Ironman Arizona - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Tempe, Arizona
United States
78F / 26C
Total Time = 14h 09m 54s
Overall Rank = 1627/2189
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 333/399
Pre-race routine:

Well, shewt. What a week! Brian and I loaded up the SUV (bikes rode IN the car, as I didn't want to be a bobblehead with a swivel neck on the way to Tempe from Dallas. Coincidentally, that is a 1019 mile drive. It makes perfect sense to me to drive 16.5 hours to participate in a race that would take me 14 hours to complete.
We checked into our hotel and then drove by the race site to get a glimpse of things. They were already setting things up in Athletes Village, which was cool.
Thursday we went to the swim clinic and I swam 1200m. I was only intending on swimming 1000m, but the 200 was a huge bonus, and here is why: The guest speaker was Andy Potts (reigning 70.3 World Champion) and an absolute fish. After his speech, he fielded questions and I threw him a softball regarding positioning for the race. He answered thoughtfully and then took a few more questions. I suited up and made my way down the swim exit stairs as he took picture after picture with people. I got out after my 1000m and mingled near the stairs. Andy walks up and asked to see my tattoo (I have an originally designed triathlon tattoo on my right arm). He checks it out and gives me mad props about the tattoo. Then he makes some small talk, as people are still waiting to take a picture with him. It never occured to me to ask for a picture at that time, which is probably why he chatted me up like he did. Anyway, along comes his personal coach (Mike is his name... I believe he is also the coach for the University of Colorado swim team) and he joins the conversation. He asks me if I have any questions and I go through some issues I have in the swim with regards to breathing and he gives me some pointers as Andy is whisked away for more pictures, etc. Well, coach keeps talking...and talking...and talking. 20 minutes later he asks if I want to get back in and swim a couple hundred so he can watch and critique me. I politely decline because a) The water is cold b) I already took 30 minutes of this guys time c) I didn't want him to advise me to withdraw from the race after watching me swim. After a minute of more chatting, it dawned on me: World class swim coach offers free lesson and you said NO?? So, back into the water I went and swam for about 5 minutes while he watched. I exited and he gave me some more tips, then I finally changed back into dry clothes to go to the registration area to pick up my packet. I ran into Aaron and Jess (Jeepfleeb and Tri Take Me Away) and Aaron told me I made a good choice about getting back in the water. I gave Jess my new goggles I grifted that were too small (and she gave them to Elizabeth (Chippy). Regifting is only okay at an Ironman, for those of you scoring at home. I got all of my packet stuff, weighed in at a robust 197 pounds (yikes!) and back to the crib to get cleaned up and get ready to ride a loop of the bike course with some other BT'ers. Brian and I actually parked at the beeline (up and back from there is 22 miles, and the "in town" riding is right at 15 miles) and rode to the bike start and then back to the beeline to meet the guys. ChrisM, Bryancd, bkarhu, me and scallopini went up the beeline and back. Bryancd gave me some key pointers to racing an ironman and I chatted with ChrisM quite a bit as well. A nice ride and a little breezy. I ended the ride with a 5k on the beeline. ChrisM told me I was just a few miles short of an OLY training day. Not soundly advised activities 3 days before an IM, but I am not a conventional dude.
Friday we skipped the swim and went to the airport to pick up some Sherpa's for the race. As I am walking to the gate, 2 guys walk right into my path and stop me. The younger guy, who looks very familiar, asks Brian and I if we were leaving Tempe before the race. Then I figured it out. It was Andy and his coach Mike again. WTF? What are the chances, right? He talks for a couple minutes and tells us what his plans are and wishes us good luck. Mike asks me if I remembered all of his tips, reminds me of them and then we part ways again. Friday night I insisted on eating the biggest steak I could find, and Outback Steakhouse was a mile from our hotel. What? I'm going to go to an Ironman race and not get my drink on with a gargantuan steak? Not gonna happen. Dinner was tasty, then we headed over to the athletes mandatory meeting. When it started, the VIP's left, and their seats up front were open for us. Brian and I got a front row seat and some hot coffee. I took a lot of notes on my Blackberry so I wouldn't forget anything. The swim RD is the dude in all of the pictures outting FINMAN on the interweb. Brian (bkarhu) actually went and chatted with the RD and got the REAL story. If anyone is interested, they can go to Brian's blog and ask. heh
Saturday we went for another swim. Before I got in, BlueSeventy had a contest to see who could strip themselves of their wetsuits the fastest for a new suit. I came in 2nd out of 8 people by a nanosecond. It was still fun. I shook the winners hand and went for my swim. I went around 500m only and back out. I took a walk later in the day along the entire swim course and wondered if I could do it. I didn't doubt I could do it, I just wondered if I could..there is a difference.
Saturday was coming to a close and Sunday was fast approaching. So, I had my now traditional pre-IM lunch: Chipotle. haha I did grab a Subway tuna sammich for dinner though. Priorities. We dropped off our bikes and SN bags and T1/T2 bags and meandered through the athletes village some more before heading to the hotel.
I set 4 alarms. FOUR. Cell phone. Blackberry. Alarm clock. Ironman watch. I wasn't going to over sleep...and I didn't. For those of you with ADD or simply too impatient to continue reading, I don't blame you one bit. However, I am about to actually get to the race. This diatribe is for my posterity. Font or it didn't happen, as it were.

