Sunday, May 29, 2011

IMTX Race Report: Life After the Finish Line

The Medical Triage and Other Adventures...

Since the race was sponsored by Memorial Hermann Hospital, the Medical Triage was the finest that I have ever seen at a race. The volunteers quickly got me to a bed and they started peeling off my wet gear to keep me from getting chilled. They asked me several times about my stomach and I told them I felt fine except for my feet. An EMT who looked like Mr. Clean tried to carefully take off my shoes as I whimpered in pain and then set about cleaning my feet with Betadine solution and looking for the blisters on the wet and wrinkly bottoms of my feet. He found them. Lancing those blisters and draining them was no picnic either. Dr. Brian, who I know through Team in Training circles, came up to check on my feet and to congratulate me on a great race and sign my release papers. With my feet bandaged up, I grabbed my gear and hobbled out to meet the family who were waiting at the door. We made our way back to all the action so that I could get some food and find my Morning Gear Bag. In the "Athlete Village" I saw Coach Carrie. She gave me a big hug. She had an amazing sub-12 hour race and was 10th in her Age Group. I tried eating a Freebird's burrito but the lack of saliva in my mouth made the tortilla feel like I was trying to eat felt. My stomach was not wanting huge amounts of anything either. Just small bits. The family went to Potbelly to get some sandwiches and I hobbled off to find my gear. A man who was built like a brick wall and over six-foot tall took pity on me and offered to carry me where I needed to go. He gathered me up in his arms and took me over to the truck where the gear bags were, waited for me and then carried me back to where my family was. Ok sir, go wash your hands and arms now.

I saw more of my Team in Training friends who had been out on the course and just did a lot of people watching from my seat on a small ledge. I just didn't want to walk on my feet. They still hurt pretty bad. Finally, I put on dry shoes that I had worn over to the swim start that morning and it made walking a bit easier. El Esposo had to get home to finish packing to leave for a business trip in the morning and he took "The Banana" with him. I had to find "White Hot" (a.k.a. Ryan) and wait for the crew to come in. Ryan found "The Banana" and soon found me and we staked out a spot along the Finisher's chute to wait and watch for the crew. I also found Mike's coach, Coach Steve and some of the Go Mitch Go! Team and all patiently waited. I got to see my girlfriend Lauren again. Today she is in Florinopolis, Brazil and yesterday she saw her significant other, Lannas, race Ironman Brazil. You may recall, if you are a long-time reader of my blog, that I went to Cozumel last November to see Lauren and our friend Laura complete their first Ironman race.

Not long after the timing clock rolled over 14 hours, we got word that Mikey was very close to finishing. Mikey is a four-time cancer survivor and had just had another jaw surgery about a month ago and was still on antibiotics. He and Ryan had gotten pretty tight the past few days and Ryan did not want to leave our spot until he saw Mikey. When he rounded the corner, Ryan went nuts cheering for him and dashed off towards the Finish Line with Coach Steve and members of the Go Mitch Go! team. I held our place on the barricade and waited for Greyhound and Rachelle. When the crew finally came back by, Mikey got a big hug from me and he said that Coach Steve was going to get his bike and gear and that he was going back to his mom's room to lay down because he was not feeling well and he would see us in the morning.

I was starting to feel hungry but I did not want to jam a bunch of food down my face just yet. I gave Ryan $5 and told him to get me a Jamba Juice from across the street as he went on a mission for some Cold Stone ice cream. When he came back, he had a box of four chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches and my Jamba Juice. All I could handle was little sips off my Jamba Juice and sadly had to let the ice cream sandwich start to melt. I had been keeping my eyes peeled for the rest of the Superfriends. Since we were also staked out right by the split to head out for another lap, we saw volunteers and a race official take their places to grab people who did not make it onto their third lap before the 10:00 pm deadline. It was sad watching those few athletes get pulled off the course. I did see one of the guys who used to come to my spin class at the gym make it through the cut-off.

I had not seen Michael for a few years because he started going to another gym and then we ended up sitting at the same table at the Athlete's Dinner a few nights before. He was so excited to see me and introduce me to his wife because she, and all of his friends knew about me. Michael told me that I was referred to as,"MY Elizabeth" to everyone and everyone knew that I was head and shoulders above any of the spin instructors at his new (and quite swanky) gym. He said he remembered when I was training for my first Ironman back in 2005-2006 and that I was such a huge motivation to him and I was the reason he signed up to run the Houston Marathon the next year. He had lost over 90 pounds and now he was fulfilling his dream to do an Ironman. When he told me this, I got a little misty eyed. The lesson here is that you never know that what you do and how your carry yourself can motivate or intimidate people. Always strive to motivate and be down to earth enough to poke fun at yourself and be approachable. Well, Michael did finish his Ironman. He was the second to last person to cross the line before they turned off the clock. Powerful stuff!

Ryan and I did not have to wait long to see Rachelle come around the bend. We had heard that she was not feeling well and she looked like she was ready to be done. I told Ryan that I would keep a lookout for Greyhound as he went down to go get Rachelle. Soon enough, Rachelle and her family were back on "The Hot Corner" and in less than five minutes we saw Greyhound running in. Rachelle bent over to put her bag down and then stood up and got dizzy so we hung out there for a minute to see if she was ok. Soon after that I got a text from Greyhound that he was sitting on the wall in front of the restaurant across the street and I texted back that we were all just across the street from the Starbucks, less than 100 feet from where he was. The Superfriends were now the Ironfriends and we all were back together. Ryan was going to hang out near the finish line some more while the rest of us went to get our gear and bikes.

I was having a hard time keeping up with everyone because of my blisters and Rachelle's family offered to carry some of my bags. Once we got our bikes, Greyhound's family offed to take my bike. I guess I looked pretty pitiful trying to get around. Once back at the cars, we loaded up and then Rachelle and I dug out the "clean-up system" that Ryan had turned us on to of baby wipes saturated in rubbing alcohol and wintergreen witch hazel. It felt good to wipe the sweat, salt, grime, and funk off and get into some clean, dry clothes. On the way home, Rachelle was getting hungry so we stopped at a What-a-burger near my house and got her a burger and large fries. Man, those fries were GOOD. I guess we needed the salt.
The Ironfriends! Back (l to r): Greyound, Rachelle, Ryan a.k.a "White Hot", Brian a.k.a."Tri Boomer"
Front: Coach Carrie, Shawn, me, and Iron Mikey. Not pictured is Christy Lan. She had to leave early.

