Monday, September 28, 2015

Half Crazy: Team Healey Goes Long

Hey, look!  It's a blog!

The last time I wrote a blog (in May) I publicly chastised myself for keeping my dozen(s) of loyal readers waiting for 11 months in between thrilling narratives and race recaps.  Barely four months later, I am back with a half assed race, not to toot my own horn or anything, but, uh, beep beep.

Let's start from the start.  Since I haven't been writing blogs this summer, what have I been doing?

Well, loyal reader, rest assured, I didn't spend my summer sunning my hide on my back porch.  For starters, in South Texas where the temperatures reach the low hundreds, my back porch is the last place I'd want to be.  Secondly, based on the DNA testing my parents recently had done, I am like 99 percent descended from Vikings.  And while my ancestors did have epic beards and insatiable appetites for plunder and pillaging, they didn't exactly bronze up nicely.

No, friends, I haven't been relaxing poolside.  I've been busy coaching, cheering and racing as my teammates have tackled trails and tris for the last four months.  Between Ironman Texas and this weekend my team raced two duathlons, four triathlons and four trail races.  It's been a busy summer doing what we love to do and it culminated in 13 of our team members tackling the Quarter and Half Iron distance races at the Kerrville Triathlon Festival this weekend.

Before I get into my Kerrville Triathlon Festival race recap, let me throw some photos and captions at you that encapsulate the last four months of theTeam Healey Multisport Team and Team Healey True Runners dominating the regional race scene:

Claudia Farr Photography made us look like rockstars at our Team Healey Multisport photo-shoot

The homeless population of Harlingen was kind enough to relocate for about an hour

I want my tombstone to read: "He successfully assembled a team of attractive women and convinced them to wear spandex outfits featuring his last name."  

Team Healey Ironginger Amanda went for a 112 mile bike ride with the Iron Cowboy during his 50 Iron-distance races in 50 days in 50 states challenge.

Our girls swept the 30-34 age group at the Tri-Girl Sprint in Harlingen.  Just three of our five podiums that day.

Eddie and I manned the Team Healey water stop at the Tri and Tri Again Double Sprint at South Padre Island.

The Team Healey True Runners put in work at the Footworks Anniversary Run in Harlingen.  Just one of the many local 5Ks and 10Ks we supported this summer.

We participated in the Light the Night 5K/10K Trail series with Sole Racing in Mission this summer.  Great series.  Great people.

Lacy and I qualified for the USAT Age Group National Championship with age group wins at the Tri For Old Glory Olympic distance race in San Marcos

We put five athletes on podiums that day and had several teammates complete their first Olympic distance race.

We grabbed four more podiums at the Coyote's Howl night /trail10K.

And we were well represented in our own backyard at the Tri-Girl Sprint in Harlingen.

Our girls took three more podiums at the Laredo Cycling Association Sprint Triathlon in Laredo.
And supported our local law enforcement at the Run With The Heroes 5K in Harlingen
And took two more podiums at the Firefly 5K/10K

And raced another 5K at Grace Point Fellowship
I managed a second place finish and a PR at the Clear Lake International Triathlon in League City.
The team took 10 more podiums at the Los Fresnos Triathlon and the Du It Girl Duathlon in back to back weekends.

We took over the Gracey Pool at Marine Military Academy for a two day swim clinic hosted by our friend Ryan Vogel.
Another night trail run, another three podiums at the Rock the Night 5K/10K.  Yawn.

And we ended the summer with seven more podiums at the Just Du It Duathlon in Harlingen.

So, yeah...we've been sort of busy.  And this weekend was no exception.

Saturday morning, after sending off the True Runners at the Run With The Heroes 5K we loaded up the tri wagon and drove to Kerrville to meet the multisport team and check in for the race at Inn of The Hills.

The Kerrville Triathlon Festival was Lacy's first 70.3 back in 2013 and was on our race schedule last year until a friend's wedding landed on the same weekend.  We were excited to race Kerrville this year and take our team to a big regional event where a bunch of our triathletes were planning to tackle their first 70.3.

