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Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
Ironman North America
72F / 22C
Total Time = 13h 09m 32s
Overall Rank = 1357/2361
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 177/302
Pre-race routine:

Those that read this, and can suffer the length, get a two-fer...this race report will cover both MOO and IMAZ.

Going back to August, the 20th specifically, I had finished the Alumni Cross Country run for my high school (South Milwaukee, Go Rockets!) earlier in the morning and was onto the second part of a long bike ride, deeply into the heavy training section for MOO. I would not get to the planned third loop. In short, my bike and I tangled with a car and we lost.

Outwardly the bike did not seem too badly damaged - front fork was fractured and the front wheel slightly potato chipped - but upon further investigation, the bike frame and many other components needed to be replaced. Technically the bike I rode for MOO and IMAZ was my old one, just "repaired", but it had more new stuff on it than old, kinda like Steve Austin.

Thankfully the body did not suffer any major damage - minor road rash, a few cuts, knees banged up, and some nasty leg bruising that lasted about four weeks. While the melon was well protected by the bike helmet which sacrificed itself to the tune of more than a dozen fractures and cracks, I had a bad case of vertigo. My advice, bike with a helmet. Always!

So the run-up to MOO was a race against time to get the bike repaired and the body healed. It wasn't until the Tuesday or Wednesday prior to MOO that I was able to test the most heavily bruised right leg on the bike and the run. It felt good enough to convince me to give MOO a whirl and I really wanted to participate given the date of the race (9/11), but the prior three weeks saw little to no training, so this was going to be interesting.

Bear with me, reader, IMAZ is coming soon...

MOO 2011 dawns brightly and the race is on. Swim went fine as I wanted to take it nice and easy. Onto the bike and same plan...nice and easy. In short, many things were not right about the bike - I got behind on hydration and nutrition, the bike fit was probably not 'quite' right, the weather was warm, my back and neck did not like the aero position and my mental attitude was not where it needed to be to finish either the bike or the subsequent run.

I reached the penalty box just after the turn for the second loop and shut it down. I took the built-in excuse (the crash) and quit. At the time it felt like the right thing to do and even in retrospect it still does.

So having quit MOO, I had something to prove to myself. It was within a day or so of MOO that I called Lauren Jensen, a very successful pro that lives nearby and runs the Trifaster program, with the intention of signing up with her to coach me through IMAZ 2011 and MOO 2012. I had taken an Ironman clinic with her and her husband in the lead-up to MOO '09, so I felt comfortable with her approach and coaching style - we agreed to a coach/athlete arrangement and the prep for IMAZ began.

So, here we are, thinking about the weeks between MOO and IMAZ. I was able to get in some decent efforts and volume during October and 'life' got in the way only to a minor degree. My son and I made arrangements to travel to Arizona together without my wife who was unable to get away from work long enough. To make the situation more convenient, the Weningers, God bless them, offered to sherpa my bike to Arizona, saving me a big hassle and big expense.

A quick aside as I publicly thank Terri and Clint for their generosity in taking my bike to/from the race, for allowing my son to hang with Terri and their kids during the race, to Terri and the other family members that cheered for Clint, his brother Joel and me during the race, and for their general goodness and friendship. Being in Arizona we were a long way away from other friends and family and they stood in for all with distinction, support and generosity.

My son and I arrived in Phoenix very late Thursday night/Friday morning. Friday morning we hit up two bike shops for some supplies before heading to the race site where I completed check-in by 11:00a or so. Either I hit the check-in process at precisely the right time, or the IMAZ volunteers have it figured out! I was done in probably 30-40 minutes. To contrast, MOO both years was at least an hour-long ordeal including this year when I was probably within 10 people of the back of the line at 4:00p when I would have thought the crowds would have thinned. I did notice that they did not weigh the athletes as they do at MOO.

Contacted Clint and made arrangements to pick up the bike. I had the chance to meet some of the Weninger family and their spouses then as there was a family wedding in town. After bike retrieval we headed back to the hotel for some downtime before trying to find a place for dinner. I wanted some Italian and my son wanted to head into downtown Phoenix. Using "Urban Spoon", he found a couple of nice-looking places and we drove in from Scottsdale. First place - shutdown. Second place - shutdown. At this point we decided to drive back to Scottsdale and to the third choice...wait for it...shutdown! So instead we found a bar and grill. The server recommended a pizza/pasta place nearby which we hit on Saturday night.

On Saturday morning we drove in for the practice swim. The water was cold, but tolerable. Swam for about 15 minutes, out then over to The Tavern on Mill for a late breakfast and some college football watching, then I dropped off the bike and gear bags. Nappy time at the hotel, then to dinner at Oreganos. A restless night and I beat the 4:00a alarm.
Event warmup:

It was a quick ride to the race site. Five minutes to prep the bike and in the meantime I was hoping to run into a rack mate that has the same surname. We competed together at MOO this year, but I never saw him. Our bib numbers at AZ were consecutive. I enjoy geneology and thought to myself, "who knows, distant relative, maybe? A chance meeting wasn't to be.

