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Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
Ironman North America
72F / 22C
Total Time = 12h 03m 33s
Overall Rank = 912/2400
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 187/450
Pre-race routine:

This race report is more of a race journey. I'll apologize now that this is such a long race report. A little background is required to understand my mindset going into this race. Several years ago I decided to attempt my first half marathon and was asked if I would consider doing doing an Ironman. The Ironman had just come to Arizona a year before. At the time I was asked about doing an Ironman, my athletic ability was nonexistent and I weighed 280 pounds. I can't explain how humiliated I felt trying run more than a mile and doing 13 of them was a fantasy. Now someone was asking me about this race that only superhuman people do. I just said no and went on to do my half marathon. I did it again the following year and then did a full marathon a year after that. Over the years I would see Ironman Arizona come through town since I live in Tempe. I would always think about being asked about Ironman and that feeling of inadequacy. But now I had done a marathon and that must count for something. I hadn't been on a bike in years and didn't know how to swim, and I'm not overstating that either. I had never learned how to swim and would not get in a pool unless there was an inflatable object coming with me. How could someone like me even consider this lunacy?

I asked my wife (rotorkim) if she would be support me if I decided to do this and she said yes. I would not have gone down this road if she wasn't on board. She is my best friend, knows me better than anybody and understands my strange requests. She gave me the green light and I registered on April 14, 2008. Well, now I had to learn how to swim, buy a bike and learn to ride it. I promptly went down to the gym and enrolled in a beginning swim class. Talk about an ego buster. Jumping in the pool and being three times taller than the rest of the class. A month later I could do 25 meters. This was going to take a lot of work! At the same time I went and bought a bike with yet another embarrassing moment having to ask the sales guy how to shift gears. I continued to learn and train everyday. I still needed to see if I could get into a lake and not drown. At this point I still didn't know anyone in the sport and thought it would be a good idea to meet some. A few minutes online and I came across BT. This was convenient and everyone seemed nice. So I tagged along at an open water swim with a few people from the ESCKTC (East Side Cool Kids Tri Club).

After several months and not looking too much like an idiot, I registered for all my preparation races for IMAZ. Every race was to be learning experience for the big day. I did a few sprints, an Olympic, Oceanside 70.3 and Vineman 70.3. Along the way my times were getting better and I was having fun meeting great people. I also want to point out that Kim joined me in the triathlon lifestyle and even did Vineman with me. How cool is that! My training was on track and was consistently adjusting my HR zones and race goals. At this point I just needed to log my long rides and runs.

On September 20 (62 days to IMAZ), Elliot (elliot85) and I were off to do a 115 mile ride and it would be my first time breaking the century mark. The first 30 miles went by with nice weather and good conversation. We just started down some switchbacks and we see an accident scene with several vehicles off to the side. As I come up to corner an ambulance pulls out taking away my lane so I turned to avoid the ambulance, resulting in a blown tire. I don't have any memory of what happened next. But I apparently went over my handlebars, hitting my chest and then striking the ground with my head and right shoulder. The GPS said I went from 33 mph to 0 in about six feet. The good news was that the paramedics were right there and stabilized me since I was convulsing and unresponsive. I took a short ambulance trip up the hill where I met the helicopter that flew me down to the trauma center. I finally regained consciousness later that day in the hospital. I was very tired but was feeling OK and asked when I could leave. It turns out that morphine has a way of masking the pain. They told me I had internal brain bleeding, a broken eye socket, a compound fractured clavicle and bruised ribs. I remembered asking one of the MANY doctors that came through if I could still do Ironman. I was devastated. At the time I couldn't understand the severity of the injuries and even told my boss I would be at work the next day. All I knew was that I was broken and causing my family and friends undue strain. It was the most helpless feeling I have ever experienced, but I also really learned how great the people are in my life. The hospital kept giving me CT scans to watch the bleeding and did a quick surgery to clean out the clavicle fracture. They couldn't do a repair with all the road rash so that would have to wait. Three days later they discharged me from ICU.

I scheduled an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to fix my clavicle. He shot an x-ray and suggested plating it. I agreed but needed the road rash to heal more. The surgery date came on October 9 (44 days to IMAZ). This should have been a simple procedure but it wasn't. I came out of anesthesia from a 3 1/2 hour operation and was told by the surgeon that I was the worst shoulder operation he had ever done and he had to do a non-typical plate installation. I guess the shoulder took such a hard hit that it shattered the entire end of the clavicle and resulted in the loss of the AC joint. His plan was to temporarily fuse the remainder of the clavicle to the scapula. Two weeks with a sling and a lot of pain I got another x-ray to find out the plate pulled out of the scapula and was pushing up on my skin (27 days to IMAZ). More depression sitting in his office with road rash that still isn't healing and a plate that has to come out. Later that week I went back for another operation to remove the plate (22 days to IMAZ). Now the plate is out and I was told that he didn't have any other options for me but leave it. I had only one question "Can I do any more damage?" Nope, it's already broken.

