• Age: 41 year old male
  • Weight: ~195 lbs
  • FTP 262

Short Version

Overall, I walked away from this race a little disappointed. Out of the six 70.3 distance races I’ve completed this was my 5th slowest (in case you’re wondering my slowest was a 5:50:47 in Oceanside in 2014 – a bike course that destroyed me & a major calf cramp that left me gimping for 6 miles). I recognize that not every race can be a PR but I’m still a bit bummed at my bike execution in this race.

Split Times.JPG

Long Version


2015 was the year of the Texas 70.3 distance races. Galveston in April. Buffalo Springs in June. Austin in November.

For much of this year I’ve struggled with my run. The off and on cramping in my glutes / hamstrings / calves really hurt me in my training for Galveston way back in April. I was able to add some more volume for Buffalo Springs but still not anywhere near enough to feel prepared. Starting almost immediately after Galveston I began to incorporate some simple, but daily exercises to begin strengthening my glutes. I’ve not missed a day of these exercises since July 6th. The result has been an ability to slowly but steady increase in my run volume for this training block. My run is still not where it needs to be but it’s in a better spot than it has been all year.

To not overly burden my family, I continued my commitment to not have two big training days on the weekends. I’d do my long bike on Saturday but I’d either take off on Sunday or only schedule short run.

Missy David GCIn terms of my official training block for this race I got serious on September 10th (after a glorious 17th anniversary get away to Grand Cayman with my bride). I continued to work out after Buffalo Springs (which was on June 28th) but in a fairly unstructured way (my TSS never dipped below 0 in July or August so whatever I was doing wasn’t super intense). So call it an 8-week training build for this race.

I did have one hiccup during the 8-week build. I did my final race rehearsal on October 22nd (two weeks before the race). The race rehearsal went great but shortly after I was done my lower back started tightening up. Over the next 12 hours it got really bad – as in I was having a difficult time standing up straight & walking. I decided that a several rest day were needed and as a result I started my taper about a week early. Not ideal; but I wanted to make sure that my back wasn’t going to prohibit me from competing.

Here’s what my schedule / volume looked like.

Total Duration by Week – Average 8:01 per week

Training Peaks Duration by Week Chart

Total Distance by Week – Average 97 miles

Training Peaks Distance by Week

Training % by Discipline

Training Peaks Training by Discpline

Training Peaks – Overall Stress Load

Training Peaks TSS Graph

Day Before Race

We left Dallas Saturday morning around 9 a.m. to drive down to Austin. Our older two kids stayed in Dallas due to other commitments so it was Missy & me plus our four youngest kiddos.

Shiv ShivWe pulled into the Travis County Expo Center around 12:30 p.m. Made my way through the check-in process and headed over to T1 to drop my bike off. It had been raining in Austin pretty steady and T1 was a veritable mud pit. Fortunately, the rain had subsided for a bit so I was able to take my bike for a very quick spin to make sure all was in order.

Once the bike was racked we headed over to our hotel. We stayed at The Renaissance Austin (Arboretum area) – this is the same hotel we stayed in 2013. It’s a nice hotel; not too far from the race venue with lots of restaurant choices close by.

Once wChris Davide were checked in I started working to get my transition bags all set while Missy and the kids watched a movie on my laptop. For dinner we went to a brick oven pizza place where we met up with fellow EN teammate Chris Oubre & his bride. Chris also raced Galveston & Buffalo Springs this year so this was our 3rd race together this year. We had a great time catching up with them.

Back to the hotel, finish up the transition bags and in bed, lights out at 9:28 p.m.

Race Morning

IMG_1666Up out of the bed at 3:54 a.m. Breakfast was 2 ½ cups of applesauce with two scoops of protein powder (480 calories). Got ready & we were headed out the door at 5 a.m.  Two things caught my attention the moment we walked out of the hotel: (1) it was really chilly & (2) it was really, really windy.

About 15 minutes later we pulled into the Travis County Expo Center and got my T2 bag set up and hopped on the bus to make the mile or so trek to the swim start. Missy & the kids stayed in the swagger wagon and had some breakfast. They would catch up to me at the lake.

Austin_Race MorningArrived at with plenty of time to get everything set up – fluids, nutrition, bike computer, power meter calibrated, etc… Once that was done just laid low, sipped some Perform, hooked back up with Missy & the kids and waited for the race to start. The weather was cold and crisp and the lake was very choppy.


This year the race organizers decided to reverse the swim course from counterclockwise to clockwise. I only breathe on my left – which makes a counterclockwise swim course perfect for sighting. Needless to say this change was not helpful for me. I think this decision was an effort to make it easier on the spectators to move from the swim exit to T1 – but it didn’t bless me.

Swim MapThe male 40-44 age group was split into a couple of groups. I was in the second group which was somewhere in the middle of the 19 or so swim wave starts. Once in the water I made my way to the front of the group – dead center. Walter E. Long Lake was alive with waves, wind & chop.

This was also my first race in my new sleeveless wetsuit. I purchased one about a month before the race because I felt like my full wetsuit provided too much constraint on my shoulders & created unnecessary fatigue. I’d tested my new suit prior to the race & felt good about the choice.

IMG_1667Figuring I’d finish the swim in the top 5-10% of my AG I positioned myself up at the front in the middle of the two start buoys. I felt good about my swim coming into the race (both in terms of fitness and form) and I actually I felt like I swam pretty well – but my time was disappointing. I chalk it up to the fact that it was just a tougher swim due to the very windy conditions on the lake – lots of chop meant lots more lake water in my mouth (not pleasant). Not a ton of contact. I was able to find someone to draft off of for the final a 1/3 of the swim. And the sighting wasn’t too bad though I still prefer the counterclockwise swim.


