Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Leading into Ironman Texas this year I didn't have some great early season results to draw on for confidence. What I did have was a real desire to prove to myself once again that I could finish one of these. Last year I was dealing with some physical injuries that made both training and racing a challenge. This year I have still been dealing with some issues (there are a few miles on the odometer) but I have been enjoying training and the process of getting fit once again. I know I only have a few more of these races left in me so I want to go out this year with some good results and a return trip to Kona for one last crack at the Big Island.
I arrived in Texas to a great homestay. John, Robin, Jackie and their son Greg (who gave up his room for me) made me and my fellow homestay athlete Trevor Desault from France feel right at home. It was the perfect place to chill out and get ready. A huge thanks to all of them.
I was lucky to have two HPR team mates with me at this one. In fact, it was Greg and Daphne that convinced me to sign up for this race last year (or was it the other way around?). Anyhow, knowing I had a couple of my athletes out there with me definitely added to the experience.
The experience itself, I can sum it up quite easily. Swim was too slow, bike was where it needed to be and the run was slightly off what I am capable of. In the end that left me looking in on the top 10 by 1 minute.
The one thing I really wanted to do at this race was to get back to racing my race and not getting caught up in the often futile chase to get to the front of the race right away. Unless your name is Chris Lieto or Norman Stadler and you can hold 400 watts for 30 minutes this is an exercise in how to completely blow your race.
I knew I was way back on the swim, but I also knew I had some great bikers with me. We formed a very solid group. Drafting was not an issue at all as we had the same official on a motorbike riding with us the entire 180km. Our group slowly whittled down to about 5 of us at the end and it was actually a bit slow for the last 10km as we all were getting ready to race one another on the marathon. Still, I managed to get off the bike with a 4:30 split which is definitely my fastest Ironman ride by far. Onto the run and a couple of the guys got onto the course with very quick transitions. I started out with the intent of running a solid 3 hour marathon figuring that would move me up pretty well. I watched another couple guys from our group run away, but the gap was holding and I caught and passed German athlete Torsten Abel for 10th place with about 5 miles to go. We eventually found ourselves running shoulder to shoulder through the crowds in town for about a mile and then he pulled away with 3 miles to go. I was quickly going into damage control and hit that point where I just wanted to get to the finish. Truth be told I thought I was in 10th so that made watching him run away a little easier. When I got to the finish to hear I was 11th I was a little disappointed and started doing the "what if's". In all honesty though, I was done. I was just happy to keep upright and running over those final few miles. I even walked the last aid station to make sure I made it the final 800m.
All in all, a great race, a great course and a great experience. A big congratulations to Daphne and Greg who both had great races and overcame their own challenges to go on to 10th and 13th place finishes respectively.