Ironman Texas 2017 Edition

Special thanks to all my awesome sponsors. @BicycleHeaven,@carabinShaw, @cryofitsanantonio @ceramicspeed, ClearClinicalResearch, Alamo Springs Dental, @TheInfinitLoop, @RokaSports, @RolfPrima , @RudyProjectNA, @SRAMroad, @Trisports @Quarq

To my loving wife and daughter, your support allows me to continue following my Ironman dream. I couldn’t do this without you.

This year Ironman Texas was going to be a question mark. After my accident in Sept. I thought about not racing again. All the time and commitment away from my family, lost sleep, and constant fatigue just didn’t seem worth it to me anymore. I trained so hard all year long to then have a nasty spill on your day to shine. I really questioned whether or not I wanted to continue doing this. I even put my bike up for sale. After 2 months of recovering
and getting the okay to train again I told myself, “If no one buys my bike I will start training again”. I had a few serious inquires but no solid offers. I took that as my sign that I shouldn’t quit. After being bed ridden I realized how much I enjoy the spirit of racing. The training, not so much. I love the feeling of setting a goal and pushing your body beyond what you thought you could do and achieving that goal. I gave myself a cutoff date of Jan. 1. If I felt my body was strong enough to handle the Ironman training I would decide to race. I was already way behind in my training but I had already paid my registration fee 8 months earlier and reserved a room. I figured I should at least try. I usually work well under pressure and being behind in my training was motivation.

My friend Troy sent me some kind words after my accident that I remembered. He said he had some of his best races coming back from injuries and it provided motivation for him. He was right. I decided to use my setback as motivation. I designed my plan and incorporated milestones that I needed to achieve along the way to ensure I would be ready. By Feb. I was almost to the same fitness I was a year ago at that time. Due to the nature of my injuries my run training was lacking. That just gave me more time to spend on my swim and bike. I made great gains in my swim. I was swimming more volume in the same amount of time as last year and I wasn’t feeling any negative effects from it. My bike training was going great. The lack of outdoor riding due to weather was a bummer. It made it hard to get real time feedback on my training. Overall my power numbers weren’t where they were last year but I was feeling confident in my progress. By March I knew I could finish Ironman Texas. Now it was about getting my run volume up and nailing some goal times.

I put in some big blocks of training during my last build and was feeling good. Swim was looking like a PR. Bike was right on track to set a PR. My run times were great and I was finally able to put in a 3 hr run. Overall I was poised to have my best race.

The weather leading up to the race was not looking great, but each passing day it was improving. I didn’t want a repeat of 2016’s Typhoon, but if it happened I was ready for it this year.
I have to admit that I probably did a little too much training when I should have been tapering. I got to The Woodland’s and I was pretty tired. Then I was running around all day getting checked in, attending the race meeting, attending the dinner, and getting gear bags ready. By the time my family showed up Thursday night I was exhausted.
Friday I met my team mates at the lake to check out the water. I advised everyone not to swim and under no circumstances were they to drink the water. That statement would come back to haunt me. We returned to our hotels and picked our gear bags and went to bike drop off. It was mostly uneventful, except that I forgot the number that goes on my bike. Luckily my amazing wife and daughter were still at the hotel and were able to drop it off to me. I got all checked in and headed out. We continued our tradition of having a picnic and watching an early movie, then an early dinner afterwards.

