Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
Ironman North America
96F / 36C
Total Time = 14h 37m 54s
Overall Rank = 1164/2035
Age Group = Clydesdale
Age Group Rank = 199/310
Pre-race routine:

I slept pretty well considering the event I was about to undertake and I woke-up before the alarm at 3:45am and just sat-up and decided it was time to go eat some breakfast and start the day's journey. My usual pre-race meal of oatmeal, bananna, coffee and ensure was ready to go. Then sipped on gatorade until an hour before the race then decided to switch to water. One PowerGel right before putting on the wetsuit to get in the water.
Event warmup:

Put on my wetsuit and tried to keep my heart rate below zone 3 due to nerves. I had a nice short swim to the starting line (200 yards) after jumping into Tempe Town Lake like penguins and then treaded water for about 15-20 minutes.
  • 1h 09m 2s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 25s / 100 yards

I had been swimming really well during the peak of my training and felt comfortable in thinking I could swim close to 1:00. I figured it would be just a tad over an hour with all the traffic but there was a chance I could find the right feet and just cruise to the line in under an hour. Unfortunately, that thought disappeared with the first 200 yards. After treading water for nearly 20 minutes about 4 people back from the front and almost all the way to the middle of the lake, the gun went off without much warning. The start was as hectic and chaotic as any mass swim start of 2200 people. The pace seemed easy but the thrashing was harsh and I couldn't keep my face in the water to get any kind of breathing rhythm. I am usually VERY comfortable in the water and expect to have great swims. So, when I started to panic a little, it worried me. I was pissed that I couldn't get comfortable and started to hyperventilate a little and lose form. Then I started to panic BECAUSE I was panicing. That NEVER happens to me so it was a shock. I just kept telling myself to calm down and get my breathing under control. There was nothing else to do. I was in the middle of the washing maching and there was no where to go but forward. I think I wasted about 3-4 minutes just trying to get started. Then, I found my stroke and started to breath better. Too bad all the good feet were gone. At this point, I just tried to get to the turn and make the best of the situation. At the firt turn buoy I checked my watch and was surprised to see that I reached it in 30:50. But then I had to swim across the Lake width to get to the next turn buoy before heading back. I think it took about 2 minutes to the next turn. That meant that I was 33 minutes to the halfway point! I was shocked at how close I was after such a tough start. I must have been enjoying the draft of the masses cause my swim just didn't feel all there. I put my head down and tried to lengthen my stroke and find some fast feet to follow to see if I could make up some ground. Time after time I kept having to pass people who couldn't hold pace or were taking tours of both sides of the Lake. Too many times I found complete open water and had to work too hard to swim alone. I made a decision to forget my swim goal time and keep my heart rate low. "You can't win the Ironman in the swim but you can lose it." Meaning I could blow the chance of finishing the race if I went out too hard in the swim. I exited the water in 1:09 and was initially disappointed in the time but satisfied that I had I made a good decision to back off. Plus, I beat my IMFL time by a minute.
What would you do differently?:

Do an early season race and get in the middle of the melee.
Transition 1
  • 08m 35s

I had a moment of vertigo going up the stairs but quickly recovered and made it to the biggest male wetsuit stripper who proceeded to yank my suit off with one arm. Fortunately, my dream earlier in training of not having a swim suit on under my wetsuit didn't come true. Dude, that was awesome. As soon as I got up and started to run I heard, " GOOOOOOOO DDDDDDAAAAAADDDDDDDYYYYYYY!" and saw both my girls waving at me near the med tent. That gave me a great burst of energy and I jogged towards the changing tent trying to organize what I needed to do to change from the swim to the run. The tent was crowded but not nearly as bad as IMFL. I found a seat and got changed into my long sleeve under armour cool-wic shirt, helmet, socks and shoes. Then I took a HUGE handfull of chamois cream and did the Florida wipe (see IMFL race report) and handed my bag to a volunteer. On the way out the door I had another volunteer rub some sunscreen on my nose and face. The run from the changing tent to the bike was long and no one got my bike so I had run down the aisle and back before exiting T1 to get leave the area.
What would you do differently?:

Not sure, the best decision of the day was to wear the Under Armour shirt even if it meant putting it on wet under my tri-shirt. That slowed me down but prevented sunburn and was great at keeping me cool when I poured water on the sleeves.
  • 6h 24m 50s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.46 mile/hr