  • Goal: < 3:00
  • Actual: 3:04

Out of the water and up the hill towards T1. I hit the wetsuit strippers and hustled up the hill. As I mentioned the rain had created a mud pit around a particular section of the transition area. To get my bike over to the bike-out section I had to go directly through this part of transition. I’ve never practiced the flying mount or dismount and I sure wasn’t going to attempt it on race morning. So after I got my helmet on I elected to carry my bike & shoes over towards bike-out and then put my shoes on. Not ideal but it worked.


  • Goal: IF of 0.83 – 0.85 (217W – 222W) with a VI of 1.05 or less (time & speed would take care of themselves)
  • Actual: IF 0.84, VI 1.07 (AP 208, NP 222) Time of 2:50:19; Average Speed 20.00 MPH
  • AG Place: 22 / 280
  • Garmin File: https://connect.garmin.com/activity/951747898

It was chilly on the bike. My Garmin Edge shows a starting temp of 51.1 degrees at the start and 58.5 degrees at the end. This was a little colder than I prefer but not too bad. The decision by WTC to move the race back two weeks from late-October to early November was a good call in my opinion. The prior two years had been hot…the early-November race date allowed for cooler temps.

Also, fairly insignificant is that they changed one part of the bike course between miles 5 – 10. The routed us up Parmer Lane rather than Blue Bluff Road. Nothing major but it looks like it added an extra 1/2 mile or so to the bike course.

Bike Power SummaryOverall, I was pretty disappointed with my bike riding. Though my IF and NP were in the desired range the fact is that I pushed harder than I should have – particularly in the first 25 miles of the ride. Last year the first 15 miles or so of the bike were really fast (last year – avg. power of 209; avg. speed for me was 22.6 mph). So, I had my mind set on the fact that I’d be able to really cruise early on and my expectations were dashed thanks to a constant stiff headwind (this year – avg. power of 219; avg. speed for me was 19.6 mph). So I was having to work harder and getting slower results and this really, really frustrated me. I found myself trying to make something happen rather than adjust to the race day conditions. That was foolish.

I stayed on top of my nutrition and my sodium & peed twice on the bike. Other than that, the rest of the bike was a combination of me riding too hard, being frustrated and dodging potholes and really bad road conditions.

I’ve been critical of the road conditions for the past two years but I’ve continued to sign up for this race because of how close it is to Dallas. This year’s conditions were the worst they’ve been. There were parts of the course where I actually felt unsafe and kept expecting a tire blowout. I’ve instructed my bride to prevent me from signing up for this race again until there is a major overhaul of the bike course.


  • Goal: <2:00
  • Actual: 3:05

Hopped off my bike and jogged to my rack spot. Recognizing that there would be no PRs on this day I took a little more time in T2. My spot was right along the fence so my clan was waiting for me with plenty of cheers and support. Took a second to give them all kisses. Wanted to hit the port-o-potty but there was a line so skipped it.


IMG_1669Off the bike in 22nd place in my AG. Finished the run in 43rd place. That pretty much sums up my season. Good swim…decent bike (in terms of AG placing though not necessarily in terms of execution)…sub-par run. With the nagging injuries I’ve not been able to achieve the needed training volume to build the required endurance to shine in this part of the race.

Once I got out onto the run course I noticed almost immediately that a muscle in my leg, just above my knee (the vastus medialis muscle) was on the verge of cramping up. This was not encouraging – especially in light of the fact that’s an area where I don’t usually have problems. I stopped and stretched it. Jogged a little more – and felt like at any step it would cramp. Hit a port-o-potty; stretched some more and pounded a pickle juice then started jogging. Thankfully, the cramp worked itself out and didn’t pop up again.

Other than that the run was pretty uneventful. Took another pickle juice shot around mile 6. Tried to stay on top of my fluids and GUs. Walked some of the aid stations, though not every one. Honestly, I’m not overly Post Racediscouraged by my run because I felt like I ran well…just not as fast as I’d like. There was one guy in my AG who would pass me and then I’d pass him and then he’d pass me. This went on for half the run. He passed me in the last ½ mile of the run and I decided I’d summon what little mojo I had and make a go at getting around him. Happy to say that with about 100-150 yards left I cleared him.

Here were my splits for the day:

Run Split Times


I’ve got work to do for next year. I’m planning on doing Galveston in April and I’m already registered for my second full Ironman in Lake Placid in July. With that in mind, there are two items I’ve got to process.

  1. What do I need to do to get my run back to a spot where it isn’t my glaring weakness? What changes do I need to make so that I can ramp up my volume & avoid injury? I’ll be working through this with my EN coaches & teammates.
  2. What changes do I need to make if I want to make a serious go at breaking the 5-hour mark in a 70.3 distance race? I think for that to be a reality I need to rethink my Sunday “no big workout” schedule. Life is about choices and I think for me to break the 5-hour mark I’m going to have to add back that second big workout day to my weekend. The question then becomes, “Is that a choice I want to make for me and for my family?” Right now I don’t know the answer. I’ll need to process it with my bride to determine if the payoff is worth the cost & honestly, I’m not sure that it is for us.  But we’ll see.

Austin Race Results

Austin Comparison Times2013 Austin Race Report

2014 Austin Race Report




Short Version:

Short Version_2

Long Version:

Buffalo Springs Lake Half Ironman was my second race of the year. I PR’d in Galveston two months prior and was feeling pretty good about my conditioning. The calf cramping; which had caused me so many problems in late 2014 and early 2105, seemed to be gone.

I took a week off after Galveston & then another week to start ramping up for this race. I consider May 11 through June 21 as my official training block for Buffalo Springs – a solid 6 week build.

