Ironman Texas 2012

IMG_0114 - 2012-05-20 at 16-37-57

For whatever reason, I decided it would be a good idea to do another Ironman. The problem however, I could do this thing on 10 hours a week of training or less. The key here, would be less.

What started off as a way to get it all back, ended up being a lesson in patience. It was also a lesson in work life balance. Work was crazy in 2012, with managing a large brand and launching a new one. On top of the work, my kids activities have reached a point where every weekend is filled with a game or a practice. I told myself at the start of this training that I would not sacrifice my life at home. I would sacrifice my training.

So what does all that mean? It means you get in 2 Century rides and only 4, 2+ hour runs. My weeks were filled with some 1 hour efforts here and there, but I averaged only 7 hours a week, counting my long ride on weekends. Many of the long rides were only 3 hours, because I wanted to get back for Parker’s baseball games and Hannah’s actives as well.

I also had a setback when my training partner, Linda Trinkle went down in a horrible bike crash. Linda was on pace to easily win her age group and make a trip to Kona. On a century ride about 50 miles from the house, she clipped my back wheel while we were leading out about 25 other athletes. She went down hard and broke her shoulder and a few ribs. Linda’s race dreams ended that day, but her hard work to recovery was an inspiration for anyone that followed her. Seeing her at the swim start reminded me how lucky every athlete is that gets to toe the line of a big race.

After the bike accident, I had a weekend trip which meant no long ride, then I found myself only 2 weeks out.

The beauty of Ironman Texas, is the race start is 5 miles from my front door. I get to sleep in my own bed, wake up, do an Ironman, and sleep in my own bed again! It does not get any easier than that. It is also a course loaded with people you know cheering you on. The downside is the 90+ degree Texas heat.

So when the are was over, I took great joy in my results:

56 minute swim
5:35 Bike
4:02 Run

For a 10:38. I basically equaled my first Ironman in 2005 with 1/2 the training.

The part I liked most, was realizing the journey can be as exciting as race day. Maybe it is because I have laid it all out there and achieved a goal, or maybe my life has changed as I watch my kids grow up around me. Either way, I was quite pleased with the day.

As far as my kids, there was one set back. I had to miss my son’s playoff game to race. Good thing they won, because I was there to watch the World Series game 5 nights later.

After hanging in transition for a bit, I packed up the bike and gear, called Shani and she met me on the corner with my son after his game. They picked me up and I went home. No fan fare, no new tattoos, no trip to Kona. However, I had a smile on my face and the pride and satisfaction that comes with pushing yourself over 140.6 miles.

Ironman Coming to the Woodlands

No blog for many, many months. But now I have something to write about! The Ironman is coming to the Woodlands. Great article below:

conroe courier – sports

It’s official:Woodlands to host 2011 Ironman
Published: 06.23.10
Last October, The Woodlands’ Timothy Monk posted the fastest time of any Ironman finisher from Montgomery County at the Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

He got there by earning a spot with a great nine hour, 53-minute and 19-second performance at the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run Ironman competition in Madison, Wisconsin the fall before.

Next May, the 39-year-old hopes to be one of 65 qualifiers to the 2011 World Championships, but by doing so in his hometown.

“This will be huge for our community,” Monk said ecstatically. “Congratulations to our leadership for recognizing what such an awesome event will do for The Woodlands.”

After a presentation by Ironman’s Chief Operations Officer Steve Meckfessel to the boards of The Woodlands Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the The Woodlands Township Board of Directors, both bodies Wednesday evening voted to approve the creation of the Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas, which will be held on Saturday, May 21, 2011 in The Woodlands.

The news was greeted with euphoric and boisterous applause in The Township Service Center meeting room, which was packed with triathletes from all of the major clubs and training groups in The Woodlands.

The common question from those athletes was: “When can we sign up?”

Registration for Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas, one of 24 World Championship qualifiers, will open Friday afternoon, June 25, at noon.

While many area triathletes are concerned of Ironman’s quick sellouts in their second, third or fourth year of operation, Meckfessel is perhaps a bit more realistic of a first-year event.

“It takes us some time to build that reputation and to build that demand,” he said. “Without exception, all of our domestic races for this year are or will be sold out.

“And certainly we have high expectations of this in terms of registration and the demand, but the real expectation is that it may take several weeks to get the word out.”

World Triathlon Corporation, Ironman’s owner, has already tabbed Keith Jordan from Austin as its race director for Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas.

Jordan has been the driving force behind both of the current Ironman 70.3 races in Galveston and Austin.

