IMTX Race Report- “But I also realize that winning doesn’t always mean getting first place, it means getting the best out of yourself”
“Everything we need for our dreams to come true is already inside us.”
This race I knew from the start was going to be Special. My little sister, Jocelyn, was racing it with me. It was her first Ironman AND her birthday race. It was her birthday the day before the race. As I coach J, I was there not only as an athlete, but also a coach, bff and support for my sister. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
Thursday night we ran through what to have in the transition bags. Over how hard to race, nutrition for the ride and run, and every other question my sister had. Plenty of people had given her advice about racing, but she seems to trust what I think the most :D. Friday we went out for a quick spin on the bikes before the practice swim. Most of the day was uneventful, other than the trip to academy to buy J new goggles that wouldn’t fog.
Race morning we got up around 4 to start getting ready and eating. We traveled to this race with Endurance Sports Travel and while we had been doing most of the driving from the hotel to the race venue ourselves, we took advantage of the shuttle race morning. We got into transition right as they opened it and quickly got everything set up and ready. Soon it was time to walk to the swim start. Scott, J’s husband, was able to meet up with us on the walk over. It was really great to have him there to support and cheer. He kept us company and kept J calm. Going into the race J had broken a rib from a bike crash about a month before the race so she was most worried about getting kicked in the rib and then not being able to finish.
As soon as the pros were off and we could get into the water, we were off to hang on some paddleboards. I picked out a spot on the start line and J and I got to float together waiting for the start of our first full together. She’s the best company I could ask for before race. She’s always smiling, chipper and happy. You shouldn’t know she was nervous by looking at her. Soon time to go got closer and closer. Before we knew it Mike Riley called for the paddleboards to move. Well, the lady blocking us didn’t move quite fast enough and the gun went off a bit sooner than I thought it would. Great. I had to bob around her and I lost some valuable water space due to this. I had told J to stick on my feet as long as possible (I had done this at Munice last year and apparently I was gone in 2 seconds….) She told me this year she was able to hang for a few minutes. I had a hard time getting a good position and not locked in, but all and all it wasn’t the worse swim start I’ve seen.
The water is murky and gross, but at least due to the rains it was cool. If it had been borderline wetsuit legal, I probably would have cooked. I knew that it was about 1/3 on the way out, 1/3 on the way back and 1/3 in the canal. The swim was pretty uneventful. Swimming on the way out I kept catching people and just focused on staying strong (and trying not to swallow water). Before I knew it it was time to turn and head back. This is the part that sucked. I found it almost impossible to sight buoys on this side and we were swimming into the sun. I found myself no longer swimming too straight but I figured it wouldn’t be too bad since if I was too far right, I’d be closer to the canal.
About half way to the canal, I picked up a friend. He was an age grouper who was wearing green goggles. He basically stuck to my hip for the rest of the swim. It was super fun to swim in the canal. I mean as fun as swimming in brown water can be. I could make out people on the side which was cool. I could tell when I swam by T3 and gave a wave of my hand a few times. Ha! Soon it was under the bridges and up and out of the water. My friend Michael was pulling people out of the water and I thanked him for his help on my way to the strippers.
My strippers were awesome and got me out of my wetsuit in record time. Through to my bag and into transition. Quickly into my bike shoes and helmet and out on the bike. Transition is kinda big at Texas, but did my best to move quickly. As I was heading out I saw the clock was at 1:16. Subtract 15 for the pros and it wasn’t bad, but not what I was hoping for. No time to think about that, time to bike!
Heading out on the bike I was pleased to see I was not only getting my HR but also power! My friend Dave had let me borrow his powertap race wheel (THANK YOU!!) as I was worried that HR wouldn’t come in, again, and I’d be forced to race blind. My stomach didn’t feel great, but it wasn’t too bad. I was able to get a gel in and water down. I hadn’t preridden or driven the bike course despite living in Austin. So I was going to enjoy seeing it all for the first time.
Soon I passed 3-4 girls and at least 2 were in my age group. That felt good. This time I did have a bonk breaker bar! Yum. This definitely was helping settle my stomach. But not as much as belching did! My HR was right where I wanted it and my power looked good as well. I felt good about the bike.