Let the training begin. I lost a total of 7 weeks of training and had some catching up to do. I first needed to get my arm moving since I had a lot of muscle atrophy in the right arm and was now missing bone and the AC joint. A quick trip to a physical therapist helped get my arm rotated enough to get in the pool try a swim stroke. I knew I had 2:20 to get out of that water and it was time to make it happen. The next hurdle was to get on the bike trainer. The pressure on the arm just thumped my shoulder but at least I was training. I couldn't even think about the aero position since my chest hurt so bad with the rib bruising. The time flew by trying to get in enough training.

Just to see whether I could do the swim, I signed up for a 4000m swim in Tempe Town Lake two weeks before IMAZ. The broken shoulder was compounded by the fact that my road rash still hadn't healed. It turned out that the wound had incurred a staph infection, and I was nervous about swimming in TTL with an open wound. So I put a thin bandage over the wound and smeared it with Aquaphor to keep the wetsuit from chafing the wound too badly. It turned out well -- I finished the 4000m in 1:36, so I felt more confident about the swim.

I thought about getting to that start line for 550 days and did my best everyday to make that happen and nothing was going to keep from racing!
Event warmup:

Woke up at 4:00 AM and ate my typical bagel and banana. Got to to transition and checked the bike to find a flat rear tire. Walked it down to Landis and they put a new tube in for me.
  • 1h 28m 25s
  • 3862 meters
  • 02m 17s / 100 meters

Staged myself next to one of the bridge supports and just relaxed until the gun went off. Since I lost a lot of endurance and speed due to my injury, I just tried to stay very relaxed, enjoy the ride to T1 and protect my shoulder.
What would you do differently?:

Not much since I did better than I thought would.
Transition 1
  • 10m 19s

Normally my transitions have been very good but I must have lost my mind during the swim. I was so confused when I got to the tent but finally got it all sorted out and made my way to the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Be more focused.
  • 6h 02m 53s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.52 mile/hr

I was happy to be starting on this segment of the race but was worried about how I would perform. I wanted to stay comfortable on the first lap and was doing a good job of pacing until the Beeline. My rear derailleur would not let me downshift and kept me from my 5 lowest gears. I did my best taking it easy by lowering my cadence but that wouldn't last. I knew I had to make it to bike support on the next loop. They fixed me up and was on my way. Going back up the Beeline I end up flatting my front wheel. I allowed myself a moment of frustration and got to work. I wasn't going to stop at special needs but needed the spare tire just in case. As I slid the tube and CO2 in my seat bag, the zipper broke. I was wearing a jersey and a nice volunteer shoved everything in my rear pockets. I couldn't believe all the problems I was having and just had to laugh. It was a beautiful day and I was still racing and I wouldn't let anything diminish that feeling. I took a moment and cheered as I past the century mark. I finally got there.
What would you do differently?:

Not much.
Transition 2
  • 04m 32s

I felt I could redeem myself from T1. Got my bag, changed my top and put on my shoes.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe pick up the pace but on this day I wasn't in to much of a rush.
  • 4h 17m 24s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 49s  min/mile

My new goal for this segment of this segment was to hold a 10 min/mile. The majority of the race was now over, and I felt pretty positive that I would see a finish line sometime. I was very nervous about my knees since they were still sore from my two-week return-to-training program. I had Bio-Freeze with me and was happy to see the Dr. Hoys tent at the first aid station. The aid stations were awesome and I was just looking forward to each one of them. My family and friends were a great jump start each time I looped around. Three miles from the finish line Ken (swimming480) gives me a shout out. We end up running the rest of the race together. It was a so much fun to run the end of the race with a BT friend. There was a short lull in finishers when we got to the turn-off and I was told to enjoy the moment. I figured we would give Mike Riley time between names so Ken went down first and I followed and enjoyed every second of that finish line.
What would you do differently?:

Not drink coke at every aide station. I was so excited every time someone said soda and every time I left the aide station I would regret it. This went on for the last 20 miles.
Post race
Warm down:

Kim was volunteering as a finish line catcher and made sure she was there when I crossed the finish line. That was so very cool! We walked backed and I saw my boss and his wife and they congratulated me. I was in so much pain so it was good to talk to someone to keep my mind off of it. I just can't say so how happy I was to just make it to this race and now I was at the finish line an hour ahead of my new race goal. Last year when I started this journey all I wanted was the satisfaction of seeing the finish line and here I was but it pales in comparison to the the numerous friends I made getting here. Thank you Kim and all of my BT friends for such a wonderful journey.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Taking a header of the bike seven weeks before race day.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-11-04 12:00 AM
01:28:25 | 3862 meters | 02m 17s / 100meters
Age Group: 303/450
Overall: 1794/2400
Performance: Good
Suit: 2XU Wetsuit
Course: Rectangular
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 64F / 18C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Bad
Time: 10:19
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Bad Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
06:02:53 | 112 miles | 18.52 mile/hr
Age Group: 261/450
Overall: 1336/2400
Performance: Average
Wind: Some with gusts
Road: Smooth  Cadence: 90
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 04:32
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:17:24 | 26.2 miles | 09m 49s  min/mile
Age Group: 187/450
Overall: 912/2400
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Good Drinking Too much
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
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

