October 18, 2009

The Stars at Night, Are Big and Bright...

For my big triathlons, I like to make it a completely different experience. I figure, if I'm going to do it, I might as well travel somewhere fun for the race, right? So for my second 1/2 Ironman (see my first here), I chose to race in a state that's famous for going big and being big. The great state of Texas.Thursday
The Longhorn 70.3 Austin 1/2 Ironman was on Sunday, so I flew into Austin on Thursday to have time to acclimate and see a little of the city. I didn't want to just fly in, race, and fly home. If I'm going to Texas, I want to see the place and have a well-rounded experience. After getting my rental car and heading to the hotel, I used the internet to find a small restaurant where I could get some brisket, which Texas is known to cook well.

Having seen some of Austin, I can say that I really like it. There is a lot going on, but it still maintains that small-town feel. First I went to the University of Texas at Austin to see the campus. I parked right by the football stadium, and it was an impressive sight. The rest of campus was also very nice, and students were helpful in giving me directions.The Texas State Capitol is an interesting yet beautiful building. Maybe my favorite feature is that it's made of "sunset red" granite, so it kind of has a pinkish hue. Not your typical government building, to be sure.I also wanted to see if all the hype about Texas high school football is legit, so I went to a nearby high school game that I found on the internet. Unfortunately, I picked a game between two private, Christian schools, so it was a small (though high scoring) affair. Maybe next time I come to Texas I'll see what I've been hearing about all these years.

In order to race, you have to go to registration and attend a safety briefing. That was my main task on Saturday. Registration and sign-in were held at Luedecke Arena, which is where T2 (bike-to-run) and the finish line would be for the race, so it was good to be able to get my bearings and know how that portion would be.Sunday
Didn't get much sleep, but I was up super-early to drive down, park, and take the shuttle to Walter E. Long Park, which is where the swim in Decker Lake and T1 (swim-to-bike) were. The professionals started at 7:30, but my swim wave didn't start until 8:40. My swim went alright; nothing too eventful. Just settled in and churned through it.The bike course was challenging. Not because it was hilly or too hot or anything like that, but because the middle third of the course was pretty bumpy. That leaves the butt bones a bit raw. No bueno. However, I finished the bike on pace for my overall goal.The run was a different story. I was pacing myself alright early on, and lasted about 4 miles with a 10-min/mile (run 9, walk 1). Then the run course had its way with me. Both the fronts and backs of both legs cramped up with a vengeance. The next 9 miles were a battle of will.I jog-walked the whole way, making friends during the frequent walk breaks and taking in the scenery. Each time I'd jog again, I'd last maybe a 1/2 mile and then my legs would threaten to fully cramp and buckle under me, so I'd have to resume walking. I pushed the last mile in order to make my overall goal, and entered Luedecke Arena with just enough time to beat that goal by 10 seconds, for a total time of 6:29:48. And boy, was I happy to fire off my six-shooters in the air and be done!


  1. Wow, Aaron. I am impressed and very, very proud. Way to go! And it sounds like you were smart to do the sight-seeing portion first. Hope you're healing all right :)

  2. YAAAAAAAAAY for TEXAS visits! Sounds like quite the eventful weekend Aaron. Glad to hear you were able to tough it out through the leg cramps, and CONGRATS on beating your time. You know what they say, "every second counts" :-) And yes, Texas football IS the other religion there. Sad to hear the game you found wasn't up to snuff. Next time, it'll be better.