I went in to this race not knowing what to expect. I felt that I learned a lot at IMCDA and this experience would carry over to IMTX. My training hours were cut back a ton due to moving in January and starting a totally new career in March. I wasn’t sure if I had it in me. But that’s what I love about Ironman/long distance racing. You never know whats gonna happen. So I trained as much as I could without wearing myself down. My swimming was practically cut in half and my weekly training hours hovered consistently around 12. I really didn’t take rest weeks since I wasn’t hitting 18+ hour weeks as I did last year. But I made sure my workouts counted this time. No more fiddling around just to get in the hours. If I was gonna wake up a 4:30 I was gonna put in a good effort. All my swims were fast and my runs were pretty hard too. I put in 4 separate 100+ mile rides and totally bonked riding the IMTX course with Phil and Devin (totally executed the plan). My original goal (with everything clicking) for Ironman was sub 12 hours. That obviously didn’t happen at CDA and I was unsure I had a close shot at IMTX. I figured I would be around 13 hours with a good race and truly just hoped to cross the finish line before midnight.
Wednesday night before IMTX Phil and Kate arrived from NY. The next day we were at packet pickup and drove the entire bike course (Cathlene wasn’t able to make it due to work). Friday morning @2for1 (Amy) arrived and Devin met up with us to head to bike check-in and to swim some of the course. Phil and I wore our wetsuits since the rumor was the swim would probably be wetsuit legal (didn’t happen). We tried to get back home asap so we could all kick our feet up and get ready for the big day. The girls went grocery shopping and ended up having a blast (literally) with champagne bottles. Thankfully, Phil and I missed out on the excitement. That’s all a whole other story. We had chicken and rice for dinner and called it a night around 8pm.
3am rolls around and its race morning. Coffee and chickfila chicken biscuits were on tap that morning. We were out the door at 4am rolling to the race with some Rise Against and the Ironman bobby versus commercial “You vs You”. Found my parents at transition and then made our way to our bikes to get them race ready. So I find myself finishing airing up my rear tire and when I try to remove the pump my valve extender blows off. Effing great. At first I just starred at it, then I freaked, then I cursed, then I said I better fix this bad boy quick cause I don’t have much time! I knew the tire would be hard to re-install so I ran over to phil to help lend me a hand. It wasn’t 5 minutes later and I was installing the wheel back on my bike. Thanks for the help phil! We made our way (1 mile hike) to the swim start and stuff started getting real. We had our pictures gave our hugs and then were off to the swim start. We made our way through the crowd toward the water when some officials stopped phil and told him his speedsuit was illegal. He had it off in no time and before you know it we were in the water trying to find a good spot to set up and tread water the next 5 or so minutes. Just treading water I was getting kicked and hit so I had a feeling the swim would be…..”exciting”. I lined up about 5 people back from the front.
The gun goes off and we are finally on the way. The first 100 or so yards I swam with my head out of the water hoping to not get kicked in the face. Good idea. It was nuts in the water. I feared (yet again) for my life in the Ironman swim. I tried to get as far left as possible but the kayaks kept pushing up back into the mass. About half way to the first turn buoy I see Phil to my right. I knew something was wrong, he should be way ahead of me (turns out he had some major problems with body contact during the swim). After I made the second turn buoy things started to open up a bit. My eye socket was hurting really bad so I rolled over on my back to relieve some of the pressure by pulling the goggle off and replacing it. I made it to the canal where they funneled us back in to a pack and things again got rough. Nothing major though except I felt the ground with my hand one time. Finished the swim in 1:22:57 (2:10/100m).
