My first Triathlon
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Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman
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Ironman North America
60F / 16C
= 16h 46m 27s
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Where to begin? Three days after the race, I don't really think it has sunk in yet that I finished an Ironman. As I just start to walk normal again and begin to stand up without whimpering like a little girl, I am beginning to realize the magnitude of this accomplishment. I am amazed with all the emails, notes, and accolades that I have gotten from friends and family throughout this journey. If you had any contact with me over the past six months, it was pretty hard not to know that I was doing an Ironman. Even with all my rambling and posturing, all the congratulations and kind words were sent voluntarily and I am thankful for everyone who took the time to care how I did. Sara said she kept getting emails and text throughout the day from many, many people who wanted to know how I was doing. So thank you everyone, it really means a lot.
I started doing triathlons a little less than three years ago. I go into it because I found myself gaining weight and out of shape. Not that I was grossly overweight, but I realized without making changes in my eating and exercising habits, I was heading down a path that wasn't going to be good. In Feb 08, I signed up for a sprint triathlon in May and began training. Before Feb, I hadn't swam in more than 15 years, hadn't biked in almost the same, and had probably only run a total of 10 miles in my whole life. So, basically, I was starting from scratch. I downloaded a 12 week training program from a little site called BeginnerTriathete.com and headed to the gym. My first swim was for 300 yards and I did in 12mins
). My first bike was 2.75 miles in 24min
). And my first run was 1 mile in 12 min. With numbers like those, there was nothing else to do but improve. Since that first week, I have swam 166 miles, biked 4,093 miles, and run 900 miles. That took 640 hours. All this lead up to me getting in the water on Sunday morning at 7am.
We arrived in AZ on Thursday and headed over to Tempe Town Park to register, which took 10 minutes. I decided to get body marked because we had some time to spare before checking into the hotel. This was one of the only unorganized things of the whole weekend. It took forever. They were using these number rollers that smudged and ran and each person took 10 minutes to mark. After 20 minutes I figured I was already invested, so we waited. When that was done, went to the Ironman store and go the kids some sweatshirts. Walked around the expo and took some pictures. We went to the hotel and checked in and was sleeping by 8:30.
Friday I went back to the race site to pick up my bike, get new tires put on, and take it out for a spin. Then went to the airport to pick up my friend Chuck, who decided on Wednesday to make the trip out. Went to the athlete's dinner on Friday night. Met up with Marianne
) and her husband. Stayed for the athlete's meeting.
On Sat morning I went to the practice swim. Met up with MAV, Beth
), and Colin
), who graciously let me borrow is booties. The water was 61.5 degrees, but it wasn't that bad. I swam for about 15 minutes. After the swim, I dropped my bike off in transition and dropped my T1 and T2 bags off. We hung out at the pool for most of the afternoon and ate in the resort. I got into bed at 8:30, slept for maybe an hour, then was up on and off until the alarm at 4am.
We got to transition at 5am. Dropped the special needs bags off, hit the porta potty before the lines got long and kissed Sara goodbye so she could watch the start from the bridge. Got my wetsuit on and took a sharpie and wrote Noah on one forearm and Lily on the other. Even though they couldn't be there, I do this for them and I thought of them all day. Found MAV, Beth, and Chris and headed down to the swim start. I am lucky to have been there with fellow New Englanders.
Swam about 150 yards and treaded water for about a minute.
1h 28m 39s
02m 06s / 100 yards
I have been hearing different things throughout the week of where to start. I ended up starting by the wall under the bridge. The first 10 minutes or so was full of contact and trying to find open water. Once I got into open water, I found a rhythm and before I knew I was at the second bridge. The turn around was a bit further than I thought, but I think I the turn around at 38 mins. It was pretty congested at the buoys, but opened up again right after the turn. I was ready to get out of the water by the time I hit the bridge, but still had about 300 to go. Got congested again at the end and got kicked in the goggles. I pretty much sprinted the last 150 to get out. Because of the lake issue 4 months ago, the water levels weren't where they were supposed to be, so the steps on came down to around your chest, so you had to hoist yourself up.
What would you do differently?:
Start up front more and maybe take the turns a bit wider. I may have gained about 5 minutes. Overall I couldn't be happier. All the time in the pool paid off.
Was really crowded in the tent. The volunteers were trying their best to keep up with everything. I just wanted to make sure I had everything I needed.
What would you do differently?:
Swim in tri suit instead of jammers so I didn't have to change in the tent.
