As I write this its Thursday night and I’m finally recovering from my long weekend at Ironman Texas. Finally. While traveling to and from a race when I’m not even racing can be a bit of a pain in the ass, every time I’m at an event like this it reminds me why I love the sport so very much. The trip started out on a rocky note. As I was flying to Houston the Ironman Lottery story and Slowtwitch’s “Who Tipped the Feds” pieces were breaking. In between flights I was trying to both comment and put out fires. Not ideal.
Once I landed in Houston, things improved. I met with with The Real Starky boys for dinner and wine and then more wine at the very lovely TriEqual Happy Hour. I don’t drink very often so 3 or 4 glasses of wine got me pretty buzzed. I wasn’t alone in the buzzed departement as the boys decided to strip down in a parking garage to try on their #PropertyofKBG budgie smugglers.
Despite a late night on Thursday I was up early on Friday to hand out #50WomentoKona tattoos and swim caps at the practice swim (you have to love central time). The swim start was a who’s who of triathlon. I was most excited to finally meet the lovely Meredith Atwood (Swim Bike Mom) in person. Meredith wrote a great blog on Ironman Texas and you should check it out here.
After the practice swim it was onto the pre-race breakfast with our Sonic Endurance athletes and then lots of quality time at Cycles Texas watching The Real Starky record podcasts. When you listen to interviews, I think a lot of people are of the opinion that interviewing athletes or doing a podcast is easy. Its not. Being a good interviewer (or presenter as they would say in Great Britain) is hard. Ben Hobbs has a unique talent and its fantastic to see him at work.
Friday was a really long day. It didn’t help that we sat up drinking and shooting the shit until midnight (sometimes its really funny being the only female in a group of males). Saturday morning I was up at 3:30 a.m. with Scott. By up I mean lying in bed complaining while he ate breakfast and packed up his special needs bags. Around 4:15 a.m. we drove down to the Woodlands, parked and headed to transition.
Once the race started I switched on. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like watching a 140.6 mile race. To make it even better both the male and female pro fields in Texas were outstanding. The Pro Men went off at 6:25 a.m. The Pro Women followed at 6:35 a.m. and the age groupers began at 6:40 a.m. Once the swimmers were in the water, I hustled over to transition to watch the pros set off on the bike and to tweet out the leaders.
As the bike course in Texas is a single loop, once the athletes were on the bike I had time to kill. I set out on a run that was a disaster. Heat and humidity coupled with too little sleep and too much alcohol the night before made for a death march. Based on my run experience, if I ever state that I want to race Ironman Texas, I’m lying. Its just way too hot for me.
Post run, cold shower and milkshake, I joined the boys cheering on the run course. For the next three hours we cheered, high fived, ran with and encouraged all the athletes. Even better, fully decked in #5Q gear I was able to answer lots of questions about equality in Kona and hand out hundreds of tattoos. Nothing better than seeing parents applying #5Q tattoos to their little girls and boys.
There are magical places and magical experiences in all sports. The run course at a 140.6 mile race is one of them. I don’t know how anyone cheering on the run course could have walked away not wanting to race.
At about the 8 hour mark we walked over to the finish line to watch the pros cross. It was fantastic to see Angela Naeth win her second Ironman and secure a spot in Kona, especially after just missing Kona in 2014. Top to bottom the women’s podium was awesome — Leanda Cave, Rachel Joyce, Kelly Williamson, Corinne Abraham, Sarah Piampiano, Heather Wuertele and Katy Blakemore (if you don’t know who these ladies are you should check them out).
After watching several of Sonic’s athletes cross in the 11 and 12 hour time bands, I headed back onto the course for the best part of the race — cheering at night. By this point the boys had consumed many, many beers and Zach Boring provided some of the best entertainment for both fans and runners by proposing marriage to every every female age grouper who ran by (“I love you, you’re beautiful, will you marry me?”).
I wanted to be at the finish line for midnight but by 10 p.m. I was completely exhausted (I firmly believe it is more tiring to spectate than it is to race) and headed back to the hotel to pass out. As exhausting as the weekend was, I am still riding the contact endorphin high from all the athletes. While I may be critical of certain aspects of how Ironman does business, I can never be critical of the absolute feeling of joy these races create.