Packet pickup and gear check were uneventful, and in spite of the prolonged heart attack I endured during the Texas Tech vs. TCU game, I arrived at transition on Sunday morning in decent shape.

In transition and pre-race I spotted 13 Team Healey athletes and about a half dozen other RGV triathletes getting ready for the race.  The weather was in the low 60's which kept the water temp wetsuit legal.  It made for a nice change of pace from our hot summer races and allowed me a chance to break out my new Roka wetsuit (Side note:  It's so choice.  If you have the means I highly recommend picking one up).

Some of our Team Healey athletes pre-race

Priscilla, Carolina, Norma, Lacy (and Valentin) at the swim start
The swim start was a rolling start by age group which gave everyone a chance to enter the water without the typical panic inducing mosh pit feeling of a mass start.

I had a decent swim considering I have only swam four times since Ironman Texas (two races and two practices).  In spite of my lack of practice I managed a 38 minute swim - a few minutes slower than usual, but better than I expected given my lack of practice.

After an uphill sprint to transition I hit the first loop of the bike feeling great.  The temps were still cool and the sky was slightly overcast which kept the heat down.  The bike course was a relatively flat and fast two loop course south out of Kerrville along both sides of the Guadalupe River.  Aside from one patch of tough chip seal for a couple of miles and two quick, steep hills on the back side of the course, it was easy to keep my pace above 20 mph.  I finished the first loop on pace for a 2:45 bike and decided to make that my goal on the second loop.  I rolled into transition at exactly 2:45 feeling like I might have a chance at breaking my 70.3 PR.

As soon as I hit the bike dismount line and stood up from my saddle my thoughts of a PR diminished considerably.  I felt an immediate pain in my lower back and knew I was going to be dealing with it for the next 13.1 miles.

The back pain wasn't entirely unexpected.  After racing Clear Lake in August I got a new bike fit, practiced with it for about a week and then went out of town for the next three weeks for work related training in Georgia and Maryland.  My two weeks in Georgia was spent mostly in the mat room wrestling with other grown men and sleeping on a poor quality mattress, and my week in Maryland was spent in death by PowerPoint.  After a week at home I hit the road again for a week of meetings in Houston.  My back had been bothering me since that first week in the mat room, but due to my travel schedule I hadn't been able to give it the attention it needed.  In the last ten days I was able to make it to two appointments with Dr. Joe at Airrosti before leaving for Kerrville but I knew in my heart that my lack of saddle time and lack of proper attention to my back issues was going to come back to bite me.

So I hobbled out onto the run course and did my best impression of a runner for the next two hours and ten minutes.  I normally run a half marathon in the 1:30s and have run a half off the bike in about 1:45, but by the end of mile one yesterday I knew it wasn't going to be one of those days.

Soup Sandwich: Tony took over 300 pictures and this was, literally, the best one of me on the run course.  That's saying something. 

The run course was a pretty two loop out and back on a path that ran along the Guadalupe River.  The course had a lot of shade and was very well supported and gave me the opportunity to see my teammates repeatedly as we passed one another.  Unfortunately, the concrete surface probably exacerbated my back pain and kept me from getting into too much of a rhythm.  I would start running and would feel great at a 7:30-8:00/mile for a mile or so when out of nowhere I would feel as if someone had punched me in the right kidney.  I'll spare you the details, but that was, basically, my entire half marathon experience.  Run for awhile, get punched, walk it off, repeat.  Through gritted teeth I limped across the finish line with a 2:11 half and a 5:41 overall.  It wasn't a PR by a long shot, but it wasn't my worst race either...and given how much effort I put into my preparation and health, it was probably the race that I deserved.

My partner in crime rocking her Jesse Thomas shades out on the run course.

The best part of race day - aside from seeing Priscilla, Jody, Amy, Melissa and Della finish their first 70.3s and seeing Lacy, Tommy, Christina, Alex, Carolina, Linda, Norma, Valentin and the Pacesetters along the course - was the post race venue.  The good people at High Five Events had the presence of mind to end the race in a park next to the river and to bring a couple of dozen inter-tubes for people to float in post race.  While waiting for my girls to finish I spent a solid half hour sipping Dr. Pepper and washing the salt off of my skin in the cool water next to the finish line.  It was awesome.

