the side of their head and the hand was released. I was working on a smooth, efficient stroke when I found myself right next to the buoy. What am I doing here I thought? I normally veer to the right in my swimming and now I was veering left. So much so that I wound up on the inside of the swim course at one point and had to adjust to get back to the left and on course. I was spotting all the big buoys and knew they were 200m apart. I was taking 10 strokes before looking up. Maybe this was not the best plan but when you are in the water with so many athletes spotting just didn’t seem that important and it made the swim go by faster.
Before I knew it I was at the turn buoy and as you know this is where the contact picks up. People are swimming on a looping style and others are swimming a straight line and you can’t help but make contact with people. The 2nd turn buoy is only about 100 meters away and so the turning and contact pick right back up. Now I am heading for home and I smiled so huge. I figured if I got out this far that the rest of the swim would be easy and I would finish and start the race.
As you are heading back the sun is right in your eyes causing an issue with finding the large orange buoys. I did the best I could until I found the crane to spot off of. It was about this time that the wetsuit swimmers were catching up to me. I started to do math and figured if they were swimming 1:20 that I would be done around 1:30 and I was comfortable with this because I was having a good swim and enjoying myself.
You make a right into a canal and when 100s of swimmers enter this canal it is bananas. This section is just relentless. You are getting hit more and hitting more than at the start of the swim. At one point a wettie hit me on the back and instead of pulling off kept pushing me down. I was under water for a good 3-5 seconds when I finally had enough. I threw a punch right to their gut and was able to get back up for water.
A few moments after that I am breathing to my left and seeing buildings and realize that we are close to the end. I also notice two guys who are extremely tall and have the water at their waist. I assume that we are done and stand up myself (the water is at my chest) and realize that we are forever away from the finish. This screwed with my mind a bit because I was ready to get out and get on the bike. After recovering and going I could finally see the finish kayaks. Then the zig-zag swimmer showed up. He came from my right and crossed in front of me, realized he was going in the wrong direction and headed back to the right and was in the way. I finally just grabbed him and pushed him away from me, made the turn and headed for the stairs.
As I got out I saw the time on the clock showed 1:34:xx. Had this been prior to Puerto Rico I would have let this ruin the next few moments. On that day I did not care. I had just swam 2.4 miles and was ready to continue on my way to becoming an Ironman.
1:34:23 (2:26/100m) –> Goal: 1:15 – 1:20
Division Rank: 284
Gender Rank: 1214
Overall Rank: 1554
Come back tomorrow for the recap of the bike.