It was different, but not too different than the first. In some ways it was more challenging than Austin, although I did manage to eke out a personal best, so I count myself pleased, although I've identified several areas where I can improve :-).
|Leaving Austin at 7 AM...
We drove directly to Moody Gardens to pick up our race packets and drop off our bikes. The first thing we discovered when we arrived was that it was cold and rainy and the swim venue (Offats Bayou) was a bit choppy...
|Under the triumphal arch the day before the race...
|The white tent with dinosaurs five years ago...
Then you exit via the Ironman store and vendor village where you can wait in line to buy stuff.
|Inside the big white tent
|The paddlewheeler Colonel.
|The swim course, with the finish right by the paddlehweeler
|The house we rented
|Cemetery across street.
|Making spaghetti dinner
I managed to get around five or six hours of sleep and only hit the snooze button once when the alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning. After a couple cups of coffee, a banana, and a bagel, we were off!
The temperature felt good: low fifties, not too much of a breeze. I decided I didn't need gloves, but would take along my arm warmers for the bike just in case. We arrived at Moody Gardens a little after six and discovered we had had to park about a fifteen minute walk from the actual transition area. A remarkably long line greeted us to enter transition (for body marking), but since we had already done so, we were able to get in with only a brief wait and some judicious weaving through the crowd.
|Testing out the wetsuit when I first got it.
We then made our way separately to the swim start: they did a wave start by age group. You jump off the pier (see above map), hang around in the water for a couple minutes, and then swim like the wind when you hear the starter's horn.
The water was a nice 72 degrees, about twenty degrees warmer than the outside temperature. The water felt good, although it took a few minutes to get used to the waves and occasional mouthful of salt water. I felt pretty good, though, and noticed myself passing a lot of people. More importantly, I managed to beat my swim time from last fall's Austin Ironman 70.3.
Once I was out of the water, the wetsuit strippers were efficient and I had no problem getting to my bike (even without my glasses), stowing my wetsuit and taking off. Because it was relatively warm, I decided not to bother with my sleeves, and I wouldn't have worn gloves even if I had brought them.
|Grimacing with miles to go...
Also about that time, the temperature dropped by about ten degrees, and it started to rain. And then my back started to hurt from being in aero position for so long. In short, the ride back was completely miserable...But I managed to break three hours, which had been my goal.
In addition to the lower back pain, I got a pain between my shoulders, and every time I tried to stand up in the pedals to stretch, my legs felt like they wanted to cramp up. And my hands were so cold I could barely move them to squeeze my water bottles.
|Trying to squeeze out the last drop from my water bottle.
By the time I got back to transition, my hands were so numb that I couldn't operate the clip on my helmet. Putting on my shoes and tying my laces was equally an ordeal. It didn't help that my legs and abs kept cramping up when I bent to tie the laces. After a ridiculously long transition, I made it onto the run course and my watch died.
But my legs felt good and I enjoyed the run a lot more than I thought I was going to on the return bike. :-). My pacing was a bit off and I came in somewhat slower than I would've liked, but it still felt pretty good.
|Mugging with the finisher's medal
|Using the R8 recovery roller thing...