20 miles in after an aid station I hit a bad bump and lost my water bottle. Crap. Well, I had nutrition concentrated bottles and surely the next aid station would be in the next 10-15 miles. Suck it up. I clicked through the next 5 miles faster than I was expecting, (maybe I was hoping for water to come sooner!) And before I knew it, it was aid station time. On the way into the aid station there was a guy who was having some mechnical issues. He asked if I had allen wrenches. I did have a pack in my flat kit so while biking I reached back, unzipped my pack and got them out. I made sure to get my bottle water and at the end of the aid station handed over my kit. He asked if I wanted them back, I laughed and said no and rode off. I yelled my number and said he could find me after the race.
Between mile 30 and 40 a guy crushed passed me and yelled something. I couldn’t tell what it was, so I after dropping back legally, I threw some watts down to pass him and he let me know that some girl was sitting right on my wheel. Ugh! Really? I looked back and saw a bit of a line. I thanked him and decided to up my power a bit for a while. Soon there wasn’t anyone behind me.
Back to racing. Mo and Kyle were out on the scooter. This was Awesome! It was great to get some good race shots on the bike. And have them cheer for me! Around mile 40 the guy who I had helped caught back up and thanked me again.
Around mile 30? I think, I passed a pro girl on the bike who seemed to be struggling. I shouted some words of encouragement, but this definitely made me feel good about how I was riding. Water stations came pretty much every 10 miles which I was grateful for. I did call for my special needs 60 miles in, but it was taking too long so I just said forget it and rode through. I had a second bonk breaker bar in there and I later wished I had had that with me.
It was fun to see a few people out there on the course that I knew. I knew my family was going to be at mile 50 (about). I was rolling up and saw an older woman with a stroller. Um. I think that’s mom. But she didn’t seem to see me. Yup! That’s mom. I shouted out “Don’t miss me!” and blew by and soon saw my older sister and my dad. I almost started crying I was so happy. This was the first race I’ve ever had my entire family at. Their support means more to me than they’ll ever know. Especially my older sister. She doesn’t race, and tolerates so much from me and my little sister running family vacations around training and racing. She was also with me in Kona last year and spent her birthday with me. I got to see them another few times on the bike. At least the next few times around, they didn’t almost miss me :D.
The roads got a bit rough from 60-85. I had the hardest time keeping going on this portion. My heart rate dropped and watts and effort. I didn’t really know where I was but I was pretty sure I was leading my age group. I was hoping to bike a bit faster than I was so I tried picking it up for the last 35 miles. You get back onto a long straight road and it seemed like the wind wasn’t as much in our faces any more. For the next 10 miles I kept going back and forth with several guys. They didn’t like it when I passed them, but couldn’t keep a fast enough pace for me not to then repass them within a few minutes. At least time was going a bit quicker. I knew I’d be a few minutes off where I wanted to bike, but focused on keeping hydrated and fuel in me.
I was going through water before reaching the next aid station. Maybe not getting to hydrate for 10 miles was starting to catch up to me. And I was hungier than I would have liked. It was hard to find bonk breaker bars in the aid stations and I had managed to grab one, but after that I was only able to get a gel. It had caffiene in it so I was hesitant to take it. I used a shot of X2Performance before the race and used some more on the bike. I’m caffiene senesitive, so I like to really keep the amount I takein to a minimum. I needed the calories more so I took it.
Soon I was winding back through the neighborhoods to the run start. Dismounted and into T2. I had debated wearing socks on the bike since last year I’d heard horror stories of people burning their feet. But it was a cooler day and they had covered most of the transition concerete. I gave away my bike and headed to the run bags.
I soon picked up my bag and was in the change tent. The volunteer let me know I was the 4th amateur and I ran out of the tent soon with the girl who was right ahead of me. She wasn’t in my age group. Good. I had had 2 girls pass me on the bike and neither of them were in my AG so I must be running first in my AG. I knew I better get going fast since my sister was behind me and if I didn’t have 20 minutes on her, I was going to be caught.
I kept wondering how she was doing while I was on the bike, but my family wasnt’ updating me on her status. Within half a mile on the run you run by the T3 tent. It was SO Great to see my T3 family! Pablo told me I was running 3rd amateur and encouraged me to go after the girls in front of me. THe first time up the dirt hill I was all smiles and cruising along. My stomach still wasn’t happy with me and I was worried about getting nutrition down.
