It was a big weekend: Texas Oilman race report

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein(attributed)

Back on October 16th it was the Austin 70.3 fest. Asides from managing to pull off the transportation of some 5,600 people to/from the start without any real delays, it was a great weekend to watch the race. The mens race had what was it's best start list ever, both international and local. The womens start list was pretty strong too, although missing many the traditional local long course women like Desiree Ficker and Kelly Williams.

Just as I got finished with the buses I rode my MTB from the spectator pickup and Ronnie Schildknecht who was staying with me, ran through in 1st place in the mens race; a few minutes later Tenille Hoogland came by in 1st place in the womens race. Tenille stayed with me last year. Sadly, it wasn't to be Tenille crashed and burned from dehydration at mile-11, at Ronnie got passed by a surging Michael Raelert in his come back race.

The picture shows Ronnie coming in to claim 2nd, the hand outstreched on the right of the picture, is me.

And so we came to the weekend of 5-6th November. On the 5th, Ronnie was racing at Ironman Florida, Tenille was at the ITU World Long Course championship in Las Vegas both on Saturday, then Sunday, I was racing at the Texas Oilman aka "texas ironstar" for a place in the GB Team for the 2012 ITU World Long Course championships. 

Ronnie turned in a stunning performance at IMF by coming in under 8-hours; Over in Vegas, despite a cancelled swim, Tenille came 7th over a distance longer than she'd ever raced, and possibly the best field she'd raced against. So it was down to me to bring home the bacon Sunday. To get the place I had to come within 115% of my age group winners time, which based on last years result would have meant a 5-hour 40-minute finish time. My best to date over the distance was 5-hours 55-minutes. So a pretty good stretch.

I went down to Conroe, although it's actually Montgomery Texas, because I'd understood the bike course was mostly flat, and thus would favor me. I traveled down the day before and stayed at the race hotel, La Torretta Del Lago Resort and Spa  which was chaos, both checking in and checking out, but thats another post which won't likely get written.

PRE RACE

was how I like it, simply walk in with your bike completely preped, find a place on the rack, put shoes, hat, race number down and leave. Mostly here in Texas you really don't even need a transition towel. The picture to the left was race day for oilman [click for larger version].

SWIM

The swim start was about 1/4 of a mile, maybe a bit longer from the shore. It wasn't clear how cold or deep the water would be as it was in a lake. The water was cold, maybe 62f. Wetsuits were allowed, and I'd decided to go sleeveless. The wave start didn't seem in any real logical order, 39-under Men first two waves, then 34-under women, then 40-49 Men followed by 50+ Men and then 35+ women.

The course was sort of an italic T, with a "deep water" start. Since my swim training had gone well, I decided to gun it from the get go. I was able to site well and made the first turn among a swell of bodies, no idea who. The short run up to the next bouy was uneventful and then on the longest section of the course, I became aware of someone swimming in my wake, to my right. Around half way along, he passed me, and I caught a glance of another white cap. At this point I had no idea what my position was.

On the final turn it was back into the start, about 150m west of where we'd actually entered the water. After a couple of hundred yards it was apparent people just ahead were walking. I touched the floor and decided it was time to dolphin dive my way back in. I stood, removed goggles and swim hat and stuffed them down the front of my wetsuit and started dolphin dives, I quickly caught a couple of people, but next dolphin dive, no bottom... there was obviously some form of shallow water, sand bank followed by regular water.

Of course, since I'd removed goggles and cap it wasn't so good. I finished up swimming about 50m out and ran as best I could through the water, stripped the top half, ran to the wetsuit strippers dropped, pulled and was back off.

Swim time: 37:47.3, 1st in age group out of 23, 3rd in wave of 39.

Transition - 1

It was a longish run into transition, when I got there was the first time I realised I'd had a good swim, my rack was pretty much still full; I was out pretty quick without any delay, and passed a guy who I guess was in the 40-49 age group while he was putting his socks on.

T1 time: 2:58.3, 1st in Age group, 6th overall, mostly 2-3 minutes quicker...


