Ironman Arizona 2012

19 Nov

Ironman Arizona 2012 Tempe AZ.

This weekend has been one of the most inspiring and memorable moments ever in my life. Every second of being here at Ironman Arizona has been special and amazing! From Friday night at the rules meeting and banquet and then the VIP party. Where they showed inspirational videos and had a lot of great speakers on stage and filled me full of free food. Then at the VIP party I got to meet Thad Beaty of Sugarland and chat with him. As again they offered up a complimentary bar (which I drank water and Shannon drank the wine) and had some super yummy deserts!

The volunteers here are wonderful people and so nice! I stopped and thanked every volunteer along the way during the weekend (even when I was racing I would yell out “Thanks volunteers!) I met the race director and hung out with him at the VIP parties before and after the race and met the head city official of the city of Tempe and got to express my thanks for putting on such an amazing event! The city of Tempe and this race location is just awesome! It’s a true urban course and so spectator friendly.
The swim is in Tempe Town Lake which is not the cleanest and nicest of waters but it also was not as bad as I have heard in the past. The water is frigid cold though! Race morning water was 64 degrees and well that’s cold to me! So I wore a full body wet suit and a neoprene swim cap that helped a lot but my feet and hands were cold.

My day becoming an Ironman;
The swim start; The swim they make you jump in the water early and tread water and float around bunched up with 2300 of your closest friends. But along the side was this concrete retaining wall so I hung out on this wall chatting with people dangling my feet in the water, but as I did this I never paid attention that the countdown was on and next thing I knew the cannon went off it was go time. So I was 100-150 yards behind the start line and jumped in and swam to catch up. The swim start was crowded and rough for about 600-700 yards but then things started to clear some as I swam wide to the outside just to find clear space. This also meant I was swimming extra distance but to me it was more about staying calm and relaxed and safe. Swimming is my weakest of the three and I knew I would have 112 on the bike and 26.2 on the run to chase people down so if they swim took me longer so be it. My guess is I swam close to 2.75 miles or more not the 2.4.
When I exit the swim finish people grab you and strip your wet suit off which was awesome! But as I ran from here to transition my feet were like blocks of ice and each step hurt a little. I got my gear back headed into the tent and started getting ready for the bike. Trying to get dressed when you are wet and cold is not easy. I put arm warmers on (well light weight white ones) more to protect me from sun but skipped putting my compression sleeves on my calves because too much work to get on. I quickly drank some water and ate a bag of honey stinger chews and downed a 5 hour energy shot.
The bike course, the course was very crowded at first and I was flying by people at 25-26 mph trying to find space. I felt great and was pumped to be riding! But then at mile 9 my tire blew (rear) and it was not just a blown tube but I shredded the side wall of my tire. Luckily it was at a corner and there were volunteers here. So one started radio for a bike mechanic because I needed a new tire, he helped me with my bike as I took the wheel off and we chatted it up. The mechanic finally arrived and took over from here changing my tired and fixing my bike up. As he did that I stood and well had to pee so let it fly in my shorts and then washed myself off with a bottle of water. This cost me about 10-12 minutes on the side of the road and was step one in testing my mental game and attitude. A lot of people might get mad and maybe even swear and take their mind negative here. But I stayed happy and positive and just thanked the mechanic and volunteers (even offered to take him out for a steak dinner for his help). When I got back on my bike I knew I had some riding to do to catch up so I put the hammer down and went after it. As I started passing people again and catching up to the place I left off we were also hitting the hardest part of the course an 11 mile long climb into the dessert. This was a long false flat (uphill) that in the last couple miles got steeper and more challenging. The other factor here was the wind they were picking up and made things a little more difficult. I got to the turn around and was ready to head back into town for lap #1 once I got a little of that downhill I picked up momentum and rocked between 30-35 mph for 11 miles. I had one huge smile on my face now! Then I made the turn at the road I blew my tire and all was good I kept flying down the road at 25-26mph and every person I passed I called out there name as I read it on their bib and cheered for them. I was screaming and cheering and trying to pump everyone up just having so much fun! The rest of the bike went well as no more flats and I was able to keep a fast pace and rock it. During the bike I was eating gels, drinking Gu-roctane endurance drink, some Ironman perform drink and getting bottles of water to dump on my shoulders. Wearing an aero helmet makes you faster but as the day went on and the sun got higher and the heat picked up that aero helmet was roasting my head and I could not get water to it. So on lap #3 of the bike I started to get a headache and my stomach started getting pretty sick from eating all those craptastic gels and the heat. My final bike split was 5:07 so had I not got that flat I would have had a sub 5 hour bike split like I planned. My guess is around a 4:52-4:55 bike split but getting a flat is part of the game so it is what it is.

