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Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
Ironman North America
93F / 34C
Total Time = 12h 37m 17s
Overall Rank = 566/2555
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 55/291
Pre-race routine:

One of the highlights of this race was attending Mass with Kirk on Saturday night. I'm not Catholic, but it was amazing for getting my head on straight. I'll likely make this a part of my Ironman routine going forward.

Woke up at 3:15am and ate a banana, yoghurt, two bowls of cheerios, and a bagel with peanut butter. Drove over to the race with Kirk & Barry, and prepped the bike. All ready to roll by 6am and just relaxed.
Event warmup:

Stretched and pooped. What better Ironman warmup could there be? I like arriving early, so I just enjoyed watching the faces of the other athletes before the start....
  • 1h 15m 21s
  • 3862 meters
  • 01m 57s / 100 meters

Best part of the swim start was seeing the first-timers raise their hands and let out a great cheer of enthusiasm, followed by all of the athletes screaming in appreciation for their friends, families, and the race volunteers. In what would turn out to be a brutal day, this became an incredibly poignant memory.

I decided to line up in the middle of the middle again, just to absorb in the whole Ironman swim experience. A great shot to the middle of the back to sink me, a monster kick to the left eye, and two blows that knocked the wind out of me certainly delivered my money's worth.

Having said that, this was a great swim for me... the first time I've swum anything other than 1:20... so I'm finally making progress!

I was relaxed for the entire swim, breathing on both sides. The water really wasn't that bad, and I found the cool temperature to be refreshing. When I finished, for the first time I felt like I could continue swimming.
What would you do differently?:

With more training, I hope to get the swim in the 1:00 to 1:10 range!
Transition 1
  • 08m 26s

Transition was mobbed when I got there, with an overflow crowd on the grass looking pretty dazed and confused. I had a nice volunteer helping me in the tent until I whipped off my swim trunks and started slapping the chamois butter around. The side of the tent where I was standing was whipping open for some reason, so I have to imagine that it was quite a show as I just stood there naked looking out at the crowd.

Took my time getting through it all and stopped for a good suntan lotion rub down on the way out. All the Coppertone in Arizona wasn't going to be enough for what was ahead.
What would you do differently?:

I can move through tranistion more quickly, and can do so at the next race. I may try to complete my next Ironman without changing into biking shorts.
  • 6h 18m 1s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.78 mile/hr

This was my first race on the Specialized, and it really was a great experience.

The ride was pretty brutal, with a tough climb into very strong winds in outrageous dry heat. I was pleased with my first two loops (18.6mph, 18.3mph), but the wheels fell off on the third (16.65mph). I just couldn't really push any more, and even found myself in the small chain ring for the ascent. Also, couldn't hold the aero position, so I took the last lap on the hoods.

Apparently I passed over 200 riders, but I could tell that folks were going to struggle after this ride. It's pretty tough to dial in fluids and nutrition in burning heat with intense winds and a hill, so my three previous IM races really helped sort through it all.

Skipped special needs bag, and peed on the bike, so this was the first time I've ever rode over 100 miles without ever putting a foot on the ground.

Adventures included losing my spare tube, levers, and CO2 cartridges off the back of the bike, and running ride over a pylon that had blown into the middle of the course. Aid stations were fantastic, volunteers amazing. Having said that, just thinking about warm orange Gatorade Endurance makes me want to hurl. By the last loop of the ride, I could hardly drink water....
What would you do differently?:

More time in the saddle will improve my long range endurance. This bike was a very good omen for future races.
Transition 2
  • 06m 8s

This transition was more of a daze than anything else. Once again I put on a little strip-tease for the hometown crowd which by this point seemed to be much more interesting to me than to any of them.

I dragged this transition out a bit longer than necessary, because I just didn't really want to start running all that much.
What would you do differently?:

Move through it more quickly and just get running.
  • 4h 49m 21s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 11m 02s  min/mile

I just didn't bring my run with me to Phoenix. By the time this beast started, I was drained from the bike, and feeling nauseous. So, I just shuffled off to Buffalo, and tried to run as much as I could, knowing that if I took it easy I would recover in time and be ready to go.

People were seriously hurting on the run. On my first lap, I passed several pros who were walking through the end of their third. By my third, I was one of the only participants still trying to run on occasion.

The heat and the punishment on the bike just took it out of everyone. The laps were nice, because I was able to see Kirk, Barry, Mike, and his D3 athletes along the way. Suffering and misery like that really should be shared with others!

I sprinted the final quarter mile like Michael Jackson with his hair on fire and passed a lot of folks. The emotion at that time was something close to pure anger as I attacked the finish. The result was that the final 5.7 miles were the fastest that I managed in the marathon, at 10:27 min/mile. Huh?

What would you do differently?:

With a summer full of training, I should be able to build the endurance required to run this thing. I just didn't have it for this race, but I'm still pleased with the outcome.
Post race
Warm down:

I crossed the finish line and was surprised and thrilled to see Brent and Loren Johnson waiting to see me. The volunteers were very sensitive to health issues, which was terrific. They handed me a medal, a t-shirt, and alloweed my friends into the finishing area for pictures. This was just incredibly thoughtful, and I won't soon forget the gentleman who helped me.

And I'm sure that the volunteer who took off my urine-soaked timing chip won't soon forget me, either. Poor guy!

