It took a few years, but I finally got around to finishing another Ironman. I signed up for it a year in advance, and when it came time to really train, my heart wasn’t in it. I came up with the bare bones minimum plan for training and did even less training. To be honest, I rode my bike a lot. I rode my bike around Croatia and Slovenia. I rode my road bike all around Austin. I rode to the bakery with some friends. I rode by myself. I even rode to the F1 track. I didn’t really ride my tri bike though. My run training was atrocious. I managed to do a 10 mile run once. My swim training was a bit better. I did a couple of long swims at the Pure Austin Quarry, and I swam with Texas Iron Master’s around 10 times. I basically had no expectations going into the race.
The one preparation I did do well was figuring out where to stay. I booked a boutique hotel from Airbnb. Location location, location. We were 2 blocks from the convention center (registration) and 3 blocks from the finish line (I even walked back after the race). It was right by town and the grocery stores. The owner’s son picked us up from the airport, and she arranged a taxi for the athletes the morning of the race. Staying away from the hubbub of the race really helped calm my nerves. (After all, I was going into an Ironman undertrained.)
Race morning, I knew I was going to have a slower swim. So I stuck to the back when entering the water. As luck would have it, they allowed the late comers to jump into the water from the pier, so I quickly made my way to the shallows. There was quite a bit of current, so I hung onto a line to conserve my energy. When the gun went off, I stuck my head into the water and tried to get into a rhythm as quickly as I could. I expected the washing machine effect, but I lucked out. Most people stayed closer to the turn buoys, so my path was relatively clear of arms and bodies. The water was so clear, I was able to sight off coral below. I could also see anyone that tried to get in my way.
With previous diving experience, I instinctively knew how important it was to stay on course and not get swept away. I put some extra oomph into my stroke on the last two turns into the current to make sure I kept the line. Some of my other friends weren’t aware of this, and they lost about 10 minutes when they drifted away on this turn. Aside from the turn, the swim back to shore was uneventful. It was long and tiring, but given my lack of swim training, I was happy with my time. I found out later that at least 100 people didn’t make the swim cut-off due to this year’s strong currents.
My plan on the bike was to start easy and put progressively more effort into it as the day went on. The bike course was 3 loops, so I thought I could do 125, 135 and then 145 Watts. Seemed easy enough, but I’ve been nursing a right hip injury for some time. As it turns out, my left (and weaker leg) was able to keep up to plan, but my right leg was about 20 Watts down. I just wanted to finish and ride another day, so I didn’t care to push it.
Nothing exciting happened the first loop. On the second loop, Mel passed me in a flash, and then Rhonda caught up to me. I paced off her for a while until the bike special needs stop. She went on ahead, but I sat down and had my lunch. On the way out of special needs, I ran into Mark and rode with him for a bit. I accidentally lost him as we turned out of the headwind. My plan of taking it easy worked well until the last loop. My right IT band started to tighten up, and some awesome athlete handed me a roll-on bottle of Biofreeze while we were riding. It took the pain away, and I was able to finish the bike with plenty of time to spare to walk the run.
It takes a long time to walk a marathon. I had done some calculations before, and I knew that a 20 minute mile would have bored me to death. So I walked fast. The run course was a three loop out-and-back, so I got to see a lot of my friends along the way. I wanted to bank as much time as possible in case I slowed down, so I walked about a fourteen minute mile the first two laps. Vegas caught up to me midway through the second lap, and we walked together for a bit. She went on ahead with her run-walk. At the end of the second lap, I decided I couldn’t take another 2.5 hours of walking by myself, in the dark, incredibly bored. So, I started run-walking. Since I wasn’t beaten up from the day, it was a real run. I passed Maggie as she was running her steady pace, and I finally caught up to Vegas half way through the last lap. We ended up finishing the race together.
|7:14:32 (15.46 mph)
I loved all the support on the course. There were people out on all parts of the bike course: a DJ spinning on the southern end of the island and tons of families on the outskirts of town. The run course was just a big block party. People dancing to music, and many people cheering. There was never a truly lonely section of the course like in Arizona and Couer d’Alene.
Monday after the race, we packed up our bikes and took the ferry over to Playa del Carmen for the relaxing part of the vacation. We did a tour of Tulum, climbed the ruins at Coba, hung out at Mamitas Beach and had a couple nice dinners at Yaxche.