IRONMAN 70.3 ARIZONA 2023 (Skip down further for race report)
SWIM - 35:00 (32:01 in 2019)
T1 - 06:00 (8:32 in 2019)
BIKE - 3:15:00 (2:51:39 in 2019)
T2 - 04:00 (4:14 in 2019)
RUN - 2:55:00 (2:09:49 in 2019)
TOTAL - 6:55:00 (5:46:12 in 2019)
Mom and I are driving to Arizona early Friday for this Sunday race. This race follows Salem 70.3 which was 12 weeks ago. My run was a very disappointing 3:16 in Salem. Training for me has been the most consistent for the run the last during the last few weeks, although long runs have been shortened in favor of running more frequently. The Arizona air temp is expected to be 95°on race day but I didn’t have an opportunity to heat acclimate. There is not really any shade on this course, unlike at Salem. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if the run takes over 3 hours.
The swim, on the other hand? At this point the water is 80°: VERY warm and wetsuit optional. I won’t be wearing a wetsuit and if that temp holds I’ll still probably overheat a little, which will have an affect on performance. The swim exit is fairly close to transition this year, not the more than ¼ mile distance it has been in the past. T1 should take much less time.
The ride tends to be surprisingly fast considering it’s a “technical” course, unlike any other that I’ve seen. It’s 3 laps and each lap contains five 180° turns, plus a number of right and left turns. I’m hoping for the ride to take a little longer than the ride in Salem but I don’t know how realistic that is. I have gotten my longer training rides in, although I missed a few shorter rides in order to get the longer ones in during the week when I was traveling or working on the weekend.
I still have the goal of finishing under 7 hours, just like in Oregon. The conditions will make even this a challenge so I will, as always, be happy if I race to the limits of my current abilities. I intend to race with a feeling of joy, and an appreciation for the volunteers. And I’ll race with gratitude: for my mom being with me, for my so supportive wife, for all the wonderful people who have been a part of my triathlon life over the years, and for still being able to do this during my 67th year.
Someone asked me about my nutrition plan, so here it is, with limited explanation/justification. As I usually tell my athletes, don’t leave your nutrition to chance. Winging it is not smart. (Note: I race with caffeine so I have been off of it for over 2 weeks in order to obtain the most benefit from it.):
1 day before race: normal b’fast; Salmon burrito from Rubio’s for lunch; protein, carbs, and fat in the form of a blended shake/smoothie for dinner (this is to limit waste in the digestive tract and speed up emptying).
Race morning, pre-race: same blended shake/smoothie as last night along with half a bagel. No psyllium. Drink water with some electrolyte on site at the race. Consume one UCAN Edge gel ~30 min prior to the swim.
T1: 2 UCAN Edge gels (140 cal.) + water
Bike: My aero bottle holds 24oz+ of water and 1 NUUN electrolytes tab. I will refill it with water at 2 aid stations. My Speedfil bottle, mounted in the frame, holds about 40 oz. It will hold 2 x 320 cal of Maurten’s powder mixed with 34 oz water + 4 SaltStick capsules that have been opened and emptied into it. That’s 640 cal and 860 mg of salt. Total calories, including T1 = 780 cal. In my bento bag I’ll carry an extra 200 cal in a Clif Blox package. I also have the option of grabbing a gel or gels at the aid stations.
T2: I will consume 5 tablets of Perfect Amino brand tablets and 1.5 caffeine tabs, all crushed into powder and consumed with water.
Run: I intend to take a Maurten’s gel from the aid stations at miles 1,4,7, and 10 or more frequently if needed. The idea is to take in about 100 cal every half hour. I’ll carry SaltStick brand Fast Chews and aim to consume 2 around the time of each gel. I’ll also carry some Base Salt with me just in case. I also know that Red Bull is available at the aid stations and this is well tolerated.
(5-6:30 Transition open)
3:45 Breakfast, bathroom
4:45 leave hotel
4:55 Park in structure
5:15 To transition - lay out stuff, check tires, add air, add nutrition to bike, bathroom, wetsuit, swim warm up,
6:20 swim start (no pros)
Saturday I rode my bike after breakfast for about 15 min. I crossed my fingers that the battery for shifting would last long enough during the race since my charger didn’t seem to work. It also turned out that I lost my sunglasses after the ride so I hoped it wouldn’t matter that much to not have them for the race. I didn’t want to go look to buy a new pair late in the day - I needed rest more! When I turned in my bike they were telling people to let some air out of your tires because the heat and sun were popping inner tubes as they heated up on the rack. When I left my bike (with blazing sun beating on it) I hoped I had let out enough air but brought extra inner tubes race morning just in case. I had shifted into an easy gear in prep for the start and we headed for lunch at Rubio’s as planned. I got a Langostino Lobster bowl instead of a salmon burrito - muy delicioso!
I got up on race morning at 4:11, 26 minutes late! I’d set the alarm for 3:45… for Tuesday! Mom saved the day. I quickly mixed my blender breakfast, used the bathroom, and got ready to go. We were only 5 minutes behind schedule, though I was short on bathroom visits. We parked in the parking structure for the first time and made the short walk to the park and transition. There were no lines at the first portapotties so I chose to immediately take advantage.
Did my thing in transition while Mom waited outside - refilled my tires, placed nutrition, set up my stuff on the ground and went to meet Mom and go to the swim start. The start was from the boat rental docks, very convenient compared to where recent starts took place. The exit was right there too so we didn’t have a ¼ mile + run to get to the bike.
