|Custom Ironman Woodlands, TX tees designed by Steph at SOAS racing. Our names are in there!|
At 3:30 a.m. the alarm reminded me how stupid Ironman sounds sometimes. 3:30...really? YES. So we get up and take care of business. We breakfasted, sunscreened, braided, internetted, coffeed and gathered our special needs bags.
For breakfast, I had:
1/2 cup oats (150 calories)
1 stonyfield farms berry yogurt (140 c)
1 banana (qt least I think I had a banana) (90c)
Lots of coffee
So this part of breakfast was about 380 calories (i'm keeping track because I never write it down and I always forget)
The swim: (2.4 miles- 1:06:07)
James and I got to the swim start with plenty of time to get body marked, drop our special needs bags, put on our swimskins, body glide every possible inch of our bodies, and chill out. During this time, I ate an almond Pure Fit bar (220 cal) and had a Powergel Caffe Latte (100c) 10 minutes before we got in the water. So my total pre-race calories were around 700.
James wanted to get in the water at 6:45 (15 minutes before the start).I didn't want to get in yet, but I also thought it would be nice to start together, so I sucked it up and got in. The water felt cold and we were close to shivering for 10 minutes hanging on the big red start buoy.
When the gun went off, I decided to stay on James feet as much as possible. The swim start had a lot of contact as you'd expect, but starting on the front line paid off and it really wasn't so bad. the swim is about a 3,000m out and back in a small lake, and then you hang a right and swim the last 800m through a narrow canal. After 400 or so, I was still right behind James, but he was veering right and I was kind of putting in more effort than I wanted at that moment, so I let him go. About 5 minutes later, I looked up and he was close by, so I decided we should just stick together (and by stick together, I mean I decided I should let him do all the work and I should follow blindly). I made this decision because he out-swam me at California 70.3 by 2 minutes, so if he is the "better swimmer" right now, I should be fine just going on his effort. We rounded the first turn buoy and I though it was so cool we were swimming together I kept waving with my recovery arm and even said "Hi!" . I thought I might be pissing him off, but to me it was hilarious. I swam on his feet the rest of the time. I think it took more effort to follow him than to just stay my course, but I also thought it was great we'd end up together. Honestly, it was a very easy pace. I think part was that I had an excellent draft, but also, the pace seemed easy because we were often "locked in" by other swimmers. Especially in the canal, there was nowhere to go, so by that time you were pretty much stuck with the pace of the masses. In Kona, I think James and I could swim together again, but next time, we'll work out how to take turns with each other and actually increase our speed by working together. I think the fact that I stayed with him was a big surprise, but it was SO COOL to exit the water and cross the timing mat at the EXACT same time, with Mike Rielly announcing our names together. I didn't know our time, so ear to ear smiles all around.
Looking back, I am not stoked on my swim time. I know I can swim faster. But I was totally messing around. However, I wouldn't change a thing. Chasing James around and exiting with him was the highlight of my day. Maybe if I had done a little work, we both could have gone faster...
|Lake Woodlands (Thank you , Rachel, I stole some pics :))|
|Swim entrance- photo credit Nils Nilsen|
|Swim Start- photo credit Nils Nilsen|
My goals in transition were to improve on my Kona 4-ish minute transition times and just get in and out. I did my best to do this and the volunteers were EXCELLENT (although they put my helmet on me backwards, but that was a quick fix). I grabbed my bike and ran out of T1, noticing the time said 1:18:XX..It took me about 70 miles of the bike to correctly do the math on that one [ 1:06 swim + 2 min transition +10 minute pro head start on clock= 1:18:xx].
