Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
77F / 25C
Total Time = 12h 17m 41s
Overall Rank = 891/2940
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 149/357
Pre-race routine:

Wow, what an experience! We flew into town on Thursday evening, unfortunately not in time for the BT gathering that night. I flew on Frontier, packed my own bike in a box that a local shop here let me borrow (for free no less!), and it ended up costing me a mere $20 each way. I had considered tri-bike transport because of the ease of dropping off the bike and not having to deal with it, on either end. My problem was that the closest drop off point was a shop about 2 hours away, and I didn't want to have to part with my bike a week or more out from the event.
We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Tempe, I'm very pleased with those accommodations and would certainly recommend them. We were about 4 or 5 blocks from the race site, the rooms were nice, they provided us both a microwave and a fridge and it was about $40-$50/night less than the host hotel.
Check-in Friday morning was a breeze, I was able to connect with Bryan (MNDiver), we got to the site just before 9am and flew right through the line without any delay. I was dreading this process after how slow and painful it was at Austin 70.3 last year, however it was easy.
Saturday was the practice swim, preceded by a 20 minute ride on the bike to make sure everything was working right after packing/unpacking it. It was nice to have a chance to get in the water ahead of time and scope out different things to sight off of and get a general feel for what the conditions would be like race morning.
Event warmup:

I woke up and started getting nutrition in around 4:20 Sunday morning, drank two Ensures, a clif bar, a 32oz Gatorade then a Espresso Hammer Gel just before getting in the water. There was no real warm up other than swimming a couple hundred yards from the "jump in" point to the actual start line, then about 10-15 minutes of treading water waiting for the gun to go off. I entered the water early in order to get a spot in the first couple rows of swimmers.
  • 1h 04m 44s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 32s / 100 yards

In writing my report about the swim, I really don't want to discourage or promote anxiety about this swim, but I have to say it was the most carnage I have ever been a part of during a swim. I lined up about 3/4 of the way over, closer to the buoy line than the wall, and in the 3rd row of swimmers. I knew I'd be swimming near the front of the pack and was hoping that the contact wouldn't be so bad for us as it would be for the true middle of the pack swimmers. I felt like I was in one of those traffic jams where everyone surges forward then quickly stops. Everytime I'd get in a few solid strokes I'd bump into someone's legs, then if I paused someone else was crawling up my legs. Finding open water was tough because if I saw an open space it would be filled by the time I put my head back in the water and got there. I think it was like this almost the entire way to the turnaround. Based on my time though I guess we were still maintaining a decent pace. After the turn things spread out a bit and the contact subsided. It was tougher at the point to find feet to draft on as well. The return half of the swim seemed to go much faster than the way out, at least in my mind, and I was very glad about 3/4's of the way through to realize we were just about done. Rounding the last buoy and getting to the ladder was surprisingly easy and without contact, and the volunteer at the ladder was great in telling me what to do and helping me out of the water. I've had calf cramps in a couple of my HIM races towards the end of the swim, and I guess I forgot all about it and had no issues whatsoever during this swim. I've also had some bad vertigo/dizzy spells upon exiting the water, I was very concerned about this as I climbed the stairs, and it just never happened! Running down the chute towards the T1 bags I heard them say the elapsed race time as 1:05, so I knew I came in about where I planned to be.
What would you do differently?:

I bet I could shave off a few minutes if I was more aggressive about holding my space in the chaos and stayed with the faster feet in front of me, but every time someone tried to swim over me or compete for my personal space in the water I usually relented and let them have it. I supposed we all think we could train harder to get faster, but at this point my time is better spent elsewhere.
Transition 1
  • 08m 25s

I'm happy with this time in T1. After reading hundreds of race reports I expected this to take about 10 minutes, so I guess my time is alright! I used the wetsuit strippers which was nice not only because I didn't want to deal with it myself, but because they not only got it off my body, they also lifted me right back up and got me on my way again. I hit the changing tent, put on real bike shorts over my tri shorts, applied spray on sunscreen, applied Biofreeze to my neck and shoulders (to numb the pain of an upcoming 6 hours in the aero position), I put on my shoes (no socks), helmet and headed out to my bike. Volunteers were very helpful, my hands were too wet to tear the top of the biofreeze samples I used to they did it for me, then they packed my wetsuit/goggles/swim cap in my bag and took it away. Overall they made it so I only had to concentrate on getting out to my bike and nothing else. Volunteers also helped guide me to my bike on the rack, then held the bikes around mine out of the way while I took mine off and headed out.
What would you do differently?:

The only thing I could do different is simply move faster. I don't feel like I had any mistakes or failures in my process and plan for T1.
  • 5h 59m 58s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.67 mile/hr