After a shower, a chance to wash my hair, and the stunning realization that I had three huge blisters on the bottom of my left foot and two huge blisters on the bottom of my right foot all between the ball of my foot and my 5th metatarsal (I have NO idea how I ran almost 20 miles on those!), I collapsed into my own bed and slept without a single dream that I can recall. We were all up the next morning by 6:30 and headed out the door to go back to The Woodlands for Finisher's gear, to get Ryan signed up for his Kona slot, and to head to breakfast at Greyhound's casa. There was some nice Finisher's gear, but the things I wanted had all the small sizes snapped up before I got there so I walked out empty handed. Rachelle and I went on a trip to go find breakfast tacos and kolaches to take to breakfast and then headed to Greyhound's. When everyone arrived, there were 9 hungry Ironmen chowing down on waffles, bacon, breakfast tacos, kolaches, bagels and lox, fruit, and sipping on Mimosas.

Later in the day, we went to a pool party with some of the Austin triathletes that we knew through Coach Carrie and Mikey. It was good to relax and do nothing. By 8:30 pm that evening, I was falling asleep on the sofa and we headed to bed. I had a stretch session the next morning at 7am and then I had to get Rachelle to the airport.

It was quiet in the house after everyone headed home and it was a little sad, but it gave me a chance to really relax and chill out. Because I felt like I had neglected my kid for the better part of six days, when he got home from school I took him to the movie to go see Pirates of the Caribbean. My life got back to normal. Or at least normal for most Americans. I was eating like I don't normally eat and not exercising and I was feeling yucko. I decided that I would start running again on the weekend. Sadly, I hurt my back at work lifting some weights for the first time in a few weeks due to the taper and I am in pain. Even sitting on the sofa is uncomfortable. I went straight to Spine & Sports Therapy to have Dr. Jeff take a look at me since Dr. H was on vacation and Dr. D was booked up. I got a little relief, but I am still in pain and I feel like a lazy slug.

Coach Woofie told me to take a month off without any structured workouts and just play. We do have some plans in the works for what is next for this Swimbikerun girl. If the plan gets a green light after my back gets better, I am going to have a lot of work cut out for me. But for now, there are no races on the horizon and that feels a tad weird. Someone double dog dared me to get another mountain bike to replace mine that El Esposo sold without telling me until he was packing it up to ship. I have no money right now, so that may be on hold. And frankly, I want to get a dog. I need a cold nose and a wagging tail first.

I know that I drove some of you mad with all the daily installments on this race, but I tend to write WAY too much and I hate to leave anything out. In short, Ironman Texas is a great race. It is a hot, humid, and hard race, and some website listed it as the 5th hardest Ironman race out there. I saw the names of some top notch Pro triathletes and some really fast and strong local athletes on the list of those who DNF'ed. Heck, if it was easy, it wouldn't be an Ironman. Some of my crazy friends have already signed up for next year's race but for now, I am on the search for the next race that calls my name and asks for a date. I didn't get asked out in high school, so I may have to take matters into my own hands like I did when I asked out someone for a date to my own prom.
The tools of recovery....

So stay tuned to read all about the geek girl asking the popular star athlete (er, athletic event) for a date.

Later Gators!


Saturday, May 28, 2011

IMTX Race Report: Part Six

T2 and The Run: a.k.a. The Cool Down

As I always say, there is nothing like getting off your bike and getting to stretch out your legs. It feels GREAT! I was now ready to do 26.2 miles of stretching out my legs. After getting off my bike at the dismount line, I dashed through the arches leading to Transition and was greeted by a volunteer who offered to take my bike and my helmet as well. Awesome! I usually have to run around with my Pterodactyl helmet on until I get to the change tent. The grass in transition is not the famous Texas St. Augustine grass that has a wide blade and can be rough on the foot. It is some kind of soft carpet grass. Being bare foot, it felt great between my toes. Soon, it was on to hot pavers and down rows of bags to find mine and dash into the change tent. All I had to do was get shoes on and get my cycling gloves off.

My change tent volunteer started pulling my shoes out of my bag and I asked her if there was a towel available. She found one quick and started to dry off my feet and in between my toes. I kinda felt like Jesus in some strange way. I got my socks and shoes on and my gloves off and put some hot Butt Butter down my shorts to prevent any chaffing. I grabbed my Fuel Belt that had my hat attached and headed for the exit. I grabbed a quick cup of water and I was out in the sun. After turning my race number around, I wrapped the Fuel Belt around me and got my hat on as I crossed the timing mat. Total time: 5:04. Again, kinda long, but hey, I wanted dry feet.

It was now right around 2:30 and I was an hour ahead of schedule and out on the run course right about the same time I was in Cozumel. Who starts running a marathon at 2:30 in the afternoon??!!?? Well, I did last week. I wanted to settle into a pace that was slightly slower than normal and a pace that I knew that I could maintain. After running 150 yards down the sidewalk on The Woodlands Waterway, we had to scramble up a steep dirt hill to a parking lot. I walked up it with everyone else because we did not want to turn an ankle. Once on level ground we ran through the GE parking lot and towards Aid Station #1. I was really looking forward to Aid Station #1 because all of my Team in Training friends were running the Aid Station and I needed some TNT love.
Cool water on the Arm Coolers and down the hatch.

Boy, did I get some love! Lauren, Tim, Sarah, Jay, Audrey, Kim, Nancy, and Angela were all there to cheer for me, give me water, load my tri top with ice, and give me hugs. I felt like a rock star going through there! They were surprised to see me so early and they really took care of me. I exited the parking lot and got on Lake Woodlands Dr. and started to head over the bridge to North Shore Park where we started the swim. I have run this route so many times that it is not funny. I was on auto pilot. I just concentrated on keeping my pace manageable and my heart rate under control. The ice in my tri top felt great and at the next aid station just over the bridge, I got water to pour on my Arm Coolers. Ahhh! Wow that felt great with the breeze that had picked up. Sadly, we were running on the street rather than the run path that was just on the other side of the trees. Shade would have been nice. The course turned the corner onto Panther Creek Dr. and my normal landmarks, the three foot bridges, were on the run path and not the street. There was an aid station that looked like it was being run by cowboys and I asked the volunteers not to spray me down with the hose to keep my feet dry. Just before we got to The Woodlands Parkway, the course took us through the grass and onto the run path. Shade! I was in my groove at this point and even though some of the fast people who were on their second loop were passing me, there were plenty of people who I was passing. I saw a halogen lamp just off the path and a huge grin spread across my face. I would be off this course before they would have to turn that baby on!!!

