Saturday, November 30, 2013

IMAZ 2013 Race Report

Ironman Arizona 2013....  Only a year ago I had signed up thinking this day was so far away.  And now here I was.  Waking up at 4AM, rolling out of my own bed and getting ready to leave for transition...  Of course, hadn't slept very well but that is to be expected for race day.  I was happy, nervous and trying to be a calm as I could.  After all, this was not my first triathlon - just my first full Ironman.  I kept telling myself that everything was familiar except for the distance.  Intellectually, I knew that was true but emotionally I was struggling to believe it!

As I descended into the kitchen, I was met with two wonderful signs my family had pinned up for me the night before!  I teared up.  It was so sweet and so personal.  One was from Caden and one was from the rest of the family.  How thoughtful! I knew this was going to be a great day.

I piled everything in my car and zipped out of the driveway.  Drove to the Tempe Town lake.  Said a little prayer to begin with.  Not a lot of music.  Just some silence and I thought about all the time and effort just to get here.  After some alone time in the car, I turned on the music....  "Wake Up" from Avicii and "Give Me Shot at the Night" by The Killers were the songs I listened to and they really hit the spot.

As I arrived and parked in the garage, I made my way to the transition area.  Got everything ready and setup and then left....  Dropped off my special needs bags and then made my way to the staging area and began to warm up.  I was nervous and started to talk to a few people.  A kind woman ending up giving me a spare pair of wax earplugs - kids version of the TYR.  Very malleable and easy to use.  Note to self, buy some of those for the next race!


We all had to funnel into a starting arch and slowly get into the water.  It was slow going.  We looked like a bunch of penguins on an iceberg.  I got next to a guy with BYU sandals on.  He and I started talking.  He had done the race before and said to take it easy on the swim as 'it was a long day.'  In fact, he said that even when you think you are taking it easy on the swim, slow down some more....  We funneled through the chute and out onto the pier.  I jumped in.  Water was about 65 degrees so cold but not horrible.  I opted to double cap it with my TYR head warmer cap under...  It was perfect.  No booties.

I got to the left and started to float/swim forward.  It was hard to hear anything with the water, earplugs, etc. in.  Then the cannon went off and all hell broke loose.

It was my first mass swim start of this magnitude and it lived up to it's reputation.  The water is murky so you can't see anything until its too late.  I hugged the buoy line and kept at least one arm in front of me the whole time to deflect any crazy feet - and there were a lot of them!  I seemed to follow this one bearded guy with fat feet most of the swim - not on purpose.  It felt like I was in a blender most of the swim.  Rarely was I not being touched by someone at a given moment.  Par for the course, and I told myself that no one was doing this on purpose - we were all in the same boat.

On the way out I hugged too close to the buoys and my hand hit the tip of a kayak!  Ouch!  I thought for a minute I may have broken something...  But no.  As I would go next the buoys there was an incredible draft effect and I just found myself coasting...

On the way back in, towards the very end, I got hit in the right eye on my goggle.  It was painful and I had to stop again to make sure my eyeball wasn't missing.  I carried on and finished taking it easy.  Based on previous swims, I thought I finish around 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Total Swim Time:  1:27:33


Having spent a fair bit of time on the Beeline over the past few months, this was the part of the race I was very familiar with.  Three loops from Tempe Town Lake out to the Shea turnoff to Fountain Hills. Desert scenery.  Mountains.  Slight uphill going out each time and slight downhill coming back.  Typically the wind is in your face going out and with you going back.

I elected to make a full change after the swim.  I opted for the comfort of a full cycling kit instead of speed.

T1:  0:13:47

Changing in the change tent was uneventful, except there was one guy yelling for a volunteer that knew the Garmin 910XT as he needed to sync his with his heart monitor or "he would not know his heart rate the whole race!"  While I agree this is important, the guy was hysterical.  I thought to myself, this is supposed to be fun, isn't it?

Lap one of the bike I felt great!  I saw my family as I left the transition and motored out to Shea.  As I came back I felt very good.  It was a perfect day and I didn't need arm warmers at all (I shoved them in my back pockets just in case).  My nutrition (UCAN all the way) was working wonderfully until about 1/2 way through lap two.  I felt my right side start to back up.  A side ache developed.  At first I tried to brush it off but it didn't go away.  I knew I had to do something - but what?  I had a choice to continue eating at the schedule I had laid out for myself or back off.  Backing off meant potential bonking.  Eating too much meant potential vomiting.  The day was getting progressively hotter too.  I decided that my stomach needed to catch up with my nutrition and that adding more would be worse.  So I stopped eating for the rest of the bike.  I certainly didn't bonk and I continued to hydrate but I was worried about the run.  I backed off a bit also.  I was hoping for about 5:45 or 6:00 on the bike....

