HITS Corpus Christi 140.6 Triathlon February 19, 2012

HITS Corpus Christi 140.6 Triathlon February 19, 2012


This Blog has 3 parts.

Part 1 – Introduction to HITS Series Triathlons and the HITS Corpus Christi Triathlon

Part 2 – Summary Statistics – Steve Howard HITS Corpus Christi Race Results 140.6

Part 3 – Steve Howard HITS Corpus 140.6 Race Experience and Comments on Health and Wellness


On Sunday, February 19, 2012, the HITS Corpus Christi 140.6 and 70.3 Triathlons took place in my and my wife’s hometown, Corpus Christi, Texas.

At the turn buoy at the end of the swim course as you would roll to breathe to the west this is your view as seen from the water!  If the 2.4 mile swim race does not not take your breath away – the view certainly will!


The HITS Triathlon Series,

(HITS Logo – Trademark)

is a new race series designed for seasoned triathletes, as well as first timers. All are invited to compete in the HITS Triathlon Series, from the beginner in the Open, to the experienced triathlete in the Sprint, Olympic, Half and Full, providing for the first time, “A distance for everyone!TM”  I took part in the Iron Distance 140.6 full distance race that took place on Sunday.  The HITS staff was very professional and the pre-race, actual race and post-race programs were very well organized.  As a “Newbie” to full distance 140.6 triathlons – and for that matter triathlons in general, the HITS pre-race meeting instructions and HITS excellent support throughout the event were highly beneficial and made me feel that I belonged in the event.  (P.S. This was our second ever full distance triathlon with my first 140.6 being the Redman in Oklahoma City 4 1/2 months prior to the HITS Corpus Christi.)  I use “our” because Debbie and I train together almost everyday, she provides coaching recomendations on certain aspects of my training and assisted me with the many pre-race preparations and provided considerable encouragement.  As Debbie says, getting ready for a full distance triathlon takes more effort than getting ready for a wedding!


The HITS Transition area was excellent.  Each athelete had a change stool and bike rack – storage area as shown in the photograph.

The bike rack was very stable compared to more conventional unstable pole type bike racks.  The bike rack has a boxed in storage area, which was very useful for organizing swim, bike and run gear.  Also, during the race, the boxed storage area served as a collecting point to throw gear from the previous activity and transitioning to next activity.  Also, the change stool made it very easy to put on and remove the wet suit.

If I had to use four words to describe the HITS staff it would be “Highly Professional” – “Very Kind”.  Debbie and I immediately made friends with many of the HITS staff.  Mark Wilson, the Corpus Christi HITS race director, did an excellent job. Mark is a highly accomplished triathlete and coach with more than 20 years of experience. He is an Ironman 70.3 World Championship Finisher and is a seven-time finisher in the Ironman USA Lake Placid with a P.R. of 10:59:40. Mark is also a Professional Life Coach and the Founder/President of the Hudson Valley Triathlon Club, which has more than 100 annual members.

Race director Mark Wilson on right in photograph is shown at the HITS Corpus Christi 70.3 and 140.6 swim start with Triathlon legend Dave Scott.

Photo by HITS Staff/Rolly Astrom.

At the athletes’ dinner the night before the race, Dave Scott advised us to break up the race into segments and to not start off thinking about the 140.6 miles ahead at the beginning of the swim.  Dave Scott also told us that it was our duty as a triathlete to compete and do our very best.  Lastly, he said find some humor in the race and have fun.  I made sure I did all three!

The winner of the HITS Corpus Christi 140.6 Triathlon was Austin Saylor (shown in photo below) with a time of 9 hours and 29 minutes.  I first met Austin in Oklahoma; he was the winner of the 2010 Oklahoma City 140.6 Redman, with a time of 9 hrs 21 minutes!  Austin’s accomplishments are an inspiration to us all.

Austin is also from Corpus Christi. Turns out we both went to the same high school in Corpus – but different decades!  Also, we both have completed the 140.6 Redman and also the 140.6 Corpus Christi Hits Triathlon.  I am very proud that someone from my hometown and high school has participated and won two triathlons that I also have ties with. Austin is a very cordial and humble athlete.  I hope to see Austin later this year and the 2012 Redman or at another HITS triathlon!

