A few years ago in training for triathlons, I learned that sticking to the original plan for the season is almost always the best thing to do. I learned that by adding more and more races to my schedule and went through a cycle of racing, recovering (or at least trying), tapering, and racing again. This worked out well for the first few races, but after a month or so of it, I just couldn’t keep going. The rest of my season suffered and I was left disappointed and frustrated. Instead of chalking things up, I kept on adding more races to the schedule looking for just “one more good race” of the season. But it never really happened. I finished the year worn out mentally and physically.
Ironman Texas was originally going to be a practice run for Ironman Louisville later this year. I felt good going into the race about 2 weeks out and decided that I may take a stab at the entire race. I wanted to get a PR on a course that, on paper, looks easier than other Ironman courses I’ve done before. So I prepared myself mentally to take on the entire distance and filled my transition bags and special needs bags with everything I needed.
Race day started with a 4:15 wake up call. My friend, Chris, and our host for the weekend, Will, made our way to transition to make the final preparations we needed to for the race. The swim start was about a mile walk from transition. I dropped off my special needs bags and made my way to the swim start to get warmed up with the pros in the water. The pro field was very large… about 40 in the male wave. We took off at the sound a gun and found myself in a poor location for getting in with the faster swimmers. I fell behind and ended up pulling a group of about 5 or 6 swimmers behind me for the rest of the swim. The group I was in ended up getting to the swim exit at about the same time… 59 minutes. I felt that this swim was a bit slow for me, but I didn’t let it bother me too much. I can’t change the past and can only control what I have I left in the race. So it was on to the bike.
I started out focusing on taking in nutrition and fluids to make up for the caloric loss in the swim. I got my wattage dialed in that I wanted to hold and felt great. I was rolling along and a nice consistent pace and slowly catching some of the pro field that beat me out of the swim. The first 60 miles or so was a net gain in elevation. I was taking in my electrolytes and calories just as I had planned. I grabbed my special needs bag at mile 60, which was full with 3 bottles of Infinit and a flask of NAPALM. However, at this point, I was running low on my electrolyte tabs and eventually ran out about mile 70. The sun was completely out at this time and the wind was in my face at about 20 mph. At times, I felt the warm air radiating off the ground and it felt as if I was in a convection oven. Needless to say, my sweat rate was pretty high and without the salt tabs and adequate water intake, my biking legs stopped functioning rather quickly. I decided to just ride it in nice a easy and go back to the original plan of saving my legs for Raleigh 70.3 and using it as a practice run for IM Louisville.
I did learn a few things in this race that should help in IM Louisville since the heat and humidity were very comparable to the weather I would expect to be in Louisville. The biggest thing I learned was the need for some better electrolyte replacement during the bike leg.
Since I saved my legs for Raleigh, I’m excited to race this half ironman race with legs that won’t be so tired and flat.