Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
Ironman North America
Total Time = 12h 37m 40s
Overall Rank = 571/2037
Age Group = M 25-29
Age Group Rank = 60/141
Pre-race routine:

Ironman #1. Here we go. Again, I use this race report almost like a journal of my adventure into the Ironman, the race itself, and then reflections. They get somewhat long, so look to the right for numbers.

I remember watching Kona on NBC as a child, thinking to myself that these participants had to be the greatest athletes on the face of the earth. I grew up loving the big 3 American sports, dreaming of myself as Troy Aikman and Michael Jordan. Even then I doubted myself, thinking that only the elite could ever accomplish something as amazing as an Ironman.

Flash forward to late 2006, after getting up nearly 240 pounds in college I had tried on and off again to get under 200 pounds. I never could stay disciplined and always fell off-track. December 31 comes, and I swear that 2007 is the year. 2007 is the year I will come to terms with my weight and health and live life the way I should be and want to be living.

January 1, 2007 I weigh in around 212 pounds if I remember correctly. I knew the best way to start was to run, so I run. I had been doing a run/walk off and on for a few weeks already, but my max distance was no more than 2 miles running the entire way. I think back to a buddy who ran the White Rock half-marathon and how we got to chatting about endurance sports. I remember telling him about how I watched Kona as a child and always thought they were the greatest endurance athletes. Search triathlon, and stumble across none other than Decide that I'm going to train for a triathlon, and I go buy a bike. I'm spending every lunch hour on BT, soaking up as much as I can.

February 15, 2007. I'm already down to 197 pounds just by running and eating less. I decide to stop lurking on BT and start logging. I figure the best way to stay on track is to make friends with other BT'ers and have them hold me accountable. See a thread in the Texas forum about a group ride, and I meet my first BT'er Karen (KSH).

I meet Karen and her friend Brad, and they taught me a big lesson. I'm slow. I think I average around 17 mph in my 19 miles around White Rock Lake, and I'm hammering as hard as I can to keep up with Karen. Brad has left us in the dust. Great, I can't even keep up with the girls. I swore that day I would learn how to ride a bike.

June 26, 2007. I've done a couple of sprints now, and tried to do an olympic, but CapTex got cancelled. Craig (docshock1964) has already signed up for IMAZ and John (jcagg90) just signed up for IMCDA. I get jealous of all the other BT'ers having fun signing up for Ironmans, that I do what I thought was the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life but now I realize is definitely one of the greatest things I've ever done in my life. I sign up for IMAZ '08. To this point I have no endurance at all. I don't think I've rode more than a 100k, and I just about died doing this at Muenster. I've never ran more than 10 miles probably. But I knew that I could count on my BT friends to hold me accountable. I swore I'd cross that finish line on 4/13/08.

Skip hours and hours and hours of training to April 11, 2008. Gina and I spend the night with my sister in Flower Mound. My sister is a fitness freak too, and is in the process of becoming a personal trainer. But she's more into strength training than endurance. Regardless, I can tell she is really excited for me and is definitely supportive.

Wake up and go to the airport. American Airlines is cancelling flights left and right, and our original flight was cancelled. I get to the airport a little early just so we can make other arrangements if need be. Our flight takes off without a hitch, and we arrive at Sky Harbor around 10:30. Baggage, rental car, blah, blah.

Head to the race course and eat some Mexican at Depot Cantina. Good food, but nobody does Mexican like they do Mexican in Texas! Go to packet pickup, blah, blah. Weigh in at 181, right after I eat Mexican. Umm, your scales are a little low. I'm probably around 186-188 right now after that meal. Proceed thru pickup and make the plaque purchase. Pick up my bike at tri-bike transport. My baby has missed me so much!

Head to the hotel, and I want to drive the course. Gina drops me off at the Beeline at Shea and I ride back to McDowell. I'm flying 22-23 into a decent headwind and I get super-cocky! Eh, that's the way I get on the bike. Check that day's blog to see my inflated ego. At this point I'm thinking I can average 20-21 on this course with these type of winds.

