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Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
Ironman North America
70F / 21C
Total Time = 12h 36m 7s
Overall Rank = 1076/2974
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 221/536
Pre-race routine:

This was an important race for me. This year has not been a very good one for me. Lost my job, got diagnosed with cancer, and had insurance problems. For a while, I was not even sure I would be able to be here!

But IMAZ was the one thing I could focus on for ME. Granted, training was a bit up in the air. I probably could have trained a bit harder, but it was hard to invest a BUNCH of effort if the doctor wouldn't let me race. So I hit all my traning sessions. Only missed one long bike. Got in all my long runs and swims. I DID take a couple weeks off a month out to travel with my wife to Europe, so that probably hurt my fitness some, but I needed balance.

So here we go. Time to pick apart the race. Sometimes I think it's a shame that I can take an overall great race, then get nitpicky and break it down and figure out what went wrong or what I could do better.

I set the alarm for 5am, made a cup of coffee and had some oatmeal and started to hydrate. Arrived at the parking area around 6am and started to make my move over to the transition area. Took my time to set up and get in to the wetsuit. There's really not too much to do at an Ironman since most of the pre race work is done the days before.

I did have ONE concern. When I woke, I had lower GI issues which got me worried. I had to spend some time on the toilet to get rid of everything. I think it was a combination of nerves and maybe some oily chips I had the night before as a snack. Things were a bit "loose", to put it mildly. BUT, I didn't need to worry. No issues for the entire race.
Event warmup:

None to speak of. Just jump in and swim a couple hundred yards to the start.
  • 1h 15m
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 47s / 100 yards

Because of the cold water, I decided to go with some ear plugs. I ended up losing them mid swim, but they were fantastic to help with the orignal shock. I lost them well after I was adjusted to the water. I know the water was cold, but I felt great then entire swim.

If there was any ACTUAL mistake I can think of during the entire race, it was here, before the start. I was a little slow getting over to the entry point and suddenly they were shouting for everyone to hurry up and get in the water because the cannon was about to fire.

At IMAZ, you have to jump off the edge of the sidewalk right into the freezing water! No way to "ease" into it! Anyway, I jumped in and tried to make my way to the front but the cannon fired when I was still about 100-150 yards from the start line.

I should have learned from IMSG because the same thing happend. The result? I probably took a couple minutes just swimming to the official start, fighting through the croud. The other result is I never found people to draft. The back has slower swimmers, so I spent the entire swim passing people.

I also made a decision while swimming to NOT draft. I find that I spend more energy trying to adjust to someone or finding feet to follow than if I can find a pocket of nice open water and get into my own goove/pace.

I swam super easy and relaxed - just like in training. It was my goal to get out of the water and through T1 in 90 minutes, so I had plenty of time. The only concern during the swim was my lower back really started to sieze up and get tight from the cold water. It didn't hurt my swim at all, but I worried about what the future would hold for the bike and run. I was also thinking about how I was looking forward to a nice long bike and run!
What would you do differently?:

FOR SURE, I need to get my ass in the water sooner and towards the front of the pack and find some faster swimmers to draft instead of swimming around slower swimmers all day.
Transition 1
  • 09m 36s

I usually pride myself with fast transitions, but I decided before the race, to take my time through the transitions. It's a long race, no reason to spike the HR just changing clothes. So I put on arm warmers, compression socks, gloves, sunscreen and caught my breath.

As a side note, there was a pretty long jog to T1. Maybe a 100 yards or so? That added a minute or so.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe I will try to speed it up a little, but I was pretty happy with it.
  • 5h 57m 4s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.82 mile/hr

I was worried about my back, but it didn't bother me at all. I settled on a nutrion plan of drinking only water and eating gels every 45 minutes. I have had issues with drinking only sports drinks in the past and I KNOW I have issues if I eat a bunch of solid food.

I was shooting for at LEAST a 6 hour bike ride with an average speed of 18.5 mph. However, to hit 12 hours total, I wanted to ride closer to 20mph and finish in 5.5 hours. I was a bit dissapointed that it took me an hour just to get to the first turn around but I DID enjoy hitting 32-35 mph on the way back down the hill!

Then this wind picked up for loops 2 and 3. It was nice to have a tailwind to climb back out, but it was a bit frustrating to have it slow my return down the hill by a couple MPH.

I kept my effort/HR in low Z3. I'm not sure if this was a mistake, but this may have been a LITTLE too hard of an effort? I feel pretty comfortable doing Z3 for that long and felt strong the entire ride. Legs felt good getting off the bike and overall I felt good.

I liked my nutrition plan, but I look back now, and still wonder if I got enough calories and fluids in. It's always hard to tell. More about this in the run section.