And on to the bike! This was going to be my true test of whether or not I could race smart and not overcook the bike and blow up on the run. After getting out of the water with the time I did, I was surrounded by almost entirely really fast riders. My goal was to shoot for about a 6 hour bike time and would have accepted 6:30 since this was my first IM and I didn't know what to actually expect. The entire first lap felt like I was riding in the "slow moving vehicle" lane on the expressway while everyone else blew past me. I did pass a few people here and there, but mostly it was spent trying to keep my effort in check and getting calories in. As I had expected, the climb out to the first turnaround didn't feel too bad the first time, but nevertheless I kept my speed easy and didn't get out of control.
Hitting the turnaround the first time was awesome, because the wind was at our backs and I was able to absolutely fly into town with very little effort. I think I hit the turnaround at 1:06 into my ride and I hit the turn-around in town at 1:50 into my ride! By about the last few miles in town the wind was shifting and soon it was set for the rest of the day pushing us out and in our faces on the way back.
Here's my quick word about drafting: Yes it was happening all over the place. People were doing it and that's a choice they made. Twice during the race I got my little snicker in because a group of 8-10 riders passed me in a pack, and within seconds a course marshall rode up next to them and started yelling out numbers of who was busted. I was actually concerned because while I was not "drafting" I also was not about to change my effort or ride to accommodate those draft packs when they filed in line in front of me. So when the motorcycle rode up I was briefly concerned that I would get lumped in with the real offenders in front of me. One funny moment though, I was gaining on a rider and just before I started my pass someone else slowly passed me. I pulled out behind him, passed her, then before I could pull in front of her she starts yelling at me that I needed to pass that guy because I was now in his draft zone. Seriously, spend a little less energy yelling at me and a little more focus on your own race please.
The second loop on the bike was quite uneventful other than I was looking forward to my special needs bag. I was developing some discomfort in my neck and shoulders at this point and it was nice to hit my bag for another shot of Biofreeze and a couple new bottles of Infinit. I stopped at the side of the road for my bag and probably only spent a minute there before I was off again, I had planned on spending a few minutes there at least, so this was a surprise.
The third loop was all about milestones and focusing on getting it done. I was at a point now where I was in and out of the aero position and spending a little more time upright than I would have wanted. I also somehow developed a small blister on the top of my foot, so I stopped at the mile 80 aid station and found a volunteer to get me a bandaid while I hit the portapotty. This was the first (and only) time I peed on the bike, I thought I might try and get that done while riding but I never felt the urgent need to empty my bladder. Hitting that final turnaround was awesome knowing that it was all downhill from here and despite the wind I was able to get into town at a decent pace. Passing mile 100 I finally started doing the math and figured out that I could possibly go under 6 hours. Once I was within a mile of the finisher chute I got my feet out of my shoes then cranked it since I knew that 6 hour mark was close. I made the decision to quick pass someone just before the ramp onto the sidewalk/finish chute and I think that saved me the two seconds I needed to hit that goal! A quick, flying dismount felt fine, a volunteer was perfect in grabbing my bike on the fly as I ran across the timing mat and into T2.
Nutrition: 5 bottles of my Infinit mix (281 cals/bottle), close to 2 bottles of water from the aid stations, one Stinger waffle and 3 Gu's. My stomach felt a little upset so that's why I added in plain water to help digest/mix up everything else I was throwing down. I was hoping on eating a few more Gu's but couldn't even consider it at the time. I had brought 6 bottles worth of Infinit which according to the people who did my mix should have been fine with nothing else, so I felt comfortable with the amount of calories I got in overall by adding the gu's and stinger waffle.

Bike Splits:
9.4 mi 31:15 18.12 mi/h
18.8 mi 33:53 16.49 mi/h
28.1 mi 22:10 25.20 mi/h
37.4 mi 24:56 22.40 mi/h
46.7 mi 29:37 18.88 mi/h
56 mi 32:40 17.10 mi/h
65.3 mi 28:11 19.82 mi/h
74.6 mi 29:23 19.03 mi/h
83.9 mi 35:06 15.91 mi/h
93.3 mi 32:59 16.94 mi/h
102.6 mi 30:25 18.36 mi/h
112 mi 29:23 19.28 mi/h
Total 112 mi 5:59:58 18.67 mi/h
What would you do differently?:

There's not much I would like to have done differently during the ride. My results/performance were the best I could expect with the level of training and experience I have on the bike. I would like to start exploring comfort options on the bike with regards to my fit and the shoulder/neck discomfort I experience.
Transition 2
  • 03m 42s

Things went well here too, quicker than I had anticipated. The energy of the moment helped me run nice a quick through the bags and into the changing tent. I chose to wear my "toe socks" for the run because that's the only thing that's ever helped with blisters, and those aren't exactly easy to put on in a rush, but it went well. I wouldn't say I practiced, but for the past month each time I put them on at home I thought about the most efficient way to do it for this race. Again the volunteers were great and helped pack up my bag with bike helmet and other stuff I didn't need anymore. Got my shoes on and off I went! Stopped for a few seconds for sunscreen then headed onto the run course.
What would you do differently?:

I forgot to take off my bike shorts! I had put them on over my tri shorts with the intention of taking them off again in T2 but simply forgot.
  • 5h 00m 52s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 11m 29s  min/mile

