Thursday, December 8, 2011

IM Arizona Race Report

In case anyone's interested, here's the RR for IMAZ.
4:00 am - Wake up. Wasn't a great night's sleep but the night before never is. Start eating and drinking right away. (Here's the nutrition report from Brian Shea @ PBN.);#3656615 I had been dealing with a hip issue leading up to the race. It was tight race morning so I was concerned but figured I had 114.4 miles to warm-up before the run.
5:15 am - Make my way to transition to put my nutrition on my bike and drop off special needs bags. Hip still feels tight.
6:00 am - Myself, Chris Madigan and Dave Ytreboe go for 10 minute warm-up jog. Hip still feels tight but I figure I have no choice but to gut it out.
6:30 am - Wetsuit is on and now trying to make my to the water. I decide to wiggle my way up front because it's taking too long. As I get to the front they tell us there's 3 minutes until the start! I try not to panic and quickly get myself in the water. So much for a nice long warm-up in the water. I'm still thinking about the poor guy I saw getting in the water with no wetsuit. Too cold to do that. I never found out how he made out.
7:00 am - Gun goes off and the chaos begins. I positioned myself near the front so I'm in the mix with everyone. I hate this part of the race. (I don't if anyone really likes it.) I did settle in very quickly and felt like I was swimming well. About half way to the turn around, I realize I swam way off-course. The lake bends but the course stays straight. Like a moron I followed the lake. I didn't panic. I made my way back on course as fast as I could. I felt good at the turn-around and picked up the pace a little bit. My left calf got a little crampy so there was a moment of panic but I was able to continue to swim without a problem. As I neared the end I was excited to see what my time was. I spent all winter working on my swim. I was faster in all the half irons I did so naturally I should be quicker here. I get out and look at my watch and much to my dismay is says 1:08:xx. WTF! I spent all that time in the winter to go a minute faster than I did in 2009! Disgusted, I ran to T1 and quickly put it behind me.
Swim: 1:08:58 79th AG, 482 Overall
T2 was uneventful and it was on to the bike. The bike for Arizona is tough because you start out cold and by the time you're halfway through the temp has gone up 15 degrees. I started with a vest and arm-warmers. By the end the vest was off and the arm-warmers were pulled down. I never really ever settled in on the bike. I was very fidgety throughout. I would get in what I thought was a comfortable position only to move 10 minutes later. It became frustrating but I tried to stay focused. My hip at this point was beginning to loosen up so I was excited to get off the bike and run. The run is where I do best and I wanted to get to it. My nutrition was good so I was confident I could run. My first bike split was 5 minutes faster than my 2nd and 3rd. Lap 2 and 3 were less than 45 seconds apart. I was happy with my pacing
Bike: 5:01:58 (22.26 mph - 17th AG & 140th Overall)
T2 was quick. 1:08. The fastest T2 all day was 1:06. In 2010, my T2 is what got me into Kona. I was about 90 seconds faster in T2 than the guy that finished 20 seconds behind me.
The run is where I feel the most confident. I know within 200 meters out of T2 if it's going to be good or a disaster. I knew within 100 meters that I was in for a long day. I felt terrible from the 1st mile right through mile 26. I've never suffered the way I did on that run. I was looking for reasons to stop running. Every time I found one there were 100 reasons as to why I should keep going. I knew I was moving up in the AG because a friend of mine was giving me updates. Going into the 3rd loop he told me I was in 9th place. I knew that there was probably going to be 9 Kona slots so I felt as long as I didn't get passed I was safe. It was a big gamble but I felt that terrible. As I came to the last mile my legs were ready to quit. Every step I could feel them beginning to cramp. The last mile was torture! I couldn't get to that finish line fast enough. As I finished, I knew that no matter where I placed, I left everything on the course that day. I was satisfied that I couldn't give anymore. I gathered my things and checked my phone to see where I finished before I called my wife. I looked and couldn't believe what I saw. 2nd place! I ran my way to 2nd place! I thought I could run faster but was still blown away. I called my wife and we both just couldn't believe it. The disappointment I felt when I was in Arizona in 2009 was far gone. (I missed qualifying by 51 seconds.) I was on the podium and going back to Kona! Unbelievable!!!
Run: 3:12:13 (7:20 per mile - 2nd AG, 69th Overall) Total time 9:29:29
In looking back at this race, I most proud of my unwillingness to quit. My legs were wrecked afterwards but I didn't throw in the towel. It's amazing what we can achieve when we put our minds to something. My goal this year was to qualify for Kona and be on the podium in Arizona. It made all the hard work worthwile. Although I thought I would be faster on race day, I achieved what I set out to do. 

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