Tommy appeared to enjoy his run considerably more than I did. 

Post race photos along the river

Priscilla smiling.  As usual. 

Della and our favorite SAG driver Eddie after her first 70.3

Joe isn't just our main sponsor, he also hands out water on the course! 

The Cardenas siblings after 70.3 number two!

Our second set of Team Healey siblings, Amy and Melissa after 70.3 number one!

The Team Healey Houston Chapter - Ironman Linda Tran!

Ironman Norma Medrano showed grit out there on a tough day

Tommy and Christina led the Team Healey cheer squad after they finished the Quarter Distance race.


Photo credits go to the awesome Tony Pinedo who, along with Joe and Eddie, was on the course all day long cheering us on.  We're blessed with great fans and supporters who travel with us, support us at practice, sponsor us (Salazar Insurance Group!) and haul our gear around without so much as a complaint!  Thank you so much, gentlemen!

So, the eternal question...what's next?

With the season winding down, Team Healey is sitting in second place in Division 4 in the USAT South Midwest Region Club Competition.  With teammates scheduled to race in four more races before the end of the year, including Ironman Cozumel in late November, we have a great chance to end the season on one final podium as a team.

For my dozen(s) of loyal fans...stay tuned.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Triathlons, Trails, True Runners and Team Healey - A Year in Review

Team Healey Multisport - May 16, 2015
I'm so bad at blogging.  Like, remember that YouTube video where the guy from Ball State University kept unenthusiastically saying "And...Boom goes the dynamite!" on a college sports highlight show?  I'm that bad...but at blogging.

I logged in to my Blogger account tonight to do my Ironman Texas 2015 race recap and immediately realized that I hadn't written a blog since my last Ironman Texas race recap...eleven months ago.  That, simply put, is unacceptable. And that is clearly no way to keep a loyal and ravenous fan base satisfied. So, to my dozen(s) of loyal readers, I sincerely apologize.  I will make considerable effort to keep the posts fresh and regular this summer.

And it isn't like nothing has happened in the last 11 months that was worth writing about.  Quite the opposite in fact.  It's just that I haven't taken the time to sit down and write about any of it.  Family, career, travel, training and racing tend to take up the majority of my time, and things like "write a new blog post" end up way down the list under things like "3:00/1:00 run/bike brick, weights" and "take your wife out to dinner for God's sake." Also, I blame Instagram.  The photograph/caption format just seems to fit this triathlete's life much better than this ancient "Web Logging" thing.  But, alas, there are times when a story must be told...and today is one of those times.

Out of respect for the reader, I feel it is important to give you some context before I drop you into the middle of another sweaty day in The Woodlands.  So, before I move on to the full on Ironman Texas race recap let me break down the last eleven months in a single thrilling paragraph:

Post IMTX 2014 Lacy and I took a little "runcation" and spent seven weeks training about 20 triathletes for their first sprint and Olympic races at the Small/Tiny Texan Triathlon in Boerne.  The team did great (three podiums!) and about a dozen of our athletes kept training and racing all summer and fall dominating several local triathlons and duathlons.  Lacy and I took a summer trip to Maine to visit family, did some open water swimming, went to LL Bean, ate some lobster and then trained for a fitness competition (3rd place men's physique for me, 5th place women's bikini for Lacy).  After the fitness show we did a 20 mile trail run at the Lighthouse Hill Ranch 10/20 and 50K followed by a Half Ironman in Austin.  We also invested in some acreage in the Hill Country which we hoped to use for the occasional weekend training trip.  I spent November growing an epic mustache for the Men of Triathlon calendar while we trained runners for the Harlingen and Las Vegas Half Marathons and McAllen Marathon.  When it was over, we traveled to Vegas to celebrate the end of an era and the dawning of a new one and then opened our new business - Team Healey Multisport.  Our Team Healey True Runners kicked off the New Year with the spirit award at the South Texas Sizzler 5K/10K (a moment to savor).  The New Year also brought new challenges and trials as we raced and trained runners and triathletes for races around the region and began training for Ironman Texas 2015.  Between near constant travel and work obligations, some scary family issues and the struggle of starting a new fitness brand in a competitive market, training for Ironman took a decidedly slow start this year.  In February the True Runners raced the Get Up and Train Half Marathon and the Austin Full and Half Marathon.  In March they raced the Show The Trail Who's Boss Half Marathon in Brownsville and the Mesquite Fire 50K Trail Ultramarathon in the mud and rain in Mission.  In April, our multisport team kicked off our 2015 schedule in earnest with the Anyone Can Tri Mini/Micro Triathlon in Brownsville and Half Iron races in New Orleans and Galveston and the Iron Gingers and I spent a torturous weekend at the aforementioned Hill Country acreage practicing riding and running at an incline.  So, that just about brings us up to speed...

