Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Final Thoughts on IMTX

Its been 5 weeks since the big day - here are some (rambling) thoughts about my experience:
  • My goal for the race was to kick ass on the swim, do well on the bike, and just get through the run.  I made myself promise that, should the heat get to me on the run, that I would slow down and avoid the medical tent and IVs.  I'm just not used to the heat anymore and one day wasn't worth getting a heat-related illness.
  • The swim was great - it was crazy, but what sticks with me was the feeling of being one of the purple caps (women) weaving my way past all the green caps (men).  I remember thinking how INSANE the swim was with all the contact, but laughing and taking it all it. I mean, who does this sort of thing??? This was MY Ironman experience and I was going to enjoy it.  Really, the swim was crazy but I loved it.  That probably makes me crazy, but I'm ok with that.
  • I love the bike course.  When I got to the national forest, I made myself breathe in the pine-scented air and ENJOY the scenery.  Enjoy riding with people.  Enjoy the easy hills and my awesome high-altitude conditioning.  This was the LAST TIME I was going to ride here, one of my favorite places to ride in Houston, and here I was, doing my final ride here - my final ride in Texas - during an Ironman. The whole ride, really, was great.  I stayed within my HR limits but still came in 11 minutes faster than I'd anticipated.
  • Transitions - should I ever do this again, I definitely know what to expect and where to improve.  The changing tents were a bit overwhelming.
  • I will forever make sure that my socks are in my cycling shoes and NOT in my running shoes.
  • I need to figure something else out nutrition-wise for the run when its hot.  My stomach mildly acted up during Lonestar and it most definitely did NOT like my Infinit during IMTX.  I think it has to do with it being concentrated, as I can tolerate it at normal strength without problems. Definitely thinking about trying to live off the course for future races because for long events, I just can't carry enough drink mix in a practical manner.
  • The run.....  I still have VERY mixed feelings about how much walking I did.  I stayed with my plan of avoiding medical assistance.  If I did push and ran more, I'm 90% sure that I would have been in real trouble.  For some reason, I think that walking makes me less of an Ironman, I guess.  Even though I'm pretty sure that walking was actually harder than if I just sucked it up and ran it.  But given that so many people I knew, people who live there and are acclimated to the heat, had issues.  Several puked, needed IVs, and were really hurting.  I was slow, but I was fine.  I executed my plan.  I raced smart and inside my box.  I kept my promise to Will about not pushing too hard.  That right there is a victory.  I just need to be happier about it.  Maybe I will be, in time.
  • The volunteers were spectacular.  The spectators were great.  I loved the yellow signs on the bike (my favorite was "This sounded like a good idea a year ago") and all the funny signs that one family did for a racer on the run (Brent).
  • The race planners did a spectacular job.  I felt safe, which is what matters most when I am racing.  They really planned things well and had nice touches (like portable ice machines for each bike aid station - they used 45,000 lbs of ice on race day!).
  • Still not sure if I'd do another IM distance.  Definitely not a hot race, but maybe (just maybe) CDA.  The race was FUN, but I need to remember how challenging (mentally) the training was and how many lonely, cold hours I had from January - May.  I need to remember how I had no time (zip, zero!) to do anything fun during that time.  I think that moving forward, the HIM distance is best for me.  I feel like I can train for that and still have a life.  Balance is good.
  • I now have life-long bragging rights that I am an Ironman.  :)

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