Monday, November 28, 2011

2012 IMCdA Training plan

Today (I am writing this on Monday night) is the day that most people will be starting their 30-week training plan for Ironman Coeur d'Alene.  I, on the other hand, am still taking a little time to recover from Ironman Arizona, which apparently involves running a half marathon in Las Vegas.  Anywho, I'm currently going through the process of figuring out what I want to accomplish for this next Ironman race.

I have a few goals on the table that I need to filter through in order to decide what my game plan is going to be.  First off, my overall goal will be to finish Ironman CdA.  Since I've never raced this course before, I won't really know what to expect, so just finishing it will be a successful day.  The next step up would be setting a new PR.  And while I had a phenomenal day at Ironman Arizona last week, there is still plenty of room for improvement.  The question is, how high do I set the bar?  Do I go for an even 11:30, or go big and say sub-11?  Lastly, there is a rivalry goal that I must consider.  Well, two of them actually.

The first rivalry goal is that I have to decide if I think I'm capable of finishing first out of the group of people I will be racing with.  Realistically, this doesn't matter.  But, it's one of those things that just exists.  We are all going to be thinking that finishing first out of the group would be awesome, but of course, no one is really going to come out and say it.  The other rivalry this has much more pressure added to it is my rivalry with The Captain.  Now, we don't really have a rivalry, because we are good friends and we do a lot of our training together.  But the way that our racing has played out is that he had beaten me in 2 previous Ironman Arizona races, and I finally beat him last week.  Well, he is going to be doing Ironman Arizona again next year, with the goal of beating my current IMAZ PR of 11:39:49.  So my rivalry goal for IM CdA is to set a new PR that The Captain will be unable to beat at IMAZ.  I do think that this is wishful thinking.

I'm not saying that I'm actually going to include all of these goals into my training planning.  I'm just saying that these are some of the goals that I have to consider so I can figure out what my real goals and expectations are for this race.

I'm hoping to have the basic outline of a training plan within the next few days, and I'll post it once I do.  Until then, I'll just be doing some easy training to allow my body to continue to recover before I get going again.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I forgot a couple of photos!

In the midst of writing up these novel-style race reports (sorry they were sooooo long!), I forgot to include a couple of pictures that were pretty funny.

At one point in the race recap, I explained that The Wife and her sister had bumped into Eric Byrnes' wife.  Well, The Greats (The Wife's grandparents) are actually big fans of Major League Baseball, and more specifically the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres.  It took some explaining, but the instant that The Greats realized that Eric Byrnes' wife was just on the other side of the bike-start chute was priceless!  See for yourself:

Here is my mom explaining to The Wife's grandma that Eric Byrnes' wife is just across the way
Here is the look on her face when she finally understands
And now here's my mom laughing at that particular reaction
I think she would have passed out if she saw Eric Byrnes go by on his bike!  Definitely an awesome reaction.

Ok, I think I'm finally done talking about this Ironman race.  Maybe.  Eh, I'll probably find something else to write about it.  Ha!

Thanks for reading!

*And thanks Rachel (not The Wife, like I incorrectly stated in a previous post) for the pictures!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day in the Life of an Ironman Spectator

Guest post time from The Wife!
(Please pardon the long-windedness of this post & any errors, 
because I had to write it TWICE due to a glitch that erased half of it - yikes!)
The Wife & Little One - We are one proud family!
Pre-Game Prep

After an 8pm bedtime the night before, I shook Jason awake when his alarm went off at 3AM. (He was wearing ear plugs because our hotel was half full of ironman athletes, & half full of rowdy football fans in Tempe for the ASU/UofA game. It took a lot of convincing to get him to wear them, because he thought he would sleep through the alarm.) From that point on, I am awake for the day, but I am trying to stay quiet so our 3 year old sleeps in as late as possible.

Side note: If you are looking into places to stay, we have tried out 2. Both are great hospitable places to stay, modernly designed, & due to popularity, reservations need to be made about 11 months in advance. Here's my abbreviated take on them... Courtyard Marriott: Pricier, nice standard rooms, selling point is that it is within walking distance of all weekend events & easy to drop by your room midday if necessary; Hyatt Place Tempe: Well priced, farther distance (they do provide shuttle service), large rooms - similar to a suite (conducive to accommodating all of the crap that triathletes bring along with them for their races ;) winking), free breakfast (this year they provided gatorade, bananas, & granola bars for athletes).
  
After sending Jason off  with a kiss for good luck, I got ready for the long day ahead. Pack up a backpack full of snacks and drinks for the day & fill the wagon with chairs for sitting on. Our support team is eclectic, ranging in age from 3 to 80, so it serves well to be prepared. We definitely dressed in layers, because it is chilly in the morning, but sunny & warm by the afternoon. I called The Captain's wife who was staying warm in their truck in the parking garage.  The Greats (my grandparents) were waiting outside. Little One & I headed off down the hallway to the Parents' room. After knocking on their door, we discovered that they were still in their pajamas, because their alarm clocks were off by AN HOUR! Oooops! No time to delay, we had to head to the start. 

