Ironman Texas 70.3 Race Report

Hi Everyone!

Galveston went very well.

Galveston Finisher's Medal

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.

Our Support Crew

Our Support Crew

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.

Nick Galveston SwimJumping 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.

Nick Galveston BikeAlso, 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 Nick Galveston Runhave 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.

Final Thoughts

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.Tanlines

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.

Nick & Andy Galveston

5. Grease your pits for the swim.  I had some serious chaffing under my arms.  Next time I will be using some Vaseline.

Ironman Austin 70.3

Ironman 70.3 Austin

The long road is over.  The last 6 months were hard fought, though admittedly more hard since working with a coach, and I have now completed a 70.3.  Hopefully you are interested enough to read this long-winded writeup of my weekend and the race.

On Thursday afternoon, we headed to the airport.  While we were checking in, I took a conference call and was a little aggravated with it, but I let that go pretty quickly.  Once in the terminal, Emily and I walked around a bit and chatted with a few people when we saw a plane out on the runway with several (dozen?) emergency vehicles surrounding it. I didn’t think much about this plane, but we would later find out that this caused the airport to be shut down for 15 minutes.  This almost caused our plane to be rerouted to Chicago and would have been a significant delay.  As it worked out, our plane ran just a few minutes late, but once in the air had to dodge the storms so a two-hour flight stretched to three.

Our connection in Houston was going to be tough.  We would only have 15 or 20 minutes to make it to the plane.  We rushed through the airport and made it without any issue.  The flight was delayed, though none of the boards showed that.  Once we boarded the plane everything was great, right?  Wrong.  We sat on the runway waiting to take off for a full hour.  We landed in San Antonio just before midnight.  Our bikes came out at midnight and we met my brother outside for our ride.  That night we hung out and talked for a bit, but ultimately went to bed shortly after arriving at my brother’s house.

Friday morning we woke up and hung out with family for a while.  My brother left for work and it became time to re-assemble the bikes.  I removed everything from my bag and had a relatively easy time getting my bike back together with the exception of the front fork.  During its trip, somehow something got knocked around and the bearing had come loose and a cover had gotten stuck.  Not being a bike mechanic, I chose the only option I knew.  I took the bike to a local (ish) shop.  They were able to quickly correct the issue and didn’t charge me an arm and a leg for it. (Thank you to Sergio at Sun and Ski in San Antonio).  That evening we hung out and drank some beers, had some hamburgers, and watched a bit of a movie.

Saturday is when everything became more real for me.  That morning we woke up and packed the truck my brother was letting us use.  After our bags and our bikes were in it, we spent a few minutes with my family before heading up to Austin.  The drive was just under two hours, so we had plenty of time to discuss the race and our plans.  At this point we were kind of letting out how we were feeling about the race day.  On the way our coach called, he was racing also, and he asked if we wanted to get lunch on the way in.  We had another friend in town that we were meeting for lunch too, so we found a place and drove there instead of check in.

I have some big nervousness about these races.  I get wound up about ridiculous things.  In this case, I was totally fine until we showed up at check in.  When we got there, I started to freak out.  The line was long and the race briefing was about 30 minutes away.  I didn’t think we were going to make it, and this race had split transitions.  T1 and T2 were in different places and the finish was in yet another location.  I needed the race briefing to tell me what to do.  The line moved a little at a time and ultimately we made it through quickly and we were able to make the race briefing at 2, which was moved back to accommodate the Ironkids race (really cool of them to put these on and have hundreds of people cheering for the kids).

The race briefing cleared everything up for me and once we were finished we were on our way back to theTransition truck.  From there we needed to drop off our bikes, mandatory drop off on Saturday.  T1 was especially busy when we got there.  Cars were parked everywhere and people were walking down the road since there was nowhere else to walk.  We found the first available place to put the truck and parked, unloaded the bikes and headed to transition.  IT WAS A MESS!  Mud was everywhere and it filled my Crocs when I walked through.  Finally, I was at my rack and put my bike up.  There wasn’t much else to do, so I met up with Em and walked out.

Now it was time to get moving to a more relaxed spot.  We drove to the hotel.  We checked in and asked for the closest Walmart, it was just a mile or so down the road so we didn’t take our bags to the room, we just went there.  At Walmart, we picked up sweat pants (to battle the cold the following morning), electrical tape (to hold nutrition and tire repair to my bike), water (to fill bottles), and a few apples.  Now it was time to get back to the hotel.

In the room, I packed my morning bag (swim stuff to put on when I got there), my bike bag (helmet, shoes, and bike stuff), and my run bag (running shoes, hat, and race belt).  I took a shower and put on my race number.  I should mention that I purchased my numbers from TriTats and they worked out great.  I really liked it.  I understand that this costs money and that the Sharpie does the same thing, but this is what I chose and I like it.  After all of this was done, we walked to a sushi restaurant for dinner.  It was awesome.