T2; they grab your bike for you and go rack it and then I run to the transition tent calling out for my bike a volunteer brings it for you and then helps you get dressed if you need it. As I changed socks, got my run shoes on and changed tops (biked in my Team Pearl Izumi top but it does not zip down in front so changed into my Team Freewheel bike Pearl top that does zip down). I tried to take some salt tablets with my water but puked them up in the tent so could not get them in and then I tried to eat some honey stinger chews again and again could not really keep those in. So I took off running, the legs felt great! I was flying first mile was 6:01 and I said geez I might want to slow rhythm down a little so I got into a 6:30 type pace after that. but at the aid station around mile 3-4 some place my hamstring locked up bad I screamed in pain stretched it out and just kept running with this hobble of a run stride. Finally after 100-200 yards it started to work its self out and I kept running keeping more of a 7minute mile pace now trying not to aggravate the hamstring. But at mile 5 as I was running up a hill just after an aid station I pulled over and started puking, it was painful and this took 2-3 minutes. (The beauty of Ironman is everyone is so amazing on the course from the athletes to volunteers to fans) I had several athletes come up to me and ask if I’m OK and need help they were in the middle of their race but still took time to show compassion for a sick athlete on the course. Once I got moving again I got to the next aid station just before mile 6 and this was the first time ever during a race I stopped and used a port john.
Got that over with and back to running, finished my first lap and got started on my second lap. I loved finishing laps because this is where I saw my family and friends. Shannon, Bella, my mom and then my good friends Katie and Ryan Ellis where all in this area and seeing them always gave me a lift. Once out onto the course for lap #2 I started getting sicker and more heated up I think temps were around 80 degrees or so and bright sun and no shade. My new tactic for this lap was walk aid stations and cool myself off and then run between them. I would grab sponges and put them in my hat, stuff them in my shirt, pour cups of ice down my shorts, and drink Ironman perform, water and sometimes the cola. I never took a gel or any food during the run because my stomach was so sick and I thought I could start puking again at any moment. I toughed out lap #2 and was ready for my final lap of the course. I stayed happy and positive the entire race, thinking about all my wonderful friends back home tracking me and cheering for me. I kept telling myself I’m going to become an Ironman no matter what my time. I was not concerned about trying to qualify for Kona like my goal was it was about being an Ironman and finishing. I kept cheering for people as I ran by them and just kept my happy thoughts in my head. As I started to approach mile 24 I said let’s go game on and picked up my pace. (My motto is dig deep and finish strong) and I needed to live up to this I needed to prove to myself I can gut this out I am strong and I’m going to push myself beyond my limits. I also wanted a 3:30 marathon time (which I ran a 3:31 marathon).I pushed those last 2.3 miles or more at around 7:20 mile pace it was pure adrenaline and guts that carried me. When I got near the finish line and I could hear the crowds, and Mike Riley calling out (so and so you are an Ironman) my heart started pumping and I was getting emotional. I slapped some hands along the way and then crossed the line. Volunteers caught me as I was about to pass out. They wrapped a mylar blanket around me asked me some questions and I just said I’m very sick and give my finisher hat and T-shirt to my wife she is right there. They sat me down on a chair handed me a chocolate milk and I started to drink it. I saw Shannon and she had my gear bag so I went to get it and put dry clothes on. The massage tent was right here and I wanted out of my gross pee shorts so I went in there to strip and change as I was doing that I puked all over the place. And just kept puking that chocolate milk up, so got my pants on and they walked me to medical. They sat me down outside of medical gave me some water and just had me sit here for awhile. I kept hoping they would give me an iv but they never did. So I said lets go back I need a shower. Stopped at Whataburger on the way to the hotel and when I got to the room I started to eat my food, but quickly ran to the bathroom and started puking again. So I lied on the floor sick and in pain and said I need to go back to medical. So I showered up my chafed and sunburned body which burned! And went back to the finish line we watched a few people finish but I was still sick so walked over to medical they laid me down and took my vitals and said let’s try some chicken broth, and chips to get salts in you before the saline solution. I sat there eating and drinking and resting and after about 30 minutes started to feel a little better and no more puking!! Success I was ready to try and venture out into the night, so we found a great little restaurant and I had a plate of lasagna and kept that down along with my sprite (no booze for me). I finally was getting my stomach back and my fluids back up. Shannon and I went to the VIP tent at the finish line and watched as people became Ironman! We stayed until the final finisher crossed the line right at midnight it was so inspiring and amazing those final 2 hours of the race watching people cross the line in tears of joy as their names were called out “You are an Ironman”!!

Ironman Arizona 140.6 miles of fun!! 140.6 is no joke it is the hardest thing I have even done both physically and mentally. It took everything I had to cross that line and I’m so proud of myself. It was a long and exciting journey training for this event over the last 11 months and capped off with a really special moment crossing that finish line. I have nothing but huge respect for anyone who has finished an Ironman!! I have run a lot of marathons and I work with a lot of marathon runners and that is hard, but once you run a marathon after swimming 2.4 and biking 112, well now that is just crazy and wicked hard! And even though my marathon had a lot of dark moments and I thought I could of run it faster I still ran a 3:31 which is faster than a lot of people’s all out marathon without the swim and bike. So for that again I’m proud of myself. I have no excuses and I have no regrets the day on the course was amazing and I would not trade one moment of it. Not the flat tire or the puking it was all part of my journey to becoming an Ironman it was the tests the adversity tossed at me to test my mind-body-spirit.

So now it’s over and it’s time to run and run so more. No Ironman next year for me, but thinking maybe 2014 I’ll give that shot at Kona again. I know I have it in me.

Thanks for all the cheers and support! I could not have done this without great friends, and a great family! My family put up with long training hours and all kinds of craziness so for that I thank them dearly!



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