Little One's Deluxe Transportation
Meet Our Crew: My mom & stepdad (the energetic ones who run from spot to spot to enthusiastically yell for their athletes, using bike, motorcycles, and cowbells as accessories), Great Grandma (loves to brag about J),  Me (designated videographer), The Parents (photographer and child wrangler extraordinaire), Great Grandpa (Number cruncher - always keeping track of athletes splits & expected times),  Little One (super trooper daddy fan), J's Sister In Law (the smart one: always there for race start &; key cheering times, takes a break in the afternoon to do homework & do Macayos Happy Hour before volunteering at the finish line)




Our favorite place to view the swim start is from atop the East Mill Avenue Bridge. For a 7AM race start, it is necessary to get up to the bridge by 6AM at the latest. We set up our chairs in a little semi circle in effort to save space for the members of our party who had not yet arrived. I ran down under the bridge by the water & met up with Jason. He spends so much time training leading up to this race that i can't wait to watch him meet his goals. I communicated where we were standing on the bridge, so the J & the Captain could wave to us before the start. (BTW - The Parents made it to the bridge in time to wave to Jason.)

Our prime viewing spot


Swim, Daddy, Swim!

After the Pros take off, 3000 athletes jump into Temp Town Lake and make their way towards the kayak line to tread water waiting for the start gun. It is an amazing sight & it feels like the swimmers coming out from under the lake are never ending. It is a miracle that I am able to spot J nearly every time. One very smart athlete had a flashing light attached to his swim cap - BRILLIANT for easy recognition! One of my most favorite parts of the whole event is hearing the national anthem. The first year we watched, the whole lake was full of people singing along. Then they are off! An endless sea of athletes swimming towards the sunrise. 

Funny sign we saw while waiting

Now comes the tricky part. You have to decide which side of the course you want to be "trapped" on. You can either be by the lake, or outside the bike course near Mill & Rio Salado. We opted to stay "inside"  by the lake side. While walking to our "spot", my sister and I passed a woman and her children that we determined to be Eric Byrnes' family. We got a good laugh out of that ; ) We waited and watched all of the athletes run by with their wetsuits in hand to pick up their transition bags. Thankfully J's bright orange and blue jersey is easy to spot. Then we ran over to the bike chute to yell for him as he sped by on his bike.  

  
Good thing there was approximately 2 hours until he would be back near Tempe Beach Park on the bike loop... At this race course, they have "crosswalks" to cross the race path. Well, considering that there are about 3000 athletes & they are all speeding down a narrow race chute, that leaves little time for even more spectators to safely cross their paths during the virtually nonexistent breaks in the action! They have security regulating this, but for safety, they have to wait a LONG time to let people through. I think it was about 40 minutes before they would let 3 people at a time run across. I would love to see them construct temporary "bridges" to help with this problem in the next few years. 



We waited near the lake to watch people come out of the water for the swim. We wrote with chalk on the run path along the lake words of encouragement for the 3rd portion of the race later in the day. Watching the swim cutoff is exhilarating and heartbreaking at the same time. It was amazing to watch
a guy encourage a girl the rest of the way to narrowly make their way out of the water before the time ran out. It was impossible though not to get choked up watching a woman struggle her way the whole 2.4 miles in the murky water just to be told that she missed it by a few seconds. As Mike Riley says, "You WILL come back and do it next time."


Bike, Daddy, Bike!

The next stop is along Rio Salado. The street is lined on both sides by people waiting hours to spot a glimpse of their loved ones speed by at 20+ MPH & to give them a cheer to boost their confidence before they head back out to the Beeline Highway. We pulled our wagon full of chairs and set them up behind a group of fans sitting on the sidewalk. This is not always easy... here is a video clip of one of our false alarms. 


Since we have slightly less than 2 hours to kill again, we walk down Mill Avenue to find a spot to get some lunch. There are tons of restaurants conveniently located within a very short walking distance. We chose Gordon Biersch. After my tummy was full from tapas and a pear gorgonzola salad (thanks for treating us Great Gpa!) We also dropped off all of our warm jackets at the hotel (an advantage of staying at the Marriott).

Little One with some Marathon Bar love!

The Greats returned to the hotel for a nap & The Parents, Little One, & I headed back to Rio Salado. We parked ourselves along the curb and started watching everyone who passed. at this point, both J & The Captain were making very good time & moving along faster than we expected. They were within a few seconds of each other on this lap. We took advantage of the early afternoon timing and returned to our hotel room for a brief rest. I was able to sit down, and upload some of the videos I had taken so far to the computer. 

Before we knew it, it was back to the transition area to watch the bike finish. The Greats & The Parents went to the "Run Out" area. Little One & I perched up on a planter on the southeast corner of Tempe Beach Park to await J's bike finish. To our delight, we saw him & The Captain cruise by together! We made a quick call to notify the others & then hustled down to meet up with them. J looked happy to be off the bike & on to what I normally consider his best event of the Ironman.  


