Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
Ironman North America
65F / 18C
Total Time = 15h 38m 49s
Overall Rank = 1995/2500
Age Group = W40-44
Age Group Rank = 104/139
Pre-race routine:

Didn't sleep much the night before as usual. Got up about 4:30 a.m. and had a toast with egg. Dean drove me down to the race at 5:45 (it's so nice to live 3 miles from T1!). Saw Mom, Damon, Denise, Chad and Elliot while getting ready. Re-set my T1 and T2 bags with long sleeve items that were never used, such as my long sleeve RunFit top. Found water to rinse goggles before getting into lake.
Event warmup:

I suppose the 400m swim from the floating dock to the start area counts as a warm up! I looked at all of the folks standing on the ledge and thought, that's the way to go if you get hypothermic like me. Maybe next time I'll try staying on the ledge until the gun goes off.
  • 1h 39m 20s
  • 3862 meters
  • 02m 34s / 100 meters

I hit my goal time on the swim, which is a major accomplishment considering I had problems with hypothermia in the swim at IM St. George in May and was very worried about the water temperature. This time I wore water socks and booties under my wetsuit, and completely covered my hands and face in Aquaphor, so I did not shake nearly as bad as at IMSG coming out of the swim.

The start was really rough, a slugfest for the first 1000m or so. Tried drafting, but it was just chaos. I got kicked in the chin and bit my tongue, but fortunately the cold water had already numbed most of my face anyway. Never had a doubt about finishing the swim, just had to keep going. Had a good time watching the buildings and "A" mountain go past. About halfway between Mill and Rural I found some open water and got into a rhythm. Found I was way to the right of the buoys and started heading back to the left, where I got run over by a couple of guys. I thought, "where the heck did you guys start if you're catching me now?" I also kept getting hit by a lady who was backstroking most of the race.

The distance between Rural and the red turn buoy seemed interminable, but I was very happy to finally reach the red buoy. I had an urge to look at my watch at the turn but didn't. I also realized that my goggles (borrowed from Dean since mine tend to fog up every 300m or so) were still clear and I was happy about that.

Sighting was decent from the turn buoys back to the finish. I noticed the water was really choppy and I swallowed a bit more than intended. Plus I kept hitting a lady (and she hit me) to the point where she really got annoyed with me. We banged around for a couple of buoys, and then I lost her.

I had peed in the wetsuit twice during the swim, which kept me warm, but about 3/4 of the way back I started to feel the same abdominal pain as during IMSG. I tried to make myself pee, but was too cold, so I just had to take the pain for a while. I had also started to shiver a bit in the wetsuit. To combat the shivering, I swam harder. I also clenched and unclenched my hands while swimming to keep the blood moving.

Finally, after turning the last buoy, I was able to relax and pee in the wetsuit, and that helped relieve the abdominal pain as well. I swam hard all the way to the exit and got out with a smile on my face. I ran out to the wetsuit strippers, and I heard Adela say, "Hey! I've been waiting for this one!" Adela and two others got me stripped in no time and I ran in my booties to the changing tent. In the meantime I had looked at my watch, which said something like 1:44, so I was pretty happy.
What would you do differently?:

This was nearly a perfect swim in choppy conditions. The booties really made a difference, and I think clenching and unclenching the hands did too. The only thing I can do differently is learn to swim better.
Transition 1
  • 13m 21s

The first thing I did at T1 was use the bathroom (again!), but at least that made for a more comfortable bike. My T1 was much better than at IMSG despite the fact that the changing tent was packed! I was able to use my hands (unlike at IMSG where they were frozen into claws) and did not need any help from volunteers. I had decided only to change my bottoms, and that helped speed up the process. I put on my black and orange East Side Cool Kids Tri Club tri shorts and Cool Kids jersey. I had decided long ago that I was not going to wear sponsored gear as I has already made all sponsor commitments, and wanted to honor all of the people who had helped me train during the past two years. So I wore Cool Kids gear on the bike and RunFit gear on the run. I left T1 in very good spirits.
What would you do differently?:

Try not changing the bottoms.
  • 7h 55m 18s
  • 112 miles
  • 14.14 mile/hr

I left T1 in very good spirits despite the overcast conditions. Noticed the crosswind on Rio Salado, and the flags straight out pointing north on McKellips. Pushed up the Beeline making 18 mph with a tailing crosswind and wondered just how strong the headwind on the downhill would be. When I turned around, I was stunned by the ferocity of the wind. Normally I am in the big chain ring doing 30+ mph on the Beeline downhill. This time I had to stay in the small chain ring and could barely hit 14 mph, on the downhill!

