Ironman Lonestar 70.3 Race Report

2011 Memorial Hermann Ironman Lonestar 70.3 - Galveston, TX

Pace the Race!

That was my mantra for this race. Race day marked exactly 40 days until Ironman Texas. The 70.3 was not my "A" race of the season,  so really racing this event was not an option for me. It was to be just a "long training day."

Checking in my bike- wristband checked

Overall, I did a decent job at sticking to my plans, but, it is hard- I mean really hard to do sometimes.   Despite what you will read in this race report, I am very happy with my finish time.  I finished almost an hour ... yes, you read that right -- an HOUR ahead of my time last year.

As, I told Jason at CookTrainEatRace, I apparently got my money out of the race last year- but I'm also telling you this, because crazy improvement is possible! Holy cow! An hour in a year- I would have fallen over laughing if you told me that was possible last year.  I was happy with my finish last year.  I finished! I had a smile on my face when I was done and then I decided to drink the Kool-Aid and go for an IM.  I went into this race with no expectations (ok, maybe some secret ones), but I had no idea that I was going to drop that much time off my race and not even "race" it!

The cute sign my mom made! :)

My mom was my support team for this race (and has been at almost every one of my marathons, tri's, etc) so  she was with me all morning, which is always great. She keeps me calm and we pretty much talk about everything, but triathlons!  I was also able to call and talk to my little girl and she wished me "Good luck running, mama"-  she's 2 1/2 and I was missing her like crazy, so I was so happy to talk to her!

Pre-race fueling was a little difficult.  My swim wave was second to last. We didn't leave the dock until 8:35am.  That's about an hour and a half later than when most races start, so I was getting hungry before I could even begin my normal pre-race feuling. I didn't want to start too early and then be starving during the swim or eat too much.  I stuck to my Oatmeal Raisin Clif Bar and a banana.

Distance - 1.2 mi (2112 Yds)
Time - 41:56
Pace - 2:12/100 Yds
My Grade - D-
Ok, sorry that this is posted sideways. but this will give you an idea of what happened with my swim. The Female 30-35 wave (last names L-Z) jumped into the water.... well, with the exception of the girl right in front of me.  The poor girl slipped and took a header right in.  I waited for her to surface and made sure that she was ok before I jumped in.  The water was a little chilly, but it felt good with the wetsuit on. 

The announcer mentioned it was one of the gal's birthday, so we sang her "Happy Birthday" and then the countdown 10-9-8-...  boom!  Off we go.  The friendliness of the girls quickly ended and it was feet and elbows all the way to the first turn buoy.  
I thought I turned. I saw the buoy. I spotted what I thought was a buoy. Perhaps it was a swim cap.  Well, I wasn't the only one. Several of us went off course.  Way, way, way the heck of course. 300 yards? At least?! See the modified "IronTexasMommy" course in red.  So, I apparently need to spot better- first open water swim of the season. Guess I was feeling a little over-confident. Flipped onto my back, cleared my goggles and then worked on my strategy to get back into the swim.  Decided that it wasn't a big deal- I was just adding some extra yards in for IM training.  I pushed hard and even caught up to swimmers in caps two waves ahead of me. But there were also a few caps from the wave behind me.  Rats!  

Jellyfish? Wetsuit burn? I don't know.
It freaking hurts!

As I made the last turn (and made sure I turned enough) I started to feel a sharp pain at the bottom of my neck, like someone was pulling the hair out of the back of my neck. At one point I swiped my hand over the back of my neck to see if it was the swim cap, but I couldn't figure it out. It was burning. It hurt. bad.  Finish... the... swim.  Got a solid elbow to the side of the head.  Seriously? Is this swim over yet?  Get out and head for the wetsuit strippers!  I love you girls! Thank you!  Grabbed my wetsuit and headed to the bike. 

T1: 3:22

As it was the first race of the season, I was being extra careful that I didn't forget anything.  Helmet on, glasses on, some extra chamois butter (always so lovely to have to shove your hand down your shorts in front of everyone... sorry spectators!)  Nutrition still there. Water bottles. Ok. I'm ready to go.  I let the sunscreen guys slather some on my shoulders, so I didn't pay for that mistake later. A couple extra seconds was worth it to me

