This is a bit overdue... you can blame work for that. And look - I finally got the name right. I still prefer Lone Star or Galveston. "Texas" is so generic.
This race is a 2-day festival with the sprint and oly distance on Saturday and he 70.3 on Sunday. This is the first year that this festival had was wrapped under the Ironman logo. I did the Quarter IM last year and had a good time (except for the run) and was looking foward to the HIM this year. Plus, this was a good confidence builder for the Boise 70.3.
We headed down to the island for packet pick up - got there about 4 PM. Check in was definitely more complicated that other races I've done. First you show your ID and USAT card - the volunteer at the desk marks your hand with an X and hands you 2 waivers to sign. Go to table #2 to sign waivers. Go to table #3 to hand in waivers. Proceed to table #4 to get your goodie bag and packet, plus you got a wrist-band with your race number put on your wrist. Proceed to table #5 to get your t-shirt. Except, they were all out of my size, so I was asked to put my name on a sheet of paper and they'd maybe send me one eventually. We also got a pretty decent white running hat. No water bottle, which was odd. We toured the Expo tent, and it was a disappointment. The year before, there were local vendors, but I guess with the M-Dot branding, only "the" Ironman vendor or sponsors were allowed in. pffft. We checked out jerseys and stuff, but the "Texas" stuff was blah. We decided to hold off until Boise to buy race stuff, mainly because Boise is more unusual than Texas.
They had you rack your bike Saturday, so we headed back to the truck to drop off the goodie bag and get the bike. Racking was by number and they were pretty generous with the spacing. I was the 3rd row from the swim in / run out, which meant I was pretty dang far from the bike in entrance. I hate running in my bike shoes, so this didn't please me. But since it was assigned, there wasn't much to do. My row was super easy to spot, though, as it was right next to an open gap in the rows which contained 2 porta potties. Couldn't ask for an easier way to spot my row.
After getting the bike set up, we ran into my swim team friend C (who I stayed with for Gateway). We decided to head over to the swim finish to check it out. Pretty much the same as last year - carpeted ramp out of the water and a wide spot for the wetsuit strippers. I told C about the shirt issue, and she said that hers was ridiculously small. Turns out the race people ordered gender-specific shirts, which was different from last year. Last year I got a medium which was huge, so this year I ordered a small. Which turned out to really be a ladies small and actually fit a 7 year old. Sooo, not getting a shirt wasn't a terrible thing, since I went back after packet pick-up closed and got a mens small which mostly fits. After checking out the swim area, it was time for the race meeting. Pretty standard stuff, except they seemed VERY serious about penalties for drafting (there was even a penalty tent!).
After all that, we headed over to our hotel and checked in. Apparently, I registered for a smoking room, which is a fail since I've got asthma (and smoking rooms are icky!!!). And they were over-sold. Somehow, I worked my magic (I think whipping out my inhaler helped) and we got a non-smoking room. And then everyone checking in after us was screwed, since that was actually the last room open in the hotel. Craziness. Feeling very fortunate, we strolled up to our room, which was pretty nice. I didn't really do much thinking when I booked our hotel. I really wanted to stay at the race site, but it sold out in December. So I really just wanted to stay close by at a non-ghetto hotel. We stayed at one of those Suite hotels (Holiday Inn brand) and it was really nice! It had a full sized refridgerator, which was awesome since I had to mix up 1 gallon of my Infiniti for the race, a stove, a sink. It was pretty much a studio apartment.
After getting settled into the room, we went to a greek restaurant on the seawall for dinner. I got "safe" food. Hummus and pitas, roasted chicken and potatoes. Not exciting, but safe. Then we ran to Target to get bottled water (the tap water was icky and I did NOT want to take a chance race day) and got Will snacks for race day.
The rest of the night was spent picking through my race gear and setting everything up at least 3 times. Asleep by 9:30 - alarm set for 5:30 AM.
My goal for the bike was to stay in upper Z2 heart rate (mid to upper 150s) and keep the cadence high (for me) and to not burn my legs up. I was expecting a headwind on the leg out and was very happy to see I could easily maintain 15 mph and had high hopes for sweet tailwind on the way back. The bummer part is that I was being passed a TON. I don't know if this was because I was just slow, if people had better bikes/wheels than me, or if people in IM events are just more athletic than me. I stayed on plan though and kept at my pace. Turns out the training ride on the course last month was a good confidence builder, as the winds weren't nearly as bad. About 10 miles into the ride, I saw the pros coming back on the other side of the road, which was really cool to see. About mile 15, my stupid inner thigh was speaking to me, so I decided to stop and stretch really quick. When my leg gets tweaky, my power goes away, so even though its annoying to stop for 2 min to stretch, its well worth it in the long run.
I made it to San Luis Pass 15 min quicker than I did on the training ride, which was great. As I got to the Pass (which is actually a bridge) I noticed that the winds were shifting. Boo. On the far side of the pass it was really pretty. Race coordinators shut down the road on the far side so we had no traffic - just blowing sand. Made it to the turnaround and started making my way back. Sadly, there was no sweet tailwind, as the winds had shifted to a true cross-wind. All of us women were unhappy, to say the least. At mile 34, I noticed I was running low on fluids (my 28 oz aero bottle and 40 oz profile bottle), so at the rest stop, I decided to stop, use the bathroom, stretch again, and fill up my aero bottle with my reserve bike bottle. This was an accomplishement for me, because on all past long rides, I haven't drank near enough of my Infinit, which results in a pretty good calorie deficit. For this race, I set my garmin to beep at me every 15 minutes to drink. I refer to this as my "drink, bitch!" alarm. But it worked - maybe too well as towards the end of the ride I was a bit bloated. At mile 48, I decided I wanted some water, so I successfully did a water-up (my first). By that point, I was pretty done with being on the bike - feet were going numb, lats were sore. So I started with the little mental games we all play to get us through. Every 5 miles I promised myself I could unclip my feet to get feeling back in my legs, come out of aero to stretch my back. Just a little reward for 30 seconds or so to keep me going. I was passing some people which also helped - they usually commented in suprise that I had energy to pass them. But overall, we were all done with the wind.
I continued to drink water at every aid station, plus pick the ice out of my cup and cram it down my top. Also got 1-2 iced sponges and either tucked them into my top or kept them on hand to dab on my arms or face to keep cool. I was drinking Infinity every 1 mile, but just a tiny sip or two, as opposed to 2 ounces, which is my normal run consumption rate. Early in loop 3 my legs started feeling dead, so I had 1/3 of an espresso hammer gel. Warm espresso gel washed down with warm orange Infinit is not a taste sensation I need to repeat anytime soon! Not sure if the gel was a good idea, because 10 minutes later I got a decent side-stitch.
inally the last loop was here and I was ready to push a bit more. Mainly just to get the dang thing over with! Fortunately, the side-stitch went away by this point and my legs had energy to burn, so the gel turned out to be the right thing to do. I was pretty much by myself for this loop (or had 15-30 seconds of space between people) so I just kept moving along. As I came to the final stretch along the water I kicked up my pace, fixing my fuel belt so my water bottles were towards the back so they wouldn't show in my finisher photo. Then I was rounding the corner tothe finish chute. There was Will and OUL cheering me on, I heard the announcer call out my name and I sprinted through the finish line, putting my hands up and smiling the whole way. I finished strong and HAPPY. I met Will and OUL at the finish for congrats and pictures and then it was time for food.