To sum up, I met my goal of a sub 6 hour bike split BUT I was a bit short of my my goal of being out of T2 at 7 hours. I wanted to give myself 5 hours to run to break 12 hours. I was out in 7:30, but I still thought I had a chance.

As a side note, I love the FLAT! It's nice to have an average speed so high for 112 miles. If I can average 16-17 in Vegas, I'm happy. To hit 19 in IMAZ was a boost! Also a comment about the loops. Mentally, I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the three loop system. I don't mind two loops, but it's a little bit discouraging to be 75 miles in, and STILL have to go back out.
What would you do differently?:

Lose weight! That's still my limiting factor.
Transition 2
  • 05m 45s

Again, took a couple extra minutes just to get settled. Long race, so no point in rushing.
  • 5h 08m 42s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 11m 47s  min/mile

I was out of T2 at 7:30. That gave me 4:30 to run the marathon and break 12 hours total. That's a 10min/mile pace and a bit faster than my training runs, but this IS a flat course.

I completely changed into a run outfit that I train in AND my LIVEstrong T-shirt to help with awareness. I got rid of the tri suit and put on running shorts and T-shirt and my racing flats (kept the compression socks)

The legs felt a little rubbery out of T2. I know this happens at every race, but it's always a bit concerning. Due to the nature of the course, I was still running about 10min/mile to the first check point. Still on target for breaking 12 hours! BUT, my back started to lock up again. I was getting really worried but there was hope. I hit mile 3 and there was a tent giving out a sports lotion to help with muscle pain. I had them douse my lower back with lotion. I want to say after another 10-15 minutes of running, the back felt MUCH better. Was it the lotion? Was it just getting warmed up and loose? Not sure, but I'll take it. There were a lot of ups and down the first 16-20 miles. I really felt good at 4.5 miles, then would sort of fall apart, then feel better, etc.

I switched to drinking water and energy drink at each aid station for the run. No more gels, which make me burp while running. I also LOVED the sponges! The heat also does a number on someone my size, so I was dousing myself with water the entire time the sun was out. I switched to broth and coke after the sun went down.

I was feeling ok for the first 16 miles, and still on pace for breaking 12 hours, but then I hit the "hill" for the second time. This is a section of the run that was a couple hundred meters long with a pretty good grade. I sort of cracked and walked up. I picked it back up on the downside, but I think I was spent for the day. I was just tired. I spent more and more time walking as the miles went by, and less and less time running.

I think when I saw that 12 hours was lost, I resigned to finishing without punishing myself.

Not my best IM marathon, but not the worst. I also spent my sweet time walking down the finish chute (Just like Mike Riley suggested)! I just soaked it in, high fives, looked around. However, I never heard my name called. BOO! I'm sure they did, but I just missed it.

Comment on the three loop course. It was a nice course, but mentally, it's still hard to be 18 miles in and hit lap three and know you still have 90 minutes or more to go. Also the constant reminders of the mile markers telling me how much further I have to go. IE, hit mile 15 then a minute later knowing that I will have to do another loop just to hit the 24 mile marker - if that makes sense.
Post race
Warm down:

Quickly got some food in me (first solid food in 13 hours or so). It's always hard to eat after that long of a day. I choaked down some pizza and french fries.

I did some stretching a quickly put on my morning clothes to get warm. I was shivering. I also signed up for a massage, but it was such a long wait, I decided just to get back to the hotel and take a long bath.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I'm not really sure. Obviously weight is an issue. I also look back and wonder if I went a bit too hard on the bike? But I felt good through the entire ride and half the run.

Did I not get enough calories or fluids? Maybe. I was pretty dehydrated. Fitness? Probably.

What's good to know, is there is nothing that really stands out as a problem/mistake, but I still second guess and speculate.

Event comments:

Overall, a FANTASTIC race. Beat my previous IM time by 2.5 hours. I always wonder what I could do on a flat course and my times showed it. Did I move up in standings? Not sure, need to check on that.

Did I go too hard? Was I undertained? Not enough fluids/calories. All are question marks. BUT, it's nice to know that I can't find any aspect that I can SPECIFICALLY say I screwed up. I good race, good exicution, good result. I checked the calories in a gel, and it's about 100. So I wast taking in about 125 calories per hour. Probably not enough? I should have tried to hit about 350. Next time it should be the gels, and half water and half energy drink. That COULD have been the reason I was spent with 10 miles left. BUT, at 10 miles left, maybe you are always tired???

Glad I signed up for next year!

