If I could rewind time by just one year I would be getting ready to start the T3 swim clinic because I couldn’t get from one end of the pool to the other without being out of breath.
Coming back to just a few days ago, Kevin and I packed up car and headed to Galveston, TX with several of our friends and training buddies for the Memorial Herman Ironman Texas 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run). If you haven’t guessed by now I’ve gone from no swimming to attempting a 1.2 mile swim in Galveston Bay. We left Austin with a five car caravan and everyone was in great spirits, lots of nervous energy, and excited to race.
Once we arrived in Galveston we stopped for lunch and then headed over to Moody Gardens which was race central. We cruised through packet pickup, bought a couple of things at the expo and scored big time with a nice pre race massage from the great folks from Memorial Herman. From there we got checked into the house we were sharing with friends Tom Bressie, Jen Walker, and John Jobes and then it was time to go for a practice swim. Have I mentioned that last year this time I wouldn’t go into the deep end of the pool and now I was going to swim in Galveston Bay, my first salt water swim?
The swim went great, I felt comfortable but salt water is yucky in your mouth. Pre race swim check!
Going into the weekend, I had three goals and only one I could control the outcome of so let’s see what happens. After everyone was cleaned up we met up with some other friends at Salt grass for dinner. Great dinner and as I was going to the restroom out comes professional triathlete Andy Potts. I reached out my hand introduced myself and wished him a great race on Sunday, goal one complete!!
Friday night around 3am a wicked rain & wind storm blew into Galveston with 75mph wind gust and we could feel the house moving back and fourth. This did not look good going into the weekend with the Sprint & Olympic distance races set for Saturday morning. I got up around 5:30 and the wind was still blowing pretty hard and then it started raining and lightning. I told John if this was our race morning I would be crying my eyes out.
After a leisure morning we head toward Moody Gardens to see our friends racing on Saturday and traffic was terrible. We tried an alternate route with no luck, and while stuck in traffic what else are you to do but check Facebook. We found out the Sprint & Olympic distance races had their swim cancelled because the water was dangerous and not safe for swimming because the wind was so strong. Later we found out a police boat capsized because of the wind the previous night. I would say with wind that strong it would be unsafe for swimming. This did not make me feel any better about my upcoming 1.2 mile swim. After sitting in traffic about 30 minutes we decided to abandon our attempt to get to Moody Gardens and hopefully our friends would appreciate our efforts. Back to the house we decided it was time for one last bike check ride. All of us dressed in our T3 gear headed out and merged right in with cyclist riding the Olympic race. Everything felt great and back to the house we went. After what turned into a great group lunch, we headed home to chill for couple of hours. Then it was time for bike check in. On the drive to Moody Gardens to check in our bikes is when it truly hit me what I was about to take on. I was having trouble breathing and tears came to my eyes and for a second I had doubt I could do it. I quickly dismissed any negative thought and thought to myself trust your training and “I Can, I Will”.
After a nice dinner at the house we were off to bed because it was almost “Race Day”.
The alarm clock went off at 2:30 and I was up to start my pre-race ritual. Coffee, breakfast and spend some quality time with the Trigger Point set. We were out the door bags and coolers in tow as planned at 4:30. We weren’t the first ones there but of course other teammates pulled up just as we did. Did our Coaches train us to also be the first ones at the race?
After a few pictures, body marking, we were ready to enter transition and that’s when I put the iPod in for some of my favorite pre-race music as I set up my transition area. The activity in transition quickly picked up and you feel the pre race nerves and all of them were positive. This is where goal two comes in; Kevin came over and told me professional triathlete Chris Lieto was coming in. I went over and introduced myself and wished him a good race. Three goals coming into the weekend and one to go, faith had allowed me to meet two of them and now it was all up to me. After setting up my transition area, I greeted many of my friends and training mates and proceeded to cruise around take pictures and soak up the experience.
Around 6:30 the T3 team gathered for a team picture and then it was time to make the march to the water. Once again I’m trying to relax and not think about the magnitude of day and what I about to take on and take it one piece at time. It’s just another 1.2 mile practice swim. After getting our wetsuits on Kevin, Brad, and I realized our wave was already lined up. Oh crap guys we have to go!!