The bike started innocent enought with a big group going out of town into a slight wind but averaging a nice 18 mph. When we hit the edge of town, I knew we were in for a rough day. All the flags were straight out and flat. We turned east into the headwind and everyone's average speed slowed as we tried to find a good cadence and gear ratio. Once on the Beeline, I was moving faster than I thought but it wasn't until about 4 miles up the slow incline that I noticed my heart rate was higher than my perceived effort. I slowed down to 14 mph and tried to get my HR down but the incline increased and the wind continued to blow into our face. I reached the top and took the turn in time to refuel and then blaze down the hill with the wind at my back, fully stocked and ready to make up some time. I got up to 39 mph and then just stopped peddling to stretch my legs and back. I only dropped to 32 mph after about 15 minutes so I figured the next two laps would be similar. In town, I saw the family and the large crowd around the hot corner on Rio Salado and Mill Ave. I made the turn knowing that I was about to turn again into that wind again. What I didn't know was that the wind had picked up since the first lap. I tried to back-off a bit on lap #2 to bring my average heart rate down but by the time I was on the Beeline Hwy again and going up the incline into the teeth of the wind I was only going 12 mph. Any less and I would come to a stop. The race officials were out in force trying to break people up. I don't know what they expected us to do. I couldn't go any faster and we couldn't slow down much more without falling over. I saw Steve (Doughboy) somewhere along the ride out walking his bike. I tried to toss him my spare but he wouldn't have it. I found out later he had cleat issues as well. The second lap out I saw more bike mechanical issues than I have ever seen in a race (flat tires, wrecks, bottles, etc). Once I saw two riders run into each other when a gust of wind took one into the other. I think the gusts were close to 20-30 mph. About 1 mile from the top of the Beeline on lap #2 I swore I would never do another Ironman again. I was not having fun. As soon as I turned around at the top, I dropped into the big chain ring and wondered if I spoke too soon. The ride back was slower than the first lap but still fun and a nice recovery. Lap #3 was just brutal. I felt the heat from the street rising up and the heat from the sun beating down and starting to effect me and everyone else. I could'nt seem to drink enough water to quench my thirst. Also, I kept taking in gatorade and PowerGels, according to my training plan. I finished the bike with nothing left for nutrtion. However, the heat caused me to stop absorbing the nutrition and I felt bloated and sick. My legs felt decent except for hot spots on the balls of my feet from pushing so hard into the wind and a little discomfort in the usual spaces when you ride over 100 miles. I pulled into T2 still thinking I had a decent chance at finishing in 12 hours and some change. I had no doubt I would beat my IMFL time of 13 hours.
What would you do differently?:

Back off the nutrition/calories per hour and increase the water intake. I don't know what to do about the Heart rate into the wind and uphill.
Transition 2
  • 09m 49s

As soon as I got off the bike my stomach made it's presence known and I got my first sign of impending discomfort. I got my transition bag and made it to the changing tent where it was shaded but stiffling hot and full of men throwing up, EMT techs trying to revive a guy on the ground and a guy trying to fill cups of water and ice faster than people taking them from his hand. I sat down between two guys who were both throwing up on the ground and directly across from a guy who had been sitting there for 30 minutes eating ice. This was a bad scene and I should have taken my bag outside since I wasn't changing my shorts or shirt. I struggled to change socks, shoes, hat, etc. without tossing my cookies along with everyone else. I finally got up and headed for the door where I got some sunscreen reapplied and started on the run into the sun.
What would you do differently?:

Change outside of the tent in the shade.
  • 6h 45m 39s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 15m 29s  min/mile

The very first step out of the shade of the changing tent and into the sun I knew this was going to be a very difficult run. This past year's Chicago Marathon had a high attrition rate when the temperatures reached 88 and we were starting the marathon portion of the Ironman and the temperature was 96. I was able to run through the first aid station and the major part of the park where there were spectators before I had to stop by the rail seperating the concrete trail from the river and then just fed the fish all my earlier PowerGels and Gatorade. One more violent upchuck and I was ready to start running to the next aid station. I got about 100 yards and then it happened again. At that point I was thinking ok, just a little more and then my stomach will be emptied and I can start drinking again and find my running legs. Well, it kept happening through the next aid station, then the next, and the next. I just could seem to stop throwing up when I ran. So, I just stopped running and walked as best I could. At that point I noticed an amazing amount of other people walking and tossing cookies as well. One guy and I seemed to be on the same walk-a-little/puke-a-little pattern so we would walk together and then stop and puke, then start up again as if we had just stopped to tie a shoe. Finally at mile 10 I was finished with the puking. But at that point the damage was done and I just couldn't get my legs moving enough to get into a nice jog. Plus at that stage, my time goals were unattainable and it was just about finishing upright. The rest of the "run" was jogging when I could, walking when I had too, pouring water on me to keep cool and talking to all the other people doing the same. There are so many people from all different parts of the world with differing jobs, backgrounds and reasons for being out there but we all had the same determination to keep moving forward to that white line at the 140.6 mile mark. I was never so happy to see the Mile 25 marker and then the "To The Finish" sign. That is where all the pain, training, sacrafice and dispare disappear from your mind and you feel the rush of adrenaline as you reach your goal. To top it off, my wife Kari and my daughters Madison and Bailey were first row in the finishing shoot and I stopped to give a kiss and then high-fived everyone else on the run to the finish line. I helded up my fingers with 4 and 1 showing to simbolize finishing this Ironman on my 41st Birthday. That was definately the most unique thing I have done on my Birthday.
What would you do differently?:

Do my long runs on a treadmill in a dry sauna.
Post race
Warm down:

I tried to keep walking around and sign-up for a massage but the wait for over an hour. I went to the food tent and grabbed two pieces of pizza and forced them down even though it burned my throat and seemed incredibly spicy.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I don't know, high winds, 96 degree heat, nutrition mistake?

Event comments:

My first thoughts after this Ironman were that I was completely done with triathlon and Ironman. I had no desire to ride a bike or run again. I think I had feelings of those going into the race and it might have effected my inability to find that gear to run on the marathon when things got rough. Afterwards, when I realized that 17.7% of the field DNF'd (Did Not Finish), I changed my mind and came to the conclusion that I had pushed through some brutal conditions and did what I could at my age and fitness level to complete one of the hardest single day endurance races in the world. I have a new respect for the Ironman distance and much better appreciation for the level of training and dedication that the Pro athletes put into it. Without a doubt I am disappointed that I missed my time goals but extremely proud of the fact that I finished the race on a difficult day and the fact that I am now a multiple Ironman finisher. Who knows, maybe I'll keep my bike and running shoes after all:)

Profile Album

Last updated: 2007-12-30 12:00 AM
01:09:02 | 4224 yards | 01m 25s / 100yards
Age Group: 84/310
Overall: 569/2035
Performance: Below average
1st segment (1.2 miles): 33:23 HR AVG 155 2nd segment (1.2 miles): 35:39 HR AVG 145 Started tied for 1st place (overall). Finished in 569th (overall).
Suit: Xterra
Course: Tempe Town Lake looks more like a river than a lake. It's relatively narrow, but is ready-made for a triathlon swim - spectators can follow the entire swim race by simply walking along the shore. While the water is very murky (you can barely see your hand in front of you), the cool water (about 64 degrees in 2005), is very pleasant to swim in!
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 70F / 21C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Average
Breathing: Below average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 08:35
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
06:24:50 | 112 miles | 17.46 mile/hr
Age Group: 139/310
Overall: 832/2035
Performance: Average
FIRST BIKE SEGMENT 36 mi. (3:15:49) 18.27 mph Avg HR 152 SECOND BIKE SEGMENT 37 mi. (5:26:22) 17.00 mph Avg HR 155 FINAL BIKE SEGMENT 39 mi. (7:42:26) 17.20 mph Avg HR 141 TOTAL BIKE 112 mi. (6:24:49) 17.46 mph Avg HR 150 Started in 569th place (overall). Finished in 765th (overall).
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: The three-loop - OK, three-loop-and-a-bit - bike course is surprisingly challenging thanks to the many on the course that goes through the city of Tempe and in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community located Northeast of the city.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 82
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Below average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 09:49
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Average
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
06:45:39 | 26.2 miles | 15m 29s  min/mile
Age Group: 249/310
Overall: 1551/2035
Performance: Bad
FIRST RUN SEGMENT 3.5 mi. (8:46:49) 15:35/mile SECOND RUN SEGMENT 8.5 mi. (11:05:24) 16:18/mile THIRD RUN SEGMENT 8.5 mi. (--:--) --/mile RUN FINISH 5.7 mi. (14:37:54) 34:01/mile TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (6:45:39) 15:28/mile Started in 765th place (overall). Finished in 1165th (overall).
Course: A lot of the marathon runs alongside Tempe Town Lake. This has more-than-a-few upsides: the course is very spectator friendly, is cooler because of the proximity to the water, and is also quite scenic.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4