With that I started adding running back into my training cycle (novel idea, huh?!). From January 1st through April 25th (the day before the Galveston 70.3) I ran a total of 6 times for an unimpressive 17.47 miles. In the six week build for Buffalo Springs I was able to get 15 runs in for 54 miles. I kept these runs to 6 miles or less. So while that is definitely less than ideal for a 70.3 distance race it’s so much better than my prior five months. I focused on activating my glutes before each run and ensuring I was hydrated and had enough sodium in my system (using Salt Tabs and Pickle Juice Shots). I never felt like I got my speed back – my average pace for these runs ended up being around 8:57 per mile (compared to 8:10 – 8:20 per mile before I started having cramping issues). Irrespective of the pace I was grateful for the opportunity to begin to build back up some run endurance.

Another thing I noticed was that as I was adding running back into the weekly schedule it was taking time away from the bike…which seems obvious. When I wasn’t able to run I was filling those time gaps with extra bike workouts which sent me into my last race feeling very, very strong on the bike. Now that I was actually getting work in all three disciplines I found myself unable to hold the watts that I had going into Galveston (where my FTP was a solid, tested 280w).

The net effect was that as I was getting my run back I was also losing some of my power on the bike. Now I’m sure you’re assuming I re-tested so that I could have an accurate FTP heading into race day. Nope. I didn’t re-test. Honestly (and this is going to sound really lame) – I just didn’t feel up to it. I couldn’t seem to summon the mental mojo to subject myself to the torture that is an FTP bike test. So instead, I simply lowered my race day watt goal based on some race rehearsals. Rather than focus on hitting an .82-.85 IF I would shoot for something closer to .75 (again – I’d validated this during my training).

Here is what my training looked like during this six week build:

Training Summary By Week ImageTraining Summary ImageFor those of you who geek out a bit more here is some additional analytic information. When I started my six week training build my TSB, after basically two weeks off, was sitting at 27.9 – nice and recovered. During that six weeks it got down to a low of -43.6 with the average somewhere in the low -30’s. On race morning, after a pretty decent taper week by TSB was at 16.6. My average weekly TSS during my training build was 567.

Here are a couple of graphs from Training Peaks.

TrainingPeaks Image 1


Race Weekend:

Lubbock is about a 5 – 5 ½ hour drive from the Dallas area. So Missy & I gathered our six kiddos, loaded up the swagger wagon, pointed the compass west & hit the road on Friday around 2 p.m. In what has to be a record for my clan we made the entire trip only stopping twice – once was a five minute break to pee at a rest stop & the second was a 5 minute stop for fuel. It was a very efficient trip! Around 7:15 p.m. we pulled into the host hotel so I could check in for the race. I wanted to get that knocked out on Friday so that Saturday would be free to do take my bike for a final spin, do some course recon and have lunch with some of my EN team mates. Got in and out of check-in without any hiccups and then drove over to Rudy’s BBQ for dinner.Ransom Canyon

We rented a wonderful house on VRBO that was in Ransom Canyon – literally on the bike course. We pulled into the drive way just before sunset. This was my first trip to Lubbock and I was shocked at how beautiful the canyon area was and for the first time I began to get a look at the hills we’d be riding up and down as we traversed the area.

Got up Saturday morning and drove over to Buffalo Springs Lake to get a look at race central. Ran into some EN folks; chatted for a bit and then left to get a late breakfast. After breakfast we headed over to the Texas Tech campus so see what all the Red Raider hype is about. Took some pictures of the kids and then tried to sneak in mostly unsuccessfully to see the football stadium. We made it in and up to the level where the suites are but all the doors were locked so we never actually saw the field. After that we met up for our Endurance Nation Team lunch at a local pizza place called Capital Pizza – which was really good. Always funTeam EN lunch to connect with other EN folks and swap stories and best practices. Good to see folks that I have raced with previously.

Went back to the lake to let the kids swim a bit and then headed to the grocery store to get some supplies for dinner and for race day. Took some time to drive some of the more challenging sections of the bike course – which I’m glad I did.  It was good to get my eyes on some of the hills out of the canyon. Drove back to our house rental…dinner…put fluids onto the bike…check transition bag – into bed at 9:18 p.m.

Ransom Canyon 2

Bike Course_Turn AroundRansom Canyon 3

Race Day:

My alarm sounded off at 3:45 a.m. Stuck with the usual race day breakfast – 3 cups of organic applesauce with two scoops of vanilla protein powder mixed in. Sipped on Gatorade. This gave me 487 calories. Got my tribe up, grabbed my bike & my gear and we headed out the door around 4:50 a.m. It was a 10-15 minute drive over to Sweet Bike Rack SpotBuffalo Springs and we got there early enough to largely avoid the long line that would fill up the single lane road into the race venue.

My crew stayed in the swagger wagon & had some breakfast while I made my way down the big hill into transition. Navigated my way to my rack spot – somehow managed that bib #406 was right at the end of the rack on the side closest to the path coming out of the water. Score! Got everything set up and shortly thereafter my family made it down & we waited for the race to start. it was a beautiful morning and it looked like it was going to be perfect for racing!



  • Goal: < 32:00 (1:30 per / 100 yards)
  • Actual: 31:30 (1:29 per / 100 yards)
  • AG Place: 13/104

I felt good about my swim coming into this race. I had put in about 20 miles in the month leading up to the race which was significantly more than I’d done for either Galveston or Austin (late 2014). I felt that an average of 1:29-1:30 per / 100 yards would represent solid execution based on my training. Anything faster than that would be a bonus.