It is amazing what a smile can do when you are tired. All of a sudden, I had energy that came out of no where. I kept that smile on my face as long as I could. I even started to get a bit teary eyed. We came out of the trees and were on the South Shore end of the lake. At this aid station, I grabbed a cup of the PowerBar Perform and gulped it down along with some water. After running across the dam bridge and seeing people riding in on the bike course just on the other bridge, it was back into the trees for a bit and then back on the pavement when we exited the trees and turned into the South Shore neighborhood. The next aid station was manned by men in hula skirts and coconut bras and plenty of lovely ladies who had been leid. South Shore has some crazy big houses in it. I wondered how these people felt about having to be prisoner in their homes all day for this race. About this time I saw my friend Wilmer who I had seen along the side of the road on the bike course. He had gotten a wheel from one of the pro women who was going to call it a day. How awesome and selfless its that! Wilmer kept on running and he seemed to have a good pace. As I was finishing running by the lake, a motorcycle with a cameraman on the back pulled up next to me and smiled back as he was filming. Oh yeah, I still have that stupid grin on my face. I waved to the camera. They slowed down to catch some of the people behind me and then drove up again. They probably thought, "Who is this idiot girl who is so frickin' happy to be running a marathon in this heat???"
After going around the corner, there was a timing mat. About this time I saw Wilmer again but now he was walking. I told him that he was doing great. I had cheered for him last fall at Ironman Cozumel and I told him he was still going to beat me to the Finish Line. Running through the next aid station, I saw my friend Theresa and she was thrilled to see me. I got more ice for my tri top and more PowerBar Perform drink. Next, it was down the sidewalk and on to The Woodland Waterway. There were more spectators sitting on the hill, hanging over the bridge and on the balconies of the condos along the Waterway where we finished the swim that morning. The crowd support was great! They seemed to be pretty wild across the way at one of the bars. Time for Shot Bloks.

It was a long stretch to the next aid station because we had to get off the Waterway because there was very little room to have an aid station. I got passed my Michael Lovato on this stretch. I told him good luck and he thanked me. After getting to the end of the Waterway, we ran past the Anadarko office building and aid station #7. Dang it! I got my feet wet trying to pour water on my Arm Coolers. The run route took a detour from what had been on the original run map and rather than going over the foot bridge to the other side, we ran around the building on street level to take Woodlock Forest Drive over The Waterway and then around another office building to get us back on the Waterway and heading down towards Landry's restaurant and towards The Woodlands Mall. I saw Michael Lovato again and he was walking and trying to stretch out his hamstrings. I was now feeling hot spots on the bottoms of my feet around the ball of my foot. Ugh! I saw Cat Morrison being led by a cyclist on the course. She was in first place and I gave her a shout out. Just the day before, Brian Brode (a.k.a. TriBoomer) got a picture of me and Cat. Very cool! At Aid Station #8 at the turn around was run by The Parrot Heads and I saw my friend Andrea that I had done my first Team in Training event with back in 2000. It was awesome to see her since I had not seen her in a few years. I also saw my TNT friend Coach Bill Dwyer and he got some great pics of me. I had that stupid smile on my face again. Heading back on the Waterway, the wind was really whipping around the one of the office buildings. The shade was great, but I felt like I was being pushed backwards. Near the spot where we got back on the Waterway, we had to cross some grass to get on the sidewalk rather than on a trolley path. I did not want to twist my ankle, so I took it slow.
Passing Goose's Acre Bar on my first loop around mile 7.

Once back on pavement, I settled back into my pace and made my way towards the Goose's Acre bar and America's restaurant where everyone was out on the patio. It was wild and fun. Those spectators were already drunk and having a good time. There were also water misters that gave us a cool spray. Hmm, my feet are hurting more. Running toward the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, we had to run up a hill to get on street level. Not real fun. I took some water from my Fuel Belt and made my way to the street to run towards Market Street. I grabbed more water and ran past the Special Needs bags. Now I wish that I had stuck dry socks in a bag, but oh well, lesson learned. I saw my friend Norma and she told me I was looking good.
Heading out for Loop #2.

Running to Market Street was electric! The crowds were off the hook and I could hear Mike Reilly bringing in Michael Lovato in for his finish. It was time to head out for loop two and as I ran down Lake Robbins Dr. I saw my friend Jeff Zavala from Team in Training, Rachelle's family (Rachelle was staying at my house for the event) and the Go Mitch Go! Team that was there with Mikey Thompson (also staying at my house). They all gave me lots of love. Now it was on to see my TNT friends at aid station #1 again. After getting the royal treatment and getting back out on the road, lo and behold Coach Carrie ran up next to me. "There's my girl! Dang, it took me this long to catch ya?" I told her that I was way ahead of schedule and that I had some blisters on my feet so she should stay on her pace since I had to keep things in perspective with the pain. She was looking great and she asked if I was going to breakfast at Greyhound's in the morning and we both said we would see each other there in the morning and I sent her on her way. I was finding that it was more painful to stop and walk and then start running again rather than to keep running, but I had my plan of walk breaks to get ice, and fluids in. Back on Panther Creek I saw more people I knew and got lots of encouragement before hitting the run path and getting some shade. I was going slow, but I was passing a bunch of people who were walking. Somewhere between South Shore and The Waterway, Wilmer passed me and he had found his running legs again. I was now at the half way point and the sun was still high in the sky. Theresa gave me some motivation and sent me through the aid station and on to the Waterway. It was hot, but the ice and the Arm Coolers were great. Little did I know that the temperature got up to 91 degrees that afternoon. I was now trying to keep my eyes peeled for Rachelle, Mikey, and Greyhound. I knew Ryan was done, so I looked for him on the sidelines. I saw Rachelle at aid station # 7 at the Anadarko building and I gave her a shout out. "Abracadabra, Homes!!!" She gave me a wave as I ran by. I saw Coach Bill for more photo opportunities and made my way to the turn around by the Parrot Heads. Just past The Goose's Acre bar, I saw Coach Tim, my Masters Swim Coach, and Lauren who swims with us and works at Lululemon along with Mike Moore who stayed with Rachelle, Greyhound, and me when we did the Galveston 70.3 race. I was loving all of this crowd support! Up that nasty hill again and towards Market Street and out on to loop #3.
Going through Aid Station #1 on my 3rd Loop!!!