Hoping to get some sleep we got to bed early and my mind was just racing. I was confident in my fitness but I must have been nervous because I got up to pee about 10 times. The last time I looked at the clock it was 1:41am. and I was planning on getting at 4am. You know how you start doing the math “if I fall asleep now I can sleep x amount of time before I need to wake up” that was me. I fall asleep but wake up before the alarm goes off. I might as well just get up. I get dressed, gather my things, and head to transition. I don’t know why I thought I would be able to find parking. It took me a while to park and put me a little behind my schedule. I always bring my own air pump. I can never say no to fellow athletes that ask to use my pump but at some point you just have to say no. I was now way behind my schedule. I was just hoping my goodwill to my fellow competitors would bring me some good karma. I got out of transition and met Shannan to pick up Jason on the way to the swim start. I don’t think I have seen the line to the porta potty so long, so early. We get in line and wait, and wait. You get the picture. We do our thing and I finish getting ready. The gun goes off on my way to get in the swim line. I was not mentally prepared to start. I get in 3 minutes later than preferred. I don’t know why people think that on race day they will miraculously swim 10 minutes faster than they know they can. I get in and find some clean water and use this time as a kind of warm up. Things are going well Garmin says I am right on track. I then pick up my pace and fall in line. All those ambitious swimmers are now getting tired and starting to fall back. I start maneuvering around and unintentionally over a tons of swimmers. Some guy is now vigorously trying to stay with me. He clocks me in the head with what feels like a closed fist and knocks my goggles off. I have heard that some people carry an extra pair of goggles and I could never imagine that they could actually get knock completely off. The water is so dark and the light is still low so I was very luck that I found my goggles and they didn’t end up at the bottom of the lake. I drain them and continue. Just then I get pummeled by all the swimmers I had passed. I inhale a large gulp of Duck poop smoothie. I don’t panic and just keep moving. Again maneuver around the slower swimmers, but still right on track, not feeling tired, and ready to start pushing my pace. I suspect my goggle strap must have been loosened in the contact I received because I keep stopping about every 10 minutes to drain my goggles. I see the turn to the canal and feel awesome. I look at my watch. 43 minutes in and I am not tired at all and ready to set a new 1k TT. This is where my Garmin stops recording. My goggles start to fill up so I do a hard push to get ahead of a group of swimmers then stop to drain my goggles. I can stand here so I look around and see the finish. I tell myself I am going to push hard and not stop again even if my goggles are full of water. My goggles accepted that challenge. I got to the stairs and was feeling around for volunteers to pull me out because my goggles were so full of water I couldn’t see anything. Non Wetsuit Swim time 1:20:00. I feel disappointed and happy at the same time. Planned to be faster but still fast considering. I remember what Dave Scott said. You still have an opportunity to turn this around.

T1- 6:56. I am a little thrown off because I changed my clothing options after hearing the swim was wetsuit optional. I fumble around a bit because I think all my blood is still in my arms. I get dressed and run out. (I like seeing so many bikes still in T1)

BIKE- Time to put all those hard bike sessions to work. I hear, then see my buddy Robert pass by me. I feel good but soon realize that I haven’t peed. This can’t be good. I slow down my pace a little and try to take in more fluids and calories. We start making the climbs up the on ramps and I have no shifting. I muscle up the hills and then stop at the top to see what is going on. The plugs that connect the junction box to the etap shifters are unplugged. I reattach them and continue into the headwind. I make the first turn around and expect a tailwind. Well, that doesn’t really happen. About 5 miles later the cold front starts to move in and it is accompanied by a monster head wind. Luckily, I had some practice training in some headwind in my last few training rides. I told myself, this is just like my training. I put my head down and just keep pushing. I pass several riders. I start feeling nausea at this point. I heave a few times up nothing comes up. I figure I was taking too many calories early on in order to try to make myself pee. I decide I will back off my nutrition and just take in water and salt for a few miles. I hit a divide on one of the overpasses and my salt tabs go flying off. I almost stop to pick them up but didn’t want to lose any more time. I am now thinking my stomach is fine to start drinking calories again so I don’t need my salt tabs. I begin drinking when I see my shifter is unplugged again. I still have 1 shifter so I decide to just stop messing with it and leave it be. I start feeling really nauseous again. I decide to only take in water at this point. Because I stopped taking in salt I begin to get very thirsty but I don’t want to dilute sodium levels more than they already are so I just sip and just use the rest of the water to cool myself off. The only thing that gives me relief is that I just made the turn around and finally have a tailwind. I am now flying at 27 mph without pushing and it feels great. I know the wind is going to blow (pun intended) on the way back so I make a conscious effort to keep things easy during this section. A few overzealous riders pass me and I tell myself to stick with the plan. The tailwind portion of the ride seemed very disproportional to the time spend in a headwind even though it is 40ish miles out and back 2 times. I make the turn around into the wind and immediately catch and pass all those riders that passed me 10 miles earlier. Again, I put my head down and just keep pushing. About a mile later I get out of my saddle to stretch and look around and there is a peloton of about 12 riders on my wheel. I slow down to allow them to pass and they never do. I push on and they just stay there. Then I slow down considerably and finally a few riders start to over take me. Then they just sit there. One just in front and two to the left of me and one comes around the right side of me. I am trapped in the middle of this peloton. They are only going about 15mph so I try to get out of there before an official comes by and finds me guilty by association. I am faster if I ride by myself anyway. I finally make my way out the back and start to pass them. They continue to draft and then pass me. We keep leap frogging like this the rest of the ride. I am shocked and disappointed that I never saw any more officials. There would not have been enough room in the penalty tent for everyone. Oh well. I just mind my own business and stick with my plan. At last there is the the final turn around. I think we will get some relief with a tail wind but then we are immediately directed to get off the toll road and head back north into the wind. Great. At least I am almost done and my legs aren’t too tired.
I make the turn into transition and see my bike split is 5:42. I was aiming for 5:30’s without wind so i think this is a great time for me. Take that Ironman Texas