Competing in a natural bodybuilding competition in September
Repping Wally's Bicycles at Ironman Austin 70.3 in October
TRUE Runners on the podium at our first team event in January
Team Healey after the Jalapeno 100 in February 
Mesquite Fire 50K in the rain and mud in March
Show The Trail Who's Boss Half Marathon in March
Hills on hills on hills at Dancing Bear Ranch
In the interest of brevity I've left out a lot of the drama and most of the details (like how I may or may not have spent time this spring drafting a screenplay for a Texas based coming of age teen dance competition movie tentatively titled "Two Step It Up.").  But, regardless, that should give you the bird's eye view of the life of your author since he last regaled you with heroic tales of triathlon and tribulation.

So where does that leave us?

Ah, yes...smack dab in the middle of a sweaty day in The Woodlands.  Ironman Texas 2015.

The road to The Woodlands started slowly for me in early February.  After spending much of December and January focussed on the new business and my work related travel obligations, I started to base build in the pain cave on our new Kurt Kinetic Road Machine (with InRide).  Thanks to more than two solid years of training for long course triathlon, I wasn't starting from scratch, but I knew I had to make my workouts count as my job was taking me on the road on an almost weekly basis.  I made extra effort to spend quality time on the trainer throughout my build for Ironman Texas and deferred to a hard ride over an easy run or swim at almost every opportunity.

La Flamma Blanca 

I'll spare you the details of 16 weeks of training, but I will say that I arrived in The Woodlands on the Tuesday before the race feeling confident that I would have a new bike PR and a solid run, but feeling slightly underprepared for the swim.  I based my reasoning on the fact that I had raced a quick-given-the-conditions 50K in March followed by a 1:36 half marathon on tired legs a week later; that I had felt fresh as a daisy after our windy 100K bike at the Jalapeno 100 in February and fresher still after a 100K shake out two weeks before the race; and the that I had swam approximately 12 times in my lead up to race day with exactly two of those swims exceeding 2,000 yards.  So, yeah.  If I didn't drown, I'd probably do okay.

Driving to The Woodlands on Tuesday with my gear and Lacy's safely tucked into our new race wagon (yes, we bought a triathlon specific used vehicle - a Lexus GX470 - that could transport two bikes and all of our gear around the state.  We're that triathlon couple.) was a harbinger of things to come.  The rain was constant from Corpus to the outskirts of Houston and the flooding along 59/69 was pretty scary.  The forecast called for rain and severe thunderstorms throughout our stay in the Houston area and the weather was downright soggy right from the jump.

The new tri-wagon on a training trip to Dancing Bear Ranch

I got into town in time to make it to the social with my Ironman Foundation - Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Team at Goose's Acre and then called it a night.  Wednesday, I went to the IMFNR commercial shoot on The Waterway and service project at Interfaith of The Woodlands Veggie Village and then picked up Lacy from the airport in between bouts of severe thunderstorms.

(Side note:  In February I applied for and was selected to the Ironman Foundation - Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Team alongside about 40 other athletes.  In the lead up to Ironman Texas our team raised over $22,000 for a charitable organization in The Woodlands.  Some of my teammates will no doubt make a cameo or two as the story goes on.  They are a bunch of solid people and inspiring athletes. Kokua.)

"Hey, you two.  You appear to be bad at gardening.  Go make compost."