The former race, which will be held approximately six weeks before next year’s Ironman Texas event in The Woodlands, is also sponsored by the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System.

Memorial Hermann has made resurgence in the last three years with its support of a number of area triathlons.

“I think that is (a result of) the development of our sports medicine program and Sports Medicine Institute at our Medical Center Hospital,” said Memorial Hermann – The Woodlands Chief Executive Officer Steve Sanders. “It is involving research and working with elite athletes of the world along with the weekend athlete as well.

“We too were looking for a partner like Ironman to bring some recognition to our Institute and to work with elite athletes of the world as part of our program.”

And Memorial Hermann – The Woodlands Chief Operating Officer Joshua Urban, a three-time participant from 1998 to 2000 at the Kona World Championship is realizing a past vision coming true.

“It’s very exciting for me, living here for 15 years, and competing in these races for four years,” Urban said. “Ten years ago, I did all of my training on the proposed bike route, swimming locally in the (former) Woodlands Aquatic Center and running, of course, everywhere around The Woodlands.

“I used to always think to myself that it would be really awesome to put on an Ironman here. We got everything that we need to do it here. It is kind of serendipitous that ten years later it’s actually going to happen.”

Meckfessel announced that participants will begin with a swim in Lake Woodlands, entering the water at Northshore Park and finishing at Town Green Park, which will serve as the transition area.

Athletes will then head out on a 2-loop, 56-mile bike course that will take them west through The Woodlands before heading north and northwest out through Dacus and Dobbin out to Richards before returning back to transition.

The final portion of the race will be a two- or three-loop marathon course entirely within The Woodlands that will conclude with spectacular and emotional finishes on Market Street.

Jon Walk covers running locally and throughout Texas and the Southwest and can be reached at

Copyright © 2010 – Houston Community Newspapers Online

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Hannah’s Turkey Trot / The Woodlands TX

One of the biggest races around this house is the GE Run Thru the Woods held on Thanksgiving Day here in the Woodlands. Our annual turkey trot has been a 4 year tradition with the kids. Last year was a great year for me running with Parker in the kids race. We ran a good mile in 2008 and have some wonderful pictures of the event.

This year was different, because Parker did not want me to run with him in the 1 mile race. So he went on to do his own run without any parental supervision. Parker had a good day running a 9:30 pace.

However, the big race of the day was going to be Hannah and I running the 5 mile run together. Hannah has done several 5k’s through her Girls Run group, but this run was going to be 2 miles longer and with a huge crowd.

I thought she might be a bit nervous, but she was excited to start and only complained to mom about all of the clothes she had to wear because it was cold. We gave mom (aka Race Sherpa) our sweatshirts and got ready for the start.

As the gun went off, we let the faster runners go, then settled into our pace. We started out holding 9:30 miles and stayed close to that pace the entire time. Hannah never once stopped. She drank a cup of water at the aid station while running like a champion marathon runner and was not going to give up until we got to the finish line.

Throughout the run, we saw people we knew every few minutes so she had a cheering section. Some of our cheering section were a little shocked, because they were about to lose to a 9 year old!

The last mile was a tough one. I think both of us got a bit excited and we picked up the pace. With about 1/2 mile to go, Hannah asked to slow it up a bit, because she said she was really tired but was not going to walk. As we turned the last corner we had a bout 1/4 mile left and I told her we were at 48:00 and we needed to run fast to break 50 minutes. She picked the pace up again and we crossed the line with a 49:45!! She was 1508 overall about of about 3000 runners. However, she was 2nd in her AG and would have been 3rd if you count the 10 and under boys and girls.

Yes Hannah has one proud dad this Thanksgiving. More importantly, Hannah is proud of herself.

What is Next? / Girls Run Speaker

Yes I am impatient. With the official broadcast of Kona not even on TV, I am already trying to plan out my 2010 racing season. With work and family obligations, planning where and when to race is not something you can do at the last minute.

However, after a long season it is so important to take the time to relax, recover and enjoy other sports and activities. This is a time to catch up on any personal things you did not get done while training took precedent over all of your free time.

So to answer my own question about what is next in the short term, here is my list:

    • Don’t allow any workouts to get in the way of my family activities
    • Weed side yard and fix the grass (guess who has asked me to do this?)
    • Ride with Woodlands Cycling Team
    • Start lifting some weights
    • See if I can find a cheap stand up paddle-board
    • Swim when I can
    • Have fun with little to no structure in my training

I am sure my to do list will grow as will my impatience towards my 2010 season. Bottom line, stay active, but have some fun and take care of all the things I have had to put off for the past 9 months.