Head to the pre-race dinner, and the emotion starts to build. I can't find any of my BT buddies, but Gina recognizes Shanks so we sit with him. Jacob (tribullbutter) was with him, but I really hadn't met Jacob. They play the promo video, and I hold back the tears successfully. Readers prepare for the worst, I get emotional. Best part - Who has lost the most weight preparing for Ironman? I love it. I love to hear the weight loss stories. They are so great. Up to like 80 pounds I think, and there are still people standing. Gina whispers to me, "I wonder if Steve (doughboy) is still standing?" I tell her I hope so! I later find out he was! 3 guys go to the stage that have lost 100+ pounds! One guy says he lost the weight "because he wanted to run with his kids". My eyes start watering, and I think to myself this might be the most memorable moment of this trip.

Hit the sack, and wake up to a swim. Water is cold, but I feel so fast in the wetsuit. Get out and Craig (docshock1964) is right beside me. Hey! Then I see Mike (mkmbharris). Chat for a second, and join Mike on a ride. We talk about how fast we think the bike course is going to be (bad omen?). He gives me the great idea of taking speed off my HR monitor. Don't eat the paste! Nice and easy mile run, and my training for Ironman is complete.

Ate lunch at PF Changs, and for the first time since arriving in Tempe I had nothing to do. Gina took a nap while I laid down watching Joe Dirt. Ah, what a great movie! Went out for ice cream, picked up a few things for the BT dinner, and met a crazy amount of people. Apparently this was the largest recorded BT gathering for IMAZ. Cool to meet some new faces. And some of you whose names I see all the time but have never met before in person.

Headed home and hit the sack around 8. I actually slept well the night before an Ironman. Very surprised. I was out by 10 probably. Wake up at 3:45, ready to have my life changed forever. Grabbed my stuff and hit up IHOP. Gotta start my day with pancakes with plenty of maple syrup! And some coffee, of course.

Head to the race site, and for the first time it really hit. Oh shit, it's here! I'm really going to become an Ironman. I can't believe it never hit until now. It would sometimes come and go, but this was the "roller-coaster, I just lost my stomach" feeling.

Needed to put stuff in my transition bags, so I do that. Put my perpetuem on my bike. Drop off special needs. Ok, what do I do now? I see Craig (docshock1964) so I chat with him and Jen (jah2212). So comforting to see familiar faces, although Craig had a glossy look over his eyes. He was very focused. And he had quite the support crew! Find a few others, including Tom (madcow), Joe (freeswimmingfish), and Aaron (jeepfleeb). I'm not much in the mood for conversation at this point. I probably looked like a ghost.

I had left Gina near the swim entrance, but when I go back to tell her I'm about to jump in they had moved her. Shit! I'm not going to be able to tell Gina goodbye. That I'll see her in about 13 hours, a completely changed man. An Ironman. But I find her finally. And the emotion is unbearable. I cry, like a girl. She cries with me. I'm about to embark on something I never dreamed in a million years I would even try, and it was overwhelming. We held each other across the fence, and I kissed her goodbye, assuring her that I would be fine regardless of what the day would bring.

Ironman Arizona, here I come!
Event warmup:

It's ironman! You're supposed to warmup?!?!?

I jump in the lake and wade to the far left side, since I can't breathe to my left side. Yeah, I keep meaning to work on that! Look up as I cross the 2 bridges, and there are people everywhere cheering. I start tearing up. This seems to be a reoccuring thing.
  • 1h 16m 3s
  • 3862 meters
  • 01m 58s / 100 meters

Gun goes off. Let's get to it. Focus on staying calm. This will be the longest day of your life, Clint. Stay long, reach. Lots of contact to begin, and it never really stopped. As long as I was ON the course. :)

I was taking pretty significant blows, and early on I kept thinking that my goggles were going to leak, maybe even crack. I think I did it all. Kick in the face, check. Put a girl in a headlock, check. Have somebody pull my leg, check. Have somebody push me forward, check. I kept thinking that there wouldn't be any reason to sight because I knew I was good with all this contact.

Ok, I'm a strong guy. I can deal with this. Just swim to the sun. It's that easy. Right? WRONG. About 750 yards out maybe, I find myself swimming way too far to the left. Look up, and a kayaker tells me to swim to the right. Shit! I'm about 25-50 yards off course. Straight line back to the flow. I need to find some feet, I think. It's just too hectic.

I should've known that I was off course, because suddenly it was peaceful. Although, the waves were a little choppy.

So I get back in the mix, intentionally drifting right since I'm trying to correct myself. Next thing I know I'm way too far to the right, like nearly to the shore! Just what the hell is wrong with me!?! Veer left slightly, and suddently I'm at the red buoy!

