Week 6 – Recovery {Steven’s Ironman Experience}

Sunday was my first major step to see how my training has been coming along as I competed in the Tall Texan Triathlon in Boerne, TX. This was the longest Tri I have completed and it was definitely the hardest. The bike course took a lot out of me but thankfully I was just able to grind through it. Here is a recap of my day.

PRE-RACE – I woke up at 4:00am to eat a little bit of food and start getting fluids in. I made a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a little bit of honey. I also drank about 8-10 oz of Gatorade. Then I went back to bed for another hour and a half. At 5:30am, I woke up, got dressed, went through all my bags to make sure I had everything I needed, and ate a bowl of plain oatmeal. With everything loaded into the car we headed for the race site. The transition area opened up at 7:00am so I could start getting all of my gear laid out how I wanted. These last few minutes fly by as you try to think of everything you needed to get done. At 7:45am, I went through my final gear check, put on my wetsuit, and was ready to go.


The water temp was 65 degrees which was cold when we first got in but felt great once we actually started swimming. About 70 men started at the same time so it was a bit chaotic at first as everyone is fighting for their own patch of open water. It didn't help that someone took a 45 degree turn in front of me and kicked a mouthful of water in my face when I was already having trouble getting my breathing right. I had to flip over to my back for about 20-30 seconds just to stop coughing. I cannot even imagine how it is going to be with 2600 people starting at the same time. After the first turn I finally got into a good rhythm and got right in behind someone’s feet so I could draft off of them. When we hit the long backstretch I lost him as he drifted about 30 yards off-course to the left. It is amazing how hard it is to swim straight when you don’t have that huge black line at the bottom of the pool. After I made the final turn then it became more of a mental game as it seemed like every time I looked up to sight the shore it got further away. My goal was 35-40 minutes for the 1.2 mile swim and came in just under 38 minutes and in 33rd place overall out of about 100 total participants. Once I got my breathing under control the rest of the swim was great. I felt really good heading into heading into the 56 miles bike course.


I knew this ride was going to be tough, but it was even worse than I imagined. This was by far one of the worst rides I have ever had. After about mile 15, I just could not get comfortable on the bike. I don't know if it was the hills (a pre-race email had the signature “rest up, the only flat part is the swim”) or the roads themselves but I kept getting a pinching feeling in my hamstring that sent a shooting pain down my leg on every pedal stroke. I have done several 40-50 mile rides the last few weeks and have not had any issues so I think (hoping) it was just something about this particular course that got to me. The pain was worse when I was down on the aerobars so I spent a lot of time up on my hands which caused my arms to really fatigue by the end of the ride from all the vibrations. Best way to explain it is 56 miles of riding on a shake weight. I ended up using every downhill to stand up off the seat and just coast. I know I lost a lot of speed but I had to get some kind of relief from the pain I was feeling. My goal for the bike was to finish between 3-3:30 hours and even with being completely miserable the last 2 hours of it I still came in at 3:11 which was good enough for 41st overall for that segment.


By the time I made it to the run course, I was just so happy that I was off the bike that the upcoming half-marathon seemed easy. The run was a 2 loop course that started with a rocky climb up on top of the dam. The first mile or so of the course was off-road around to the other side of the lake. I really felt it in my ankles and lower legs from running on an unstable surface after just finishing the bike. After the first aid station the rest of the course is on-road with some rolling hills. I think “rolling” has a different meaning in the Texas hill country because there were some pretty steep climbs on the run. By early afternoon, the sun that we had luckily avoided all day finally came out to greet us. I’m not sure what the temperature actually was but the lack of shade during the run made it feel even worse. I completed the first loop at right about the hour mark with minimal walking at each aid station while I finished my water and gatorade. I took an extra cup of water just to dump on my head at each station as well. By the second loop I was really starting to feel it in my legs and I ended up walking a couple minutes at each aid station to try to cool down and let my HR drop a little before I ran to the next one. Once I hit the final aid station I knew I was close and it gave me a little bit of extra energy to run all the way into the finish. My goal for the run was 2-2:30 and I came in at 2:18.

Total time was 6:12 which put me 3rd in my age group and 45th overall. While I feel great having checked off another step towards IMTX, this was a really tough course for me (mainly just the bike) and right now I am not planning on doing this race again. Not sure how I will feel about it next year but 2 days removed it is a 1 and done race for me. Talking to several people post-race it seemed to be a consensus that the roads were horrible. I was glad to know that it was not just me that had issues out there. After the race, I had a dreaded 6 hour drive back home. At some point in the car, I started having some tenderness and pain in my Achilles tendon. I decided I better get it checked out on Monday before I start my training back up this week. My physical therapists didn’t think it was anything serious so we just did a few exercises to loosen everything up and he used a cold laser to try to reduce the swelling. He also did some “dry needling” on my calf muscle which was definitely a new experience for me. I could barely put weight on it Monday night but it feels much better now after having another day of rest.

The plan for this week is just to get back to my normal training routine as much as I can. When I originally planned out my training I didn’t have a race after week 5 so this definitely threw a kink in it. Hopefully all the soreness will work itself out in the next couple of days and I will be right back where I should be by my long workouts planned for this coming weekend.