* I’m splitting my race report into multiple blog posts, because it would just get TOO long otherwise!*
Ever since I started doing triathlons in 2012, my dream has always been to race with Mike. We attempted to do it in 2013 at the 5150 Galveston race. Our friends, Steve and Jennifer, were also signed up to do the race and their daughter offered to watch Maddie. Well, the weather took a bad turn and the swim got cancelled. Both Mike and Steve decided they’d rather go do a long training ride than do a shortened race. Since then, we have chosen to take turns racing, so the other could take care of Maddie. I don’t know what changed, but Mike and I decided to try to give it another go and we both signed up for Ironman Texas 2018. My mother-in-law has attended a few of Mike’s Ironman races, so she was familiar with being a spectator/sherpa, so we knew we could ask her to watch Maddie while we raced. Well, circumstances intervened again and racing together didn’t happen that year. About 5 weeks into training, I started having intense searing pain in my lower back. An MRI revealed that I had a herniated disc, a fissured disc, sacroilitis and bursitis in both hips. I pulled out of the race and turned my focus on recovery. I went through about 5 months of physical therapy and got my body in a strong and healthy place. Since it didn’t happen in 2018, we were determined to make it happen in 2019, so we both registered again
As with many things in life, the setback that I suffered due to my injury in 2018 became a blessing in disguise. Going through physical therapy and learning about my muscular weaknesses and imbalances taught me the importance of building strength in the stabilizing muscles. I was able to build and maintain a foundation that served me well in preparation for Ironman Texas 2019. I felt strong throughout my training and didn’t suffer any major injuries. I also didn’t battle with the niggles that often plague endurance athletes, like ITB.
As strong as my body felt, I was tormented with horribly uncontrollable allergies and asthma this year. The last couple months of training were impacted by a sinus infection and very labored and shallow breathing. It was particularly bad in the two weeks before the race. I suffered with lung spasms during longer bike rides and all my paces were dropping because I just couldn’t breathe. I paid a visit to my allergy/asthma doctor the week before the race and the spirometry test indicated that I had the lung function of a 65-year old woman. To say I was really disappointed about my condition heading into the race would be an understatement. Ironman is a long day and having compromised lung function is not ideal. My doctor added a new inhaler (Spiriva), but it didn’t seem to make a lick of difference, as I would still go into coughing fits if I tried to breathe deeply. Over that week, I just accepted the fact that my race was going to be mediocre.
It started early for me. I randomly woke up at around 2:30 after a pretty restful night of sleep. Mike said he was planning on waking up around 3:00, so I just laid there in bed scrolling through social media to occupy my mind. His alarm finally went off at 3:15, so we both got up to get ready. Transition opened at 5 am, so we left the hotel around 4:50 to walk over. That’s when the Oyler train wreck began. We got a block away before Mike realized he forgot his bike computer, so I watched all our bags while he ran back to the room to find it. We got to transition, got our bikes set up and put a few things into our run and bike bags. We started the long walk to the swim start (about a mile) and got about 3 blocks away before I realized I had didn’t have my wetsuit. So, it was Mike’s turn to stand on the street with all our bags while I ran back to transition find my wetsuit. Luckily it was safely sitting on top of the run bags, where I must have set it down when putting my water bottle in there. I ran back to Mike with wetsuit in hand. I had some beads of sweat trickling down my neck from sprinting to/from transition. I decided I was thoroughly warmed up for the race! 😂 We made it to the swim start without any further drama. We dropped off our special needs bags and then got wetsuited up. Mike is a much faster swimmer than me, so he lined up with the 1 hour swimmers, while my friend Jacy and I lined up in the 1:31-1:45 swimmers (we didn’t feel like fighting to get up to the 1:16-1:30 group). As we slowly made our way toward the swim entrance, I caught a glimpse of my mother-in-law and Maddie. Mike and I had told her not to worry about coming to the swim start because its early and Ironman is a long day and we didn’t want to stress her out. The awesome woman that she is, she came anyways. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my race than to get a hug and a kiss from Maddie!
* Actual race report to follow.*