IMTX – the [Spectator] Recap

This Saturday was the first in a long while that David and I took a “rest” day. Of course, it involved waking up < 5AM and driving up to The Woodlands for Ironman Texas (IMTX) spectating – woo hoo. I had no problem getting up early; I was sooo excited to watch the race.  David’s cousin, Brett, was participating, as well as two of my friends from the cycling team.

The Pros started at 6:50 AM, then the age groupers with no wetsuits at 7, then the age groupers with wetsuits got a ten minute penalty and started at 7:10 AM.  The water temp in Texas is warm y’all.  A few pros warming up:

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It took a lot of urging from the announcer to get the rest of the age groupers in the water.

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Where they clung like ants to the kayaks!

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The calm before the storm:

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Bam! The gun went off. Would you want to be in this mess??

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It was kind of amazing and impressive to see.  I honestly have no idea how you could have a strategy or avoid the crowd here:

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We saw Brett, a very fast swimmer, exit the water at 1:15 hrs:

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Amber came out to cheer too, she’s getting good at this.

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Unlike sprint tris, after the swim the athletes: pick up their bag in a big chute (below), hit the changing tent and prepare for the bike ride, run to the bike transition area and get their bike.

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Let’s just say we saw a lot of nice bikes today!! Jealous… anyway, David just loved this guy’s GU taping. Perfect anti-bonk trick:

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Next stop was the bike course. We chose to go to mile 80/90 and cheer the riders on since that would be a hard part. We jumped up on the CR-V roof and shouted a lot!  My voice was gone by the end.

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I think the riders favorite cheers were related to how good they were looking. I also enjoyed shouting “nice pedalstroke!” (some guy told me that once, and I always laugh about it). Here is my favorite cyclist though:

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Most of the triathletes were still looking pretty strong at this point in the race.  We did see some illegal drafting which I was disappointed about.

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After we saw & cheered for my friend Tom from my cycling team, we headed back to find the rest of the fam and cheer at the bike entrance.

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We saw David’s cousin Brett cycle in – oh, hello!

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Last stop was to cheer on the run. Let me tell you, it was getting hot at this point just watching!! We looked for a shady bank to sit down on and watch the runners do their three loops.

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We stayed just long enough to see some pros on their second (or third?) lap and lots of age groupers that weren’t looking quite as strong as they had been on the bike. I can’t imagine running a marathon in the afternoon in general, let alone after a century+ ride.

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My thoughts on IMTX & the Ironman Distance:

I’ve been borderline obsessive about tri’s lately – I’ve been reading tons of triathlete books (You Are An Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream…, I’m Here to Win), follwing triathlete blogs, and am totally excited about the thought of an Ironman distance.  At the start of the event, I was so excited and couldn’t stop thinking “I can do this” type thoughts.

As the day went on, though, the reality set in of what it really takes to be an Ironman; not only perseverance, but a tolerance for pain.  And while Ironman Texas isn’t one of the hillier races out there, I imagine it’s one of the hotter ones.  Weatherspark shows the temperature and humidity profiles for yesterday below:

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The poor athletes were sweating like crazy.  I was sweating and tired just sitting there.  While I felt like the swim and bike looked doable, there were a lot of athletes that just looked like they were in pain on the run.  It was extremely impressive, but it was past the point of fun.

The other thing I couldn’t help thinking was the difficulty of a nutrition/hydration strategy in such heat and for such long hours.  I’m not sure how my body would hold up for 13-17 hours of working out, trying to take in enough electrolytes and liquids, but trying not to get an upset stomach.

Would I do an Ironman someday?  Never say never; there is a little part of me that still likes the idea and knows it’s possible, but this showed me I’d need a good amount of halfs and triathlon experiences under my belt before attempting a full.  Probably a serious training program (coach or team) would help too.  And make no mistake – a LOT of time training.

Would it be IMTX or a different course?  I think doing triathlons close to home are way better than traveling – you don’t have to ship your bike, you can sleep in your own bed and eat your usual pasta dinner, you have friends and family cheering you on.  The only downsides to this are that the course isn’t new or exciting, and for IMTX, the Texas heat is killer.  It would be tough to train through the winter months then have to race in the almost-summer heat.

My hat goes off to all the Ironmen that completed IMTX yesterday.  Congratulations to you!  I’m very impressed and inspired by such amazing athletes!!

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7 thoughts on “IMTX – the [Spectator] Recap

  1. Such troopers. Can’t imagine the pain and sufferfest to complete an ironman. Its an amazing sight when all the athletes are in the water! Excellent photos here.

  2. This was a great analysis of the race. You are right about the nutrition and hydration. The rest is just putting one foot in front of the other, or arm, or pedal.

  3. Great to read other’s perspectives. Yes, Hydration and Attitude are the most important aspects of the race. My quote that I always tell people is “the hardest thing I ever did was show up at the starting line”. Finishing happens because you were there…and yet it requires a little suffering…but that is what makes it special. Start with a few Olympics and a Half. You will do just fine. And good luck. Look forward to seeing you in the Ironman Family one day.

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