Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ironman Texas, (0-2-1)

The Texas Story:
I have been to Texas exactly 3 times all specifically for athletic competitions. The first time was Track Nationals 2002. Leading up to that race, I was having my best season ever. To make a long story short, I had my absolute worst race (time wise) of the season, missing out at all-american by one spot and less than a second. Needless to say - Texas beat me down and broke my heart.

This past year, I went to Austin to race a half marathon. To make a long story short, I had my worse open half marathon race (time wise) in years and years. Again, Texas beat me.

Going into Ironman Texas - I really really wanted to beat Texas!

Going into the race:
Going into and after competing in Florida 70.3, I began struggling with big time fatigue. I went right into 2 of my heaviest weeks of training, immediately followed by 3 weeks of trying to dig myself out of the hole that I put myself in. I'm not going to lie, I considered not lining up in Texas at all, because I just wasn't rebounding and recovering. My numbers were only barely starting to climb going into race week. I was a little nervous going into the race and totally unsure of what would come out of it, but decided to use this race as a stepping stone.

*Highlight of my race*
During the winter, I started hitting the best swim numbers of my life. But again after putting myself in the hole, I wasn't hitting those numbers, so didn't know what to expect. I was actually excited to swim with the men professional field, because I thought it increased the chance to draft off of someone. I lined up in the second line and luckily got right on Matt's toes right from the gun, and that is where I stayed for 2.4 miles. At one point I thought the effort seemed a little easy, so I tried to pull around, but immediately realized that there was a nice pack that I would have spent too much effort trying to get around. So figuring that it is a long day, I got right back on Matt's toes for the rest of the swim. I didn't sight bouy's one time, and I felt totally comfortable the entire time. I didn't see my time when I exited the water, but learned at the end of the race that I had finally gone sub 1 hour and that made me SO excited, because that was a goal that I had for a while. I enjoyed this swim, and especially liked swimming in the canal along crowds of spectators. I did however feel bad for the mass start for age group athletes. I kept thinking they must be experiencing full body contact throughout the entire narrow canal section.

Hhhmmppff! Not exactly what I had hoped for. I had a goal wattage, and I know what I have biked this season so far. I started off at lower than my goal watts, and I didn't feel terrible at the time. I just kept hoping and hoping that I would have some pick up. Unfortunately I did exactly the opposite and went downward. I had a steady decline throughout the entire bike course. The weather this year was pretty mild according to the locals (still warm for this northerner) but overall weather or wind did not play a factor during my bike. I started taking in drink and gels to front-load my nutrition, until I spit up a little. At that point I backed off a little until my belly settled down. If I had to describe how I felt on the bike, I would say flat. I never felt terrible terrible, but I never felt good either. The most frustrating thing about this bike was that I didn't even match the power numbers that I did for a 7 hour ride a few weeks earlier.

Now the temperatures were starting to heat up! The run course is a 3 loop run course on 100% concrete. I like 3 loop run courses and I also really like that it is so spectator friendly. This was a fun course to run, and the cheering sections were so fun! I did not, however like the concrete. I think that my lack of running (for 3+ weeks due to injury in March/April) plus running on concrete beat the crap out of my legs. My first two laps I would say I had some pep in my step, but the last lap, was spent trying so hard to not trip over my own feet. I actually ended up with a swollen inner ankle bone and some bloody, fairly deep cuts due to the shuffling that was going on. During the bike section - I had counted that six girls passed me on the bike, so my goal was to pass six on the run, and that is exactly what I did. My run time was certainly not spectacular, and probably one of my slower in recent years, but not too terrible either. I knew I was going to be in bad shape when I started to get sore so quickly after the race, and let me tell you that work on Monday may have been worse than the Ironman!

Photos by Henry Posamentier - my homestay - is also an amazing photographer

I called this a tie. That is why the score is "0-2-1". I am happy with my swim, and an overall 19 minute Ironman PR, but I am pretty disappointed with my bike, and I would consider my run so-so. One of my bigger weaknesses in triathlon is recovering. I find this SO difficult to find the balance. I know a huge part of it is because (like most triathletes) I hate to miss workouts. But waking up at 4:45AM for a swim - then going to work as a full time elementary teacher (always go go go on my feet) and then coming home for bike/run more days than not is tough. I have to learn to listen to my body when it is telling me to sleep in or take a day off if I am beat up. Triathlon is a challenging sport. It's not just swim. or bike. or run. It's nutrition, and recovery, and mental fitness, and balance. Its tough! But it keeps me coming back for more! Maybe one of these days I will get it right ; )

Lucky Girl:
I am so grateful to have had the absolute nicest host family. They made my week so comfortable and fun that I felt spoiled! After the race, they even had a little cookout while we spectated the Ironman! Also, I am so lucky to have some great support in coach Jesse and QT2 systems. I am thankful that Vesla 360 kept me strong, and Top Gear Bicycle Shop kept me moving. And finally grateful to for being a part of Ballou Skies.