Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ironman Arizona 2013 Race Report

Ironman Arizona Race Report
November 17, 2013
By Iron Eric
Not sure even where to begin with my epic journey to Ironman Arizona.  It started more than a year ago when I committed to participating in the race.  It has been since June 2008 since I finished Ironman Coeur d'Alene.  Something got stuck in my head to see how I could do 5 years later.  My run has been so much stronger and I felt I could put in a top notch performance.
The drive to Arizona was pretty easy.  It was a 12-13 hour drive or 850 miles so we decided to drive in 2 days.  Halfway point was Albuquerque, NM.  Nicole, Ariel and I packed our bags and off we went.
The day before the race was pretty low-key.  I spent some time near the expo at the practice swim.  This was pretty intense in itself.  I have been having troubles putting on my wetsuit.  It is extra difficult to get it around wrists and ankles.  That's where a plastic bag comes in handy.  Guess what I left in the car.  I went on a hunt to find my plastic bag...I ended up at the expo merchandise mart.  I was finally successful and got my wetsuit on with ease.  I swam for about 20 minutes at an easy pace.  After the swim, I went back to my car and got my bike.  I rode it for about 30 minutes and took it to transition area so it could be checked in.  I got a sneak peak of the run course.  I ran/walked a little back to my car.
My in-laws came to watch so we all went to eat at a fancy Italian Restaurant.  My meal was pretty delicious.  I had a salad and a pasta dinner.  Nothing fancy.
Race morning was pretty simple.  I woke up at 4:00am.  I ate my cranberry oatmeal shortly after I woke up.  I put on sunscreen, my race clothes and got my stuff ready to go.  I was out the door at 5:10am.  I went alone to the race site, with the anticipation of meeting my crew at the race.  That was a mistake because I never saw them that morning.  We would all go together if we were to do it again. 
Once I was in the transition area, there was no leaving it.  I put my GU gels, GU Chomps, Bonk Breaker Bars and GU Roctane Electrolyte beverage on my bike.  I borrowed a bike pump from another athlete.  Next I went to wait in the restroom line.  I didn't have to go until I got in the port-o-potties.  While waiting, I realized I still had my Bike and Run Special Needs Bags.  The athlete in front of me offered to go and put our bags where they needed to be.  In return, I held his spot which worked out for both of us.  I started putting my wetsuit on while in line.  Shortly after I got out, put my race day clothes bag away and it was time to line up for the swim start.

