Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ironman Arizona 2014

A few brief comments written soon after the Ironman Arizona November 16, 2014:

The Swim
The Tempe Town Lake water level was lower than normal, had no visibility, and over 3202 crazy athletes fought  hard for positioning as we swam the first half of the swim directly into a blinding sunrise. Everybody was aggressive.  I bumped into swimmers the whole time. And these swimmers were not inclined to just glance off my body but they would actually push off my body to try to get ahead. I kept thinking: water polo. There were log jams in the swim. I kept reminding myself that I was not having fun yet. About four or five times I repeated in my head, “I suck at swimming” (and I don’t ever use that expression). Swim 01:14:51. Not bad.
The Bike
I loved the three loop course but unfortunately it was a windy day (but not as windy as my 2005 Ironman Arizona). The wind slowed my progress to 10.5 mph for a few brief moments as I neared the turnaround point on the Bee Line Highway but I tried to make up for it by hammering on the return with a tailwind (max speed of 37.7 mph). The exhilaration of flying back to town made me feel that I wasn’t working hard but my heart rate actually remained about the same as when I was climbing into the wind. I passed people steadily on the bike but on the third lap I had to be more careful when passing riders who were still on their second lap. Bike 05:27:26. Respectable.
The Run
It didn’t take long to realize that I undertrained the run (I suspected as much). I started cramping at around mile four. I ran easy to find my running legs and relax the cramps in my left quad. I thought that my legs would loosen up eventually. When I started to become alarmed that my legs were not settling in to the run, I decided that I was going to flood my system with fluids, calories, and electrolytes. I decided not to worry about potential gastrointestinal problems like I had last time (Ironman Arizona 2005), nor worry about needing to take many port-a-potty breaks if I drank too much. I thought that my priority should be to feed my legs. And I did. I walked through every aid station and drank, and drank, and drank Perform, ate ripe bananas, had some Gu gels, water, Red Bull, and Cola. I must have used the port-a-potty 10 times including mile 25, haha. My stomach was fine but my legs just got worse. Not even my Hoka One One Bondi Bs could compensate for my lack of training for the run. But I made it...barely. Run 04:48:04. Lame.
Random Thoughts:
Ironman is just too long to be practical.
There was an army of ironman volunteers and they were wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Here is just one example of what I mean: At the end of the day one volunteer offered to get my transition bags for me. And after I told him my number he ran, did not walk, to retrieve my bags and hand them to me.
I had the best shirts on the course and they were complimented.
Most runners were getting cold during the marathon because they were still wearing their sleeveless lycra shirts. Not me, though, and a few other wise ones.
There were not enough port-a-potties at the start line!!!
I saw many funny signs on the course. One made me laugh out loud: “If you are not divorced, you are not training hard enough.”
I saw many people with the Ironman logo tattooed on their calves or ankles.
As I strolled through the Ironman merchandise tent I couldn’t stop thinking that the act of wearing all that groovy Ironman attire would be an act of shameless boasting. So I only got one cycling jersey so that I could be a more modest boaster.
I had two goals for this Ironman: Finish in under 12 hours and feel good doing it. I achieved the first goal.
My name was printed on my race number and hundreds of spectators used my name as they cheered me on. But two different times I heard Pam’s voice say only one syllable as I quickly passed by her and without seeing her in the crowd. “Todd,” she said. Only one syllable and I knew it was Pam.
After the race we stayed with Kristina’s family. Kristina had been following my Ironman progress all day on her smart phone. She asked me if I thought of myself as an athlete and I responded that I prefer to think of myself as a life-long fitness enthusiast.  I want to live a balanced life. Ironman is something that I have done but it is not my label or identity. In fact I don’t have any label that I would give to myself.

I beat 85% of all the participants and did very well except for the run.

Time 11:43:26
(almost as good as Ironman Arizona April 9, 2005 11:42:47)

Note to self: Don't do another Ironman.

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