I saw Jeff again. The Go Mitch Go Team cheered me on. Just before crossing the street and heading through the parking lot, I saw my TNT friends Judy and Karla who I had coached through their first Olympic distance triathlon. Loved those hugs. I took a longer walking break at Aid Station #1 maned by my TNT friends and walked a bit with my girlfriend Lauren. My blisters were smarting pretty bad. I finally had to get running again and I vowed not to stop until the aid station on Panther Creek. Once there I decided that I needed a bathroom break and wouldn't you know that the port-o-can was out of paper and there was none to be found. Ack! Oh well, it's not like I hadn't peed down my leg all day. My last time down the run path, I was passing more people which is laughable because I was doing the Ironman shuffle at this point. I was also smiling again because I was through this area without the halogen lights being turned on yet. I WAS ALMOST DONE!!! The pain of my feet were getting to me and I lost track of what mile I was at between 21 and 23. Theresa told me to get going and to finish strong as I was leaving her aid station with a new load of ice down my top.
Coming back from Aid Station #8 and the Parrot Heads on the Last Loop.

One more time on The Waterway. I was now having to resort to a mantra to keep going at my pace and to run through the pain of my feet. "Drop it like it's HOT! Drop it like it's HOT! Drop it like it's HOT! Drop it like it's HOT!!!" Rachelle had shown me this Sundrop soda commercial the day before and we all agreed to do the hand pump in the air if we saw each other on the course.
Now I was using this just to get through the pain. I tried to keep my stride as normal as possible. Across the other side for the last time! I saw Coach Bill one more time and he said I was looking great. I looked at my watch and I could hardly believe the time that I was at. This was going to be a HUGE PR!!! One last time to see the Parrot Heads. I saw a couple of other racers I recognize from local races and I was passing them. WHOO HOO!!! I was starting to go faster. One last time past Goose's Acre and seeing Mike Moore who was yelling his head off for me. One last time up that awful hill! Picking up speed now. One last time on the stretch past the Special Needs bags and to see my friend Norma. And my my last turn on to Market Street!!! I was booking it now. Damn the pain, I was almost done. On the last curve to head in to the Finisher's chute I heard, "MOM!!!" I looked around and it was Bud in his banana costume and El Esposo. They had made it! I yelled back that I was done and kept running. Around the curve and over a timing mat. Mike Reilly was calling out my city of origin and recognizing Team in Training. "Elizabeth Garcia, YOU are an IRONMAN for the 3rd time!!! Way to go!!!"
Just a few strides from the Finish Line!!!

I jumped over that Finish Line and gave out a shout...and then I couldn't move. My volunteer catchers grabbed me and helped me out of the way and I told them that I probably should get to to the medical tent because of my blisters. I got my Finisher's medal, I got my timing chip off, I got my Finisher's photo, I got my Finisher's hat and shirt and then I saw Bill Crews. Bill is a TNT tri/marathon coach with me and he is a leukemia survivor and one of my honored Teammates. He gathered me up in his arms and I broke down in tears. I told him thank you and between the sobs he thought that I said I hated him. I quickly had to set him straight that I did not hate him but that it was so good to see him. My TNT friend, Audrey, showed up next and gave me a big hug and I asked her to go find the kid in a banana suit and to let my family know that I was going to the med tent.
Total Run time: 4:48:27 (11 min/mile pace) Finish Time: 12:18:42 18th Place in my Age Group out of 71 finishers, Women 40-44 87th out of 480 Female Finishers 574th out of 1998 Racers who finished.

2686 Racers signed up for this Inaugural event. 2160 got into the water that morning to begin the race. 1998 finished under 17 hours and three more came in just after the clock struck midnight. That means 159 people did not finish. I am surprised that it was not more. It was a hot and humid day and if you're not from around here, it could have messed with you really bad.

But wait! This is not the end of the story. Tomorrow I will give you the post-race happenings and what went on inside the Medical Tent. My buddy Johnny Tri from Vegas always says it wouldn't be a good race without me having to make a visit to the Med Tent. So check back in tomorrow for all the details.

Later Gators!

P.S. Did I smile too much?

Friday, May 27, 2011

IMTX Race Report: Part Five

The Bike...Part Deaux

So we left off yesterday with me rolling over the mid way timing mat at 19.12 mph. We had turned into the wind, but it was considerably less wind than what Greyhound and I had been dealing with on our training rides. I was now three hours into my ride and if I played my cards right, it would only take me three hours to get back to T2!

I turned off of FM 2562 and headed east on FM 2819. I had a crosswind and I took advantage of it by getting my speed up to 21 mph. I knew that later on my speed would be in the 14 mph range on some of the hills. I grabbed a bottle of water at an aid station and proceeded to start dealing with "fast" boys who had stopped back at Special Needs and were now frantically trying to get back up in the crowd. Not just one person would pass, but a string of guys. I had to sit up in the saddle on three occasions to drift back and even spoke up to say, " Come on Dudes, pass already or drop back." They did not seem to thrilled that I told them that and tried to drop me. Eh, didn't work. I was soon rolling up on them just sticking to my pace and they were blocking the road, two abreast. "ON YOUR LEFT, MOVE RIGHT DUDES! Geezzz...."I did not see them again.