Run, Daddy, Run!  

The next camp out location was under the Mill Avenue bridge. At this point, Little One could play in the dirt - she was getting a little antsy by this point in the day, but is quite a trooper. (Juice boxes, Grandma's Banana Bread, almonds, and raisins are also great tools to get preschoolers to hold still for a short amount of time.) We set up our chairs along the sidewalk. At this point, we were able to view runners on approximately the 3 mile and 9 mile point pf each of their 3 loops.  
Snack Time
As Jason came to our point at the end of his first loop, I was definitely worried. He didn't have his head held high, or  look like he could do this all day long,  in the casual way he normally appears during races. He waved, but looked tired & worn down. I knew he really wanted to finish in under 12 hours, and I was secretly hoping he could do 11:30, and wasn't really sure his spirits fit in with this plan.   

When he came by again (which would be about 3 miles later) he suddenly looked like he had much more energy.... and he was running next to a kid who I thought was a little strange, because he was smiling right at me and my camera. I would later learn that Murph, an Ironman virgin from Texas saved my hubby on his race - Thanks for that buddy! Now Jason was on his way for the second lap of the run. 

We packed up to cross over the "crosswalk" to be on the "other side" of the race course. Tempe Beach Park has a great little playground, perfect for expending preschoolers energy during the mid afternoon. I took the opportunity to grab a little Jamba Juice & nachos (I'm a sucker for the junk food at times to my husband's dismay). 
Playtime with Grandpa (Professional Child Wrangler)


Then we stood on the platform where 10 hours earlier athletes jumped in the lake to start their adventure to wait for J to come by to start his last lap. Finally we saw them - J & Murph! Whoo hoo! Kick it boys! Get moving on that last lap... you're almost an Ironman!  

We went to watch Jason at mile 21 when my daughter informed me that she had to go to the bathroom. I asked her if she could wait to see Daddy run by, and she said, "No! I'm going to poop my pants! I have to go NOW!". Ummmm. No. I did NOT bring a change of clothes for her. This is an emergency & we needed to find a port a potty STAT. Luckily, I knew that one of my co-workers from the hospital was about to start his volunteer shift at the finish line medical tent at about this time. I hustled my 3 year old over there & he snuck us in. (It is hard to find a port a potty that isn't full or doesn't have a long line by this point in the day....) We made it! Although, we got walked in on by some poor athlete & Little One exclaimed, "He sneaked up on us!"  

Whew! Off to the finish line! J's Dad had taken our wagon back to the hotel so we didn't have to deal with it & the bleachers at the finish. We all made the climb up the bleachers to watch athletes arrive at the end of their quest. In reality, if you are relatively young or old and not super steady on your feet, the bleachers are a treacherous place to be! As people saw their loved ones come down the chute, they would clear out & we were able to slowly make our way down towards the ground level. Thank goodness we did, because about 40 minutes before Jason finished, Little One became a limp sack of potatoes in my arms, passed out asleep, and never regained consciousness for the end of the night ; ) My arms were DYING trying to cradle her. I am not the ironman athlete my better half is. The only thing keeping me in that spot was knowing I would get a glimpse of Jason soon. 

[Side note of annoyance: There was this photographer with a GIANT camera leaning over the siderail completely blocking my view. That is just plain rude. If you are just spectating for the general fun of it and not watching anyone specifically, please stand a few rows back. Most of us have been up since 5am vigilantly keeping watch out for our loved ones and cheering them on all day long. We REALLY want to see them cross that finish line! Okay... I am done]  

The clock passed 11:30 and I was bummed that he didn't finish by my secret goal, but was very anxious to see him round that corner! Then @ 11:39, Murph & Jason ran past us, throwing their hands in the air to finish. The cool thing was, my mom, step dad, stepbrother, stepsister, and sister were all volunteering at the finish line at this point, so they got to see him up close and personal right when he crossed the line, and gave him his medal. 
Laughing with the Step dad about talking to Eric Byrnes

Murph, J, & my Mom
After that... The Greats & The Parents walked back to the hotel with Grandpa slinging our dead weight Little One over his shoulder... because we had already returned the wagon to the hotel... epic fail.  I set out to find Jason in the massive sea of athletes... and he obviously doesn't have a cell phone with him. (What did we do before those things?) We missed each other a little bit, because I went to the recovery area & he walked into the stands (and saw The Captain finish!). Note to self: Talk about your post race meet-up plan BEFORE race day.  

Spectating with the athlete 

To register for IMAZ, you basically have to either race or volunteer to be able to sign up for the next subsequent year's race. Last year, Jason & I both worked in the Finish Line Medical Tent towards the end of the race. We were blessed with the chance to see Chrissy Wellington party with the crowd at the midnight finish. We had so much fun that we decided to make a point to try and see it every year! 

