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Ironman Arizona - Triathlon

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
70F / 21C
Total Time = 11h 27m 27s
Overall Rank = 580/2704
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 72/216
Pre-race routine:

Forewarning - this is going to be a long race report. Basically all of 2013 was focused on IMAZ so a lot of hard work and emotion went into this race. I'm sure this is the same for many of the thousands who raced along side me on Sunday.

Race festivities started on Wednesday for me. I live in the Old Town Scottsdale area which is only 5 miles from Tempe Beach Park. I did a majority of my training on the IMAZ bike and run courses and also raced in 4 triathlons in 2013 that were on portions of the course. Needless to say, I was more than ready for IMAZ and I was like a kid on Xmas morning once race week arrived.

Anyways, on Wednesday, I took my wife down to Tempe to walk through the Ironman Village at Tempe Beach Park. It was impressive to see everything up and ready to go. Was definitely the calm before the storm. We then walked a mile down to PF Changs on Mill Ave and had a good dinner.

Thursday I worked a half day then headed down to Gordon Biersch on Mill to grab lunch and a beer with a couple of my Racelab teammates. I then walked down to Tempe Beach Park and got registered. Was relatively seamless although they forgot to put my transition and SN's bags in my backpack. Picked up the Welcome Dinner tickets for my family then sat through the completely unnecessary "mandatory" athlete briefing. Left before it was over and headed to Tribe Multisport to get my HED rental race wheels put on. This ended up being a great decision and I loved having nice wheels on race day. Got home and went out for my last workout before the race - 40 minute ride and 3-mile run. Everything felt great.

I had to head back to Ironman Village on Friday to get my bags and register my nephew for the kids run. Got in and out fairly quickly then headed home for a quick nap. Got to Tribe Multisport at 2:30pm for their annual IMAZ party which was a great time. Hung out with some teammates, Tribe employees, and several others. They provided a great spread of food and I also threw back a couple beers. Don't change anything on race week, right? There were also a ton of pros there including Matty Reed, Pedro Gomes, Jordan Rapp, Trevor W, and several others. Good times... That night was also the IMAZ Welcome DInner. My mom, sister, and nephew all flew in right before and joined myself, my wife, and both sets of grandparents. It was good to have everyone there to experience some of the inspiring stories and hear why others were racing. I'm pretty sure most my family was still confused at why I wanted to do this but I think they were really touched by what they saw. Stayed the entire dinner and was home by 9pm.

I tried to sleep in on Saturday but no dice. My dipsh!t landscaper showed up at 7am and started pounding on my door at 7am even though my wife specifically told him not to knock as I was sleeping. He was already on thin ice so that sealed his fate. Don't wake up someone who is trying to get one last good night of sleep before competing in an Ironman, especially when you were told not to. You're fired

I was on strict orders not to do the practice swim on Saturday which I was totally fine with. I did a 4,000M OWS race the week before so I was familiar with the water temps. I wouldn't benefit from doing the practice swim so I just took it easy at home and double and triple checked my transition bags before heading to Tempe Beach Park. Got down there around 10:30am which was kind of a mistake. Ended up waiting in a HUGE line that snaked throughout the entire IM Village. Not exactly ideal when by yourself and trying to navigate with a bike and two full transition bags. Oh well, my mind was elsewhere anyways.

I checked everything in and was very happy with my bike, T1, and T2 locations. My T1 & T2 bags were at the very front of the line and were extremely easy to locate. We also had volunteers who would bring us our bike which made me feel like a pro. I walked over and met up with my teammates where we hung out for a bit before our team lunch.

Headed home real quick and picked up my family. We then made our way to Oreganos in Old Town for our Racelab team lunch where our coach lined up Mark freakin Allen to speak to us. How awesome is that? There were only 23 of us racing so it was a very small group. He gave a great speech, talking mainly about his days racing and how he overcame his many obstacles. His main emphasis was quieting our minds when we entered darks stretches. He hammered this home when talking about how he wanted to quit when he was 13 minutes back off the bike at his last Kona win. His mind kept telling him to quit but he kept pushing forwards and focused on staying quiet. This would be a huge help to me as I continually told myself to shut up over the last 13 miles of the run.

Headed home after lunch and immediately hit the couch. Turned on the NBC Kona coverage which was awesome to watch but also brought anxiety. They kept showing participants getting injured, suffering flat tires, GI issues, etc. Brought on negative thoughts which kind of sucked. My wife made me my usual pre-race dinner of pasta w/ marinara sauce and ground turkey and a sweet potato. Washed it down with a Pedialyte then it was off to bed.