Event warmup:

We got to transition at about 0545. Billions of people already there. Okay, thousands. Watching people vigorously stretching their calves when it is 58 degrees outside made me cringe. Why stretch cold muscles an HOUR before your race? Annnywho, it was kind of weird because I wasn't lugging my bike, all my gear, etc. It was already there. All I had to carry was my dry clothes bag. Oh, for breakfast I had a peanut butter bagel, a banana, some banana nut oatmeal with peanut butter and sipped a G2 and some water. I am not a food scientist, so all of those strange concoctions people make gives me the heebie jeebies. To each their own. For me, simple is good. Back to the warm up. I did swing my arms once around 6:15 or so. At my bike, I filled my aero bottle with water, set up my shades and Garmin and HRM in my T1 bag and walked in a sea of athletes. Back to my bike to make sure my tires weren't flat and to make sure my bike horn was working (amazing what a $4.95 non-aero clown horn can do to spectators faces during a 6 hour ride...high comedy). ChrisM walked up (his bib, 1146 was one away from mine, which was 1145...that was pretty freakin cool that he was racked right next to me) and we chatted for a little bit. I got lost again in a gaggle of people as the pro's got ready to start. I couldn't find Brian, so I walked to the waters edge and took on the scared faces. I had total internal serenity. I am glad it was too dark to see how far I was supposed to swim. As I am watching all the faces and AG'ers jumping in, I turn to my right and ChrisM is standing next to me, staring at the water. 2300+ people all trying to get in the water, and I bump into the guy racked next to me. Bizarre. We talked for a minute and I tried not to say anything that would remind him of his last swim here, which was disasterous. He looked at me, looked at the water and said to himself as much as me, "This is just another training swim...I got this". Boy did he. He smoked the swim. Good job, brother. He got in and I stayed on the wall, not wanting to tread any longer than I had to...eventually I walked on the wall almost to the first bridge. We lined up there and BLAMMO! there goes the cannon I had been waiting to hear for over a year. It's all or nothing now. I jumped in and let out a primal scream that I would repeat 14 hours and 9 minutes later.
  • 1h 23m 27s
  • 3862 meters
  • 02m 10s / 100 meters

I knew there was going to be very little early swim 'form' for this mass of humanity, or even facial submersion for that matter based on video's, past OWS starts and the fact that I seeded myself as the caboose of the swim. I just didn't want to be swam over to start my day, and I am an average swimmer at best. Good form/bad breather is how I would characterize myself. Anyway, I went out and had a lot of adrenalin, partly from the GU I mainlined just before the cannon, and partly because I was going to try to become an Ironman. After 200-300m, people were already stopping, breast stroking, on their backs, peeing, etc. I think they were a little worked up. Me? Dori: "just keep swimming, just keep swimming"...and I did. I found clean water nearest the shoreline and kept to that all the way out. I kept catching slower swimmers and after about the 4th wave of these people, I got a little pissed at myself for seeding myself in the back. I had a combo platter of overestimate them, underestimate me. I won't do that again, fo' shizzle. I kept swimming and eventually the red buoy of energy showed itself past the last bridge. I hooked 2 lefts, catching the buoys close enough that I touched both of them and set out on my way back. The frigid water temps were long gone by that point and the sun was out. It was going to be a beautiful day. I intermittently let cooler water into my wetsuit to keep me cool and shock the body, and this was awesome. I haven't patented the trick, so feel free to use it in the future as long as you give me credit. heh
I went past the swim start toward the swim exit at the last red buoy and swam...ON MY BACK! Yes! Another patent pending. This did 3 things. It allowed me to kick hard with my legs to get the blood flowing and the landscape to portrait dizzy phenomenon mitigated, it allowed me to get my HR down for the transition run, thusly taking a picture coming out of the water when I didn't resemble a blowfish, and lastly, so I could look at the sky and take in what I had just accomplished. I turned back to freestyle about 150 meters out and hauled ass to the stairs. I was a whoopin' and a hollerin' (Blazing Saddles reference) as I exited because I DID IT! My previous long swim was 2000m. In a pool. With stops. Yeah, this was cool.