After walking his gear back to the hotel, we got a meal at Fatburger. (We were very disappointed that they were out of skinny fries & milkshakes:(( crying) Then we looked at the clock & we still had THREE hours left before midnight!  

I am ashamed to admit it, but I complained kicking and screaming about staying for the finish. I was so tired, my feet hurt, I was cold, and I just wanted to go to sleep. Oh wait.... my husband just swam 2.4 miles (I would have drowned), biked 112 miles ( I would have quit), and ran a marathon (I would have died). But as he says, "I train for this and you don't". I think he's just trying to make me feel better... and I'll take it!  

Wouldn't you  know it, I made it to midnight. We chatted with a young kid who actually got a Kona spot that rolled down to his 3rd in age group finish the next day. We also talked with a man who came out every year to spectate and was considering attempting it himself.   

During this last hour or so, all of the Pros are hanging out in the finish chute, encouraging the athletes on their last stretch. Mike Riley (the "Voice" of Ironman who announces everyone's name all day long) is out there swinging around his towel, pumping up the crowd. All the people down in the front bang on the boards to the beat of the loud music creating a frenzied environment.  

We watched a woman who once placed first in her age group in Kona, lost her leg in a car accident, attempted post amputation to complete 2 Ironman's unsuccessfully, but was able to finish under regulation time in AZ. I saw a 74 year old man cross the finish line.... AMAZING! An older gentleman who had obviously suffered some sort of injury came around the corner being supported my 2 fellow athletes all the way to the end - what a show of sportsmanship.  When they were almost at the finish, Mike Riley stopped them and cued the entire crowd to roar, "YOU are an IRONMAN!!!!" The most nail-biting highlight was watching a woman give every last ounce of her self to make it across the finish line at the VERY last second.  Check out her photo finish. 

If you have never had the chance to experience spectating an Ironman, do it! Especially if you think you might like to attempt it yourself one day. It promises to always be an emotion filled, awe inspiring experience. I always look forward to them & LOVE to hear those words.... "Jason Wright... YOU are an Ironman!"

I am so proud of you and I love you very much Jason.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My epic battle with Eric Byrnes is over!

It's time for battle!

By now, you're probably aware that I just completed Ironman Arizona, and set a new personal record.  It was a crazy day, and a lot of it went better than I could have imagined.  I've already told you about all of my personal goals and accomplishments for that day, except one.  And that goal was to beat Eric Byrnes!

Image found on Google of Eric Byrnes
Eric Byrnes used to play professional baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks (and a few other teams during his career).  He retired from the MLB after playing in the majors from 2000 to 2010.  Since his retirement, he has been playing some slow-pitch softball, golfing, and probably a ton of other perfect retirement activities to just enjoy life.  One thing that he also started showing interest in was triathlons.

For his first triathlon, he wore his surfing wetsuit, rode a beach cruiser for the bike portion, and then still clicked out some 6:30 miles during the run.  And doing a few shorter triathlons got his eyes set on the big dance...a full blown Ironman triathlon.

Fast forward to November 2011.  Eric Byrnes could have signed up for any Ironman in the world, but he chose Arizona.  Some might think it was because he used to play professional baseball in Arizona, so he felt comfortable here.  Others might think that he did his research and found that Ironman Arizona is actually a pretty nice race.  But the truth is that Byrnsie was challenging me to a duel.  I'm pretty sure as he was signing up for the race, he said to himself, "Jason Wright!  You're going down!"

When I found out that Eric Byrnes was going to be battling me head-to-head at Ironman Arizona, I started to wonder just how fast he would be.  I had already set my personal goals and felt that they were pretty lofty already, so I wasn't really going to be changing my time goal.  But would the added advantage of beating Eric Byrnes propel me to a speed that I have yet to discover?

All during race weekend, I could tell that Byrnsie was avoiding me.  I went to the athlete check in on Friday, and I'm sure he went on Thursday or early on Friday to avoid receiving my incredibly intimidating glare.  And at the athlete dinner on Friday night, I had saved him a seat, and he purposefully either didn't show up or sat as far away as he could.  Then on race morning, he did everything in his power to get away from me.

Before I get to the actual race results and which one of us was declared the winner of our epic duel, let's set the stage with a couple videos.  This first one is of me getting ready on race morning, and there was only one thing on my mind...


This next video is actually of The Wife and her sister.  While they were spectating, they happened to end up next to Eric Byrnes' family!  The Wife ended up talking with Byrnsie's wife (and says that she was very nice and friendly).  This video is a recap of what happened...


Now, let me clear something up.  The Wife was incorrect.  This is, in fact, a REAL rivalry!  Look at all of the facts, and it is very obvious that this thing is for real.  Moving on.

And finally, here is how the epic battle went down!