BIKE

The bike started out well. The first 10-miles were mostly flat, brand new blacktop, but it went downhill from there, both literally and figuratively. The blacktop gave way to large chipseal; the course I'd imagine was mostly flat, seemed to be either up or downhill. At the 30-mile turn around, I stopped for the bathroom, and then it was into the wind. There was at least two long false flats, and then it was another bathroom break. This had never happened to me before, not sure what was going on. Finally it was back into town and to the finish. I thought I'd done OK, I'd only been passed by a couple from my age group.

Turns out this was one of my slowest half-iron distance race times. Just 2-weeks earlier I'd clocked under 2:40 on the Austin 70.3 course. But based on my position in the age group, it was a harder ride than I'd expected. Austin Mark Lindsey did 3:12 on his fixed wheel road bike!

Bike: 2:56:46.4, 4th in age group;

Transition - 2

At least at this point I hadn't realized how long the bike had taken me, I knew I was still doing ok in my age group, I was bit puzzled over the two pee breaks on the bike, but feeling good. When I came to my space on the rack most of the bikes were still out, I racked my bike, off with helmet, hat on, shoes on grab socks and number belt and go.

T2: 1:02.2, 1st in Age group

RUN

I was probably 3rd going out on the run, feeling good I stuffed my socks in a pocket and went off as best I could. After seeing lynnivere cheering and taking pictures, I took a turn and looked at my watch, it was about then I knew the game was likely over for a qualifying time. At that point I was 3:44 into the race, which meant to make what I thought I'd need I'd have to run a 2-hour half. Given my fastest half marathon is 2:05 and in the last few years the best I've done is 2:08 earlier this year, mentally I was beat.

Then around mile-8, just going into the long part of the loop behind the hotel, I felt a twinge on my right instep. Yep, running without socks over half marathon had done it again, I'd blistered. I stopped and burst the blister, put on my socks and set off for a long jog/walk sequence to finish. [Cue quote by Einstein... how many times have I done this? No more... ]

Mark Lindsey had passed me on the 2nd lap on his way to a 2nd place in his age group, around this time I was starting to think about my next chance at a qualifying time, I dismissed going to Palm Springs a few weeks later as I knew realistically I wouldn't be any faster.

Run: 2:50:03, 21/23 Age Group

Total Time: 6:28:37 16/23 Age group, 225/381 Finishers

I crossed the finish line and caught up with lynn collected my gear and headed back to the scrum that was the hotel. They made me pay an extra $50 for a late check out, I argued with them over the tip/service charge for the night before for a dinner I didn't have, and after a quick shower we set off for dinner.

LESSONS LEARNED

You can't have a bad day at the office unless your understand what went wrong and how you'd change. Obviously I need to put much more run training in before attempting another qualifying time. I've hired the services of fellow triathlete and friend Tammy Metzger and Tempo Multisport to take me through the 3M Half, a qualifying race which will be the new Republic of Texas Triathlon and through to Challenge Roth, with hopefully the Temple Texas Chasing Lions half marathon as a PR/PB attempt on route.

There were two other things to learn though, 1. Wear socks for a half. It seems no matter how comfortable my shoes, I end up getting blisters. Secondly, even if I nail the swim and the bike, no matter how the run is going I have to push through to the end. It turns out that rather than a 5:40 time this year, I could have qualified with just a 6:15 finish time, which was well within my grasp. D'oh.

BY THE NUMBERS

Swim time: 37:47.3, 1st in age group out of 23, 3rd in wave of 39
T1 time: 2:58.3, 1st in Age group, 6th overall, mostly 2-3 minutes quicker...
Bike: 2:56:46.4, 4th in age group
Run: 2:50:03, 21/23 Age Group
Total Time: 6:28:37 16/23 Age group, 225/381 Finishers

  • Current Location: Back in Blighty
  • Current Music: Greg Wilsons East Village set
D'oh - just like life aint it!
Awesome race report. So yes we live and learn and then tackle the next thing right! Looking forward to seeing you get the next PB in 2012. We will have to get some more riding in together... maybe not right when I get back with those extra red blood cells from high altitude :)