Ironman Arizona – 11/17/2013
It was such an adventure getting to IMAZ. 12 months of training for one awesome day of racing. I did my first triathlon in late October 2012 and found I had an immediate addiction. The addiction was so bad that 3 weeks later I signed up for Ironman Texas 70.3 and Ironman Arizona 140.6. Naive doesn’t even begin to describe me back in 2012, never could I have imagined what was really involved just to complete an IM. I slacked a lot of times when I should have been pushing, but it was truly a grueling year of training. I regret absolutely nothing that was done or not done though.
On to Tempe! The weather was beautiful on race weekend. Mid 70s for race day with a steady 10ish mph wind that shifted a lot in the desert it seemed. I must say something about the volunteers and spectators, they are unbelievable. I’ve competed a lot in my life, but have never seen so much support and people giving so much just for fun and to be part of IM. I thank each and everyone so much, I could not have finished without them.
The water was 63 degrees at start time his year. It was actually quite pleasant when the sun came up and apart from some interesting smells in the water, it is a great single loop course. This was my first mass start race, I’ve done several wave start Tris but this was quite an experience. Approximately 2700 of my closest friends went crazy when the cannon fired and what was a perfectly smooth water surface suddenly had 6″ waves. The toughest portion of the swim was trying to stay on course. With so many folks jockeying for position I was pushed left and right the entire 2.4 miles. I was constantly sighting and would make a run at a buoy only to make a few new buddies on the way to it and be 10-25 yards off my course. It felt like an mma fight in a few portions of the course and I ended up almost losing my goggles, balling up my right calf and straining my neck by the end. I was a little tired by the end, but did not expend any unnecessary energy and was ready for the bike. After bobbling up the stairs and stripping down transition went smoothly and I was sprinting out of the chute.
The first lap I felt strong and was spinning according to plan. The neck strain was starting to become more noticeable by the end of the lap and causing my head to ache. On lap two I did a quick potty stop (sorry, not hardcore enough to pee on my bike) and started my search for Ibuprofen or a hammer for my head that was now pounding. By the end of lap two I was struggling to stay in aero and it was really taking a toll on my time. I decided it was best to just relax and roll with it as my Super Jen had some ibuprofen next to the transition (shhh, I asked every volunteer for some). On lap three I was lucky enough to get some children’s Tylenol from an EMT that made me promise to never identify him. That guy was truly one of my heroes for the day. Within about 10 minutes my headache eased up and I was able to finish strong.
The leg was rather uneventful for me. I was passed by pros on all three laps and good golly are they fast. I was on a decline section running 25 and Correl and Rapp passed me like I was not moving then not further done the road here came Kessler. It was the first time I didn’t feel so bad about getting owned by a girl. The only issue I almost has was a little old lady kept swinging to the left of the lane and almost took out 4 pros passing us. It was a congested area and there were about 10 of us skidding around. I saw a lot of people laid out from crashing or exhaustion, always hard to see someone’s race come to an end due to those things.
The run was my biggest worry of the entire day, I really stressed over the looming marathon. Before the race my longest run had been 13.3 miles so I knew I couldn’t run the whole thing so I went with the tried and true 3 minutes run and 3 minutes walk plan. I was attempting to maintain a 15 minute mile average which I knew was more than enough to get to the finish line. I know going for just enough isn’t really the race mentality, but getting over zealous in an Ironman can end you (in more ways than one).
Once in T2 I took my time changing shirts, reapplying glide and getting slathered in sunscreen. My super Jen was at the run out with ibuprofen to kill the headache and neck ache that was still really beating me down. I chose to just start out slow to let the inflammation go down and I fueled heavy on the start since due to pain my bike nutrition plan made me nauseous. After walking the first couple of miles I kicked the watch timer on and set in for a long evening on the course. I never had any more cramps or pain after I got my compression socks on and the Meds fully kicked in. I was forced to use The Perform on the course for electrolytes and once it got dark the served us chicken broth that must have been from golden chickens it was so good. I know it was probably the cheapest they could find, but warm broth after such a long day felt good inside and it was like new life was in my body.
That’s what kept me going until mile 18. I saw Super Jen at mile 15 and was worried my body was starting to give out some. I never had a thought of not finishing or quitting, but in that 13-16 mile area it was tough to believe it was actually going to end. The course thinned out some and all of our spectators had moved to the finish line to cheer others on. There was no dominatrix on lap two to spank us and a lot less cowbell, we needed more cowbell. Anyways when I saw Uber Jen it was a morale booster and I was about to switch to cola to finish out the run. I actually went to cola and grapes, it seemed like an odd combination but my run pace picked up and I was running more than walking. At one point before that I thought I would be walking the rest of the marathon, but started taking 6-9 minute run turns to get done. I felt proud of myself for the first time at mile 24 when I ran 9 minute sections and still had a lot in the tank. It was then that I realized it was no longer just in my mind that I was going to finish.
The last 2 miles were the longest of my life, it truly seemed like we would never get there. I could hear Mike yelling at the finish line and all of the music/cheering but it just seemed like it wasn’t coming for me. Made up my mind with 1 mile to go it was time to end this wonderful day. I gave it everything I had and my body felt great! I actually kept getting faster and felt light (not like I was 225) and the finish line finally came into view. Running down the chute was amazing. I don’t know how many people were there cheering, but it was a lot. I was not prepared for how bright those lights were and I just kept running and smiling. I tried to be the guy that raised his arms in victory, but they didn’t cooperate and I just ended up with a big smile and tears in my eyes. I stayed upright and was able to go through unassisted to my picture and the best 2 pieces of pizza I’ve ever consumed.
My Super Jen was there to hug and take care of me while I let my body come down finally. I was pleasantly surprised to find out my teammate and friend Megan True was there at the finish line too. I didn’t hang around too long after finishing as my legs were starting to fail me finally. My Super Jen helped me to the car, got my bike/gear to the car and fed me before putting me down for a much needed nap.
Super Jen walked/ran at least 5 miles spectating and getting pictures all day. She got there at 5 am with me and took me home at 11pm all while carrying a 20 pound backpack. That’s IM spectator dedication and it was the highlight of my day. I kept seeing her in random parts of the course cheering me on and it made me so proud. There was a lap on the bike where I was searching for her and she wasn’t where I had seen her before, I truly felt like my world was ending until I saw her a mile up the road and then suddenly I was back to elation and full speed. It’s amazing how much the support from loved ones propels you through an event like this. I cannot thank my wonderful wife and family enough for supporting me this past 12 months in my pursuit of being an Ironman. Unfortunately I’m more addicted now than I was when I started and can’t wait for my next race!!
Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/arizona/results.aspx#ixzz2lQn6uPdN