Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
Ironman North America
94F / 34C
Total Time = 16h 13m
Overall Rank = 1546/2027
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 219/266
Pre-race routine:

It all began back in aught six...
There we were, IMCDA '06 Finishers, and BT'ers to boot settling in for a post race soiree at the local Idahoan cantina. It had been a brutal day, temperatures hit over 100 on parts of the bike course, the pine trees roasting in the sun made the trail smell like a sauna, and many of us hadn't had the race we expected.
"Who's signing up for IMAZ?" someone said. There were still spots open for '07 and some were looking for their next fix.
I almost bit too. I had the race of my life the day before right up until the run when my leg gave out. I was hungry for it, but the leg wasn't havin it.
"I'll give it a few weeks to recover my IT band and if there's still spots open I'll sign up." I said, "I'm moving down there before the race anyway!"

Well, almost 2 months later my leg was just about ready to try another Tri. I did my last Oly in Ohio, my favorite race, the Great Lake Escape. Well, that year mother nature had it in for us there as well. Winds out of the North caused 5-10foot swells on Lake Erie, and a small boat advisory was called in. The race director announced that we weren't about about to drop 200 small boat swimmers in the water a mile off shore. The race would have to be a duathlon. I was about to run 9 miles instead of the 6 I expected and thought I could barely do.
Well, I finished that race, and I was good to my promise. I proudly stated at the finish that I was going straight home to sign up for IMAZ. Just then as chance would have it a friend of mine broke the news, "It just filled up yesterday."

That was then. 6 months later I was there race day cheering in my friends that I had just met last June, but who I kept up with all through their trials and tribulations of IM training. You bet I was right there signing up first thing the next morning. I even started the thread, the call to arms for BT'ers and future Ironmen and women around the world here on BT, "Who's with me?!" I said.

Many, many souls heeded that call. Many made it to the start, but a few less than that would finish. This is Ironman afer all...

OK that's the back story, now for the details :)
Ironman pre-race begins 2 or more days prior. Travel, packet pickup, 5 bags to pack, stickers galore, carbo loading, bike and bag drop off, BT get together. It's all a big frenzy. I'm one of the most laid back athletes I know, but 2 days before an Ironman I'm making lists to keep track of my lists. I won't bore you with the details, but it was a big list.

Saturday morning I came out for the practice swim. It wasn't much more than a water temp gauge. I got to finish off my roll of underwater camera film though. After that I took the bike (Daryl) out for a little shake down run. I put a new front tire on Friday night, and had to be sure no pinches would show up Sunday.

The night before the race we had supper around 5:30, made an appearance at the BT pre-race partay, pre-filled my bottles of Infinit concentrate, and hit the sack (medically aided) at about 8. That's about the only way you'll get me up at 4:30AM.

Did I mention 4 fricken 30 AM. I don't get up this early except for "A" races. The morning went pretty well. The last items were crossed off the list and we headed to the races.
Event warmup:

The routine of running around the huge transition area, pumping tires, dropping SN bags, dropping stuff off at the T1 and T2 bags, rest room, dry clothes, wetsuit, queue up for the water entry. The prep work was a warmup in and of itself.

I only managed to stay with Cora Lee for a few seconds since she couldn't get beyond the barriers. I managed to pass her my bike pump, but then never got a chance to give a proper farewell. There just seemed like so much to do, so many lines to stand in, so far to walk between tasks, that by the time I was ready it was time to get in the water.

Then we got to jump in the water and tread for what seemed like an eternity.

Until the cannon went off that is.
  • 1h 25m 14s
  • 4224 yards
  • 02m 01s / 100 yards

I started really close to the front of the pack for some reason. I guess people were just wary of the cold water. It really wasn't a problem with the full wetsuit. I swam a couple of weeks earlier in the icebath Saguaro Lake just upstream from Tempe, so 65 was like bathwater. Consequently I was hanging out for a while. Then the national anthem started and everyone in the water started to sing. That was pretty cool in my book.

