If You Never Tri, You'll Never Know!

Flashback Friday - Ironman Texas 2012


We promised you flashback Friday's! Sitting in our business meeting, discussing what we want to flashback to we thought, what were we doing last year in May? Well Ironman Texas was actually TWO years ago, but we thought holy hell, Lisa, that was your FIRST Ironman only TWO years ago. You're up to FOUR! Two of our best friends are preparing for Ironman Texas 2014. SO...a flashback worth remembering...

One Forty Point Six - IMTX

I’m really surprised I’m not more sore. I can definitely tell I swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles, and ran 26.2 miles but I really thought that the simple act of movement would bring intense pain. It doesn’t. Ya know what that means? I was well trained, well rested, and ready!!

So yeah, I finished my first full Ironman in Woodlands, Texas on May 19, 2012. Arriving in Texas on Wednesday with my husband and mother I was feeling quite diffident and untrustworthy of my last several months of training. How can I possibly accomplish such a huge triathlon!? Apparently we all feel that way before a huge race like this (and sometimes even for smaller races). Coach claimed I don’t know how many times, “Trust your training.” And what was I going to do, not race!?

Let’s fast forward to race morning…I got sleep, I got up in time, I got food, I got my potty on, the morning was going as planned and yet I have never been so nervous in my life! I stopped in transition for last minute details and headed to the swim start. The slew of muscles and Ironman tattoos on calves and backs was so intimidating. I was trying to just take it all in and distract my racing heart and mind. That feeling of “I’m not going to be able to do this” was caught up in my throat again followed by deep swallows of “YES YOU ARE!” A very stressful internal battle.

6:50am the pro’s go off. While a great swim venue, there wasn’t room by the water to actually see this happen but I imagined the thrill in my head as I closed my eyes and tried not to vomit. 7am the non wetsuit age groupers went off. Corralled nearby wetsuiters were immediately allowed in the water. Yes, I chose to wear a wetsuit. Here’s the deal with that: the race was not wetsuit legal, but it was wetsuit optional. If one chooses to wear a wetsuit they can’t win any awards or qualify for Kona. That wasn’t really a possibility for me anyway (although a dream…) and I’ve become quite accustomed to my wetsuit (but not for long!!!) so I decided to eliminate any stress and decided to hang on to my security blanket (wetsuit). 7:10am, the most violent swim of my life was underway. I knew I was going to get beat up. Imagine 2,500 total participants and probably between 300-400 in wetsuits all clustered together; lots of big fishies in a tiny little pond (lake); add excitement, fear, adrenaline, and panic to all (most) of those fishies…what a mad house!!

Okay so now I’m swimming and I don’t really feel nervous anymore, I’m imagining Luke is by my side and I’m just swimming. About 400 or 500 yards out I get kicked or punched so hard in the face that I thought I blacked out. What actually happened was my goggles were knocked off of me. I’m frantically searching for them and managed to grab them moments before sinking away forever to my far left side. I said “shit shit shit” no less than 100 times. Goggles back on I had to just chuckle at the situation because of COURSE it would happen, it was one of my fears TO happen. And why didn’t I put my goggles on UNDER my swim cap!? Well, “It’s not gonna happen to ME” took over :/ Good grief! The swim was an out and back and then down a canal (no current). I felt like I was swimming FOREVER. I didn’t feel bad, I wasn’t hurting, I was no longer nervous, it was just so long. I did find some open water though and swam pretty much the whole way back free of kicks and punches. Once in the canal though, holy violence again!! It was like everyone around me was in panic mode to the swim finish!! I got hit right in the eye which caused my goggles to suction right up off my head again but this time I felt it happening so I was able to grab them before they popped off. Seriously, that was about to happen TWICE!? It usually doesn’t even happen once!! I maintained my cool though and finished my swim at 1:35:10. A personal record ;)

Heading out on the bike I felt really happy and excited to move on to the next event. What’s the biggest worry of a triathlete out on the bike? Tri friends, where ya at? Anyone? Anyone? The correct answer is a flat tire! (that’s right behind wrecking by the way). And what happened at mile 17? A flat tire! Of COURSE I would get a flat tire at mile 17 on my first Ironman. Why wouldn’t I get a flat tire!? Lucky for me, a couple of weeks ago, Luke taught me how to change a flat tire. Luke I really can’t thank you enough because it was the rear wheel and your voice came through, I stayed nice and relaxed, I stayed positive, and I changed it. All…by…my…self. The best part, when I jumped back on my bike and looked down at my food timer, only 8 minutes had passed!! Holy hell I changed a rear tire in 8 minutes!! I left that spot on the side of the road nearly grateful for the experience. The rest of the ride (until my excitement at mile 70…) was long, hot, and tough. I can’t say it wasn’t fun though; I had a blast!! I was talking to myself, singing, talking to other riders, eating, smiling, and actually enjoying the race. A turn at mile 40 put us directly into headwind for the rest of the race; that really put a damper on my pace but I stopped caring about my bike time back at mile 17.