I raced IMAZ as a member of Team Tillman. As a part of Team Tillman, I raised money for the Pat Tillman Foundation and their Tillman Military Scholar Program. I'm very passionate about this cause and this is now my 4th year fundraising for the foundation (competed in three NYC Marathons and now a IMAZ). Pat Tillman is a hero and role model of mine so I watched the Tillman Story (documentary) while laying in bed. It's a sad but necessary story to tell and always inspires me. Couldn't think of anything better to watch the night before an Ironman. I was ready to race and had PT watching over me.
Event warmup:

Slept horrible and even woke up at midnight STARVING with a headache. Not a good sign. I tried to go back to bed but basically tossed and turned until my alarm went off at 3am.

Got up and ate my usual 1,000 cal pre-race breakfast of oatmeal, Ensure Complete, real fruit smoothie w/ almond and coconut milk, a banana, and a english muffin w/ jelly. Took a quick shower to snap me out of the early morning haze then double checked my SN's bags. Out the door at 4:15am for the short, 5-mile drive to Tempe.

Parked at the US Airways parking structure around 4:40am, threw in my ear buds, and made the short walk to Tempe Beach Park. It was pretty cool to walk by the finishing chute while en route to the transition area. Got into the chute where other athletes were waiting to enter the transition area at 4:50am. There was some nervous energy but I was ready to get these damn SN's bag checked in. At this point, I was done worrying about Ironman logistics and was ready to get prepped for the big race.

They opened up at 5am, I pumped up my tires, put my premixed Infinit concentrate on the downtube, setup my aero bottle which was filled w/ water, then checked everything on the bike (made sure breaks weren't rubbing, made sure everything was in bento box, etc.). I heard a familiar voice on the mic and looked down my row to see Mike Reilly already working. He was about 20 yards from so I went down and wished him and his son good luck (his son Andy was racing). Little did I know at the time that I would run with Andy during 4 of the most emotionally dark miles later that day.

Made the walk east along TTL to drop off my SN's bags. Wasn't planning on seeing them later so I didn't care much. Stopped and pee'd at a port-a-potty then made my way to meet up with my teammates.

Found everyone at the usual meeting spot and this is when the enormity of everything started to set in. My teammates and I were all getting ready while family/friends anxiously milled around. You could tell they didn't know what to do so they stood at a comfortable distance and whispered while taking pics. It was a crazy feeling...

At this point, it was about 6:05am and I decided to go to the bathroom one last time. Ironman didn't provide a lot of port-a-potties which was the only item I was disappointed in. I walked to the northern portion of Tempe Beach Park and got in line for the park bathrooms. Line wasn't bad and I was back with the team by 6:20am. Most everyone else was already in their wetsuits so I started lubing up with BodyGlide. Before I could get in my suit, our coach made us get in a tight circle and she read us a great letter that she wrote to us all. She had us close our eyes and relax which was perfect. Several teammates were crying and you could really feel the energy. This was awesome and I couldn't be more proud of standing with my fellow teammates, all about to embark on something we poured hundreds of hours into through the brutal AZ summer heat. We were ready...

I squeezed into my suit real quick, hugged my family, gave the wife a kiss then ran off with a teammate to the swim chute. It was that quick! I walked to the swim chute with some teammates and ate some PowerBar energy chews along the way.

My goals for the day were simple - I wanted to break 12 hours which I thought was a long shot based on my training times, I wanted to run the entire marathon, and I wanted to run a sub-3 hour marathon. Those would be tough goals to reach but I knew I put in the training hours so it would be up to me to mentally achieve them.

  • 1h 01m 53s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 28s / 100 yards

The craziness of the IMAZ swim start started before we even got in the water. We all had to walk through transition area in order to get to the tiny arch that each athlete had to walk through. It was literally like watching sand in an hourglass.

My coach wanted a teammate and I to start front left. Chase and I made our way through the masses and jumped in without much of a problem. We somehow managed to stay together during the swim to the front left buoy. This is where it really started to set in that we were about to compete in our first IM. We made sure to soak it all in. I was constantly looking at all the fans up on Mill Bridge and along the south bank. It was amazing! There were people everywhere and they were all here to watch us conquer IMAZ. Mike Reilly was again on the mic getting the fans going which in turn, got us going in the water. We were all yelling and screaming while others were paying attention to the clock and letting us know how much time we had.

Chase and I really started to focus on where we wanted to start. We were right by the front left buoy but all the people floating around resulted in open water being available then swallowed up the next second. We kept bouncing around and noticed that some lady hanging onto a kayak was following us around too. I finally started pushing the kayak away from us because it was annoying. Lady, if you want to start with us then let go of the buoy and float with us. You dragging the kayak around is as obnoxious as it gets.

