Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ironman Texas 70.3 Official Race Report

Sorry this took so long to get up! I haven't had a minute to think since I arrived back in NY. I finally got a chance to go through all of the race photos. Phew!

This was an early season race for a New Yorker. Galveston, TX in early April is nice, not too hot for the locals, but HOT for a visiting New Yorker. I knew this going into the race and that was the gamble I was going to make, especially for another hot 13.1 mile run. Heat, by the way, is my Achilles Heal on the run. So training in cooler temps for a hot weather race is a tough thing to do. This past winter especially was a pretty brutal winter with LOTS of snow. Trust me, every time it snowed, I reminded myself of this race down in Galveston. BUT! I made sure to not let it get the best of me.

Ok, serious crap over with.

It was an AWESOME weekend down in Galveston! I met up with Jeff @ DangleTheCarrot and his wife, Annie @ RetailRunner, and they were VERY kind and generous to include my girlfriend, Kelly, and I into food plans and showing us the ropes of the good places of Galveston. Meeting other bloggers in the flesh is always cool. Its strange, you already know them by the time you meet them because how they present themselves online is usually how they present themselves in person. It is just great to have other people you know right there with you at a race. Totally takes a lot of the pressure off!

Me, Kelly, Annie, Jeff

Down in Jamaica Beach! We stayed in town.
 Jeff did the 70.3 (you can read his awesome race report HERE). Annie did her first triathlon at the sprint the day before. She did great and is hooked to do another! (her race report is HERE)

Pre Swim:
So when we landed, we literally got the rental car, and headed straight to a great lake 15 mins from the airport, Lake 288, and Jeff and I did a quick 1000 meter swim. We didn't even use our wetsuits the lake was so clean and warm. It was great! My arms felt FRESH. It was scary looking down and there were boats down there. I HATE being able to see anything in the water.

"Which way?"

Comparing tan lines....I have none!

Spectating the Sprint Tri:
On Saturday morning we spectated and volunteered at the sprint Tri. Annie did a wonderful job! It is so cool to see someone do their first attempt at the distance going into it a bit timid, and coming out of it totally confident in their abilities!

Way to go Annie!
We  handed out water at the first aid station coming out of transition on the run so it is always cool to be on the other side of things watching others race. It was pretty warm, but overcast, but I made sure to stay hydrated. This was a perfect opportunity to dehydrate yourself and kill your race even before it begins.

Stole this from Jeff! Thanks!
Pre Bike:
So other than the heat on the run, the other thing I was worried about was the wind on the bike. It was basically a sustained 20 mph southern wind during our entire stay here. THAT is a lot of wind! And because the bike course went east to west, it was a straight cross wind. With a ZIPP 808 rear and 404 front, that meant some possible handling issues. So I headed out to where Jeff was staying and we did a quick 25 min ride in both directions to test this wind out. It wasn't bad! So I decided to keep the ZIPPs on.

The night before the race we all headed to the Mosquito Cafe for dinner. Yummy place! I had my (now) usual glass of Malbec (hey! it has given me 2 PR's this season so far!)

Future superstars? I think so!!!

Pre Race:
Nothing too exciting race morning. Got the usual breakfast down and did the usual routine. It was just dark? Sorry! I got nothing!

Total Time: 5:03:26 (~5 min PR!)
Overall Placing: 222/2200 (top 10%)
Age Group Placing: 18/143 (top 12.5%)

Swim: 33:49 (1:36/100 yard pace)
This was an in water start. I have NEVER done an in water start. Ok, I lied, NYC was an in water, but all other races have been a run in or you are standing in the water. This was a fun start! You got to jump off a dock! But! Before I jumped in, I accidentally dropped my goggles on the dock. No big deal, I will just pick them up. Except! My goggles broke! CRAP! Um, its 2 mins before I jump in. Uuuhhhhhhh. PANIC! Fortunately the rubber gasket that lines the google popped off. Getting it back on was a bitch, but holy crap I thought this was going to be a painful swim only being able to see with one eye! Crisis averted!

After jumping in I felt the extra buoyancy from the salt water. Not only is the wetsuit buoyant, but the salt adds that much extra.

I'm somewhere in that mix...
Overall, this was a good swim. The chop out in the middle got a bit rough at times and I thought I was going to put in a slow swim, but I actually PR'ed the swim for the distance by breaking 34 mins finally. The long stretch of course went forever but after making the final turn it was 3 buoys and I was DONE.

OMG my legs hurt so bad to run!
T1: Running up the swim exit my legs hurt SO BAD. There was just no blood in my legs to run. Fortunately there were wet suit strippers.

Bike: 2:36:39 (21.45 mph avg)
This was an easy course. Flat, and 28 miles out, 28 miles back. Ok, it wasn't "easy" as that cross wind turned into a headwind on the way out, but an AWESOME tail wind on the way back.