I took some old lessons on IM swimming, everyone thinks the outside is less crowded, so everyone goes to the outside, and the middle ends up being less busy. Mind you "less" is the operative word. That's not to say it's not busy. At CDA it didn't matter. It was an hour long wrestle that pulled you along with it. Here I noticed it was immediately different. I actually had space! I looked up and no one was there. I had to move over to find a draft. That's unheard of at IM.

That happened several times, so subsequently I wasted time finding drafts and pushing more water than I needed to. I'm not afraid of contact in the water, so if I ever do this again I'd start on the inside line to maximize the draft.

It seemed like a long swim. The way out was pretty easy. The sun cooperated and got out of the way (just for us I think), so sighting the Scottsdale/Rural bridge was easy. The way back was harder. It seemed like the bouys weren't in a straight line, and sighting where we had to go was harder. I ended up swimming bouy to bouy and again finding drafts. I probably ended up swimming farther than I needed to, but that's par for the course with me.

Lastly my neck got pretty chaffed up despite the body glide. I'm not sure what happened there, but ouch.
What would you do differently?:

I would choose the better draft over wide open spaces. At this distance every bit helps if you aren't averse to human contact. Now that I know the course better I'd spot to the Mill bridge rather than bouys on the way back.
Transition 1
  • 16m 48s

Another lesson learned from last IM, unzip my ankles before getting anywhere near wetsuit strippers. Them stripper-types are aggressive. (grrrrrrowl)

I spotted the ESCKTC stripper squad and laid it down for them. I was in no hurry, so from there I mosied on over to T1 where I promptly sprung a nosebleed. What timing! Consequently T1 seemed like it took forever. I alternated keeping that under control while getting ready for the bike.

When I finally got everything under control and was ready to leave I stopped by the medical guy and asked for some gauze just in case I sprung a leak during the bike. The guy had gauze, but nothing to cut it with! We spent a minute or more trying to tear the stuff only to give up and grab some TP. I stopped by the sunscreeners for an added layer.

Daryl was ready and waiting for me when I got down the aisle to the bike rack. We headed off down the walkway to the next phase of the adventure. I looked up at the clock and it said 1:53! That meant I was in there for 25 minutes! That must have been the pro time because I found out later that it was a lot shorter. It sure seemed that long though.
What would you do differently?:

Sunscreen my hands. Possibly pack paper towels.
  • 6h 57m 19s
  • 112 miles
  • 16.10 mile/hr

The first thing you noticed on the bike was the wind. Unlike past years when the wind picked up as the day wore on, the wind was strongest and right in our faces first thing. I started out pretty strong. I figured I had some time to make up since I thought I had a 25 min T1. It was a fight though. The first of the pros crossed my path on Alma School, so they were only about an hour ahead of me. I don't know why that mattered, but weird things go through your mind out there.

I thought the Beeline would be a little less hard since we were going into the wind on Rio Salado, McKellips and McDowell. Beeline runs at an angle from there, so I thought it would be a slight crosswind instead of a headwind. It sure didn't seem that way though. It wasn't easy to get any sort of speed even on the downhill spots, and the little climb at the end felt more like a real climb. When I finally got to the top that turnaround felt GREAT. The downhill made it all worth it. I had it in top gear and just flew down that hill. I hit 35-40 easy. All the while the nutrition plan was going as planned.

Back into town to finish lap 1, and onto lap 2. Same wind, and it was starting to get hot. I bought some DeSoto "arm coolers" for the event, but they didn't do much good unless there was something to evaporate off of them. (Not so effective in the desert) At the aid stations I grabbed an extra water and dowsed my arms and back. That did the trick pretty nicely, so no cooling issues. The cooling sleeves should have a logo on the packaging, "Just Add Water!"

This time I knew I had that downhill to look forward to, so the 2nd lap was pretty much the same. Back into town with everything on schedule. 4 bottles of Infinit down and 3 to go. It was getting a bit warm though. The aid stations' water wasn't cold enough to offset the warm bottles of concentrate. I remembered them being icey and perfect at IMCDA in the hot temps, but some of these were just plain luke warm.

