Updated: Mar 31, 2020
The Woodlands, TX
April 28, 2018
Finish Time: 12:10:41
Ironman Texas, my second Ironman, and a PR! I had been putting in the training since December and I was very proud of my outcome. After dealing with major anxiety attacks that put me in a rut where I didn’t want to train for a few weeks, I finally was able to get back on the horse and complete what I set out and paid to do!
I headed out to the Woodlands in Texas on Thursday, north of Houston. I chose this race because it was flat, early in the year and in a great location for family to watch. This race takes place on a Saturday which I actually really enjoyed because I was able to relax on Sunday at the hotel before I headed home. I stayed at the Marriott Woodlands, right on the canal and the host hotel for the race. I booked it far in advance which is why I was able to get a reservation and at the race price. I highly recommend the hotel. They have room service, parking, restaurants, and great location to finish line. The start is a half a mile away.
I had to fly out on Thursday because that was the last day for check-in. I headed over to the expo which was located in the finish line area so very close to the hotel (and perfect for post-race day finisher jacket pickup). I went to pick up my bib and attend the athlete meeting. I also went to make sure my bike was in working shape after checking it on the plane (come back to that later). After everything was done I went back to the hotel to hang out before dinner. I went to a local Mexican place on the canal that was delicious and then went to one of the bars afterward to hang out before bed.
The next day consisted of checking in my bike and my bags, grabbing lunch with my mom and then hanging out for the rest of the day. While taking my bike to check-in, I noticed that my tire was not fully inside the rim. So I deflated it and had a bike tech guy at check-in re-pump to see if it was ok. It appeared to be fine so I checked in my bike, deflated the tires a little and left. Later that night my mom and I went to dinner and shopping. We found a Lululemon store near the hotel where they were selling Swim Bike Run Texas shirts, I had to get one!
Usually, I get to transition about an hour before the race starts. The race starts at 6:40am and transition closes at 6:15am. I got to transition around 5:30am and started getting my bike prepped. I put air in the tires, put my water bottles on my bike, filled my water bladder, nutrition etc. But then I noticed something. My tire was not inside the rim again. So I deflated it then pumped it back up. Same deal. I did it three more times and then I heard the awful sound, pssssssss. Yeah blew my tube. So I took my bike over to the bike tech guys to make sure it wasn’t a wheel problem. Thank goodness for my medicine because I was not freaking out. I waited in line, they put in a new tube and pumped it up, and everything was fine. I had about 5 minutes left until I had to leave transition. I ran back to my spot, made sure everything was good to go on my bike and I left. I met back up with mom and she then freaked me out because she didn’t think the bike tech-filled my tire all the way. So I ran back in, he said he did and all was good. Then I hauled ass to the start line which was about a mile away walking. I went and dropped off my aid station bags quickly because the race was about to begin. Then I went to the bathroom which I had to wait behind the spectators in line. FYI if you are a spectator, wait until all the racers start to use the portapotties.
This was the first year the swim was wetsuit legal so I chose to swim in a sleeveless suit. I started the swim in my expected finish time wave and focused on what I had practiced in masters swim class. I felt I was doing really well until I got smacked in the head, the face, swam on top of twice and pushed under. Thank you gentleman for being so rough. At that point, I just focused on staying away from people and doing my thing. My swim time was not what I was hoping for but given how rough it was I was happy to be finished.
I rolled into transition and had to grab my bag because the volunteers seemed to be flustered. I went into the changing tent, put on my gear and ran to get my bike. Thankfully this transition wasn’t too long compared to Louisville.
I started the bike and once we hit the highway I got into a great groove, averaging 21 MPH. There were some rollers and by rollers I mean overpasses. The boy scout aid station at the turnaround was definitely one of the best. On the way back up, the pros passed me. They were flying! This was also the time I noticed no USAT officials on the highway. I was kind of confused by that. It turns out a lot of people took advantage of the lack of USAT officials because there was a lot of pelotons and drafting taking place. Turns out police weren't allowing the motorbikes on the highway. This in turn turned into a dangerous situation at times. By the start of the second loop, the head wind was really starting to pick up. Thankfully I only had one more loop to go and part of it was into the headwind.
I dismounted and was welcomed by my mom and friends waiting for me when I came in. Running into t2, my legs felt fresh, but I could tell it was getting very hot outside and that was going to slow me down on the run. One of the coolest parts of the course was that I got to see this sign a bunch of times and its perfect for racing an Ironman.
I headed out of transition, thinking I should use the bathroom, but I didn't. Well, I decided to at mile 2 so that slowed me down. The course went back to the swim start area, through a bunch of beautiful neighborhoods with aid stations at every mile and then back to the main canal. This was by far the best part of the run course with tons of spectators out cheering us on through "hippie valley" and along the canal. I got to see my mom a bunch of times also as the run course looped 3 times and where she were stationed I got to see her 5 times.
I definitely struggled on the run ending up running a mile then walking a little in parts. At the end of the first lap, I saw my mom who was stationed in front of the hotel. She knew I was struggling and cheered me on but I knew this was going to be a struggle bus. I also couldn’t take down any more gels so focused on water, Gatorade, pretzels and orange slices which worked well for me until the last lap when I started drinking Redbull. I was tired of Gatorade as it began to make me feel sick. So I stuck to water, Redbull and pretzels. I needed the salt and sugar to keep me going. The cool part about the run is you can take in your special needs bag either on the second or third lap. I decided not to grab it as all it had was gels and gatorade and my stomach wasn’t going to handle that so I kept going. On the second lap, a very nice drunk couple cheered my name on very loudly. You see there’s an Irish bar along the canal and running route so lots of people were having fun. They offered me a beer and I said no mainly because I’d be lying flat on the floor if I had any to drink haha!
I made my way back into town and just thought that I was that much closer to finishing. At the split which either takes you back for your 2nd and 3rd laps or to the finish, I was so freaking happy to be going towards the finish line. I hit the main road and people were just screaming and cheering me on and once I entered the shoot which had you loop around and I saw my mom. I couldn’t help but smile. I just kept moving one foot in front of the other while also deciding what was I gonna do at the finish. I did not have it in me to cartwheel so I click my heels together 3 times and the jumped across the finish! This time around I could walk after the race ended and it was light out! One of my goals for completing it this time around. I checked my watch and saw 12:10! I couldn’t believe I shaved off 36 minutes from Ironman Louisville.
After getting cleaned up, we went out to dinner. My go-to post-race meal now is Italian. All in all after a tough beginning to 2018, this was a great pick me up and a reminder that I really can do anything I set my mind to. Would I come back to Texas and do this race again? Absolutely! It was incredibly well run, an awesome experience and the perfect location for spectators and families. I was incredibly impressed!