T2- I am so ready to be off my bike and finally see what I can do on the run. My feet are numb from staying aero for over 100 miles and not moving much to avoid being a bigger target for the wind. I run to get my bag and I am out of there feeling good in 3:13.

RUN- I am feeling pretty good, mostly because I am glad to be off the bike and I know I am about to see my family. I see Leia and Michele with such big smiles and I am so happy to see them. I try to keep my pace slow and easy for the first 3 miles but I am still running low 8min pace. I stop to walk and reset everything. This is where everything starts to go south. My stomach really starts to ache.

I slow down and take in some fluids and salt.
Dropping my pace usually helps ease any stomach issues.
After a while I begin to realize that this is something different.
My stomach never starts to ease up. I hit the porta potty to see if that will resolve any issues. It helps but something is still wrong. I am running easy 10-11 minute miles and no relief.
I see my family as I am finishing the first loop and
tell them this might be a long marathon for me.
On the second loop I really start to vomit a lot.
Pin preview I had trouble even drinking water because it felt like I was swallowing razor blades followed tequila shots and salt. Eventually, I was just dry heaving. I hit another porta and come to terms that i will be walking a lot. This is where I see Shannan. She comes up to me and we run for about a mile and a half. I stop to hack again but continue to run with Shannan.
I can no longer keep up with Shannan so I tell her to continue without me. Run, puke, portapotty, repeat. This was my routine for the next 5 miles. I make it around to my family again and I had decided to quit. I told my wife. “I don’t want to quit, but I am hunched over in so much stomach pain I don’t think I can finish”. Then she said “You have never, not finished a race. You can’t stop now.” She was right. I said “Ok, I will finish, but its going to be a long slow final lap”. She said “Well you better get going then”. Off I went jogging, heaving, walking, repeat. By this time I had full on Flu like symptoms. I was in pain from head to toe. I felt miserable and dizzy but just kept trying to move forward. On the last stretch I see my
family again and my daughter says come on DADDY lets run! I muster up the strength to run with her. At this point I tell myself it’s not going to hurt anymore than it already does so just keep running until your stomach stops you. Because I was already in a state of dehydration I was very aware not to get too over heated since I had stopped sweating on the second loop. I didn’t want to cause any permanent damage. Live to race another day. I build up the strength to run to the finish line with what little energy I have left. Final run time 5:45. Finish time 12:58

I have raced this course every year since its inception and every year it present a new challenge. Ironman Texas you never disappoint. You have a new challenge every year. Just when we think it can’t be worse than last year, every year you say Hold my beer and watch this!

Spread the word. Share this post!

Leave Comment