Starting the 3rd lap I was getting a little tired. I filled the aero bottle with another round of Infinit, but it was barely palatable at this point. Every sip was turning my stomach, so I started drinking lots of water. I was also rinsing off twice between each aid station to keep cool. By the 2nd aid station I was getting into touble. I grabbed an orange thinking that would be some cool nutrition. If they'd had ice I would have swallowed it whole. It was nice, but the fiber turned my stomach even more. I couldn't even think about another sip of Infinit.

About this time on the Beeline hill I started to get loopy from lack of sugar + the heat. I was stil passing like crazy, so I know everybody else was just as bad. I pulled out a water and started to rinse again when I litteraly ran into another bike from behind. I don't even remember coming up on her. We both held it upright, and I apologized profusely. I think she said something about pushing not being illegal, so we had a short laugh as I passed. I remembered the RD saying something at the welcome dinner about penalty tents, "Don't go to the tent if you just feel guilty." he said. I wondered if guilt + the desire to get cool under the shade would qualify. ;)

There were alot of memeorable moments on the bike. I wish I could recall race numbers. There were lots of people I yoyo'ed with for miles, plenty of friendly comraderie. Lots of Cervelo P2C and Kuota bikes out there. Lots of people with flats, 1 tire blowout right next to me, and 1 accident right in front of me at the last aid station. It was a wild ride that took a lot out of me.
What would you do differently?:

Better nutrition management. If I had switched to gels at the same time as abandoning the Infinit things might have gone better.
Transition 2
  • 54m 20s

Wow, what can I say. Just look at the time. I got into the tent and had nothin. Everybody I saw in there was hurtin bad. I realized I had just done a full lap without taking in a bit of sugar. The volunteers though mostly ignored me. The triage seemed to be helping the elderly and those on the ground first. (Probably a good thing) I sat down and just couldn't move faster than a snail's pace. I had a sip of cold Infinit from my fuel belt and a cup of water. Numerous cups of ice went into my arm coolers. I saw all the friends and BT'ers I was ahead of on the bike come and go.

Finally someone noticed me sitting there with a blank stare for 20+ mins and asked if I needed help. I told him I was having sugar problems and needed some cold gatorade. His reaction was a little odd. I think his first instinct was to say that gatorade was waiting at the first aid station, but he saw I wasn't getting anywhere. He found a bottle somewhere and poured some into a cup of ice for me. I think that's when I turned the corner towards recovery.

I slowly finished with my stuff. When I say a snail's pace I mean it. I was moving like a sloth. Finally everything was done. I remembered to do my pre-run stretches, sunscreened up good and headed out. 54 minutes... sheesh

I seriously didn't think I was makin it out of T2. Someone in there brought up the great idea, "Can we wait for the sun to go down before running?" That sounded like WAY too good of an idea. I was lucid again, so no excuses. HTFU, Harry, you've got a marathon to finish.
What would you do differently?:

See Bike
  • 6h 39m 41s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 15m 16s  min/mile

A marathon to finish indeed...
Out of the gate I was feeling alright. I started out at a jog. I was still a little unsure of the stomach, so I grabbed everything I could at the aid stations to see what felt good. I wasn't moving fast, but I was moving, and there was plenty of time to finish.

Run aid station #2 got my vote for most entertaining on the first lap. They had signs up titled "Pit Stop" with slogans like "food drink, lube, and showers ahead". I just thought "lube?" They apparently were offering vaseline for the chaffed at heart.

I was moving slowly. I kept up the shuffle-walk routine though. I was hoping to catch up to a few of the people who I saw come and go in T2, and the TCA to Mill loop of the course is fast, so it made me feel alright, like I could do this. And of course you simply cannot walk through the crowds at the park. By the end of that loop you're on top of the world. The Scotsdale-Curry loop, not so much.

I got a nice megaphone cheer by Jot (gamebofh) as I passed the run special needs area. Then I suddenly remembered all those times I laughed at Cactustriathlete for running up and down the hilly part of the sidewalks. He would say that they were his "hill repeats". Living down in Maricopa they were the closest thing he had to hills. It turns out they routed us that way on the run, so I never ran them before. I wasn't about to now, so I walked until it flattened out on the dirt access road heading into aid #4. The stomach was barely hanging in there. I kept alternating beverages to throw it off, keep it guessing. It worked, but only barely.