Back to the hotel and sleep.

Sunday – Race Day

Rise and shine at 3:45.

Ate some oatmeal and got dressed, then left for the race site.

Sunrise Austin 70.3On site, I checked my run bag.  We ran into our coach there and walked with him to the bus for the ride to T1.  Once at transition, it was time to set up my bike and get ready.  I had pumped my tires the day before, but decided to check the pressure anyway.  The little pump we had sucked, but it would work, right?  Wrong.  I checked the front tires and it was fine.  Then I checked the back and put a little air in it.  When I unscrewed the presta adapter, it pulled my valve extender out with it and flattened the tire completely.  So I screwed it back in and had to start again.  The little pump took forever.  Then I unscrewed the adapter and, guess what, it pulled the valve extender again.  FUCK! (sorry for the profanity).  I put the valve extender back in and my coach saw that I was freaking out.  He borrowed a pump from someone else and I was able to get it back to pressure with no more issues.  At this point I could settle a little.  I used the port o potty and then it was time to put on my wetsuit and ditch my morning clothes.

Bike Set and Ready to Go

It was 6:45 and my swim wave was scheduled to go off at 8:25.  At this point I was going to have to stand around for almost 2 hours just waiting. That’s what we did.  We stood around and waited.  Freezing, shivering, talking and watching as other athletes went in the water.  I ran into a Regis Alum and talked to him for a few minutes.  It was really odd.  I can’t say that I have ever run into another alum outside of Colorado.

The waiting was coming to an end and Emily was having some nervousness.  I’ll let her tell you about that.  My nervousness was at a minimum, but definitely there.  I just kept telling myself that I had done it before and the swim was nothing to worry about.  It worked . . . a little.  My coach was in the wave before me so we split up.  I got in line with my wave and prepared to get in the water.

SWIM

Getting in the water and out of the 50 degree weather, it felt warm.  But only momentarily.  Once I was in the water for a few seconds it started to feel cold.  My worry and nervousness was in full swing.  I took in the back of the pack and told myself, “just stay at the back and on the outside, you’re fine”.  And that is what I did.  The horn sounded and we were off.  The first 2 hundred yards were tough.  I was cold.  My arms didn’t want to work.  Even the outside was crowded.  I ran into a few people.  A few people ran into me.  By the second buoy though, it had cleared up and I was in the clear.  I felt good.  I wasn’t looking at my watch, but I didn’t feel like I was making time.  I had conversations with myself about it.

“just stop, it’s not worth it if you aren’t going to make the cut off”

“keep going, force them to pull you out”

Ultimately I chose the second and kept going.  At the half way point I looked at my watch and I was at 22 minutes.  I was ahead of schedule!  By the second turn I was feeling strong and knew I was going to finish.  I wasn’t going to look at my watch anymore.  Just go.  With 4 buoys left to go, my left leg cramped, bad.  I couldn’t move it.  I through my arms up for help and it didn’t come quickly.  I freaked out.  Another athlete stopped and helped me out.  I wish I knew who it was so that I could thank him, it was awesome of him to stop to help.  The kayak came over and I held on until I could work the cramp out, then I was on my way again.  I got a little off course as the current took me inside the buoys.  The volunteers yelled at me to get back on course and I did.  As I got to the finish, I knew I had finished the hardest part of the course for me and I was excited to get on the bike.Swim Out

Swim time – 52:30 (8 minutes slower than I knew I could do, 8 minutes faster than my prediction)

T1

I jog/walked to transition, pulled the top of my wetsuit down and let the wetsuit peelers do the rest.

Once in transition, I stopped to pee.  It must have been all the water I drank on the swim. After 3 minutes of that, I was off to the bike.  I put on my helmet, arm warmers and shoes and headed out.  I stopped ahead of the mount line to take off my cleat covers (I was trying to protected them from the mud).  The volunteers yelled at me not to mount my bike, which I wasn’t, but I understand where they were coming from.

BIKE

I mounted the bike and readied myself for an easy first half.  The profile for this race showed a net downhill for the first half of the race, but for the first five miles I felt like I was just going up.  Up and Up and Up and never down.  I must have misread it, I thought.  I just kept going.  I wasn’t being passed a whole lot and I wasn’t passing a lot of people.  By mile 10 I had convinced myself that I misread the profile and that the back half would be a net downhill.  I was hurting bad.  I rode near another athlete for a bit who kept riding on the left.  I finally passed him and asked him to ride on the right so people could pass him.  He caught up to me and asked what I said, so I explained and he seemed to be ok with that.

