Since last year, my number one blog has consistently been my race report from Ironman Texas. With the 2014 race approaching, I decided to share my thoughts on the key things about the race. In addition to my race report I also recommend looking at OutRival Racing, where you can find video course previews. Runtri.com also has extensive statistics for the 2013 and prior year races, with finishing times, DNF rates, split averages, etc.
Gloria (aka “Dr.G“) are excited to return this year. We loved racing in the heat and we’re loving the training and progress we’re making with TriMarni Coaching & Nutrition, who’s “train smart” approach is working really well for us. Whether you are racing or spectating, we’ll see you in the Woodlands!
1. It’s really hot. Yes, really.
The number one thing you need to keep in mind for Ironman Texas is that it’s really, really hot. This might seem obvious and maybe you’ll roll your eye and tell yourself you’ve heard about it, but you really need to plan for it. Dress extra warm in your training. If you plan on using a slightly different nutrition formula in the heat, train with it. Then, the moment you get in the car or step on on the plane for the Woodlands, stay hydrated. When you get to the Woodlands, stay out of the sun and keep hydrating. When you’re outside, stay in the shade as much as possible. Stay on top of your hydration and race within your heat tolerance, which may mean a slightly slower pace when you get out to the run. Last year was more about slowing down as little as possible than it was about going fast.
In addition, a lot of people burned their feet when they dismounted in T2. We may see some carpeting this year, but if not you may want to consider wearing socks for the bike.
2. Expect a tailwind on the first half of the bike course and a wind on the second half of the bike
The bike course can get windy, but it’s mostly either a tailwind or a headwind. You can expect a tailwind on the first half of the bike and a headwind coming back. The tailwind fools a lot of people into going too hard at the start. On top of this, the first half of the bike course has quite a bit of shade. On the way back, a lot of people blew up in the headwind as temperatures got into triple digits and the shade disappeared.
Other than some rollers in the middle, the bike course is about as flat as an Ironman gets. In all, there are just over 1,600 feet of elevation gain.d
3. The course is very well supported and the volunteers incredible
The course is exceedingly well supported with all the gels, Perform, and flat Coke you could ever want. More important, the volunteers are just incredible. They help you in the changing tent, spray you with water, get your nutrition, cheer you on, and get you a wheelchair when you finish (and you may well need one), and they do it all while in sweltering heat. They’re really incredible.
Bike special needs is about midway through the bike course. Since the run course is three loops, you will pass by run special needs three times, but you can only use special needs once.
4. Be prepared for a non-wetsuit swim
Under the Ironman rules, if the water temperature is over 76 degrees Farenheit, you can wear a wetsuit, but you will not be eligible for an award or a Kona spot. You cannot wear a wetsuit at all if the water temperature is over 83.8 degrees Farenheit. Last year the water temperature was 78, was about the coolest it has ever been and it was very pleasant without a wetsuit. If you are so used to swimming with a wetsuit that you feel like you have to have to use it, go ahead, but from the perspective of staying warm you won’t need it and may even overheat if you do use it. My advice is to practice swimming without the wetsuit.
As far as the starting format goes, Ironman has not said whether the swim will remain a mass start. However, the swim course description on the website still states that the swim is a mass start.
5. You can walk to everything
The Marriott is the main hotel. The expo, TriBike Transport, the swim start, the transition area, and the finish are all within walking distance. The mall, the movie theater, and a number of restaurants are all within walking distance.
6. There is a ton of energy on the course
The run course is three loops around the Woodlands waterways. It is very spectator friendly and there are people all over, watching and cheering, including Moxie Multisport, an Austin-based team with the Wattie Ink attitude and moxie to boot.