What? I'm already at the red buoy. This swim is going by so fast! The problem is I've veered so far right that I've got to swim straight across the river to get the buoy. Man, I'm wasting so much time and energy with this swim!

Round the buoy using the breast stroke, and I grab on to some guys feet. This was the best thing I could've done, because he took me straight in. No more sighting or anything. It was like he was meant to be there for me. I call him Red Stripe, since his wetsuit had a red stripe down the middle.

Very uneventful after turning the buoy. Just staying on Red Stripe's feet and thinking about how much I want to ride my bike. See the shore and it feels like I've done well despite my pinball adventure on the way out.

Have some guy help me up the stairs, pull my wetsuit off my torso and drop down. I stripped wetsuits at PlayTri last year, so I know the drill. I love those guys. They are awesome!

Run by the clock and I see 1:16:xx. Holy shit!!! I swam that fast?!?!? That sure beats the 2:36/100 meter pace at Longhorn last October!
What would you do differently?:

Sight better on the way out. Other than that, I couldn't have been more pleased with this swim. Or amazed!
Transition 1
  • 08m 7s

Easy jog to the transition bags. I felt good after the swim, and I really felt like I hadn't exerted much energy at all. Picked up the bag and trotted into the tent. There were volunteers, but I didn't need one. Stripped down and put on my bike shorts, sleeveless jersey, socks, shoes and helmet. Forgot the garmin, so I put it on last. Sat until I got a signal, since I wasn't really in a rush. As I'm stripping I see Shanks in the corner. Wish him luck the rest of the race. It was good to see him, because it really helps bring you back to earth when you see a familiar face. Sunglasses on, and I'm ready to roll.
What would you do differently?:

I don't know. Nothing really. This went about as expected.
  • 6h 09m 5s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.21 mile/hr

Started off riding thru the park, and I'm getting passed. What? I'm getting passed? I thought this was a no-passing zone? Cheaters! Oh well. Early on as we wind thru the turns on the way to the Beeline I'm getting passed left and right. This is new to me, to be honest. I'm usually the one doing the passing, and I have to remind myself to stay within myself. Race my race. You know how it goes.

The HR is a big high in the low 150's, so I calm down and spin in the small chainring until I settle in. Tell myself I'll be passing these same people on the 3rd loop. If not then, I'll do it on the run.

HR is in the high 140's as I enter a fairly stiff headwind on the Beeline. It wasn't like this the past couple days on my training ride. Man, this might be a longer day than I expected! That's alright though. Thanks to Mike's (mkmbharris) advice, I took speed off my Garmin. All I knew was time and HR. Stared at the HR and stayed in the small chain ring.

The wind is picking up more and more the further you get out of town, and I'm doing my best to stay focused. Began the day with a powerbar. 15 minutes then my perpetuem/endurolyte mix. 30 minutes more mix. 45 minutes power gel. 1 hour mix. 1:15 mix. 1:30 repeat the cycle with a power bar. That's the plan, with a 20 oz water bottle at every aid station.

Finally make it to the turn around, and I couldn't have been going faster than 13 mph. Talk about frustrating! I'm thinking that the 3rd loop the way out is really going to suck, HARD! I was so excited about this course, and here I was riding as slow as Christmas it felt like. Until the turn around.

Spin the bike around, and I'm straight up flying! I had to be cruising at 30+, because I was in big chainring/small gear and I couldn't pedal fast enough to keep up. And the HR drops into the high 130's. That's when I decide that I'll let my HR be in the mid to high 140's on the way out and the high 130's on the way back. This should allow me to maintain my target HR of 142-144. And it did.

Fly back to town, and I start the 2nd loop. The wind has really picked up now, and it's starting to heat up. Just tell myself to stay focused and do what you know how to do. I'm at the 3 hour mark and it's time for my power bar, and I can't finish it. That's when I realize that I'm hot. All winter long I could eat like a horse on the bike, regardless of the length of the ride. Today, I didn't want it. Forced myself to eat half the powerbar before I tossed it. Knew I needed the calories.

Stop to pee at the 2nd turnaround, and everybody is really struggling. All I hear is complaining. Inside my head, I'm just thinking HTFU. It's Ironman! Eh, but I don't say anything. Just get back on the bike and ride like I've trained to do.

Fly back to town again, and start the third loop. It's here that I really start to get hotspots. I haven't got hotspots since mile 80 at Hotter Than Hell, and they are so painful. Nothing to do but fight thru it.