It was time to head south again on FM1486 and to start pedaling towards Dacus and Dobbin and into the wind. And this is where I started to sing in my head. At Arizona it was "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other" from Sesame Street. At Cozumel it was Katy Perry's "Waking Up in Vegas". Today it would be "Give Me Everything" by Pitbull and Ne-Yo. "Grab somebody sexy, tell 'em "Hey!", give me everything tonight!" Whoo Hoo! I was jamming on the bike. The hills were a little more challenging but I was drinking, eating, and singing. Some dude passed me and gave me a funny look. Crap, was I singing out loud?!? I thought that was in my head. OK, time for a self check here. Ooo, 10 mph up that big hill, 147 bpm heart rate. Focus! "I can't take it, take it, take it no more. Never felt like this, like this before. Come on get me, get me on the floor. DJ what you, what you waiting for???" Now Britney had come to join the party. Ooo, gotta pee again. Pretty soon it was time to leave Grimes Co. and start rolling over smoother pavement in Montgomery Co. YAHOO!!! We are heading home!!!

There was a string of hills that needed me to pay attention to my heart rate between Dacus and Dobbin but I felt like I was rolling along pretty well. I was surprised at the crowds of people gathered at the intersection of FM 1486 and Hwy 105. I heard later that just moments behind me a spectator walked out in front of a cyclist bombing down that hill and got hit pretty seriously. I also heard that traffic cops held up the athletes to let cars pass for at least 3 minutes. There were some unhappy people. Thankfully, I never ran into that. I was running low on water so at the next aid station on Jackson Rd., I grabbed a bottle and started moving down the road. This can be a fast stretch and I wanted to take advantage of it. I passed a kid that had passed me back around mile 20 and commented on my nice bike and I noticed that he was riding a Kuota as well. I noticed that he was 19 and riding the bike that was the next up from mine and darn expensive. I asked him how he could afford a bike like that at 19. He said his dad went in half with him for the bike. Must be nice. Tell your dad "thank you" kid! Ugh! People! Stop Drafting!!! Packs of three to seven riders would come barreling around me. Not safe because there was more car traffic on this road than I had seen all morning long. I had to sit up to drift back again and I was having to drift back due to these packs. I was not happy. I got down in my aero bars again and started to work when an official on a motorcycle rolled up next to me. ACK!!! I was less than four bike lengths away from the guy in front of me. I looked over at the official and worked on slowing my pace without stopping pedaling all together. "Did I startle you?", the official asked. Uh, duh! Yeah! "Yes, Ma'me." "Ok, just making sure you are paying attention and not zoning off. Have a good race.", she said. "Thank you." And then the motorcycle moved forward to look into that pack. HOLY C--P! I almost got nailed with a red card and a 4 minute penalty. Time to get my head back in the game.

We hit smooth pavement when Jackson became 149. Greyhound and I had been wondering when they were going to finish widening and adding a shoulder to this road. It had been in the works for weeks but the last time we rolled over it, the road was no where near finished and that was less than two weeks from the race. Well, it got finished, or at least part of it. The last mile and a half on that road was not finished and worse than the last time we were on it because they had grated the surface and it was rough enough to rattle your teeth out of your head. The car traffic was bad as well and cars were lined up waiting for the light. That forced us to draft and ride single file until we got up to the turn at the intersection. It was on to FM 1488 and to pass Magnolia HS where I do Masters Swim and then onto a stretch we call "The Dog Run" or Dobin-Huffsmith Rd. The sun was starting to peek out here and there and I was doing my best to keep the speed up with the increasing heat and the winds. I gotta go again!

Towards the bottom of Dobin-Huffsmith road, I grabbed another bottle of water at the 90 mile aid station and it was nice and cold. I drank some of it because it was colder than the water in my aero bottle and I sprayed some of it on my De Soto Arm Coolers and on my shorts. Man that felt good. Why had I not been putting water on these Arm Coolers sooner? We turned on FM 2978 and got a tailwind and a huge line of cars stopped on the road for traffic and they were actually being nice and cheering for us rather than cussing us out. I had some guy pass me and tell me "Go TEAM!" Thanks, I needed that. We turned into The Woodland through part of the residential area that I had never been through because we always went up to the Wal-Mart for a bathroom break. There were lots of cheering people and we needed it. The sun was out and it was HOT. I looked down at my watch. HOLY MOLY! I may finish this ride in under six hours!!!

We were back on The Woodlands Parkway. One more chance to get some food in me. Watch out behind, I gotta pee again. I was now passing guys that looked like they had cracked themselves on the bike and would be worthless on the run. The intersections were blocked so we had the right of way. Once on Grogan's Mill, I started thinking about getting my feet out of my shoes and the process of T2. The crowds of spectators were thick and crazy. We were rolling over a bridge that crossed over the run course, so there were lots of cheering people. Getting around the corner on Lake Robbins Dr. I could see the volunteers getting us to slow down as we approached the dismount line. I hopped off right before the line and I may have made it in right around 6 hours! WHOO HOO!!!

Ok, it is time for me to go to a swim meet for my kid, so I am leaving you hanging again until tomorrow. Remember, it is all about patience.

Later Gators!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

IMTX Race Report: Part Four

The Bike Leg: a.k.a. "The Worst Parade EVER!"

I have been riding parts of this bike course for the past twelve years and the detailed course that would show up on race day since last November. Every weekend I have been on these roads. By now I would think that the locals would know me and my ghetto Kuota bike with the green fork by now. I love my Kuota! No one else in the world has a red and black Kuota Kalibur with a green fork....and blue bar tape. So all I had to do was hop on my bike and ride this route just one more time.

Since I am a lean, mean, triathlon machine (read as skin and bones), I hopped on my bike still wet from the swim with goose bumps on my arms and legs. I hoped that my pedaling would get me to warm up in the first few miles. The crowds along the route from Transition to The Woodlands Parkway were great. Once we turned on the parkway, there were crowds of people gathered at the intersections and business driveways cheering for us with vuvuzelas, cow bells, and whistles. They were awesome and we were just a bunch of weirdos on bikes. I took advantage of the protected lane and non-stop intersections to eat a Clif Mojo Bar and drink lots of water. There were lots of dudes and a few chicks zipping by me to make up time they lost on a crappy swim. I just settled into my pace and stuffed my face. My main goal was to get my heart rate down a bit. I knew it could be easy to speed up but that was not in my plan. My plan gave me 7 hours to finish the bike leg. AND WHAT THE HELL IS IN MY LEFT BIKE SHOE???

