Ironman Texas – Swim

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.

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  1. kc says:

    MMA for sure! Love how you handled everything and didn’t get psyched out by any of it. You totally set yourself up for a great day right there. Can’t wait to read more! Congratulations again Jason, you really did an awesome job on Saturday!

  2. Reading this I felt like I was there. Can’t wait for the bike. Ridiculous pictures of the mass swim. Gives me buterflies just seeing it.
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..One Track MindMy Profile

  3. Bob says:

    Looks like you practiced a little MMA out there. Survival of the fittest. Way to go!
    Everytime I do one of these I realize how lucky the fast swimmers have it and it really makes me want to become one of those 1:00 to 1:05 guys!
    Bob recently posted..Haines City Race reportMy Profile

  4. misszippy says:

    What a great way to put your head down and get through it. Even with the ankle grab and the goggle kick, you were nonplussed. And you also handled the disappointment of thinking you were done but weren’t well.

    Damn you must have killed the bike and run splits!
    misszippy recently posted..UGLY!My Profile

  5. Jen says:

    Friggen awesome! I can’t believe how much you have to “fight” in the swim. Wow – that’s nearly a whole other set of training you’ve gotta do. Can’t wait for the rest!!
    Jen recently posted..Mothers on the run and other funMy Profile

  6. Rose says:

    Oooh the mass start! Oceanside was my first water start and that was a learning experience. I’m definitelyentally preparing for IMAZ. Sounds like you handled yourself really well out there!

  7. You did great. An ironman race swim is different than every other swim you’ve ever done. Many don’t thinks so beforehand but afterwards, ahhhh.

  8. Isaac976 says:

    Haha .. u made Chuck Norris looks little in that Ironman TX … u rock dude !
    Isaac976 recently posted..2 Hours Extra a day and you can do this..My Profile

  9. Christi says:

    You have be on pins and needles. I can’t wait for the next update. Great job on the swim!
    Christi recently posted..JumpStart to Clean Eating SummaryMy Profile

  10. Jon says:

    Brutal out there!!!

    Wish everyone had a tri blog. Would read about other finisher’s in your time range with, “Man! Got cracked in the head by some guy with a BIG kick!” or…..”Got sucker punched in the gut!”

    Way to “battle” through it and finish!!
    Jon recently posted..Rev3 Quassy Bike Course PreviewMy Profile

  11. Molly says:

    I didn’t realize the swim was such a contact sport!!! Great to hear you had a smile on your face the whole race! Congrats!
    Molly recently posted..The Only Way Out is ThroughMy Profile

  12. BDD says:

    Great swim!!!

    We had a whole relay team going on waiting for you to finish, the girls were by your bag, I was on top of a hill keeping an eye out for you, when I saw you, I ran down the hill, almost plowed in Shannon, what a great day

    I dont think you know, but I also am the one that grabbed El Dialblo from you (and got speared) before running down T2 talking with you

    Cant wait to hear the rest
    BDD recently posted..The Ride of Silence…My Profile

  13. karen says:

    oh lord. I think I just threw up again.

  14. katie says:

    AWESOME! can’t wait to hear about the rest.
    katie recently posted..Casa River Century: race reportMy Profile

  15. Jeff Irvin says:

    Good swim buddy!

    I got some great shots of the swim start with the DSL camera – will email them over once they get uploaded.
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..Ironman Texas 2012My Profile

  16. adena says:

    Oh geez, this is worse than waiting on another episode of Sons of Anarchy! I can’t wait for the rest of these posts.. Love the pics!
    adena recently posted..Ode to Matty O and Team OMy Profile

  17. Beth says:

    That swim sounds nuts, I’m glad you survived!! Congrats on the awesome race, I can’t wait for the next installment!
    Beth recently posted..I’m Cranky About ItMy Profile

  18. Erin says:

    This is so much fun to read. Huge congrats! Can’t wait for the rest of the recap. Hope you are enjoying some much deserved rest! Congrats again!
    Erin recently posted..Final PushMy Profile

  19. Julie says:

    NIce!!! Love the way you just took it all in stride and rolled with it! Can’t wait for the rest of your race report. You did great out there! I can not imagine all of that contact…one of the things that keeps me from signing up for a full IM.
    Julie recently posted..Tuesday Truths and TidbitsMy Profile

