Galveston went very well.
Thursday morning, we left from Chicago and headed towards San Antonio. But on the ground we went through lots of fun delays. First, was something about paperwork. Then, out of nowhere it started snowing and the pilot let us know that we would need to wait 15 to 20 minutes for the airport to come and de-ice the plane. We waited for at least that long and the sun came out. That must have been their cue to let us go, because we pushed back and went on our way.
The flight down was uneventful, I watched the Force Awakens and it was just as good the fourth time as it was the first.
Once in San Antonio, my sister in law picked us up and we went to the house. My mom was there and we did some chatting before I decided to put my bike together. It is a little more difficult to do without a stand, but it was relatively easy to accomplish.
Friday, we took a trip to a local bike shop for some quick last-minute needs. I got a bike pump and flat repair kit (just in case). The pump served us well over the weekend and it was something that Emily and I decided we would do at any race we traveled for going forward. In this case, we left it with my brother, but our intention is to just pass it around and let whoever lands with it at the end keep it.
That afternoon we drove to Pearland and spent the night there. It was a longish drive and we loaded in to the rooms and then got dinner. Nothing special, but a nice night to sit with family and talk about the weekend to come.
Saturday morning, my brother, Emily and I took off for Galveston around 8:00 so that we could get down to check in and get that done. It was an easy enough drive and we were able to check in relatively quickly (with the exception that I stood in a line for 10 minutes that I didn’t have to – READ THE SIGNS). With check in out of the way we proceeded to grab my brother’s bike and take it to a mechanic. He had noticed a ticking when he rode the day before and as it turns out . . . his wheel was out of true. Quick fix and we were on our way. But, bike check in couldn’t be done until later in the day, so we took the bikes with us.
We met up with the rest of the family for lunch at Saltgrass. Emily’s friend from Houston met us there as well and spent the rest of the day with us. While they hung out at the hotel and chatted, my brother (Andy) and I went to drop off the bikes and run the final errand (water).
Bikes were dropped off quickly and we stopped by Walmart for a couple of gallons of water, then it was back to the hotel. I took a nap and assume Andy did as well before waking up and figuring out what was for dinner. We landed on Mcalister’s for sandwiches and potatoes. The problem, they were out of potatoes. Too many athletes in town and they ran out of them. I settled for a Ceasar Chicken Wrap.
After dinner, Andy and I walked through his race bag, I checked mine and I was off to bed. It still took me a couple hours to fall asleep because I was so excited.
RACE MORNING – SUNDAY
Andy, Emily and I were out the door at 4:35. Emily was volunteering and I am a nervous race morning person, so it worked out. In transition, I hung out with Andy while he got stuff together and he asked questions. He was really well composed for his first race. With all of his stuff coming together, I walked over to my bike and got my spot figured out. While Andy was lucky enough to be at the end of a rack and have people around him not show up, I was next to the toilets and had a clear marker for where I was going to be. With all my bottles filled and my bike and run gear all laid out, I was off to the bathroom. I was far less nervous this time around and more excited.
I talked to Emily for a minute while she marked people coming in to transition and then went back to Andy to talk for a few minutes. Around 6:30, Andy and I left transition and headed over to the swim start!
In the past this is where I start to fall apart a little. In Austin I was able to gain my composure, but this time I was ok. Excited. All I really wanted to do was start. With about 15 minutes before my wave started, I ditched my morning clothes, put on my wetsuit, said bye to my brother and headed down to get in line.
Galveston is an interesting race. We lined up by our cap color, walked out onto the pier and then jumped in the water. It was in this line that I met a couple of really nice guys who were first timers. They were very nervous but both seemed quite ready for the challenge.
Jumping in the water was a shock. The water was colder than I expected. They called out the minute warning. When they signaled the start, my wave was off. I had a relatively straight start and I was pretty happy with my performance into the first turn. Just after the first turn is when my left goggle lens started to fill with water. It was annoying and I tried to fix it, but to no avail. I left it alone and just dealt with it the best I could. My swim became a bit zig zaggy until the next turn. During this time, I took on a lot of salt water and gagged pretty frequently. After the last turn, I cooked into the swim out paying close attention to continue swimming until the exit since they told me to due to the oyster beds.
My swim was great, and from Austin to Galveston I was 4M37S faster for a final swim time of 47:53.
T1 was a bitch. I tried to pull on my arm coolers, but it wasn’t happening. I put on my shoes and walked out of transition. Mistake one was not trying to get the sleeves on during training while I was wet. Mistake two was putting shoes on and walking out of transition. I should have had them on the bike and put them on in the first couple hundred yards. Lesson learned. T1 time was 5:25
On to the bike. This is such a great course. It’s quick and painless. Just a few turns and you are out onto the seawall and headed straight. There was so much great support out there. Police holding cars back and volunteers did an excellent job. I held to my power number the best that I could and I had a great time. For the first half of the bike, I felt like I was passing all kinds of people. This was a totally different experience from Austin.
