Ironman Arizona Race Recap
The one that hurt the most.
Swim : one loop lake swim in 63 degree waters. Cloudy skies made sighting the buoys very easy. The lack of yardage over the past couple of months of training translated to a 1:15:xx swim. Nonetheless, I felt good coming out of the water and was ready to tackle to bike course!
Bike : 3 loops on a very mentally challenging out and back course. Essentially, the entire way out is a false flat and coming back is a net “descend” back to Tempe Beach Park.
The legs took longer than normal to settle into race pace. During the first loop, I tried to keep heart rate below 170, holding about 225 watts to the turnaround. As I suspected, wattage would fade just slightly on the way back to town. The heart rate stayed between 160-165 bpm for the first 50 minutes of the ride, so nutrition was limited to liquids. After the turnaround, I began eating some solids and hydrated more when heart rate dropped down to 150’s.
The second loop was almost identical as the first – keeping heart rate and wattage at a manageable level without burning too many matches. There was a slightly stronger headwind going out on the second loop, so the idea of a stronger tailwind also provided some extra motivation to get to the turn around as fast as possible. Once I hit the turnaround, I kept the perceived effort level for as long as I could. The “descent” back to town on the second loop was my fastest for the day.
The winds had changed, and shortly after loop three, we were hit with rain, and plenty of it! The headwinds going out to the turnaround were no longer as strong as the first two loops, and neither were my legs. Heart rate remained in the low 160s and high 150s for the remainder of the ride, and so did the rain. The latter portion of the ride featured a couple of turns, which made it tricky when passing cyclists finishing up their second loop – passing with caution was my number one priority since a bike crash would be unacceptable.
I ended up with a split of 4:51:xx on the day and felt good once I stepped off the bike.
Run : Nature calls after a long bike ride so hitting up the bathroom was first, then a quick change into my running clothes and Newtons. This was the first time I did not have a volunteer help me in the changing tent, given there were only a handful of other guys changing next to me. I ran out of transition and quickly settled into a comfortable ~7:30 pace. The first 4-5 miles of the run went by quickly. I saw Christina at mile 4 and then at mile 6. By the 10km split, the rain intensified. My socks were soaked, my insoles would no longer stay in place, and the constant need to stop and adjust my shoes diminished any run rhythm I had left. I saw Christina at mile 11 and remember saying that I can no longer continue with these conditions. The rain subsided for a brief period between mile 11 and 12, before picking up again when I stumbled my way through to the second loop. By then, my legs have started to lock up (a familiar feeling from running the 60km in Central Park). This feeling meant that if I were to continue, I would be putting myself into more trouble by gambling with injury.
Was the risk of being sidelined and not able to run for two to three months worth the glory of finishing?
The answer was a definite no.
Couples with decreasing temperatures, and a shivering body by mile 14, I decided to pull the plug. My day was done. I turned around, headed back to transition, cheered on the other competitors, and turned in my timing chip.
I am truly blessed to be able to start the race, and although finishing it is important, my wellbeing and physical health was more critical. This was a tough decision to make, but it is one that was most appropriate.
So, a huge Congratulations to all the Ironman Arizona finishers and also to those who didn’t make it all the way to the finishers line. Every race is a learning experience. There will be other races and other opportunities to shine.
Till next time Arizona.