Race Weekend – Friday
Nick and I flew out Friday morning, arriving in Houston around noon. We met up with some old colleagues and had lunch at an Indian restaurant. The food was good, a little spicier than my stomach could handle.
We picked up my friend Kellie and headed to The Woodlands Mall to do a little shopping and waste some time. Then we went to Market Street and had a few drinks and an appetizer at Jaspers.
We met my parents at PF Changs for dinner. We visited with them for a while then returned to Kellie’s house for the evening. We hung out until about 11pm when we all turned in for the night.
Race Weekend – Saturday
Saturday morning we met my parents at Another Broken Egg for breakfast in The Woodlands. We said our goodbyes, they wished me luck and went back to Kellie’s house to pack up and head south to Galveston.
Our plan was to check in at the hotel, then meet Elizabeth for athlete checkin. We couldn’t check in to the hotel until after 3pm, but they did keep our bags for us. We drove over to the race site and waited in a pretty long line for check in. It rained a bit while in line, but the mood was good. We were all pretty excited about the race on Sunday.
After over an hour in line, we got to the check in table only to be told the relay check in was at the back of the tent (with no line). A little frustrated, the three of us went to the Relay table to check in. We signed waivers, received our bibs, and were told to go to another table for the timing chip.
At this point, it was after 2pm, which was the time of the last mandatory athlete briefing. We walked outside to the finish line to hear the remainder of the athlete briefing. Once it was over, we went back into the athlete tent to get our t-shirts and goodie bags. At yet another table, we were given our timing chip. Finally, checkin was complete.
The three of us wanted to check out Ironman Village for a little while. We each bought a few items. Who doesn’t want a shirt with their name on it? By this time, we rounded up everyone to head back to the hotel to check in and get ready for our 4:45 dinner reservation.
Nick and I got in the room with 10 minutes to refresh and meet everyone in the lobby. Unbeknownst to us, there was a rasta festival outside of the hotel and at least 3 weddings going on that evening. Oh, good.
We walked about a mile and a half away across the island, to dinner at Olympia Grill. The food was pretty good. While at dinner, we realized none of us had eaten lunch which explained why we were all so hungry. Rookie mistake.
Nick’s brother and family met us at the restaurant. Once everyone was finished eating, we were going to walk back to the hotel, with the exception of Nick’s brother, who was going to stop by the grocery for beer then meet us at the hotel. I asked him to also pick up some protein bars and bananas. This was probably the best decision I made all weekend, I just didn’t know it yet.
When we arrived back at the hotel, we asked the front desk about breakfast Sunday morning. They assured us at 5am there would be a spread of fruits, bagels, danishes, etc. available in the lobby to accommodate the athletes staying in the hotel. Around 8pm we had a few beers and visited with family and Elizabeth’s husband. I was greeted with a bag full of protein bars and six bananas for in the morning. At 11pm we called it a night and everyone left the room. It was time to relax and get some sleep, or at least try.
Race Day – Sunday
I tossed and turned all night, I was really anxious and unable to stay asleep. I was awake around 4am, thanks to someone banging on the door across the hall. I laid in bed for a few more minutes, then got up and began to get ready for the race. Before leaving Wisconsin, I packed a “race bag” with all of my clothes, shoes, accessories, and nutrition. This was a lifesaver! I didn’t have to dig through my suitcase, everything was right there.
I met Kellie and Elizabeth downstairs at 5:30am. I asked if they got any food from the hotel. Elizabeth was eating a banana from the hotel food table, which cost $2. There was also toast and jelly available, but they didn’t see much of anything else. Great, so the breakfast spread for the athletes was a joke, and they charged for it. I pulled a protein bar and a banana out of my bag and called it breakfast.
We drove to the race site. Parking was nice, there were people directing traffic. We got our bodies marked and checked Elizabeth’s bike. We wandered around for a bit, visited the porta-potties then headed over to the swim start. On our way there, everyone in front of us stopped walking and silence filled the air. Everyone respectfully stopped, and in the distance you could hear the Star Spangled banner being sung. It took my breath away.
Galveston 70.3 Relay – The Swim
The three of us found a spot on the beach and talked for awhile. The starting gun went off and the race began. The course was a point to point. Before long, it was time for Kellie to line up with her swim wave. She was the last wave at 8:15am, with the exception of the athletes who chose to wear wetsuits.
Kellie was out of the water in 48:23. A good swim. And if I recall correctly, her prediction was 45-50 minutes. She was right on target. She ran into transition, gave the tracker to Elizabeth who then unracked her bike and was off. T1 time was 2 minutes 14 seconds. Elizabeth was on the road by 9:06am.
Galveston 70.3 Relay – The Bike
Next we played the waiting game. Elizabeth predicted her bike to be 3 hours, 10 minutes. The bike course was an out and back the length of the island (making it virtually impossible to get pictures of Elizabeth on her bike). We hung around the run course and very quickly saw the pros began their run. I was supposed to find something to eat for lunch, but all I saw nearby was pizza. Pizza did not seem like a good idea, since my stomach was unsettled and my nerves were in high gear. I chose another protein bar for lunch. I also drank several bottles of water while waiting and gatorade to try and stay hydrated in the heat. The sky was overcast and it was hot, but it never rained on us.
At 11:20am, I started making my way to the transition area. Kellie met me there. I changed shoes, applied sunscreen and then waited in the relay pen for Elizabeth. Right on time, Elizabeth entered transition, bike time 3:10. Amazing, right on time! She racked her bike, then ran toward the pen, where I was waiting to take off her tracker. Elizabeth later told us she hit some rain, which brought 8-10 mph headwinds on the way back.