No problems in transition. Socks shoes helmet glasses etc. on and out the tent. T1 = 4:49
Phil passed me within the first 5 miles of the bike. It wasn’t long after he passed me that I picked up my pace a little. I was feeling excellent and holding 20+mph was effortless with the tail wind. I ate a hammer bar the first hour, drank perpetuem every 30 minutes and took 3 endurolytes every hour. At special needs I swapped out my perpetuem bottle for a fresh one and grabbed my chicken biscuit. Ate half the biscuit, chunked the rest and kept right on trucking. Around mile 70 I had to make a stop and water a couple trees. Mile 100 came and went and before you know it I was at the dismount line feeling great. Finshed the bike in 5:54:00 (19 MPH).
Long run through transition and into the changing tent to put on shoes and visor. T2 = 5:14
Started the run feeling great (well, almost as good as you can feel after swimming 2.4 and riding 112 miles). Within the first mile I saw Edwin and his daughter Jenna and then the rest of the family at the first aid station. They were a great site to see. My supporters mean the world to me. I love to see them having a good time. The first 4.45 miles I averaged an 8:27 pace. From there on I gradually slowed down to my slowest splits at 11:33 pace then picked it back up the last 5 miles finishing the last 1.8 miles at a 9:12 pace. For most of the run, when I was running, I was holding close to 9 minute miles. My quads would start hurting or my stomach would start cramping and drive me to walk a little bit. I walked through every aid station from the 3rd station on. I saw my family, friends, co-workers each loop of the run and boy did that help. Running past the finishing shoot for the last time before finishing I yelled to some college friends (fellow kings of trees) “one more lap, one more!”. Around mile 18 I started to hit the wall. I passed my family/friends for the last time and then made it up to Devin. We ran/walked the next few miles together chatting it up. I made it to mile 20 when I finally realized that I had a shot at going sub 12 hours. I told Devin I was gonna go for it and started picking up the pace. The next 6 miles were the hardest I have ever run. I dug deep. I wanted 12 or below. I had to walk a little bit but I wouldn’t let myself walk for too long. I had 1:10 to run 6.2 miles. I did have time for a little fun though… I grabbed a shot (Alabama slammer) from a fellow Houston Racing member, gave a hug to the lady in the bikini with a sign that said “free hugs, happy endings” and kept on trucking. Two miles from the finish I started running with two girls that were holding a good pace (I had 25 minutes to run 2.2). Dropped them at the next aid station and found a guy running a good pace that I hung with until the next aid station. I took a short walk and grabbed a cup of water at the last aid station. Running by my co-workers I yelled out “IM GOING SUB 12!”. One last short walk before entering the finishing shoot I got my stomach and legs back for a nice finish. I wanted to make sure I could enjoy it. Coming around the last turn was just as amazing as dreamed. I first looked at the time on the clock, then heard some friends yelling my name, I was well under 12 hours. I ran along the shoot giving everyone high fives then saw Cathlene and the girls on the other side. High fives to them and a few fist pumps later I was finished, an Ironman, a sub 12 Ironman. I saw Cat at the end of the finishing shoot and I couldn’t wait to hug the hell outa her. A few tears later and everyone else were around congratulating me. I was totally on cloud 9. I was talked in to going to medical and that probably was the best decision I could make after the race. The IV bag and lying by myself, soaking it all in (literally) was great. Finished the run in 4:28:45 (10:15 pace).
Total time = 11:55:45 ….. 25th in age group (30th counting the wetsuit swimmers), 456th overall.
So now its 5 days later and I can’t wait for my next Ironman. I was just saying how I hate the training and how hard it is and crying like a little girl but man o man how I love this sport and lifestyle. I can’t thank my support group enough. They keep me going. I love all you guys so much.And a huge thanks to my wife, Cathlene, for pushing me, keeping me motivated and putting up with me through all this. No way I could do it without you babe.
I want to end with a tweet from Phil - “My bud @gusano82 broke his goal of 12hrs at #imtx today, he is on cloud 9. What car accident almost killed him?!?” – It’s easy to forget the past and how we got to where we are today. I used to think about that accident every day and found myself slowly forgetting it after Ironman
Big shout out to Philip Lavoie finishing his 3rd Ironman distance race and Devin Brown finishing his 1st Ironman!