The national anthem started and Chase and I gave each other a high-5 as we knew the cannon was about to go off. This was out first Ironman and we were nervously awaiting getting the sh!t kicked out of at the start of the swim. Reilly asked everyone "WHO's GOING TO BE AN IRONMAN TODAY?" and BOOM, the cannon goes off! I started my watch then immediately started looking for open water. We had a plan to swim to the first buoy which was to our left. We started making our way and I realized that I was face down and swimming with good form within 10yards. Where the hell is the washing machine?? I settled in and my breathing was fine. At this point I'm totally shocked but stay comfortable and just go about my business.

I breath to my left so it was easy to stay on the buoy line. I got to the first buoy and was still shocked that there was zero contact. Was like I was swimming in my own swim lane. At this point, I started focusing on sighting and swimming as straight as I could. The yards were clipping off quick and at about 1,000 yards the contact started. This is the point where the people starting on the right converge with everyone else. It's pretty narrow so there's lots of bodies in small body of water. That said, the contact wasn't too bad outside of the occasional foot slap or elbow to the side. One thing that I though was cool was there were pontoon boots out on the water with what must have been VIP's onboard. They were riding right next to me all the way until the Rural Bridge which was awesome. Every time I took a breath, I could see them yelling at me. Now, they probably were yelling at everyone else but it was still a boost.

I kept a good line out to Rural Bridge which resulted in a very easy pass of the bridge. They make everyone go between two columns of the bridge and some folks were way off line. Got past the bridge and still had about 300-400 yards till the turn around point. More contact in this area but again, not that bad. Felt great and couldn't believe that half the swim was almost over. I'm almost positive that I hit the turnaround point in under 30 minutes.

As I approached the first left turn buoy, I picked up the pace a bit to beat a couple folks to the inside line. I made it but also managed to get a substantial left calf cramp as a result. Kept swimming but drug my left leg through the water until the second left turn buoy about 20 yards away. Was a little worried at the degree of the cramp so I slowly started building my kick back into the stroke. After about 50yds, I could tell everything was fine so I settled back in.

This is the stretch where I can't figure out of I did the right thing or if I cost myself some time. TTL is a "S" shaped lake and the course follows the contour of the shoreline. Therefore, the course is also shaped like an "S" and on the return leg, the course goes left then back to the right. A top age grouper here in PHX recommended that I cut the course to the right at the start of the return leg. His point was it would be shorter to go through the far right columns of the Rural Bridge and swim a straight line to the buoys in the far distance. I decided to do this and was way off the buoy line all on my own. I'll admit, I was skeptical as I went under the bridge and was a good 20-40yds right of everyone else. I just held the line and gradually drifted left until I merged with everyone else about 800yds later. Again, who knows if it worked.

At this point, I was perpendicular with Sun Devil Stadium which I could see everytime I took a breath. This was the only part of the swim that sucked because it seemed like the damn stadium wasn't moving. Just kept swimming and swimming and the stadium stayed right there.... This was also the point when some goof ball literally swam head first into my ribs. Yep, the guy T-boned me when everyone else was swimming a straight line back to Mill Ave. Was the strangest deal and caught me totally off guard. I wasn't hurt at all but the way he hit me freaked me out and caused my body to tense up. My left hamstring immediately cramped up which grabbed like a MF'er. God damnit... I doggy paddled for about 5-10 seconds while waiting for the cramp to stop then started swimming again while dragging my left leg. Like before, I slowly started kicking again and realized I was fine. It was then that I realized were almost done so I focused on getting my HR down. Made the final left turn and swam to the ladder. They yanked me out and I knew I was close to breaking an hour. What an awesome experience!
What would you do differently?:

Not much. Not sure if the return line I took was good but other than that, I'm very happy with this. This is my first year in triathlon and I struggled all year at getting into the water on time and starting at the front. Had none of those problems at IMAZ and also sighted well.
Transition 1
  • 09m 12s

Freaking horrible and it started with my first step on land. I was so focused on not screwing up my auto multisport on my Garmin which resulted in me standing at the stripper line for 30 seconds trying to get my watch off before they took my suit off.

Once off, I slowly ran to my T1 bag while trying to get my HR down. This was an awesome stretch of the race and one of my favorites. The crowd was 5-10 deep on both sides the entire way to out T1 bags. Was unreal! Saw my family, grabbed my bag and into the changing tent I went.

I got so used to non-WTC events this summer where you can setup your transition area. Having everything in a bag was new to me and threw me off a bit. My volunteer was great and I laughed at one point because you could tell he even thought I was slow. Haha. Got my bike jersey and arm coolers on, grabbed my solid nutrition then headed for my bike.

This is where I also screwed up a couple more times. I should have put all my solid food for the bike in my bike jersey. What an idiot. The volunteer had my bike ready for me but I had to stand there and load everything up which took at least 1-2 minutes. Then, I realized I didn't turn my MyAthleteLive tracker on. JESUS, turn your brain on! Took the GPS unit out, and tried to turn it on. This took me another 1-2 minutes because you can't see the power lights in sunlight. Good grief. Managed to stay calm and ran to the mount line. I ran quite a ways past it then hopped on. Here we go...
What would you do differently?:

Where do I start? Would probably wait to put my arm coolers on until I'm out on the bike. Those things are a pain in the ass to put on when wet.