The swim start happened so fast.  I got in the water and swam past the two bridges.  I was moving up towards the middle of the group and "bang" there goes the start of the race.  Mad chaos began with swimmers every which direction.  It seemed like it was mad chaos for the entire swim.  I got kicked in the nose pretty hard at some point.  This seemed to be the worst of it until I kicked someone (accidently) behind me and a heard a low scream calling me a big jerk.  I got out of the swim pretty easily and waited for someone to lift me up.
Swim: 1:15:17 (1:56/100m or 1:47/100y)
I ran to one of the volunteers that helped me strip my wetsuit.  He had troubles getting the suit of my wrists.  Not a big surprise.  I rounded the corner keeping a close eye for my family.  The crowds were amazing and it felt so special to be participating in this event.  I was shouting my number as I passed the gear bags and got it with ease.  I sat on the grass just before I put on my heart rate monitor, GPS, socks, shoes, helmet, sunglasses, bike gloves and off I went.  It was a pretty simple transition.  I wasn't cold and frozen like previous experiences.  I ran for a quick potty break, grabbed my bike and off I went.  Some other cyclists were having troubles getting on their bikes and I was screaming for them to get out of the way and hurry up.  My family heard me screaming as I found out later.
The bike course is a 3 loop course.  Each loop is about 37 miles.  I previewed the course ahead of time which made a big difference.  I knew where the turns were and what to expect.  The first loop was madness.  There were so many cyclists next to me.  I was afraid that someone was going to get a drafting penalty.  As soon as I would pass one, the same one would come back and pass me.  Loop two cleared up and it made riding easier, yet slower. 
I had to get off the bike once to pee on the second loop.  I found an open port-o-potty and stopped.  I wasted one minute, but it was better than going while still riding on the bike.  A volunteer held my bike right away as I made the quick stop.  Just couldn't pee on the bike. My hamstring started cramping which made me worry just a little.  The cramp went away by the third loop.
I thought my nutrition was pretty dialed in.  I had 6-7 GU gels, GU Chomps (2 serv.), two 21 oz bottles of GU Roctane, tons of Ironman Perform, and two big Bonk Breaker Bars.
Bike 5:29:35 (20.39 mph)
  Calories: 3,935
  Min HR: 106  |  Avg HR: 145  |  Max HR: 166
  Z1: 20:37  |  Z2: 3:33:18  |  Z3: 1:38:37  |  Z4: 0:00:36
Loop 1: 1:43:28
  Avg HR: 145  |  Max HR: 160 
Loop 2: 1:50:11
  Avg HR: 147  |  Max HR: 166
Loop 3: 1:59:27
  Avg HR: 144  |  Max HR: 159
Towards the end of the ride, I purposely took it easy.  I tried to relax and get my legs ready for the run.  I was searching for my family throughout the big crowds.
The run is where I specialize.  I am a great runner and have been working hard for the last couple of years.  I have improved my marathon times greatly and was ready to rock this marathon.  I had my Heart Rate Monitor on so my plan was to stay within a certain range.  My HR started pretty high and I was a little concerned.  The problem I encountered was that I felt great.  I was running smooth, but I felt my pace was a little too fast.
Let's just say I hit a wall pretty early during the marathon.  I was feeling sick around mile 6-7.  Not sure how to describe how I felt.  I found a tree and vomited a few miles later.  This helped some, but my pace slowed and it was now challenging. 
I ran most of the marathon.  I started to walk at the aid stations when I got coke.  The weather was great so at least I wasn't cold.  I had a pretty bad gas bubble in my stomach which never seemed to improve.  I was great one minute, the next I was in agony.  This was on and off for the remainder of the run. 
Despite being worn out, I was still passing other runners.  I was still looking for my family every time I passed Ironman expo area.  I did not see them so I kept on going.  The pickle juice I carried with me was gone, but I chose not to refill it as the Special Needs run.  It really didn't help me this time.
The hills seemed massive, but I managed to get past them.  Mile 23 seemed like bliss.  I was headed towards the finish and I knew that the suffer fest was almost over.  I managed to pull off a great last mile as I came in to the finish area.  The sun was down as I finished, but it was an amazing feeling coming through the finish line.
Run 3:49:04 (8:44/mile)
  Calories: 2,676
  Min HR: 114  |  Avg HR: 145  |  Max HR: 171
  Z1: 39:01  |  Z2: 2:07:45  |  Z3: 25:39  |  Z4: 34:09
Mile 1-5: 33:22+2:00
  Avg HR: 166  |  Max HR: 171 
Mile 5-10: 44:20
  Avg HR: 150  |  Max HR: 164
Mile 10-15: 44:44
  Avg HR: 142  |  Max HR: 153
Mile 15-20: 46:45
  Avg HR: 137  |  Max HR: 146
Mile 20-25: 47:21
  Avg HR: 143  |  Max HR: 158
Mile 25-26.25: 10:34
  Avg HR: 143  |  Max HR: 158
Garmin Watch (8:43/mile)
Run: 3:49:06
Run Distance: 26.14
Avg Pace: 8:43/mile
Best Pace: 5:44/mile
Calories: 3,327

Mile 1: 6:39, Mile 2: 6:47,Mile 3: 7:04,Mile 4: 7:13,Mile 5: 7:38, Mile 6: 8:12, Mile 7: 9:01,
Mile 8: 8:44, Mile 9: 8:41, Mile 10: 8:52, Mile 11: 8:37, Mile 12: 8:55, Mile 13: 9:08,
Mile 14: 9:13, Mile 15: 9:10, Mile 16: 9:16, Mile 17: 9:06, Mile 18: 9:24, Mile 19: 9:39,
Mile 20: 9:30, Mile 21: 9:09, Mile 22: 9:11, Mile 23: 9:19, Mile 24: 9:53, Mile 25: 9:37,
Mile 26: 8:43, Mile 26.2: 0:44

I slowly walked through the finish area.  The volunteer who helped me at the finish was awesome!  She asked if I needed anything, I asked for a coke.  I got my photo taken and started walking to find my family.  I managed to get in some food and liquids for recovery.  Not the greatest food (pizza and chocolate cookie), but I was happy to be eating solid foods.  When I got to the hotel I drank my GU Chocolate Recovery drink.
Final StatsT1: Swim-to-Bike – 8:12
T2: Bike-to-Run – 3:19
Age Group
1.2 Miles
112 Miles
20.39 mph
26.2 Miles
140.6 Miles
Final Thoughts
After time to think about the race I have come up with a list of items of things I need to work on before Ironman Boulder next year:
  • Better Swim (10 seconds per 100y)
  • Don’t sit on grass
  • Improve Marathon Time (20-45 minutes)
  • Better nutrition on the run
  • Work on hydration for extreme heat at IM Boulder
  • Continue to improve on cycling
  • Move up on rankings