IMBSLT_Swim MapFinished in 31:30 – so my time was right where I wanted it to be but man, I did not feel great in the water. This was the first time I’d donned my wetsuit since Austin 70.3 way back in October 2014 and it felt tight and restrictive. My shoulders started feeling tired around 400 yards in and they never regained their pop – that is my biggest “meh” about the swim. And though this was wetsuit legal the water was a bit warm – which I didn’t like.

Two quick notes on the swim course:

  • There are a lot fewer buoys on this course than other Ironman races. I chalk this up to the fact that Buffalo Springs is a licensed Ironman event and not one owned by the WTC…my guess is Greer and his team are simply trying to save money – which I get & don’t fault them for it. The result is that you have to look way out in front of you to find the next buoy.
  • When you get out of the cove you make a right hand turn and you are swimming due east – directly into the sun. This, along with my first note, makes sighting early on in this race very challenging. You can tell from my swim map that I was all over the place – my swim route was not very direct! I believe this was, in part, due to the difficulty of sighting.

Race Morning


  • Goal: 2:00 – 2:30
  • Actual: 2:18

Nothing much to report here. I hit the wetsuit strippers coming out of the water and then hustled to my most excellent rack position. Overall, I felt good about my transition.


  • Goal: IF of 0.75 (210w) – .80 (224w) with a VI of 1.05-1.10 (time & speed would take care of themselves)
  • Actual: IF of .777; VI of 1.10 (AP 198; NP 218); Time 2:48:18; Average Speed 20.0 mph; Average cadence 84 rpm
  • AG Place: 30/104

This is a tough, but fun and fair bike course. I’d had a chance to drive most of the course the day prior and I was glad I did. There are eight hills on this course & based on my Garmin file here are the details of each climb:

IMBSLT_Bike Elevation

  1. A short, steep climb immediately out of transition – within the first 1/10 mile of the bike – start your bike out in an easy gear – this is about a ¼ of a mile long
  2. Another short climb immediately after the first hill – about .80 miles into the bike – this is about ½ mile long.
  3. A long, straight climb around mile 11. This is about a ¾ of a mile long.
  4. A long, straight climb around mile 19. This is about a mile long.
  5. A steep, winding climb around mile 29. This is about a mile long.
  6. A steep winding, switchback climb around mile 34. This one is about a mile long.
  7. A long, straight, low grade climb out of Ransom Canyon. It starts around mile 39-40 and is about a mile and half long.
  8. A short climb back towards transition around mile 55. This one is about a ½ mile long.

Bike Course_Mile 40The most difficult part of the bike for me were miles 40-55. This section starts with that long, low grade climb out of RansomIMBSLT_Bike Map Canyon. Once you get out of the canyon the next 15 miles or so are you net uphill and, on this day it was largely into a headwind. At this point in the race it was mostly solitude for me – not a lot of other folks around me. It was just “put your head down, try and hold your watts and get to work” time.

I make sure I stayed on top of my fluids, sodium & GU. I peed twice during the ride and came off feeling hydrated and ready to run.

Overall, I finished the bike about where I expected to be and about where I deserved to be based on my training. I would have liked a slightly lower VI but with all the hills I think 1.10 is pretty good for me. I’m a little bummed that I came out of the water in 13th place in and finished the bike in 30th place but again, I rode the bike that I should have not the bike that I could have – so with that I feel okay.

Final thoughts on the bike:

  • Texas chip seal – overall these roads were in pretty good condition. Not a ton of pot holes, etc… But this is West Texas chip seal so be prepared for some pretty constant rumbling. Never too overwhelming but always present and certainly enough to create some wear and tear on your upper body.
  • Song of the day – I typically have a song in my head while I’m racing. Usually it’s something that’s been on my pretty epic “Run Fast Playlist” from Spotify – http://fi/1HZc2k3 but on this day – not so much. For some reason the song that continually turned through my brain as I was huffing and puffing in and out of Ransom Canyon was Hank Williams Jr.’s All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down). Not exactly racing music but I couldn’t seem to shake it! Weird, huh? In the event you’re just wanting to jam out to some HWJr – here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct8V4nF9oOI


  • Goal: < 2:00
  • Actual: 2:29

I racked bike, sat down, put my socks on (I had put a bunch of Vaseline on the inside around the toe area) & shoes, grabbed my quart size Ziploc bag which contained my race belt, my visor, a zip lock bag of salt tabs, a few things of Pickle Juice Shots & a few GUs and then I made a bee line for the run out exit. I don’t feel like I wasted any time; but I was about 30 seconds slower than I was shooting for.


  • Goal: Wasn’t real sure – kind of aiming for an average of 9:30 pr/mileT2
  • Actual: 2:05:51 (9:46 pr/mile)
  • AG Place: 37/104

First, my Garmin showed the run was a bit short at 12.87 miles…maybe I’m just excellent at running the tangents!

The run course was reworked for this year. I’m told that the old run course had a stretch that mimicked the Energy Lab in Kona – which IMBSLT_Run Courseis a very difficult stretch in the marathon – an out and back portion on hot Texas pavement with no shade to speak of. The new updated course at Buffalo Springs removed that portion and reworked the course to keep the athletes in the park. Having never done this race I can’t speak to whether this was a good move or a bad move; though I was actually looking forward to the “energy lab” stretch.

The reworked run course is two loops – mostly flat with the exception of one short, steep climb that you hit twice – once around mile 3 and then again around mile 9.25. The hill is only about a quarter of a mile long but it bit me in the butt when I hit it the second time.

IMBSLT_Run ElevationOverall, I felt okay during the run. I never cramped; though around mile 9 I thought I might. I slowed my cadence, shortened my stride, pounded a pickle juice shot and the feeling eventually went away. That instance aside, I alternated between salt tabs and pickle juice every two miles. It wasn’t ridiculously hot like I’m told it has been in previous years but as the clouds broke & the sun came shining out it was plenty warm enough. Other nutrition was a GU about once per hour and Gatorade and a little water at pretty much every aid station. Lots of ice in my jersey, in my shorts & on my head…just trying to do my best to keep my core temperature as cool as possible.

