Another Ironman come and gone, full of excitement, pain and learning. I headed into this race with good fitness and expectations of myself to be within the top three in a strong field. However, as in almost every race, there were great moments, and some not so great moments. In the end, I should be happy with my seventh place finish, but in all honesty also have feelings of frustration as places 2-8 were all within 8 minutes of each other. My running fitness was capable of getting me the place I needed had I not had a stomach cramp that took me too long to resolve. There is nothing worse than feeling physically awesome on the run, but having something beyond your control happen to negatively affect the outcome. Here’s how the day unfolded:

I have put so much time and effort into swimming over the winter, so was confident I would have a solid swim. Once again, my swim time showed little if no improvement. When the gun went off, someone caught my timing chip and broke the strap. It was instant reflex to grab my ankle to catch it and shove it down my suit … also thinking “what the hell am I going to do without a timing chip?” Unfortunately this lost me the pack of swimmers I wanted to be with, and spent the rest of the swim by myself with no one to draft. I was already beating myself up for stopping to grab it, thinking it would have been better to lose it and have the officials figure out what to do. I still don’t know what the protocol would have been in this situation. Anyways, needless to say, I exited the swim in the usual 1:02 ish time.

jen annett texas run

Through transition I yelled to anyone I could that I needed a new chip, but no one knew what to do. I had already lost a significant amount of time, and chose to carry it in my suit and continue on. Heading out on the bike course, I knew I was going to have a lot of work to do. I found myself alone for the majority of the first 70km or so, chasing a solid pack of women in sight. I stayed controlled, keeping the numbers where they needed to be, focusing on body position and reminding myself to be patient. I knew I had gained time on this pack, but was surprised when I lost sight of them between 80 and 150km. Once we headed out into the second loop, it was pointless trying to see where they were. I found myself in a frustrating situation with a pack of AG men who weren’t abiding by drafting/passing rules. I found myself either having to surge past them all and holding watts well over what I should be, or being swallowed up and having to fade back. I was doing everything I could to stay out of the drafting zone but still bike the way I needed to. This game of cat and mouse continued on for almost the duration of the race. My back also decided it was going to seize up early on in the ride, so I was doing everything I could to keep the pain to a minimum. As the bike continued on, I realized that I was averaging a speed that would easily give me a world record time. I hovered around the 40km/hr speed, while still keeping the watts in check, which would give me a 4:30 bike split. I managed to catch a good group of women within the last 20km, which gave me a boost knowing the patience game had paid off. I was, however, very surprised to come into T2 5min earlier than I should have, realizing that the bike course was short, or at least according to my GPS.

jen annett texas run

I had no idea what place I was in as I tore through T2, until I glanced behind me and saw the third place biker. I wanted to be in a better position, but this was good considering how the race started. I felt fantastic heading into the run, relaxed and focused, but was running scared as I knew there were some solid sub 3 runners not very far behind me. I was confident I had the fitness to run a sub 3:10, but did I have enough of a lead on these girls? Mel passed me early on in the run as expected, and knowing what she was capable of, chose to let her go. I passed Lauren and maintained my third place position. At about the 10-12km mark, I all of a suddenly felt like I got stabbed in my abs. I have had this happen in the past in the heat due to too much fluid in my belly sloshing around and not digesting. I didn’t feel this way this time, and didn’t know if I was dehydrated instead? I tried to stretch it out, but couldn’t get it to release all the way. I quickly fell back into fourth as I tried to deal with the cramp. It continued to nag at me for almost an entire 15km loop of the run. I had fallen into 6th or 7th at this point and was frustrated, mad, and starting to have a major mental battle with myself. When the cramp would subside, I could run a solid 4:20-4:30 pace fairly effortlessly, until it came back again. I finally decided to try taking in extra water instead of the usual coke. Within a few minutes, I was running again and the cramp finally went away. Unfortunately this was too late, and I wasn’t sure if I could make up the time I needed to get back to where I was. Then my guts decided to let go, creating another problem. At this point, there was about 10km left. The cramp was gone at this point, so it was all I could do to not fall back again. I didn’t know where I was sitting as I had no idea if I had been passed again while in the bathroom. Within 3 or 4 km of the finish line, people were yelling at me that Kim was just ahead and fading. I managed to gain a spot here and at the final turn around before the finish, saw how close I still was to the others. All the “what ifs” started through my head, and I poured everything I had into the last 10min. It wasn’t enough to catch them and crossed in 7th place. It didn’t end here though as I quickly became nauseous on dizzy. Winding up in the med tent was not my first plan, but that happened and the guys in there were great!

At the end of the day, I am both happy and frustrated. I put it all out there as best I could and there will always be another one

jen annett texas finish

Thank you to all my sponsors and supporters: F2C nutrition, Felt, Skechers, EnergyLab, Swagman, WAttie Ink, Podium Imports, Pioneer, Blueseventy, The Bike Barn, Nuvista Chiropractic and Wellness, and of course JonnyOcoaching!