Finally, I had my second speaking engagement about my Ironman experience. After 3 seasons of service, I was invited to speak to 60 girls at Hannah’s Girls Run group. I have to admit, this was quite a high point for me since the race.

With the girls ages being 6 – 12, I had to make it interesting and did my best by bringing all the toys. I shared with them how much you eat and drink while racing in the Ironman and what they need to eat and drink as they get ready for their 5k on Saturday.

There were great questions at the end and I hope the girls are inspired to keep up with their fitness after the season. I have mentioned many times on my blog how special this group of girls are to me and getting an opportunity to be one of the speakers was a huge thrill.

I am the race announcer at our 3rd annual Girls Run, Hit the Trail 5K this weekend. I look forward to seeing the girls run fast and enjoy competing in our Fall season finale.

Final Thoughts on Kona

It is hard to believe, but 2 weeks have passed since the big race. I have had several people push me for a follow up blog post so here we go:

I can’t get the entire two week experience out of my head. Often, when you have thought about something for over 12 months, you find that expectations do not match up to reality. On this trip, from the race to the vacation afterwards, we exceeded every possible expectation we had. Now, everyone wants to go back and enjoy Kona!

I really enjoyed spending time with my family. The uninterrupted time I got to spend with my wife, kids, parents, sister and aunt was incredible. I just loved seeing everyone having the time of their life, being active, enjoying Kona and enjoying the entire experience. I think everyone found something special on the Big Island to grab onto that provided for a life changing experience. Our photos speak for themselves.

To come clean, I spent a lot of money in the merchandise tent. People have asked how much, but let’s just say I have enough Ironman merchandise to dress me for any occasion.

I not only went to Lava Java, I hung out there the week after the race like a local. On Thursday, I sat there with Shani having breakfast, watching the waves, drinking Kona coffee and listened to a musician sing some Jack Johnson songs while playing his ukelele. At that moment, I realized just how awesome the vacation was and Shani and I both agreed that life does not get much better than that.

On Wednesday night, I took my son to swim with Manta Rays. The experience was magical. Watch the video and see these amazing creatures for yourself.

I learned that my wife is a good stand up paddle boarder. She held nothing back when she stood up on her board, started paddling out into the ocean and left me for sharks as I tried to keep my balance. We now find ourselves considering a paddle board of our own.

Want a great beer to drink? Try Kona Brewery’s Waialua Wheat. Yes, I am wheat free, but is it really cheating if I drink beer? Drink one of these and you will see why I found one of these in my hand every afternoon while in Kona.

Shani did her best to film parts of the race. Here is a short video showing that awesome day.

Lastly, we finished up the week with an awesome sunset sail, thanks to my Aunt Katherine. We saw a beautiful sunset, enjoyed some mai-tai’s and I decided to show off my permanent reminder of the big day!

So what is next? I want to go back in 2011. To do that, I have to re-qualify again at another Ironman race and earn my slot to go back. I look forward to my next journey as I continue to compete in this awesome sport.

Race Report

Racing yesterday was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. This was my fourth Ironman, but my first trip to race here on the Big Island. There is nothing that compares to Hawaii. I don’t think it is possible to prepare yourself for this race. It is simply something you have to experience. Here is a recap of the day:

The day started with transition yesterday morning. After getting my nutrition on the bike, I decided to check and see what the pros do for the biggest race of their lives. A few racks over sat Macca, Alexander (Mens Winner), Potts, Lieto, Badman and many others getting their bikes ready for the day. I shared a few words of encouragement and all of them shared them back. There is a sense of camaraderie here that does not exist at other races. I think those guys knew what we were about to get ourselves into, and because of that, everyone shares something in common.

After my pro gawking, I made my way to the swim start and the pros were entering the water. I had another chance to sit on the wall and watch them get ready to go. We had to pause for the Navy to parachute in then the national anthem and off the pros went.

Right after their start, we make our way into the water and out to the buoy. We bobbed up and down for about 15 minutes, the excitement builds, the people all around are cheering, then…. Boom, the cannon goes and we are off.

At this point, I knew this day would be different from other race days. Normally I can get out front in swims and find some open water. Here, I had the crap kicked out of me for 58 minutes. The girls are the worst! One of them made a fist, then kicked breast stroke to get some guy off of her. I really thought this thing would thin out, but it stayed tight all the way to the finish. Someone asked me about sighting, and I thought they were kidding. Your goggles fill up with water from all the turbulence and all you can see is a white foam in front of your face. I did my best to keep it easy and to stay right behind someone so I would not get clobbered.