Back to the small chainring for the 3rd loop. Oh, how I hate the small chainring. I feel like such a sissy when riding in it. The third loop was pretty uneventful. I kept passing and getting passed by a guy named Steve. He joked that we were setting the record for the most passes in an Ironman. I agreed.

On the way back I'm heading back into town, almost finished. Finally! My feet are killing me. And this girl named Gina is riding side by side with some guy chatting. Alright, I yell 'On your left'. Nothing. On your left. Nothing. ON YOUR LEFT!!! She says, 'oh, sorry'. Quit chatting and ride. This isn't social hour! I came so close to crashing into her, but managed to avoid catastrophe.

Next thing I know, I peek behind. And somebody's drafting off me. Great, I hate cheaters. Look back more, and it's Gina! She has the nerve to draft off me now? Eh, whatever. I thought about just dropping here, but didn't want to waste the energy.

Stroll on into the park, feeling pretty good. I was very pleased with my nutrition. Perpetuem with 6 endurolytes per hour worked perfectly, despite it's salty taste. And the powerbars worked well as solid food, despite not wanting to eat them at the 3 hour mark and the 4:30 mark.

How about we go run a freakin' marathon!!!
What would you do differently?:

Pray to the wind gods for less wind. It was hammering hard on the 2nd loop. Nothing really. Considering the conditions and the fact that I'm in an Ironman, I rode this exactly as I wanted to. The fact that my 3rd loop I had the same average as my first shows that I really put together a steady effort!
Transition 2
  • 03m 36s

It seems like a volunteer took my bike. I wasn't expecting this. Grabbed my bag and headed into the tent for a complete change. If I'm running a marathon, I want complete comfort. So I put on my running shorts and a tech shirt. Had a volunteer help me, and he was excited I was from Texas. He was from Houston. He was very concerned, and didn't like the fact that I wanted to leave. Apparently I didn't look so hot? I felt great!
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. A sub 4 minute transition in an Ironman I believe is a really good thing.
  • 5h 00m 51s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 11m 29s  min/mile

Right out of the gate I'm surprised that the legs feel decent. Just like my endurance bricks. Almost immediately I run into Chippy and Jess. She says something like, "Hey, I know you. Don't talk. Just run." Alright, that's why I'm here!

The first 6-8 miles are a blur. They went by so fast! I was doing great, running at a 150ish HR, right a little over 9 minute miles, registering as close to 10 minute miles with walking the aid stations. It's really getting hot, but it's a dry heat. So unlike the heat East Texas brings. Take a endurolyte with a cup of water at each aid station. A gel at every other aid station. That's the plan, until I really start suffering.

Maintain pretty well thru the first loop. Thru the first half-marathon really. My run has slowed down to closer to 10 minute miles, but I'm still running aid station to aid station.

I see Jacob and introduce myself somewhere midway thru the 2nd loop. He looks like he's in a world of pain, but he's on his third loop and on his way to a KQ! It was really nice to see a familiar face here, and looking back it's almost surreal to think I was running with a Kona Qualifier at his pace during the marathon for maybe a 1/4 mile. Thanks for chatting with me that short time Jacob, it really helped my race out.

However, about mile 15 or 16 is where the wheels fall off! I start walking here and there. And it becomes more and more frequent. I realize that I'm not going to break 12 hours unless I run 10 minute miles. And I know I'm not capable of that. And here's where I break. I lose interest. I gave in. I needed to HTFU, and I turned into a sissy and walked. And I'm embarassed to say that I didn't even care. I knew I was going to break 13 hours, and I just settled for that. What a coward! It's like I was scared of a little pain.

Now at the aid stations I'm just eating whatever I can get my hands on. It's like a buffet! I'll take that, and that. Yes, that sounds good. I did learn that chicken broth and coke make a great meal!

I see Gina on the 2nd loop, and I tell her I love her. Here's where I start to get emotional. I've been out there for 10 hours now, and I've still got a half marathon to run?!? I can't stay focused. The next thing I know, I've been walking for probably 5 minutes and I was spacing out the entire time. The Ironman marathon will play tricks on your mind if you're not headstrong. I wasn't headstrong enough.