On the bridge I saw Cactus, MikeB and Madcow heading back the other way. They were still a few miles ahead, but I thought if I managed to run a few miles I could catch up...unless they managed to run a few. This could go down as "The race for someone to talk to", not really, but any motivation you can find out there is good motivation. There was no way I was running up Curry though. I actually did try, but the HR got way up there, and I decided to play it safe and keep it under control.

It's funny some of the things you fixate upon. Somewhere on the downward side of the Curry hill there had been a rock, about the size of a phonebook, shapped perfectly like a throw pillow, in the dirt right shoulder of the sidewalk near the road. It was there every time I ran over that hill in training, and since I would try to run in the dirt to avoid the sidewalk joint-pounding I would always jump over it. I used to call it pillow-mint-rock in my head. It kinda looked like one of those melt in your mouth mints in bowls at restaurants. For some reason I always thought about it as I crested Curry hill. I thought, "When I see pillow mint rock on the third loop I'm gonna put it over the other side of the sidewalk into the park land." It was almost a ritual I had all planned out in my head. A right of passage that I was done with this run course. The object of fixation could be moved aside, and I could move on. Well the stupid rock wasn't there. So much for that.

Back down at the lake front I started to halucinate that there were runners out in Roman togas. It turned out just to be the Phoenix Tri Club aid station. (Toga party theme) funny bunch. A few of them went pretty elaborate with the costumes. The feeding of the grapes was a nice touch too.

At the end of Lap 1 I saw Aaron (Whalers34) and Robin314159, where she caught this stunning picture of me
Still looking good there.

The first loop of lap 2 was again pretty decent, except there was this guy in a cowboy hat twice my weight and twice my age powerwalking and catching me every time I stopped running. He made for a pretty strange race-rabbit, but again you take what motivation you can get. He eventually stopped for something at aid #3, so that ended that...for now.

I got to the "Ford Inspiration Station" and the board said "430 Harold Meier Love you! Amy & Riley" ... um who the #!#$! are Amy and Riley? Now I have random Ironman groupies? Cool!

I ran accross Mill and through transition. Got another shout out by Jot at SN and this time ran down the sidewalk hills and walked up them. Still no sign of the BT peeps though, so I assumed they got a second wind and were running.

Here I was again at the Scotsdale-Curry loop, this time in the dark, and I started having trouble breathing. Great, all the dust and Tempe stench and horse stables and pollen were finally getting to me. I couldn't run for anything without gasping for air. In the park before Curry I was in despair again. I stopped at a picnic table to "have a sit". If not for the fuel belt I probably would have lay down and went to sleep. It was a bad moment. If I couldn't get up to a shuffle pace for a good portion of the 2nd half I didn't have enough time to meet the cutoff. I sat there for a good 5-10 minutes. I don't even remember how I got myself going again, but I got over Curry and down to the lake again. Drinking some fizzy cola cleared the air passage. Maybe the cold, maybe the acid, maybe just the lubrication of the throat. Whatever it was it helped.

There I met someone new. I never got his name, but he recognized me from a bunch of other races. He'd apparently done all the same races as me in the last couple months, including the same leg of Ragnar! Small athletic world we live in. We chatted for a bit, and he ran off ahead. I kept walking until the second half of the Scotsdale bridge before I got the shuffle-run going again. I saw Robin again at the next aid station.

Loop 2 complete I ran into the East side cool kids and friends back at the beach park. That was great. Especially since I was feeling good again. I unloaded all the excess baggage on CoraLee. My fuel belt, arm coolers, sunglasses. It was all just baggage at this point. That was a huge weight off, litteraly. Chris (Cordova61) even started walking with me up to the TCA. I jokingly told him to come on and walk 9 miles with me. I think he took me seriously because he walked with me all the way to the TCA. He stopped to tie a shoelace and I said farewell and started a jog again. That was a good pick me up.

TCA-Mill loop, again great. Shuffle,jog,walk,shuffle,walk, "who the heck are Amy and Riley?" run, shuffle, walk.