In Austin, I can remember people passing me and not having anyone around for minutes at a time. This time I was always in a group of some sort.
Also, unlike Austin, the roads were awesome. The only place where roads were slightly worse than perfect was getting on and off San Luis pass. It was there that I witnessed the great bike bottle massacre of 2016. They were everywhere and it was as if no one had ever cared for them.
As I closed out the bike course I was still feeling great (thanks coach for making me stick to the plan). With about 1/10 of a mile to go, I pulled my feet out of my shoes and road on top of them until the dismount line. I had finished 3 bottles of tailwind, 1 bottle of water and 3 Clif gels. I was in good shape. Final time on the bike was 3:13:49.
Into T2, I was feeling good. I ran in so fast that I completely passed my rack and had to throw myself into reverse. I took a few steps back and found my spot, racked my bike, tossed my helmet and tied my running shoes as quickly as I could. I tossed on my visor and off I went, stopping only for sunscreen on the way out (I should have stopped longer). Final time in T2 was 2:23.
During the first mile of the run, I felt OK and I was running. I was running close to a 10 minute mile and kept telling myself to slow down or I was going to burn out. And there it was. Around the one mile mark, I started to fade quickly. I walked a little and ran a little.
Since the course is a bunch of out and backs, I was constantly seeing the same people. Since I was walking, I was able to hang with all of the other walkers. I tried to keep my pace below 13 minutes and I was able to do that until the second lap. On the second lap, I started walking full miles. I stopped at an aid station and ate a banana and felt mildly better, so I continued to eat bananas at every station.
By the last lap of the course, I was worn out. I ran when I could and finished the last two miles at a 13 minute pace. I saw Emily, my mom and my brother’s family with just over 2/10 of a mile remaining and from there ran in as hard as I could. It felt good to finish my second race and I feel like my time was a great achievement. My run time was 2:54:11 (not great).
My overall time for this race was 7:03:41. This accounts for a 1H10M reduction in my time between Austin and Galveston. I know that the argument can be made that they are 2 totally different courses, but I am proud to have cut this kind of time off of my race.
1. I truly appreciate the support of Emily, my mom, and my brother’s family (as well as my brother). It is amazing to have people there to cheer you on. I believe it makes a huge difference in morale.
2. Sunscreen and more sunscreen. I put some on before the bike and had the volunteer cover my arms when I started the run. This wasn’t enough. I should have really doused myself before I went for the run. The only place I wasn’t totally burned is the exact spot where the volunteer first hit me with the sunscreen. My head, arms and shoulders are completely burned.
3. This is a great course and a well organized race. The only problem I had was that when I finished, there wasn’t any pizza available. I was hangry and didn’t want to wait.
4. This was my brother’s first race and I was super excited to see him cross the finish line. It is a huge accomplishment to start racing this distance and he really did a great job.
5. Grease your pits for the swim. I had some serious chaffing under my arms. Next time I will be using some Vaseline.
Last year was a tough year for me. Running over the past several years, I had never been challenged to the point of quitting or being pulled out of a race. The challenge of racing became more difficult as Swim and Bike were added to the mix. Leading up to Elkhart Lake, I was concerned that I would have issues. I had done some brick workouts and I had swam the distance, but I had never gotten in a lake with several hundred other people. This scared me to death. When I finished this race, I was anxious to do more, even though there were parts of the race that were difficult.
Taking on Steelhead
After a semi-successful race at Elkhart, Steelhead was the next challenge (and the only other one on the calendar for the year). I prepared as I saw fit. I skipped workouts, I didn’t challenge myself to be better, I made do with my current level of fitness. When we got to Benton Harbor and it became real, I kept thinking to myself that it was all achievable. If I could make it out of the water, I might have to bike slow, and I might have to walk a bit, but I could do it. As I have posted about before, I was kicked in the water and ultimately pulled from the race. I can admit that I wasn’t prepared and that if not for the kick, I still don’t know that I would have finished the swim. I had never finished that distance before (even in the pool). I was a mess about it. There wasn’t anything that I could blame other than myself. It made me question my ability to compete in triathlon, at least at the longer distances. But the desire to cross the finish line at a full Ironman distance race was strong. After the race, I told myself I was going to wait to make a decision about racing again, and the truth at the time is that I didn’t know that I was going to.
Mustering the Courage to Race Austin
With Emily behind the idea, we picked up a coach and discussed our ability to train for and race Austin. I was worried, but had enough confidence in myself that I could do the work and make it happen. Our coach believed it too. He put me through the ringer and gave me workouts that made me uncomfortable. He challenged me to be a better athlete (a bigger challenge than he thinks it is). The trip to Austin had me nervous. I still felt unprepared. Ultimately, I finished the race and the best part of it, time wise, was the swim. That was surprising to me.