I didn't have any lines, but I stood next to a guy that did, so...

A soggy morning in The Woodlands. 
After athlete check-in, Lacy and I unloaded our gear at the rental house in Spring, stocked up on groceries and headed to Cheesecake Factory.  When we got to the restaurant we spotted another triathlete wearing an Ironman Arizona jacket waiting for a table.  Lacy asked him to join us for dinner since we're sort of creepy like that.

(Side note: You, dear reader, may find asking a random stranger to join you for dinner to be a bizarre thing, but in the Ironman tribe, I can assure you, such behavior is normal and encouraged.)

It took about three sips of water and 30 seconds of chatting to realize that our table mate was a rad guy and would likely turn into a long lasting member of our community of random tri-friends.  And after what seemed like a couple of hours of swapping tales we realized that our new friend Seth Gerber was also friends with our Ironman Cozumel friends Doug and Stephanie Silk.  Talk about a small world.  Two people from the Rio Grande Valley have dinner with a stranger from Los Angeles and find out that he is friends with a couple from Las Vegas that we met in Cozumel.  Downright weird...even for Ironman.  Regardless, meeting Seth set the tone for the rest of the week for us.  It was good karma, and we kept bumping into him time and again.  If you're bored (and reading this missive would suggest that you are) you might think about logging onto Instagram and checking out @sethgerber.  Seth has a truly inspirational story to share and I highly encourage you to follow his journey.

Post dinner picture with Seth
Thursday was sunny and hot for the most part and we celebrated by running along The Waterway in our underwear.  No, seriously.  We did that.  Let me explain.  The Underpants Run is a Kona tradition.  It is, ostensibly, meant to be an opportunity for proud and vain triathletes to show off their bodies in an appropriate manner.  It also serves as a PSA of sorts as the organizers ask the participants to pledge NOT to wear inappropriate stretchy pants and other triathlon garments into the local shops and restaurants the rest of the week.

For the first time in IMTX history, an Undie Run was put together for race week and about two dozen brave souls joined Lacy and I for a two mile jaunt along The Waterway in stifling heat and skimpy yet unsupportive clothing.  As with most things, Lacy quickly became the center of attention when she busted out a traffic stopping version of the National Anthem on the patio of the Goose's Acre.  And, as is likely to occur when triathletes get together, the "fun run" at taper pace became a completely unnecessarily quick pissing contest after about one mile.  All in all, the event was a ton of fun and we look forward to doing it again.  The t-shirts and medals were awesome and the spectacle of running around mid-day in boxer briefs while people on their lunch breaks looked on in abject horror was well worth the entry fee.

Drink it in, folks.  Drink. It. In.
Later that evening Lacy and I attended the athlete's dinner and had a chance to listen to six time Ironman World Champion Dave Scott and meet and mingle with pro women Heather Jackson and Angela Naeth and 2005 Ironman World Champion Faris Al-Sultan.  In characteristic Lacy fashion, she gave the former champ a hard time for his complaints about the weather before snapping a picture and telling him "I'll see you out there."  All in a day's work for Team Healey.

(Side note:  Faris had a tough race and ended up dropping out.  He announced his retirement on Monday.  Thanks, Lacy)

Lacy with Faris Al-Sultan right before she crushed his confidence and made him not want to be a triathlete anymore

Dave Scott.  He totally touched my chair she he walked up to the podium.
Friday was pretty chill.  After bike and gear check and practice swim in the morning we made a pasta dinner for our assorted house guests (between us, Amanda's family and our Team Healey Ironfans we had 11 people under one roof) and settled into a lavender and tylenol induced slumber by about 9:30pm.  The most stress we had came from Lacy very nearly knocking German pro Andres Raelert off of his bike on the way to gear check, the absolute deluge that occurred shortly after we checked our bikes and Lacy's aborted attempt to get cornrows done at the Regis in The Woodlands Mall.

(Side note:  Epic cornrow tantrum.  Y'all should've been there.)

