Wow, what a race!
I still remember watching the live feeds of friends finishing 2017 Ironman Texas. I knew then, that I wanted to do this race! In a brief conversation with Coach Morgan I asked if she thought it was a possibility. She said it would be close after looking at my Galveston 70.3 splits. I’m a back of the packer but I love this sport! The triathlon community is amazing and the incredible people you meet with Big Dreams and Big hearts to help in any way they can. I started officially training for Ironman Texas on October 30. 2017. It was a big goal one I had thought about a lot but was determined to do whatever it took. I’m not the most athletic person and having been plagued with injuries since I began running and training for triathlons. Coach and I agreed with the new deferral program if I wasn’t ready at 46 days out we would defer to 2019, but I was determined to not let that happen! Training was great and I never felt like I couldn’t finish a workout, there were days my Heart Rate didn’t want to do what the workout was but I just kept going. Don’t get me wrong, there were tough days and days I spent the rest of the day on the couch. My training was anywhere from 6 hours a week in the beginning to my last peek week of 18 hours. Not just the training but making sure my body stayed healthy, I visited Dr. Adam Rodgers my Chiropractor monthly until closer to the race when I went weekly. Also, Karen with Active Living Massage Therapy, she helped tremendously with several tightness issues so I could continue training. I also used Compression boots after long workouts to improve recovery time. I only missed 5 workouts in the 6 months of training which took lots of planning and some sacrifice to get those workouts done being a wife, mom to 3 daughters and having a full-time job.
I made it to the start line - an accomplishment in and of itself as many get injured during training. Clearly my Coach’s plan was perfect! I had no time goals other than finish before 17 hours, I knew there were many variables that could impact the day. Arrived at transition, aired up my tires and put nutrition, salt and water on my bike. Dropped a few things in my Bike and Run gear bags and began the walk to swim start. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was rising and the water was calm. The cannon went off and the day was beginning. I grouped myself with the 1:31-1:40 predicted finish time and gradually moved closer to getting in the water. At 6:58, I entered the water and the day had begun! Official temperature was 73.3 so I wore a sleeveless wetsuit. I just wanted to get into a comfortable pace and just swim. There were moments that people got bunched up and I had to search for open space but I adjusted and just kept going. First turn, 1500 meters complete. Swim, swim, swim 1500 more meters. Now we entered the canal, the area became a bit more cramped but I knew we were getting close. The closer we got to the end, the louder the crowd got and it was electric! Last red buoy, swim exit!! I had just swum 2.4 miles! Ran up to the strippers and the through run gear bags on to the changing tent! These volunteers are amazing, their job is definitely not glamorous but such an asset to the athletes. Got changed and headed out to the bike course.
Bike: we had several miles to ride before we would be on the 2 loops of the Hardy Toll Road. The first loop the wind was almost nonexistent but the second loop we had some wind. I just went aid station to aid station drinking, stretching and then headed back out on the course. I ended up spending 30 minutes at the aid stations of my 7:15 ride but it helped break it up so it was worth it. I saw several crashes and many with flat tires. I just kept riding, staying in training pace Heart Rate and eating my waffles, which about 3.5 hours in, began to taste like sand. I can’t say enough about how great the volunteers were. When you stopped someone immediately came over and asked, “What do you need?”. Finally, done on the toll road and headed back to transition. These 10 Miles seemed to take forever, the outsides of my palms were numb and I really wanted to get off the bike. Yay!! Dismount Line! I was honestly unsure if I could and feared I would run over a volunteer but my body did what it was supposed to and I handed my bike to a volunteer who racked it as I went to the changing tent one final time. My family ran alongside the transition gate cheering and asking how it was!! Seeing them out on the course were some of my favorite moments!
Run: My first marathon! There were 3 loops to the course each approx 9 Miles. You start on the waterway and the crowd is electric! Everyone cheering, giving high fives and lots of music. You continue on to the back side and there are even people there camped out for all my 3 loops with music and encouragement. One of our Youth Playtri families was out on the 1st loop cheering for athletes! Loved seeing all the supporters! Next through a neighborhood with residents out playing music, water hoses on! The support is fantastic! Back on to the waterway and loop 1 was done! My family was just past this point. Lap 2 got really hot and I ended up walking about 2 miles and met a great guy racing for Texas Memorial Children’s Hospital. His friend was racing last year and unfortunately passed away during the swim. After picking up my special needs and changing shoes I began to run again as the sun began to go down. Back on the canal with many still out cheering! My family! Loop 3! About a third of the way in I slowed to walk as my calves had been badly sunburnt and I knew I had time if I walked fast to still make it. I began walking with Tammy. She had walked the entire Marathon!! She lost all her nutrition and set out to walk until the finish, it was her first full as well. We talked and walked the rest of the last loop! Towards the end, as my walk got even slower she would say “you still with me?” I just kept moving. As we headed closer to the finish line we could hear Mike Rielly and knew it was so close! Months of hard work training and here I was about to enter the finisher chute. I asked her if she thought she could run and we both joked about falling and having to crawl.
We jogged and finished our first Ironman!
Then at the finish I saw my family and then my Coach Morgan Hoffman and her husband, Reed! So blessed! Evidentially, I had been running all evening with a very white face as I hadn’t rubbed all the sunscreen in. Thanks to my friend Erica and another volunteer who let me use her shirt to wipe off the excess so my finisher photos would be better. What an amazing race!! I couldn’t have finished this without the amazing support of my husband and kids, my Coach Morgan Hoffman, and all my incredible training buddies! I firmly believe anyone can do an Ironman! You have to have the desire, consistency in your training and I would recommend a coach! Maybe for you it’s not an Ironman but some other big goal in life, I would say the same thing!
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!! I AM AN IRONMAN!!
See the sweet video that Amber's husband made:
Big congrats to Amber from her entire Playtri Family!!