Ironman Arizona 2013 race report as given to his training group post-race:
The 11th hour eludes me again. Two, of the many, goals I had going into this race were to finish with 11 something next to my name (even if) and to run a sub 5 hour marathon (which I had yet to accomplish in an Ironman). The first will be for another race, the second I obtained. However, I did PR by 9 seconds. Prior PR was set at Arizona two years ago.
I went into the race calmer than any other. Probably due to my past experience, knowing that I could finish the race even if I hit an insurmountable wall like what happened at St. George last year. I did a few things different for pre race day preparation. I made sure to focus on hydration last week and to taper off with the protein and fat and focus more on high carbs like rice and potatoes. I never made this a big priority in the past. I also ate a good breakfast aboutwhich consisted of an ensure, white rice and one scrambled egg. Surprisingly, my stomach was calm all morning.
There is nothing like race morning at transition. Getting all the necessities in place and making sure all transition and special needs bags are set. I had the standard trip to the restroom, wetsuit on (by the way, you may all know this but I learned it last week, putting on a wetsuit with a plastic grocery bag is miraculous), goggles checked and ready to rock and roll. We were herded into the water. Water was 64 degrees. Perfect.
Tory and I decided to stay together during the swim. The plan was that I was going to draft off of him for as long as I could. I lost him as soon as we jumped into the water and started swimming to the start. Seemed like there were more participants at the starting line this year. That plan was abandoned, but it didn't really matter because it was an "everyone for themselves type of swim". Like Tory, I couldn't seem to get into a rhythm. Bodies, arms and legs in every direction. It remained like this for the first half of the swim for me. I did have moments of clear water but they quickly vanished. I cramped in both hamstrings before the Scottsdale Road Bridge. Which was unusual because I normally cramp in the calves and feet. I slowed the pace to try and relax the muscles. Luckily it worked. After the turnaround the water seemed to open up more, but the cramps in the my lower legs hit. I tried to work them out the best I could and then I tried to swim motionless with my legs with the hopes that little movement would keep them relaxed. I made it without any hard cramps hitting. I exited the water with a time of. I was happy, given my swim training was severely lacking due to my bike crashes this summer and fall. This is the best I have ever felt getting out of the water.
First loop on the bike was fast. I was able to keep a level power output and was able to draft off of all the bikers I was passing. I also thought I better try and push it a bit and get as many miles in before the wind hit. And hit it did. I disagree with Tory's report of the wind. I felt it hit on the second loop and it slowed my speed considerably. I was able to get into a group of similarly conditioned cyclist and we paced off each other until the turn around.
Because I know you are all triathletes I will share this next "first experience." I was well hydrated going into the race and kept drinking on the first loop. I had to urinate and each aid station I passed there was a line of bikers waiting to get into the porta pot. I wasn't going to stop and wait in line. I had that 11th hour finish on my mind. So, I hit the turn around at Shea, grabbed a water bottle and coasted down the hill. I grabbed my shorts to create a little air pocket with the hope there would be enough space to relieve the pressure. I had stage fright for about 2 seconds then it began to flow. I didn't care. I followed up with spraying the entire water bottle on my shorts and down my leg. Nothing to it. Well worth it. The bad thing about slowing to urinate was that I lost my pace group.
At the start of the first loop I saw Tory. I started talking to him but quickly figured our that he was on the phone. What? Yes, he was talking on the phone telling some person that today was not a good day for him and that tomorrow would be better. Tory, what was that all about? During the second loop I started to feel fatigue in my quads. This is unusual for me. I felt it a few times this summer training for LOTOJA, but never thought it would hit during the IM. Not sure what caused it. I stuck to my nutrition (so I thought). I decided to slow the pace and conserve for the run rather than fight the wind.
The third loop was hard. Wind always seemed to be in my face. I saw a crash just as we got on the Beeline. It just happened and people were stopping in front of me. I was plagued with the question of what to do. Do I stop or do I keep going? In that split second I decided to keep riding. There were about 5-6 other bikers there to help. To ease my guilt I waved a highway patrolman down less than a quarter of a mile away and he responded to the scene.
I was happy to get off the bike. I finished the bike in. Felt pretty good during transition.
My plan for the run was different this race. What I had done in the past didn't work. I decided to carry my own hydration and calories rather than relying on what was provided on the course. I never train with the course products. I was a little anxious to carry my fuel belt and figure out how and when to refill my own bottles. I also decided to run with my heart rate monitor. I had been training with it. I started out with keeping my heart rate under 155. My pace was steady aroundfor the first few miles. But I began to slow more and more as the miles passed. I was all the way up to 13 minutes at one point. My mind was spinning, trying to figure out what was going on. I could see my 11th hour finish slipping away as my body just couldn't go any faster. I was frustrated and it was the lowest point of the race for me. It was one of those time when I kept asking myself, why do I keep doing this? The mental game was in full force. I finished the first loop in about minutes. Right on track for another 5+ hour marathon. Disappointing. But I kept moving forward.
At the midway three things happened. First, I saw my family, second, I drank a redbull from my special needs bag, and third, the sun went down. I had new life, a new found energy and power in my legs. I started out running about a 10 minute pace, then I was feeling better and better. My pace dropped to a 9 minute pace and even 8:30s at times. My form was back and I was cruising. I thought to myself, I am going to just keep this pace until I fall apart. Which to be honest I thought it was going to be a few miles. I was wrong. That self doubt quickly vanished as I kept passing people. After seeing my family at the midway point they missed me 4 miles later because my pace had picked up. They were planning on about a 12 minute pace. I ran and the more I ran the energy and power seemed to stay. My heart rate jumped to 165 and held at that rate for the remainder of the marathon. Some how I experienced the runner's high the second half of the marathon. Not really sure how it happened. Perhaps it was the red bull.
I fought off cramps in my legs and feet the last 4 miles. I ran out of my drink mix with about 3.5 miles to the finish. I took salt stick at every aid station from that point until the finish. With the miles ticking down my pace and heart rate remained consistent. I kept thinking to myself - only 2.5 miles to the finish that's like running from adobe home, I do this all the time. Those small positive mental boosts helped. I passed Tory when I had about 1.25 miles to finish. He looked strong and his form looked good. I knew he was on his way to another IM finish. I picked up the pace the last mile or so. Knowing you are that close to the finish brings another boost of adrenalin. I knew I was running against the clock at that point, but I wasn't sure what time it was.
I rounded the finishing shoot and squinted to see the official clock. All I needed to see was the 12th hour. I was disappointed but ran as fast as I could to finish line. I ended up at.
I had a huge negative split on the second loop of the run. First loop was, second loop was about . I was happy about that and my sub 5 hour marathon.
Post race I was not feeling well. I thought I had hydrated enough throughout the day. But I could feel the effects of the dehydration settling in. I hugged my family spoke to Ryan and Spencer and then headed to the medical tent. When I arrived my blood pressure was 80/40 with a heart rate of 97. They hooked me up to an IV and pumped in 1.5 liters of fluid. I also learned that I ran my right big toenail off during the second loop. Bummer.
All in all, it was a great day. Any IM finish is a feat in and of itself. Lessons were learned, the complete range of emotions were felt, there were personal wins and losses, and then, like all of you, I think about what race is next.
Thanks for the support.
Fifth-time Ironman Finisher
His dedicated fans
first run loop
beginning second run loop… seconds before the Red Bull...
thank goodness for Grandma!