I could not asked for anything more from Ironman Texas! It was to be a breakthrough race for me!
With a women's start list including Morrison, Corbin,Goos, Deckers, Lawn,Jacobs,Griesbauer, Stewart all Ironman Champions… and others like Williamson and Ficker and Loeffler and the list goes on.... The inaugural Ironman Texas boasted one of the strongest fields outside of Hawaiii. Intimidating yes, but I was not going to let it phase me. This was going to be my Kona if anything...my chance to compete among the best and see how I ranked up.
The result a personal best 9hr27min finish 8th place in a Championship race! The day turned out with a 1 hour flat swim 3 minutes faster than my previous non wetsuit swim. A 5 hour flat bike split...8 min PR on a harder course and a 3.22 marathon, a 7 min PR on the run in 90 degree heat and high humidity!
So how can I be nothing but thrilled with my result!!!! It was not a perfect race but breakthroughs like this give you a sneak peak into success! It brings you one step closer to your dream!
Here I am at the finish with a BIG smile on my face!
So here is my recap!
As I arrived in Texas and rolled through race week I felt excited but very calm all week. My roommate Maggie Freeman and I both were very busy all week doing I'm not sure what. Apparently from her eyes I was training alot and from my eyes she was getting some much needed R&R from her hardcore police officer job as a sergeant in Manalapan NJ!
All week I was just pumped and ready to roll!!! I arrived Monday and would have been happy to race Tuesday and got things over with. But the week was used to relax and to get a little used to the heat as New Jersey has not had one hot day all year!
Here I am getting ready for a training ride!
This was going to be my 17 or 18th Ironman (I've lost track!). So you would think I would have this down to a science by now! But however many I do, I still get caught up in the magnitude of the upcoming event and the craziness of the day! Even when the locals would ask, " Now how far y'all going!" No matter how many times I say the 2.4 mile swim,112 mile bike and the 26 mile run...I still battle to comprehend the distance! There is no way around it....If you have not put the training in you are going to suffer....and even if you are as fit as you can be..you probably still going to suffer sooner or later.
This was going to be my first Ironman race with new Coach Jesse Kroplenicki. I have been happy with how my season has been progressing. I have not been choosing the easier races with the smaller fields. I have gone for all tough races with very competitive fields. Texas 70.3 was the National Pro race for the 70.3 distance and a star studded field, a 7th place finish in St Croix with another great group of girls and now IMTX our Ironman Professional National Championships! I love the pressure...the harder the better!
Earlier in the season we had debated me going to Utah. A race I really wanted to do...as I love tough races but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to be a part of this race! It was big, it was going to be hot and it had lots of points for the new KPR system for qualifying for Kona!
Jesse had devised a plan that I was very comfortable with and I was excited to execute it as I had my last two races. Of course that night all I could do was think about my race plan and I found myself , as Texans would say,"Sweating like a turkey before Thanksgiving!" I absolutely had the worst nights sleep and I rolled out of bed with that tired leg/body feeling.
I followed the usual prerace routine...
We headed out to transition super earlier as we did not want to deal with the parking mess. I was happy to find my Kestrel had not blown away and was dry, as they had been predicting rain for days yet there was none! After loading my nutrition which consisted of 3 bottles of First Endurance EFS onto the bike and my liquid shots I headed down to the swim start which was a mile away.
I truly was excited...never nervous to race! The key I believe is I felt so well prepared! Coach Jesse had taken all the guess work out of it. Give me a plan I will do my best to stick to it! I put the training in, my body was healthy, there was no need to be nervous I just was ready to go!
The swim start seemed to take forever! I waited to the last ten minutes to jump in the water and do a quick warmup. I scouted out the best possible position and once the gun went off my sprinting speed was good. I had no problem finding the girls I was hoping to hang with. The pace was very comfortable and the swim for the first time actually blew by. As we turned into the canal I thought I would see if I could pick up the pace a bit for the last 800m. I actually loved the swim course...there seemed to be a current that pushed us down the last canal. I passed around Desiree Ficker and Linsey Corbin probably pushing way to hard as I felt like I was doing an 800 TT, but the crowd surrounding the canal was just pumping me up! I loved it! As we came to the end I remember thinking I wish I had paid more attention in the pro meeting because I could swear they told us to go around a buoy. I felt like all the lights were on me and I must not mess up. Luckily as I got close to the end I saw the buoy they were talking about and headed around it. The adrenaline through T1 was amazing and before I knew it we were on our bikes heading out!
