25 November 2017

Ironman Arizona Race Report (part 1)

My 10th Ironman & 7th in Arizona is history. Here’s my shorter than usual race report (still TWO pages long!) Feel free not to read. (Note: pictures are on Facebook)

Prerace went as planned. Actually carried a checklist with me to make sure I didn’t forget anything & to be efficient (e.g. bike nutrition, Garmin on bike, tires pumped, add stuff to bike and run gear bags, drop special needs bike bag). I used the resistance bands to warm up, allowing me to not feel the dreaded achiness I get in my lats when I start cold. Also put the wetsuit on in the warm changing tent.

The swim went smoothly & as planned. Water temp was 67° so didn’t use the hood. I seeded myself slightly too far back - I’m sure I passed a couple dozen swimmers, with just a few passing me (that I saw). I took it very steady & moderate from the start. The course was narrower than in the past & easier to swim straight as a result. Many have complained that the swim was long and mismeasured but I didn’t even use my Garmin for it. No cramps during the swim or even as I got out, gratefully being lifted up the stairs by volunteers. Swim 1:02:30, 2nd in age group, right on goal time.

Transition went better than expected… at 1st. Got help with the wetsuit & got into the warm changing tent. Put on the usual stuff, plus disposable arm warmers & a paper grocery bag to line the front of my tri top until I was warm (my idea – worked great!) Despite having a written list of what I wanted to jam into my pockets, I left my caffeine source in the gear bag. That probably cost me 5-10 min. on the ride in the end. Drank down my drink of UCAN and BeetElite, plus amino acids as I came out of the tent, got the bike, & mounted well-PAST the mount line. T1 - 9min2sec, 2 min over goal - slow.

The conditions on the bike made for a VERY long day with fairly strong winds blowing. It blew early & continued throughout. Headwinds, crosswinds, tailwinds – it was a constant presence. Otherwise it was sunny, comfortable, mild, & dry. By the end of the 1st of 3 loops my lower back was hurting. I made it back out to the ½ way point & decided to stop at the aid station portapotty in the hope of relieving the pain while taking care of a nearly full bladder. 1st time I’ve ever stopped on the bike. Back relief didn’t last & I ended up riding nearly the remaining 56 miles OUT of aero, even into the wind. Saw our screaming spectathletes at the “hot corner” 3 times. Best signs out there: “The End Is Far” and “Y’all are MF-ers… Ironman Finishers” with the ‘M’ being an “Mdot” Ironman symbol/logo. 5:50:08, 5th fasted split in age group, full 20 minutes slower than goal due to wind & the wrong kind of pain/discomfort.

T2 had some more good help in the change tent. Came out walking, drinking, & gathering my wits. T2 - 5min39sec, including a pee stop, on goal.

Walked, ran, walked, & ran the 1st mile. From there it was a rollercoaster of good miles and miles of struggle, including a bathroom stop for a #2 & another stop to pee. Splits were all over the place as was how I was feeling. I was reminded that you should NEVER make a rigid decision about what you’re going to do while you’re feeling badly or struggling. Things change – be open to take advantage when you STOP struggling! Threw up once, struggled with nutrition (ShotBloks, gels, pretzels – blah!), and at mile 14 was starting to switch to survival mode as goal time was way out of reach. Then the spectathletes were there to yell at me and kick my butt. A few miles later they were there again on the other side of the river. Linda gave me my current age group place, yelled at me to get going, and had the choice words I needed to push through the last 8 miles of discomfort to finish stronger than I thought I could. To cap it off, Genna and Maria Elena handed the Team Challenge flag off to me before I came down the chute. It was the perfect pass! I was full of joy to fly the orange flag & finish with nothing left in the tank. 4:55:30 split, :30 off of goal time, 7th age group.

Post-race, also something new: I was nearly incapacitated after the finish line and the catchers literally caught me and held me upright. They took me straight to the medical tent without the usual picture taking. Linda and Mom were along the fence so I got the volunteer to detour over so I could kiss & hug & cry with Linda. In med tent they had me lie down, checked my info, took BP (slightly high normal for me 118/85), gave me Zofran to calm down the puking, & then gave a highly prized IV fluid bag for rehydration. This was an amazing way to get my fluids back, especially after doing an Ironman & not having a colon as part of my GI tract.

I am extremely grateful to those who journeyed out to Tempe to watch the race, volunteered, and/or cheered me on. I’ve thanked them in a different post & in person but I hope they understand how appreciative I am! I’m also thankful to those who whiled away part of their Sunday following me from afar. Thank you!

I have to say I spent ½ of the bike & most of the run thinking I would NEVER do this race again. Things were not going smoothly and when you race ONCE all year it’s like putting all your eggs in 1 basket. If you do 1 race you have nothing else to look back on to say, “Well THAT race sucked but at least this other race was pretty good.” It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re in the thick of it, feeling miserable, & wanting to quit (if it weren’t for y’all watching). Now, after an awards ceremony & a bit over 24 hours post-race, I’m already starting to look towards the next 1. Arizona may not be on the (race) calendar but Ironman Chattanooga is. That may be the only race for 2018 but if I can incorporate the lessons of this year’s IMAZ to my future training, who knows what the possibilities are.

Performance & Outcome:
4th place of 67 men 60-64 (107 signed up) – goal was top 5
415th of 1557 men
508th of 2,236 overall – more than 10% didn’t finish
12:02:47 finishing time, over 30 min slower than my best, about 50 min off goal
Process & Experiential:
Succeeded in maybe ½ of race execution plans. Experiential goals were mostly reached, especially finishing with nothing left in the tank.

This doesn’t end here!

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