Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
Ironman North America
86F / 30C
Total Time = 14h 55m 37s
Overall Rank = 1427/1943
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 214/268
Pre-race routine:

SORRY about the LENGHTY race report, but I really wanted to write it ALL down so I could capture all the details for years later...

Woke up around 4am. Ate 1 soft-boiled egg, a banana, a Clif bar, and sipped a 20 oz bottle of Accelerade (2 scoops) and Carbo Pro (2 scoops). Made a P&J sandwich for later in the day (during the bike), stretched a little, got dressed, and headed out at 5am. My brother (JCHYTE) drove (he raced also), so I was able to chill in the car on the way over.

Got to the race site by was still dark. We walked through a dirt field as a shortcut from the car. All I could think was, don't twist an ankle in the dark by taking a bad step!

I went straight to my bike (I had checked it in the day before) and pumped up my tires again, poured one bottle of Accelerade/Carbo Pro into my aero bottle. Also put a bottle of Powerbar Endurance drink/Carbo Pro on my bike. I was going to put my Garmin GPS watch on my new handlebar mount, but somehow managed to lose the attachment bracket that you need (I later found it in my Run special needs bag). So I relied on my CatEye bike computer instead. I had wanted to go higher tech, but was not a big deal. I was a little concerned that I had missed a "detail" and was slightly bothered that I might have forgotten something else. I was starting to stress a little.

I went over to check on my T1 and T2 bags...yep...they were still there....

Got in line for one last bathroom stop...definitely was feeling anxious...

Headed for Transition area to get ready for the swim. Remembered that I need to get body marked - oops - but it only took a minute.

Found my bro in transition, finished getting the wetsuit on and ready for action. Both of our wives and my daughter were there at that point and took a couple of pictures.

Spent a moment with the family praying for our day and for a good race. I was starting to feel emotional and had to check myself a little. It had been 2 years leading up to today, and the moment was at hand...

Event warmup:

Did some light stretching.
  • 1h 20m 22s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 54s / 100 yards

The swim was my favorite part of the race.

So everyone is in the bike transition area being herded towards the water entrance. The swim did not start until 7 am and there was like 25 minutes to go, so I wasn't exactly pushing to the front of the crowd to be 1st in the water. But it takes a long time to get 2000 people in the water. Volunteers with bullhorns were yelling "Get in the water. Swim away from the immediate area. Keep moving!" My heart rate was definitely starting to climb.

All of a sudden a canon goes off! What was that!!! Oh, the Pro's were starting at 6:45 and they were off. There was lots off hooting going on. I was getting caught up in this too. I let out my own little whoop and then ralized I had meanwhile shuffled my way right up to the water entry. So with one last adjustment on the goggles, I said to myself "OK, lets do it!" and jumped in feet first. I instantly popped back up, hoping nobody was going jump in and land on top of me. I swam about 30 feet away and treaded water for several minutes. It felt great to move around, stretch out a little, and take some gentle warmup strokes. Took the opporunity to empty the bladder (sorry, but it was great). I then swam about 200 yards to the start line. As I went under the Mill ave bridge, I flipped onto my back and looked up at the crowd along the railing. I waved up to them and alot of folks were yelling all sorts of great encouragement down to all the swimmers.

I lined up about 30 feet back from the line, about 30 feet from the far right. I wanted to follow the bank on the 1st half of the swim and stay on the far outside away from the crowd. Apparently most of the crowd had the same idea...

The starter podium was pretty close to where I was floating in the water. The mayor of Tempe made some nice comments, the national anthem was sung, and then it was almost time to go. I was saying some prayers right at that moment. I thanked God for being able to be out there, and my good health. After that, it was just treading water...everyone trying to be considerate and not kick the person next to you (yeah, save it for the race...) and some gentle joking to others around you to be kind.....tick, tick, tick, tick.....BOOM! The cannon goes off, I barely remember to start the timer on my watch, and we're off!

The swim start was INSANE!!!! I've seen it on TV, I've read about it plenty of different places. I was at IMAZ last year (working/scouting) and TOTALLY scrutinized the swim start from up close. But being in that water, in the mayhem, flailing, thrashing, trying to swim instead of being clubbed and kicked was something that I will NEVER forget.

As soon as we all started swimming, I was instantly tangled up with no less than 4 people constantly for the next 5 minutes. I knew from previous races that it would be easy for me to totally blow my heartrate and a ton of energy if I wasn't careful here.