Turn your MyAthleteLive GPS unit on in the morning.

Load up your bike jersey with solid foods the morning of.

All these things easily cost me 4 minutes.
  • 6h 03m 13s
  • 112 miles
  • 18.50 mile/hr

The bike has been the thorn in my side all year. I signed up for IMAZ before I even had a bike and assumed this would be the most fun/easy part of triathlon. Boy was I wrong...

My coach is a strict believer in HR training so i did my first Vo2 max test in early 2013. The results were shockingly bad and led to a year long stay in heart rate jail. Just so everyone truly realizes how bad it was, I did a vast majority of my bike training at under 110 BPM. That's not a typo... I seriously struggled to get out of the parking at that heart rate and it made for a long year of bike training. It was horrible and zero fun. I'm still shocked out how bad my bike fitness is compared to my run fitness (zones are completely different) but it makes sense since I had zero bike history.

Anyways, after a year of long and slow bike training, it looked like I would be out on the bike for 7 hours if I followed my HR zones. I complained to the high heavens about this to my coach so she gave me a aggressive race plan for Soma (HIM) which was a month ago. I did great at that race so she agreed to let me race hard at IMAZ. This was a relief but I still didn't think I'd be able to get off the bike in under 6:20-6:30.

Coach wanted me at under 115 the first loop and under 120 on loops 2&3. I came out of the water and onto the bike with a HR of 155. Crap... I felt way more calm than that but I think the crowd got me excited. I was also worried about the cramps in the swim so I decided to double my salt stick intake for the rest of the day (2/hour as opposed to 1). It took me 15 miles until I was able to get my HR under 130. That's when I made a gameday decision to keep it under 130. The only way I was getting my HR below 115 is if I pulled over for 5 minutes which wasn't going to happen. I just settled in and trusted that I could maintain 130 BPM for the entire ride and it wouldn't affect my run. I was confident in that since that's what I did at Soma and in training the month before IMAZ.

The main problem at this point (15 miles in) was my HR didn't get below 130 until the Beeline climb started. Great.... I was worried that it would quickly spike again to 140+ BPM. I focused on keeping a good, smooth cadence and not powering up the climb at all. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, was passing me which I was surprisingly fine with. I usually get caught up in racing on the bike but for some reason I stuck to my plan. I think I subconsciously respected and feared this distance and there was no way I was jeopardizing my race this early in the day.

The first loop was quite entertaining and set a precedent for the rest of day. Someone asked me about the bike leg the day after the race and without thinking, I described it as a "horrible display of humanity." From other race reports, it seems to be the same story at other WTC events so it's probably not shocking to others. I had three different guys, all at different times, pee right in front of me even though they knew I was behind them. Huge draft packs all over the place which was a complete joke. I didn't care at first but then a pack of about 20 came flying by and I just laughed. From that point on, all the drafting packs annoyed the sh-- outta me. Just blatant cheating but to each their own. Also, the folks who would pass me, cut me off (miss my front tire by a foot), then stop pedaling were a real treat. If you're going to pass me while almost hitting me, you better make damn sure you keep accelerating. If not, you're gonna have to deal me yelling at you. You're not taking a break on my time...

I also found it comical at how people approached the Beeline. I heard people all week saying the course is flat with a subtle false flat up the Beeline. Yeah right... That portion of the bike course will eat you alive if not approached correctly. Based on the amount of people out of saddle climbing the Beeline on loop 1, I'd say some were in for a looooong day. More on that later...

Now that that's outta my system, the first loop was slow and controlled and I felt good coming through the turnaround point in Tempe. There were thousands of fans in this area which caused my HR to spike, but man was that cool! Saw my teammates and family which was nice and settled in for lap 2. The second lap was more of the same, controlled efforts. Only difference was I started passing people which was a confidence booster. Felt great and my nutrition and hydration plan was spot on so far. My plan was 1/3 Infinit concentrate mix per hour along with 150 additional calories in solid foods. This alternated each hour but consisted of a Powerbar, Fig Newtons, peanut butter crackers, and PowerBar energy chews. Total calories consumed were 350/hour, 24 ounces of water, and 2 salt sticks per hour. There were a couple times where my stomach wasn't feeling good so I popped some Tums which quickly took care of the problem.

