Ironman Texas: Pre-Race

Here it was, the day I had been preparing for so long. In 2012 I built my way up to an Olympic distance, then a half iron distance race, and in 2013 I signed up for Ironman Texas and had no idea what I was getting into. But I knew I needed help to get there, and I knew if I was going to do an ironman I wanted to do it right.  I wanted to finish strong. At the time I was doing 2-3 runs and bikes a week and training at Dad’s club Tri Swim Team with my swim coach, Regina, and two Body Pump sessions a week. Training was always fun and I was around friends, but there wasn’t a lot of structure, and I really didn’t know how I’d be able to ramp up the volume since I already seemed to wear myself out weekly. Plus I was in a bit of a training routine rut and needed some new ideas. So I contacted Marni. I don’t know how I found her blog, but I had been reading it for months and was so impressed and was already writing down tips, ideas and sharing her philosophies – train smart. I knew if it were possibly I wanted her as a coach, so I called her in the fall (and felt like I was talking to a triathlon celebrity!  Then quickly realized she was so easy to talk to). She didn’t have room on her roster but was willing to work with me with a pre-built training plan for the half ironman I’d signed up for in the fall. I did that plan (I loved it and hubby made fun of me for how much I’d read and review the plan) and had a really strong race with a 25 minute PR! While we weren’t doing one-on-one coaching, I was so impressed by the interaction Marni provided me – the check-ins, race preparation and feedback were all so thoughtful.

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{ Oilman 2013 }

Then for 2014 there were athlete slots available, so I jumped in and started with a winter training plan to build a base, and then some foundation training to get stronger and faster before going longer.  IMTX would be my main race and I wasn’t going to overload my schedule with other races and not have time to recover.  While Dec – Feb weren’t high volume months, they also weren’t a walk in the park. Marni and Karel are the nicest people, but they know how to bring on the pain (good pain) during short training sessions! I can honestly say I got a LOT faster and stronger in a short amount of time with this training. I have lots of memories of cold pool sessions, tough trainer rides, and interval runs, but it was very worth it. I was also loving the variety involved in the training and that I wasn’t doing the same thing every week.

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{ TriMarni Camp }

I started my 12-week ironman training plan at the end of February with a trip to the TriMarni Camp in Clermont, Florida where I met so many friends and got a huge confidence boost for IMTX. The first time I saw my 12-week training program, I was really surprised there were only 2.5- 3 hour weekend rides, and I questioned Marni a couple times if they were just “being nice to me” on the bike and she said not to worry, we are training smart and would get me faster and stronger before going long. And oh boy, I quit questioning any of this later! Lots of 2.5 – 3 hr weekday rides or bricks at the end of training. The other thing that surprised me was the 3,000-4,000+ yd swims and the lower running volume. But I knew Marni, Karel, and their athletes had great results and trained smart, so I went with it. There were some tough parts in training – learning to balance family life, questioning why I am doing this and finding motivation in the last hard weeks – but looking back the program was doable (not easy, but doable) and not nearly as much volume as others were doing; thank goodness, it was enough as it was! I was glad also that it was only 12 weeks, I think being that intensely focused for much longer would have started to wear you down (I originally thought I needed a 20-week program, thank goodness Marni was in control!).

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So, all this effort, time, and money, coming down to one day. Friends and family coming out to cheer, people from around the world tracking me (wow – flattered y’all!), and me wanting to meet my own expectations and exceed others’ expectations. During race week I talked to Marni, and she reminded me that only I could complete this race, and that there would be high points and low points – ride out the highs and get through the lows. She also reminded me that this race would be hard, but it should not be hard like a 10k; instead it was a fatigue- type of pain. And that I really just had a marathon to do, but I had to swim and bike to get there Smile I kept reminding myself to stay in the moment and enjoy each mile of the race.

So the morning of, as you can imagine, so much is going through my head. After getting up, I body glided all over then put on my Team Betty Kit (tri top + bike shorts) which I’d wear the entire race. I instantly felt better once I put on my kit and felt like I was ready to kick butt. I went downstairs and ate my regular pre-training meal of wasa crackers, PB, honey, granola, ½ banana and cinnamon. Normally I just have 2-3, but today was 4. I also took a big glass of water with Apple Cider Vinegar and a salt tab.

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{ Pre-race breakfast }

I filled my water bottles and gel flasks, got my things together, took care of business, and finally it was time to head out. David and I drove out and his family would meet us there a bit later. We listened to my pump-up playlist for the week:

  • Ellie Goulding – Lights (Bassnectar Remix)
  • Daft Punk – Tron (Legacy)
  • Skillrex – Bangarang
  • Skillrex – Kyoto
  • Krewella – Killin’ It
  • Ellie Goulding – Stay Awake
  • Will.i.am – Scream & Shout
  • Avicci – Levels

David and I drove to the transition area so I could pump my bike tires and put my gel flasks in my run transition bag (the transition was open earlier than the posted 5:30 AM, btw). I sipped on a bottle of 1 scoop Infinit that morning through transition and until the start. I pumped my tires to 115-117psi and checked my brakes weren’t rubbing – oh, about five times! I was super paranoid as I had gotten two flats just the weekend before from some defects in new tubes.  Marni just reminded me this was good luck and the bike gods were smiling on me.

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While in transition I randomly saw my friend and Alex and we simultaneously said “I didn’t sleep at all!” and laughed.  He seemed pretty nervous too.  Then I found my friend Kevin that I’d done a lot of training with and we met David who drove us over to the swim start – Kevin was super nervous and hadn’t slept at all either, so I felt like I was in good company at least.

We got to the swim start really early (David dropped us then found us later, the bright pink shirt was awesome to spot), so there were no bathroom lines and we got body marked right away then dropped off the SN bags. We found David and the rest of the family – I think they parked at a nearby church – and then waited near the swim start; it was a waiting game until the official line up started. I kept wondering if this was all really happening.

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{ Me & some random dude looking worried – and maybe I will just gnaw off my hand instead of race }

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{ Me & Kevin – soon to be ironmen at the swim start }

Finally I saw others getting their wetsuits on, so I put on my spray sunscreen, zipped up the wetsuit and ate half a gel. I “ribboned” my wetsuit strap into the Velcro tab so it wouldn’t get pulled or fly around in the water. Yep, it was happening. It was time to kiss David goodbye and say bye to the family so that they could go get good spectator spots. And time to embark on race in which it would be the longest my body would continually move, yet one of the most vivid, memorable days of my life.

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4 thoughts on “Ironman Texas: Pre-Race

  1. A 12 week focused plan sounds a lot better than some of the long ones I read about. That’s great you had such a good experience with your coach, and how cool is that underwater photo!
    Eee- I’m nervous for the swim!!

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