I caught back up to my race buddy at transition. We did the run-down walk-up routine with the sidewalks again. I had a bit of a longer stride, so I was pulling ahead this time. Then something weird happened to my left foot. I couldn't run on it on the sidewalk. It just had a pain through the dead center-foot. I stopped to stretch it then walked with my bud until the gravel. I could run on the softer surface. Just then powerwalker old cowboy-guy passed me, and my foot wouldn't let me run! Oh was I pissed! I stopped for a cookie.

Just then at the bridge over my troubled waters Madcow caught up to me! I didn't remember ever passing him and MikeB, but apparently I did. That was good, that was really good. This was the darkest, last iteration of the despair leg, and now I had company. I couldn't run, but I was back in the running, and I had someone to share it with. Even then, Curry hill was a silent dark climb. I almost started talking about pillow-mint rock just to break the darkness, but we were both pretty tired.

A little later we were there walking along the lake again, minding our own business, 2 miles to go and this 72 year old Irongeezer goes shuffle-jogging by. I say Irongeezer with the utmost respect and affection. Those guys are my inspiration and my ultimate long term goal. AND EVERY STINKIN RACE one of them passes me in the last miles. I let out a little chuckle.

Tom had to stop for a little R&R (rest and room) at the toga party aid station. He insisted I go on, so I ventured forth. I got to the other side of the bridge and onto some soft surface, so I tried for a run again. It was only a mile to go and the foot felt alright, so I ran it in. Best mile of the run.

I rounded that corner from Ash onto RioSalado on top of the world. There were the BT peeps in the stands, folks high fiving me all the way down the chute, and Mike Riley yelling...NOTHING!

Ok Mike, you're 2 for 2. I've got it on video that you didn't tell me I'm an Ironman at CDA, and I've got witnesses for this one. If I ever do another NA Sports Ironman, you'd better dang well say that I'm an Ironman or else I'm coming up there. Got it?
What would you do differently?:

Not much. Maybe some more night time lonely runs to mentally go to that place. The run is all mental (in more ways than one). I'd ditch the fuel belt. I maybe drank 2 bottles of it.
Post race
Warm down:

Cheering Madcow, Eating Pizza and getting a quick massage. Gathering bike and bags and walking to the car. You never cool down from Ironman. There's a warmth in your heart that stays there forever.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Hot weather nutrition planning. Air quality. Mental fatigue.

Event comments:

The April IMAZ will probably live in infamy. 3 of the 4 races these past years were in bad conditions, and this year's race ranked in the top 3 most DNFs of all time. It was a fitting end of an era. I'm kinda happy to be a part of it, in that sick twisted way that only an endurance athlete can understand. I'll be back again. The Ironman and I have unfinished business. Only, the next race report will start, "It all began back in aught eight..."

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Last updated: 2007-05-29 12:00 AM
01:25:14 | 4224 yards | 02m 01s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/266
Overall: 1496/2027
Performance: Average
Suit: ProMoton Full Wetsuit with tri shorts and top
Course: One rectangular loop around Tempe Town Lake.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 65F / 18C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 16:48
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
06:57:19 | 112 miles | 16.10 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/266
Overall: 1349/2027
Performance: Average
FIRST BIKE SEGMENT 36 mi. (3:52:18) 16.58 mph SECOND BIKE SEGMENT 37 mi. (6:09:22) 16.20 mph FINAL BIKE SEGMENT 39 mi. (8:39:21) 15.60 mph
Wind: Strong
Course: 3 laps up Rio Salado to McClintock to Mckellips To Alma School to McDowell to the Beeline to just short of Shea and back again.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 54:20
Overall: Bad
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Bad
06:39:41 | 26.2 miles | 15m 16s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/266
Overall: 1546/2027
Performance: Below average
FIRST RUN SEGMENT 3.5 mi. (10:19:44) 13:09/mile SECOND RUN SEGMENT 8.5 mi. (12:26:04) 14:51/mile THIRD RUN SEGMENT 8.5 mi. (--:--) --/mile RUN FINISH 5.7 mi. (16:13:22) 15:59/mile TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (6:39:41) 15:15/mile
Course: "Spectator friendly" (Translaton: Where the hell do I go next?)
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 1
Physical exertion [1-5] 1
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3