Based upon the training leading up to this race, my wattage to hold would be 200 watts from beginning to end. This worked out perfectly. Riding with wattage helps hold you back, especially when riding into the wind where you can easily nuke your legs without knowing it.

After the right hand turn onto the sea wall I felt the brunt of the cross wind. I felt like I was leaning to a 45 degree angle to stay up! I was like, "Ok, if I have to concentrate this hard to stay up for the next 56 miles, I'm not sure how this is going to go!"

Fortunately after I got out of town the wind changed into a headwind and leaning to the side wasn't as bad. I was holding 22mph at this point and was figuring this was going to be an easy ride. WRONG! The headwind got worse and worse as the ride progressed. Mentally I couldn't wait for the turnaround. When I finally saw it had gotten myself all worked up to believing that there was going to be this AMAZING tailwind as a reward. Then I saw the looks on the faces of the folks who had already made the turn. They were still grimassing! CRAP! Another headwind?!?!?

When I finally made the turn, I was at 1:25:34 for 28 miles @ a 19.63 mph average and had held 213 watts. So not only was I pushing too hard, but I was going pretty slow for such flat terrain. All hopes of a PR faded.

Of course after the turn that loud scratching sound in the ears that you get from a headwind disappeared. Right there and then I said to myself, "TIME TO GET GREEDY!"

So I got back up to 200 watts and was doing 25+ mph!!! TAILWIND BABY!!!

So what took me 1:25+ to get out there only took 1:11:05 to get back @ a 23.63 mph average. THAT WAS FAST! And I was pushing 30 watts less with a lower heart rate. At one point I ran out of gears to push, even with a 53 x 11. Crazy!

My nutrition was a solid A+ for the day on the bike. Drink every 5 mins and eat a Gu every 30 mins. Ok, don't burn me at the stake for what I am about to write: I consumed a total of 40 oz of liquid total on the bike. Sorry! There were 300 calories of infinit mixed in with it! Prolly a stupid idea to not stop and get liquid.

T2: Ok this is kinda funny. I get my CYCLING shoes off and socks on. The right RUNNING shoe goes on, then I proceed to put my left CYCLING shoe on. Uuuuhhhhhh?!?!?!?.........yeah......

Run: 1:47:37 (8:12/mile pace)
The good thing about running into a headwind is that it keeps you cool. Unfortunately there wasn't enough of it during the run. So coming off the bike I held my usual pace effort. It was hot. I could feel it. The pressure in my head from the heat was already building. I knew I'd only be able to hold this pace for a few miles before that "switch" goes off and my body starts shutting down. I had a chat with my coach before the race and I told him about my troubles with heat and running. I suffer! He mentioned that better fitness is the best offense against the heat.

Well, I suffered a slow painful death and my splits show. There weren't mile markers for all miles, so I had to average some 3 mile splits.

Mile 1: 7:16
Mile 2: 7:48
Mile 3: 7:18
Mile 4: 8:17
Mile 5: 8:17
Mile 6: 8:17
Mile 7: 9:17
Mile 8: 8:37
Mile 9: 8:37
Mile 10: 8:37
Mile 11: 8:31
Mile 12: 8:02
Mile 13: 8:02

As you can see, I had had enough with the run and hit the gas as best I could for the final 2 miles. I paid for it in the last mile! I had 3 left calf muscle spasms. I was crossing my fingers it didn't turn into a bad cramp spasm that would totally lock my leg up. It never happened. I had never felt SO happy to cross that finish line. A four loop course in that heat just SUCKED!

Elated to have finished!
Had it been 10 degrees cooler, this run would have been a MUCH different story. Remember my last running race was in 40 degrees where it was impossible to overheat?

Overall, this run was a HUGE success. Heck, this ENTIRE race was a HUGE success! For it being my first triathlon this season and I shaved another 5 mins off in hot conditions is a milestone considering almost a year ago I went a 5:32:xx @ New Orleans in VERY similar conditions. 30 min time difference in one year? I can't even compare the fitness I have now compared to then!

Post Race:
Because I was on the earlier end of finishers, the massage tent was wide open. I wanted my left calf worked out. The nice massuese said she could feel the muscles still going nuts even as I was laying on my stomach. Then I went in search for food. I found it and no one was around except for a few workers. I had to ask, "Is this the food tent? Wasn't sure if it was for the pros or not?" It was and I grabbed 4 slices of pizza! haha!

I stumbled over to the first aid station where Kelly and Annie were handing out water. Jeff was still out on the course so I sat down and ate. After I ate they were short handed handing out water so I started handing out water to everyone! Beats sitting in a chair and getting all tight. It was pretty cool seeing these people duking it out in this nasty heat so late in the day. Fortunately the sky hazed up so they got some relief.

It was a good day :)

Congrats to Jeff and Annie for their finishes over the weekend. Also congrats to Shannon @ IronTexasMommy for her faster finish. She took off 1 whole hour from her time last year! Go Shannon!!!