Galveston 70.3 Relay – The Run
The tracker was now fastened to my leg and I was off. I sprinted out of transition. T2 time was 1 minute 19 seconds. My goal for the race was 2 hours and 30 minutes. The run course was three laps with two out and backs per lap. I planned on watching only my heart rate and basing my pace off of it. Once out of transition, I tried to run comfortably. I was having a hard time finding the right pace, I was passing people, people were passing me and all the while we were crossing people going the other way. I glanced at my watch, my heart rate was 200 bpm. Whoa, I needed to slow down. My legs wouldn’t though. The more I tried to slow down, the harder it was. I couldn’t find a rhythm. Everything was moving around me and I couldn’t gauge anything. At 1 mile, I glanced at my watch again, 205 bpm. I had to slow down or I was going to have a heart attack. I’ve never seen my heart rate over 180, and now I couldn’t seem to get it below 200. I knew I was nervous and it was hot on the course, attributing to a higher heart rate, but there was no way I could keep up this pace and still cross the finish line.
Around 1.5 miles was the second water station, and my supporters. I grabbed some water and ice was able to cool off a bit, and get my heart rate in the 170s. And the run went downhill from there. The sun appeared and was beating down on the course. The air was already humid from the threat of rain early, and now the sun was making it worse.
I had to start walking before the 2 mile mark. This was ridiculous. I had trained, with hills, and was prepared to have a good day. I knew the heat would be a battle, but I didn’t expect this. I told myself it would get better, I always hate the run until about 3 miles in. So I kept my legs moving.
I got to the next water station and poured water on my head. Ah, that felt better. At the 3 mile mark, the volunteers were handing out cold, wet sponges. I took one, wiped my face, and then wrung out the water over my head and torso. I also began taking ice water and putting ice down my shirt to cool off. I just couldn’t beat the heat.
With a little water and my body feeling cooler, I found some energy. That’s what I needed, just to cool off a bit. My run felt better, I could do this. I was going to run the next 10 miles. This feeling lasted until the hydration station was no longer in sight. I needed more water, I was beginning to overheat again.
Thus began the battle in my head. I wanted to stop. I wanted to give up. But I couldn’t, my teammates had completed their portion of the race, I now had to complete mine. My head told me to walk the rest of the way. I fought the urge. I kept running.
With just over 4 miles complete, I began lap two. I told the demons I was going to finish this. I had to finish this race. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty, but I knew I could do it. I looked around and I was just as drained as the other athletes who had completed a swim and bike prior to this run.
At the hydration station just before mile 5, a girl was standing with a gallon jug of water above her head, offering to pour it on athletes. Yes, please. I didn’t quite think through this decision. It felt amazing, a cool splash of water dripping down my body, but now I had to deal with sloshy shoes the rest of the race.
Around the 6.2 mile mark, I saw my cheering section again. They moved a little further down the course and were now on a hill in the shade. I got an energy boost. I told myself I was almost halfway. I began counting down the miles as I went, “less than a 10K to go,” and “6 miles left,” etc. To be honest, I don’t remember much of lap two, my head was so foggy. I know I had an extra pack of chews in my belt and by the end of the second lap I was rationing what was left.
As I neared the third lap, I could feel the energy of the crowd at the finish line. I perked up, I only had one lap to go. My legs weren’t tired, my body was just overheated. I would keep doing what I was doing, running when I could and walking to cool down and get my heart rate under control. I continued walking at the aid stations and taking in more water and ice and small sips of gatorade.
At the first water station on lap 3, I was walking alongside a guy. We chatted a little, and he told me this was his first 70.3. I congratulated him on his accomplishment. Then we began running, but I couldn’t keep his pace. So I watched him disappear into the distance knowing he would soon have bragging rights to his first half ironman. I felt like a brat, struggling to complete half marathon, when this guy had already completed 57.2 miles and was happy to be there. I told myself to stop my pity party and finish this race, and be grateful for doing so.
With approximately 3 miles to go, I saw Nick taking pictures of me and my teammates cheering me on. Tears began to fall down my face. I felt like I was letting them down. I was much, much slower than I anticipated. I was aware they were tracking me via the Iron Trac app because we had downloaded it when Elizabeth was on the bike. Although I wasn’t watching my splits (I couldn’t bear to be even more disappointed in myself than I already was), I knew they were. I was having an awful race and both of them had such a great race. I later found out at one point they were certain I had stopped to use the bathroom, that’s how slow I was moving.
Nick yelled, “Only three miles to go!” I yelled back, “I know!” which came out much harsher than I had intended. The next time I would see them would be at the finish line.
I kept telling myself, “It’s just a 5k, I can do this.” I ran as much as I could, which wasn’t much at all. I made downhills work for me, giving me a boost in speed and a small victory. I ate my last chew and tried to keep a positive attitude.
Before long, I hit mile 13. Just before the chute, I was running again. The crowd was cheering and I could see the finish line ahead. I began running faster and faster. I heard the announcer call our name “Team EEK!” as I crossed the finish line. The run was 2:59, almost 30 minutes longer than I anticipated.
Galveston 70.3 Relay – Finisher, Team EEK!
The race was good. The race was bad. We finished, and really that’s all that really matters.
I collected our medals and hats and smiled for the camera. I met Kellie and Elizabeth, handed them the goodies and made my way out of the chute. The three of us immediately put our hats on our heads and medals around our necks. We took pictures in celebration of our finishing the race.
We quickly made our way to the athlete tent for food and drinks. Then we found some shade to sit down and relax and enjoy our meal. After rehashing the day, we said our goodbyes and began the journey home.