  20. congrats on your IM. that swim sounds intense, it’s what keeps me from trying ‘real’ triathlons. way to chuck norris your way through that!
    FairWeatherRunner recently posted..two weeks to hospital hill. sufficient torture.My Profile

  21. geodee says:

    Nice job on the swim, that’s intense! Sounds like the fourth discipline should actually be karate!
    geodee recently posted..Ironman St. George race report – part 1My Profile

  22. My goodness! That is an insane swim. If someone was pushing me down I think I would do a belly roll and then stand on them as they sink for a second. Okay Next part Next part!!
    Summer Bailey recently posted..11 RandomsMy Profile

  23. Jill says:

    I’m not sure what a “wettie” is, but this whole ows in an Ironman is what scares me the most. I consider myself a very strong swimmer, yet I am terrified of drowning by some moron yanking me under or hitting me unconscious. Way to keep strong, Jason, and not letting those bozos destroy your rhythm. Looking forward to the biking….then the running….then the final closing statements! :)
    Jill recently posted..Two times the 5k funMy Profile

  24. Caroline says:

    love reading this!!! and all the pics as well!!!
    the swim looks like it was some fight….
    Caroline recently posted..ELEVEN!My Profile

  25. DR says:

    Nice work on that swim!! and Congrats on the Finish …Mr Ironman.

    Seriously that swim sounds awesome…I would love to get down there for some of that action. Good job overall on the sighting and getting through that.

  26. Morgan says:

    I had butterflies the whole time I was reading this! EEEK! You did great buddy!

  27. Mike Ransick says:

    Great job Jason! I followed along over twitter. Congrats on the sub 12! Looking forward to the rest of the race reports.

  28. awesome dude, tuning back in tomorrow.

  29. Maria Simone says:

    What an awesome swim – sounds like you had the full contact IM swim experience!! That’s good – I wouldn’t want you to have been deprived of that :)

    I love that you stayed focused and didn’t let it affect YOUR race. I can’t wait to hear about the bike!!
    Maria Simone recently posted..Season Opener: Bassman Race ReportMy Profile

  30. Kevin says:

    Bucca Di Peppo??? Disappointed. The Home Depot parking lot is where it is at!

    I think the worst part about a non-wetsuit swim would have to be the floating at the start. With a wetsuit, that was a breeze at IMWI. I just laid on my back.

    Awesome job on the swim! It sounds much more aggressive than the IMWI swim, but it also looks more compact.

    Off to read about the bike!
    Kevin recently posted..Free SpeedMy Profile

  31. Colleen says:

    I’m just sitting down to read the race reports and I love this one so far. It always amazes me how rough everyone is in the swim – it’s definitely survival mode, but it’s still scary. You handled it so calmly… I love that about you. Can’t wait to read about the next two parts… :)

  32. Marlene says:

    So, swimmers wearing wetsuits start later?

    Wow, that sounds like one rough & tumble swim. I definitely need a lot more open water experience, being pummeled around like that. Way to keep your cool, focus on your swim, not take any crap (holding your ankle? WTH?) and get it done.
    Marlene recently posted..Lessons in Puppy ParenthoodMy Profile

  33. lindsay says:

    this just sounds rough! i already don’t like OWSing – i certainly wouldn’t be able to handle 900 people swimming over me haha. but, you swam strong and i like that you got to punch/kick a few people ;)
    lindsay recently like a diva 5kMy Profile

  34. Page says:

    First, I don’t think I ever properly said congrats on your IM!!!! I have a question about IM Texas? How did you handle the no wetsuit swim start? I think I would be freaked out! Also, was the water pretty clear? Thank you!!

    • CTER says:

      Thank you very much. Sorry to hear about the incident that lead to you not participating in IMAZ. The swim at IMTX without a wetsuit is not a big deal at all. It is all about staying within yourself.

      The water is filthy and is a manmade lake. The most contact is at the very end when you turn right into the canal. The thing about that though is you can actually stand up in the canal.

      I will say that I loved IMTX and am registered for 2013 ready to rock it. One loop bike course is great and the run course is a ton of fun.

  35. Zainab says:

    Love it I signed up for my first full ironman in Texas on may 18 I have done 1/2 once last year Similar stiff in the swim Love to hear about bike

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