All of the rough water swimming that I have done this year really helped me at this point. When swimming in really choppy water, I exaggerate my body roll on my non-breathing (left) side in order to clear the rough water long enough to get a breath (from the right side), and end up throwing/flopping my entire arm (from my breathing side) straight over my shoulder/head when reaching forward. Bad technique... Anyhow, it worked good in the melee. I was wedged between two people in front of me. I tried to position so that my arm reach was at least to their waist. That kept me far enough forward to not get kicked in the face (which happend some anyway). Everytime they closed together (stealing my space!!) my arm motion would naturally come down along the back of their thigh or hip. The wetsuits were slipperry enough that my forearm motion would slide them back over and preserve the little wedge I was swimming in. Of course the entire time, I had people swimming up on me also. I tried be gentle out there, but that went out the window a few times. I know one time it felt like the back of my heel came up and cracked someone HARD. I thought to myself, "I hope that was not someone's jaw..." and then kept going.

It eventually spaced out a little. I stayed within 20 feet of the right hand bank for about half of the distance south. The course was sort of a reverse S turn so half way down that length you have to drift away from the bank to avoid swimming extra distance. I finally got to the 1st left turn. As I approached there were alot of swimmers near me. I was going to take the turn a little wide, because I did not want to get smashed going tight around the corner. As it turned out, a gap opened as I got to the bouy, so I cut it close and powered ahead. I was feeling good.

One more quick left turn, and then the long length back...I was not swimming into the sun anymore (which was nice). It was not as crowded now, but there were 2 or 3 people who apparently needed to swim exactly where I was swimming. It was getting really frustrating. One guy just kept swerving in front of me (I could not possible be swimming crooked..?) and I could not get past him. One time when he cut me off, he stopped abruptly, which caused me to also stop abruptly. I instantly started to get a hamstring cramp as a result of the awkward stop. I never get hamstring crampes swimming, and this instantly had me worried, since there was alot of swimming left to do....

I altered my stroke slightly, let the cramping leg relax a little, flex the toe on that foot some whioe swimming (even though it slowed me down), and kept going.

By the time I made the last left turn buoy, I was cruising again. I found myself near one guy who was also swimming strong. I got so excited heading back towards the swim exit/stairs that I really wanted to finish the swim strong. I was determined to finish the swim ahead of the guy I was pacing. He may have had a similar idea because I know we both were totally moving out that last 300 yards. I finished a little ahead of him and felt pretty good about myself. It was just one of many "mini" battles all day long.

I had a little misstep on the stairs but not bad. The guy helping me out of the water had good intentions but was in the way more than anything. At the top of the stairs there was a MAJOR gangfight going on. It wasa the wetsuit strippers versus the athletes, and therer were people hopping up and down, some being pushed to the ground, some laying on the ground flailing there way out of there wetsuits. It was pretty funny! I managed to get helped out of my suit in record time, and then started the run to T1.

What would you do differently?:

I really have focused on Total Immersion type of swimming (maintain energy and minimize effort during the swim), but my racing swim times seem to be stuck right between 1:50-2:00 min /100yd. I may try to work on increasing my stroke rate and technique slightly (especially for the shorter races).
Transition 1
  • 12m 6s

The spotter and bike handlers for T2 were a little backed up when I came through and I had a small delay, but it was a minor thing. I was just in cracking up that people peel your wetsuit, retrieve/remove you bike, and cater to you in general so much more than any other race format (I think I like it!).
What would you do differently?:

Put more sunscreen on. I got fried before the bike was over.
  • 6h 30m 57s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.19 mile/hr

The 1st lap was great. I tried to not go too hard, but kept a pretty good pace going. I was averaging around 18-19 mph overall on the 1st lap. I tought I was doing good on fluids too. Coming back into town at the end of the 1st lap was incredible. The place was going off!!

The second lap was tiring. It started stronger than it ended, but that was not a big surprise. Between stopping at my special needs bag, and a bathroom stop (where very little pee was passed - even though I felt like I had to male that pitstop), my overall lap 2 time was slower. But the turnaround in town was a big shot in the arm (again). The crowd was going wild when I was coming through, then I realized thay were cheering for the womens leader (and eventual champion Michellie Jones, as she was lapping me and finishing her bike ride as I was starting my 3rd lap). My wife Marcy was at the turnaround and had recruited some strangers too cheer for me so that was way cool!!! I couldn't figure who these people were yelling my name!!