So on the bike course we went past this place called Michael Burger, known for, what else? their burgers! Guess where we went for dinner that night? OH YEAH!!!

I got the deluxe burger with a beer and some sweet potato fries. The wind was HOWLING on us as we ate outside, but it was great swapping war stories with Jeff, Mike, and Bobby. Perfect ending to a perfect day :)


  1. Awesome race! Way to stick to your plan. It was awesome to follow your progress using the refresh button. Too bad the live results were a little screwy.

    You don't look that crispy in the pictures. Was it just localized to areas where your fingers couldn't reach?

    And finally, who's the tallest of the short people - you or Jeff? You might have a quarter inch or so on him. haha :)

  2. Woohoo! Congrats on an awesome race! That is crazy about the head/tailwind on the bike! What a difference a tailwind makes huh?? :)
    I can only imagine how painful your calf must have been! Ouch!
    Overall, it sounds like you had a great race though! Nice job with your PR..that is awesome!

  3. Great story. My coach chased me off of a southern early season half due to the heat acclimation challenges. Sounds like you worked through it fine. Well done!

  4. Man, you just dgot faster and faster. Way to pick that run up at the end.

    Great race!

  5. Again, awesome job! So when are you guys moving to TX??

  6. COngrats on a great race and another PR!

  7. Nice, kid! Awesome PR! I got a FB message from Matt letting me know you were cleaning up! I know you've been busting your ass in training, so I'm happy to see it pay off for you. Also glad to see the heat didn't keep you down. Congrats!

  8. Great RR Jon.

    You knocked the stuffing out of that course and you are going to do the same at IMLP.

    I can't wait to pick your brain on this whole wattage thing. I was emailing with Jeff and he was telling me about it. I think that is next up for me in terms of getting better on the bike.

    Enjoy the fruits of your labor and get ready to start training again.....

  9. Great race and great report, well done! Awesome that you could meet up with Jeff and Annie. I agree 100% with your coach. Better fitness is the best way to handle the heat. I’ve experienced that many times myself. Rest well!

  10. WOW
    what a race you had
    touch and go with the goggles! and that shoe in t2! haha

    seriously: 18 out of 143?!?!!! thats just totally awesome. great work...your training is going really well and your fitness level proved itself in TX. While you describe your run as a beatdown your time and pace was excellent. Great race all the way around....totally agree just a

    congrats on the PR


  11. Way to go, Jon! That sounds like you had an incredible race even though it was hot and windy. First race of the year and you smoked your PR by 5 minutes! That's just awesome. I bet it was cool to hang out with fellow bloggers. Good luck to you as you recover and keep training.

  12. Awesome RR and PR Jon. Just curious which run/heat was worse (RI 70.3 or this one)?

  13. Wow man, loved the RR.

    Glad even with some of the minor mishaps you stayed positive and still kicked butt out there! Very impressive splits and you performed pretty much how you expected too.

    You put the time in and have come a LONG way man. And good on you for manning a water station when you finished, very good karma there :)

    Keep up the good work, now that your season has started, keep that ball rolling!

  14. Congrats on the race, 19+ into a headwind, freaking amazing and the reward of the tailwind is even better. I admit, I melt going into a headwind, I cant hold that pace, I need to work on that

    AND...AND... you have moved way up in my books, I am a huge believer in giving back to the sport, not only did you volunteer the day before, but after your race you volunteered again!!! THANK YOU for doing that, I do that as well, I think more people need to as well.

  15. Great job and the race! That's quite an impressive ranking. The winds just haven't let up in Texas this past month. As I type this it's gusting over 30mph ...... again.

    Oh, and of course your left calf cramped --- it wanted to run in the cycling shoe! LOL, that would suck.

  16. Great PR! Extra great for your first race of the season AND Texas heat! Congrats!

  17. Incredible race Jon - and just the perfect weekend. All other race weekends will be average compared to this one from now on! Awesome time hanging with you guys and can't wait to do it again!

    Hope you and Kelly can get some rest now!

  18. Sounds like a great weekend and a great race! I always enjoy reading your race reports. What's next??

  19. AMAZING! What a race! All that hard work is paying off! I see a sub 5 in your very near future!

  20. You did awesome! Congrats! I bet more Liquids on the bike would've been better for you in the heat! You are going to rock it this year!! :)

  21. Great race report, hanging with bloggers is always the best! Congrats on such an awesome race, I'm glad you averted the crisis of the goggles! Hope you're gearing up for an awesome season, 'cause you're going to rock it!

  22. Great race! I am so jealous of that bike split!!! Early season races are hard for New Yorkers, I did NO 70.3 a couple years ago and the heat was hard to handle. We're delicate up here ;) Hope you're enjoying the recovery.

  23. I found your blog through Go Smitty Go! Congrats on a great race! I'm training for my first 70.3 and am interested in the nutrition aspect you mentioned to Matt. Was your nutrition during this race ideal?


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