So there I am around mile 70, enjoying yet another waffle (insert “enjoyment” sarcasm here) when what to my dismay? My front wheel starts sliding and clunking around. Are you FREAKING kidding me!? Another FLAT TIRE!? Ahhhhh!! Maintaining my cool when all I really wanted to do was throw my bike across the road I pulled over and waited. Ya see, most triathletes (and cyclists) carry at least one tube and an air canister on their bike in case of a flat tire. It happens all the time and it’s frustrating and annoying but we deal with it and change it and move on from it. BUT TWO!? TWO FLAT TIRES during my first ever Ironman!? This is OUT OF CONTROL! And why would I carry TWO tubes? The chance of one flat tire was so slim, and if I did get a flat tire I couldn’t possibly get TWO flat tires. Yeah, I did, so I had to wait until a bike mechanic came along. I’m actually pretty lucky because one came in about 30 minutes (I’m guessing time because I forgot to check time when I stopped but I knew I was eating and I eat every 20 minutes and I had to eat again while I sat there). Ya know though, I didn’t stop long at the half way point so this was a nice break (ugh).

Wrapping up the bike at 7:06:55 (more ugh) so much longer than I wanted or expected. I figured 6:30 at the most. But considering two flats and a 72 mile headwind, I’ll take it. I’ll tell ya what though, I have never been so excited to get off of my bike. I also want to note that my plan was to take it easy on the bike saving some for the run. I’ve never ran a full marathon so I was really nervous about doing so after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike. I also never ran more than 17 miles during my training so I was less than confident about the whole running situation…

So I’m back in transition again and headed out for my run. 3 loops, 26.2 miles. I’ve got this. My plan: it was gonna be a rough first loop (my first 4-6 miles usually hurt pretty good coming off the bike), my second loop was gonna be good, and my third loop was gonna be super strong. It worked!! Although, what an emotional roller coaster!! I’d be high as a kite one minute and full of confidence and cheer and running like a pro. Next minute, I’d be down in the dumps and doubting my ability to finish. But then moments later, I’d be high again. It was crazy!! I’ve heard of these highs and lows but just couldn’t imagine what it ACTUALLY felt like.

The loops were amazing, full of people and volunteers, food and water every mile, and it went SO fast! I really couldn’t believe how strong I felt. I never had a single twinge of IT band pain or piriformis issues (shout out to Dr. Jernigan and his ART). Besides mental games, I never had a single twinge of ANY pain. Until (da da da…) mile 20. I suddenly had the urge to pee (here’s where probably TMI will be discussed so you’re free to go if you’d like…;) But I stopped to pee and NOTHING. Nothing was happening; but Oh My God, I had to pee SO BAD! What the hell!? It wasn’t painful, but it was excruciatingly uncomfortable! I actually started asking runners around me if they’d ever experienced this. An older guy started running with me (amazing pace by the way) and said I was probably just dehydrated. But I’m sweating!? At this point I have 3 miles to go so I’ll deal with it later!! But those 3 miles I tried to pee 2 more times with no luck. I was really starting to panic a little but my run still felt great so why stop!? I continued to drink water and just relied on the possibility that I was simply dehydrated and my bladder was freaking out. I finished the 26.2 in 5:08:48.

Finish line. Oh my gosh, I cannot convey the appropriate words or feelings. The chute was winding and just swarmed by people. So many people cheering and yelling and excitement and high fives and…I’m getting choked up typing this! The entire finish line run/jog I was choked up and I know my smile was at least 7 miles long. I couldn’t believe this was about to happen!! And suddenly there I was, there was the Ironman Texas arch reading 14:14:37…“Lisa McCombs, you ARE an Ironman” He said it!! He said it!! I AM an IRONMAN! I felt like the strongest person alive. Such a rush of adrenaline and I DID IT and AHHHHH went through my body. I have never felt like I deserved something so much in my life. Those few moments were worth every lap, every hour, every mile, every chomp, every drop of sweat. I didn’t feel the need to be humble nor deny the amazingness, AWESOMENESS of what I just accomplished.