8h 16m 51s
I may have erased this ride from my memory already. This was, by far, the hardest ride I have ever done. I didn't get a chance to ride the course, by bike or car, before the race, so I didn't know what to expect. I know the elevation show a steady incline out and downhill on the way back. The plan was to ride in the small ring on the way out to get my legs warmed up and then cruise in the big ring on the way back, then rinse and repeat for the next 2 laps. Didn't quite work out that way.
The way out on the first loop was okay. I think I took it too easy. I averaged 16.5 mph and did it in 1:10 mins. I thought this would be fine to keep in my goal of 2:15/loop, since the way back was downhill. As soon as I hit the turn, the wind hit. The headwind must have be 20 mph. I was not happy. I think I was going 14mph, downhill. I read older race reports where people just cruised in at 25mph on the way back into Tempe. Not today. I completed the first loop in 2h30min. It actually started to rain just before I hit the turn around. Nice. Everyday since we landed, it was sunny and no wind. Race day - first time it had rained in 3 months. That's pretty much the way my luck has been throughout this whole IM training.
Second loop wasn't much better. I stopped at the first rest stop and realized that my rear tire was pretty low. I pumped it up and it seemed to help a bit. I think I made it up to the turnaround in 1:10 min. The wind was picking up, probably up to 25mph. I think I had an Uncrustable at this stop. I was drinking my Infinit right on schedule. My legs felt okay, but I felt like I wasn't moving at all. There were times I was only going 11-12mph. To top it off, Chrissie Wellington blew my me right before special needs. She almost killed me when she tossed her water bottle. At this point I was really thinking of not going out on the second loop. It started to rain again ask I pulled back into Tempe. Sara and Chuck were there cheering me on telling me I could do it. It took me 1h30m to to this leg. I had almost 3 hours to finish.
The start of the 3rd loop is when the tri gods really started to have fun because the wind changed direct and now there was a head wind head up the Beeline. I must of let out a pretty big "sigh" I as made the turnaround because people started laughing and cheering. As I started headed back out, the sky was dark. I was thinking that I will be heading right into a major storm. I guess I missed most of the heavy rain and hail. The way up the Beeline was slow. The only good thing was it looked like people heading back to Tempe were moving pretty good. I kept telling myself to just make the turnaround and you can coast back in. That leg took 1h20m. I hit the porta potty at the turnaround and started heading back in town. There was a slight tailwind and I was cruising at 23mph and I thought, finally a chance to enjoy the ride. Well I did for about 3 miles before the winds switched again and the headwind was back, stronger than ever. I heard someone after saying they think the winds got up to 30mph. The closer I got to Tempe and the finish, the stronger they got. I actually started laughing at the last turn into town because the winds were so strong, I was only doing like 10mph. MAV's son, Brian, was actually running next to me down Rio Salido since I was going so slow. Pulled into transition and someone took my bike. I told them they could keep it. Last leg was 1h40m.
What would you do differently?:
Is everything a suitable answer? First, make sure the tire a pumped up all the way. Second, push it a bit harder out of the gate. I was already warmed up and my swim was so good, I didn't need to take it easy going out. I missed my opportunity to take advantage of the tailwind on the way out. Third, not stop so much. I think my ride time was 7:48 and my total time was 8:16. :30 minutes of futzing around isn't going to help my cause. Although it was my worst bike ride ever, I keep telling myself it could have been worse. There were a lot of crashes out there because of the wind.
As you would have thought, T2 was empty. The volunteers told us Chrissie had won the race in WR time. It was still barely light out. I decided to keep my bike jersey on with my arm warmers. I figured with the wind, it would be pretty chilly out there. Well, wrong again. Got everything on and headed out for my first marathon.
What would you do differently?:
6h 36m 58s
15m 09s min/mile
My original goals, before the bike from hell, was to run the first lap. Chuck and Sara were right there when I got out, so it was good to see them. It was slightly light out. There were a lot of people walking, mostly because there were on their 2nd and 3rd laps. I just started running. I made it to mile 1 and felt fine. The run course is out to the Priest St bridge, over the bridge and back down the other side of the lake. Second aid stop the were handing out chicken broth already. I didn't want any because I was waiting until later. Then I realized something. NO WIND. WTF. I was actually sweating pretty good. I couldn't have guessed more wrong about the weather this race. Right before you get on the Mill Street bridge, they had the Ford Inspirational message board. It wasn't working when I passed. I crossed the bridge and it was basically dark out. It was a cool site. Then back down past transition and along the lake, down to the Rural Rd Bridge. Over that bridge and then a 2 mile loop throughout some neighborhoods. Back over the bridge and back to transition to start the 2nd loop. Much to my amazement, I ran the whole first loop and actually felt good. I had coke and chicken broth at every aid station starting at around mile 4. Had some fruit at some, or some pretzels. I just wanted to keep getting calories.