IMBSLT_Run SplitsSaw my clan several times during the run which is always encouraging. I swear I have the greatest crowd support of anyone on the course! There were a few sections where crowd support was pretty good but for the most part…but for a majority of the run there wasn’t much. You had the locals doing their thing at the lake & most paid little attention to those of us foolish enough to be doing this race.

Crossed the finish line after a 50 yard sprint when a fellow EN teammate snuck up on me. He ended up pulling past me in the last 10-15 yards or so…that was a pretty fun way to finish. Was feeling really spent so I went over the medical tent and got an IV. I don’t think I “needed” it but I do believe it helped with my immediate recovery.

Final thoughts on the run:

  • I need to simplify a bit. I felt like I had too much fumbling around with salt tabs, pickle juice, GUs, and trying to keep my zip lock bag full of ice. It was just more “admin” type stuff than I want to keep up with while running.
  • I need to get back to a point where I feel comfortable testing to actually get a valid VDOT for training purposes. I don’t like the feeling of not really knowing where I am with my run that I’ve had the last two races.

RunFinal Thoughts:

  • Race Selection: This is a race that I’m thrilled to have done. There is a certain mystique about Buffalo Springs – it’s a challenging course with a smaller field. With this race in the books I’ve now knocked out all the Texas Ironman 70.3 distance races. That being said, it’s not one I’ll probably do again.
  • Swag: The swag was pretty good here. Picked up two t-shirts – a black race one (cotton) and a white finisher one (techFinisher Medal shirt). Both have pretty cool logos – these are shirts I will feel comfortable wearing out and about (which I can’t say that about all the race shirts I’ve collected). Other swag included a pretty cheap drawstring bag that I can’t imagine is going to last very long.
  • Lodging: As I mentioned earlier we rented a house through VRBO. When all eight of us travel a house/condo is almost always preferable to a hotel. Since I have no plans to race Buffalo Springs again I don’t feel the need to protect this little gem – http://www.vrbo.com/3842247ha. If you are into renting houses like we are this is a great spot and the owners were super nice and responsive.

Family pic_Race Morning

Family pic_Ransom Canyon


  • Age: 41
  • Weight: ~191 lbs
  • FTP: 280
  • VDOT: No clue (keep reading)

Short Version:

PR of 1 minute 57 seconds (over 2014 Austin 70.3)

Summary Image

Long Version:


The 2015 Texas 70.3 was my first race of the year. 2014 ended with a fizzle as I started dealing with pretty severe cramping in my right calf as I was training for the Dallas Marathon which is held annually in December. The calf cramping started popping up in mid-November and quickly became so bad that I had to abandon any hope of running the race. I basically took the rest of November – January off. I worked out very sporadically – an occasional bike ride but that was about it.

Thinking I’d given it enough rest I started working my way back into shape in early February and officially signed up for this race at the end February. I discovered pretty quickly that my calf cramping had not gone away & in fact, started rearing its ugly head around mile 3 of any run I attempted. The cycle would go like this: (1) I would go out for a run to test the calf (2) Around mile 3 it would start to cramp and leave me gimping home (3) I would rest it (i.e. not run) for a week to 10 days or longer (4) I would go out for a run to test the calf (5) Around mile 3 it would start to cramp and leave me gimping home (6) Lather, rinse, repeat.

I started seeing my awesome, amazing ART doc (shout out to Chelsea & the staff Chirosport Specialists of Dallas) 2x per week for the final 3-4 weeks leading up to the race and she worked on getting my hips aligned & my calf worked out. I’ve worked with these guys on and off for years and have been very pleased with the results. Hoping it would get better with rest & ART I also resigned myself to the fact that running was not going to be helpful, except for a few short 2 mile runs, all I could do was rest from running and hope my fitness would carry me through on race day.

Here is what my training looked like for the 8 weeks leading up to the race (this starts 9 weeks out from race day because I’m not looking at race week / taper week). The glaring hole in my training is that in the 9 weeks leading up to the race I ran 4 times for a cumulative distance of 11.24 miles.

Training Summary Image

Race Weekend:

This race is on a Sunday so Missy & I decided to make a long weekend out of it. We hit VRBO and rented a nice 3 bedroom condo right at the end of the seawall. We loaded up the swagger wagon & headed for Galveston on Friday morning. Around 3:30 we pulled into our condo. We stayed away from the race venue on Friday and just spent the afternoon getting settled and relaxing.Condo

Got up Saturday morning to severe thunder, lightning & rain. It was off and on into the early afternoon & around 2 p.m. it cleared out and left us with an absolutely beautiful rest of the day. We hit up Ironman Village and get registered – we got there around 11:00 a.m. and moved through pretty quickly. No real lines to speak of. I dropped the family off at the condo and went off to meet some of my teammates for lunch at The Mosquito Café (which was a great spot – highly recommend it). Had a great lunch getting to eat with other folks from Endurance Nation. It was fun to laugh, share stories & get ready for the next day.

Following lunch I drove back up to the race venue to drop my bike off in transition. At this point the line for athlete registration was crazy long (note – get in early and get that knocked out). Perhaps the greatest benefit of being one of Ironman’s 2014 All World Athletes was the really great rack spot. I was bib number 225 and that put me right across from the pros spot. I had a perfect spot right in the middle of bike out and run out – in the second rack back. That’s so much better than being buried in the middle of three thousand bikes!