2009-11-25 8:36 AM

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Subject: Ironman Arizona

2009-11-25 8:57 AM
in reply to: #2530795

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
I've already told you this several times, but you were a huge inspiration to me throughout my training and on race day. I knew there was a point of the race where I'd have to dig deep and ask myself, "Why the hell am I even out here?" I thought about how much dedication and determination it took for you to come back from the accident. TRULY AMAZING. Everyone I talk (co workers, family, friends) are so impressed with you. Anyways, great race report... and good job beating your goal by an hour! I knew you were going to crush your 13 hr goal! Hope you're recovering well. We need to start training again soon
2009-11-25 9:00 AM
in reply to: #2530795

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Goodyear, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

It has been a pleasure getting to know you and Kim, but I had no idea of your long term background getting into this. I guess I assumed that you were always a runner/cyclist! What a journey you had to get  to this race and what an amazing performance!

I looked out for you on the course but didnt see you until your last run lap, you ran past my Tri group tent as we were taking pictures, so I called after you. It was so good to see you moving so well!

Congrats Ironman!  

2009-11-25 10:30 AM
in reply to: #2530795

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Phoenix, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
I've been calling you an animal for almost a year now. You are a complete MANimal! I spent all day Sunday bragging to strangers about you. Yours is a great story, and you should be really proud of your determination.

Now get to recovery. You'll need it for IMSG!
2009-11-25 11:09 AM
in reply to: #2530795

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Extreme Veteran
Phoenix, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

Awesome Dean! Your story of starting racing is great and it is so amazing the you were out there even after your accident! It's been great training with you and Kim this past year.

2009-11-25 11:39 AM
in reply to: #2530795

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Chandler, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Dean, I enjoyed reading your background. I recall the time you posted some pictures when you were heavy and my jaw dropped. I was cheering for a speedy recovery each day after your accident and told several friends about your efforts to make it to the start line.

I am proud of you. You earned the title of Ironman.

I look forward to many more races with you.

2009-11-25 2:17 PM
in reply to: #2530795

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Peoria, AZ (Near Lake Pleasant)
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

See - you can't keep a good broken man down!  Great times this year Dean before and during the event!

2009-11-25 3:26 PM
in reply to: #2530795

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
What can I say Dean?  You are truly a super-human.  It was a hard road getting here for you and you overtook a nasty injury to crush this race!!!  Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

2009-11-26 6:25 AM
in reply to: #2530795

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Surprise, Arizona
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

Dean - you define Ironman more than anyone I know.  What you went through just to get to the start line is mind numbing.  I am so proud that I was able to be out there with someone like you.  You are an inspiration, and I can't wait to see what the coming years hold in store for you.  Great job, and congratulations!!!!!!

2009-11-26 9:45 AM
in reply to: #2530795

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Fishers, Indiana
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
What a phenomenal story of not just physical endurance, but mental endurance and focus!! I am simply amazed at how, despite some pretty overwhelming obstacles that would've shut most people down for this, you stayed the course and you did awesome!! Wow, I'm so impressed, and this is totally what makes Ironman so incredible.  Congratulations Ironman, you showed it in much more ways than just finishing 140.6!!
2009-11-26 9:17 PM
in reply to: #2530795

Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Awesome Job Dean! I worried about you a lot, but you did it! I am so glad it all ended hapily for you! NOW...better start getting ready for IMSG! Haha!

2009-11-27 9:33 AM
in reply to: #2530795

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Wellington, North Island
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Wow! Your story is amazing! Congratulations on overcoming the challenges and racing strong!
2009-11-27 10:18 AM
in reply to: #2530795

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Wow your journey to get to the starting line is amazing..not swimming or biking then having a bad bike crash with multiple surgeries so close to start of race...amazed that you could race...mental toughness and desire on your part for sure were keys to success and finish!

Impressive bike and swim splits for new to the sport and the accident..geez...awesome!

Congratulations Ironman!

I hope deep down you have an overwhelming sense of accomplishment as most who were in your situation would not have a finishers medal and t-shirt but would have been DNS.
2009-11-27 1:43 PM
in reply to: #2530795

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Extreme Veteran
Ft. Myers, Florida
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Absolutely incredible story.  Congratulations Ironman.
2009-11-29 10:32 PM
in reply to: #2530795

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Amazing Dean.  We met at the pre-swim before SOMA. Rick introduced us and I was amazed at the story of your accident.  You said that day there is a 1% chance you would start IMAZ but you would give it a shot by stepping into the water.  I still remember your shoulder all bandaged up and the pain you were in.  I was glad to hear you were going to race and saw some of your training in your logs and was amazed at your determination.  Your story is inspiring and motivating.  You earned the title "IRONMAN" and deserve the title of "TITANIUM MAN".

Thank you for sharing your story in your race report.  Makes my knee pain seem like a splinter compared to what you overcame.
2009-11-29 11:00 PM
in reply to: #2530795

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San Diego, CA
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Wow, what a comeback ... I'm adding you to my hero list. Well done! Congrats on an amazing finish.

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