Ironman Texas 2016 Race Report


Got up at 3:30 am, was out of the house by 4:30 and at T1 before it opened. Had plenty of time to take care of bike, add food to T1 bag, return my pump to (my most excellent Sherpa and friend) Larry, and a visit to restroom. I found my coach, Dave Jimenez, with the other Ironman U coaches and got to meet the CEO of Ironman (nice guy—told us his favorite race was Viet Nam). Water temp was steamy 81F, and only a small fraction insisted on wearing their wet suits and had to start at the end of the line. I jumped in line with those finishing around the same time and there was little time to think about what was going to happen. Somehow I was pretty calm the entire 24 hours leading up to the start—even slept about six hours.

The swim (2.4 miles):

We went in a line of sorts (a few at a time off the boat ramp). Adjusted immediately and just swam. The day before I did the practice swim and forgot my goggles and swam a half mile blind. Made this swim seem easier in a way. Didn’t tangle up with anyone really. Didn’t draft either. Had open pockets much of the time. They changed the swim to not include the canal (water unfit apparently), so we swam the entire lake (right down to the spillway, where I swear there was a current). Once I turned the corner to go back, I knew the swim was in the bag. I tried to focus on form. Sighting was no big deal. Although, it got foggy during the swim to where you couldn’t see the bridge at either end until you got close. Just swam buoy to buoy. Near the end I got clobbered by some guy and had to swim away from him. Some would drift into my path and I’d have to stop and swim towards the side they came from. Getting out was easy—great volunteers everywhere, but especially knee-deep in the water helping us out. And off to the bags and changing tent.

coming out of lake Ironman time: 1:25:03 Garmin time: 1:24:51 (about what I predicted). This is a 1:44min/100yd pace—very happy with that. Felt like I was moving, not many passed me and I passed many. Ironman said I was in 131st out of about 300 at that point. 850 in gender. 1100/3031.


Changing tent was hot. Had to find a seat first. Decided to go for comfort and get out of the tri-suit. Had food pre-loaded in sleeveless cycling jersey. Pretty smooth transition—a bit of travel in bike shoes. Volunteers slathered me in sun block (no sunburn!).

Ironman time: 6:50; Garmin 6:48

The bike (94-95 miles)

The big controversy. The original route got canned due to construction (and bad planning). It took months to figure out an alternative due to working with a different county and massive flooding. Many transferred out to another race. I wasn’t about to. This would still be a real Ironman—I don’t care what anyone says.

So for many triathletes, I’m guessing the route sucked. 85 turns. Not a lot of really long straightaways. Basically not much different than charity rides in my neck of the woods. But the road surface was much nicer and it was very well marked. Larry and I drove it the day before and got lost four times. But I remembered much of it and it helped in a few ways.

So race day, it was really hot and really humid. Coach wanted my HR to be 140-145 (my top of Zone 2) and I couldn’t get it down that low (averaged 152, so close). Especially following a few guys who I eventually let go (only to pass one much later). We haven’t had this kind of heat and humidity yet in Dallas, so I wasn’t really ready for it. I think that attributed to my higher HR as I felt fine—not panting at all. I kept to my nutrition and liquids as planned. I had the Garmin alarm me every 20 minutes like clockwork.

Tri bikes were doing just fine. I was getting passed plenty on my road bike. I was a little miffed and jealous, but I knew I couldn’t go after them—there was a little run coming up. I suppose some cranked up the speed knowing they had less miles (and the CEO of Ironman said that would be a mistake).

I rolled into Transition ready to move on and very nervous about my knees. biking

Ironman time: 4:39:00 (pace 20.43 mph); Garmin 4:39:08 20.2 mph (distance is different). Moved up to 89th place (624, 775). My daughter said she sorted the data and I ranked 40th in AG on bike.


Grabbed another bag and went into another hot tent and changed to running shorts and tech shirt. More sun block. I changed socks and did this too quickly I think—might have had a fold in the sock which turned out to be a bad thing.

Ironman and Garmin: 6:26

The Run:

This was slow sledding from the very start. I immediately had blistering going on under my left foot and the humidity was rough. Coach Dave said to run to each rest stop and then walk through. So that was the plan. This made most of my 1 miles splits come out to 10:45ish which felt really slow. And then I’d walk the rest stops even slower (11:30-12:30 pace as a result). But I was still running.

Coach Dave found me on the path on his mountain bike at Mile 11.5 and asked how I was doing. I said I was OK but running as fast as I was going to go. He said I killed the bike and was happy to see me running at all—he had taped my knee the night before and I told him it was a crap shoot on that. The knee was hurting some, but I took a pain pill for that (which doesn’t help tight quads or a blistered foot, by the way). With his encouraging words, I mustered on.

At Mile 12, it started to lightning and thunder. Then rain. Then rain really hard. By Mile 13, they told us to run to the next timing mat and they were stopping the race for up to an hour. But you had to get to the mat to keep your data right. The problem was I had no idea where that was and even so, it would take a long time to get there. The temp dropped from 95 to 66F in a hurry.

running in the rainBy Mile 14, water was flooding the sidewalks, roads, and paths. And then pea-sized hail fell. And then the wind picked up. Apparently up to 30mph—it made the rain hit me horizontally. I had to tilt my hat and head to shield my face. But I mustered on. No timing mat in sight. As I looked down into the canal, there were white caps on the water surface. It was insane. Most spectators ran for cover, but there were some crazies out there encouraging the few that were still running. 

Then it died down some and by time I got to the timing mat they had let the horde go. No stop for me.

The fortunate thing about the course was that it was three loops. I kept thinking, if I can just get to the second lap, I’ll know I’ll see each aid station, group of spectators, whatever, only one more time. But at this point, I was drenched. My non-technical clothes were carrying extra water, my feet were floating in my shoes, and I was hurting.

Even though on Mile 5 I was thinking of bagging it (just felt like 21 miles was going to be impossible), by the third loop, my goal changed to run the whole thing. Yes, stop and walk at aid stations, but run every step in between. At Mile 23, this seemed impossible. My foot was on fire (and apparently, I’m going to lose two or three toenails) and my knee was really starting to hurt (oh, I suppose there was the normal feeling of waiting to die). I had seen a local fellow triathlete, Chris, miles before and she asked how I was doing and I just shrugged my shoulders. I guess I didn’t really know how I was doing—I was keeping the same pace sorta, but it was slow. Is that good? Well, in those last three miles, I passed dozens and dozens who were walking. One gal who was walking shouted out as I passed, “Keep running dude.” I thought, yep, I’ve come this far, don’t stop running now. The pain is your new paradigm. This is who you are, hurting dude on a mission. Just keeping going.

finish line I saw Chris just before the finish. At that point, I knew I had made it. She was yelling and I was yelling. Even before the last turn before the chute, people were yelling, “you’ve done it, you’re there” and I’d scream back over the din, “YES I DID!” I was the only guy in the finishedchute when I got there. Throngs of people watched my finish and I entertained them. I pumped my fists, yelled, kissed the sky, and then put out my arms and flew up to the finish. Mike Reilly said, Jeffrey is really happy to be here because JEFFREY, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

Ironman Run time: 5:16:07 Garmin: 5:16 elapsed time. Finished in 117th, 764th, and 981st.

Total 11:33:30


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