I saw Sara and Chuck again at the second start of the second loop and kept on going. I stopped to put bandaids at mile 9. I started again and kept running/jogging. I passed a lot of people walking. I made it like this through special needs, which was between miles 11-12. I had Sara meet me down at SN to take my bag after I picked what I needed. I had asked family and friends write some inspiration notes so I could read them on the run, but I didn't read any of them because of the time. Just knowing the were there meant the world to me and still helped me through the second half of the race. After SN, I started walking/running. Drinking every aid station, taking in the atmosphere and doing more math in my head than NASA scientists. I must of recalculated my time and how much longer I had every 2 minutes. I finished the 2nd loop at 9:30pm. I had 2:30 hours to do a little under 9 miles.
There were Sara and Chuck again and I told them I didn't have time to stop. It was going to be close. As I started loop 3, a woman yelled you are almost there. If I had the energy or the time, I would have told her I still had a 1/3 of a marathon left, what units of time are you using? I walked up until the .25 mile to the Priest bridge, then ran. Over the bridge and told myself I could walk until mile 20. At 10k left, I had to run. At this point my Garmin died, so I had no idea what my pace was. I had to do it mile by mile. I hit the 20mile mark at 10:15pm. An hour and 45 mins to to 6 miles. If I was to do 15 min miles, I would have 15 minutes to spare. No stopping at rests stops. Keep moving. I saw Sara and Chuck on the bridge and told them I think I would be fine. Sara looked real nervous and told me to go fast . I ran for a bit then walked. I stared running at mile 21 and got a huge blister on the side of my big toe. It killed. I could stop to put a bandaid on or pop it. Keep moving. At mile 22 I was at 10:45, still okay. I walked across the bridge and through mile 23. 11:02. That took 17min. Mile 23-24 is slightly up hill and the furthest way from the finish. I hit mile 24 at 11:20 and remember thinking 40 min for 2.2 miles. Too close. So I started running. I passed some people. I had to stop one last time to pee but that took all of 30 secs. I kept thinking to myself that there was no way I wasn't finishing this. All the hours, all the money, all the time I missed away from my kids, all the events with friends and family, all the sacrifices Sara made so I could do this. I passed this woman right under the Rural bridge before we were heading back and she wasn't looking good. I felt really bad for her. She was walking and asking how much time was left. I tried not to pay attention or to think about it. I think she ended up being the last person at 16:59:37. Good for her. I kept running. Over the bridge finally along the last stretch of about 1.5. I hit mile 25 at 11:30 and I still wasn't sure I had it. I didn't want to take any chances. I kept running. The Mill St bridge didn't seem to get any closer. I didn't stop at any of the aid stations. I didn't even have the energy to thank them. I just held up my hand and ran by. I hit the bridge and most everyone was up at the finish now. The entrance to the last left was further than I thought, and I think I yelled out "where am I going?" I took the last turn and there was about 500 meters left. You came up behind the finishers shoot and there was a couple ahead of me and someone pretty far behind me so I started to walk. I came up to the finisher shoot and it was crazy. It's pretty dark then there is a spot light on the ground before you turn up the shoot. I think it's where they pick you up for the video screen. I remember hopping on the light and started running up the shoot. Then I heard Mike Reilly - " Joshua Ross, from Hingham Mass, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" I can't describe what it was like. Hundreds and hundreds of people lining both sides. Mike Reilly in the shoot revviing up the crowd. I high fived him. Sara told me before I got there, he and Chrissie were doing YMCA. I think I high fived everyone in the crowd. I saw Sara and Chuck about 50 yds from the finish. I raised by arms, crossed the finish and was swept away by one of the many awesome volunteers.
What would you do differently?:
For my first marathon, nothing. Considering my run is my worst event, so I thought, I think I did pretty well. I ran the last 2.2 miles, after already going 138.4 miles. I think that's what I most proud of.
The catcher put the mylar blanket on, gave me my hat, shirt and medal. Then he took me over to get my finisher's photo. I exited the finisher's area and met up with Sara and Chuck. Sara started crying. I think I cut it too close for her. Chuck said he was ready to go and get me. I knew I had it all along. I went into the massage tent for 10 minutes and then the food tent. I wasn't hungry and the pizza looked like it was sitting there for awhile. Luckily, we parked in one of the 1st spots on MIll St, so we walked to the car and went home.