About two miles before the turnaround on Shea on lap 2, I saw my friend on the shoulder of Beeline cheering me on. All I could think to say is "WTF are you doing out here?" For those unfamiliar, the Beeline is in a stretch of no mans land out in the desert. For him to go out there with the traffic restrictions was a huge pain in the a$$. He ended up staying out there and driving up and down the Beeline during my last 1.5 laps (3 hours) which was huge for me. Helped take my mind of the race as I was busy goofing around yelling at him.

I really noticed the wind pick up on the lap 2 during the descent back to Tempe. I was hoping this would wait till lap 3 but no dice. It had already switched and was now in our face which sucked. Oh well, I knew this would happen at some point so here we are. Back in T1, I forgot to put on chamois cream and could feel the affects. I also had to pee and mix my second Infinit mix so I pulled over at an aid station and got to work. Took a leak, applied chamois cream, all while the volunteers mixed my Infinit bottle. The volunteers were seriously the best. Took about 2 minutes and then I was off on an uneventful ride back to Tempe.

The start of lap 3 felt good and I really noticed the wind once I got east of the 202 on McKellips. It was blowing now but I felt great in aero. I had managed to stay in aero the entire race and had no signs of wanting to stretch. My neck was sore but I got used to that sensation this year. I thought multiple times while out there how far I'd come in just 12 months... Just in March at Oceanside I couldn't make it 40 miles without having to get out of aero. During this stretch before the Beeline is where I started passing lots of folks. Was still sticking to my plan of 130 BPM or below and the legs felt good. Turned left on Alma School and saw a dude who wrecked pretty bad. Looked like he may have hit the cones and the police officers immobilized him and weren't letting him move his head. Hopefully he's okay...

Hit the Beeline and was ready for the final climb. Wasn't dreading it and the wind wasn't bothering me either. Dropped down to the small ring and focused on my last 1.5 hour of nutrition and started game planning T2 and the start of the run. As I crossed Gilbert Rd, I saw a guy walking his bike up our lane and saw his chain dragging on the ground. That got me to stay in the moment as anything can ruin the rest of your day. I would be so bummed if that happened...

Kept passing folks on the climb up then saw a couple teammates at the aid station at the turnaround point. Yelled at em "last F'ing Beeline climb of 2013!" then made the descent towards Tempe. HR still in-check and was passing folks left and right. Surely all the good cyclists were already off the course but it still felt good to be passing people. Blew by SN's and didn't use it all day which was part of the plan. Got into Tempe, checked the watch, and realized I would come in around 6 hours. Wow! I was so happy with that because A) it meant that breaking 12 hours was a near lock, and B) my legs felt great which meant I didn't go too hard at all. I settled down the last 4 miles and tried to get my HR down. Got it to drop to 120 as I pulled into Tempe Beach Park and I was more than ready for the run. Wasn't dreading it at all.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. That's the best effort I could put out in order to allow myself to have a good run. More work needed on the bike in 2014.
Transition 2
  • 07m 15s

Horrible again. Grabbed my T2 bag and made my way into the changing tent. Had a great volunteer who helped me along the way. He dumped my bag out and patiently handed me items. Put on body glide, changed into a fresh Team Tillman tri kit, put on compression socks and shoes, hat & visor, race belt, then grabbed my bag of gu and gel flask and bailed. Sounds fast but it wasn't at all.

Sucks that I gave away so much time in T1 & T2.
What would you do differently?:

Move quicker. Good grief I was slow and for no reason. The compression socks are a pain in the ass but everything else is simple.
  • 4h 05m 54s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 23s  min/mile

Headed out of T2 and legs felt great. I had to pee but my usual stubborn self didn't stop at the port-a-pottys. I was so focused on the run and going sub-4 hours that I didn't want to waste time. Not very smart when you think about it.

Run starts out heading east and you run through a awesome stretch of of tents filled with spectators. They were loud and very supportive. Such a cool way to start the run. Ran past the Racelab tent but they didn't recognize me because I was now wearing my Team Tillman tri kit. Oh well, I was focused on the start of the run anyways.

Made my way through the crowds and started taking note of what was going on. WOW! There were people walking everyhwere... Even saw folks off to the side dry heaving and stretching out their cramps. All these folks were on there first loop which was even more shocking at the time. Looking back at it, I'm not surprised after seeing the way people were riding the Beeline. You just can't put out that big of an effort three times on that stretch and expect to have anything left for the run.

I kept chugging along and hooked up with a teammate at the second mile. He's much faster than me so I said hi and we chatted for a bit. Told him he could go ahead as I didn't want to keep up with him once he picked the pace back up. He said that was the pace he wanted so we ran for 3 more miles and back through Tempe Beach Park. We each saw our families which caused us to split up. Ran another mile until a gentleman asked my pace and asked if he could run with me. Absolutely, lets go. This led to a funny story as well...