I am not a strong cyclist, and was not confident getting into the aerobars in such strong crosswinds. So I didn't use aero much on the first loop. I was thankful that I had chosen to use a Camelbak for water instead of having to worry about getting a water bottle out of the cage in that wind. Plus my legs were cramping bad from the swim all through the first loop of the bike, so I was in some pain that whole first loop. I saw Dave Barnes on the first loop, and asked how he was doing. He mentioned that his legs were cramping from the swim, too. I also saw Kate on the first loop of the bike, and she was beaming. "I made it out of the water!" she said as I passed her going downhill (she was going uphill on the first loop).

I had planned to finish the first loop in 2:15, and it took me more than 2:30. I added it up, and sunk into despair at the end of the first loop. I wasn't sure I could take another two loops of this pain. I saw Dean and shook my head when I first went by him, then called out, "I'm not going to make my splits," as I passed him after the turn around. But I was cheered by seeing Lisa and Bobby with Dean cheering for me as well.

I should have been taking twice the amount of salt tablets (lesson learned!) on the first loop, so it wasn't until the leg cramping started to subside in the middle of the second loop that my mental game improved and I started using aero to get small in the wind. There were a few things that kept me going: knowing that Dean and others were out watching me on the course and online, and remembering that my coach said there will be low points in the race and high points in the race. Whatever you're feeling at the moment, just keep going because it will change.

Just after turning the corner onto McKellips on the second loop, the skies opened up an pelted us with rain. It was a cold, biting rain slanting sideways from the 35+ mph crosswind. I stopped in the shelter of the drive-in theater and put my rain jacket on. This also allowed me to stretch a bit since my legs were still cramping. I got on the bike and kept going.

I rested a bit on the uphill and ate a banana and more salt tablets. By the top of the second loop the cramps had subsided and I was bracing myself for the downhill. The second downhill loop was miserable. The rain had stopped for the moment and I was baking in the rain jacket, so I stopped at special needs and took the rain jacket off. I had a frosted sugar cookie in my special needs, along with short-fingered gloves and a bottle of Coke. By the time I took off the Camelbak and the jacket and exchanged long fingered gloves for shorties, I decided I had taken too much time to drink any of the Coke. But I took the cookie, and man, did I enjoy that cookie. I should have put two in my bag! I was in better spirits at the end of the second loop, despite the fact that the rain had chased away most of the spectators. But not Dean! Dean and Bobby were still in the median waiting for me. By this time I had spent almost 5.5 hours on the course and had another loop to go. I knew it was going to be close.

My goal had been to finish the bike in less than 7 hours, which would have put me well ahead of cutoffs, but as the day wore on, I couldn't believe I was going to be chasing cutoffs again like at St. George. I saw the "sweepers" in the other lane of the Beeline on the third loop, but stayed well ahead of them and finished the bike with 30 minutes to spare. I was worried about Kate and Mel since I didn't see either of them on the third loop, and I hadn't seen Mel all day.

What would you do differently?:

Take salt tabs BEFORE and after the swim to minimize cramping on the bike. Not bother with the rain jacket unless it's really going to rain all day. Put two sugar cookies in the special needs bag, and bring one with on the bike itself. Use the aero position a lot more.
Transition 2
  • 09m 27s

I could barely move getting off the bike, but hobbled to T2 and put my run gear on. RunFit singlet over the Zoot tri top. Even without changing anything else but shoes, hats and jerseys, T2 took nearly 10 minutes and I still forgot to Aquaphor my feet.
What would you do differently?:

Aquaphor my feet!
  • 5h 41m 25s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 02s  min/mile

I was able to "run" out of T2 and start executing my 12-to-1 run/walk plan, although at first it was at a very slow pace. But my legs soon got used to the running motion and I was able to go faster, even though I started feeling blisters form within the first five miles. My big mistake, though, was that I didn't take anything at any aid stations on the first loop, and by the start of the second, I was disoriented and definitely bonking. I saw Dean just after the start of the second loop and wailed that they were going to pull me from the course. Dean reminded me that I still had five hours to finish the remaining 18 miles. This realization perked up my spirits. Even though the poor showing on the bike had blown my overall goal, I'd still finish. I also realized I was bonking and started alternating chicken broth, coke, and orange slices at the aid stations, being careful only to take one of the three items at any aid station to avoid upsetting my stomach. The plan worked, and I was able to keep up the run/walk method all the way through to the finish.

I saw so many people on the course and at aid stations that kept me motivated. I saw Dean every loop, and with him was Denise plus others from the RunFit club, including Janet, Melissa and Nate. I have only run with Nate twice, yet he made a sign for me and was out there for four hours cheering for me on the run course. Wow! Also saw Kerri, Will, Kara and Rick out at different points on the course. To see all of the people who came out to cheer for me was a humbling experience. It inspired me at the time to ensure I wouldn't fail, and also to hustle from aid station to aid station. If the stations were farther than 12 minutes apart, sometimes I stretched it to make the next aid station, especially since some stations were only six minutes apart.