Total Bike Time:  6:18:27


They changed the run this year to a two loop course - entirely around Tempe Town Lake, which is really beautiful.  Some of the course was packed dirt and other parts was sidewalk.  The course is very spectator friendly offering lots of places to sit, stand and even go back and forth to different parts of the course.  The aid stations were top notch and the volunteers were tremendous!

Coming off the bike, I ran into the change tent and did a full change again.  Comfort over time.

T2:  0:08:45

As I exited the tent and went to run, I saw my family.  My stomach still hurt and I was dreading the jostling of the run.  I kissed my wife and whispered in her ear "my stomach hurts" and ran off.  So much for instilling confidence in my support group!

For the first couple of miles, I ran but I was not feeling great.  I stopped at the aid stations, telling myself this was '26 one mile repeats'.  I carried my UCAN fuel with me but I hesitated to drink it as my stomach was still backed up.  Finally, the heat and fatigue caught up with me and I started walking.  I told myself it would just be a short walk but it wasn't.  I didn't care.  I did the calculations and I knew I could walk the marathon and still finish.  I have to admit that thought didn't bother me at ALL at the time.  Several miles in I stopped to try to use the bathroom.  I hadn't peed in a while and I thought #2 would make my stomach feel better.  As I tried to go in the portapotty, I couldn't and I got light headed.  I decided if I was going to be sick, it would be better to be sick while moving forward.  So I got out and started walking again.

I started to feel better as I walked and drank Coke.  The burping and the sugar seemed to loosen things up.  I finally saw my son Drew and handed him my UCAN fuel and sun glasses (as the sun was setting).  What a relief!

Becky and the family met me a total of 10 times during the day.  The most important times were on the run.  I found that when I knew they would be around the corner I got very excited and out of my 'funk' so it was a real upper.  They ran next to me a couple of times, pushing an empty stroller they had with all their stuff loaded on it.  What a great support group!

As far as spectators and volunteers, I saw Nate Snell at an aid station and Joe Zitar twice on the run.  I saw my bike mechanic also.  Bill Hagen and Dan Beaver were both racing and I was able to see them twice on the run.  Bill looked great, Dan was hurting.

Once the sun went down, I amazingly felt better.  Finally!  Although it wasn't really hot, the stress of the race on your body seems to magnify everything.  I ended up running most of the second lap.  Tempe started to light up at night which was just beautiful.  The sunset over Sun Devil Stadium, etc. was  just a dream come true for me.  It was also a full moon so even when we were running the the relative darkness, the moon guided us.  I was a perfect night!


Its funny how your mind works as you approach the end of such a big event.  The culmination of such a huge personal goal.  I was feeling very tired but also very good.  As I finished the second lap and moved to the finish line my pace quickened and I just didn't stop.  I talked to a fellow runner and he said we were on pace to finish at about 13:45:00 - well under my self professed goal of sub 14 hours.  I was stoked and I felt so good.  As I turned into the finish shoot, the music and cheers were deafening!  The lights were bright and in your face...  I looked for my family but it was impossible to hear or see anything but the finish line!  I was smiling and I was so happy!  

As I got right to finish line my mind said to 'dance' or do a funny jig, which I did.  My body did not appreciate that at ALL.  Thus, I twisted my knee and ankle right at the finish line!  Nothing too serious but enough to ensure some additional recover and stiffness for the next few weeks!

(Left knee, by the way.  I think this is the exact moment I went 'doh')

I had done it.  I was an Ironman!  I still get emotional as I think about it.  Thinking back to watching this event on TV as a teenager and thinking what a bunch of loonies I was watching.  
I remember talking to friends and trying to wrap my mind around how ANYONE could actually complete 140.6 miles in 17 hours - it was just crazy!  I am here to say that it can be done.  It has been done and I have done it!  "We are stronger than we think" and we can do amazing things.  I AM AN IRONMAN!


This was an absolutely wonderful race.  It had so much meaning, being in my backyard, being in Arizona and revolving around ASU, my Alma Mater.  The weather was incredible and the support from family and friends was perfect.  I finished strong and I had a blast!  I have to remember all of this when another race doesn't quite live up to expectations, etc.  This race really lived up to my expectations and I feel blessed to have participated and achieved such an important goal.

Here are the numbers....

Total Time:  13:44:09

Overall Rank:  1,732 out of about 3,000

Division Position (45-49):  220 out of 317

My family gathered around me after they got my bike and bags - meanwhile I went to the food tent and rested and ate....

Hannah said I had my CRAZY EYES face on (above) and said strange things... I remember being hyper aware of everything going on around me.  I guess I thought I was imparting some sort of wisdom in the picture below... Probably just a lot of gibberish...

Even after eating a bunch of pizza and chocolate milk, I was still hungry.  Becky asked me if I wanted a hamburger...  Immediately I said "YES."  A perfect ending meal for a perfect day....


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