Here begins the part of my day that I was most anxious about and dreading: The Marathon. I was very worried that I would blow up after the bike and spend 7 hours walking this thing or even worse, and even had dreams about slow, painful marathons!
Overall: This went the best I could have expected or ever hoped for. My super-stretch goal was to beat my very first full, standalone marathon time of 4:56. I guess I came darn close!
The specifics: This started out horrible and I was genuinely freaked out about the outcome of the day. I think my pre-race marathon anxiety got into my head, I was walking before the first bridge, within the first mile! Oh dear lord, what is about to come of my day. I hit the first aid station and started what I ended up doing what I did at all aid stations: I walked along the line of volunteers drinking Perform, water and cola, eating some pretzels or trying to choke down a Gu. After the first aid station I started to feel a little better and was able to start running more than walking, even if it was a slow pace. By the end of the first lap I finally started being more positive, feeling better, and realizing that I would finish. I hooked up with a running partner shortly into the second lap and we pushed each other real well, I think we each were thankful for the company and the push. We ran the entire second loop and into mile 20 (for me) of the third loop, only walking the aid stations. I then finally had to slow down a bit, but was still pleasantly surprised by how well I was feeling at mile 22 and 24. The last two miles were tough as I was having to really dig deep to keep running, especially because going from brisk walk back to running was always initially so painful. Every time I'd walk a little I'd say to myself, "OK, time to run a little bit again", then I'd grimace and almost groan out loud at the pain in my joints when I'd start running again. Around mile 20 I had a near mental disaster when I checked the actual time of day on my watch and it said 7:15pm. What? How did that happen, there's no way I'll be able to finish under 13, in fact I'll be well into the 13 hour mark at this rate. About 500 yards later I asked a volunteer what time it was, and sure enough it turns out my watch had not reset itself from CST to Mountain time, so it was actually 6:15pm! Score!
Soon enough I was back across the last bridge, running down the lakefront path that was filled was the most excellent cheering ever, under the Mill St. bridge and I was finally making the left turn into the finisher's chute! I made the final turn onto Rio Salado and it was all a blur. I couldn't focus on any one thing, I was just so incredibly happy and thrilled that I was done and had accomplished so much! And then I heard the words, "Andy Gunsaullus from Alexandria, MN, You Are an Ironman!"
What would you do differently?:

I think I let the pressure of marathon failure get to me in the first few miles. On the other hand, maybe I needed those first few miles to get my legs under me, get more nutrition on board, and walking as much as I did allowed me the success I had on the remainder of the run.
Post race
Warm down:

I expected to crash hard at the finish line but it didn't happen. I had another two great volunteers grab my arms and help me through the process of collecting my hat/shirt, getting my space blanket on and getting my finisher's photo. At that point they simply said, "You look like you're doing fine, congrats!" and they were off. I guess I was doing fine, how about that?! I continued over and signed up at the massage tent then went and sat down with a slice of pizza and a can of cola. I also had a bottle of water that I sucked down. The massage was some of the best pain I had felt all day, I'm sure it helped. I finally headed over to collect all my bags and my bike and started the process of trying to find my wife and a friend that came to watch. I was surprisingly ambulatory and had no problem sorting through the transition area for my stuff, getting changed then walking back to the hotel.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Nothing, in fact I'm absolutely thrilled with how well I did. When going through the futile process of trying to calculate a best scenario, super-stretch time goal I had said that I'd swim in just over an hour, take 6 hours at best on the bike, then if I could run a 5 hour marathon I'd have a shot at a 12:xx:xx finish. My realistic goal was low 13 hour finish and worst case the bike could take as long as 6:30 and the marathon could end up taking 7:00. So yes, I'm thrilled!

Event comments:

Overall this race and experience exceeded my expectations. And I had set them quite high considering the reputation of the event and the IM brand. The Ironman Village experience was great, the layout and all the exhibitors' booths, and the vibe everywhere I went was excellent. Even the onsite IM store was easy, I went there twice and there was not a long line or anything! Didn't go the morning after for finisher's gear, so I can't say how bad that was. Once I am able to wrap my mind around the idea of doing another IM, I would certainly consider this race again. Thanks for reading this long report, if you're considering this race or already signed up feel free to PM me with any questions!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2011-11-21 12:00 AM
01:04:44 | 4224 yards | 01m 32s / 100yards
Age Group: 29/357
Overall: 227/2940
Performance: Good
Suit: Vector Pro X3
Course: Large, elongated rectangle
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 64F / 18C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 08:25
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
05:59:58 | 112 miles | 18.67 mile/hr
Age Group: 142/357
Overall: 809/2940
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: 3 loop out and back
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:42
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Average
05:00:52 | 26.2 miles | 11m 29s  min/mile
Age Group: 149/357
Overall: 891/2940
Performance: Good
Course: 3 loops in a goofy figure 8 pattern
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5