The water was a warm but more mild 74.9° than the 80 I saw online. I decided to wear a sleeveless wetsuit anyway because the leg buoyancy would help my deteriorating swim, the slick surface would help me swim a bit faster, taking this wetsuit off would be quick and easy, and I could swim without the small amount of drag that a tri kit creates. I lined up near the front of the athletes, being about 110th to start, at 6:24 am. (They sent 2 at a time, 5 sec apart.) The swim went fine, only swallowing 3 gulps of water total. I was able to draft behind someone for about 6 or 800 meters on the first part of the swim. Before half way my legs felt somewhat heavy/fatigued but I chose to ignore that and focus on the task, hoping the feeling would go away. It did.
SWIM SPLIT - 34:44 (predicted 35:00)
Exiting the water was pretty easy, especially when compared to the stairs they used to use for Ironman Arizona. Walked and jogged to transition. As I began to wheel my bike to the “bike out” I realized I had failed to fill the aero bottle with water. My 2 NUUN electrolyte tabs were in there but nothing else. I went back to my stuff, grabbed a water bottles and filled up the reservoir. I walked my bike to the mountline, feeling a little too unsteady in bike shoes, to run or jog.
TRANSITION 1 SPLIT - 9:07 (predicted 6:00)
Got out onto the “technical” bike course and gradually settled into the ride, immediately taking in water with electrolytes and liquid calories. This course is 3 laps, all within the town of Tempe. Each lap has FIVE 180° turns and many more rights and lefts. Given that, it is surprisingly fast. I rode this turn-happy, sometimes undulating course mostly in the small chainring, shifting often. Twice I went into the big ring, the second time I managed to drop my chain. It was on the best little downhill of the ride so I coast down to the bottom and stop to fix it. As I was, a roving bike mechanic pulled up to help me, not 10 sec after I’d stopped. We got the chain on and then he gave me a nice push up the hill that followed the downhill. I was very grateful for his help! At about mile 30 I felt some fatigue similar to what I felt during the swim. I didn’t think that boded well for the rest of the race but of course I let the thoughts go and just kept going.
There were 2 aid stations per lap, double what most 70.3’s have. Getting the handoff of a water bottle at the 2nd station and being very unsteady as I refilled the aero bottle, I decided I was no longer able to do all of that without stopping. For the remainder of the ride, I stopped twice more when I got water. I felt the need to pee with about 3 miles to go. To me that indicated good hydration. I had less than 6 oz. of liquid nutrition left, so I think I did a good job fueling.
BIKE SPLIT - 3:13:57, average pace 17.43 mph (predicted 3:10)
When I got off the bike, my lower back hurt some, so it took walking the bike back to the rack for me to straighten up and to feel passable. I racked the bike and sat down to remove shoes from my grass-covered feet, spray Aquaphor on my toes, put socks and shoes on, and get my race belt on (which I had to go back for it when I forgot it iwhen I did this race 5 years ago). Last time I was able to pee on the grass as I sat there but not this time. Used the portapotty and then got out of transition.
TRANSITION 2 SPLIT - 8:45 including portapotty stop(predicted 4:00)
The temperature was over 90° at this point, with an eventual high of 99°f., which became the toughest thing to deal with and manage. I had 2 instant ice packs (the kind used in 1st aid) stashed in my waist that I was gonna burst open to quickly turn cold when I needed them. I walked and “ran”, alternating randomly, trying to get it going. It was already feeling hot, much more than on the bike where you at least get some cooling from the riding, whether there’s a wind or not. Both attempts to use the ice packs after breaking their inner seals failed. There was supposed to be very little shade, which was the case. There was shade in the shadows of some buildings and the sparse trees along the lake. When I could run I ran in the sun and walked in the shade. I also dealt with the heat by getting 2 cups of ice into my hat and carrying a 3rd cup with me to chew into a slushy at every aid station. (Ironman did a GREAT job making sure each aid station was well-stocked with ice.
I abandoned my nutrition plan right away. With all the heat and sun I didn’t think I could stomach the Maurten gels on the course. Instead, the Gatorade Endurance, especially when it was cold, was much more appealing. I pretty much took in 1 or 2 cups each mile.
My body felt fatigued and my legs were heavy. The running, especially during the 2nd of 2 loops, seemed more like a shuffle. The only metric I monitored was heart rate. I noticed that even walked keep my HR in Zone 2 and for awhile I would run until HR got near Zone 3 before walking again. Eventually I basically ignored HR and tried to run when I thought I could. Sometimes that ended up being 3 or 4 steps and then walking again because it felt too hard to run. I did manage to drop 5 or 6 lbs since Oregon so I was 15 lbs over race weight instead of 20!
RUN SPLIT - 3:51:05, 17:06 average mile pace (hoped for 2:55)
I saw Mom about 6 different times altogether during the race and that made me very happy. A couple of those times she was trying to figure out where I was by the tracker and didn’t look up even when I shouted to her. She did meet a random nice guy, whose wife was racing, to help her figure out where I was and when I was coming. She did a great job, hanging in there from before the start all the way to the 2:21pm finish and the hour recovery that followed. The race announcer did a fine job with announcing, including giving my name and mentioning that I was “67 years young”.
FINAL TIME - 7:57:35 (hoped for 6:55:00)