The bike- 5:18:23- 21.1 mph
The surprising best part of the day! The forecasted win was about 15mph from the south. Our bike course was one big 112 mile loop that headed dead north and then dead south. I expected a nice tail wind heading out, picking up throughout the day to a strong headwind for the return half. My race strategy was to conserve energy heading out, and to really go for it on the way back. As predicted, the first half of the bike felt easy. I was cruising at fast paces without too much effort. I looked at both heart rate and watts for the bike. I wasn't tied to certain numbers, and was more playing the speed vs. perceived effort game. My perceived effort was low and I was having fun! The course was really beautiful, rolling, and I was pleasantly surprised there were no drafting packs. At times, I saw 2 or 3 men together, but never a throng of cyclists. Prior to the race, I had visions of being passed by swarms of people and watching age group women float by on the tails of these groups. This did not happen! I think that the course was fair due to 1) ONE loop 2) enough rollers to spread people out 3) varied swim times that put people out on the course in a dispersed manner and 4) a good presence of draft marshalls. I did see one or two guys get busted for drafting, and probably saw the moto all throughout the day.
Okay, back to the course. Around mile 25 I saw Hailey. Hailey is a friend in my age group who seems to pick nearly all the same races as me (we've done our first 3 Ironmans together- St. G, Kona, TX). We are fairly similar in the bike abilities department and she usually beats me out of the swim by a minute or two. I was thrilled to see Hailey doing her thing and minutes after I passed her, she passed me back! YES! Hailey and I legally leapfrogged through the Sam Houston National Forest and I was glad to have her company. We were the ONLY people we could see for quite a while- the course felt empty! At one point, Hailey said, "We're either doing really great, or really bad because there is no one out here". I told her we were doing great. Hailey and I played our game until about mile 70 I think when she stopped at an aid station and I rolled on through.
Backing it up, we made the turn at 56 miles to head south back towards the Woodlands and I was prepared for the wall of wind. It was there, but I was still able to push 19/20 miles an hour without over exterting myself. 20 miles later, this headwind seemed to miraculously disappear. I know it was still there, but it was NOTHING like what I had prepared myself for. Around mile 90, I did the math and realized this was going to be a very fast bike day for mile (and probably everyone else). Rolling back through the Woodlands, I was leapfrogging with another man who said in a Texan drawl, "Miss Beth, Can you run like you can ride?" This will go down as one of my most memorable moments in history. This is the moment when for the first time ever, someone probably looked at me and thought of me as more of a cyclist than a runner. I laughed and smiled ear to ear. As I rolled back into transition, I could not stop smiling. I knew that if I ran faster than 3:30, I could break 10 hours today! The question was, had everyone been going this fast? Were there a whole bunch of girls to run down?
When I looked back on my other races, I didn't have this written down and want to remember..
I had about 4 bottles IM Perform (600 cal)
2 EFS liquishot vanilla gel flasks (800cal)
1 bag sports beans (100 cal)
about 1500 calories on the bike total. I actually think I could go for 2-300 more.
|riding through the Texas prairie|
|racing the bike!|
I ran into T2 SO excited to get the run started. I felt great and thought that for sure I could knock out a 3:10-ish marathon. In the tent, I fumbled in decided whether to go with my headband or visor. I think I should have chosen the visor, but oh well. The volunteers said, "You're the second amateur woman". NO WAY. I was prepared for this scenario around mile 15 of the run, but off the bike? 2nd woman? I knew right away that the girl leading the charge was super Zoot athlete Jennifer Sloan. Jen and I met in Kona last year and she beat me by 5 or 10 minutes. I knew she was tough and is capable of putting together great days.
