Monday, May 20, 2013

Ironman Texas --

My 5th Ironman is now complete.  People had asked me, "why Texas?" and my answer was, " I wanted a challenge. A new experience." 

It proved to be just that. A huge challenge. But, while the ending wasn't exactly what I planned or hoped for, my Finisher's shirt is drying on the line and my medal is on the counter. And that, is success. The day was brutal. I had to dig deeper than ever before. My words here will never really tell the story. It was a day that has made me a stronger person forever.  Things don't always go just as planned, but I know I fought with all my might and because of that, I feel great about my day.  

First--- At 4:22 a.m. today, I made it to my bed. I actually had to have help getting there, my back seized up on me and I was unable to get up off the floor just moments before.  We knew we'd be getting home "late" on Sunday but it was supposed to be 11 p.m. Sunday not 3 hours before work and school began on Monday.  Travel delays.... brutal. They seem to come at the most inopportune times.  

So forgive me if the first parts of this race report don't flow smoothly. My brain isn't firing properly. I'm working on 3 lousy nights of rest ( the night before the Ironman, the after {the body is a mess and unable to relax} and then a night of travel.)

_____________________________

I flew to TX on Tuesday and enjoyed several great days of visiting with my Aunt. I rarely get to see her since we are so far away so it was a treat. She spoiled me with wonderful hospitality and it was a great way to kick off race week.  

The rest of my family arrived Thursday night. At that point, I was ready. I had my support crew. 

Friday was... a bit stressful.  You see... something was awry with my back.  I'm not sure what happened but on Thursday, it became clear that I had done something to it.  I'm not going to go too into it....but after my big breakfast that day, I spent most of the day laying around icing it. I was pretty worried. I feared it might seize up on me during the bike and well, that would be that. I tried to stay calm. We headed into town to rack my bike that afternoon. It was HOT and very very muggy. The air was thick, heavy and wet. Tommy, bless his heart, wasn't trying to be 'bad' in anyway but said, "Mommy, I don't mean to be mean or anything but I have NO idea how you're going to do this tomorrow. " ha! :) Yeah.... have faith kiddo. But inside, I was worried too. We were soaked with sweat just from that little walk to hand in bags and a bike. And, my back was Tightening more and more as I walked.  
I had to just have faith. I took care of myself,, listened to the local weatherman warn "those Ironman folks" not only because of the high heat and humidity arriving but the smoke that was blowing in from Mexico ( farmers burning crops) and messing with the air quality.  Ok... time for bed.  Enough of the worry... 

Race day: 

I got up bright and early and felt pretty good. I put my back out of my mind as it felt pretty good that morning, and just went through my routine. I ate, I showered, and we all left the hotel at 4:45 a.m.  ( My kids are total troupers... they just go with the flow. I'm so lucky..... )  

Mark dropped me off and I walked in the dark to T1. It was going smoothly. Tires pumped, gels in bento, bottles on bike, garmin on bike, in bag, Hi to a few people I knew and off to the swim start.  And,  I was very very nervous. 

I was standing around at the lake, in a Long portapotty line, and was Totally surprised and Psyched to see Mark and the guys walking along!! I had no idea that I'd see them. We didn't know our way around so we had no way to plan meeting spots.  This made me SO calm and happy to have their hugs one more time.  Things moved along quickly and before I knew it, I was in the water waiting to go. 

The water was 77-78degrees so wetsuits were Not legal unless you wanted to be out of contention for awards.  Phew. This was good. No need to overheat from the start!!  The brown water that I knew was hiding snakes ( I hate snakes), didn't seem as nasty as I expected. To make it even better, I never got squeezed into a crowd at the start!!  Mike Reilly yelled to folks over and over to "get back"  and before I knew it, we were OFF!!!! 

Hey!! What's this??? NO contact! I started an Ironman swim in peace!! I was thrilled. I headed off to the side a bit and just swam along. I pushed a bit but was mostly on cruise mode and made my way along the course. There was a little chop but nothing serious. I made the turn into the canal and felt good! I saw Tommy's glowing yellow shirt as they stood on the side cheering and I smiled and waved! :) Love those moments... 
I saw pink caps ahead of me and... passed them! Love those moments too.... 

Finally, I hit the stairs to climb out and headed to T1. My back was tight and I felt a bit stiff. This worried me.  I had to just put it out of my mind and get on the bike.  My watch said 1:01 so that's decent. I can't seem to break an hour without the wetsuit. I should have pushed harder, that's what I thought. And yet, it's a long long day, I was set up in good position and now it was time to focus on the next job.  

I found out later that I won my age by 4 min on the swim. I had no idea while I was out there. Good way to start the day.

Ok... the next part is hard to write about. The bike is 112 miles long, takes hours and hours and hours to complete, but I'm going to keep it on the short side on this report. 
Because, as I sit here in pain on Monday, it still stings.  It stings more now, than it did then.  

You know how  they say, there's a first for everything?  Yeah... this was my first for mechanical problems in an Ironman race. The thing that upsets me most, is it was completely avoidable.  

I had my bike shipped to a shop so they could assemble it and tune it. I guess I should have done it myself.  Lesson learned. 

