Its been a long year of training, with very little racing. The road to an Ironman finish line is long, lonely and not always fun. It takes a lot of work. 2019 brought me 2 Ironman finishes. Texas in April and Arizona on November 24th.
If you know me well, you know that my preferred method of transportation is driving. We even drove to TX and that was 18 hours. Why do I prefer to drive? Its easier. Less “hurry up & wait”; I’m impatient. Plus, I have a giant, rolling cooler on wheels, that carries all the food that I want. And nobody worries that my chocolate protein powder might be a harmful substance that needs to be swabbed and tested
and opened to all the airport germs. However, for AZ, we had to fly. This meant paring down our gear to exactly what we needed. Sending our bikes ahead via TriBike Transport. Then renting a van when we got to AZ so that we could then move the bikes. Giant PITA, expensive, but necessary because it would have been a 26 hour drive to Tempe, AZ from the Ft Wayne, IN area. And that’s a lot, even for me.
Travel – Flew into AZ on Thursday night. Race was on Sunday. Straight to Whole Foods and the VRBO that we rented. I found a 2 bed, 1 bath house for $560 (THUR-MON). Full kitchen. Full sized washer/dryer. Pool.
The van rental was $420ish. TriBike Transport was $360. We didn’t spend much $$ eating out, or on other things, but its not a cheap race when you need to fly, rent a car & send your bike. Just an FYI, if you are considering something like this and have budgetary concerns, like myself.
Expo, Shake Out Ride/Swim/Run – Friday morning, we went straight to the expo and were waiting on TriBike Transport to open. We were 3rd in line, so very little wait. They quickly found our bikes, put on our pedals (you need to send your bike without pedals, and then bring the pedals to be reattached upon pickup) and we were off on a shakeout ride. We did notice that the line for TriBike Transport was long throughout the day, so go early if you don’t like to wait.
Saw Mike Reilly and got a few photos pre ride. Apparently we we were even on the local news, as they were interviewing Mike when we stepped in for a few photos. Nicole C, Mike, Julie M & Me. Then part of Julie’s Endure It group, with Mike standing in the middle.
After the photos with Mike, we did a short shake out ride. Beautiful area. My legs felt fresh. Definitely wanted to go further but we kept it short and sweet. I was looking forward to seeing more of the Tempe/Phoenix/Scottsdale area on the bike course.
Expo & packet pick up was smooth & quick. Very efficient. Probably the quickest we have ever picked up a packet for a full Ironman race!!
Saturday – Early morning practice swim with the TriDot Training crew. Water was a crisp 64 degrees. Water quality was in question but I was trying not to think about that. Lots of debris & dead fish!! Note to self, take a few Pepto tabs upon exiting the water!
As we were waiting in line to get in the water, Heather D., a TriDot coach walked with us. Talked about the water temp. Told us to take a breath every stroke, for several buoys, to get acclimated to the temp and expel as much CO2 as possible. She also told us about the current and to relax as we would swim against the current for part of the swim. More info, then I have ever received from anyone, and that was in less than a 30 second time period. I am a TriDot athlete & Ambassador. I love TriDot and its program. I love the variety of levels & price points so everyone can pick the plan that best fits their budget and lifestyle. But what I love most is that TriDot helps EVERYONE, whether you are one of their athletes or not. I had several people come up to me on course and thank me for how wonderful the TriDot coaches were to them, on site, throughout the weekend. Very impressive. Thank YOU, TriDot!!
After the swim, I did a quick shake out run. Then we waited in a LONG line to check our bikes & gear bags.
Then back to the house to sit, eat, drink and wait for race day!
Race Day – My Race
We were a bit behind on race day. We have a routine, which started well. Then I forgot our pre-race food/fuel and we had to turn around to go back to the house. Then the line to the parking area was LONG. We had enough time but I’m glad this wasn’t our first Ironman because we certainly needed to be focused, not stress, hit the bathroom, get our bikes ready, drop our morning bag and get to the swim start without any extra time to dawdle. Crappy photo on our way to the swim start.
Swim (2.4 miles) – Not only did we not have extra time but the swim area was very congested. It was hard to even get where you wanted to go. I eventually just got in line and ended up between 1:10 & 1:20. I thought I’d swim about 1:15-1:18. I swam a 1:22. Race started just as the sun was coming up.