The swim was intense.  I kept looking for Eric Byrnes before I got in the water.  I was going to offer to let him draft off of me so he could be fresh for the bike and run (or, maybe I was actually planning on drafting off of him!).  But, I could not find him.  I'm pretty sure he had his body guards keeping an eye on me and telling him to move to the other end of transition whenever I was getting near.  The swim started, and about halfway through I got kicked in the face.  "Darn you Byrnsie!"  I know that he was the one that kicked me.  He had singled me out in the swim and deliberately swam in front of me to get in this cheap shot.  But that's fine.  I didn't let it phase me.  After the swim, this is what our stats looked like:

Byrnsie: Swim time - 1:15:52, T1 time - 8:40, total time - 1:24:32
Jason: Swim time - 1:19:47, T1 time - 9:39, total time - 1:29:26

Sweet!  I was only down by about 5 minutes.  Not too shabby!

The bike was where the tide changed...but not in my direction.  I still had not actually seen Byrnsie out there on the battle field, so I had no idea where he was in relation to where I was.  And that's probably because he was flying on the bike!  He was going so fast that I'm considering requesting that his bike be inspected for a jet engine.  The other thing that I'm sure about is that Byrnsie was the cause of all of the flat tires out on the course.  After receiving the kick in the face from him during the swim, I wouldn't put it past him to have carried a baggie full of thumbtacks out onto the bike course with the intention of releasing them in hopes to give me a flat tire.  He needed an advantage!  Lucky for me, he missed.  But that didn't matter.  He smoked me on the bike:

Byrnsie: Bike time - 5:10:06, T2 time - 6:03, total time - 6:40:41
Jason: Bike time - 5:34:44, T2 time - 2:47, total time - 7:04:10

Crap!  Byrnsie was crushing me!  But on the positive side, I did have a faster T2, so ha!

The run, as you may have already read in my run recap, was a little rough for me.  Byrnsie, on the other hand, had a great run!  Again, I didn't see him because he obviously avoided me, but he had a great marathon time.  Based on his splits, he averaged around 8:30/mile for the first 9 miles, slowed only slightly to 9:20/mile for the next 8.5 miles, and slowed to 10:48/mile for the last 6.2 miles.  It may seem as if he was getting tired near the end, but that's not the case.  He was deliberately slowing down in order to taunt me!  He had such a great race, and had blown me away, that he wanted to savor the moment for a while and really rub it in.  Well played, sir, well played.

Byrnsie: Run time - 4:04:22, total time at finish - 10:45:01
Jason: Run time - 4:32:54, total time at finish - 11:39:49

Back in January of this year, I made the bold prediction that Eric Byrnes could finish this race under 10 hours.  I wasn't quite correct, but I was correct in predicting that he would have an absolutely amazing Ironman debut!  There was no doubt in my mind that Byrnsie would attack this sport with the same intensity that earned him the right to play major league baseball.  On top of that, he is the prime age for triathletes, and he is fortunate enough to have the perfect living situation to become a top level triathlete.  I'm just happy that I was within an hour of his time!  I think he took it easy on me.

It kills me to say it, but congratulations on destroying my hopes and dreams, Mr. Byrnes.  You may have won the battle, but the war is far from over!  I fully expect you to return to IMAZ in 2013 when I plan on racing this course again.

Ok, now that my soul is crushed, let's get to a happier note.  As I said earlier, The Wife ended up bumping into Eric Byrnes' wife.  And as The Wife's sister stated in that video, they sure as heck snapped a picture of their sign:

Awesome sign Mrs. Byrnes!

And The Wife also got a great shot of Byrnsie in action, just as he was passing his family!

It pays to have a great sign!  I'm sure he was very happy to see his family.

And oddly enough, my mother in law was volunteering at the finish line, placing medals on finishers.  Well...she got to give Eric Byrnes his first Ironman medal!  Awesome!  And of course, she and her husband snagged a photo of the lightning fast Eric Byrnes and his beautiful family:

Congrats on the wonder finish!

Thank you Mr. Byrnes for the epic battle.  I am proud to have provided you with a rivalry that could push you to your limits and drive you to finish in such an amazing time in your Ironman debut.  I wish you continued success in your retirement and your new found addiction that is triathlon.  Hopefully one day we can battle again to see who wins round 2!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sorry, I ate too much food.

Well, yesterday was Thanksgiving, which means that I most certainly ate too much food.  I made sure to sample every variety of food that was available, and it was all very, very yummy.  Unfortunately, since I ate such a ridiculous amount of food, I was in a food-coma the rest of the day and didn't do a single bit of blog writing (oops!).  So I apologize, because I know you were sitting on the edge of your seat to hear the results of my great and epic battle with Eric Byrnes during the 2011 Ironman Arizona, but you're going to have to wait one more day...there's so much anticipation!

I promise, tomorrow I will post the results of said battle.  Until then, try not to eat too much leftovers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2011 IMAZ Race Recap - The Run

Some motivation for me during the run course
I have to apologize right now because this is going to be a long post.  I'll do my best to keep it as short as I can, but this was the most important part of my race, so I am going to try and not leave anything out (mostly so I can remember it later!).