Why I Wrote This
I think it is important to have confidence in yourself and admit where you lack. In 2015, I lacked motivation and I lacked the will to do the work. So far in 2016, I am taking the workouts seriously and making sure that I meet my goals. My first race this year is another Texas race and I am very excited that I will be racing with my brother. I can’t wait to see him at the finish line and congratulate him on his first 70.3, as he did for me in Austin. Over the summer, I have a few shorter races and will be volunteering for the Door County 70.3 so that I can help support Emily in her quest for her first 70.3 finish. But the pinnacle this year will be finishing in Chattanooga and earning the title Ironman.
On Sunday, September 13th, we loaded the dogs and headed towards Madison to spectate at Ironman Wisconsin. Since Madison is over 2 hours from our house, Nick and I knew we wouldn’t make the start of the race. So we decided the best thing would be for us to leave in the morning to watch the athletes off the bike and the leaders of the pack cross the finish line.
We’ve been spectators at Ironman Texas, Ironman 70.3 Galveston, and Ironman 70.3 Racine. These races have ample space to bring dogs and still be in sight of the finish line. Although we had seen pictures and read about Ironman Wisconsin, we didn’t realize the finish line and area near transition were close quarters and not ideal for the dogs.
We arrived around noon and walked around, trying to get a close view of the transition area. We found a spot near bike out and waited for the leaders of the bike to begin their run.
We made our way down to the capital to find a spot a little calmer, as the dogs were getting a little antsy with all of the noise as the athletes made their way out of transition.
We grabbed a bite to eat, and found a spot in the shade to cheer the runners as they made their first (and second) lap around the capitol.
Sunday morning we left the house around 8:30am to spectate at the Ironman 70.3 Racine. We made good timing, until we turned off the interstate. We ran into the bike route, which caused a delay. Nick helped to navigate us, switching between viewing the race course and looking at a map to found a route to get us to the transition area of the race without causing too much delay. We finally parked around 10am.
As we walked toward the finish line, we heard the crowd cheering for the winner and reigning champion, Lionel Sanders. A few minutes later, Matt Chrabot clinched second place, followed quickly by Andrew Starykowicz.
As we waited for the leading women to arrive, we began chatting with a fellow next to us named Brent. He told us he was supporting a friend in the race, who was still on the bike, so Brent was watching the pros until his friend made it to the run. Turns out that Brent was supporting Fireman Rob who, to inspire others, runs the race dressed in full fire fighter gear. It was a pleasure talking to Brent and finding out more about Fireman Rob. Interestingly, he will be racing with us in August at Ironman 70.3 Steelhead.
The first female, Heather Wurtele crossed the finish line in 4:12:18. A little over four minutes later Angela Anaeth took 2nd, followed by Jackie Hering.
After watching several of the top finishers come through, we decided to walk around the course a little bit. Because the finish line and transition areas were in a park near the beach, the scenery was great and there was plenty of open space for people to wander as well as shade to find reprieve from the sun.
The run course began along the beach of Lake Michigan, making a double out and back loop. It was nice to being near the finish line, but still able to cheer on the athletes beginning their run.
Nick and I cheered as the athletes passed us by. There was plenty of motivation provided by the crowd along the way.
We saw PJ and his partner Dennis Vanderheiden, founder of Athletes in Tandem, a non-profit organization that provides a partner and equipment to athletes with a disability who are unable to compete on their own. Per their Facebook page, this was Dennis and PJ’s first half-Ironman race. Not too far behind them, I spotted Fireman Rob as he and a fellow athlete encouraged one another.
It’s truly amazing to watch these athletes as they race towards the finish line. All, from the pros to the average person, are so inspiring. Each individual has their own story of why they tri. I’m blessed to have witnessed these individuals and give them a little bit of encouragement along their journey.
When we got back to Wisconsin, it was time to decide on our big race for the season. We passed some ideas around and even considered racing separate events so that we had someone around to support us before, during, and after the race. It made a lot of sense when we first discussed it, but it also meant double the travel cost for races.
The two races we were down to were Ironman Racine 70.3 and Steelhead 70.3. We were sure we would do Racine, in fact up until this week, that was the race without a second option. Then we got to looking and decided Steelhead looked like a nicer location, a slightly easier course, and it is 3 weeks after Racine (who doesn’t want extra training time?).
So it is at this point that we want to let everyone know that we are going to race Ironman Steelhead 70.3 in August. We are signed up and committed and excited to do it!
Hello to anyone reading this weekend. . .
We are on our way to Houston for Emily’s race this weekend and as such, we won’t be posting on the site until Monday or Tuesday. We will, however, be posting on Twitter during the weekend. On Race day, Sunday, we will follow the athletes of the Ironman 70.3 Galveston and I will be posting about the Relay Team as they progress through the race.
I am very excited to support Emily and her team for this race (Team EEK).
Twitter – @cajunmile