I’ll save the excuses of why my preparation for the event was less than lackluster. I hadn’t put in the necessary time to really compete for the win in my age group which is a shame. Based on the times that were posted and the times I am capable of at this distance, I missed an opportunity.
Galveston was the backdrop to this half ironman distance race, covering 1.2 miles in the swim, 56 miles on the bike, and 13.1 miles on the run. The wind was whipping and had all flags standing at attention. It would create for a choppy swim that had at least 2/3 of the course heading into the wind and chop. The wind would also make the bike course challenging with a crosswind from the right on the way out to the turnaround and then from the left for the return back to transition.
We got underway and although my swim training was minimal leading into the race, I felt comfortable and relaxed. The swim felt longer than usual, but only swimming 1-2 times a week has that effect. Despite the chop, I was able to maintain a pace that would allow me to complete the swim. I wouldn’t be setting any records on this day that’s for sure.
Once out of the water I made my way through T1 and was on my Specialized Transition to ride the 56 mile course. With only a few days of riding a week, my main goal was to ride steady throughout with a couple of short hard efforts. The run would be tough enough without the bike segment, so no need to flex.
About 200m out of the transition and out on the course I hit a deep crack in the road that caused a rear flat. I had no spare with me so my first thought was my race was over. I walked back to the transition to find out what my options were if I had any. Luckily the local bike shop supporting the race, Bike Barn, was there and they replaced my tubular tire. Although the process seemed like it took 20 minutes, in truth it was actually closer to ten minutes by the time everything was said and done. It would have been nice to see those 10 minutes added to my T1 time instead of my bike time.
Once again I was out on the course and started pulling back numerous riders from my age group. I rode a moderate pace to the turnaround fighting the crosswind the entire way. My goal once I hit the turnaround was to really lift the pace and see how much time I could take back. However the fatigue was really setting in at this point and I found myself constantly out of the saddle to stretch my legs and work different muscles. The fatigue also made it harder for me to concentrate and control my bike as I fought the crosswind leaving me weaving around the road like I was drunk. I completed the bike leg well off my target and over 20 minutes off the time I should have hit on this course. It’s hard to gauge how far off where I want to be, not knowing exactly how much time I lost due to a tire replacement. I know the first half of the bike took over 1h27m and the second half took 1h12m.
I began the half marathon and was feeling the accumulated efforts from the day. Even before I got to the first mile marker my quads were beginning to cramp with every stride. This was not the way I wanted to start the run, but I was mentally prepared for this. The only run off the bike I had in preparation for this event was the exact same, so you could say I was somewhat prepared for the agony that awaited. At the first aid station, I took several cups of water and dumped them on my quads. The cold water had an immediate effect and relaxed the muscles enough to prevent the crippling cramp I experienced in training. For the rest of the half marathon it was about getting from one aid station to the next to repeat this process of dumping water on my legs. The first few miles of the run I was turning in just under 7:10 miles. These were not spectacular splits, but I was pretty happy all things considered. Miles 4-10 I slowed with every mile. The lack of training in all three disciplines wore me down. I knew at the start I could not focus on my time or even where I placed in my age group. Instead, I would focus on enjoying the opportunity to do something I love.
I eventually finished the race just over 5 hours for a completely underwhelming performance, but a great day of training.