Found Terri and the crew and waited for Clint and Joel to finish their bike preps. On with the wetsuit earlier than normal (it was cold that morning and I was not properly dressed) then to the start line. We made it into the water very quickly after they opened for the AG'ers and we set ourselves at the far left buoy and about five yards back. The national anthem, the clearing of the kayaks from the start line and "BOOM", we are off!
  • 1h 19m 39s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 53s / 100 yards

As Clint, Joel and I were waiting to enter the water, we all predicted about 1:19 out of the water and by gosh, if we didn't all come out within 45 seconds of each other and within a minute of 1:19. Price is Right Showcase Showdown should be our next stop!

Jostling was as expected. My sighting seemed pretty good, better than at MOO. Might of been a function of the narrowness of the course and the nearby topography on both sides. Settled largely into a two-stroke breathing pattern, mostly to the left side, although I switched it up to the right on occasion.
Transition 1
  • 08m 42s

Clint and I exited the water within seconds of each other and made our way through transition together. Joel was a few seconds ahead of us. Full house inside the changing tent (that's what you get when you are a slow swimmer), so find a spot outside the brain said to the body.

Here I made the mistake of not cleaning the wheels well enough - some pieces of grass got inside my socks and this would cause issue on the run. Other than that, transition was uneventful.
  • 5h 48m 31s
  • 112 miles
  • 19.28 mile/hr

What to say...on a stand alone basis, the bike looks pretty solid. In totality (bike+run), I overcooked the bike. Target was a solid Z2 effort (145 ish HR) and on average I was probably pushing 150 bpm.

Onto the bike, out of transition and I hear Terri yell, "Go Force", but I didn't see her, my son or the rest of the cheering squad.

The outward side of the first loop was into a slight wind but the turnaround at Shea came quickly. The ride back to town was fun as the wind was tailing and it was slightly downhill for several miles after the turnaround. The course certainly lived up to its "flat" reputation, though.

The ride into town on Rio Salgado was fun and the crowds at the turn-around were loud and supportive. Hit the first loop in 1:53 and I had images of a 5:40 split in my mind. To add to the delusion, the wind turned to the south by this time which made the outward side of loop two faster than the first (and here I though I was just getting stronger). The turn back to town was like a hard slap to the face - what had been upper 20's speed-wise from the turnaround was more like low 20's. The wind was buffeting me around and for those who know me, I'm no feather weight, so no small task for the wind. I saw the cheering squad about five miles out from the end of loop two. The second loop ended with no gain in time towards my delusional goal of 5:40 but I had made it past the quit point at MOO (not that it really entered my mind to quit AZ).

Loop three had the south wind and I still felt good. Saw the cheering squad at about the same time as I think Clint was passing the other direction. Saw a dude and chick wearing Packer gear soon thereafter and they informed me the Packers had beaten Tampa Bay to go 10-0. Cool. I welcomed the 90 mile marker on the climb up to Shea but it felt like 30 miles to get to the 100 mile marker. The wind was still into our faces and my back was starting to object to the aero position. Hip flexors were tightening and toes needed frequent "thawing".

By the end of loop three the crowds on Salgado had dwindled and were now out on the run course. Off the bike and a slow walk into transition. Found plenty of room in the changing tent. Nothing much to do other than put on a hat and the running shoes. It was clear at this point the run was going to be a struggle, but I wanted the hardware and the other finisher stuff.

What would you do differently?:

I'd like to use the three week down-time after the crash as an excuse, but I already used it. Truth is, I have much to learn about pacing a long-course event. Nutrition was spot-on, 1/4 sections of pop-tarts every 30 minutes, supplemented with sips of Gatorade Endurance on the 10's for both calories and hydration, but I went too hard chasing an unrealistic goal.
Transition 2
  • 05m 11s
  • 5h 47m 29s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 16s  min/mile

As it turned out, I had lot's of time to think and many opportunities to people watch and observe during the run portion.

Came upon a Tri-WI athlete in the first mile. Said "hello", chatted a bit, started running again, stopped to walk and he passed me. Never did get his name or see him again. Joel caught me before the 3 mile mark and he was running strongly. Off he went. I trudged along, mostly walking, but some running and by this time it felt as though I had blisters on the balls of both feet (it would prove to be true). Cola and water at every aid station. Tried grapes and oranges a few times, but they didn't settle well.

Finished the first loop and then saw my son, Terri and the rest of the crew. The boy asked if I was going to finish (I probably looked pretty bad). I said, "yes, but it's going to be awhile". Truth was, I had thoughts of heading down the chute early and calling it a day, but the thought of that dang medal spurred me onward as did a promise to myself of a beer at the Tavern on Mill after the finish (I enjoyed a nice IPA there on Saturday and wanted another). Clint caught me at about the 13 mile mark, just before the bridge at the far east end of the course. We walked and ran together through the aid station just past Papago park and then he was gone.