Family Pic 1Once that was done I headed back to the condo and laid low with the family. I got my transition bag all set & for dinner I had some pasta with red sauce & grilled chicken breast. I jumped into bed at 9:44 p.m.

Race Day:

My alarm was set for 4 a.m. but I woke up at 3:38 a.m. feeling ready to go. Go up and had my usual race morning breakfast of three cups of organic applesauce with two scoops of vanilla protein powder. Took in about 20 ounces of the G2 Gatorade that we’d be having on the course. We headed out the door at 5 a.m. & were pulling into the race venue about 10 minutes later.

My big surprise came as I was starting to set up my gear in transition. I heard them announce that the race would be a wetsuit optional race. Though I’d known the water temps were on the warm side I felt confident that all the rain we got on Saturday would have cooled it off enough to keep it a wetsuit race. Apparently not. This was a bit of a shock to me because I never, for a second assumed otherwise. My three previous 70.3 distance races & my one full Ironman were all wetsuit races. We had the option of wearing a wetsuit but that would mean two things; (1) you wouldn’t be counted in the age group awards & though I had no intention of hitting the podium I still wanted to see where I fit & (2) if you elected to wear a wetsuit you would start in the dreaded final swim wave. There wasn’t really a decision to be made for me – I would go without my wetsuit. But that did throw me off a bit.


Goal: < 32:00

Actual: 36:19

AG Place: 47 / 327

Garmin File – https://connect.garmin.com/activity/759573200

The pros went off at 7:00 a.m. The male 40-44 age group was split into three swim waves and I was in the second wave that went off at 7:28 a.m. I’ve been consistently in the top 10% or so of my AG so I positioned myself at the fronSwim Imaget of the wave pretty much dead center. My goal was to get a good, strong start and try to create some space.

Swim ExitHonestly, I’m not exactly sure what happened on this swim. I’ve got no real reason for why my time was so slow. I felt like I swam pretty strong…felt like my form was mostly in check…felt like I sighted okay, but man – 36 minutes was disappointing (this was my slowest 70.3 race swim). Yes, I’m sure having a wetsuit would have made me faster but in my three swim race rehearsals (done without a wetsuit) I was consistently in the 31 – 33 minute range. Maybe the current was stronger than it felt. I’m just not sure. I came out of the water feeling whipped but hustled my way out and started up towards transition.


Goal: < 2:30

Actual: 2:21

I am really pleased with my transitions. I hustled, but never felt out of control or lost. I got to my rack spot put my sunglasses on, then my helmet, wiped my feet off and got my shoes on, grabbed the bike and was off. I’d love to continue to learn to shave time off here but overall I felt really good with how quickly I was on the bike.


Goal: IF of 0.83-0.85 (232W – 238W) with a VI of 1.05 or less (time & speed would take care of themselves)

Actual: IF of 0.80; VI of 1.01 (AP 222W, NP 226W); Time of 2:22:38; Average speed 23.6 mph

AG Place: 36 / 327

Garmin File – https://connect.garmin.com/activity/759573891

Let me start by saying:

  • This might have been the most fun I’ve had on a bike…everBike Map Image
  • This bike course is ridiculously simple – pancake flat & with the exception of 3 miles or so getting out of the neighborhood it is straight as an arrow. Twenty eight miles out and twenty eight back.
  • The weather on this day was perfect for biking. With the exception of a few miles at the turn around (miles 28-30ish) there was virtually no wind to mess with (which is unheard of for a road that borders the Gulf of Mexico the entire stretch), there was total cloud coverage & for about 45 minutes to an hour there was a very light rain to keep things cool. It was perfect.Bike Summary
  • There was nothing in any of my training that would suggest a 2:22:38 bike split was even a remote possibility for me. 23.6 mph hour? Are you kidding me?

This bike was just one of those rare instances where all the uncontrollable variables line up perfectly and when they did it made for a super-fast bike course. You’ll even notice that I rode under my watt goal – partially because I was a bit nervous about how easy the bike was and how fast I was moving & because I kept reminding myself that I had to run 13.1 miles – which was more than I’d run all together in the previous 9 weeks.

Bike 1In terms of execution I stayed aero for 95%+ of the bike. Knowing it was going to be humid I stayed on my fluids & ended up peeing three – four times on the bike. One last minute change I did make was that I decided to double my salt tab intake. I typically take one salt tab per hour to help augment the sodium I’m getting from my fluids & from my GU (with the goal of getting ~1000 mg of sodium per hour) – but I decided the day before to double that (reasoning: at lunch the day before I was talking with one of my teammates, Jimmy, from Endurance Nation & he noted that his supplemental sodium intake was two tabs per hour. It got me wonBike 2dering if my cramping might be held off longer if I increased my sodium intake. And at 190lbs I’m a bigger guy out there and I’m sweating more than most of the smaller fellas. And I also reasoned, since this was a B race for me that I would be fine experimenting a bit.) I don’t typically recommend jacking with your plan the day before a race but I felt that this race was going to be a crapshoot because of my calf cramping so I figured, “what the heck!”

I rolled into T2 a bit in shock at the bike split but feeling really good, very hydrated and ready to see what the run held for me.


Goal: < 2:00

Actual: 1:28

Hopped off my bike and ran hard to my awesome rack spot. Off with my bike shoes & helmet.  Sat down, put my socks on (I had put a bunch of Vaseline on the inside around the toe area) & shoes, grabbed my ziplock bag which contained my race belt, my visor, a zip lock bag of salt tabs & a few Gus and then I made a bee line for the run out exit. Just like T1 I feel really good about this transition – sub 1:30 feels pretty darn quick and efficient.