Over in herd like cattle, we have our gear on and we’re ready to jump in. Did I mention I’ve never had a deep water start and just a year ago I was not a swimmer? The count down went much faster than I thought it should have and off the horn went. Oh boy time to swim. The water was super choppy and it’s a great thing that I did Champions Tri and the Lake Travis Open Water Swim to prepare me for this day. I took something before the swim to help keep my stomach settled and it’s a good thing. Waves were slapping me in the face and on my head and I had to struggle to catch a breath sometime. But I had to trust my training. In the back of the crowd where I’m comfortable I started my swim. I’m thinking to myself “stay out of the chaos, and just relax”. Stay out of the way is exactly what I did and then over my right shoulder I see a life guard coming up to me and he blows his whistle, and points me back on course. I was way off course and swimming more distance than I needed. Back on course I felt comfortable enough to get in the mix and I got hit a couple of times. No problem I’m bigger than most so they can’t swim over me. Then I felt my swim cap coming off. Off it came and went in front of me and with this being my first 70.3 swim cap I didn’t want to lose it. I grabbed it when my right hand came over and using a “3-3-3 swim stroke” with my left arm. I kept swimming while I stuffed my swim cap down the front of my wetsuit. Around the first turn it was time for the long straight away, this seemed like it went on forever. Now swimming in a different direction it was time to adjust for the waves. I did and started getting hit more since I was in the mix. So what I thought, just keep swimming because they can’t stop me. I made it to the last turn and thought, “WOW, I’m really going to make this.” Out of the water and up the exit ramp I see Head Coach Maurice and Dr. Chris Sellers. Wetsuit off, rinse the salt off and then head for the bike, was my plan and executed like clock-work. Friends were there cheering and gave them all a high-five. At my bike I focused, take don’t panic and do everything in the order they have been laid out in. I’m out of transition and now in my element on the bike.
After briefly forgetting how to work my watch I got it going and hit the seawall and started picking off other cyclist one by one. I focused on keeping a high cadence so my legs wouldn’t burn out and be conservative. By this time I knew goal three was going to happen, finish what I start and become an Ironman 70.3 finisher. The wind was strong and I looked for a flag to see how it was hitting us. Headwind ok, deal with it for 28 miles and then I can fly back home and make up speed. I see the leader Chris Lieto heading back in and the others are chasing him down. I then see Tom, Kevin and several other training mates. My nutrition is right on target and I get to turn around and briefly stop to switch my bottles around and then I’m off. I quickly think, what the heck, this is supposed to be a tail wind, NOPE!! It’s hitting me from the other side of my face and I think CRAP!! Oh well, I went conservative on the way out so I can push it on the way back and that’s what I did. I held a higher cadence and pushed it back home. The miles counted and at mile 46 I started my end of the ride nutrition plan, water only and settle all the other nutrition down and I started counting down the miles 9, 8, 7etc.
Back into transition, put on running watch and the rest of my running gear and I’m off. Right out of the gate, there was the T3 crew and it was great to see them there. I’m feeling good and I’m going at a sub 9 pace, oh crap that is way to fast so I slow it down and try to settle in. I started seeing other teammates on the course and that really helped because this just now a multiple loop long run with the people I’ve trained with for the past 4 months. I see Kevin and this really boost my spirits and I press on. Loop one done, 3 more to go. It was hot and I was taking water and Gatorade on until my stomach got un-happy. Enough my stomach said, ok ok I get the point. I thought if I don’t walk a little and settle my stomach down this could be very bad. So I did, and things got back on track. Run Chris run, that what I needed to do and that’s what I did. 2 ½ more loops and I met up with Gwen at mile 11. We were both heading to the finish line and we kept each other going. Mile 12, I couldn’t stop smiling, 12.5, the crowds got deep and we picked up the pace. I told Gwen to go on and I then turned on the after burner. There it was the finish line and I wanted it all to myself. I crossed the finish line and jumped in the air. I did it!! I was now an official Ironman 70.3 finisher!!
It’s one of the best feelings ever to know you did something all on your own and no one gave you anything.
Thank you to Kevin for your love and support, my family for never telling me I couldn’t, and thank you to all of my great friends, training partners, and the great T3 family.
Now it’s time for some rest and relaxing training before starting the Ironman journey in June.
IRONMAN ARIZONA OR BUST!!!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Yes a week before my first Half Ironman race I think it's time to start updating the blog (I'll try to post at least weekly until Ironman in November). I've even updated our race schedule for 2010.
As I sit here looking over the workout schedule for the upcoming week, I reflect on how far my training has come over the past year. If you recall I started swimming almost a year ago after spending a couple of years on duathlon circuit and this time next week Kevin and I will be dropping our bikes off in transition for the Ironman Texas 70.3 on 4/25. This also happens to be Kevin's birthday and he just couldn't think of anything better to do for his birthday.
When I started the swim clinic last year my very long range goal was to be able to finish a 70.3 in the next couple of years but after having my first taste of triathlons at Jack's Generic Triathlon lat August, I was hooked and wanted more. More is exactly what I've gotten since. I've spent many many hours swimming and building up my distance and next week I will put it all to a test.
Stay tuned more to come!!!