On FM 2978 I just stayed to the right while everyone passed me up. I was already past mile 10 by this point and I had no worries. I knew that I would see some of these people who were passing me again on the run course because they cracked themselves wide open on the bike. I figured out what was in my left bike shoe. It was a little packet of Butt Butter that I forgot to pull out of my shoe and put in my pocket in case I was starting to chafe. At least it was in my arch and not too uncomfortable. The bike route did a small detour from the map that we had been riding for months and had us turn right on Egypt Rd. to make it across FM 1488 at an intersection that was not a busy and then diverted us through a residential neighborhood before putting us back out on FM 2978 at a relatively new gas station.

As we continued on FM 2978 through the Woodland Trails subdivision and the Montgomery Trace subdivision I was glad to see race officials on motorcycles slowly making their way down the row of cyclists. There was the potential to draft and I did see it happen, but I saw the official throw out a few red cards to people and everyone started playing by the rules. It was about this time that I thought my bladder was going to rupture. I had slurped in all of the 38 or 40 ounces of water that was in my aero bottle and now I was needing to get rid of what I had not sweat out of my pores. The second dirty little secret in triathlon is that we pee on the bike. It can be used as a strategy to get people who are drafting off of you to quickly exit your back wheel. Well, I checked over my left shoulder to see if anyone was there and if I could open the flood gates. The next rider was at least 6-7 bike lengths back so there was no danger of giving him a shower. Right on target! My goal was to have to pee somewhere along this road and before I got to the 30 mile mark. I saw my friend Wilmer as he passed me on the bike and he gave me a shout out. Little did I know I would see him again soon.

We went over the bridge on FM2978 to get us over the rail road tracks and made a turn to head west on FM 2854. Now I was holding my own. Less people were passing me and I even started passing a few people. The hills were starting to roll and I was passing dudes on the way up and they were zipping past me on the way down. On one down hill section, I hit 29 mph. Whoo Hoo!!! It was time to evacuate the bladder again. I was right on schedule with eating my Shot Blocks and at least the sun was staying behind the clouds to keep the temps down. After bombing across Hwy 105, I pulled over in a driveway entrance and pulled the packet of Butt Butter out of my shoe and got back on the way. We were now passing mile 30. The miles were flying by!

We left Montgomery, TX and started entering the Sam Houston National Forest. The forest is beautiful. I saw my friend Kathleen on the bike. She is an animal and I have lost count of how many Ironman races she has done. It was good to start to see people I knew. I saw another official on the back of a motorcycle keeping tabs on everyone to make sure there was no drafting or littering in the National Forest. I could hear the birds in the trees and it was very quiet and peaceful back on Osborn Road as I flew through the trees. When I turned left on FM 1375 I played cat and mouse with a guy named David who would pass me on the downhills and I would drop him on the uphills. He commented that we needed to stop meeting like this and I granted his wish when I rode through the 40 mile aid station and he slowed down to grab fluids. My heart rate was still nice and low and I was feeling good on the bike. It was nice to see the locals had rode their ATV's up to the gate on their farms and ranches to cheer for us. I thought that the route would be pretty lonely from all the rides that I had done and not seen a single person. The other bit of awesomeness was that there were very few vehicles on the road. The course was not closed and usually there are lots of motorcyclists who ride through the forest on the weekends and plenty of crew cab Dooley pick up trucks hauling trailers that make their way towards Lake Conroe or to a ranch. On race day, there were hardly any cars on the road on the way up to the turn to head back.

Just before hitting the 50 mile mark I saw someone along the side of the road pushing their bike. Since it was on a bit of an uphill I was going slow enough to see that it was Wilmer. I asked if he was ok and he called back that he had popped a spoke. DANG! Approaching the aid station at the 50 mile mark was a great sign that read, "We guarantee that NO dogs will pee on your wheel at Aid Station #5!" No, it is just the athletes that will pee on their own wheel, lol. I was barrelling along at 27 mph when I got back on Hwy. 149 on the way into Richards. Some dude trying to pass me about laid it down when we crossed over from Montgomery Co. to Grimes Co. and the road surfaces changed. Hehehehe, I knew this was going to happen and where to position my wheel to avoid the bumps and cracks in the road. As he hit the brakes hard, I kept going. Once we got into Richards, we had another detour through the town on a road that until race weekend has always been a gravel road. Some oil had been spread on the road and a really bad layer of chip seal had been put down. My speed immediately dropped 3 mph as we made our way across the quarter mile stretch and had our teeth rattled out of our heads. Normally we stay on the main road because there is a gas station we stop at, but I guess they did not want to tie up the only gas station within a 12 mile radius with us riding past it.

The winds were still low and I was still feeling good. At mile 58, it was time to have people slowing and stopping for their Special Needs bags. I had not turned one in so I kept on going. At this point, we had a timing mat to roll over. Little did I know, but for the first 58 miles my average speed was 19.12 mph!!! That is smoking fast for me and fast with those rolling hills.

Ok, I am going to leave you hanging again! It is time for me to head to work so check back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to the bike leg.

Later Gators,


IMTX Race Report: Part Three

T1: or how you go from soaking wet to rolling on wheels as quickly as possible.

Ok, we left off yesterday with me climbing out of the washing machine also known as the Ironman Texas swim venue. I exited the swim in 1:15:18 and that ended up being 12th in my Age Group out of 151 women and 503rd out of 2686 participants. Not too shabby considering the Slug-fest that the swim was. Since it was point to point, we were now back at Transition. After checking my watch and seeing that I was five minutes ahead of schedule, I relaxed and started to go through the simple motions of getting ready to ride. I went to unzip my two day old TYR Torque Pro swim skin and ended up with a stuck zipper. Crap! I knew this would probably happen because I had trouble unzipping it the day before for the practice swim and just unzipping it without my body being in it...

ATTENTION TYR: Please look into fixing the zipper design on your Torque Pro Swim Skin!!! For $350.00, it should unzip easily.

Thanks, that's all.

