Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Pre Galveston Half-Ironman
I unwisely waited 'til the last minute to make arrangements for getting to and staying in Galveston, or anywhere nearby. Luckily the Motel 6 wasn’t sold out. Reserved a single room only a couple days before, then made the four-hour drive on Saturday afternoon.
Went to the triathlon check-in, which was held exactly where the start/finish line would be. Left my bike there overnight. I had never seen so many expensive bikes in one place before. If you tallied it all up, those bikes would probably be worth a combined $10 million. Compared to a marathon expo, there wasn’t much there, only a couple vendors, and small ones at that. I dunno if that’s just because this is a smaller event than most marathons I’ve been to (2,200 compared to ~15,000 at a marathon).
In the check-in tent, there was your typical T-shirt store. What struck me was how many T-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. said “Ironman” or had the M-dot logo. This wasn’t an ironman, it was a half-ironman. I guess it’s a reasonable guess that a fair amount of people at this event have done or plan to do a full ironman. I didn’t get one, of course, since I’m not gonna brag about something I haven’t done.
I did buy a race belt from Bike Barn. A race belt is essentially an elastic belt that you snap on like a seatbelt, and you pin your bib to it (the piece of paper with your race number on it). This wouldn’t be necessary at all if not for a strange rule: during the bike section, your race number must be on your back, and during the run, it must be on your front. During the bike section, it must also be on your bike and your helmet. I dunno why it has to change places, and it would be a lot simpler if it could just stay put in one place. Rules is rules though, and having a race belt means all you have to do is spin your belt around, rather than spend time in transition unpinning and re-pinning your bib to yourself.
I just kinda hung around the athlete village for a while and talked to anyone I could. A few people expressed surprise that my first triathlon would be a half-ironman. My response: "Ya gotta start somewhere!"
Since I was a rookie, I was hoping to get a few tips from people that had done it before. Everyone had a different opinion on what was the most important thing. A number of people stressed nutrition, but everyone's magic bullet was different, everything from supplements to trail mix. Other words of wisdom involved stretching, transitions, sight-breathing, and everything in between. One guy in particular warned me about not hammering on the bike, especially when you get tailwind. I’m not a sprinter at all, and almost every ride I do is centered around long distances, so I wasn’t worried that I’d push myself too hard on the bike.
Going into this thing, I was more worried about the run than anything. Weird, since running is traditionally my strongest event. I just figured I’d find a way to get through the swim, even if I wasn’t fast, and a 56-mile flat bike ride is hardly a challenge. Recently though, I’ve frequently been getting a nervous stomach while running, and I often have to stop and walk for a while, sometimes for a long while. So I was worried that something like that might happen in the run portion of the race.
There was a mandatory meeting for all the triathletes after check-in. Mostly we were having all the rules explained to us, and what all the penalties are. Triathlons are awfully complicated. No staying within four bike lengths of the person in front of you, all passes must be completed within 20 seconds, at what point you must dismount, no passing on the ramp, switching your bib around, pretty much everything related to the swim, there was a lot to remember. Marathons are so much simpler: When the race starts, run until you cross the finish line. Ta-daaaa!!! As the meeting kept going and the list of rules got longer, I got more and more worried that I’d forget something and get penalized or disqualified somehow.
Went back to the hotel and just watched some TV, had a snack, packed a little for the morning, and went to bed early. I typically don’t eat a big meal for dinner the night before a race. Had a hard time falling asleep. Too keyed up for the race tomorrow.