Matt Hanson | Professional Triathlete
5x Ironman Champion/ 4x 70.3 Champion

IMTX Race Report –

10390197_837707196243594_890282869341472402_nIronman Texas is a fun race for me for a number of reasons. First, it is where I first earned my Elite license last year. I have also had the opportunity to spend some time training there with Magnolia Masters and OutRival Racing. While I was training there, I have been able to get to know a ton of amazing people in the area as well. Despite the fact that it was a 16 hour drive for me, it really feels like my “home course.”

I was excited to get back and race again. I was happy with my first race of the year at Galveston 70.3, but I did leave some room for improvement. Despite my great relationship with ORR, I made the decision to switch coaches shortly after Galvestion. I am still coaching with ORR and working with Tim at Magnolia Masters for the swim, but I am now working with David Tilbury-Davis with PhysFarm Training Systems for everything else. I was very pleased with my final build into Ironman Texas and was excited to get down and race.

Race Morning

I switched things up for my normal breakfast this time around (of course I practice this a few times during the build as well). I had been just drinking a Naked Fruit Smoothie (roughly 300 calories) and calling it good. I nearly tripled the caloric intake for breakfast this time. I had about 3 servings of Infinit Mud with almond milk. I drank that around 4:00, got another quick nap in then headed to transition.

I arrived in transition right as they were opening it up. I was able to check in my bike morning of, so I had the Enve’s pumped up and the Rotor Rings in the right gear.  It really only took me about 15 minutes to get everything situated and to check, check, and re-check to make sure everything was how I wanted it. I made the mile or so walk down to the swim start, got my gear bags checked in, then found a quiet place to sit so I could finish the mental prep. After that, it was into the water.

Swim – 53:43

110-2This was certainly my fastest swim, and faster than my last year’s effort on this course by 13 minutes. Still, I am not satisfied with where I came out. I need to figure out a way to hold on to the pack during the first 500 meters. The pack I wanted to be in came out just over a minute in front of me. Considering I swam a large portion of the course alone, I spent a lot more energy than the guys in the pack did. Hopefully that will come with experience. All was going well, until I got smoked in the butt somehow (and have the bruise to prove it!). It hurt. Not enough to ruin the day by any means, but it did get me out of rhythm just long enough to lose the pack. I tried to find a few people to swim with here and there and was sometimes successful, sometimes not. I have been seeing a lot of progress in the pool, and that is carrying over into the open water. However, there is still a great deal of experience I need to gain, and hopefully quickly!

T1- 2:09

I was actually really pleased with my transitions for a change. I came out of the water with one of the female pros, but had the guys changing tent to myself. I made a quick transition and ran to the bike. I had no idea what place I came out of the water in, but I saw there were a few bikes remaining in transition. Still, I knew I had quite a bit of work to do to catch up.

Bike – 4:46:16

1979756_836411003039880_7916600138201075853_nI was able to settle into pace rather quickly on the bike. My HR was high, but I felt good and was able to get the power where I wanted it to be right away. When I made the race plan with David, the plan had me coming out of the water with a pack of guys so the plan was to hang with the pack for at least the first bit. But, I was a little behind. I pushed about 10 watts harder than I was hoping to average for the day for the first 90 minutes. I was comfortable doing this and thought I’d be able to make up a little ground on a few if there were any other solo riders in front of me. I caught three guys, then two came up from behind. For a while we rode in a pack of 6, but the two guys who had caught me from behind were riding harder than I wanted to, so I let them go. I ended up riding near one other guy for almost 50 miles. Around the 60 mile mark, one of the spectators yelled to me that I had just moved into 14th. I was really happy to be in that position. I knew I wasn’t burning any unnecessary matches on the bike and felt I could have a great run. Then, flat tire number one on the day. I went from literally riding with a smile on my face to panic mode. I was really fortunate that the sag wagon was there within a minute. It turned out that the guy driving the vehicle was Pat, a guy I have swam with a few times. He didn’t really help me change the tire, but he did take my tube and CO2 so I didn’t have to carry that along with me. It was great to see a familiar face and he had some encouragement to offer as I took off, definitely helpful.