The 3rd lap sucked. My bac was getting sore. My right foot was getting so sore on the outside bottom edge of the arch that I was having major trouble peddling with my right foot. I later found out that some of my shoe clamp screws came loose and my foot was rocking sideways alot. I should have check those closer during the pre-race routine!!

Between being sore in several spots (more than on any of my long training rides), and being hot, and officially behind on my fluids, and having the wind steadily pick up, I was majorly hurting by the end of the ride. I was so happy to get off that stupid bike!!!! (actually I love my bike, just not right at that moment...).

I did not have as strong of a bike ride as I envisioned. I lost alot of ground on the 3rd lap...

What would you do differently?:

Check my shoes better. Drink more fluids. Take even more salt. Do better with the sunscreen. I'd like to say also take preventative advil, but am told that is not a good idea....

Transition 2
  • 23m 22s

My right foot was so sore, that when I got off the bike I could hardly put any pressure on my right foot. Needless to say, this had me majorly freaked out, considering the "little" run I still had planned.

I was very hot and felt dehydrated also.

I was in survival mode now and decided that I need to take a long T2 to cool off, hydrate, massage the crap out of my foot, and then head back out.

I was in the tent forever, but felt like I needed to at that point.

When I was leaving, I really had the volunteers lube me up with sunscreen. Much of the damage was already done though.

What would you do differently?:

Tried to get out on the run sooner and just suck it up. I caught a lot of flak for the 23 min T2 (thanks Huddle!).

Also, it was still very hot out. I wish I had a good shady hat to start the run with.
  • 6h 28m 51s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 14m 50s  min/mile

I jogged a little and then walked quite a bit for the 1st hour. My foot was thrashed, I was melting in the sun, and felt exhausted.

I saw brother John on the 1st lap (going opposite directions). I had not seen him all day until then, and had been worrying about him. He had stomach problems after the swim (thought the water may have caused it) and was currently suffering major sideaches and sore ribs). He was really worried about the run cutoffs and kept cruising, but he was looking awfully worried.

I stopped at my run special needs bag half way through the 1st lap and got some advil. I really needed it and did not care about any of the advil related concerns at that point.

I saw Marcy and Siera near the end of the 1st lap, and had my little drama moment. Shortly after that, I actually started feeling better. My foot was cooperating again, my back/ribs were feeling better (the advil was kicking in), the temperature was finally dropping, and I was doing pretty good on my fluids/salt (although I got in a deficit on the bike that I never really recovered from).

For the 2nd and third lap, I mostly jogged non-stop, although it was not super fast. I stopped at almost every aid station and drank as much as I could. I stopped at several portopotties, but never had much volume all day trying to pee. I was trying to drink enough to have at least 1 productive bathroom pitstop, but was pretty well parched/dehydrated all day.

I saw nephew Scott on the 2nd lap (he was working as a volunteer at the race). He talked me up for awhile and was a great encourement to me. I also saw him later and he ran with me for just a little bit and also gave me an update on John). John and I had hoped Scott would do the race with us, but it still great that he was there and really helped us both down the stretch- THANKS SCOTTY!)

I saw brother John on the 2nd lap almost at the same spot as before. He was almost frantic, worried about the cutoff time. I gave him the rest of my advil and salt. Thought he needed it worse than me. Said some prayers for him as I continued, and tried to not stress about it...gotta say taht I was concerned though.

On the 3rd lap, alot of people were walking. I felt really great at this point. Barring some weird thing happening, I knew I would finish before the cutoff. I actually felt stronger as the run had continued all day.

There were plenty of people still running, but there were tons of single walkers or sometimes groups of people walking together. It was dark now, and alot of people had glow sticks on. It was eerie looking.

I was now jogging pretty strongly (relatively speaking). I was passing people like crazy. There was just ALOT of people out there. It felt so good to be running steadily at that point of the day.

I was on the back side of the last lap, in a somewhat desolate area, trudging along past of the Ironman Northamerica employees that I sort of recognized was coming through on a bike and when he saw me running along remarked "Way to keep fighting...". I don't even know the guy, but I have to tell that that little moment meant the world to me. For me that was a part of perservering that I had envisioned for so many months of training, and it was just a cool "little" victory moment for me.