Pro stalking in The Waterway Marriott lobby (That's Faris in the background)

Taking the Irongingers to practice swim
Race Day came early as it always does, but things were relatively orderly too.  We made our way through a Woodstock style muddy transition area where I made an ill advised attempt to chat with Heather Jackson who was racked three feet from me (Pro tip: Leave Heather Jackson alone on race morning, dude.  She's got a lot on her plate) before walking the mile to the swim start.  At the swim start I got to see fellow RGV triathletes Jeremy Bergeaux, Jason Reinhardt, Rick Seija and Gabe Garza and wolf down a Pop-Tart before saying goodbye to Lacy and stepping into the 1:10-1:20 corral for the start.

Mmmm, triathlete chorizo. Now that's a great look for us.

Jason IS a morning person
Compared to past years when the field started en masse, the swim start was calm and orderly this year.  I started the swim alongside Gabe, Jason, Rick and two of my IMFNR teammates Levi and Ryan.  Walking to the start with Jason jumping up and down like he had just drank three Red Bulls and a pot of coffee gave me ample distraction from my nagging concern that I had not swam nearly enough in training (Pro tip: Swimming more than 12 times in 16 weeks is highly advisable).

Team Healey
I'm the one in the green swimcap
The swim was pretty clean.  I didn't get knocked around too much, didn't get off course too much and didn't drink too much lake water.  All positives.  On the other hand, it was crowded out there, and I never got much of a chance to find an open line and lengthen my stroke.  And that kind of irritated me.  Also, the race wasn't wetsuit legal, so I swam in my swimskin.  That was a first for me at this distance, but I was pleased with the suit.  It kept my trisuit from acting as a parachute in the water and probably saved me several minutes overall.  Honestly, I don't really know what I was expecting on the swim given my lack of discipline in training, but when I finished I felt pretty good and I was pleased to be out of the water in about 1:25.  It wasn't my fastest Ironman swim by a long shot, but it also wasn't my slowest.  Maybe next time I'll hit the pool a little more.

Our dedicated sherpas!
After a pretty quick transition where I saw Rick and Jason briefly, I got on the bike and started north towards Conroe.

The first half of the bike course at IMTX is fast and beautiful, especially after the first 20 miles.  Once I turned north and picked up a slight tail wind I entered the Sam Houston National Forest and rode through rolling hills and Live Oak canopy at a solid clip.  Rick passed me around mile 15 and I managed to keep him in sight for the next 15 miles or so, but he eventually dropped me (another Ironman tradition!).  By the time I hit the chipsealed roads of Grimes County I knew I was on pace for a bike PR.

Looking solid at Mile 0
On the second half things got pretty tough between miles 60 and 85.  I managed to keep my pace at around 19mph, but had to contend with chipsealed pavement, an increasingly stout wind from the south and the rising temperature.  By the time I hit the Magnolia Freeway and turned east I was ready to get off of that saddle and onto the run course.  I had nailed my nutrition and nailed my hydration on the bike and felt confident when I rolled into transition in 5:42 (40 minutes faster than 2014 and a 20 minute PR over 2013).

(Side note:  I used Base Electrolyte Salt on the bike this year.  Every five miles I took two doses.  It was highly Pavlovian but also highly effective.  Five mile Garmin ding...two doses.  Repeat.  Just like the damn dog ringing the bell to get the reward.  I was my own psychology project.  The Base Salt was the bees knees, but even if it didn't work, the ritual of taking it every five miles gave me a great incentive to push on.  Also,  I ate the hell out of Gu Watermelon Chomps and fun sized Payday bars on the course.  Those Payday bars are my jam.)

The run started well for me but I realized early on that I was going to have to deal with some lingering soreness from the bike.  My hips were tight and I could hear my wife in my head offering a stern "I told you so" about my penchant for skipping daily foam rolling and appointments with Airrosti.  Still, I knew I had bought myself a good amount of time on the bike and could probably force a PR if I could hold it together for the marathon, so I ran through it and tried to establish a workable pace.

