20 October 2019

Where's Your Race Bib?!

Here’s the race report for Ironman 70.3 Arizona 2019. It’s long so feel free to move on by. 
#TCFamily #TeamChallenge #NoGutsKnowGlory #getsladed #DeSoto #IM703AZ #SheridanCycling 

First let me say that I had very low expectations for this bike course. If you look at the map it has 3 “laps” with multiple out-and-backs and MANY left, right, and U-turns so I expected it to be slow and crowded. It was none of these. They did a good job slowly putting us into the water at the start so that we were reasonably spread out on the bike course. I ended up LOVING the ride. It was constantly changing, had varied terrain, and had good scenery too. 

GOALS: Overall I had a successful day. I set what I thought were some realistic time goals, aka performance goals, for what I thought the course would present in the way of challenges, including weather conditions and course layout. 
The splits vs. goals: Swim :32:01 vs :33, T1 8:33 vs 7 min, Bike 2:51 vs 3:00, T2 4:15 vs 3min, and Run 2:09 vs 2:15 for a total time of 5:46 vs 5:58. For the outcome goal I hoped for a top 5 in the age group and I got 5th… barely. My process goals were mostly achieved as far as effort was concerned. Transitions were a bit shakey and nutrition was less than intended. (More on that later!) I executed the swim, bike and run pretty much as planned effort-wise. Experientially I was also pretty close to what I wanted to do. I interacted with volunteers and fellow racers quite a bit but didn’t see many kids actively spectating so no fist bumps or high fives. I did smile, was grateful to be out there, and hopefully represented everyone – family, TC family, and friends – positively. I didn’t go to my limit on the run because a hamstring didn’t feel 100% and I had in the back of my mind that Ironman Arizona was in 5 weeks so I didn’t want to come away injured.

THE DETAILS: I tried something different the day before. After a 2pm lunch, I had smoothies for dinner. The intention was to allow my GI system to "clear" earlier. It worked out very well.
The swim start was moved to the east end of the lake this year. For the 1st 17 min. they let one athlete go every 5 seconds. After that it was 2 athletes every 5 seconds. This was a self-seeded start and a much calmer lineup than I expected. I got to the start very early, did my warmup with the stretch cords, and waited for people to line up. You walked down the ramp that was the exit last year, got into the water, and do some multiple turns before heading west to the ramp they used for entry last year. My first step down the ramp onto sand caused my toes to cramp and I belly-flopped into the water. It took about 300 meters before the cramp let go and I was fine the rest of the way. It was a pretty calm swim start and I only bumped into 1 guy. Some slower people who wanted to start early got swum over I’m sure. Sighting was very easy. The water is “silty” – you can’t see past your hand – but I never swallowed any water. There were wetsuit strippers at the exit, which was great! The water was 71*f. so 95% wore wetsuits.

The run to transition was reportedly 300 meters. It seemed to go forever. There was a 3 ft. wide strip of carpet running the whole way so it was a fairly comfortable jog for the feet. I took too much time getting ready in transition. I got my usual stuff on but also put on the “cool wing” arm sleeves in anticipation of a hot ride. They are worth using but I would have been fine without them. I drank down a drink, grabbed my stuff, and ran to the mount line.

The ride, as I said, was fun. While some of the road was a little rough due to construction or “expansion bumps” due to the heat and sun, most of it was fine. I was never actually cold out there and never felt the heat. Admittedly I started relatively early. There were 2 aid stations on each lap, which made an unusually high 6 altogether. The best one to use is the one near the top of a short hill in Papago Park. Bikes are slowing anyway and there are 2 wide traffic lanes. It makes it easy. The U-turns can be dangerous if you don’t slow down. Same holds true for some of the 90* turns but most are wide turns that you can really line up on. You DO always have to be alert on this course, making decisions about gear choice, cornering, passing, controlling your effort, and so forth, but I think all of that makes it fun. As I finished the bike I hadn’t thought it through. Usually I take my feet out of my shoes and hope off at the dismount line to run barefoot from there. I did the same this time but BARELY got my feet out before I hit the line. I managed to get off very UNgracefully as my front wheel reached the line. My bad!

