Ironstar Half-Distance Triathlon by Harper Chaffee
by on December 8, 2008 in Ironman 70.3 / Half Iron Race Reports

For those of us looking to extend our season of doing triathlons, the only option is to spend some cash and travel. I wasn’t ready to have the Jackson County tri in August be my last event, so I searched TriFind.com for races in warmer weather and found a 70.3 race in Houston Texas on November 9th known as “Ironstar”. This was to be the 6th annual occurrence of this race, and the first time that strict attention was paid to making it an exact 70.3 distance. While not an official NAS “m-dot” race, the website did a good job of selling the event. The race maps also looked fun. The bike consisted of mostly flat gentle rollers through the Sam Houston state park, the run through a private neighborhood, and the swim in a typical Midwestern lake where water temps are usually in the wet-suit legal low to mid 70’s for that time of year. I also searched slowtwitch.com to find chats about the race, and all comments were positive.

The added bonus was that my parents living in Austin could join me there, and the race was to be held at a new resort called La Torretta Del Lago – which was to feature a nice outdoor water park and other fun things for the kids. Sadly, none of that was finished by the time we got there, so instead of hitting the water park, we took a day trip on Saturday to visit the George Herbert Walker Bush Presidential Library instead. The kids were psyched!

The race was put on by Out-Loud Productions www.out-loud.org which at first made me think it was possibly a race for gay people. After more research, I learned that this straight group hosts many events in that area. I can’t call them the “KLM” of Houston however, since they had tons of volunteers and amazing support. When I picked up my race packet, several bike stores had set up shop to sell everything you could need for the race, which was nice. I asked the volunteer how many athletes were competing, and she said “about 350 including the relays”. However, the transition area was the smallest I had ever seen. After seeing the results “last” place was 174th… and there were only 7 dnfs – so obviously it was much smaller than they advertised verbally. And the support group was amazing. It was the first race I have been in where the volunteers clearly outnumbered the athletes.

The weather for the race could not have been more perfect. Very sunny, high of 78 degrees, and virtually no wind at all. It was chilly in the morning. They started the small group in 4 waves, and the 30-39 year olds (me) got to go first – which was the first time I’d ever been in the opening heat. The air at the time of start was 48 degrees… and with water temps in the 70’s, it made for a beautiful site in the morning with a foggy haze rising over the lake. I have been taking part in the masters swim class Tue and Thurs mornings at Lifetime, so I was anxious to see if my swim had improved. At the KS HIM in June, I came out of the water after 46 minutes… so my swim is amazingly slow. This race, I came of out of the water in 39 minutes, so I was happy about the improvement. I also exited the water with a lot of energy left over, so I know I can go push a bit harder in the next race.

Leaving the transition area, it was sunny but 55 degrees. I noticed many athletes with steam rising from their shoulders as we hurried onto our bikes. I decided to wear my pearl azumi slightly fleeced arm warmers and full finger gloves.

Because of the flat course, I really wanted to push the bike and see what kind of times I could make. My goal was to try to keep above a 20 mph average because of the flatness of the course. My KS HIM I did only a conservative 17.9 because it was hilly and it was my first half.

The ride for this event was glorious. With only 80 or so athletes in the first wave, and being a continuous course, it was not at all

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