Side note. LOVED some of the aid stations! Here I was, hurting, can't think about anything but being done, then just laugh at the people in costumes and some pretty hot/sexy girls in cop outfits or 60's attire! A great boost. Also, the crowd around the finish, not just the chute, but the along the course near the transitions was FANTASTIC! Lots of cheering. Always got me emotional, I know it was the exhaustion setting it, but loved it.

I may edit and add more as things come to mind. Later for now.

Last updated: 2011-03-30 12:00 AM
01:15:00 | 4224 yards | 01m 47s / 100yards
Age Group: 159/536
Overall: 0/2974
Performance: Good
Suit: Full
Course: IMAZ out and back
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 60F / 16C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 09:36
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
05:57:04 | 112 miles | 18.82 mile/hr
Age Group: 220/536
Overall: 0/2974
Performance: Good
Average HR was 156. Low Z3
Wind: Some
Course: IMAZ 3 loop course
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 05:45
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:08:42 | 26.2 miles | 11m 47s  min/mile
Age Group: 274/536
Overall: 0/2974
Performance: Average
Average HR was 139, Z1
Course: IMAZ three loop run course.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
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: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2011-11-22 1:44 PM

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Sin City
Subject: Ironman Arizona

2011-11-22 2:01 PM
in reply to: #3911956

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Extreme Veteran
Montreal, QC
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Awesome write up, Jim! Congrats again!
2011-11-22 2:23 PM
in reply to: #3911956

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Bartlett, TN
Gold member
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Great job Jim!  Makes me want to do IMAZ in 2013 maybe!
2011-11-22 3:46 PM
in reply to: #3911956

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Norwalk, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

Congrats Bro, great work!!!


2011-11-22 5:08 PM
in reply to: #3911956

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Congrats!!  So glad you got to the starting line and kicked this bad boy in the teeth!
2011-11-22 6:35 PM
in reply to: #3911956

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Redlands, CA
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

Great job out there! 

I had the same issue at the swim start but it probably helped me as I'm slow.  I was at SG as well that year.  I remember getting in the water stopping near the start, and wondering, 'where is everyone? I'm too slow to be in the front row.' then looking back to see half the field on land as the gun went.

Try not to nitpick every detail (I'm having that issue as well and fully agree with you), in the end, you finished an IM with cancer, beat your PR by 2.5 hours and had a great time!

2011-11-22 7:19 PM
in reply to: #3911956

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United States Military Academy
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Great race and report!  Way to keep things in perspective with all that is going on in your life!
2011-11-22 7:41 PM
in reply to: #3911956

Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Awesome job out there!  Wish I had gotten a shot of you, but it wasn't for lack of trying.  Take a day off to rest now.  OK, 2 days! 
2011-11-22 8:33 PM
in reply to: #3911956

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Great report and a nicely executed race. I look forward to racing with you next year.
2011-11-23 6:10 AM
in reply to: #3911956

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

Huge congrats on a fantastic race! 

I'm already way too excited to do this race next year... though I'll be the slow-poke finishing after you guys. 

2011-11-23 6:34 AM
in reply to: #3911956

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
G R E A T   J O B ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

2011-11-23 7:56 AM
in reply to: #3911956

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Surprise, Arizona
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
SUPER race, Jim - you totally nailed it.  I knew you would do well on this course - flatter courses favor Clydesdales, and you have already had good races on hilly courses at Silverman and St. George.  Great job - you overcame a lot just to get to the start line and turned in a stellar performance! 
2011-11-23 9:31 AM
in reply to: #3911956

Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Great Race.  Way to stick with it after having the personal issues to deal with.
2011-11-23 10:40 PM
in reply to: #3911956

Iron Donkey
, Wisconsin
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

So close to getting to that 12 hour mark!

Congratulations, Kido, and, yes, a FANTASTIC job!

Time to enjoy the recovery and reflect on your great race.

2011-11-25 4:29 PM
in reply to: #3911956

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Fishers, Indiana
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
What a way to put a real high mark on your year! You did a fantastic job! Congratulations and best wishes for 2012!!
2011-11-27 5:57 AM
in reply to: #3911956

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Muskego, Wisconsin
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
What a great finish to a tough year.  Well done.  Looking foward to what you do next year.

2011-11-29 6:41 AM
in reply to: #3911956

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Inspiring job, Kido!
2011-11-29 2:15 PM
in reply to: #3911956

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
2011-11-29 5:15 PM
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Parker, CO
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Truly inspiring!
2011-11-29 6:15 PM
in reply to: #3911956

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Las Vegas
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Congrats from a fellow IMAZ'er  and Las Vegan!  I love reading all these race reports - it puts me right back into the moment!  I can't believe I'm saying this but I miss it.
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