That form looks neither efficient nor comfortable
I love exactly half of the run course at Ironman Texas.  As you start out from the transition, you hit the Moxie Multisport people camped out under the Moxie Bridge in speedos and mullet wigs.  Following that are two more festive water stops before you make your way past the swim start and through the LuLu girls camped out in Northshore Park.  Leaving the swim start, things start to get grim.  From there it's a slog along a hot, unshaded, lightly populated series of roads and water stops until you enter the neighborhood on the east side of Lake Woodlands and start to hear the party sounds emanating from The Waterway.  From the time you enter The Waterway until the time you pass back under the Moxie Bridge, your feet don't touch the ground.  The party is that good.  But it's that party on The Waterway that makes the trip back down the lake so difficult on laps two and three.  Leaving it actually makes me depressed.

On lap one I felt great.  I walked the aid stations and my pace slowed on the back end, but along The Waterway I picked it back up.  Women's leader and eventual champion Angela Naeth passed me around Mile 5 and Jeremy passed me at around the 10K mark looking extremely strong (he managed a 3:30 marathon.  Epic).  Shortly after I hit The Waterway I got word from a passing race official that the second place female pro, Leanda Cave was coming up on my left.  And so, for about 45 glorious seconds I ran alongside the former Ironman World Champion and Ironman 70.3 World Champion.  As I came up on the Team Healey superfans I told Leanda "I'm going to let you beat me this time" and then stopped to say hi to my friends.  I could have sworn she smiled at me.

That would be my new best friend Leanda Cave in the pink shorts

After hearing that Amanda was off the bike and Lacy was almost finished with her ride I got back to work.  The second lap was more of the same, but hotter, and as I came around to the Moxie Bridge to start my third and final lap I could tell that things were starting to go south for me physically.
For starters, my fingertips and lips were starting to tingle and I seemed to have stopped sweating.  Then, when I stopped to use the restroom at mile 17 I couldn't go in spite of having had about six gallons of liquid in the previous two loops.  I'm no doctor, but I know what the body does when it is about to have itself a heat stroke, so I decided it was time to shut it down for a couple of miles and try to cool off.

A couple of miles turned into almost four as I pushed fluids put cold sponges under my arms and dropped cups of ice down my back and into my shorts in an effort to cool my core temperature.

(Side note: I learned some interesting things in the Boy Scouts of America, but not until May 16, 2015 did I try the old ice-in-the-crotch-to-fend-off-heat-stroke trick that I learned en route to earning my First Aid merit badge at Camp William Hines circa 1989)

Team Healey Hill 2015.  Strategically located between the Jockstrap Catapult and Hippie Hollow. 

By mile 21 I was almost back on The Waterway and I vowed to finish my race strong and get in under 12:45.  The crowd helped me pick up my pace and I "ran" for the next couple of miles with a guy named Allen from the QT2 Systems team.  At the second to last aid station I forced down a highly concentrated cup of Gatorade and after ringing the bell at the last aid station about a half mile out from the finish line my body decided to reject said Gatorade in a most unattractive manner just as The Waterway Cruiser passed by with a full compliment of fans crowding the rails.

(Side note:  Have you ever thrown up while running and had part of a half digested Concord grape come out of your right nostril in the process?  No?  Um, me either.)

As Allen gave me some distance a couple of medical staffers came up to me to see if I was dying or just throwing up.  I explained that I was a little more than a half mile from the finish line and that I didn't need any of their kindly advice or assistance and then took off before they could force feed me orange slices and make me sit in the shade.

So I ran.  And I felt great.  And that's a good thing because as I ran along The Waterway I saw Amanda fast approaching me and realized that she was less than a mile behind me.  We greeted each other as we passed and then I instinctively picked up the pace out of fear that I might have to suffer the indignity of being passed by an athlete that I trained.

(Side note:  Isn't that the plot line of every great sports movie?  The teacher becomes the student or something like that?  I don't know, maybe I'll work on a triathlon version of "Bull Durham" after I finish the screenplay for "Two Step It Up.")

And then, just like screaming, Mike Reilly with a microphone, awkwardly dangerous attempted finish line pose and BOOM...You. Are. An. Ironman....again.  12:43:59.  New PR by 15 minutes.  Not bad all things considered.