I ran most of the way up Curry hill the first loop (saw Brian and Jenna on the first loop!), did four-to-one run/walk the second loop, and walked it the third loop with a guy from Maryland who has done Eagleman and some other races. We talked quite a bit about different races we've done. After that rest, he was able to run faster than me, and I don't think I caught him again. The third loop was like a death march, though. There were not many people who were still doing run/walk. Most people were just walking. At the top of Curry hill was the 23 mile sign, and I thought, there's only a 5K left! Wow! If I could run the rest, I could make 10:30. I did run through that next aid station, but walked a bit at the Phoenix Tri Club station (they were dressed as police -- really cool aid station), and had to walk a couple more times before the end.

Finally saw my coaches, Bill and Anne Wilson about a quarter mile from the end of the race. I had worn my Camelback Coaching visor for them, and had wondered why I didn't see them all race. They had been there, but it is hard to find athletes when you don't know what they are wearing. Fortunately I was running when I went past them, so I made a good show anyway.

On the turn to Rio Salado, I saw Rick again. I had seen him under Mill Ave. during one of the loops and we talked for a bit while I took a walk break. When I saw Rick, I handed my water bottle to him so it wouldn't be in the finish line picture. On the way into the chute, I also saw Mom and Damon, although I didn't see Dean.

The finisher's chute was absolutely amazing, and I spent several seconds slapping hands with spectators on both sides of the chute. I didn't even hear Mike Riley tell me I was an Ironman, although I heard Tempe, Arizona, so I know he announced it. I came across the finish line and was surprised to see Chrissie Wellington there. She gave me a hug, a huge smile on her face as if she was genuinely glad that I finished. That is something I will remember for the rest of my life.

There's a lot more I will always remember about Ironman. During the lowest points, I thought about Jim telling me that you can always find a thousand reasons not to do something or why you can't, but then you find that reason why you should. He was talking about ballooning, but it applies to triathlon, too. And then I also remembered Bill saying that there's a million times you want to quit during Ironman, but you just keep moving forward. Finally, there was Dean's inspiration-- that if he could finish IMAZ weeks after shoulder surgery, there was no reason for me to give up at all. And I was NOT going to have another DNF on my record anyway.

What would you do differently?:

Aquaphor my feet, take some chicken broth on the first loop OR be more diligent about taking salt tablets on the run as well as on the bike.
Post race
Warm down:

I skipped the athlete's food and massage since Dean, Denise, Damon and Mom met me at the finish line and were waiting for me. We planned to go to IHOP for pancakes, but suddenly I felt dizzy and nauseous. Thankfully, Dean had already picked up my bike and gear and stowed them in the car. I had to sit down on the sidewalk about three times between the finish line and the US Airways parking garage. It took two full days for my stomach to recover from IMAZ.

On Monday my shoulders and lower back were moderately sore, but my legs were screaming. I used the Compex, alternating between the inner thighs, quads, hamstrings and calves. By Tuesday I was able walk normally into work with just a little soreness still in my back and inner thigh muscles. I used the Compex again Tuesday night and by Wednesday almost all of the soreness was gone.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Mental toughness on the bike and the run.

Event comments:

Completing Ironman was a life-changing event. The Ironman training process boosted my confidence and increased discipline. I whine less about cold, pain and discomfort. After getting through the wind and rain at IMAZ, I can tackle almost any challenge thrown my way. But I also lost some meaningful relationships from the Ironman training. People who felt I talked too much about triathlon, that I was bragging about my new-found endurance or that I was putting them down decided not to talk to me anymore. And I stopped hanging around with people who don't value exercise or healthy lifestyles, so a few more friends dropped off the radar. I forged new friendships within the triathlon community, and I believe some of these friendships will endure past the dropoff in training now that Ironman is behind us. I am very lucky indeed to have a loving and supportive husband, good friends, and to have made it through Ironman with no injuries.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-11-23 12:00 AM
01:39:20 | 3862 meters | 02m 34s / 100meters
Age Group: 107/139
Overall: 2066/2500
Performance: Good
Suit: Full-sleeved wetsuit
Course: 1 loop rectangular
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 61F / 16C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 13:21
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
07:55:18 | 112 miles | 14.14 mile/hr
Age Group: 125/139
Overall: 2228/2500
Performance: Below average
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: 3-loop out-and-back
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 82
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Below average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 09:27
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:41:25 | 26.2 miles | 13m 02s  min/mile
Age Group: 89/139
Overall: 1647/2500
Performance: Average
Course: 3-loop
Keeping cool Good Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 4