Photo by HITS Staff/Rolly Astrom.

On Saturday, there were a number of races including a Sprint, Olympic and an Open Event, which consisted of a 300 yard swim – 3 mile bike and 1 mile run.  The open event was designed to introduce athletes young and old to triathlons.


Photo by HITS Staff/Rolly Astrom.

The swim start  was in an area where I fished with my grandfather when I was 6 years old.  The bike course followed along Corpus Christi Bay and uut to the Gulf of Mexico National Seashore where I surfed as a teenager.  The run course was along Ocean Drive on a pathway out from the Marina and along side Corpus Christi Bay.


PART 2 – Steve Howard 140.6 Race Summary

2.4 mile Swim – about 3,800 swim strokes. Time: 1 hour and 43 minutes



112 miles on Bike – about 29,500 pedal revolutions. Time:  6 hours 34 minutes


26.2 miles – about 48,700 run strides (steps): Time: 6 hours

14 hours and 36 minutes later, I ended up needing a flashlight to finish.

Debbie, who has been patiently waiting for me for 40 years – was waiting patiently waiting for me at the HITS finish line!

and when I thought it could not be any better than that – my daughter Hillary, son-in-law Derrick (140.6 2010 Redman and 2011 Houston Memorial 140.6 Ironman triathlete)  and granddaughters Molly and Elise were also waiting with Debbie at the finish line for Paw Paw.



Part 3 Steve Howard Editorial Race Comments

If we have not already bored you, below are the details of the race as seen through my eyes out on the course along with some thoughts on health and wellness.

There were 82 athletes (half and full distance) in the swim start.  Air temp 52°F (with wind chill factor) and  water 61.5°F.  As I stood shivering in the 52 °F blowing cold wind, my thought was not how fast was I going to swim but that I wanted to start with a smooth swim stroke and maintain good body form with precise arm-hand position on each and every stroke.  I also wanted to have quiet legs with an easy 2 beat kick as later my legs would be needed carry me 112 miles on the bike and 26.2 miles on the run.



I was shivering before getting in the water (cold and/or nerves I guess?) – but once in water with wetsuit, the water temperature felt perfect.  I  swam 200 yards or so before starting horn was sounded. In the photograph below, you can see me swiming parallel to pod just before the starting horn was sounded.


I found a hole in the pod of swimmers and established my pace around 1.45 tempo – and held steady to finish.    I swam a little wide of the pod of swimmers and 1/2 mile into swim, I swam the rest of the race neck-in-neck with fellow swimmers and drafted when I could.  I was very relaxed. (In a number of other triathlons, I have had to deal with mild to moderate panic the first 10 minutes or so.  The past panic situations are not “help, help, I am going to drown” – the panic interrupts my breathing and prevents me from establishing a rhythm. This results in slow breast stroke until my breathing becomes under control – end result, I lose 10 minutes or more starting the swim.)

From the first “Total Immersion” stroke on the 200 yard warm up till turning inbound and crossing the starter buoy when the gun went off I was relaxed, and every swim stroke was precisely positioned to save energy and move at a controlled pace through the water.    The Corpus Christi high rise skyline to the west was awesome; and to the east, the sunrise with sea birds and the aircraft carrier in the distance was so beautiful.  The swim filled my heart with joy and happiness.  I was expecting a time of 1 hr 25 min on swim – however, swimming wide accounted for my 1 hr 43 min time.   Based on the estimated swim distance (2.5 miles), my swim pace was around 2:15 per 100 yards.   I felt really good about my Total Immersion Swim form; body kinematics and stroke were the best I have ever had in a tri-event. I would not change anything on the swim.

I maintained my planned swim plan and swim form from start to finish during the 2.4 mile swim – because I chose to swim on the edge of the pod, swimming wide, I ended up swimming a little over 2.5 miles at pace of 2.15 min/100 yards.