Got home, took a shower, and I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then read all the notes people wrote me. Then I pass out. I only slept for about 5 hours. Since I was up, we went to drop a small fortune on finisher's gear. I am glad we did.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Before Sunday, I had never swam longer than 4000 yds, never biked more than 100 miles, and never ran more than 13 miles. If you know me, you know that this has been a long year. I think the training has been a good distraction. I just wish I could have gotten more in.
13 minutes and 33 seconds. It makes me a little nervous now. That was pretty close. But, I got the same finisher's medal that the folks who finished in 9 hours, and I am still an Ironman, forever. All in all it was an amazing experience. You really have to experience a WTC IM. There has been some bad publicity around some of their business moves lately, but their race execution was impeccable. For the most part, every event, from Thursday to Monday, was perfectly executed. The planning and logistics of an event like this must be mind blowing, yet it goes off without any major issues.
The volunteers were beyond amazing. So much so, that I told Sara I am volunteering at Lake Placid next year. It should be mandatory to volunteer if you compete. These events would not happen with out them. From all the people at check-in to the themed water stops on the bike and the run. The wetsuit strippers. the nice lady who rubbed suntan lotion on my face out of T1, the kids in the middle of the Beeline cheering us on, the guys in the changing tents, the A.R.T masseuses who volunteer their time, the body markers, the finish line catchers, and the folks at the athletes dinner - Thank you.
Now for the rest of thank you's.
First, thank you to beginnertriathlete.com and it's members. It's truly an amazing site with an abundance of resources and really the most knowledgeable people around. If you ever think you want to attempt a triathlon, sign up on this site before you even buy a bike. It truly encompasses the term community and I couldn't be have done this with out this site, because...
Of the people I have had the pleasure to meet in person. I am lucky enough to know and train with 2 of the most inspiring people on this site, Marianne
) and Kathy
). I look at their training logs everyday and stare at awe at their dedication and achievements. Right before my first race, almost 3 years ago, Marianne offered to go swimming with me at Hopkinton lake. It was the first week of May, the water temp was 55 at most and it was raining. Ever since that day, she has always been there and when she said she was signing up for IMAZ, it was a no brainer for me. And for the rest of our New England BTers, Lisa, John, Erica, Beth, KevinG, Rori, Colin, Denise
(I didn't forget you
(wherever you went to
), Serenity, Mina, Kathy, and our honorary New Englander, Helen. Thank you all.
Thank you to all my friends, family, and co-workers who have put up with me the past 6 months or so. I promise no more Ironman talk, unless someone asks.
And finally, I couldn't have done this without the encouragement and support of my wife, Sara. Other than that first day 3 years ago I told her I was signing up for a triathlon, she has always been my # 1 supporter. She's the one that told me I should sign up for this race. I was glad I picked this race because I must have seen her almost a dozen times throughout the day, which was exactly what I needed to keep moving forward. She would hound me when I didn't get a workout in and never complained once about the hours training. This race is for her as much is it for me.
I am sure I will do another, but not anytime soon, I think;
Last updated: 2009-11-23 12:00 AM
01:28:39 | 4224 yards | 02m 06s / 100yards
Out in back in Tempe Town Lake.
61F / 16C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
08:16:51 | 112 miles | 13.53 mile/hr
1 00:18:25 5.00 16.3 2 00:17:52 5.00 16.8 3 00:18:40 5.00 16.1 4 00:20:17 5.00 14.8 5 00:18:54 5.00 15.9 6 00:20:48 5.00 14.4 7 00:21:20 5.00 14.1 8 00:20:55 5.00 14.3 9 00:19:22 5.00 15.5 10 00:18:35 5.00 16.1 11 00:21:04 5.00 14.2 12 00:21:20 5.00 14.1 13 00:23:21 5.00 12.8 14 00:23:59 5.00 12.5 15 00:22:51 5.00 13.1 16 00:19:43 5.00 15.2 17 00:19:48 5.00 15.1 18 00:20:48 5.00 14.4 19 00:22:06 5.00 13.6 20 00:20:49 5.00 14.4 21 00:24:36 5.00 12.2 22 00:24:23 5.00 12.3 23 00:08:24 1.65 11.8
Headwind with gusts
3 Loops out to the Beeline Highway and back.
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:36:58 | 26.2 miles | 15m 09s min/mile
3 figure 8 loops around Tempe Town Lake.
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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