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Ironman Arizona Race Report

Posted by niemsco Apr 14, 2008

Well its the morning after IMAZ, and I just raced the toughest race of my life. Not only did it hit 98 degrees (someone told me), but the winds on the bike were the harshest winds I've ever experienced. We were all warned by Mike Reilly to just survive and finish don't go for PRs. He definitely wasn't kidding. I was ready to go 10:30 or below in this race, but I had no idea it was going to be like this. In fact I'm amazed I just survived, after all I went through. I've never done well in the heat and DNF'd and was hospitalized once in races not near this kind of heat. One was in Arizona in fact. So I had this in the back of my mind, and I tried to stop thinking about it.


I got up at 3am to have my ritual breakfast of bagel and peanut butter and huge bottle of OJ. I was pretty loaded up going into race day, so I didn't need to eat too much, about 700 calories. Then I was off to the race site, just before 5am. Many people were there already. I wanted to get my bike from transition and get a last air pump from the crew in transition before the line got huge. That all worked out. So I set my bike up, went to check on my transition bags, to make sure there was no funny business going on, and then went to chill out somewhere and listen to music. Just before six I decided I would make a last potty stop and get in line. Lines of course are looonnnggg... and then suit up. I got the wetsuit on, dropped the dry clothes bag with the crew, and went down to the swim start to watch the pros take off. The swim start was about 200 yards from where you get into the lake, so you have to swim a little to get there. I figured I'd go in 10 minutes before and just tread water. It wasn't that bad, because you have a wetsuit on. Treading is easy. I tried to go a bit wide to not be in traffic, but then so did everyone!! I couldn't find any open space. I wanted to start up near the front, but not in front. I figured I was around a 1:10 swimmer. Finally I settled and waited for the gun:


Swim time: 1:08:25 (1:48/100m)

Overall I think at this point in my swimming, this is probably as good as I could have done. I do need a lot more open water practice, I have a tendency to swim to the left when there is no line. So I could tell I was zigg zagging a bit. It was a mass 2000+ person start so there was no doubt going to be some battling in there. Its just a fact in Ironman and the less you worry about it the better you are. Just be ready. I tried to draft off someone most the time, but also found myself being drafted off of with no one in front of me. That was no good, because I knew I'd be working too much. This shmuck behind me kept grabbing my feet, at several places in the course. Maybe it was a different shmuck each time. I was afraid they were going to rip my timing chip off. But that is so stupid, I never grab feet and I never try to even hit feet. Besides you will get a sprained finger or hand if you mess with someones feet because they'll kick hard to get you the **** away (Like I do ). The swim just seemed to go by, and when I got out and saw that 1:08, I pumped my fist into the air. That is pretty consistent to what my base pace is at the pool. That's like a 1:38/100yard pace, which is what I swim as my base training pace. So I was happy to see that I swam at my potential. I improved quite a bit from my 1:23 time at IM Wisconsin. I've only been swimming a year and a few months, but been working very hard at improving, plus I have an outstanding coach who use to coach at Bucknell. I transition pretty well, I was in and out. My HR was soaring a bit as I ran into the transition. I knew I needed to calm down a bit. It was already quite crowded in transition. Lots of 1:08s or better getting ready.


Bike time : 5:51:09 (19.1mph)

This is where the race started going downhill. Within the first 5 miles the wind was so bad I was wondering to myself how to get through this. The wind hits you once you get out of town and into the desert. It was so strong it almost knocked my 138 pound frame off the bike. It definitely was a struggle to keep the bike straight. You could easily get knocked into someone if they were passing. My HR was still high, so I tried to relax... but basically the wind made the out part of the out and back loop a climb. I was in climbing gear going out, it truly sucked. When I made the turnaround though it was time to fly. I haven't looked at my actual speed times yet, but going out it was anywhere between 11-16 mph, and at one point I hit 35 mph coming back. And it is pretty flat course. I didn't even hit 35 at a hilly course like Wisconsin. So that wind was just wicked.


Second loop went by ok, but on the 3rd I struggled. The wind had picked up making it a little harder, but my head was hurting. I felt light headed and I knew this was a sign of dehydration. I had thought I was consuming liquids enough. I generally don't do well in the heat as I've said, and haven't had a chance to really train in the heat coming from Chicago area.


I knew I was in shape to go 5:30 or better, and maybe I could have if it weren't for the heat and it was just windy. But the heat just got into your throat making it bad all around. I'm glad I broke 6 hours, but I have a lot to learn from this and know what I need to do at IMWI this year to improve.


With 100 miles done on the bike I was suffering and did not know how I could run. Not that my legs hurt, it was my body and head. I got off the bike from transition and went slowly to the transition bag got my stuff and went into the nudy room. I sat down there and talked to one of the volunteers for a bit. I was just thinking how I could get through this. He iced my cap, gave me some water, I went to the potty and I was off:


Run: 4:24:02 (10:05)

The run is usually my strongest leg, but it wasn't happening today. I had stopped in a medical tent twice, the first time I was in for nearly 20 minutes. After 1.5 miles there was the stop, and I stopped. I asked for medical to check me out. I was afraid of dehydration. Like I said I DNF'd one time and ended in the hospital. The guys sat me down blew a fan on me, gave me a cold towel and spent some time with me. They were great. Actually these guys were Ironman, they ran IMAZ last year. They could relate to my issues. After awhile I felt like I could go on. It was a three loop race and I knew I would pass by here again. The volunteers at these Ironman races are just unbelievable. They really make sure you are ok.


