Pre-race: Got up at 4 AM after actually getting some decent sleep, rare for me when I have to get up really early. 1 cup of coffee along with an egg, slice of bacon, and a sprinkle of grated cheese all on an english muffin. 3 Ensure plus drinks as I got ready. About 150 calories of Infinit as I set bike up, used the last bit to wash down 2 gels about 20 mins before swim start. About 1,600 calories in total before the start.
Swim (1:16:13 – 847 OA/113 AG): After feeling a little panicky the day before at the swim practice, I was really worried about the mass start. Not sure what happened, but I was really calm race morning. Knew the water would be cold at first, but perfect for a full wetsuit swim. Unlike at the practice swim, I got my DeSoto wetsuit top on right so the front wasn’t pulled up and feeling like it was squeezing my airway. Hopped in the water and swam to the right side of the middle area, about 3 to 4 people back from the start line. I know I’m not fast and I didn’t want to deal with all the people jamming to the right since I’m not a fan of major contact in the water. It is hard enough for me to keep good form without contact, if people are swimming on my legs it is impossible.
BOOM…the canon sounded and the flurry of feet and arms and snorkels and freaking out people began. I just tried to get out somewhat quick and find a bit of room. After about 5 minutes it started to clear some and at that point I just tried to find the feet of someone moving faster than me. I went a good bit of time without much contact and just fell into a comfortable stroke. It got very congested at the first turn buoy and I was pretty much funneled right into the mess. I made sure to keep wide on the second, but it didn’t matter, there was much more congestion on the return leg. I just tried to not get too pissed about the people grabbing ankles or the sudden kick from the side from the guy who decided to bust out some breast stroke (breast stroke should be illegal in close quarter swims, I have been kicked way too many times by someone suddenly changing to it). Last turn and a quick shot to the finish, out of the water and I look at my watch…1:16 something. Was hoping to get under 1:15 but not too bad, especially for feeling completely fresh and ready to ride. Saw Nicole as I ran into transition and it made me feel good to have her there cheering me on.
Bike (5:11:47 – 264 OA/38 AG): Ran into a busy transition area, found my bag, and headed to the changing tent. Noticed a couple people changing outside of the tent and decided it was a good idea since things were so busy. I am much more used to changing while standing than sitting down in a tent anyway. Got my swim stuff into the bag, ran right through the hot and nasty tent, handed my bag to a volunteer, and my bike magically appeared in front of me. Off I went!
I had been having problems with my Garmin Edge 810 dropping the Ant+ signal since getting it (Edge 800 was much more reliable) and it didn’t let me down, I started to drop readings immediately. Regardless, while it was working I could see I was in the 200-210 watts range, it felt good, and I knew I just had to keep it there until 112 miles had passed. I had all my nutrition on the bike, 2 bottles of Infinit concentrated to 1,000 calories per bottle. I did have a X-Lab Torpedo mounted to the front, loaded about half with water just in case. I mainly just drank at aid stations though, and would sip the additional water sometimes after taking in some nutrition since it was concentrated and pretty sweet. I got a little ahead of myself and finished the first bottle with about 10 miles left to the turn around, on the second loop, which marked the half way point. So I grabbed a bottle of Perform there and downed it instead of water, so probably an additional 50-75 calories before chucking the bottle.
Another challenge faced once starting the second loop was the formation of draft packs. I had heard it would happen, but I was pretty shocked at the level of willing and blatant cheating. I would approach one of these pelotons and get stuck. It is hard to pass 10-20 people all in one shot without blowing up. I’d wait till things broke up a bit and then go for it, it would require a sustained surge in power which wasn’t really how I wanted to ride. In addition, once you made the pass you had to keep the power up or you’d just get passed right back because the cheaters were not interested in dropping back after a pass as required by the rules. On the out portion of the third loop, I got passed by an outright pace line of about 15. As I got passed I eased up to get legal, then another rider passed, then another, another, another…WTF!? I finally told one of them they were riding in a freaking pace line and he just grumbled something as he went by…sigh… Once the little climb to the end kicked up it broke up and I passed most of them back. I hope they started to draft off me at the turn around, because it was bathroom time…
I didn’t realize it at first but the wind had kicked up on the last loop. There was a tail wind going out on Beeline, I just assumed all my careful wattage monitoring and nutrition planning that had me feeling strong. Hit the turn around, time to get up to 30 mph and really cruise, nope…not on this loop. There was a nasty head wind on the portion back to town and you had to work to keep the speed up. The wind made it easy to want to get back into town and start the run. Consumed about 2050 calories on the bike, and averaged an estimated 206 watts AP/210 watts NP. (I average 90/91 rpm when I race, my computer had an average of 82, so I figured my ANT+ signal was dropped ~9% of the time. So I used 1.098 x 188/192 to get those estimates)
Bike note: It is REALLY hard to piss while riding a bike. It is really hard to piss while not pedaling and standing up. It is still hard to piss while surrounded by people, on a bike, with something kind of like clothes on…letting loose just doesn’t come natural. This is not something I had practiced and don’t intend to. It was something I had resigned myself to. It was so difficult that I failed on multiple occasions and had almost decided to stop on the second loop to hit a porta potty until I saw the line. Once things got bad enough it finally happened, oh sweet releif. Just remember to “flush” when you get water at the next aid station.