I finished the bike portion feeling great (maybe pushing a little too hard at the end, but still felt great).  I quickly got into transition to basically change shoes, and headed out for the run.  I ended up only spending 2:47 in transition, and felt like I was on my way to running a four hour marathon.

This video is almost immediately after I exited transition.
Heading out on the first lap
Feeling great!
My goal for the marathon was to average 9:09/mile.  For the first 7 miles, I felt awesome.  I was chugging along at an 8:30/mile or better.

At about mile 3 during the marathon
Around mile 3, still feeling awesome!
The marathon during Ironman Arizona consists of 3 laps that are roughly 8.6 miles each (there's a little extra on the last lap to run to the actual finish).  At about mile 7, my race began to unravel.  I knew my family would be standing near the lap-start area, so I tried to put on a good show...

I was VERY happy to see some of my supporters, because I was falling apart.
These next few photos were taken immediately before the above photo.  Apparently I didn't hide my misery early enough...




If you take a good look, you can see that I am struggling.  I had now slowed to a 10:00/mile pace, was feeling dizzy and lightheaded, and seriously thought I was going to have to walk the remaining 16+ miles.  Let me explain what I think happened.

As I eluded to in the swim and bike recaps, I had something happen that led to some problems later on in the race.  (This may be sort of gross for some people, so if it grosses you out, just skip down to the end of this paragraph)  The problem that I had was that I was peeing...a lot.  I will typically pee once, maybe twice during the swim and once or twice, at the most, during the bike.  During this race, I had to pee four times during the swim, four times during the bike, and two times during the first 4 miles on the run (and this doesn't include any of my pre-race bathroom visits!).  At first I thought this was a good sign, because it meant I was well hydrated.  The problem was that I kept peeing so often, I thought I was over-hydrated, so I greatly decreased the amount of fluid I was taking in, beginning on the bike.  I continued to eat, but just cut back on my fluids.  I believe that my decrease in fluid intake led to a decreased ability for my body to digest the other nutrition that I had been eating.  Basically, I had a bunch of undigested calories sitting in my belly that my body desperately needed.  And at mile 7, I ran out of gas.  I hit a major wall.  I had the fuel in my belly, but it hadn't made it into my system.  After I ran (or stumbled) passed my family, I made it to the next aid station where I decided to re-evaluate my game plan.  I tossed my current nutrition plan out the window and began to try and think of any other possible approach to recover.  I grabbed a few ice cold sponges and soaked my head and chest to try and wake myself up a bit.  I then drank some Coke and slowly picked my pace up again.  I didn't even make it another mile before I had to walk again.  I was seriously feeling like I was either going to pass out or just stop and rest for a bit when Murph ran up alongside me.

All I heard was, "Hey man!  You wanna run together for a bit?"  I just looked over, pretty blurry-eyed, and said "Sure."  We (mostly him, because I still felt like crap) began talking and trying to pass the time.  He told me that he was feeling pretty bad a few miles back, but was sort of feeling better.  He had decided to run with me because I was going at about a pace he was looking to keep, and I was one of the only people who talked back to him!  He had been trying to find other people, but apparently nobody else was in the mood to talk.  Well, I welcomed it because I sure needed a distraction!  And to my surprise, within a mile I was feeling like pure gold.  It may have been the Coke, or running with Murph, or both.  Either way, something worked.

Murph and I talked the entire rest of the way, trying to encourage each other to keep our pace and finish strong.
The guy who saved my race is on the right...Murph!

Feeling sooo much better at the start of lap 3

The guy in yellow joined in our little pace group (nice job Chris!)

It's so obvious how much better I feel


Thumbs up for starting our last lap!
 I was feeling so much better during this lap, I could even smile and acknowledge my family!

Along the way, Murph and I had a great time.  Other athletes seemed to enjoy our antics too, because people just kept adding on to our pace group.  In fact, at one point we had a group of nine people following behind us!  All but one of them left as at one point or another, except Chris who kept us company until we peeled off to finish (he had one lap to go).

Speaking of finishing...
I can't believe I beat my goal by over 20 minutes!

Myself and Murph running down the finish chute

We joked about what to do as we crossed the finish line...the classic "arms in the air" seemed appropriate

Thanks again to Murph for saving my race!
My official time was 11:39:49, which was well under my 12-hour goal.  Could I have gone a little faster?  Maybe, maybe not.  Once Murph had picked me up and gotten me through my rut, I owed him the same.  In fact, it was pretty cool because we each took a turn at helping each other out and pushing onward.  

Oh, and my little nutrition problem?  Well, after I got my second wind while I was running with Murph, we decided to walk through every aid station.  And at every aid station, my nutrition plan was the same for the last 15 miles (in this order too!): 1 cup water, 1 cup Perform, 1 orange slice, 1 cup Coke, and another 1 cup water.  Sounds like a lot of fluids, right?  Yeah, well, I didn't have to pee again until 2 hours after I finished the race.  So that just shows me that I had completely run out of fluids and was super dehydrated (probably because I peed it all out!).

