What a great experience I had in Texas.
Elizabeth and I left St. Louis last Wednesday at 4:30am and we got into Houston, Texas at 7:30pm. We stopped every 2-3 hours for potty breaks/food/stretching. We never stopped longer than 30 minutes. Elizabeth was a great traveler, she is 12. She is typically pretty impatient so I was a little worried she would be pretty whiney but she did not whine one bit during the entire trip. She said she knew she had to get into a mindset that she was going to be in the car all day. One thing that helped us is we would get a map and she would check off the cities we passed so we could visually see our progress. We both cried a little once we got through Dallas and still had 3.5 more hours to go! Luckily the speed limit after Dallas was 75 so I was able to go 83.
We got to the airport and picked up my brother and his family, got to the hotel had some dinner and went to bed. On Thursday it was get the gear bags together. Holy Cow there is A LOT of gear to get ready for a triathlon, especially an ironman! Talk about an expensive sport. The race entry fee was $600.00. After we went through the check lists we drove around to get acclimated to the area. We drove down to the swim start to check it out and then we went to the welcome dinner. That was a very fun experience, very motivational. Yes, everyone is asking me if I want to do an ironman now. The answer is NO. I cant afford it and I dont like biking. I really wanted to do a short distance tri. I spent some time riding the bike, getting used to it and I really just did not like it. Not worth the expense of buying a bike and then maintaining the bike. I can do the swim and run but not interested in the bike. We also went to the expo so Mark could get checked in. I was a little disappointed in the expo, not as cool as I thought it would be.
On Friday we did one more gear check review to make sure we did not miss anything and then I took Mark to the swim practice. All the athletes got to take a practice swim in the swim venue, it was in a lake. After that we checked in Marks bike in the transition area. Then we had an early dinner and bed early.
One thing I noticed about Mark was that he was not hydrating at all. I encouraged him to drink water but he just kept saying he was hydrated enough. Even his wife was worried about that. I do have that little sister problem where my brothers dont listen to me when I provide advice. I get it, they are on an elite level but over the past few years I know some stuff. I think this did affect his performance on Saturday. Mark did have a plan for the race. Mark was almost an Olympic swimmer so I could not offer advice on that and the bike. He said that his goal was a 3:30 marathon but I never asked him what the marathon plan was.
Saturday is race day! I woke up at 4am and help mark get ready for the race and dropped him off. I went back to the hotel to get Kristi and their twin girls (age 7) and Elizabeth. I really did not think it was a good idea to wake up the girls at 5:30. I suggested letting Elizabeth watch them and then we could go back and get them later. But Kristi said they wanted to (I dont think so). So we park and have to walk a mile to the swim start. It was so cool to see it up close. The twins could care less. After the Swim start we walked over to the swim to bike transition area. Mark thought his swim was going to be 55 minutes. I was watching the time and I was ready with the iphone and got video of him getting on the bike. He was first in his age group on the swim. With an ironman you dont win on the swim or bike, it is the marathon that wins the race. Then we had about 5 hours to kill. We saw Mark ride back in from the bike. It was hard running around with Kristi and the twins. The twins did not whine a lot but you could tell they were not happy and Kristi would not stop fussing about them. She was mad she was not seeing the race but she just kept asking the girls if they were OK. She missed Mark every time.
Then we went to mile 6 to see Mark. I saw him pass and I thought to myself, he is not looking to good. It was now 86 degrees!!!! Then we cut across and could see him at mile 9. I waited, waited and I saw the folks that were right in front of him and I knew he was having problems. I was standing right after a aid station. I saw Mark stop and fuel up but when he started running again I could tell he was struggling. But I know Mark and I knew he would battle it out. Kristi was so upset. I tried to reassure her. We had an app that was giving us the splits and saw that he was picking up the pace. Then we saw him at mile 18, he was pissed. He looked so much better (there was a little more cloud cover than earlier) he was mad he felt better NOW. Then we left to go to the finish line.
It was so much fun being at the finish. Mark ran in and his time was 10 hours and 31 minutes. He placed 11th in his division. 1st on swim, 4th on bike. The marathon got him. He was only 10 minutes away from getting 3rd place. He wanted 3rd so he would qualify for Kona. He goal was 10 hours. He did an ironman 10 years ago and did it in like 10:49. So ten years later, he is 50 years old. He has a great PR. When I saw him in the finishers area he was so disappointed. I told him how great he battled that marathon. He said he just wanted to quit. I felt like that before during a ½ marathon. It was nice to know that someone at Marks level felt that way too.
Of course all evening and the next day we talked about the race. He lost it on the marathon. He finally admitted he needed to hydrate better
That was not the entire reason but surely a part of the reason. Mark only had a marathon time goal. I dont think he had a detailed marathon plan. He said he ran the first 3 miles at a 7:40 pace, not good, too fast. I gave him the advise that I have learned over the years that you have to be patience and run your pace, you cannot bank time in a ½ or full marathon. Mark learned a lot AND of course he is already planning his next ironman
I hope he is still not beating himself up and takes this as a learning experience for next year. I am so happy I did this, it was a great experience!!!
The take down challenge has begun! I am back at 199. The challenge started on Saturday. I did my best with eating on Saturday while running around the ironman. Then Sunday I really honed it in and Driving back on Monday I did really well. Monday I had perfect eating and I have everything all mapped out for today. I am ready to rock this challenge!