Goal: Not to die & to hold off the cramping as long as possible

Actual: 2:05:52 (9:43 pr/mile)

AG Place: 70 / 327

Garmin File – https://connect.garmin.com/activity/759574232

Run MapMy overarching race strategy was to execute well on the swim & the bike, to hustle through transitions and then hold on for dear life on the run. Now was the time to see if /when my body would implode. This run course is very technical – it’s a three loop course with LOTS of turns and turn-arounds.

Mentally, I was in a good spot. Before the race even started I’d come to terms with a few bits of reality:

  • I had no business expecting anything other than suffering on the run
  • I had no business expecting a sub-2 hour half marathon
  • I had no business expecting that my calf would hold up – it wasn’t an issue of if it would cramp up, but when it would cramp up.

With those three things firmly imbedded in my brain I set off on lap one and the slow de-evolution of David began. The first On the Runlap (4 miles & some change) felt hard but overall okay. My legs were not used to the pounding & I could tell that I was beginning to get a blister on the bottom of my right foot. Because there were so many turns throughout the course the blister quickly went from uncomfortable to downright painful.

I took salt tabs 2-3 times per hour; stayed on top of my fluids as best I could and threw ice down my shorts to try and keep my core temperature down. I think I had three GUs during the run…or maybe it was two. With every mile (except mile 7) I slowed down a bit. Each one got harder. Each one hurt worse. Run Summary

Because it was three loops I got to see my family a bunch on the run course & that’s always an encouragement – with their bright orange shirts they are super easy to spot! About half way through the run my 12 year jogged beside me and asked how my calf was feeling. I told him that it felt fine but every other part ofFinish Line my body was in pain. It was getting progressively warmer, the cloud coverage was less and the humidity was awful. And that would be the story for the entirety of the run – with each mile the suffering increased. But amazingly, no calf cramping…a ton of hurt in every other part of my body, yes…but no calf cramping. Other than walking the aid stations (which is part of my race day plan) I somehow managed to run the rest of the race.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 5:08:44 – thanks to a ridiculous bike split & in spite of a sub-par swim and a disastrous run it was good enough for about a 2 minute PR.

Just finishedWith my small PR in hand I sat down to assess the damage to my body. Blistered…chaffed…quads on fire…hips in pain…mind fried. I was a mess…but I was finished and I felt good about my effort and my overall execution.

Final Thoughts:

Race Selection:  This was a fun race & WTC did a nice job putting it on. As usual there were great volunteers throughout and good on course support from local authorities. The bike course is in great shape and smooth (unlike Austin’s awful bike course). The run course as I mentioned, was filled with turns which I wasn’t a big fan of. I really, really like the single transition (Austin & Oceanside both have separate transitions for swim to bike & for bike to run, which makes race morning just that much more complex – and I’m a big fan of simplicity on race day). This ended up being a fast race with a very competitive male 40-44 age group. My 5:08:44 was only good enough to get me 70th in my age group (compare that with Austin 2014 where a 5:10 got me 20th place in my age group). I can say without hesitation that this is a race I’d consider doing again.

Post Race Food: Cold pizza (bonus because it was Pappa Johns), chips, pretzels and chocolate chip cookies (though they appeared to have run out of the cookies right after I got to the Athlete Food Tent). There was water & soda; but oddly no beer or chocolate milk – which I feel like are mainstays at the races I’ve been at.

Swag: The swag was okay, but not great. I still believe the drawstring bag that Ironman provided in 2013 is a far better quality bag…in fact, I still use it daily to hold my iPad, Bible and other stuff I lug to the office each morning. The ones from 2014 were really cheap & the one for this year feels like it’s pretty poor quality.  The tech t-shirt for the men is grey with an okay logo. Honestly, I’ve got so many tech t-shirts that what I personally would prefer is a really well designed cotton t-shirt that I can wear with jeans or shorts.

Condo: We rented a condo at the Diamond Beach Residences through VRBO. Our particular unit was a three bedroom and it worked out wonderfully me, my wife & my six kiddos. They have a huge, long, windy lazy river with a small slide attached to it. An enormous multi-level outdoor pool.  An indoor pool. A game room with free play video games & pinball machines.  There is a really nice media room that you can reserve. We go the 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. slot on Sunday night and watched Toy Story 3 with a wonderful family with small kids that we met. They were in town for the race as well.  They have a nice fitness center that my bride took advantage of as well. It is located about 10 minutes from Moody Gardens so getting back and forth was super easy. This ended up being a great solution for our family and I highly recommend it.

Post Race Recovery: I’ve been told by those who have been doing Ironman races for a long time that the higher intensity of the half Ironman produces more pain on the body than the longer, lower intensity full Ironman race. With only four half Ironman races and one full Ironman race under my belt I’m not sure I’m qualified to agree or disagree with that.  But one thing I can tell you for sure – when you only run 11 miles in the 9 weeks leading up to a half Ironman and you run the 13.1 miles during the race you will; make no mistake about it; suffer for days afterward.  My quads, my hips, my glutes have been so very fried…much more than my other 70.3 distance races. I’m writing this on the Wednesday after the race and I am still in significant pain. I was able to get into see my amazing ART doc – Chelsea over at Chirosport Specialists of Dallas and then spent a few minutes in their cryo chamber to help accelerate my recovery. But there’s only so much one can expect when your body isn’t ready for the pounding that running puts on your joints & muscles.

Family Pic 3_Post Race


Post Race Collapse

Family Pic 3_Post Race Dinner

Post Race Cryo

Proverbs 26:12 – “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

Ten of the first eleven verses in chapter 26 talk about the danger of dealing with a fool. We are reminded that:

  • that honor is not fitting for a fool (vs. 1)
  • that a fool’s life will be marked by discipline because they won’t respond to common sense (vs. 3)
  • that sometimes it’s wise to answer a fool…and other times it’s not (vs. 4-5)
  • that fools are not reliable (vs. 6)
  • that fools are not teachable (vs. 7 & 9)
  • that giving honor to a fool is counter-productive (vs. 8)
  • that fools will set you back in your tasks/work (vs. 10)
  • that fools don’t learn from their mistakes (vs. 11).