Two “catchers” were immediately at my sides making sure I was okay and didn’t need medical or carried. I didn’t. I felt GREAT!! They walked me through the finish line area making sure I was okay (volunteers are WONDERFUL) where I was introduced to 4 time World Ironman Champion, Chrissie Wellington who placed my medal around my neck. The girl walking me said, “This is Chrissie Wellington.” Chrissie, “Is this your first Ironman?” Lisa, “Yes, Oh My God, I Love You.”  Yeah, I meet Chrissie Wellington face to face and all I get out is I love you!? LOL!! The good news is she’s doing a book signing in Mobile tonight and I’m headed that way for her book, an autograph, hopefully some pictures, and find out if she remembers my love for her at IMTX. LOL!!!

Official Ironman time: 14 hours, 4 minutes, 37 seconds.
Swim: 1:35:10
T1: 7:36
Bike: 7:06:55
T2: 6:08
Run: 5:08:48

I think the moral of my experience goes back to time. As athletes, we all get SO caught up in time (first to admit, guilty!!). That’s often the first question asked, what time do you want? How fast are you going to finish? Time time time. To hell with time. I don’t want my race to be one second faster or slower. Could I have done better or pushed harder to improve my time? Absolutely…but I cannot and will not get caught up in it. Starting, finishing, reaching goals, that’s what’s important. At the end of the 17 hours we are all Ironman. And I have never been more proud of an accomplishment in my life. And, just have fun. Enjoy your experiences as an athlete. Of course strive to become a better you, but always enjoy your race and bask in your accomplishments

Now for some shout outs because they are WELL DESERVED! Most of you know who “Coach” is by now…Mister Dean Morrow wrote my program and has been pushing me through the last few months. I’ve wanted to stray from his program, punch him in the face, tell him off, and so many other things but I’ve trusted him, stuck with it, listened and did everything he told me and now, all I want to do is HUG him and THANK HIM for everything. I was well trained, well rested, and ready for my race. Dean was boss when he needed to be, coach when he needed to be, and friend when he needed to be. He only made me cry once and I’d do it 100 times over for that finish. Dean is like a big brother and I can’t thank him enough. Love you Dean!!

Luke Davidson spent countless hours training with me. Especially in the water. Always by my side, that man swam miles and miles for no reason other than to just be there for me. He was my go to for everything and carried all my worries for me through my race. Luke is probably one of the most straightforward but kind people I’ve ever known. Life would just not be right without him in it. Thank you for ALL the help and support Luke and ESPECIALLY for teaching me how to change a flat tire!! J Love you Luke!!

My favorite, Crystal Hlywa. What an amazing friend. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful this person is. From training with me to listening to me whine and complain to decorating my house, to just EVERYTHING. We all need at least one and she’s mine J I love you girl!! Thank you!!!!

Phil McCombs, Anita Patten (mom), Dean Morrow, Chuck Hanson, Stevie Chamberlain, Shane Lynes for being there for me on my big day. I’m SOOOO glad y’all were there! I love you all!!! 18 Ironman Cheryl Chany (aunt - who also competed and won first place in her age group at 11:22:11!!!! And is MY HERO!!!), and Savhanna Chaney for being there too. All of my local friends who came out for various training events, biking, swimming, running. All of my far away friends who encouraged and supported me through facebook, emails, texts, and phone calls. My support system in unbelievable. I have been so blessed and filled with great people and love. I can’t say thank you enough, really.

And the biggest thanks of all to my husband Phil McCombs. Talk about being there for someone. This man has put up with IT ALL. Ironman training is damn near a full time job and I’ve been at it for MONTHS. Now don’t get me wrong, there were moments…but he has taken on more than I ever imagined he would. Thank you honey. I know you want to be an Ironman someday too and when you’re ready, I’ll be here for you, kayaking next to you during your swim, babying your bike, and cycling next to your run. I’ll take care of the house and Jake and make sure you have all your food. I’ll never eat your last oreo cookies and I’ll never complain about “catering” to your Ironman. I’ll load and unload the truck and keep my mouth shut on race weekend. I’ll rub your feet, charge your Garmin, and sleep in another room if I get sick. You’re my best friend in the whole entire world and I love you. Thank you.

The most important part of this lengthy race report, I AM AN IRONMAN!! Woooohooooo!!!
Congratulations of friend Karen and Tim Shaw for becoming Ironman also!! We made it :)

(Race report written by Lisa McCombs on Monday, May 21, 2012 via Facebook "Notes")