I heard a few people call out my name as I ran down the rows of blue T1 bags and grabbed mine off the ground and dashed into the women's change tent. Right before I entered, I saw my good friend Norma and waved to her. A volunteer quickly took my bag and finished opening it up as I loudly called out that I needed someone to unzip me. Two other volunteers struggled for at least 30 seconds to get the zipper all the way down so I could get out. My Team in Training tri suit was all ready on, so I only had a few things that I had to do. As I was getting my shoes on, the volunteer was buckling my SPI belt with my race number on it around my waist. We struggled to get my DeSoto Arm Cooler Wings on my wet arms. I had suffered enough crazy sunburns so I thought that I would order me a pair of these and give them a try. I liked them enough on my longest training ride that I knew that they would be part of my race attire. My volunteer opened up a baggie that had my S-Cap electrolyte capsules in them along with a small container of Sport Legs lactic acid buffer capsules and a tube of Carmex lip balm. I stuffed those in my pockets, put my cycling gloves on, and stuck my helmet on my head.

I thanked my volunteer and dashed out the tent to head to the bike racks. Since I had my Arm Cooler Wings on, I did not need extra sunblock. I was trusting that the sun block Greyhound had let me use before the swim start was still on my legs and that if I felt I needed more, I could find some at an aid station. I also ran past the bank of port-o-cans since I had taken care of that issue while I was swimming. Yes, Lake Woodlands was basically one huge toilet that morning. Gross, I know, but that's the dark, secret side of Ironman we don't advertise much. I ran to my bike rack quickly because it was right next to a PowerBar flag that I was using as a landmark. I pulled my sunglasses off the bike and put them on and then grabbed the bike and headed out to the street and the bike mount line. Again I heard a few people call my name. I apologize for not looking up, I just did not want to crash into someone else of do a Mary Catherine Gallagher fall trying to get on my bike. Here is a video of me all the way over near the fence with my white Arm Cooler Wings and my pointy aero helmet, trying to get on my bike...

Total time in T1 was 5:23. That seems like a long time and many people do it faster. I could have gone faster but I did not want to make any mistakes or be totally out of breath by the time I got on the bike.

OHHHH SNAP!!! I am leaving you hanging! I know you were sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for what happened on the bike, but you will have to check back in tomorrow. Right now I think I hear a sandwich and a banana calling my name and I must to see to it.

Tomorrow's episode, "How you know you're hydrated."

Later Gators!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

IMTX Race Report: Part Two

THE SWIM, a.k.a. "The Smack-fest"
I am one of those purple caps just above the kayaker's paddle.

As soon as the gun went off, things went from vertical to horizontal and I immediately got smacked in the head and kicked in the thigh and stomach. I could not put my head down in the water for fear of getting a swift kick in the face. I knew to expect this but it was much wilder than Cozumel or Arizona. I did some water polo freestyle swimming for at least 50 meters before I could put my face down in the water. I was not in panic mode. In fact, I was more panicked bobbing up and down and trying to keep my head above water before the start. Now I was in survival mode and "Get the F--K Out of MY WAY!!!" mode.

The course was not a straight line like was drawn on the course map. It snaked left, and then right, and back to the left before getting to the turn buoy. Because of that, some people were hugging the yellow buoy line while others were swimming straight out to the furthest yellow buoy they could see and trying to avoid the outcropping of shoreline on the right. That meant that people were swimming all over the place. It was a huge Cluster F--k. I got a little bit of clean water for about ten strokes and then I was made into a Coach Liz sandwich between two dudes in wetsuits. The water clarity was zero, so they may not have known I was even there, but they smacked me in the back of the head and the chin at least five or six times and kicked me in the side before I got pissed and swam over top of the dude on my right and got on his other side and took off again.

Just a lovely swim with 2600+ of your closest triathlon friends....

The weather was in our favor. The cloud cover kept the sun from shining in our eyes and blinding us. The water temp was about 78 so even though I was cold before the start, I was ok once I was moving. I was stunned by the number of people who decided to wear a wetsuit, but I am sure they wanted it more for the security of the flotation rather than warmth.

As soon as I got to the red turn buoy, I started getting smacked by the men in the green caps again. It was about 100 meters to the next red turn buoy and to start following the orange buoys back in. I was getting a little more clean water and then YOWZAA!!! I got some dude's hand up my crotch. "HEY! Get over here and let me grab something and see how you like it!" I took a breath to the right and was surprised how close I was to the shore line and I could see all the people standing on the grass watching us. Ok, time to swim in a bit. I thought I was in line but I forgot that the course snaked around. I felt like it took a long time to get to the canal.

Amazing that I can see these people's legs under the water. I could not see my hand in front of my face the entire way! Yep, the canal is that narrow.

Why was I in such a hurry to get to the canal? Well, it would mean that I was only 800 meters from the stairs to get out. It also would mean that 2600+ racers would be bottle necked down into a four foot deep and thirty foot wide smack-fest. The race director had warned everyone that if they needed to stand in the canal, they could, but not to walk along the bottom of the canal due to stray re bar, glass, and concrete. I did see a few people stand up. I felt like I was not making any progress in the canal. Each time I took a breath, I saw the same people on the shore and the sidewalk. I was groped, smacked around some more, and pulled totally under the water twice before I saw the red buoy at the end of the canal that marked the last turn to the stairs to get out of the water. I swam hard and pushed some dude out of the way to get up the stairs first.
The last red buoy to turn left and get to the stairs and out of the water.

My goal was to be out of the water in one hour and twenty minutes and when I looked down at my watch I saw 1:15 which was five minutes ahead of schedule. Yahoo! After that swim, YAHOO!!! Now it was time to transition.

Stay tuned for more!

Later Gators,


Monday, May 23, 2011

Ironman Texas Race Report: Part One

Oh yeah, I am doing it again. I am going to break this race report into parts like I did with the IM Cozumel race report and leave you hanging on the edge of your seat for the next part. By the way, is anyone even reading my blog any more? I know that I have been really bad about reading other people's blogs because of all of the training I have been doing and I have not seen too many people responding to my posts, so for all I know, Christy and Greyhound are about the only two out there who keep up with all of my wacky adventures. I am not smart enough to figure out Google Analytics to see how many hits my blog gets so right now I guess I am just blogging for myself and two other people. I tend to get wordy and type way more than I need to. Let's see if I can keep this race report tight and clean and get right to the point.