At this point I was running 9-minute miles while trying to keep my HR at 150. I wanted to break the 4-hour mark and knew I could if I was keeping it below both thresholds. The guy who started running with me also wanted to run 9-minute miles so we settled in and took off. I saw my family once more which is always a boost then it was off into no mans land. The guy and I started making small talk and he mentioned this was his 8th IM and that he couldn't believe he was going to break 12-hours. He also couldn't believe he was going to break the 4-hour marathon mark. I knew he wasn't on his second lap so I told him to slow his roll. Wasn't the right time to discuss that stuff at mile 5 of the marathon. He agreed then said he was dreading having to do two more loops. Huh????? He asked what my problem was and I told him the course was only two loops. He didn't believe me at first then got so excited when he realized it was true and started yelling and screaming. I looked at him and said "you're f'ing crazy." We got a good laugh and I proceeded to make fun of him for the next couple miles. Good stuff

Made my way to the north side of TTL and was still feeling good. Was still running with "the guy" and I saw Eric Byrnes running towards me. We were both competing for Team Tillman and had exchanged emails but had never met. You could tell he was hurting but he got a big smile on his face and gave me a big hug and high five. That dude's an animal and really pushes it out there. This is where I lost "the guy" but I still felt good and kept pushing forward.

My nutrition plan on the run was two Roctane gu's every hour and about 24 ounces of water. Was sticking to that and felt great. I was also taking two salt sticks per hour and had caffeine pills, tums, and tylenol in a pill box just in case. Each aid station I would also dump ice in my tri top and take cold sponges. These helped keep me cool and mentally fresh...

The first lap was flying by and got up and over Curry Hill with no problems. Looked at my watch on the descent and I was already at 8.5 miles. WOW! I wanted to join up with some folks on the run because it makes time fly and it sure helped on the first lap. Made my way to Rio Salado for the end of lap 1 and saw a teammate up ahead. It was his birthday and he's one of the funnier guys in the AZ triathlon scene. You all probably saw him out there - he was running in jean shorts, a hawaiian shirt, and has a curled up mustache. It was also his birthday so I ran up and asked "how's the birthday boy doing?" He turned around and I could immediately tell he was in a bad place even though he was still running. We talked for a bit but I didn't want to slow down... I told him to take in some more water and perform and took off. As I made the turn back towards Tempe Town Lake, I started thinking about how good I felt and wondered when I would start to feel the way my teammate who I had just passed felt. I remember thinking to myself "I'm good, won't feel like that till towards the end." Ran past Tempe Performing Arts, saw my family who was great all day, and told them I was feeling good. My sister yelled "you passed 16 people in your age group on the first lap and are now in 88th place!" I just laughed and thought she was giving me encouragement. Turns out she thought top-50 in each age group qualify for Kona and she wanted me to pick up the pace. Hahaha, good stuff!

Made it through the same awesome section where there's tons of fans and started my second lap. Running along and BAM, there's the wall. No less than a mile after I wondered when I would look and feel like s--t, and here I am. I've run marathons before but never have I felt that bad that early in a race. I started getting worried but noticed that I was maintaining the same pace and HR so I kept going. I knew I had to consume calories and fast. I had a small water bottle on me and took in some salt sticks and a 200mg caffeine pill. This was the point where everything I read started becoming reality. All the race reports where people junked their nutrition plans and started consuming whatever sounded good on the course. I never understood that but now I was living it. No more Gu's for me. I was in a full fledged battle that was from aid station to aid station.

This was also the time when my mind started going crazy. You don't have this, stop and walk, lay down in the grass, see the guy puking in the lake - go puke with him, etc.. It never stopped but I remembered Mark Allen's speech the day before and continually told myself to "quiet your mind." It would only work for seconds at a time but it was still sweet relief. I also started internally yelling at myself - No way you're going to stop and walk after all the hours of training in the summer heat. No way you made all those sacrifices to start walking at mile 14. Those were some of the nicer things I said....

Two miles later, I was back running through the huge crowds of Tempe Beach Park. This time, it wasn't as exciting but I was still happy to see fans who were cheering. I was still running and grabbed water, ice, and sponges then headed back into no mans land. I was worried about this stretch but saw my family again. They were great but you could tell they were a little worried. I clearly didn't look as good as I did just 30 minutes earlier and they were well aware that I still had 10 miles to go.

