Galveston is a strange place. It's still struggling to get itself back together after Hurricane Ike. Many houses and buildings have boarded up windows and some still have blue tarps on the roof. The sun there is very intense and it is ultra-flat, and windy. There are miles and miles of beachfront on the Gulf of Mexico, with lots of resorts, but while it seems like it may have been nice at one time, it is now kind of rough around the edges.
And so was the Lonestar 70.3 Half Ironman. It was in the 80's, clear and sunny, and with a relentless 15 mph wind. My age group (30-34) put me in wave 14, which meant that I started at about 8:10, over an hour after the first athletes. This gave the wind and sun an extra hour to intensify. The point-to-point swim in the bay had a choppy headwind the entire way. At some points I felt like the waves were sucking me backwards. My swim was well-executed but it took me a slow 40 minutes to muscle through the 1.2 miles.
The bike was 56 miles of the flattest road I have ever biked. It was an out-and-back route along the coast, which meant beautiful views of the ocean the whole way. I looked up once in a while to make sure not to miss that. The super flatness gave no terrain variation so I could use different muscle groups or stretch. My inner thighs cramped up at mile 20 and I had to fight cramps the entire way. I wasn't sure how that would play out since I have never had muscle cramps there before. The bike was 3 hours down in aero-position cranking out steady power... with a 15 mph crosswind the entire way. There was nothing to block the wind or provide any shade. I took it a little conservative on the way out and hammered the way back. I should have gone harder the whole way - that was a good lesson in pacing learned the hard way. Lots of women passed me, and I shouldn't have been so ok with that. I wasn't going hard enough. On the plus side, my nutrition worked perfectly: 900 calories and 3 bottles of water in the form of Gatorade, EFS drink, and my special mix of Larabar, fig bars, walnuts, raisins. The solid food tasted good and I had no trouble digesting it. Final time: 3:02.
I was glad to get off the bike to relieve my hip flexors and inner thighs from all that aero-time. I headed out on the run course for 4 laps through Moody Gardens. They use the word gardens loosely because it is a commercial resort and the entire run was on concrete with no shade. My game plan was to work the bike out of my legs on lap 1, find a steady pace on lap 2, work through lap 3, and push it on lap 4. All those laps were mentally hard, but the nice part was that there were aid stations every mile. I needed them badly in the heat, and walked through every one taking all the cold sponges and water I could get. I also had Gatorade or some other calories at every other mile. I didn't have quite enough and started to go into bonk mode. I got real cranky and was so spaced out I started bumping into other runners by mistake as I passed too closely. The heat got to me and by this point I could tell I was getting a nasty sunburn. I had a decent pace for the first two laps but after that it was a fight, a death march - one foot in front of the other... just make it to that next sign post...ok, now get to the next one, etc. Seeing a lot of spectators and all the runners on the course made it bearable. Final time: 1:52.
There was nothing I could have done to make my swim faster given the water conditions. I should have biked harder the whole way. I should have used a slightly harder gear and just pushed it. I should have gone to war with that. A+ for good bike nutrition today. My body isn't used to the Texas heat and direct sun yet, even though I have lived here for a few years. It really got me on the run. When I get overheated in a race, my mind goes. I had trouble keeping my thoughts positive and adjusting my run nutrition to the conditions on the fly. I did ok at this but not optimal which is why my run time is ok but not what I am capable of.
Finish time 5:38
18th of 89 in age group female 30-34
[previous half iron PR 5:22]