I exited the water in about 58 minutes and based on the conditions, I was pretty pleased. I took my time in transition, got some fluids, sunscreen and took off on the bike. The bike felt easy on the smooth roads and I spent most of the way out of town getting passed by 100’s of people. The wind was at our back and we were flying. I did notice that everyone going by me was caked in salt and when I looked down at my black shorts, I realized the same thing. We were losing fluids and fast. I kept with my strategy of drinking a lot of fluids on the bike, took in some salt, ate plenty of power bars (5 total for the day) and some gels.

When we made the turn to head up to Hawi, the wind started and it was blowing right in our face. This was about 10 miles from the bike turn. At that point, we saw the pros coming by and that was cool to see them cruising down the hill so quickly. I was also blessed with a 4 minute drafting penalty. I went to the tent, spent 4 minutes with 8 other athletes and enjoyed the time to get fluids, take salt and eat a Powerbar. It kind of reminded me of a stop in Richards!

On the way down from Hawi, we were moving pretty good, then when we headed back out on the Queen Q. At this point you are 34 miles from Kona. I also realized why the ride out was so easy. The wind was right in our face blowing 20+ mph and I spent the next 2 hours in the small chain ring doing about 15 mph. In addition to that, the heat was just cooking your back as you struggled to move up the road. People were pulling over to get in some fluids because no one wanted to let go of the bars.

Once I cooked my legs coming back into town, it was time to start the run. On Ali’i drive, I felt pretty decent. Legs still felt good and I got to pass my family twice in the process. You spend about 11 miles of the run in town before you run up Palani out onto the Queen K towards the Energy Lab. You then spend 5 miles running to the Energy Lab on an open road with no fans. The only thing you notice on the way out of town are pros walking home, aid stations in the distance and the heat coming off the road. I hit mile 13 and was starting to notice my fluid was not digesting in my gut. By the time I got to the Energy Lab, nothing would go down and I really started feeling weak. I just don’t think anything could have prepared me for what I was feeling. I started walking and running and then walked some more. I spent a lot of the Energy Lab walking trying to get fluid to go down. By the time I got out of there, I started feeling better and was able to run the last 4 miles at a decent clip.

As I look back on that moment today, I just can’t describe the respect I have for the few athletes that come here and run through those conditions. After what we experienced on the bike, then having to run in that heat, I now know what this Ironman is all about.

As I struggled out in the Energy Lab, I wanted to make sure Shani took Hannah to see the women’s finisher. Hannah stood right there as Chrissie Wellington made history with her 3rd straight win. I was so glad she got to see that happen.

Once I started running down Palani, all the pain left. You make a right turn onto Ali’i drive and the only way to describe it is like a ride at Disney World. You feel as if you are on a giant people mover sliding between fans with music, lights, drums and cheers. Then you see it, the finish chute lined with people…then you step up to the arch and what you have waited to hear, “Timothy Monk of The Woodlands, Texas, You are an Ironman.”

Once done, volunteers give you a real lei, and escort you back to the finishers area. Shani and the rest of the “Team Monk” crew made there way back to greet me and we just sat and talked about what we experienced. Everyone was tired, but we just took some time to take in the moment. After about 20 minutes, we made our way to get the bike out of transition and started the walk home up Ali’i while other finishers were coming in. I turned to see the finish line under the lights and like they described it on one of the television shows, it is something seen in Disney Land.

After a decent nights sleep, I did not feel that bad this morning and we made it by Lava Java and ran into Chris Lieto and Robert Larioza with Base Performance having some breakfast. Chris had an incredible race and it was great chatting with him about his day.

To wrap up our Ironman experience, the whole family headed to the awards banquet. Like the pre-race banquet, Ironman put on another awesome show. Seeing all the age groupers get their awards and then having the chance to see Chrissie Wellington and Craig Alexander take home the overalls was a real thrill. Chrissie Wellington’s speech was one of the best I have heard in years. It was not so much about triathlon, but about why this sport can do so much more for those that seek it out.

Lastly, I have to thank everyone again that have supported me on this journey. I have enjoyed chronicling this from the start and have been told by many that it was inspirational. I can’t say anything that I have done is inspirational, but I hope anyone that has the dream to race on the big island can realize that chance. It truly is an amazing experience.

The amount of well wishes I received and congratulations over the past few days has just been overwhelming. I am thankful in my life to be surrounded by so many incredible people.

I look forward to next week enjoying HI with the family. They deserve a week of R&R and time away from the Ironman.

Day 4 (Pre-Race)

The bike is all checked in, the gear is dropped off and it is time to have my final meal before tomorrow.