I wandered through the food area and grabbed some pizza, but just couldn't eat. Found Mike Ricci very quickly and was very surprised to learn that he hadn't been waiting there for hours. The other D3 athletes, Barry, and Kirk worked their way in to join us, and Kirk and I made it out by 11:30... in time to stop by In&Out burger for something edible!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The heat and wind were insane. This race really required a higher degree of fitness, endurance, stamina, and mental toughness than the other three. Having completed this beast, I feel confident about anything else like this that I may ever tackle.

If I build up my endurance for both the swim and the run, and make some modifications to my swim speed, there's a good chance that I will beat this time on my return trip to this course in November.

Event comments:

On the way home from Ironman Arizona, I met the Sponsorship Director for the Janus Funds, who told me that this race had a 17.4% attrition rate, which is the third highest in Ironman history. The conditions really were absolutely brutal, and if this race was underestimated, competitors could easily find themselves in a world of trouble.

For Men 45-49 for example, there were 291 original entrants. Of those, 250 appear to have been listed as final entrants with perhaps 206 going off with the gun. 167 finished in under 17 hours, while 183 managed finishing times, even if it was after the cut-off (good for them!). 23 started, but did not finish. My thoughts are with the folks who didn't finish, and hope that they are aware of how unusually brutal this race was.

Anyway, I made it out of this race with another Ironman personal best, beating Kona by about 13 minutes. Really happy with that, and pleased to have four Ironman races down toward my goal of five. I was also happy to keep moving up in the overall standings throughout the race: 974th after the swim, 761st after the bike, and 566th overall.

That forward momentum will be the key to carrying me through this exciting 2008 racing season! The start couldn't possibly have gone any better for me.

Last updated: 2007-06-10 12:00 AM
01:15:21 | 3862 meters | 01m 57s / 100meters
Age Group: 92/291
Overall: 0/2555
Performance: Good
Suit: BlueSeventy
Course: Counter-clockwise rectangle in Tempe Town Lake, past carp, toxic residue, dead bodies.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 68F / 20C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 08:26
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
06:18:01 | 112 miles | 17.78 mile/hr
Age Group: 77/291
Overall: 0/2555
Performance: Good
Wind: Headwind with gusts
Course: Three loops that basically went from Phoenix out into the desert and back. It was basically a long, slow climb into the wind, followed by a long, gradual decent back into town.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 86
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 06:08
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Average
04:49:21 | 26.2 miles | 11m 02s  min/mile
Age Group: 54/291
Overall: 0/2555
Performance: Average
Course: Three times around a nasty figure eight around the Tempe Town lake, entirely exposed to the sun and featuring one stretch of raw sewage and another by some stables.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %4
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
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

2008-04-16 12:14 PM

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Subject: Ironman Arizona

2008-04-16 12:24 PM
in reply to: #1342108

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
sounds like you had a strong race in brutal conditions. Great way to start the season
2008-04-16 12:38 PM
in reply to: #1342108

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Mesa, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Was the tube/lever/CO2 pack you lost possibly a tubular? We found one on the course (working as bike pointers) and it SAVED the race for another fellow.

YOU ROCKED THAT RACE!!! It was awful out there, and you were FLYING! REALLY great times on all 3 events. You should be insanely proud of what you did out there.
2008-04-16 12:45 PM
in reply to: #1342108

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Entertaining RR as always. Actually, if you could just race so you can write RRs for the rest of us to read, we'd appreciate it. Great job on finishing in a brutal day out there!
2008-04-16 12:54 PM
in reply to: #1342108

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Santa Cruz, California
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

CONGRATULATIONS! I was there as support to a family member and just want you to know how inspiring you are to me and others who can not imagine enduring the heat, wind and distance you did!

YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! four times over! that is insane! but in a good way! kiu! one more to go, eh? wow! that is incredible!

Great going!!!!!

2008-04-16 12:59 PM
in reply to: #1342108

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Atlanta, Georgia
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Michael Jackson's hair..HA!

After doing Great Floridian and Silverman you deserved an easier day - Sorry the weather had other ideas. Yeah, tough day but still a good feeling.



2008-04-16 1:46 PM
in reply to: #1342108

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Portland, OR
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Wow - impressive race. Congrats on great execution throughout the tough day!
2008-04-16 1:53 PM
in reply to: #1342108


Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
great report and amazing race. enjoy the new tan lines.
2008-04-17 7:41 AM
in reply to: #1342108

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Millersville, MD
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Great race and RR - I really enjoyed reading it.  Congrats on the new PR as well!
2008-04-17 9:36 AM
in reply to: #1342108

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Science Nerd
Redwood City, California
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Congratulations on a great race and the new PR!!
2008-04-17 9:50 AM
in reply to: #1342108

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Extreme Veteran
Jacksonville, FL
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

As one of them and on behalf of all of the 45-49 age groupers in triathlon land, we are proud of your accomplishment...congratulations Ironman!

2008-04-17 9:52 PM
in reply to: #1342108

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Flagstaff, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona


I'm impressed, particularly the run.  The heat and wind seemed to take about everything out of all of us.  The fact that you went under 5 hours is awesome.  Most of us were struggling to figure out how to maintain a 15 minute mile.

I'm looking forward to November as well.  I'm sure you will crush that time in November.

Great job.

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