Three more nights and I will be ready for my fourth ironman! After Lanzarote 2011, Wales 2011 and Hawaii 2012, I decided to participate in Texas. That decision was easily made: May is the only month of the year that I can do a second ironman (exams at the university and internship in a hospital in June and July), part of my family lives here in Houston, and Texas should prepare me better for Ironman Hawaii in October, because ‘Lone Star State’ Texas is more warm and humid than Hawaii.I arrived here on the 3rd of May, plenty of time to get adapted to the extreme weather conditions and to enjoy my holidays with my family. Houston is a big city with more than 2 million inhabitants, but it doesn’t feel crowded, there is still space. I ride my city bike to go swim in the 50m outdoor pool and I’m faster than all those Americans in their big cars :-)! I think Belgians are such good cyclists, because we have learnt to take our bike for all distances shorter than 8K. It is also amazingly safe on the bike in downtown Houston. The Woodlands, where the race will be, is a 40 minutes to one hour drive North and a very nice (expensive) place. I drive to the Woodlands with my rental car, which is a black Volkswagen Beetle, making me feel not so safe on the highway, when I’m sandwiched between those big American trucks ;-). The forest in The Woodlands makes the place cooler but even more humid than Houston. The cycling course takes you to the landscapes that we imagine when we think of Texas: big farms, many cows, large fields and those typical bars. I’ll try to take some pictures the next days!
My preparation for this race was very strange. Everything went fine till the end of February, then I got sick, better, and sick again (our winter was too long!!), so, on the 29th of March, I left on my yearly training camp in the South of France with no idea about my shape. Once in France, I felt healthy and my run and swim workouts were going well, but suddenly I couldn’t bike anymore, struggling in the wheels of guys I can normally follow easily. I thought I needed more mileage, but my cycling only got worse. So strange, I can always cycle well! At that moment, I was sure that I would not go to Texas with that lousy cycling level. Nevertheless, I participated in the Powerman Holland on the 21st of April (15K run, 60K bike, 7.5K run), and although I felt tired, I performed well. I ended 13th overall and second non-elite in a sports that I’m not training for and in a distance that is too short for me. I also did a good 33K trail run between Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve on Wednesday the 24th of April. That run was really fun and it was great to catch up with some friends and get to know other addicted endurance athletes. The next weekend, I finally found the cause of my bike problem: my 8-years old rear training wheel was worn out, and whenever I put some power, it was holding my back. I felt so stupid!! And relieved, but also suddenly very tired. I even had all those signs of overtraining. No wonder after cycling for one month with extra resistance. My coach and I decided to rest for two days and to make the ‘go – no go’ decision after a long bike ride on the 1st of May. I was extremely happy that I could send him a message after the 170km bike ride: ‘everything OK, I’m leaving for Texas on Friday’. Pfff, what a stressful period! Deep inside, I knew that nothing was wrong with my legs or my shape, but cycling was so awful and so bad. It was one of the toughest periods since I started doing long distance triathlon in January 2010 because I couldn’t explain what was going on. It was worse than being injured when you at least know what to do and when it might get better.
Last week I put in some great sessions here in Texas. Especially my run workouts are going better than ever before. I think that my cycling is not at the same level as it was in Hawaii, so I hope to get off the bike with enough energy left to run a good marathon. I’m also 2kg more ‘fat’ than I was in Hawaii and I think it might make it more difficult for me to deal with the warm temperatures. But with all the things I do in life (part time work, full time student this semester and racing ironmans), I find it difficult to be on my ideal race weight for the whole year. I’ll save that for Ironman Hawaii in October :-). As always, I’m afraid of the distance, which will hopefully help me not to blow up on the bike. I’m also looking forward to race day, but first I need to recover three more days!!
You can follow the race live on ironman.com – live coverage – Ironman Texas – bib number 111.