Before I go any further, I just have to say thank you. Thank you to everyone that has helped me get to this point. Tomorrow is going to be special and it is because I had so many people help me reach the starting line.

Bike check in was quite the experience. For starters, you walk through a chute with all the bike reps taking notes to see what equipment you have. Then you get your own volunteer to help you rack your bike and walk you through transition. When you are all done with your bike, they show you where to hang your bags and then give you a final good luck as you leave the area.

I have seen the transition area on television so to be able to rack my bike there next to some of the fastest bikes in the world was quite an experience.

Thank you again to everyone that helped me reach this point, especially my family. I can’t wait till tomorrow.

Day 3 Thursday in Kona

I finally slept in on Thursay and felt great when I got up. I started with another visit to the Lanai, watched some waves and enjoyed Kona coffee.

My only workout plans for the day was a short ride out the Queen K to the airport and back (15 miles). My legs felt great and I was amazed at how smooth the road surface is on the highway.

After the ride, I met up with the family for breakfast then Hannah wanted to go for a short training run on Ali’i. There are people running up and down Ali’i all day long and she wanted to be in the action. We ran about 2 miles and I know we were doing under 9 minute pace. Not bad for a 9 year old in Kona heat.

After the run, we visited the local beach next to the condo and then we decided to drive out to Hawi. Hawi is approximatley 52 miles from Kona and is the point of the bike turn arround. The rugged nature of the lava fields make for a stunning back drop as you drive out. We did not experience too many winds, so hopefully that will hold up on race day.

Shani and the kids also decided to make some race Grafati on the Queen K as added motivation for the bike leg.

After we got back, we had to get ready to go to the K-Swiss pre race banquet. It was a lot of fun from fire dancers to inspirational stories about who is racing. Always a motivator when you attend one of these.

My parents also arrived last night and I am sure they are tired from the trip over. Glad to have them, my sister and my Aunt Katherine here for the big dance.

Friday will be my normal pre-race routine with a 15 minute swim down at Dig Me beach, a 15 minute ride then a short run. Bob Schloegel is picking me up at 7:00 to get this out of the way. After that, it is breakfast then I will set up all my race gear. Shani and the kids are doing a helicopter ride which should be a lot of fun.

With this being our first trip to Hawaii, the beauty here is so overwhelming and to have this incredible race on top of all the Island has to offer, is an experience hard to describe.

By the time I get this post up, race day will be 24 hours away.

We have new video posted on you tube:

Day 2 (Dig Me Beach)

Yesterday was an awesome day here in Kona. It started with an early morning wake up call at 3:00 AM since I could not sleep any longer with the time change. Our balcony (Lanai) has an incredible view so I just sat out there for a few hours and enjoyed the sights as the sun rose from the other side of the Island.

The kids love the private beach next door to the Condo and played out in the surf a bit while I was down at Dig Me beach doing my swim.

I posted a video showing all my exploits yesterday morning down at Dig Me Beach. My goal was to get a nice swim in and make it out to the coffee boat sponsored by Coffees of HI.

The kids also got into the action yesterday afternoon at Dig Me beach and did some snorkeling of their own.

We caught up with a few pros:

Then, we finished up last night with an awesome Luau at the King K hotel.

More to come today as I ride some of the bike course out to Hawi.

Day 1 Wrap Up

We arrived safely and on-time in Kona. The flight was a long one, the kids were awesome and all of our our luggage arrived, including the bike.

My bike case got thrown around good and one of the straps holding the bike down broke off. Everything appears to be ok, but we will find out later today after I put it together.

Last night we decided to head over to the Kona Brewery for dinner then walk around the Ironman Village so we could stay awake a little longer. A 5 hour time change is a bit tougher to get used to than I thought, as I am writing this at 3:38 AM, Kona time. I am currently sitting on the balcony of our Condo so I don’t wake anyone else and I am no more than 10 yards from the ocean. You could hear the waves crashing all night and they are making that beautiful sound as I sit here and write this post.

I plan on getting a swim in down at Dig Me beach in a few hours, then head over and get registration out of the way. I am meeting up with Bob Schloegel this morning. Bob is my friend Matt’s brother that has probably raced here 10 times. Bob turned 45 and is going for an AG podium in the 45-49 age group. Bob just finished 4th overall at the Redman and qualifed for this race at Wisconsin with a 9:35.

Enjoy the photos from yesterday upon our arrival in Kona. My favorite is the guy we ran into at the Timex booth after we purchased Parker a new IM watch. He had compresion socks on, so he might actually be racing. His advice to me….. “Get off your feet”