After you get through the first part of this chapter we should be thinking something along the lines of, “sounds like being a fool is the worst thing I can be! I better effort to not be that guy.” And then you read verse 12 and we learn that being a fool is actually NOT the worst thing.

What’s worse than being a fool?

The answer: being wise in our own eyes.

Pride. Being a know it all. Arrogance. Walking into a room, assuming and treating others like you are the smartest person there. Believing that no one can offer you any bit of wisdom because you serve as the fountain of all knowledge and intellect. Looking down on everyone else and refusing to entertain the notion that you might need others.

  • It’s walking into the church service, seeing someone other than your favorite pastor teaching and thinking “oh man…I should have stayed home.”
  • It’s jumping in with your community group and thinking that no one else can give you counsel that you haven’t already heard.
  • It’s being a newlywed and holding on tight to the notion that “no one has ever been in love like we have” so we don’t need to worry about all that conflict resolution stuff.
  • It’s believing that you’re so terminally unique that no one will understand your struggle with _______.
  • It’s refusing to admit you messed up, say your sorry and seek forgiveness.
  • It’s failing to acknowledge that God uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:27)
  • It’s being unwilling to come to terms with the reality that you can do nothing to earn your salvation and that you need a Savior (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9)

This proverb placed strategically on the heels of the previous eleven verses can be, if we let it, a great reminder that we need others to sharpen our thinking, to speak truth into our life and to remember that life experiences are fairly narrow and there are other perspectives that can help keep us from making a mess of ourselves.

Proverbs 26

Proverbs 12:24 – “The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.”

Diligence is doing the little things right…consistently over time as measured in months and years. Generally speaking, diligence pays off. Work hard…be faithful…do the little things right & over time things will go well with you. Not always…but often.  On the contrary, the lazy, unmotivated and slack individual will generally discover that their opportunity for influence and growth is frustrated. 

This feels like common sense but I’ve seen folks regularly discouraged (myself included) when this actually plays itself out in life. We look for the quick fix and are bitterly disappointed when our efforts are not immediately rewarded. Diligence is a long term process…and for most things long term is not defined in weeks. And living in world where “instant gratification” is echoed from just about every media outlet it’s helpful to step back and reframe our perspective.

For many of us “ruling” might look like:
> turning our marriage around
> learning to connect with our kid(s)
> being able to recall Bible verses from memory
> freeing ourselves from our addictions (alcohol, pornography, gluttony, etc…)
> taking on additional responsibility at work
> taking back our physical health
> becoming a single digit handicap in golf
> going sub 5 hours in a half Ironman (okay…that one is for me!)

There is no magic formula in life. To move the needle in these areas will take diligence (hard work, consistently, over time), accountability (support, encouragement, exhortation) and grace (taking the long term view, realizing that starts and stops on this journey are normal).
Proverbs 10:19 – “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” 

This is one of those proverbs that doesn’t require much interpretation. I don’t need to know Hebrew to unpack this saying. I don’t need a seminary degree to figure out what the writer is trying to communicate.  It’s laid out nice and clean.  The takeaway – I probably talk too much.

The quickest way to reduce the frequency with which I have to say “I’m sorry” is to reduce the frequency of my words. The greatest source of my relational frustration comes from my tongue. My snarky comments. My sarcastic tones. My mean-spirited words. My inappropriate jokes. My rage-filled rants. And on and on and on.

If you & I are looking for a quick way to take ground in our relationships with friends, family, co-workers, etc… we should try talking less and listening more.  But don’t forget – and this is important to remember that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34b) or put another way “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart” (Matthew 15:18). 
My problem with my tongue is not really a problem with my tongue. It’s a problem with my heart. The tongue is merely the microphone that amplifies what’s in my heart. Angry words come from an angry heart. Sarcastic words come from a sarcastic heart. Perverse words come from a perverse heart.

So, as we’re working on talking less let us also acknowledge that talking less doesn’t change the problem. It merely serves as a way to bridle the wild and unruly horse. We don’t need a new tongue. We need a new heart (see also John 3:1-8). We need to ask God to change/renew/reshape our heart so that when we do decide to speak the source of our words is a clean spring that brings forth that which is acceptable and wisdom-filled.

Proverbs 28:1 – “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
This is one of my favorite verses. I quote this to my kids (and to myself!) to remind them they there is a way to live life confidently…free from fear.

We all probably know that sick fearful feeling when we’ve done something we know we shouldn’t. The fear of feeling like we’re about to get caught…found out…busted for that thing we’ve done. Just like when you pass a police officer going 85 mph on a freeway that has a 70 mph speed limit. The acid rushes to our stomachs and we start constantly checking the rear view mirror.

This proverbs serves as a wonderful reminder that if we will just live life in accordance with the way the Lord wants us to we can be free from that fear. We can be as “bold as a lion” because our conscience is clear. There is no need to constantly cover our tracks…to walk around wondering if other people will find out what we’ve done.

> Will the IRS audit my taxes and discover how I’ve tried to cheat the system?
> Will my wife find out I’ve been looking at porn?
> Will my employer find out that I’ve been wasting hours each day surfing the internet?
> Will my small group find out that I’ve only been sharing half-truths about my life?

Following God provides freedom. Freedom to live confidently, in the light and securely knowing that there aren’t going to be any “revelations” that will challenge my marriage…my parenting…my employment…my leadership opportunities.

See also Galatians 5:1 – “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”