So I just kept plugging along. I originally had hoped to finish under 14 hours, and with some of my problems on the bike had missed that goal already. I was now trying to beat 15 hours. Here is an important lesson that I have now learned. Don't try to do math in my head while my heart rate is up amd I am exhausted...

I convinced myself that I was not going to make 15 hours so I slowed for a couple of moments. Thought I would catch my breath, recover just a little, and not kill myself hurrying down the stretch if I could not make 15 hrs. After discussing it with another runner, this lady pointed out that I only had just over a mile to go with 12 minutes left and that I could still make it.

At that point, the entire race boiled down to that next 12 minutes. I forgot about everything that had transpired all day, the swim, the bike, the previous part of the run...everything. I just knew I wanted to make that finish line before 10 pm (15 hr mark). I took off and was running like my life depended on it. I had a small emotional moment and felt my eyes burning/tearing up some...I really wanted this.

There was one more small incline; the last one of the day. After that there was a small street and then you turn the corner to the Mill street bridge. There is a big music area set up there. I wish I could say what song was playing as I tore around that corner, but it was all a blur. I was so tired, I was breathing so hard, but I knew I was almost done and I really wanted to finish under 15 hr mark. As I came over the bridge, I could see the finish are a 1/4 mile ahead and could hear the crowd and the music. I yelled to some people watching the race to tell me the time, because I didn't want to trust my own watch at that point. Several people later, some finally had the was 14:53.

As I came over the bridge there was a split in the road. The previous two laps I had gone to the right in the split to continue. Finally I got to go to the left to the finishers chute. Can't tell you how happy that made me...

There was a ton of people on both sides of the chute. After about 40 feet you turn the corner and go the lat 200yds). My daughter Siera and niece Katie ran out of the crowd to run down the stretch with me.

It was insane coming down the stretch. I knew the rest of my family was there but I couldn't spot them. I just wanted to get to that finsh line.

All 3 of us crossed together - holding hands. I was so happy to cross that finish line. It was truly one of the hardest things I have ever done.

My finish time was 14:55. I had run the last mile+ in about 8 minutes. I don't know if I could have held that pace much farther...That last burst cost me alot of my last reserve of energy and I was officially exhausted.

The volunteers had me stop while thay took my timing chip, gave me my medal, and sent me down the chute.

I saw my sister Melissa who instantly lent me a shoulder to lean on (even though I am at least 100 lbs heavier). She helped me walk out of the chute area. I was very tired. Within 3-5 minutes, my legs said if they weren't running they were "Done". I soon found I could hardly stand. Missy walked me to the medical tent, because I thought the dehydratin finally had caught up to me. By the time I got to the tent I was crumbling. They ended up putting 2 bags of fluids in me and 30 minutes later, I felt WAY better. The pictures from right after that still have me looking pretty wiped though...

All in all, it was an awesome day. I wanted to do better, but I felt like I did as well as I could on that particular day.

Brother John finished at 16:30. He beat the cutoffs. He beat many challenges along the way to also becoming an IRONMAN, and I was happy as could be to see him at the finish line.
What would you do differently?:

Focus on the run more (especially brick work - running off the bike).

It was along time to be out there on the run...I would sure like to cut down my running times....
Post race
Warm down:

I laid on a cot in the medical tent...

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Conditioning, lack of preparation for the heat/winds (despite thinking that I was ready).

Event comments:

This was an incredibly well run race. I only wish there was more food/goodies for us late finishers - It was almost non-existent...

Other than that it was most excellent!!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2005-12-10 12:00 AM
01:20:22 | 4224 yards | 01m 54s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/268
Overall: 1175/1943
Performance: Good
Suit: Ironman Stealth full wetsuit
Course: The course is a large rectangle. Mass start from just south of the Mill Ave bridge, head south past Rural St bridge for another 300 yds, and then back.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 68F / 20C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 12:06
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed: Good
06:30:57 | 112 miles | 17.19 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/268
Overall: 1152/1943
Wind: Cross-winds with gusts
Course: 3 loops on the bike course. Loved the layout, could have done without the wind...
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Not enough
Time: 23:22
Overall: Bad
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:28:51 | 26.2 miles | 14m 50s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/268
Overall: 1492/1943
Performance: Below average
Course: 3 loops. Too crazy of a layout to describe, but it brought you right through the main part of the crowd, and near the finish area each lap. It was a cool layout.
Keeping cool Average Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5