And with that, my 2011 Ironman Arizona experience was over.  I ended up running a 4:32:54 marathon, which was much slower than I wanted, but that's alright...just something to improve for next time!  Overall, I ended up 643 out of 2565 starters, and 62 in my age group (sorry Murph...they placed me ahead of you!)!

Thank you soooo much to everyone who supported me along the way, especially The Captain and The Wife.  Now, it's time to rest for a day or two before I get started on my next goal...finishing Ironman Coeur d'Alene under 11:30 (this goal may change over the next few weeks as I put together my training plan...)

Thanks for reading!

My daughter helping right my name on the sidewalk
And don't forget, next up is the result of the epic battle between myself and Eric Byrnes!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011 IMAZ Race Recap - The Bike

With what I consider to be my worst event behind me (I HATE the swim!), I was ready to get down to business on the bike.  I rushed into T1 (the swim to bike transition) with two goals in mind: defrost and get out as fast as possible.  I spend 9:39 in T1, which considering there was a bit of a jog from the lake to the changing tent, then another jog from the tent to the actual bike start, wasn't too bad!  Definitely some room for improvement, but I was still happy to be out of the water and on the bike in under an hour and a half!

Here's a video of me starting the bike portion of the race

I recently purchased a new bike, and more specifically a Kestrel 4000.  I've had it for about 3 weeks and felt pretty well adjusted to it.  Unfortunately, the longest ride I was able to get on my new bike was about 50 miles, so I wasn't exactly sure how I would feel for the whole 112 miles.

Heading out of transition to begin my 112 mile bike ride!

My nutrition plan was simple.  I have a simple format that I repeat every hour.  That format is:

:15 - Ironman Perform (like Gatorade) (and plus a salt tablet starting in the second hour)
:30 - half of an energy bar, plus water
:45 - Ironman Perform
1:00 - the other half of the energy bar, plus water

My plan was to follow the nutrition breakdown for the first 56 miles of the bike, then swap PowerGel for the energy bar during the second 56 miles.  I was hoping that this would allow my stomach enough time to digest the solids, leaving me with a light stomach to run with.

I followed my nutrition plan almost perfectly, with one exception.  I purposefully drank less fluid than I was planning on drinking.  As i eluded to in my previous post (2011 IMAZ Race Recap - Pre race and the swim), I had something happen during the swim that led to some issues later in the race.  Well, what happened during the swim continued to happen during the bike, and again, I'll explain this in greater detail during tomorrow's post (the run).  Regardless, I felt great on the bike.

During lap 2 of the bike
During lap 3 of the bike
When I finished up lap 1 of 3, I couldn't believe what my Garmin was showing me.  According to my timer, I had finished my first lap in 1:48:37, which gave me an average speed of 20.66 miles/hour.  My goal was to average 18.67 miles/hour.  Holy crap was I flying!  And the best part was that I didn't feel like I was pushing at all!  

At this point, I had spotted The Captain and knew he was about 6 minutes ahead of me.  Typically, I'm better at hills than him, so I was pretty confident that I would make up some ground during the next 18 miles.  Well, I ended up catching him around mile 65 or so.  This was new for both of us, because in all of our previous Ironmans, The Captain has stayed out in front of me and beaten me!  This time, once I caught up, we yo-yo'd for the rest of the bike portion.

For the second lap on the bike, I slowed down just a tad.  My time was 1:52:29, which was a 19.84 mile/hour average.  Still well above my goal!  The third lap was a slightly different story.  The wind had really shifted at this point, and the "out" portion of the lap (overall uphill) was a lot easier than it should have been.  And oddly, nobody going downhill seemed to be happy.  As soon as The Captain and I made the turn to start heading back to town, we found out why.  There was now a horrendous head wind.  This meant that we had to work to go downhill, which on a bike is pretty crappy.  Even while we were riding this last section of the bike course, I knew I was maybe pushing slightly too hard.  But, I still felt really good!  I ended up finishing that last lap in 1:53:37, which gave me a 19.75 mile/hour average.  This meant that my total bike time was 5:34:43, and I averaged 20.08 mph.  I guess my goal of 18.67 mph was a little too conservative!

Zooming by on the bike to start my third and final lap!

So after the swim I was 1155 overall and 91 in my division.  After the bike, I was now 658 overall and 62 in my division!  Heck yeah!

Tomorrow will be the third part in this race recap extravaganza...the run.  Again, here's the list of everything that will be included:
The bike (you just read this one!)
The run
The Byrnes/Wright battle of Ironman Arizona 2011
Spectating at Ironman Arizona 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

2011 IMAZ Race Recap - Pre race and swim

After each race that I do, I like to write up a race recap for two reasons.  First, so others can get a little insight into what was going on that day and second, for me to actually remember the race!  The 2011 Ironman Arizona will be no exception.  The difference will be that I am going to break the race recap into a few different posts, because the race was so long and there's so much wonderful information to share!  So for the first portion of the recap, I will begin with pre-race and the swim.