We initially swam away from transition, against the current, under a bridge, across the lake/river, then had a long stretch on the return which was supposed to be with the current. Water was choppy from high winds. I never did feel a current pushing me on the backside. The swim took a lot more effort than usual. Especially crossing the lake/river and going under the bridges. It kinda felt like there was a swirling current under the bridges. We swam under 4 bridges. Quite an interesting swim. Took a little more energy than normal, plus took me longer than I anticipated but I didn’t hand over any mental energy, rather “just kept swimming”. The Swim OUT finally arrived. Volunteers were in the water, grabbed my hand, hauled me out. Up the ramp. Wetsuit stripped, then there was about a 1/2 mile run to T1. Air was cool, about 48 degrees, but I wasn’t cold. Just thankful to be out of the water, safely.
Bike (112 miles) – Three loop bike. Headwind on the way out, which was approximately 19 miles. Tailwind on the return. 3x. I’m not a huge fan of 3 loops of anything but the way the course was situated with the headwind and a climb at the end of the “out”, I wouldn’t have wanted to fight that wind much further, so was thankful each time to be turning and hitting a downhill with a tailwind.
I took it easy on the first loop. Trying to focus on calories and not over extending myself, knowing it was going to be a long day. Then I tried to pick it up a little on the 2nd loop. By the 3rd loop, I was ready to be DONE. And I had some issues with abdominal cramping (menstrual, not nutrition) and was struggling to stay tucked into aero with the cramping, which is less than ideal with a crazy head & tailwind. I’ll spare you the details but it wasn’t pleasant and T2 was a very welcome site. About 1500 feet of climbing. Took me 6 hrs and 51 minutes. Temp was 74 when I got off the bike. I had anticipated 6:45ish for a bike split so wasn’t far off, considering.
Run (26.2 miles) – Glad to be on my own 2 feet! Its no secret that the run is my favorite. I feel so much more in control. I’m a runner. This was my 56th marathon!!! And Arizona was my 33rd state in a quest to run a marathon in all 50 states.
Coming out of T2, I was still struggling with the cramping and well, the cramping leads to GI distress even though my nutrition was solid. I took some ibuprofen, which is definitely not ideal in endurance racing. Horrible for your kidneys but I was not doing well. Also took an Imodium for the GI issues. Hit the bathroom. Dumped some ice down my shorts to ice my abdomen. Said a prayer. And around mile 4, I realized that I was doing okay. I started to run and didn’t stop moving until I hit the finish line. I ran with a smile on my face. Thankful. I was happy. The highs and lows of endurance racing. If you don’t like how you feel, just wait, it will change. Just keep moving forward!!
5:01 marathon. Yes, I thought I would run faster. But I didn’t. I did a mental check with myself several times, “Can you go faster? No. Okay, then just keep moving at this pace.” You gotta know yourself and be reasonable when you are looking at an all day event. You have to be compassionate and grateful for what your body can do. Don’t stress about time or your race will just fall apart. Just keep moving forward and try to find the joy.
I will say that this run course was excellent. I really enjoyed it. The first loop was in the daylight as the sun was going down. Second loop was in the dark. However, the course was mostly along the water with lit trails or sidewalks. Variety of surfaces from concrete, pavement, crushed gravel & roads. Lights shining on the water from the lit buildings in the downtown area. It was beautiful; I wish I had my phone to grab some pictures. Some spectators. Bridges across the water for those spectators who wanted to run back and forth to see their people. Much less congested with the 2 loop course vs TX that had 3 loops and a million spectators spilling out onto the run course, slowing traffic. I really enjoyed it.
Finish – 13:27. I was 13:26 in TX. I didn’t have a watch, so I didn’t know my time before I finished and looked at the tracker. Could I have found another minute somewhere? I really don’t think so. I gave what I had to give on this course. Its said to be flat and fast. Probably was for a lot of people. Each race has its own set of issues, which can be the course, weather, your body, or other issues, like mechanicals on the bike. I felt lucky. This was a clean race for me, other than my cramping, I felt good the entire time. My nutrition is locked in and good. And the weather was perfect. Great day in Arizona!
Third Ironman!! Lake Placid, TX & now AZ. Lake Placid has been my favorite thus far. Can’t compete with the beauty of Lake Placid and that clean, crisp, clear water. We are headed to Ironman Maryland in September 2020. Then hoping to get into Ironman Coeur d’Alene for 2021. Hopefully we can run some marathons along the way too.
Happy Running & Racing – Amanda – TooTallFritz