The crowd support in and around transition was fantastic - it felt a little bit like running the gauntlet with people pressing in from both sides, yelling, cheering, etc. I felt guilty about walking through this section each time so I trudged my way through.

There were other things that stuck in my head as I plodded along. The Donkey head, game changer jersey garnered many comments and compliments. One of the hot prison matrons at one of the water stops said she liked the donkey. The feeling was mutual...The jersey and I got a shout-out coming into the aid station beneath the freeway just after Papago park - that was cool. I felt badly for the course volunteers at the far NE end where the sewer gas smell was overpowering. Blech.

About the course itself, I don't care for courses where I can see where I need to go and this course was pretty wide open with views across the river and long straight stretches - mentally tough for me. The course also had some pretty rough spots with large stones/gravel underfoot, making the blister situation worse.

Completed lap two, saw the boy and the cheering group again. Again committed to finishing, but I wanted it over - the running stretches became longer and soon I'm to the 25 mile mark and the aid station just after it. After a quick gulp of water and cola, I committed to running the remaining amount. I caught up to another racer and we chatted. He's a first time Ironman and a Marine from Dallas. He's on loop two. By now, the crowd support at transition is down to just a few die hards but for me the motivator is the turn left into the finishing section.

I saw the boy and the cheering group just before the chute and gave the boy a fist bump. Down the chute and a few hand slaps. A quick look over my shoulder and I thought I had a clear shot to the finish line. Nope, a chick blew past me in the last ten yards to finish a step or two ahead.

Ramon did the catching, we talked a bit. Medal/hat/shirt/photo and they shooed me off to the food tent. Signed up for a massage which I skipped. Grabbed a bottle of chocolate milk of which I drank one sip. The boy found me and soon after Terri found us both. The boy and I gathered the bike and bags, Terri took the bike from me and it's mostly done.

I was not feeling up to staying around to see any other finishers (Joel and Clint were already done) so the boy and I left the race site and lucked upon a bike rickshaw driver with nothing to do. "Jim" was originally from Wisconsin and did the rickshaw thing at Lambeau Field. So we hopped aboard and he delivered us to our car (three blocks away) - that was a nice ride. We parked just in front of the Tavern, but I wasn't in the mood for the beer I promised myself. Back to the hotel, a quick shower and into bed I went.

Post race
Event comments:

Sitting here, about five days after, nursing a major sinus/ear infection, I have mixed thoughts about my performance. The superficial analysis and resultant thought is one of mild disappointment - the course was easier than MOO but my time was more than an hour slower. A more thorough evaluation (and being honest with myself) says I was under-trained (compared to MOO '09 and to the event itself) and paced poorly to (inconsistent with) the level of my training.

So, I have about nine months of solid training time available prior to MOO '12. I have a great coach and a desire to get as much as possible out of her guidance and my physical abilities up to and through race day.

"And that's all I got to say about that..."

Last updated: 2011-02-11 12:00 AM
01:19:39 | 4224 yards | 01m 53s / 100yards
Age Group: 147/302
Overall: 1146/2361
Performance: Average
Suit: ProMotion Full
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 62F / 17C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 08:42
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
05:48:31 | 112 miles | 19.28 mile/hr
Age Group: 108/302
Overall: 836/2361
Performance: Below average
Wind: Some
Course: An out/back to the NE of town.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 05:11
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:47:29 | 26.2 miles | 13m 16s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/302
Overall: 0/2361
Performance: Bad
Course: Three loops around the lake and through a nearby park.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2011-11-26 5:58 PM

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Living in the past
Subject: Ironman Arizona

2011-11-26 6:07 PM
in reply to: #3915758

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Wind Lake WI
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Nice comeback from MOO.
2011-11-26 6:27 PM
in reply to: #3915758

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Verona WI--Ironman Bike Country!
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
One of the best RR's I've ever read. I love your brutal honesty and sarcasm about MOO and your performance at IMAZ.  I am glad to see you back at it and going strong for MOO '12.  See you there!
2011-11-26 10:15 PM
in reply to: #3915758

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
I'm loving reading your report in all it's honesty. I'm seriously hoping for at least a 90 minute PR over MOO and reading about going too hard on the bike is a great reminder for me. Nice job with a solid finish. Rest, recover and repeat for next year.
2011-11-27 12:24 AM
in reply to: #3915758

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Muskego, Wisconsin
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Nice work.  Great job coming back from the crash.
2011-11-27 8:05 PM
in reply to: #3915758

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

Ironman-as much about the journey & the the finish..

noone bigger critic than self in honest moments..

I predict vengeance at MOO 2012....

Congratulations Ironman!




2011-11-28 10:20 AM
in reply to: #3915758

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Las Vegas
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
EPIC report and EPIC comeback!!  I really enjoyed the read! Cool
2011-11-29 2:13 PM
in reply to: #3915758

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
great comeback from MOO...congrats
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