This is where I had a godsend. Two guys my age ran up and struck up a conversation. We were all running around 9:20/miles and started having small talk. One guy was from Queen Creek and the other was from San Diego. They could tell I was hurting but we all knew we were going to keep running. Made some small talk but the guy from Queen Creek dropped back. The guy from San Diego and I kept running and we made our way to the north side of TTL. This is where I saw Eric Byrnes again who was only 2 miles from finishing. He looked banged up but still gave me a huge high-5 and told me to finish strong. Kept talking with my new buddy whose name was Andy. Went through a couple aid stations where I started drinking coke and water at each station. Was still taking in salt sticks whenever I started feeling cramps coming on. I also took another 200mg caffeine pill. As we were approaching mile 19 we started talking about the finish. Told him I couldn't wait but wanted to stay in the present. He said he was looking forward to seeing his dad at the finish line. I asked if his dad had a VIP pass which would allow to give Andy his medal and Andy said, "no, my dad's Mike Reilly." I started laughing and told him how awesome his finish line experience was going to be. That exchange helped me snap out of it and I got my second wind. I'm sure the coke, caffeine, and salt sticks helped but talking with someone through those 4 miles was a huge relief.

I kept running and Andy dropped back because he walked the aid stations. I made it two more miles to about mile 22 and crashed again but worse than the first time. It was horrible but there was something calm about it. I could feel my body deteriorating but my mind was still strong. Kept trying to keep my mind quiet and forced myself to keep running. No way I was walking... I'd rather quit than walk if I was physically able to run. It was at this point when I saw some teammates who were cheering us on. They were incredibly loud and right in my face which resulted in me asking for "quiet." I'm sure it came across like a dick thing to say but I was focusing so hard on keeping it together that the loud chaos was throwing me off. Ironman really turns you into a crazy person the second half of the run!

This was also 1/4 mile before my last Curry Hill climb. I wasn't dreading it because it's only 1/3 of a mile uphill and 3/4 of a mile downhill on the backside. Just trudge up that thing and let loose on the downhill. Got up with no problem and I was down the hill and back on the TTL path in no time. This is where I realized that I was literally only one of a handful of people still running. Only two people had passed me on the second lap which was amazing. It was pure carnage out there but I was still determined not to walk.

Came up to mile 24 and it was DARK at this point. I was so out of it that I was still running with my sunglasses on and realized I couldn't see anything. Took em off but I continued to deteriorate. I was still holding a 9:20 pace but I was now running with a tilt, grunting, drooling and spitting, etc.. I would catch myself doing it and correct myself. Voices were getting louder at this point to walk when I heard someone say "Come on man, almost there." Though it was a random spectator but I realized it was my friend Casey who was out on the Beeline earlier that day. I swear, the entire day I had something positive happen when I absolutely needed it. Someone was watching out for me... Casey told me later that I looked straight through him and it took me 10 seconds until I realized it was him. I told him how bad it sucked and he just continually said "I know, keep going. I'll see you in a mile for the run to the finish line." Done. I snapped out of it went through the last aid station on the north side of TTL. Two cups of coke, more salt sticks and off I went. 8 minutes later I was at mile 25 and took in some more coke and water. Ran into my friend Casey who was taking pictures/video. He would run up 50 yards, take pics, then run up again. At this point I knew I had it and it felt like I was running on clouds. Casey was screaming to bring it home and I gradually picked up the pace. Made the right turn on Rio Salado and there were tons of fans in that area all cheering me on. I couldn't believe it... I managed to CRUSH all the mental demons on the run which was more satisfying than breaking my main goal of sub-12 hours. I was so ecstatic that i ran the entire run and never gave into the negative thoughts. It was literally at that moment, about 50yds before the left turn to the finish chute, that I was so grateful for this experience and how much it taught me. We all can literally push our bodies further than we think and the power of the mind is a POWERFUL tool.

Made the left turn and wow is that finish line BRIGHT!! I slowed down started looking for my family/friends but could just see screaming faces everywhere. Finally saw my family in the stands and threw my hat and glasses at them. What the hell??? I planned all along to stop and give them hugs but I guess all they get is a sweaty, disgusting hat. Then I started looking for Mike Reilly. Couldn't see him anywhere so I just kept running. I wanted to tell him that his son was right behind me (probably 2-5minutes).

About 30yds from the finish line, I raised my Pat Tillman ASU #42 jersey high and crossed the line with a loud scream. Didn't think to do it, that's just what came out. Turns out I made the official IMAZ video and I'm at the 7:26 mark. Oh, after watching the finish video, Mike Reilly was standing right at the finish line. I walked right by him. Haha, wow.

Crossed the line and immediately saw my coach. Was so happy to see her and she gave me a big hug. Next person I saw was one of my customers who was volunteering in the med tent. They talked to me for a couple minutes and I felt great. I thought I was going to be in rough shape but I was totally fine. WHAT A DAY!

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. That was all I had outside of crappy transitions. More work on my bike and I think I can break 11 hours at my next IM.

One of the greatest experiences of my life!
Post race
Warm down:

Headed into the athlete village and immediately sat down. Closed my eyes and immediately had a medic all over me. Told me not to sleep. Sat there and started to get cold whne my family showed up. CHanged into warm clothes then got some pizza. Was able to eat 2.5 slices, drank a couple botlles of water thne headed home. Had a celebratory beer with my family then off to bed

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Poor bike fitness which was expected.