Distance - 56 miles
Time - 3:06:40
Pace - 18mph/avg.
My Grade - B+
Transition madness!
Got out of transition and mounted my bike.  Didn't fall over.  Things are looking good. I'm all about small victories!  Pedal, pedal, pedal... my bike is NOT moving without serious effort.  What the heck?  Something is rubbing on the wheel.  Stop. Unclip.  Check both of the brakes. Nothing seems wrong, but I opened up my front brake, just in case.  Pedal, pedal... still not moving!  Stop. Unclip.   Opened the back brake.  
Ok, now I'm ready to go.  Not even a mile down and I've had to stop twice.  Super Fantastic!   Look up and here comes all the male pro's on their way back in from the bike.  Well, they started nearly 2 hours ahead of my wave, so bygones.  I was getting antsy to ride.  Made the turn on to Seawall Blvd. and hello headwind.  It's ok. I've made my peace with the wind. I call it my "personal air conditioning."  I had a tight grip on my aerobars and stayed down about 95% of the entire ride. A few of the crosswinds pushed me around the road, but I never felt out of control. 
I've mentioned before that I am really bad about eating while on the bike. I could almost hear my friends Marcy and Steve yelling at me .. "EAT!"  So, I did.  Plan was to start with 1/2 a package of Clif Shot blocks at Mile 10.  A Snickers Marathon bar (love, love, love these!) at mile 20,  another Marathon bar at mile 35 and the other 1/2 a package of Clif Shot blocks at mile 45.  I stuck with it and all was good.  
Drank mostly water and about 3/4 bottle of Gatorade.  Would have finished a full bottle, but I launched it.  And it hit my bike computer sensor.  Ka-klink, ka-klink, ka-kling.  Yay! Another stop. Unclip.  Fix the sensor.  Good times. 

There were a lot of people with flats and an ambulance went by at one point, so I focused on the positive and started focusing on the run.  I did pass my friend, Erin from at one point on the way back in- we have the same bike, so it was cool to see someone I knew on the course.  We said quick "hello's" and "good job's" but can't ride next to each other due to drafting rules. 

T2:  2:47

Again, I wanted to make sure I didn't forget anything. I looked down at my watch and saw that I could possibly break 6 hours.  Crap.  Stick to my plan? Push it? Moral dilemma. 

Distance - 13.1 miles
Time - 2:07:57
Pace - 9:46/mile
My Grade - B

My mom was like "Where's Waldo" - she kept popping up at all different parts of the run. It kept it fun! She is so darn cute and it was so awesome to see her!  My first lap averaged an 8:45/mile.  I wanted to finish under 6 hours.  It was hot and humid.  The cloud cover was great. I had my hand held water bottle with me and I dumped ice cold water over my head at every aid station. 

Finish Line Set-Up
Then the cloud cover disappeared and the sun came out.  Second lap averaged 10:14/mile.  Time to go back to the "Pace the Race" mentality.  My stomach started to feel a little wonky and I could feel some of the heat exhaustion effects-  I felt like I was fighting to keep my head straight and not start hallucinating.   I took a Hammer Gel at Mile 5.  Some more cold water and was feeling a little better. 

Going out on lap 3, the cloud cover came back and I felt much more in control of the run, but the people around me started not to look so good.  Lots of walkers.  Courtesy note 1: If you're running and decide to stop, please veer to the right and then start walking.  Runners who stop, become a brick wall to the runner behind them.  And we're stuck trying to figure out how to get around you when I can barely think to begin with.  Courtesy note 2:  If you're going to spit...  check to make sure there's no one around you.  Yes, that means you Mr.  All Black Spandex Unitard.  Thank you for leaving your loogie on my arm.  Thank you for apologizing, but that was only because I wasn't shy at letting you know what you just did.  Jackwagon.   I picked up my pace to a 9:58/mile this lap.  In the back of my head I was still trying to figure out if I could make it in under 6 hours.  Math genius, I am not.

Lap 4.  One more and done. My neck really started hurting from whatever burned/ stung it earlier.  I decided not to take my second Hammer Gel.  If I was going further yes, I would have started in on one, but I feeling as good as could be expected. So, yes, just one gel on the entire run. That's it. Nothing from the aid stations other than water. I dumped more ice water over my head, made sure to thank as many of the volunteers as I could- there were so many exceptional ones out there that were so motivating the entire time, I made sure to let them know how much I appreciated them and before I knew it I was at the finish line.  Paced a 10:05/mile this lap. My name was butchered.   Sharon?  Really?  Whatever.  I need to hand out a "hooked on phonics" cue card.  

Finish time:  6:02:42

So, what does that mean? It means three things: 

1) I kicked my own butt from last year's time of 6:53:39
2) I did a good job of getting my nutrition dialed in and pacing relatively conservatively
3) I really want to come back and race this race.  What's possible in another year? Drop another 30 minutes?  Hmmmm...

