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Texas 70.3 Race Report

May 1, 2013

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Texas was an obvious choice as my 2013 season kick off race for several reasons.  The timing was ideal, as it fell at the end of offseason and beginning of Ironman training.  Also, I had never visited Galveston before, which made for an appealing destination race.  The clincher – my good friends Patrick and Marty live in nearbyish Dallas, and I hadn’t seen either in several years.  The last time I was in Big D the three of us rode a mechanical bull, and Marty received a lesson in the Texas two-step from a stranger in a bar. My post-race expectations were high.

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The man who leads is required to scowl at his partner

Tejas

Everything screamed “Texas” on my arrival.  Driving down from Houston to Galveston, I was limited to country and Latino music on the radio.  The lawyers advertising their local practices on billboards were all wearing 10-gallon hats.  My rental car was the smallest on the road – and I was driving a 4-door Accord.  As I pulled into Moody Gardens, Galveston’s marquee theme park as well as Sunday’s race site, everything looked HUGE.

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Moody Gardens is known for their pyramid schemes

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Unlike Duff Gardens, there is no Beeramid

Capping off the day, I had a wonderful dinner at Gaidos  with Max and his parents.  Back at my lovely but slightly messy rental house from Airbnb, I stepped over the kitty litter and dog beds into my room for a solid five hours of snoozing.

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One of many delightful chachkies at the host pad

All races come with surprises.  Sometimes these surprises are positive, like an unexpected burst of energy, or a helpful current in the swim.  In this race, as is often the case in triathlon, my surprises were not entirely pleasant.  Specifically, I experienced three “Oh Shit!” moments throughout the race.

“Oh Shit!” #1

In an otherwise uneventful pre-race morning, catastrophe struck.  Five minutes before my wave was set to jump off the pier and swim to the start line, the strap on my goggles suddenly broke while performing last minute adjustments.  After quickly thinking through my options, one of which involved seizing the megaphone from the race director to beg the crowd for a replacement pair, I put my McGyver skills to work.  With a little luck and a lot of straining, I managed to get one notch of the broken strap back through the goggle loop.  This was good enough to keep the goggles on my head, though I feared one errant stroke or kick from a fellow swimmer could easily send them to the bottom of Offats Bayou.

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Swim route per Garmin. A tad longer than 1.2 miles.

Fortunately, the goggles did their job.  With twelve waves ahead of me, I slalomed through (and sometimes directly over) some of the other competitors without a hitch.  After inadvertently feeling up my fair share of competitors and exiting the water, it was hammer time.

Well, eventually it would be hammer time.  During the first 10 miles I struggled to generate my target power.  Perhaps I still had some fatigue from the previous two weeks of training?  Or maybe there was a subtle mechanical issue holding me back?  As the ride progressed, it dawned on me that I was not sufficiently warmed up.  Training rides typically start off easy then build; hence, my legs simply didn’t know how to hammer out of the gate.  After 30 minutes I began to feel more comfortable and the watts kept climbing.  With a dead flat course and moderate winds, the conditions were ideal for maintaining a steadily increasing power output.  And then…

“Oh Shit!” #2

A gunshot-like POP rang across the Texas sky.  After a quick reality check, it becomes obvious that a tire exploded.  At this very instant, I (and every biker around me) looked down to check the tires.   I feared my tube was suddenly flaccid.

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I breathed a sigh of relief when everything looked okay, but felt a twinge of remorse knowing that some other poor soul was suddenly sidelined.  But only a twinge.

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Bike route per Garmin. Out and back on one road. Difficult to get lost out there.

My power output was well on target by the end.  After rolling through the airport runway at the end of the course and back through the great pyramids of Moody Gardens, I was feeling good about my chances for the remainder of the race.  Until…

“Oh Shit!” #3

People suddenly turned and stared at me as I dismounted.   My left glute and left quad suddenly erupted, which had me shouting some not-so-family-friendly remarks.  I’ve dealt with minor aches and pains out of T2 in the past, but nothing like this.  My left leg was generating no power.  Consequently, I was limping through the first quarter mile.  I backed way off my target pace.  I began to run with my normal gait but the pain intensified.  I passed the first mile marker with a respectable split but had to back off my pace even more.  The situation continued to deteriorate.  By mile marker 2 I had to review my options.  Withdrawing from the race was a potential outcome.  I also considered stopping and stretching.  Either way, a strong run seemed out of the question.

Then something inside of me spoke up.  LOUDLY.  No stopping.  No DNFing.  Just keep moving and see what happens.   Somehow I gritted my way to mile 3.  My pace improved, and my glute/quad loosened somewhat.  I continued to rationalize the death march.  Mile 4 passed.  Miraculously, running started to feel pleasant.  That’s when I found my speed.  Miles started clicking off at my target pace, pain free, and I enjoyed every footstrike.

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Run route per Garmin. Three loops, and lots of 180s.

I crossed the finish line with a stupid grin, knowing I had dug my deepest to get there.  Half a pizza and a box of cookies later, the glute-quad demon returned with a vengeance.  I limped my way back to the morning bag tent to change into my street clothes.  As I checked my phone, I had several messages from folks telling me I had taken my age group.  Oh Shit!

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Mad love for:

  • Tri360 – Where would I be without you?  The service, products, and support are all top notch.
  • Ignite Endurance – My triathlon family, whose love knows no bounds.
  • Blueseventy – The blueseventy Helix performed magnificently in its debut.  Huge range of motion, super buoyant, fits like a glove, kept me warm in surprisingly chilly water, and looks badass.
  • Cycleops – Training on the powerbeam all winter helped me achieve a power target that would have been a pipe dream last season.
  • Skratch – I’ve tried virtually every major endurance drink on the market and nothing delivers like Skratch.  Seriously, you should try this stuff.  You won’t go back to whatever else you’ve been using.  Their video explains why.
  • Max and his family for treating me to a lovely dinner and providing me with great company on race eve.
  • Coach Eric, for constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone to help me achieve great results.
  • Mary, who I found through Airbnb, for being such a sweet hostess.
  • Patrick, Emily, and Marty, who graced me with Texas-style hospitality in the days following the race.
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Vanilla Ice is still huge in Dallas

A look at the numbers:

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Bike Summary

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Detailed bike numbers. HR is a little wack – avg should be closer to 150.

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Run summary

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Run mile splits

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