I woke up on Saturday after getting a surprisingly good night of sleep. I soon heard Ryan "White Hot" Barnett, and Rachelle downstairs. I saw Ryan just before he headed off to the race venue. Rachelle, Mikey, and I got our stuff and headed out not long after that. Once parked, we walked across The Woodlands waterway and into Transition to get stuff on the bike. Rachelle found out that she had left all of her race nutrition at my house in the fridge. Major SUCK! It was too late to drive back and get it or to have someone bring it. We met Greyhound and started our walk to the swim start and found an empty bank of port-o-cans. Major SCORE!

Crossing over the bridge to the swim start, I got my first look at the layout of the buoys. The course snaked to the right and then back left. This was going to be a strange swim with no straight line to hold. I got body marked and Greyhound and I found a spot to be able to sit down and start getting sun block on and to get into our swim skins. It wasn't long before we heard the National Anthem and heard the gun for the Pro start. We had less than ten minutes to drop off our morning gear bags and get into the water. The water temp was 78 and not wetsuit legal but they were allowing wetsuits if you went through the "Wetsuit Chip In" corral. This meant that you would not be eligible for any prizes or roll-down slots. I knew the water would be cold, I would not qualify to win anything at all, and that I was a pretty decent swimmer so I followed WTC's rules of no wetsuits in water temps over 76.1 and just sucked it up. Yup, the water was chilly when I climbed in.
I wish the photo was bigger, but to enlarge it destroys the image quality.

I quickly tried to make my way over to the huge red buoy that marked the start line and got up near the front line of racers. Yeah, I'm an idiot like that. We were all packed in tight and there was not enough room to tread water without being kicked or hit. I had to bob up and down in place and try not to suck in any of the murky lake water. Mike Reilly was yelling at the mass of people still on the boat ramp and on the shore to get in because there was less than a minute to go. And then, the mood became electric. Iron Man by Black Sabbath started to pump out of the speakers and the crowd went wild. Mike Reilly asked us if we were ready to start our journey to the Finish Line. After the affirmative roar from the athletes, the gun went off and the mayhem began.

I would throw a photo in here, but the one I want to use is not available to copy and paste. I will stick more photos in the other posts.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Later Gators,


Friday, May 20, 2011

Get It Done!!!

I have signed my life away...
I was tagged and bagged....
I did my practice swim (with my girlfriend Robin)....
I racked my bike and turned in my gear bags....

And I attended the Athlete Dinner with my Creepy Internet Friends......
(from l to r, Ryan "Ironman" Barnett, me, Brian "Tri Boomer" Brode, Kendall "TriGreyhound" Gray, and Rachelle "Little Rachett" Little)
It is time to get it done.

Race Plan: Swim--1 hour, 20 minutes; Bike--7 hours; Run--5 Hours.

Estimated Finish Time: 8:30 pm

Thanks to everyone for blowing up my FB profile with all of the well wishes. I know you will be tracking #414 and keeping up with how I am progressing through the course.

See you at the Finish Line!!!

Later Gators,


Friday, May 13, 2011

Taper Madness!!!

I do feel a little like the race horse that is nervously waiting for the bell to go off and the gate to swing open. I have enjoyed shortened workouts this past week and strangely, my extra time has been consumed with getting tasks done that have been put off for weeks. At times, the nerves go away and I know that things will be fine. I am ready.

Boy, am I ready. I know this course like the pattern of freckles on my arms. I know where the bumps in the pavement are and I know where the gas stations with flush toilets and a Dr. Pepper made with Imperial Cane Sugar are. I know where the shade will and will not be on the run and where I can dunk my head in a cool fountain if need be. I know where the port-o-can is located on a building site and I know where the drinking fountains are. I have done the hard work in the hard wind and if it is blowing on race day, I've already dealt with it and know that I can get back to T2 without bonking or throwing in the towel. They say it may rain. That just keeps the heat at bay and my grass sure needs it. The only thing that is going to put a twist in my tri shorts is the fact that there is going to be all these freakin' people out on my bike and run route getting in my way and hogging the road!

Not having to pack race gear or get my bike into a bike box makes it seem like I really am not doing a race but just another training day. And because it is "just another training day", I don't have the fantastic build up of support. When I asked my kid if he was going to get El Esposo to get him out to The Woodlands to see me finish the race, he was kind of wishy-washy about it. I have a feeling they won't come out to see the race. My parents won't be able to come because my step-brother, Brian, is coming to visit them for the weekend. My best girlfriend, Cathy, just moved to Colorado last week and cannot come. I have not seen many of my friends in weeks or months because of all of my training. I've lost touch. I'm holding out for the "GO TEAM!!!" yells that I will get and hopefully there will be a few local TNT people I know who will be out there on the run course to give me some cowbell.

One week to go...

Later Gators,


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Crazy Dreams Have Begun

I have successfully gotten my last long training week completed! There were two massive swims, three 8 mile runs plus a 21 mile run before work on Friday morning, two interval sessions on the bike plus 106 miles last Saturday, a TRX session, plus all my group fitness and Pilates classes that I teach at work. Now as I begin my taper, the fun business of aches, pains, swelling, and strange dreams begins.

"Strange dreams?", you say...."What kind of strange dreams?" Ironman strange dreams. Dreams that wake me up in a panic that I somehow missed the start of the event. Dreams that I forgot a major piece of equipment, such as my triathlon shorts. Dreams that somehow I cut the course on the point-to-point swim and that's why I finished the event with an awesome time, but I'm now disqualified. Just how in the hell do you cut the course on a point-to-point swim. Well, on this IMTX course, it can be done.

I have 17 days left! I have so much to do, but because this race is in my backyard I feel like I am lolly-gagging along and procrastinating about some things. One of them is getting my house cleaned for three other athletes to stay with us. To be fair, the painters finished painting the last guest room on Monday and the carpet cleaning service comes tomorrow. After that, I will be able to move furniture back into the room and the upstairs should be done. I just have to get the downstairs finished. If worse comes to worse, the boxes of stuff that got moved out of the guest room closets will go in the garage for a week or two and then after the race I will have time to go through them and determine what is kept, what is donated, and what is trashed.

Sorry things won't be too exciting for the next week or so, but stay tuned for what happens for athlete #414.

Later Gators,