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!


  1. That's great! I wonder if all the peeing didn't mess with your electrolyte levels, dehydrating you further? But you found some power, got a plan together, and got it done. Way to go! And what a great friend to pull you through like that.

  2. Hey Dirtbag! Thanks again for reading! I think you are right about the peeing messing with my electrolytes and dehydrating me further. I think the better thing for me to have done would have been to just keep drinking like I had planned.

    And yep, Murph saved the day! It was actually really awesome that we both got to support each other at times to make it through and achieve our goals. Definitely a memorable race.