Race Ready!


Nothing is more calming than the sight of a race ready bike the night before the race.  The Zipp 808 Firecrest carbon wheels were extremely stable in cross winds and head winds with gusts up 18 mph.


During the HITS Corpus Christi 112 mile bike ride, I felt like a 6 ft 4 inch 174 pound jockey in the aero position riding the fine race horse Secretariat!


My moving speed on the bike was 18.2 mph and with feed/water stops was 17.4 mph. I ended up with 6 hr 33 min bike time (with 15 minutes of the time being feed/water and restroom stops).  Need to reduce this non-riding time!

The last 28 miles I adjusted my bike speed to maintain a heart-rate of 150 bpm maximum to optimize the transition from the bike to the run.  I also made sure I maintained optimum hydration and fueling (energy) intake during the entire bike ride.  I was fueling not only for the bike but also as importantly for the run.

The 26.2 mile run along the bay front was very beautiful and interesting.  At several points the run followed park pathways along the bay.  I ran the first 13.1 miles at a pace of 13 min miles.



During the second half of the race, I ran when I could at a 12 to 13 minute pace and walked when I needed to.  My run time was 6 hours, which was one hour less than my iron distance 140.6 Redman run time in September (4 1/2 months ago.) The reduction in run time allowed me to complete my race goal of finishing in 14 hr 36 min for the full 140.6 triathlon.

The HITS Corpus Race director was waiting at the finish line when I crossed at 9:30 pm Sunday evening.

O.K. I know what  many of you are thinking as you read this race account, “oh he is one of those athlete types that never had a weight problem.”  I think I forgot to mention to our new readers that 4 years ago, I weighed 305 pounds and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  Also, I struggled to complete my first Olympic distance triathlon almost 2 years ago.  As seen in this photograph back then I had way too much wagon and not enough horse.

In a 4 year period, I have transitioned from 305 pounds to the HITS race day weight of 174 pound body frame as seen below in the transition area getting ready to start the 26.2 mile run.  I got there by losing ounces at a time, not pounds.  Initially, I rode a mountain bike because I could not bend over and reach the handle bars of a road bike due to my weight condition. I started out biking, then a little swimming and now I even do a little running now and then, and I am becoming more and more drawn to running.  I think it is important that I relate much more to the some 34% of adults in the United States that are over weight and many (about 8.3%) of which have type 2 diabetes just like me.   My family has greatly supported me on my road back to health.

Our entire family enjoys cycling related activities.

Debbie has done a number of sprint events and also 1-Cat 5 time trial. The photogragh shows a pratice ride near our home.

She also enjoys swimming and has made a 1 mile swim in Mirror Lake – Lake Placid.


Our son Paul is a Cat 5 cyclist. This photograph shows him in the process of dropping me on a Sunday afternoon ride!


Our Daughter Hillary has done a number of sprint triathlons. This shows her on a 40 mile endurance training ride.

Derrick, my son-in-law, has completed two full 140.6 distance triathlons including the Redman and the Ironman Memorial in Houston and also 70.3 Ironman New Orleans and a 70.3 in Lake Conroe, Texas.

Road biking, swimming and triathlons are a good fit for our family.  However, there are many activities you can do to achieve fitness beyond triathlons, such as walking, weight lifting, hiking, cross county sking, hiking, and many more.

My training is a combination of self-coaching and a very elite group of coaching advisers, which include Terry Laughlin – Total Immersion (Founder and Head Coach), my wife Debbie (race results evaluation and training critique swim – bike and run training ) and my son-in-law Derrick (140.6 2010 Redman and 2011 Houston Memorial 140.6 Ironman triathlete and multiple 70.3 triathlete)  for bike and run training.

As I ran near the hotel, I passed my granddaughters running with their dad Derrick!

The most important result for me in the HITS 140.6 was finishing the race knowing that my good health will enable me to spend many more decades riding, swimming, and running with my family; and just perhaps when Debbie and I are 100 years of age,I will still be able to take part in endurance events.









Leave a Reply