Finisher's chute
I hung around the finisher's chute for another couple of minutes until Amanda finished and then we wolfed down some pizza and half a Freebird's burrito and set out to find Lacy.  It took a little while for her to come back around but when she did she looked exhausted.  Maybe that's because she was racing her ass off and had about two miles to go.

I felt like Flavor Flav wearing that medal.  Nicely done, IMTX.
We hustled back to the finish line with the superfans and got to see Lacy cross the line in 14:56 and change for what amounted to a new PR by almost an hour and a half.  Wow.

Team Healey
This was a tough race for me.  It didn't have to be that way but that's how it goes when you come in underprepared for the swim and don't do enough to acclimate to the heat.  That's on me.  But given everything that has happened since we signed up for this race last November, I can't say that I'm the least bit upset with how it turned out.  A PR on any day is a good thing.  But on a day where the heat index climbed into the mid 90's and the humid air was like breathing hot soup, I can't say I'm disappointed.  If anything I'm now motivated to push harder and get better for the next one.  And that feels good.

In other news, I am beyond proud of my Irongingers for the way they handled that course.  To quote the great Ron Burgundy: "Boy, that escalated quickly.  I mean that really got out of hand, fast."

Seriously.  That escalated quickly.  A year ago I met Amanda for the first time and she informed me that she wanted to do an Ironman but that she needed some help in the pool....oh, and she had never done a triathlon.  And didn't own a bike.  Two months later she was on the podium at her first Olympic.  By October she was nipping at my heals at the Half Iron distance.  And on race day in The Woodlands she damn near caught and passed me after having an epically good marathon.  She finished 17th in her age group at her first Ironman.  Is pro triathlete a viable career option for a helicopter pilot with a master's degree?  Maybe so.

And, Lacy...proud doesn't even cover it.  To be able to block out all of the noise, all of the distractions and all of the drama that she has had to deal with since November and turn it into motivation to race her best Ironman yet is nothing short of incredible.  She balanced a run team, a triathlon club, family emergencies, health issues, a new business and a roster of clients while still finding time to get her training sessions in.  My wife doesn't need to talk...she's too busy doing.  And I love her for that.  She truly is the epitome of "Never Quit" and I am proud beyond words of her gutsy race on a tough, hot and windy course when less determined people were dropping like flies.  You keep being you, Lacy Shea.  You are motivating and you are amazing.

To my IMFNA Teammates...It was great breaking bread with you, volunteering with you and racing with you.  I hope we cross paths again down the road.  I especially enjoyed seeing Levi, Alex, Ryan, Bryan, Tam and Ross out on the course at various points.  Seeing lime green on the horizon pulled me out of a dark place more than once on the run, and I am grateful for you for lifting my spirits.  Thank you for being a great example for the sport and for being leaders. are tireless and have an effervescent personality and seeing you on The Waterway on my second lap gave me the kick in the pants I needed.  Dave...thank you for the fist bump at the finish line and for running such a class organization.  Until the next time. Kokua.

Ironman Foundation Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Team -  We're kind of a big deal.  People know us.
And, finally...a very special thanks to our Team Healey Ironfans who made the trip to The Woodlands and all of our teammates, friends and family who tracked us from afar.  Spectating at an Ironman is not easy.  It's an all day affair and Carolina, Jody, Michelle, Colleen, Priscilla, Celina and LuHuan took time out of their busy lives to travel to our race, get very little sleep, hold signs and cheer for us in the heat and humidity all day long.  It meant the absolute world to us and I cannot say thank you enough.  Thank you.  We couldn't buy better friends.  Seriously. If you're reading this, our friends are better than yours.  I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it's true.  They just are.

Coming to a race near the event that you live in Texas, that is.
So, what's next on the agenda?  Well, the race season has just begun and Team Healey is going to be dominating podiums at the Du It Girl Duathlon in Harlingen and the Los Fresnos Triathlon in coming weeks before heading up to San Marcos for the Tri For Old Glory.  Lacy and I are looking forward to racing with our team for the rest of the summer and fall and then heading off to Cozumel on Thanksgiving for our 2015 "A" race at IMCZ with Amanda, Carolina and Alex.

Somewhere along the way I may even find the time to write about it.

Ironman out.
Team Healey