I got on the bike, regained focus and started rolling again. I quickly caught 2 of the 4 spots I lost before I was haunted again by that popping sound. Flat tire number 2. I started to come a little unglued for this one and nearly completely lost focus. Again, I lucked out by knowing two people who happened to be parked right where I got the flat (Maverick Multisport friends). They literally cheered me on while changing the tire! Repaired flat number two and got rolling again. I did have a little lull for about 2 minutes or so where I was letting frustration get to me. I had my head down instead of trying to charge forward. I caught a glimpse of the word “PROCESS” that I wrote on my aero bottle in big letters before the race and literally immediately snapped out of it. I literally told myself “hey, you just got an 8 minute rest, you are going to be fresh on the run!” The focus came back, the power returned, and I was able to finish up the ride well. I jumped off of the bike in 18th overall.

I was really happy with my bike nutrition during the ride. I carried a bottle of my regular strength Custom Infinit Blend and 2 double sludge bottles with 2 servings in each. I also had about 10 ounces of Napalm in my down tube bottle. I grabbed water at every aid station, but had all of the calories I needed for the ride with me on the bike. The plan really worked quite well. I was able to jump off of the bike feeling great.

T2 – 2:05

1920177_653491596829_2239516194516316649_nI feel good about this transition as well. The volunteers were awesome and grabbed my bike from me so I was able to run straight for my bags and the changing tent. I did lose a few seconds trying to empty the valve extender and the CO2 chuck out of my pockets so I didn’t have them rubbing during the run.


Run- 2:41:38 – NEW RUN COURSE RECORD!!!

1932493_544603215658989_779827015531271027_nI started the run off feeling great and, as always, had the temptation of letting the pace start off too fast. In the past I would not look at my watch for the first 3 to 5 miles and I would just try to settle in. That had worked well, but looking back I think I was losing a lot of time by over running the first 5 miles. I had a great race plan as wanted to do everything possible to stick to it. I really didn’t dwell too much of the mishaps on the bike, at that point I was just focusing on taking it one mile at a time. During the first mile, the verse Isaiah 41:10 popped into my head. During the first lap, it just kept on running through my head. I ran according to plan for the first lap (still a little faster than I should have for the first 5), and was able to pick up just a few spots.

Moving into the second lap, I thought about a conversation I had with David the week leading up to the race. He promised me that the third lap is where the decision needs to be made. I mentally marked a spot on the top of the little grassy hill on the second lap where I was going to switch gears and push for the rest on the third.  I looked at my watch after mile number 12 and I lost 10 seconds. That verse popped into my head again, HAVE NO FEAR. I had nothing to lose and forced the pace back to target over the next mile. I was right on target pace through the half way point but I knew there was a lot of race left. Last year, I completely melted around mile 22 on this course. It snuck up on me quickly, I felt great mile 20 and 21 then my world went dark. I kept that in mind as I went through every aid station. I was doing everything I could to stay cool and hydrated.

The third lap is a blur. I made it to the top of that grassy hill and hit the spot I had marked (it just so happened to be the spot where the “Real Starkey” had camped out with his bullhorn. I was still feeling pretty good, so I decided to try to pick up the pace a bit for the last 7 plus miles. In reality, I didn’t speed up much, but I was able to stay at a consistent pace for the final lap. I think I started the last lap in 11th place overall. I knew that I could still catch one or two, but I wasn’t really focusing on that much. I was focused on just holding on the entire lap and making sure I got everything I needed in the aid stations. The run was again a process focus for me. Stick to the plan and let the results figure themselves out. Turns out, the process ran me up to 6th place overall.

For nutrition on the run, I had my Napalm flask with me. I had 6 ounces of Napalm during the first two laps then grabbed the high caffeine Napalm out of my special needs on the third lap and had about half of that flask.  At every aid station, I tried to down a cup of water, perform, and cola without losing stride. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes I missed one. I also tried to dump as much water and ice on myself as I could and grab as many sponges as I could. I typically don’t “plan” out my run course nutrition as anally as I do on the bike.

Overall – 8:25:51

10392540_653492445129_5266310531055076472_nAll-in-all, I am happy with the results. Again, I learned a ton from this race. I really learned a lot about myself as well. I feel like I executed my race plan as best as I could and didn’t let the frustrations of the flat tires ruin my day…Bend don’t Break!

I owe a HUGE thank you to my wife for helping me drive both ways, for the pictures, and of course the support leading up to and during race day. It was also AWESOME to have so many Team Maverick Multisport and ORR people cheering me on everywhere on the course. It definitely fueled the fire! Having the Maverick Support crew there for all of the legistical help was awesome as well. Of course, it was great having two Maverick teammates racing as well.  Also, thank you to my awesome host, Will (who also had a huge PR on the day!). I left Texas feeling very blessed for a great race and a great all around experience.


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