So I went on.... I had done a series of walking and running. Lots of people were walking, so it was easy to get caught up in that. I actually walk very slow because I have short legs. I noticed several walkers gaining on me! I do well better when I just try to run. So I made it through the loop ok, but was already thinking about stopping at that tent again. So I did. I found the same guys who took care of me, sat down in the tent and chatted a bit! Then I thought to myself... hey if I don't get up, I'm never getting up, so I was off.


After that I was set, I was passing people left and right, actually I was around a 8min/pace and below, but I stalled at all the stops making sure I was good to go, which made my actual pace much higher. So my race tactics at this point was run to the next stop, not more stopping in between. It wasn't until mile 11.5 I found my family on the run. I was excited about it and stopped to chit chat a little. After that point I was good to go, and actually ran much stronger in the last 10 miles, even stronger in the last six. I only walked at this point at aid stations. I still need to work out the stations at IM. There are so many of them, one a mile, and I think I was taking in too many calories. You could really stuff yourself at these aid stations. I'm definitely going to come up with a better scheme at IMWI. That last mile I just must of blistered the pace, people were like what's up with this guy. I knew the end was coming and I was just happy. I made sure no one was around me so I could get a good finishing shot


Overall, I'm just happy to finish this one, and I PR'd actually! My first IM I went 12:02. This is my second IM, so at least I did that. I talked to several people and some were as much as 2 hours off their expected time. I suspect the people in front of me could handle the heat much better than I (at least I'll think that ). But I have high hopes for IMWI and my chances at qualifying for a spot at Kona. I've got a lot to work on until then after I recover, but I'm fired up about it definitely. I'm fired up I got my swim below 1:10, and I've got a much better engine on the bike and my run has improved a lot actually. I just need to put it all together, put my nutrition together and I should be good to go. Until then..

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Keys to approaching Ironman

Posted by niemsco Apr 11, 2008


Its simple. Just have these goals:


Swim time: don't worry about it

Bike time: don't worry about it

Run time: don't worry about it


Overall: Race smart and kick ***!


Worrying about times only sets you up for failure. You train hard... VERY HARD... so you don't need to worry about times, you will be confident in your ability. Race the race you've trained for, its a long day, too many things could happen which are out of your control, so don't waste energy worrying on a time and conditions. Race the race you trained for and the time will take care of itself.


That said.. anything over 11 hours and I'll be disappointed   See ya at the finish!



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Its almost time to race!

Posted by niemsco Apr 9, 2008

Its getting close to the race, and I've had a hard time getting any work done today. In fact I probably should just take a vacation today, because I didn't do much. I plan on taking some work with me on the trip, this may actually calm me and keep me from getting caught up in the race hoopla.


So.... today I had an interesting track workout... Yes track workout several days before the IM. I've done this workout before my last IM and before Chicago. Basically it was 4 x (800 at 3:30, then 200 jog, 300 HARD, and 300 jog). I was to get my average HR for the 800s and my speed for the 300s. I did much better that in previous times. I was at a 7min/mile pace on the 800s and stayed in zone 2, high zone 2.. then the 300s were around a 5:30-5:20 pace.


After the workout I was a bit sore. It wasn't an all out track workout, fairly light just to get things moving and stay sharp, but still I had some things going on. I ended up getting a massage around 12:30pm just down the street. I can't say whether it helped or not, she didn't really apply pressure, but I guess this can be good at least she didn't do damage. As if this wasn't enough, I called my chiro to see if he could look at my left achilles as it was aching again. I saw him yesterday and he said if anything comes up let him know, so I said what the heck, my insurance covers it.


Now nothing hurts while I'm running and this only just sprung up, so I'm sure there is some mental things going on here. But the left achilles has been on and off since IM Wisconsin. So... he did this thing where he rolled out my calves... Ouch!!! I'm not sure what he called it, but he said not to worry this can only help, but it could bruise! He had some contraption which he used to do this. He sprayed some liquid on my calves and used this tiny roller pin. On my left calve it was really painful, that is where all the problems are. Apparently doing this to calves is going to help my achilles. Who knows...


Anyway I went out to dinner at my favorite Italian place with the family, packed up my stuff for the most part and hear that 1000 more flights on American may be canceled tomorrow! Great, that would effect me. I have the 10am flight out of O'Hare to Phoenix. The same flight today was canceled. So I'm crossing my fingers. Need to register by Friday or no race. I may need to take drastic measures like book another airline. That would hurt..


Lot of things going on today, the only thing bugging me really is the flights, but its out of my control. Had a strong run, fitness has improved a lot. Hopefully tomorrow I'll write from Phoenix.


Also having a wetsuit dilemma. My original got a rip in it while on vacation last week, so I got a new one while on vacation, but I don't really like it. Unfortunately now I can't really take it back. I got some wetsuit cement and tried to patch my old Orca. Hopefully this will work. I'm taking both to AZ just in case. The new one is actually a Blue Seventy Helix which people rave about. But I don't like it as much as my Orca. It has a reverse zipper which I don't trust. Seems like it would be too easy for someone to actually unzip it.

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