IRONMAN TEXAS ---- By Sarah Petre-Mears
In October of 2012 and on the back of a great race at Ironman Miami 70.3 I decided it was time to take on a new challenge and that challenge materialized as Ironman Texas.
7 months later on May 18th 2013 I rose at 4.30am took a moment to mentally prepare myself for what lay ahead. Namely a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon that would complete the 140.6 mile event ahead.
Entering the transition just after 5am to check my bike, add fluids and food and of course check my tires, I was surrounded by the silence that this distance creates. almost 3000 athletes all doing the same mental and physical checks of both themselves and their equipment. Leaving transition and my bike behind I walked just over a mile to the area next to the swim start for body marking and last minute mental preparation. It was at this point I have never been more thankful than to the people who had travelled so far to be there for me. The hugs and smiles they delivered at sunrise were just what I needed. At 6.50am the first canon exploded as the pro athletes started their race day. Moments later there were the age group athletes, literally thousands of us treading water waiting for the national anthem to end so our day could begin. At 7am the noise of the second canon filled the sky and we were off. For those who do not know much about Ironman it is an individual sport, most of the day you are spent very much on your own, the swim is not one of these times. Add thousands of athletes to deep water and tell them all to go in one direction there is only one result.... blood bath, the swim of an Ironman is a contact sport and wow did I meet some contact, lost goggles, some very sore ribs and a crash course in diving meant for a very eventful 2.4 mile swim around the beautiful Woodlands lake down into the canal and out into transition one.
Yelling out my race number I was handed my first transition bag and into the transition tent. The volunteers were as usual just amazing, with over 4000 of them throughout the day it is these individuals who make our sport possible.
Out of T1 and on to the bike, it was so wonderful to see my supporters shouting and waving giving me the extra boost as I faced the next 112 miles of the race on my bike. It should be said that the Woodlands area of Texas is just beautiful but riding in plus 100 degrees temperatures is brutal. At mile 15 on the bike the noise any athlete dreads to hear started echoing around me as the sirens of the medics roared past, this was unfortunately a noise I heard consistently all day as the event that is Ironman and the insane heated claimed more and more athletes. The volunteers at aid stations never failed to exude energy as i rode past assisting in keeping me mentally alert and focussed, at 60 miles the first special needs station appeared where athletes get the opportunity to pick up a bag of things that they pre prepared. I was so looking forward to my gummy bears and a cliff bar that I had put into my bag, what I wasn't prepared for was the fact that everything in my bag had melted, yes everything! wow it really is hot out here! A quick bike and gear check, more fluids, ice and sponges and back on the road. My biggest problem was the heat, I had trained hard for this race but climate is something you just can not control, so my only option was to keep putting in fluids and try and keep my body temperature down. As the bike ride came to an end I was so delighted to hand my bike over to volunteers and head into the second transition tent. Checked my time all was going well, only a marathon to go.....
In T2 I did the standard medical checks, all seemed well with the exception of the bottom of my feet... hmmm this could be a long marathon.
Out on to the run, and wow there is the heat again! The run was a three loops course round the lake we swam in earlier that day, alongside the canal and into the park. It was just beautiful and just got more beautiful as the sun went down and the fairy lights twinkled in the trees that lined the canal. What was not so beautiful was the sound of medics still roaring and the sight of athletes on the road side that just could not go anymore. As always on the run I met some of the most amazing people each taking things one mile at a time to reach their goal. More ice sponges, chicken broth, coke, pretzels, gels, bananas is there anything that will feed my body and reduce the temperature? As the miles went by each one came with a new sense of achievement I was one mile closer, the thought filled me with pride and also with the burning question of "why am I doing this again?" At mile 21 there they were again, my amazing cheer squad filling me once again with the strength I needed, (once again thank you!!) and what seemed like an age later there it was THE FINISH LINE, Mike Reilly, better known as the voice of Ironman was shouting my name and there it was again Sarah Petre-Mears, you are an Ironman! Exhausted, hurting and wearing an enormous smile as my catcher placed a medal over my head I was reminded of why I had done it. There is no feeling like it. Filled with pride, stripped emotionally to my core and an Ironman once again.