What would you do differently?:

Start myself closer to the front and start throwing elbows (an Andy Potts hint). Other than that, it was a very pleasant swim and I was remarkably unfatigued. Maybe my 2:11/100m had something to do with it, but I was not racing the swim. I was surviving the swim and I did just that, thank you very much.
Transition 1
  • 10m 6s

The 140.6 sticker I bought to commemorate this race is wrong. This race was actually 141.0 miles. Yes, the transition run was that far. I anticipated that freaky dizzyness hitting me after the swim, so my pre-race strategery was to walk the distance to the change tent. I had no dizzyness whatsoever and a shitload of energy, so I hoofed it all the way to the tent. Once inside a volunteer handed me my bag. It was strange doing this in a tent rather than by my bike. Anyway, I popped the bag open, wiped my feet off with my towel, tried hard not to glance at Joe Naked next to me, who was feverishly attempting to transfer extra glide to every pore of his taint from his glide stick. Dude.
Bike shoes on, helmet on, sunglasses on, HRM on, Garmin on and turned on and I ran out of the tent. My bike was 23' from the tent exit. Sweet. I didn't wait for a volunteer, I just went and grabbed it and SPRINTED to the mount line. I impressed even myself. I didn't cramp up in the calf area from running in the bike shoes like I thought I might. I am a shoe-on-the-bike kind of guy, so this was a little foreign to me, but it all came back. I mounted my ride and away I went.
What would you do differently?:

  • 6h 36m 23s
  • 112 miles
  • 16.95 mile/hr

Brian and I had aggressive finishing goals of sub 13 hours. We decided if the winds picked up we would scrap that and just enjoy the course. Well, on loop 2, they picked up significantly. Since I had no experience riding past 100 miles, let alone running a marathon afterwards, I pulled the reins in. I averaged 18.45mph on the first loop, then mid 16's the final 2. It had nothing to do with not being able to keep that faster pace, I certainly could have, it had to do with me being concerned about the run. Anyway, I ditched the aggressive goal and set my sights on happy thoughts and a sub 17 hour finish. I saw Brian on loop 3 and he was busy getting his THIRD flat fixed. His bike has bad tire karma. He double flatted in Austin last month at the Longhorn HIM. Personally, I think he just needs to aim better. He sucked it up and kept a great attitude and still almost beat me on the bike. Apparently he forgot our pre-race plan of booze cruise if we couldn't get sub 13. I knew as soon as I hit the beeline that the "3mph" winds in the forecast meant IN TOWN, and not on the open road. Those were 10-15mph, I don't care what the windometers or NASA say. I know wind. I train in Texas. It wasn't brutal, but it wasn't going to allow me to spin at 85rpm in the big up front, small in back rings. This is evidenced by my first loop: 15mph UP, 24mph DOWN. 2nd loop, more of the same, but I was holding back some and just spinning. 3rd loop? WTF. The wind flipped. It was a negligible tail wind up and a head wind on the way down. Defeating, at best. But everyone has to deal with it, so I just grinned and kept going. Around half way up the beeline on the 3rd loop, my jaw got numb, then started to throb. Huh? It was radiating pain. I got a little concerned about it, I thought maybe my 41 year old body was doing something weird that wouldn't allow me to finish the race. I took myself to a happy place and thought about fun things. Then it happened. I fell asleep. No shit. Out. How in the world can that happen? Beats the REM out of me, but I was only in la-la land for about 10 seconds before I woke back up and got out of aero for a few minutes. My jaw pain abated and I was relieved. About mile 90, I had my 2nd clif bar (thanks Bryancd) and headed back into town. I got to the no pass line, and a guy I had been playing leapfrog with for a couple hours passed me right before the dismount line. This pissed me off more than a little because he broke a rule for personal satisfaction. If he wanted to finish the bike before me, he had 112 miles to get in front and stay there. There were several riders right in front of us and I couldn't go any faster than I was without swapping paint with the girl in front of me. I yielded to him anyway and told him, "Win it!" sarcastically, as he passed. I also exacted my revenge by blowing a snot rocket on his bike as I dismounted next to him. He didn't notice what I did, but that wasn't the point. It probably wasn't the right thing to do, seeing as how he was about to hand the bike off to a volunteer, but his cowardly act pissed me off. That feeling didn't last long because I had my 26.2 mile cool down coming up and I don't hold grudges. :)
What would you do differently?:

Nothing to compare it to this year, but I did have a PR for distance. I actually had 3 PR's for distance. LMAO. I could have gone a little faster on loop 2 and 3... I finished with just under 17mph average for the bike, and I firmly believe I could have held 18 and been fine. Other than that, my nutrition and hydration were spot on and I enjoyed the ride a lot.
Transition 2
  • 07m 18s

I only remember this being weird (again) because my bike went one way and I went another. I got into the changing tent, found my same seat (weird how a lot of people do that) and sat down. Thank God I was faster/slower than Mr. Naked Glide, so I was spared that catastrophe a 2nd time. Slipped on my shoes, running hat, spun my race belt around and glanced at my tri suit. Initially it was a cool looking Zoot get-up with some electric blue stitching. Now it was streaked with gray sweat lines all over the place, which I think made it look cooler. That's just one dudes opinion, though.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I planned on 20-30 total minutes for transitions, and I came away with 17 and change, so that was splendiferous.
  • 5h 52m 40s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 28s  min/mile

HAHAHAHA! Okay, this wasn't a bad marathon because I eventually did finish. My HR never spiked. My legs never got tired. I just didn't run the whole thing. Knowing my aggressive goal was out the window hours ago probably kept me more in check. I knew coming off the bike that I had 9 hours and change to run/walk/crawl/moonwalk the Mary and I was going to be an Ironman. HELL YEAH!
I started off with some 9 minute miles and then backed off on the back of the course. I don't know if it was because the volunteers were so instrumental in motivating me, or that I knew I didn't want to fly through half the run and then walk the entire 2nd half. So I started walking intermittently and talking with other athletes. That was a blast. I ran by Q and an unknown female, "Q! Jeff! It's me, Chris from BT...LIVESTRONG!" He slowed down and said hey...I don't think he knows me from Adam, but he was gracious before his female running partner (I'm sorry I didn't know who you were!) screamed at me to keep I did. I developed some nasty blisters on mile 8. If I had known how bad they looked and figured out I still had 18 miles to run on them, I may have been a tad discouraged. I will attach a nice blister shot for your hurling pleasure. After awhile, I somehow met up with an English bloke who flew over to do his 5th IM. We walked, talked, ran, ate and talked about life for a good hour before he split to the left to go to the finish and I started my 3rd loop. Great guy. I wralked for about 2 miles and then it dawned on me. I have less than one loop left. I am not tired at all. My legs feel great, my heart hasn't sniffed 140bpm in an hour, and I was ready to bring it home! I started with a nice gait and ran until I had labored breathing and then walked, but for no more than 30 seconds. I walked the aid stations and started on the broth and coca cola. I ate oranges and rinsed with water. I did this 6 times on the last loop and it worked wondefully. I picked up the pace and amazed myself when I looked at my Garmin and it showed 9:45 pace, 9:50 pace, 9:10 pace, 9:35 pace. Yeah! How the EFF was my Garmin still on?? It said LOW BATTERY over 2 hours ago, yet it was still actually lasted the whole race. So when someone says it only lasts for 10 hours, they might want to put a +/- of 4 hours in there. Just sayin'...Annnyway, I continued to stop every few minutes to gather myself and my breath for 30 seconds then back on. I could hear Mike Reilly screaming on the other side of Tempe Town Lake and the roar of the crowd. I thanked volunteers all over the place and told them they wouldn't be seeing me again, which only made them scream louder. Mile 25 came and people everywhere were screaming at me and telling me I looked strong and remarking how fresh I looked. I was running 3 feet above the ground. I wound up covering the last 6 miles at a 10:25 pace, which was awesome. Around the corner I come to the damned fork that says, "Finish left" and I finally got to take that turn. I spied an elderly gentleman about 50m in front of me and I was running much faster than him, although he was running as well. I decided to make a pass to get some room behind me and make sure I had a solo picture and he would as well. Up to the street, the crowd is getting louder, and louder...I see the bright lights, I hear Mike Reilly screaming at the crowd and then I heard it. Chris Karhu, from The Colony are an IRONMANNNNNN! Holy shit I just got goose bumps from typing that. I never one time rehearsed my finishing pose or line cross. I wouldn't allow myself to do that. My mom, back in Kona, taped my finish for me. Tons of co-workers and friends saw it and said I looked great. Well, why not... I felt great! The first thing I did was ask my finisher why the run course was 4 loops instead of three. The poor ashen faced girl had no idea what to say and I was took excited to explain the joke to her. Then I asked where the beer tent was. WTF? No beer?! Ah well, the medal and shirt were nice. I took a pretty good finishers pose picture after that, which can be found on ASI's site under bib 1145 (I don't like stealing those photo's, but I am going to buy them this time!) Whew...what a ride!
What would you do differently?:

Are you kidding me? I finished!
Post race
Warm down:

I got my mylar blanket and medal/shirt/picture and then Brian found me and congratulated me. People everywhere are still screaming and cheering. It really was over-whelming. Brian looked at me and asked if I wanted to get the tattoo's we had talked about getting. I wholeheartedly agreed, so we called the only tattoo shop in the greater Phoenix/Tempe area that was open past 6pm on Sunday (believe me, we efforted on that for an hour on Thursday) and they said they would wait for us to get there. We hauled ass to the place, went inside all giddy-like and a girl with 47 nose-ear-lip-whereeverelse piercings greeted us with a smile. She had already printed off the MDOT from the interweb and had everything set up. Brian went first and I went second, just like we finished. heh They look awesome. If you're not an ink person, to each their own. I paid the lady and we hauled more ass back to the race site to cheer on some finishers and gather our bikes and transition bags. Everything got packed up lickety split and we were back in the room and ready to crash by 1am. I wasn't too sore until I took off my shoes and looked at the blisters. I had a minor hitch in my giddyup, but was no worse for the wear. I don't know if I had good base training, if I didn't go nearly hard enough or I am just a quick healer, but I was ready to run 24 hours after the race.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Never swimming 2.4 miles before; never riding 112 miles before; never running 26.2 miles before. It was unchartered waters and pavement, and I just wanted to finish. Now, at IMFL in 2010...well now, that's a whole different story.

Event comments:

What can I say? I got to meet some cool BT'ers, some formally, some just a quick hello (Chippy, Zilla, Trixie, Jess, Q, ChrisM, Bryancd, scallopini, to name a few), I laughed my ass off on the bike for 6 hours because of that ridiculous clown horn I have mounted on my aero bars (it will be staying's THAT good), I met some people from all over the world on the course, I PR'd everything (heh), I got the stickers, the tattoo, the feeling, the accomplishment and most of all, I got to honor my big brother's memory with my little brother.
This was all that it was hyped to be and so much more.
If you read all this, it must have been a slow day at the office, but hey, you only do your 1st IM once, and I had a lot to say. So there.
I will attach some pictures...or it didn't happen, right? The first is me and Andy Potts and Coach Mike, a bike pic, me right after the race, me as I finished and lastly the left foot that developed those pesky mind over matter blisters 8 miles into the marathon. Yummy.

I rescinded my restraining order against Andy Potts, as I haven't seen him in 3 days.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2008-01-18 12:00 AM
01:23:27 | 3862 meters | 02m 10s / 100meters
Age Group: 306/399
Overall: 1555/2189
Performance: Good
Suit: Sleeveless QR UltraJohn
Course: 1 mile out, hook a left, hook another left, 1.2 miles back, hook a left, get out.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 63F / 17C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 10:06
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
06:36:23 | 112 miles | 16.95 mile/hr
Age Group: 320/399
Overall: 1540/2189
Performance: Average
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Three 37 mile loops...through town, up and down the beeline and back to town..rinse and repeat...rinse and repeat.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Hills: Below average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 07:18
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
05:52:40 | 26.2 miles | 13m 28s  min/mile
Age Group: 333/399
Overall: 1627/2189
Performance: Average
Course: 3 loopy loops
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
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