Event comments:

This was a great experience and i couldn't have asked for a better week. WTC gets a lot of criticism but they sure know hoe to put on a race. Will definitely be back at an IMAZ in the future.

Last updated: 2013-11-20 12:00 AM
01:01:53 | 4224 yards | 01m 28s / 100yards
Age Group: 17/216
Overall: 186/2704
Performance: Good
Suit: 2XU A:1
Course: One rectangular loop
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 63F / 17C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 09:12
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
06:03:13 | 112 miles | 18.50 mile/hr
Age Group: 104/216
Overall: 955/2704
Performance: Good
Average HR was in low 130's.
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: three, 37 mile loops starting in Tempe and ending with a climb up the Beeline to Shea Blvd (Fountain Hills).
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 07:15
Overall: Bad
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
04:05:54 | 26.2 miles | 09m 23s  min/mile
Age Group: 72/216
Overall: 580/2704
Performance: Good
Kept HR between 140-153 (base) entire run.
Course: Two loop course around Tempe Town Lake.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
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

2013-11-20 7:42 PM

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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: Ironman Arizona

2013-11-21 11:45 AM
in reply to: #4902161

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Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa.
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

Awesome report.  I remember you passing me on the run..... LOL.   I have not written my race report yet.  In fact, I need to stop reading these becasue they are getting me all worked up and emmotional.

IMAZ was incredible and I'm happy to hear how you persevered through the run.  Especially when you hit the "dark place" that we all hear about durnig an IM. 

Great effort and Tempe (along with the whole Phoenix community) really did a great job.  You should be proud of your town and it's delivery of an exceptional race.




2013-11-21 3:13 PM
in reply to: 0

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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Thanks Matt! Was such a great day which resulted in a stupid long race report. Haha, oh well.

The crowd and support was amazing out there and inspired me to volunteer at next years race. Hopefully I can be half as good as the volunteers this year.

Congrats on being an Ironman! Hope to see you at one in the future.

Edited by devilfan02 2013-11-21 3:14 PM
2013-11-24 6:29 PM
in reply to: #4902161

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Extreme Veteran
Casa Grande, Az.
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Awesome RR!!! Great job and thanks for all the details! Enjoyed it!!!! Smokin' time!!
2013-11-25 8:54 AM
in reply to: #4902161

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Queen Creek, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Great race and report! Well done. met Joey. He ran with me at SOMA...he was the guy in nothing but gold speedos. He's an awesome guy and I knew he was running in jean shorts and a Hawaiin shirt, but never got to see him.
2013-11-25 11:53 AM
in reply to: PHXATC

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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Originally posted by PHXATC

Great race and report! Well done. met Joey. He ran with me at SOMA...he was the guy in nothing but gold speedos. He's an awesome guy and I knew he was running in jean shorts and a Hawaiin shirt, but never got to see him.

Ha, he's great! I ran by you guys at Soma. If so, I'm pretty sure you were in a ONE tri kit. I was the one who ran by and slapped his

2013-11-26 9:50 AM
in reply to: devilfan02

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Queen Creek, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
I was in the Tribe kit. No worries.

And geez, there were hundreds of people slapping his booty. HA...made it crazy fun though to run with him.
2013-11-26 2:19 PM
in reply to: PHXATC

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Levittown, PA
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona
Great race report. So detailed. Its like you remembered every second of it. Great finishing time as well. Overall it sounds like you had a fantastic race. Congrats
2013-11-26 2:57 PM
in reply to: spiderjunior

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Williamston, Michigan
Gold member
Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

Nicely done!! Congrat on your first   Way to fight thru some demons out there

2014-04-08 6:06 PM
in reply to: #4902161

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Subject: RE: Ironman Arizona

Don't know why I didn't read this before today,,,,,,   Excellent report!   loved it, felt like i was right there,

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2006-06-21 7:53 AM benihana
date : June 23, 2012
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date : November 17, 2008
author : mrakes1
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During the race there will be plenty of opportunities to exchange bottles, so I'm thinking about going with the aero bottle and Gatorade bottle and fill up as necessary. What should I do?
date : May 7, 2008
author : Ingrid Loos
comments : 2
Thousands of spectators lined the shore and bridges overhead. When the announcer said, “Welcome to the best day of your life,” the possibility was still there for all of us.
date : May 22, 2007
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It is my opinion that even though everyone else considered her a triathlete, she did not consider herself one. I think she still felt like she had no fitness direction and had given up on triathlon.
date : July 30, 2006
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If a heart patient can do these things, then so can those of you who haven't been split open like a fish and sewn back together.
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Newbie blunders teach the mind to overcome the moment, and always have fun!