PRE RACE
I headed out to Tempe on Friday morning for athlete registration.  At Ironman events, all athletes have to register on either Thursday or Friday, and then bike/gear bag check-in is on Saturday.  My plan for Friday was pretty simple:  get out to Tempe, get registered, and drop off my bike at the Ironman Wheel Rental tent to get my race wheels put on my bike.  My hope was to get the wheels on my bike in time to take my bike out for a short 20-minute ride to test out the wheels.  Well, by the time I dropped off my bike, the guys in the tent said I would need to pick up my bike on Saturday morning.  The Captain was trying to stick to the same schedule as me, and since I wouldn't have a bike, we had to move our ride to Saturday.  We spent the rest of Friday sitting around relaxing (The Captain and his wife were gracious enough to let me crash in their hotel for the evening) and then enjoying the athlete dinner.

Saturday morning was busy, and yet relaxing.  The Captain and I had some Marathon Bar and Wheaties Fuel to hand out, so we went down to the expo at about 8:30 a.m.  We were done with our distributing duties by 9:00 a.m., which was when the open water practice swim started.  We wetsuited up and hopped into the lake to get a taste of what the lake had to offer (and it tastes bad!).  We ended up swimming for around 20 minutes before we called it a day.  We then took a short walk across the expo to get my bike with the race wheels all set to go, and jumped on our bikes for a short 15 minute ride to test out the new wheels.  After that it was time to clean up and get some Subway for lunch before checking in our bikes and gear bags!

Dinner on the eve of a race is always important, and it's become somewhat of a tradition for us to go to Claim Jumper with a large group (12 people!) to get excited for the race.  This year, that tradition continued with an early 4:00 p.m. dinner.  With dinner in our bellies, there was nothing left to do but go to our hotel and sleep!

Race morning came bright and early with a 3:50 a.m. alarm.  I immediately began my pre-race ritual of eating a Marathon Bar, a bagel, a banana, and a cup of coffee before I slowly sipped on some water.

My pre-race mugshot
I left my hotel at about 5:00 a.m. (that's when transition opened) and had a short walk (about 2 blocks) to actually get to the transition area.  My morning "to do" list consisted of pumping up my bike tires, getting all of my nutrition into the proper areas (some on the bike and some in my bike to run transition bag), dropping off my bike "special needs" bag (a bag that will be waiting for you during the bike ride, should you need it).  Throughout this process, I met up with The Captain and another buddy of mine Double A and his wife.  We all got our stuff ready then relaxed for a few minutes before the start.

THE SWIM

Western view from East Mill Ave. bridge prior to race start
View of the starting line from East Mill Ave. bridge, before the pro's started
Same view, but now with the 2500+ age groupers waiting to start

After we all had our wetsuits on, we noticed that there was a huge mass of people just waiting to jump into the water.  We decided it would be better to make our way to the front of the group, rather than wait and be the last ones in the water.  As we were jumping in the water, the volunteers were telling us "2 minutes!".  Well, once you jump in the water, there's about a two to three hundred yard swim before you even get to the start.  We all thought we were going to miss the start, it turns out the volunteers were tricking us to get us in the water.  We ended up treading water for about 5 minutes before the gun suddenly went off and it was go time!

I'm right in the middle, with The Captain just in front of me, and Double A to his right

The Ironman Arizona swim start is a pretty amazing sight.  This year, there was over 2500 athletes in the water, all starting to swim at the same time.  And because there were so many people in the water, it was actually quite crowded.  I got kicked and hit and grabbed a ridiculous amount of times.  In fact, during the second half of the swim I got kicked in the face hard enough knock my goggles loose, leaving a little bit of a bruise under my left eye.

The above video was taken by The Wife...thanks for waking up so early!

Even with the swim being a bit of an underwater wrestling match, I was able to start the 2011 IMAZ race off with a bang!  I jumped out of the water and ran toward transition for a few steps before I remembered to look at my watch.  When I did, I saw that it was 8:22 a.m., meaning my swim was somewhere around an hour and twenty minutes.

Heading through transition to get my swim to bike bag!
I didn't know it at the time, but my official swim time was 1:19:47, which for me is a screamin' fast swim time.  I also was unaware that I was only behind The Captain by about 8 minutes (in our previous Ironman races, it was more like 15 minutes).

Overall, the swim felt pretty good.  I did have something happen that would lead to some issues later on in the race, but I'll explain all of that in greater detail when I get to talking about the run portion of the race.  So, after the swim I was sitting at 1155 overall, and 91 in my division...not too bad in my book!

Tomorrow I'll have the next portion of the race recap...the bike.  And in case you're wondering, here's the whole lineup of posts that will be included in this recap series:
The Bike
The Run
The Byrnes/Wright battle of Ironman Arizona 2011
Spectating at Ironman Arizona 2011