The air was thick and muggy as we headed out onto the one looped bike course! Linsey had flown out of transition and even Desiree I tried to stay with for a bit but I knew that it was a bit above where I needed to be riding on the bike. My legs were not feeling super. I was a little concerned that I pushed too hard on the end of the swim. But I was very patient. Actually for 50 miles my legs were not responding...but I waited....I knew they would come around! I have been in that place many a time in training...where all of a sudden they kick in. I was not going to worry about it. My legs did not need to feel fantastic, I just needed to stick to my plan and ride steady! Coach Jesse was out on the course and I wanted to tell him how my legs were feeling, but I opted not to. Instead I smiled and stayed positive! I actually was riding really relaxed as I was riding totally solo except for 1 or 2 age group guys that came flying by and at around mile 50 Tyler Stewart came by behind another pro guy and I attempted to keep them in sight. For about 5 miles I probably pushed a little harder than I should..I really enjoyed the course of flat and rollers,, wind and cool rain at times..
The miles really ticked by fast and around mile 70 my legs finally kicked in. I was riding with ease into a little headwind and working out that I could get a bike PR if I continued at the pace I was going. I have always wanted to break 5 hours but I did not want to risk anything by over exerting myself near the end. So I just let it be and knew it was going to be close....ended up missing it by 22 seconds!
It looks like I am grimacing here, but I was actually smiling as I am always happy to get off the bike without any mechanical issues!
I had no idea where I was positioned on the bike, so it is always good to come into transition and see a big empty rack!
Once again the crowd support coming into the Woodlands was amazing. So many Texans came out to support the event and people that were sitting in traffic were cheering instead of yelling and screaming!
Running out of T2 was probably the most exciting and stressful thing. I wish I had a picture of that. Jesse had me carrying all this food, liquid shots,Cliff blocks and I was holding my garmin and trying to switch it from bike to run while sprinting with my heart at a gazillion beats. I am not sure what happened but somehow I locked the Garmin and now I could not see a thing...the screen was locked and I was for the first time in the race having a little freak out! It's hard to stick to a plan when your device is not workin. I yelled out to Jesse and he yelled back for me to slow down and remember to pace. I still think I managed a smile and ran out onto the first loop trying to stay calm. So now I am running, trying to stay in control all the time trying to figure out how to unlock the garmin. It took me 4 miles to get the right combination of buttons and even though I had already devised a back up plan which was basically run on feel I was quite panicked. It turns out those first 4 miles without knowing what I was running was actually the fastest. 7.15 pace. Once I got the Garmin working I relaxed and settled into a more comfortable pace.
My second issue in the marathon was that my heart rate was coming in way to high....so I kept having to slow the pace down further and further. I was so torn as I wanted to run faster yet I knew I had to run steady. What I did not realize is that I had grabbed a gel and it had pushed under my heart rate monitor so it was not reading correctly. What it did make me do was run with in myself and besides an upset stomach later in the day.... I was feeling great out there. The course setup was perfect! Running through the waterway area was probably next to Hawaii one of the most fun runs I have been on. People lined the paths and it was 2 miles of much needed energy and I thrived on it!
It was getting very hot! As Texans would say, "So hot that the hens were laying hard boiled eggs!..lol" It was easy to get caught up with the crowd and not hydrate properly but I made a point of stopping a few times and grabbing 2-3 cups of sport drink and dumping water all over my head! My Avia Bolts were getting soaked but are so light they don't get weighed down at all!
I was getting alot of updates that the girls were slowing down up ahead so I just kept pushing each step and finally passed Dede and Joanna Lawn. I dropped my pace down to 7 minute miles the last few miles trying to catch Desiree but she saw me coming and picked up the pace as well.
It was such a great feeling taking that turn and heading into the finish chute. I was hoping for a PR on this course but I had no idea what my swim or run time was so when I turned the corner and saw 9hr27min on the clock I was ecstatic!. Wohhoooo I could not believe it! My previous fastest time was a 9.46 in IMSA so this was to be a 19 minute personal record!
Coach Jesse was there at the end and I am so glad he got to share in my happiness! It has been a long road to trying to make a breakthrough in Ironman and here it was! Three months earlier Coach Jesse had said with conviction, I have no doubt you will PR in IMTX and he was right! I believed him!
This was not my perfect race as I have room to improve my swim,bike and run....but it takes me one step closer to my goals!
Thanks to all the support and good wishes I received this week. My family and friends,My Trakkers/Rev 3 Teammates, the QT2 System family, Coach Jesse and my sponsors at First Endurance and Kestrel!
There are many things I attribute to my success at IMTX. The lead up into this race has been a strict nutrition program. My First Endurance products are key! Multivitamin, Optygen, EFS and Ultragen! 4 key products that ensure I have the best quality workouts and recovery! The Core Diet, Coach Jesse's Nutrition program that ensures I am getting good quality food to aid my recovery! My speedy Kestrel that helped me set an 8 min PR on the bike! A coach that believes in me and trusts my commitment to the sport and lastly the never ending support from my sponsors and family!
Looking forward to the rest of the season!