Run (3:17:22 – 49 OA/5 AG): Hit the dismount line, off the bike, hand it off to a volunteer and start to run into transition. Okay good…legs were still working properly. I had passed enough people on the bike that a volunteer was there to grab my run bag and follow me into transition. Bikes shoes off, shocks on, shoes on, new sunglasses, hat, 2 packages of Shot Blocks, and I was ready to go. About a quarter of a mile into the run I got to the first bank of porta potties, oh thank goodness! My head was screaming to hurry, HURRY…my body said no way. I only wanted to stop once and figured if my first mile was the slowest of the marathon, then I did something right.
I felt good, the first mile clicked off…8:18, not bad with the bathroom break. Then a low 7 mile, then another, and another, I got worried I was going to fast but it felt “easy” so I kept with it. Things slowed a bit after crossing over to the other side of Tempe Town Lake, more turns and rollers, but still in the 7:2x range. The hill on Curry Rd. knocked me into the 7:40s but it wasn’t bad and the downhill portion got me back into low 7s. Then the “rock” appeared in my shoe. I was very worried about a rock coming up through one of the drain holes in my Saucony A5s and it looks like it happened. I put an old pair in my special needs bag so I figured if I couldn’t knock it lose, I’d swap shoes. There’s Nicole! Was so happy to see her there cheering, it can’t be overemphasized how important it is to have someone special there waiting and cheering for you, a HUGE motivator. I asked for my special needs bag since the rock was still bothering me. As the volunteer got it, I sat down and looked…there was a little pebble stuck in one of the holes, so I took my sunglasses off and used the arm to pry it out. Got up, said I didn’t need my bag and took off. Ahhhhh, things are feeling better…oh wait…nope, they are not.
At this point I realized it wasn’t a rock, but a blister forming down there and it really hurt like a bitch. Whatever, my feet hurt in general, and in waves. I made it a couple more more miles trying to feel good about being on my second loop. At mile 15 I realized I wasn’t happy, at mile 16 I became more unhappy, at mile 17 I saw Nicole again and must have put on a good face since she said I looked good, better than at 13. Things got very hard, my pace slowed even though the effort was there. At mile 18 I told myself “8 more miles, you do that on your lunch break”, that helped. At mile 20 I told myself “only a 10K left, that’s easy”. As I was getting ready for the mile 23 sign to come (just 5K and some steps to go!!!), I hit the Curry Rd. hill again. It was the first time I considering walking a little…I mean just a little, what harm is there in that??? NO! I ran on and racked up my second slowest mile at 8:08 min/mi, still doing something right! Time to just cruise in…
…of course it is never just that easy. As the 26 mile sign is approaching I see I can catch someone, glance at the calf…ah crap, my AG. I have a technique for passing people in my AG, I do it with authority…more authority than I really possess, I just pretend for a bit so they don’t try to keep up. I didn’t have much in me, so I just passed…and listened…footsteps fading…whew! Okay, now I can really cruise in. Oh damn it, there is one more person I am catching. Oh double damn it, it is a woman. Oh triple pisser, spectators on the side of the road are now pointing out that it is woman and that they know I really want to catch her. I have been “chicked” before and it will happen again, there are just some extremely fast and impressive women out there. That being said, I was going to pass her and didn’t want a finisher picture with me legging it out at the end so I finally uncorked what I had left. Seconds after that, made a left and down the finish shoot. I heard my name and my town and then it was time to remove the chip. I usually take it off myself, I decided to let the volunteer do it this time, I didn’t know what was going to happen now that I stopped moving.
Post race: The “rock” on the bottom of my foot was a glorious blister. The good thing is that it hurt worse than anything else. The tortuous workouts that Francois had given me all year prepared my body to handle the race injury free…well minus a doozy of a blister. Visited World of Beer in downtown Tempe after dropping my bike off with TriBike Transport the next day…awesome! This was unexpected, but even had to check about Kona slots after finishing 10th in my AG. There were only 5 and no roll downs, so not even close, but still kind of fun to think that I had a chance. Then just spent some time with Nicole in Phoenix eating and drinking at better than expected restaurants. Off to Vegas for some “recovery” time with good friends. Now…well…I ran on the treadmill today. Maybe a turkey trot???
Overall (9:51:04 – 114 OA/10 AG): I signed up for Ironman Arizona only after meeting two criteria I set for myself: Finish a full marathon, which I did in the 2011 Tucson Marathon and finish a 70.3 distance race in under 5 hours, which I did at Timberman in 2012. I signed up thinking I would be able to go under 11 hours in a 140.6 race. I trained hard for the Boston Marathon in April of 2013 and was very happy with my results. Then started to train for Ironman Arizona, had some good results along the way and was able to finish the race in under 10 hours which far exceeded my goal.
I have to thank my wife for not only putting up with me being gone so much while training, but also dealing with my sometimes less than pleasant attitude during those really heavy training weeks. She is also the best cheerleader and race day helper that someone could ask for. My coach, Francois, also deserves a good deal of credit for torturing me in such a way that I got faster than I thought I could be. Lastly, thanks to my friends that offered advice, raced with me, and cheered me on along the way.