My HR settled at lower than I thought I’d be racing at but this effort felt right. I stopped worrying about anything else and just ran. Before I knew it I was 4 miles in and I saw Scott for the first time. I asked about J and he said she was off the bike…It sounded like she was close behind me from his tone (I wasn’t wrong). The miles kept clicking off and I was able to catch 2 girls in the first loop. From the yellow bibs and their numbers, it was clear they were professionals. It made me feel good, but I was looking for the amateurs in front of me. As I was across the canal for the first time on the final mile of the loop, I saw the first and second amateur girls. I tried to measure how far I was down behind them.
It was at this time I heard J yell at me across the canal. Ha. Yeah, I didn’t have a 20 minute headstart and she was going to catch me if we both kept running strong. It was just a matter of how far I could get before she ran me down.
On my second loop, my stomach wasn’t any better and I kept trying to keep feeding myself. The T3 tent was great to run by again. It was the highlight of my loop. I had been running kinda back and forth with this guy Mike. For the second loop we settled in together and he said, Well, Meredith, it looks like we’ll be running together. I think we stuck together for 1/2 of the second loop. With about 14 miles in the lead female biker passed us letting us know to make space. Kelly looked great and strong on her way in for the win. Somewhere here I lost my buddy Mike. I wasn’t too disappointed because his watch beeped. Alot.
I had figured J would pass me 16 miles in, I was hopeful I could make it to 20, but gut said 16. I was heading into the aid station at mile 16 when she did just that. She looked solid and strong. I was so proud of her and told her i was pretty sure she was winning her AG.
Because of the out and backs on the course I got to see her again. a few times. On the last out and back of the 2nd loop I noticed a girl mark me. I hoped I had enough space and that she wasn’t in my age group, but I wasn’t able to see. Soon it was back through the Moxie area and I got to see Claudia! We chatted a brief second. I wasn’t sure if I’d see J on the dirt out and back but I did! I told her to go for the win! I didn’t specify that I thought there was only 1-2 age group girls in front of her and I was talking about fastest amateur. What can I say, coaching and racing is hard :D.
It was sad to leave the T3 tent for the last time, but Kate and Mark said they’d be over at the finish waiting for me! The last loop I just tried to keep going. I hadn’t walked at all and I felt good but as the run course was crowding up, I had harder and harder times getting through the aid stations. I got jostled and sometimes didn’t get quite everything I needed. With 2 miles to go, the girl who had marked me blew by me. Damn. She was in my age group.
Just keep strong and keep going. In past races I’ve counted down aid stations and miles during the run, but not this time. I tried to convince my legs to pick up the pace a bit. I’m not sure I was convincing. The last out and back on the run course. Less than a mile to go. The girl in my AG wasn’t too far in front of me, but enough that I didn’t have space to catch back up. As I ran back I was hoping that none of the girls I saw were in my age group. I picked it up just in case.
I realized about 2 miles to go that I would just about make it in under 10 hours. That was the main goal for the race. Break 10. It helped me keep going. With the last direction to the finish I heard my sister cheering for me. I smiled. Down towards the movie theater and back up towards the finish line. I had people hold their hands out to high five. I was so focused on getting to the finish I didn’t even try. With lazer focus (I didn’t see Kate and Mark but ran RIGHT by them) I crossed the line in 9:58:45. Mission accomplished.
As soon as I stopped I started to feel very hot. I was a bit concerned I might need an IV and all I wanted to do was get into the ice buckets. I managed to get cooled off enough. Finisher photo taken by Jessica (THANKS!) and meet up with my entire family.
IMTX was my 6th full Ironman, a PR of about 24 minutes, my first time under 10 hours and no matter how many more of these I do in my life, will probably be high on my list of the most special races I’ve done. I don’t feel like I gave everything i had to give, or that everything magically clicked, but it was the first race where my entire family was there to cheer and support, the first (full) I got to do with my little sister and that’s what it made it more special than any time goal or Kona slot.
I ended up 2nd in my AG. (By just 2 minutes) And 4th amateur female. The next day we attended the Awards and Kona slot allocation. J and i got a good picture with Mike Riley (the voice) and Emi (my niece).
I can’t WAIT to race with my sister in Kona! But next up, Eagleman!
Thanks to Gilbert’s Gazelles who are always fun to run with, Jack & Adams for getting my bike race ready! And always being sure they have all the nutrition I need in stock. To John and Dave who let me borrow race wheels! Huge thanks to T3 and all my friends who went down to the race to cheer. Wouldn’t be the same without the T3 tent and support! Super proud to be a part of such an amazing family!
And, my family who supports me in more ways than I can appreciate it. I’m blessed to be able to do what I love and look forward to more fun racing this year.