I tried to eat like I had planned, but I had a hard time chewing and getting the food down.  Not sure what to do, I started eating when I felt I could rather than at my planned intervals.  (My coach won’t like this.)  I kept going and the internal conversation started again.  This time though, it was all about how I was going to make them pull me out.  Eventually we got some downhills, but every time that we did, we also had a reciprocating uphill.  No problem, just build speed on the down and let that carry you for some of the up.  It didn’t quite work like that, though.  Due to the road conditions, I had to slow down a lot at the base before I could start the up.  I was consistently on the small ring and my easiest gear to make it up the hills.

Bike no

At mile 40 I witnessed another athlete collapse off the bike.  I stopped with her.  I don’t quite know how long I was there, but eventually there were two of us there and I decided to ride on to find help.  2 miles later, I found an officer with a radio.  I stopped and told him what happened and where the athlete was.  I was really excited when I saw her on the run later in the day.  Glad she was able to walk/ride it off and keep going.

I was in the back half of the ride and thought there was no way there could be any more giant hills.  But that would be wrong.  My brother has a saying “what goes up . . . can always go up again”.  And that is how it felt.  I kept going up hills.  On the last hill (I didn’t know that at the time), I was going so slow I had to dismount my bike and walk up.  That sucked.  With just 6 miles to go, I decided that I just needed to keep going.

Finally, I could see transition and my watch said I was at 55.5 miles.  But transition was further than a 1/2 mile.  It freaked me out.  I must have missed a turn.  There was another rider with me and I asked him.  He said we were on track and the last couple turns were ahead.

Getting My Feet Out of My Shoes

Bike Time – 4:17 (this was 45 minutes longer than my prediction and I expended a lot more energy than I wanted to)

T2

Getting to the dismount line, I pulled my feet out of my shoes and kept pedaling.  I got off at the dismount line and was off to my run back.  When I racked my bike it seemed like I had to have been the last person in.  I pulled open my run bag, grabbed my long sleeve shirt (I was still really cold) and my body glide (which I generously used on my arms that felt very chaffed).  I pulled on socks and shoes and was off.  I ran, too fast.

RUN

This is where the race was going poorly.  I cooked at the beginning, but I couldn’t keep it up.  By mile 2 I was running 1/10 of a mile and walking a 1/4 mile.  When I got to the park for the first time, I didn’t think I would make the third loop cut off, but I kept going.  My family from San Antonio was supposed to come up, but I hadn’t seen them yet and there was very little support on the course by way of spectators.  I came back to the turn around for lap two and I was feeling terrible.  The crowds cheered my name and told me to keep going, so I did, but I still didn’t feel well.

I caught my coach during my first lap and he looked good.  He yelled at me.  I don’t remember what he said, but I recall seeing him.

Run 1

Every time I ran, my stomach hurt.  I wanted to finish and got back to my conversation.  MAKE THEM PULL YOU OUT.

At this point, I was coming up a hill for the first lap turn around and my brother yelled my name.  I saw him and my niece.  I was ecstatic.  I was so happy to see someone I knew.  He took a few pictures and as I passed I asked him to check on Emily.  I couldn’t wait to find out, I needed to keep moving, but I would find out on the second lap.

Re-energized, I kept moving.  One lap at a time is what I thought about.  Just finish this lap.

At the park again, the volunteers were good.  They were playing music and other athletes were encouraging as well.  I made my way out of the park and back to the arena on lap two mostly excited to see my family again.  When I ran through the crowd, they cheered my name again and made some jokes.  It made me feel better.  By the time I got to my brother again, the family had grown.  It was now my sister-in-law and my nephew as well.

I knew at this point I would finish, it was just a matter of how strong it would be.  My brother told me that Emily didn’t have a bike split and I told him to text her.  If she dropped or was pulled out, certainly she had her phone by now.

I had one lap left and I was going to push as hard as I could, which wasn’t much at this point.  I ran, I walked.  I slowed down to talk to another athlete.  He told me that he had been missed the swim cut-off, but wanted to finish anyway.  I was encouraged that he was motivated to finish even though he wouldn’t get a time for the race.  I pushed on.  I hit the final aid station.  I filled my water bottle and drank most of it.

When I hit the loop for the last time, I got to turn right instead of left.  I cruised around the arena and then started inside.

I ran in and made it to the finish line.  I saw my wife and my coach near the finish and my brother and his family in the stands.  I was done.


Run Time – 2:51 (terrible, but I finished.  13:04/mile, way slower than normal)

Nick Austin 70.3 Finish Line
Finish Line

My brother brought me a beer and my coach congratulated me, as did Emily.  I saw Fireman Rob at the finish line as well, and he congratulated me and I him.  While I was very happy to be done for the day, I am also very excited to race again.

IMG_0102

Galveston 70.3 Relay Race Report

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.IM Galveston 70.3 Relay

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.

IM Galveston 70.3 Relay

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.

IM Galveston 70.3 Relay

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.

IM703TX Relay3

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.