They were out of pizza with no plans of making more--- 'Sucks to be you' in the last waves of the race. Thanks Papa John's!  Bananas? No thank you. I want the bread/ carbs.  We went through the drive thru at  Whataburger and I ate like a Wildebeast.  Chicken sandwich, fries and a chocolate shake. It was so amazingly good.  Anything beyond cardboard probably would have tasted great.  Went back to the hotel, showered and then we were on our way back to D/FW.... with a stop at Buc-ees (of course!) for a sandwich for later before making it home.
I like this distance and I think in the end, this might be the distance I focus on to race in the future.

Congrats to fellow bloggers:
Jeff at Dangle the Carrot.  His very, very, very detailed race report is here.
Jon at SwimCycloRun.  Prelim Results here.
And to my Mentor, Mike who finished at an incredible time (and a personal PR) of 5:25:03!  Awesome! :)
Thank you to Jason, KC , Allison and Colleen for cyberstalking me on Ironman Live... I thought about you guys and tried not to leave you hanging too long waiting for the next time to pop up on the screen!

To all my friends on Facebook and my co-workers for the encouragement.  I really appreciate it!
Thank you to my family for supporting me and believing in me enough to let me accomplish this dream of completing an Ironman. We're almost there!


Next up!  
Go Allison at Just Tri and Finish!   She's racing her first half at Ironman New Orleans 70.3 next weekend!  Woo hoo! 


Living The Tri Life said...

Nice job!!! And awesome race report!!!

Unknown said...

Incredible job Shannon! My neck has the exact same sore in the same spot ..weird. Pretty sure it was the strap from my wetsuit rubbing. That run course was a smoker for sure! Sorry we didn't get to meetup again!

Christi said...

Great job and great PR! You are a rock star!

Tri4Success said...

Awesome job! Where did you make your biggest gains over last time? That's a lot of time to knock off.

Unknown said...

I totally will admit that I was stalking you! :) I got a little worried when the timing went down!

You had a great race. I think the HUGE PR just shows how perfect your training has been. The next 40 days will fly by - enjoy them and know that you are ready to kick major butt.

I have boxes of marathon bars in my house (I was sponsored by them). Let me make sure that they aren't expired and I'll send you some. Do you like a certain kind? Address please... :)

Unknown said...

Great job!!!!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on the race!!!

WTC ran out of pizza, that is completely uncool, doesnt surpise me, they ran out of water on the bike and its was in the 90's with 100% humidity, those poor racers

Katie said...

this is such a great race report! congrats on taking SO much time off, how awesome!

TRI714 said...

great read. Yeah for MOM. yeah for you. Outstanding time cut !!!! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH for no food at the end of races for later waves. I really think this is bull shit ! And should never happen.

Alisyn said...

Wholly crap! You are hardcore and such an inspiration! I am not sure I could do what you did with the shortcomings of mother nature even!
Congrats! So awesome! And I loved reading your recap. It was like I was there watching you, my heart rate even went up! :)

Allison said...

Love the recap!! You are such a rockstar and I will be thinking of you on Sunday :) you are such an inspiration to me!!! When I grow up I want to be like you! Now - let's get training together sooooon!!!!

oh - and thanks for the shout out :)

Anonymous said...

Great job!!! You're going to smash the ironman!

Jon said...

Awesome job! 1 hour improvement in a year is HUGE! You are literally a totally different athlete now than you were 365 days ago. Just imagine where you will be in a year with an Ironman under your belt!

Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up this past weekend. Our swim waves were on total opposite ends.

Rest up!

Jason said...

Love it. You did a great job. Way to keep it in control. Very proud of you for that.

We are racing this in 2013 together. 2012 is booked already, unless you want to come to Puerto Rico with me?!?!?!?!?!

IMTX is up next and we will be training soon. Heading to TMS on Sat with Juan if you are up for it.

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

What an awesome race report. Maybe I'll have you write my next one, ok? You improved exponentially compared to last year, wow!!! I have absolutely no doubt, you are going to do very well at IMTX. Looking very forward to stalking you ALL DAY! Your mom IS too cute. You are very lucky to have her as part of your support team. Great job for pacing the race as you set out to do from the get go. How's that neck thing now?

Julie said...

Awesome job! What a great day! Sorry about that neck thing hope it's feeling better, can't wait for the "real" race!

Annie said...

Great job! Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up!

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