The ride started out fine. And, fast. The course is Fast at the beginning. I think I was averaging >22 mph without a huge amount of effort. My back was stiff and I was still settling in but as I moved along, I felt better and better. 

And then, around mile 10 or 11, WHAM!!!! There was a Huge deep crack or bump or something in the road and it completely shook me to the core.  I looked to make sure nothing was dropped. Then it happened... my entire headset dropped down. My aero bars were now pointed Down at my wheel and wobbling.  ^$&*#^!!!!
I gently pulled up on them to get them to the proper spot and Prayed they stayed put. I started asking fellow racers, "does anyone have an allen wrench????" ugh... of course they didn't!!! And, why should they stop anyway!! I had to ask though. 
Shortly thereafter, the 2nd thing happened.  My seat post started sliding down! I was getting lower and lower on the bike. 
This was not good. 
I just prayed the bike support truck would go by. I was going slower and slower because I was looking for help and totally afraid I was in big trouble.  Seriously????  Couldn't they have secured the bolts on this thing better than this?? I was mad.  
At the same time.... it was early and IM is a long long day. There was time. I made myself keep my cool. NO need to freak out and panic. I will find help. Finally, a support vehicle!!!! I waved and waved and hollered! They kept driving. 
what? 
okay.....

I have no idea how long it was but I finally got to an aid station and hollered again, for an allen wrench. And, Yes! Someone had one. He ran to a truck, pulled out a box and came to help. 

I couldn't look at my garmin.  How long was I there??? Minute and minutes I know.  A little while ago, I peeked. I am not sure. But there is a gap of >10 min. I clicked it Off... I can't look anymore. 
10 min. 
And, that was just the first stop.


While I stood there SO happy to have help, and so grateful for this kind man, I was also sad. Bike after bike after bike, Flew by me. Gone. 

My swim lead, gone. All those 4 a.m. mornings to the pool....... they worked. But, there it went. On the side of the road. 

I held my head up, refused to get too down, and hopped back on. It was a long day. I would run them down. Right? Maybe I'd catch them on the bike. 

I looked at my garmin, my new ave speed was down to 20.2 now. I had  lost a lot....

ok..  just ride. 

I made up some time and was feeling good. But the winds were hitting and there was only so much I could do. I drank, I took gels, I took salts. I felt good. I kept my power in check and right where I wanted it. My effort was 100% in control. It was going just as planned. Except.... 

I was getting lower again.  #$%#^%
The seat was moving on me again. What is the deal??? 

Somewhere along the way, I had to do the same routine again. Yell for help, find it, stop, wait, fix it, and then go play catch up again.  Without burning too many matches ( or any) in the process. 

Keep your head on Ange. Be smart.  It's a long long day. 

The sun was out in full force. It was hot. The course is open without a lot of shade, if any. The roads are bright and I was baking. I cooled my face and head and arms with water at every aid station. I drank and drank and drank.  My stomach was tolerating the nutrition 100%. I took salts....... at every hour.... 

There's not much more to say about the bike.  I felt good, and I felt bad. As is typical of an Ironman ride. It's so so long.  Just like people say, around mile 70, it gets tough. You've gone SO far and yet you have SO far to go. There were sections of smooth fast road on this course and also miles and miles of bumpy, gravelly roads that made it tough to keep your pace. I had periods where I was focused and then I'd find myself in in lala land wishing for the end.  I saw a huge fat snake, and thought of Tommy. He was on a mission to find a snake. :) Thankfully, this one was dead. I hate snakes. I saw vultures. They looked like they were out of an Edgar allen Poe book. So much happens on these rides that take me over 5 hours.  Once I hit mile 90-95 I began to think more about the run. I reminded myself of my plan and made a few adjustments as I felt the heat. But, I was ready. Ready to run strong and finish this off the way I knew I was capable of doing.  I was trying to stay positive most of all. After previewing the course last month when I came to  TX, I knew I could have a faster than normal bike split if I rode smart and that would be a great way for me to set up the run..  But, those stops.... 

I tried to do math as I road. I tried to figure out when I'd finish....  I had hoped for 5:2x.... could I do it??

I felt good, the power was fine and nutrition seemed to be working. And yet, the bolts were loose. I had had some problems. And so, I rode into T2 at 5:33. C'est la vie..... Time to run!!! 

and that report will have to come next....... that is where the fun Really began.  





6 comments:

ltlindian said...

I saw the results and you did great!! I don't know what your goal time was but wow! To think you did that well with all those problems on the bike! I can't imagine what the time would have been without those bike problems... Great job!!

Mary IronMatron said...

Oh Ange! So freaking frustrating about the bike! I remember the happened to me once going down a hill --and hitting a large bump. My handlebars completely dipped down, and I was like 40 miles from home. But in a race! And the seat post!

Melissa said...

You still managed a killer bike time and you stayed calm. That's tough. I tweaked my back the day before Boston this year. No idea how I did it. I can relate. Looking forward to the next reports on the race!

mlou said...

You did have a killer race, in spite of it all, Ange! IMTX will certainly go down as an adventure for you. When everything settles and you are rested, you will smile and be grateful for your incredible spirit and tenacity! (Not to leave out sheer talent as an athlete)! Looking forward to the rest of the saga. (-:

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