The run- 3:23:05
when I replay the run in my head, "dying a slow death" is the only thing that comes to mind. I started out okay. My heartrate was in the low 160s and I was running right on 7:00 pace. But, the miles didn't feel easy the way they did in Kona. I grabbed my red bull in T2 and prayed to the red bull gods to give me wings.
|this is gonna hurt. please ignore the growing bloated stomach|
The run course is 3 loops on mostly concrete. Lap one, 8.5 miles went as planned. I just kept chugging away but I did NOT feel great. The run course was deserted at this point and I just wanted to stop everytime I hit an aid station. Each volunteer oasis was filled with friendly voices, encouragement, tasty cold drinks, ice, and sponges. I didn't want to leave! In between aid stations were empty sidewalks, sweltering heat, and dying runners. I caught up to Jen around mile 3. She looked to be moving pretty good so I made a pass and tried to make it stick. Jen's husband, Chuck, was all over the course. The great people they are, Chuck was also cheering me on as I passed. I made note of what Chuck was wearing because I knew I'd have to "look presentable" every time I passed him so that he didn't report to Jen that I looked like a dying animal and she could catch me. Around mile 6, 18, 24 there is a short out and back where you can see anyone within 4 minutes of you. When I got to mile 6, Jen looked pretty strong, about 2-3 minutes back. I thought she was gaining on me.
During the second lap, I started walking through aid stations when I needed to. My pace was edging closer to 7:30s/8:00s and they felt HARD. I kept getting the chills/goosebumps and didn't know why. I willed myself to the halfway point and then to the end of lap two. Jen was a little farther behind I thought, but I couldn't really tell. Lap 2 started to be crowded as others came off their bikes. Nobody was moving quickly and lots of people were walking. As I started lap 3, I saw Martha, which made me excited, but I still felt as though I could barely move. I knew that there was a possibility I would be caught and passed on the run. I just kept going. My 7:30s turned to 8:30s and my legs started seizing up. I saw Sonja & Patricia out there, as well as Rachel and my usually chipper/cocktail party M.O. on the run was deduced to some negative nancy comments, "Hi! This run course sucks!" (Sorry guys, I'll try to clean up my attitude next time). The last lap was all about not totally blowing it and still trying to make it in under 10 hours. The last 6 miles were a 4th grade math class in my head, "If Beth has 5 miles to run and 47 minutes to make it in under 10 hours, what pace does she need to run?" I knew that if I could just stay under 9 minute miles I would make it. 9:00 became by new 7:00 and I just managed to the finish line. I saw the clock said 10:03 (pro start, so the clock had 10 extra minutes, so was 9:53) as I hobbled down the finish chute and I knew I made it! For the first time, I enjoyed the finish chute, slapped some hi-fives and listened to Mike Reilly say, "Beth Walsh, you are an Ironman!"
|love the Sherrif's badge finisher medal!|
|Thanks to Kerri/Tom for the screen shot of my finish! Fist pump for breaking 10!|
All in all, it was a great day. I had a break through race on the bike for me. Yes, the bike course was fast and easier than the others I have done, but my relative performance was MUCH improved. I was 10th amateur woman out of the water and passed 8 of these ladies on the bike, getting passed by none (except Hailey a few flip flops in the race). I had the 5th fastest AG woman bike. That's big for me. I'm still 15-20 minutes off of a solid PRO bike split, but the progress is there and that's what I'll remember. Somehow, I still managed the fastest amateur run with a 3:23, so I guess that everyone was blowing up as much as I was. However, my run left much to be desired. I need to work on finishing strong in hot conditions for Kona.
The next day, I attended my first ever Ironman awards banquet (so for D, who calls me a sandbagger :)...this was my first one ever- let me enjoy!!!)
|Awards banquet 30-34 podium|
|The San Diego crew! James, me, SOAS Stephanie, Kim & Mike Rouse (LEGENDS!)|
Race Day Wheels helped James and I out big time for this race and it's a local company with a great service..Check 'em out'! They're at many of the Ironman & 70.3 events nationwide!
Zoot for the best wetsuits, compression and shoes! I now have a 3- Ironman streak of fastest amateur run- all in my Zoots...
Dan the A.R.T. man keeps me working and irons out the creaks and niggles before they every become creaks and niggles. Bryan and the Rehab United crew for the strength and the core to keep good form to the finish. Nuttzo nourishes us with the "good fats" during training and Powerbar keeps me truckin' on the course.