Craig catches me around mile 16 or mile 17 I think. I knew it was only a matter of time. I passed him on the first loop of the bike, and I was wondering when he'd catch me on the run. Man, he looked so freakin' fresh! He asked me how I felt. I think my response was "like ass". That was very appropriate. It was really good to see you here Craig, because you helped push me for at least a little bit. You're one hell of a runner, and you had one hell of a race! Thanks for help push me into this race.

See Gina again on the 3rd loop, and I stop to give her a kiss.

Start regaining some composure around mile 21-22. It's here where I start picking up the pace a little bit, but I'm still over 12 minute miles. I see Aaron around mile 24, and I knew he was struggling. Jacob had told me earlier. But I was so impressed. Here was a guy who had dreams and a realistic shot at a Kona slot. But he was struggling to hold down food and his body just wouldn't let him put together a "Kona caliber" day. He could've thrown in the towel, and said to hell with it. But this guy is out on the course walking and encouraging some guy he's never even met before! Talk about character! I was very impressed to see this, and I definitely consider you a high class, quality individual. And thanks for the encouragement you provided to me. After I saw you I suddenly found myself running a sub 10 minute pace for the first time since the low teen miles.

Periodically thru the race, I had fought off the tears. The Ironman experience is so overwhelming. It breaks you down to your very core, and you are experiencing raw emotion. You have no cover because you have no strength to cover. It's who you are, on display, for everybody to see. And everybody could see me open. And when I saw the finish to the left sign, I broke down completely. The flood gates have been opened!

I see the stands to the left. The stands to the right. I see the finish line and I hear Mike Reilly calling names. And I think of how far I've come. I think of how this sport has changed my life. I think of how I've met my fiance Gina (grvfrog) through this website. Yeah, this sport enabled an overweight, video game loving, beer-drinking electrical engineer to find a beautiful bride! And I cried like a little girl.

I hear Mike Reilly say, "from Garland, Texas, Clint Bolton, you are an IRONMAN"! And I raise my arms in victory, as an Ironman.
What would you do differently?:

The next time I race an Ironman, I'm going to run the whole freakin' marathon, with the exception of the aid stations. I'm not settling for a sub 13 when I'm capable of faster. HTFU. There's never a better time than the second half-marathon of an Ironman marathon. And I'm going to prove it next time.
Post race
Warm down:

I immediately look for Gina, but the same guy who was in the T2 tent is in my face. Suddenly Chippy is in my face too. How cool is it that I was caught by a BT'er. Thanks Chippy! I'm a bit tired, and all I want is to see Gina.

The guy from Houston tells me I didn't look so good in T2, and he almost didn't let me go out on the run. I'm so glad he didn't try to fight me. I receive my finisher's shirt and hat.

I finally find Gina and we get our picture taken. Sit down for a minute, then sign up for a massage. See Tommy (zia cyclist) and I chat with him for a few minutes about the race. TJ, you had one heck of a race and should be very proud of yourself.

Finally get a massage, and the therapist says I was experiencing spasms so she kept me forever. About 45 minutes later, I tell her there are people who need this more than me. She wanted to work on my back, but I took off.

Catch Craig and we chat about the race. Craig torched the course for his first Ironman.

Tried to find Chippy to thank her, but couldn't find her. Ate some pizza, and called it a night. I think I deserved a little sleep.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Mental toughness maybe?

I really couldn't have gone much faster than this! I mean, I only have 15 months worth of base built up. Give me a couple more years, and then I'll start gunning for the 11-12 hour Ironmans!

Event comments:

Is there anything left to say??? I AM AN IRONMAN!!!!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2007-06-26 12:00 AM
01:16:03 | 3862 meters | 01m 58s / 100meters
Age Group: 99/141
Overall: 1015/2037
Performance: Good
Suit: NeoSport... Hey, it's the cheapest I could find!
Course: Dammed off river. 1 loop. Pretty much a long out and back.
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 65F / 18C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Good Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 08:07
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
06:09:05 | 112 miles | 18.21 mile/hr
Age Group: 61/141
Overall: 614/2037
Performance: Good
Didn't get lap data unfortunately. 144 avg HR over the course.
Wind: Strong
Course: 3 loops of out-and-back. Minimal elevation change. Several 90 degree turns.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:36
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:00:51 | 26.2 miles | 11m 29s  min/mile
Age Group: 63/141
Overall: 645/2037
Performance: Average
Avg HR 144
Course: 3 loops on a fairly flat course. All around the lake.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5