Ran into transition, racked my bike, and sat down to get my run stuff on. I had needed to go #1 for the final 30 min of the bike but my old man bladder held. As I put Aquaphor on my toes and put my socks and shoes on, I let it go, watering the grass. With my extra water bottle that I always bring to transition, I “hosed” myself off. I grabbed my nutrition, looked at what was left at my spot, and ran off to the run exit, proud of myself for multitasking and saving a minute in the portapotty. 

At run exit they said, “Where’s your bib? Go get your bib!” Rookie mistake! I hadn’t seen it and forgot to grab it. I ran the length of transition and found the race belt under my backpack, out of sight, grabbed it, and ran back. I had also screwed up my Garmin since I hadn’t practiced the night before in “triathlon” mode. Eventually, while running, I switched it to run mode but not until after the first mile! Oh well! Another mistake but no biggie in the scheme of things. I run mostly by feel and by heart rate so knowing my pace is more important to me after the race. During the race it’s nice to know pace if that keeps you motivated to push appropriately. Otherwise it can be a negative. 

The first mile or so was rough, but as expected, things improved. As I got going, I did worry a bit about the hamstring, which hadn’t been an issue during training, so I was restrained. I really began to feel pretty good around mile 5 or 6 and that lasted, more or less, to the end. Mom was pretty much in the same spot so I saw her 4 times during the race, giving her a wet (but not sweaty) hug at the halfway point. At aid stations I grabbed water, Red Bull, and ice on the course and carried Clif Bloks for nutrition. I have them pour ice in my hat that I then allow to melt and drip down my face and onto my arm coolers. I was comfortable the entire time. With about ¼ mile to go I removed the arm coolers for the finish line and did my best to finish strong and with a smile. Mom was there waiting at the finish line.

My nutrition feel well short of what was planned. I probably got in 650 calories on the bike and 4-500 on the run. While I felt hungry at times during the run (especially during the final mile) I by no means bonked, nor did I feel like I wanted  much more. I’m not sure this is a problem as long as I’m not slowing down (I didn’t) due to lack of fuel. I did negative split the ½ marathon so that tells me something. Maybe I’m more fat adapted metabolically speaking, than I think.

We went back for the awards ceremony so I could pick up the 5th place award. We purposely left before the 70.3 World Championships roll down. I think my age group had one slot anyway but traveling to New Zealand isn’t in the cards at the moment, though it’s on Linda’s and my wish list.

Would I do this race again? Heck yeah! It is well-run and has a course that is fun. The number of participants is a bit lower because they don’t want the bike course too congested. Be aware that it is usually a hot race but I highly recommend it if this sounds like your cup of tea!

I only did a partial taper for this race, knowing the Arizona full is 5 weeks away. I will recover for 2 or 3 days before easing back into training again before doing a “real” taper. I’m looking forward to Ironman #13 in Arizona and then I won’t do another full until I get called for the Kona Legacy slot OR I age up to 65 to 69 age group. At least that’s the plan for now.

The morning started off with an unexpected road closure. Our usual route was blocked for the race course. We went down 2 exits, got lost, returned to the freeway, and found that the eastbound offramp wasn’t closed. We managed to get our usual spot with more ease than usual! It did throw my game off because I though my time schedule was very critical. Losing that 15 minutes turned out to be no big deal! It for sure would be a problem if it happens at Ironman AZ in November.
I saw Mom twice on each loop of the bike. And thanks to my bike computer it let’s me know when it pairs with my cell phone. Since Mom had my phone it let me know every time just before I went past here!
Odd things I saw on the ride: 1) a credit card laying in the bike lane and 2) an unopened piece of mailing laying in the street.
Best sign I saw: Swim – don’t drown, Bike – don’t crash, Run – don’t trip!
Thank you John Sheridan for having my bike in top-notch shape. It worked flawlessly!
Thank you Dave Borys, Steve Brooks, and Chris Thomas for sharing you knowledge about the course.
Thank you to all those who followed my progress on race day.
Thank you MOM for accompanying me on this latest triathlon adventure. You were a great Sherpa and excellent supporter. I love you!
And finally, thank you LINDA for you endless love, support, and encouragement. And thank you for picking up the slack and coaching Team Challenge on your own while I was away having fun!

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