Archive for November, 2009

Swim start, Ironman Arizona 2009

Photo courtesy of Maggie D and friend Ali, Austin, TX. Copyright reserved.

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(Also at Kickrunners.com with feedback from other triathletes!)

Short version:

There ought to be a law against having too much fun while participating in an Ironman event! The Ironman organization is top-tier all the way—everyone was very very nice and accommodating. Water was cold, and my bike speed in the first loop was affected by it. Did a few stupid things on the bike. Ran/walked with a new friend in the run portion. Hey, the overall time is almost to the cutoff but I did get a medal. Two Ironman races under my belt!

Overall Time: 16:18:28
Swim: 1:58:58 (yikes!)
T1: 12:44 (even when frozen stiff from the swim)
Bike: 7:18:32 (aid station party)
T2: 9:34 (got it down)
Run: 6:38:40 (walking with a purpose)

Near the finish line at IMAZ


Long version: (I’m not kidding)

My IMAZ Adventure!!!

I walked 1.5 miles from my hotel arriving exactly at 4:50, before the bike corrals were open. It was a chilly morning, and it didn’t bode well for the swim temps. Some guy forgot his bike shorts. Another guy’s bag got carried away by someone else, so he didn’t have a swim suit. It was funny.

Swim: 1:58:58

What a difference a day makes. The water was cold! At least I had been in it the day before. Some swam 50 yards and DNF’d right there. A few others were DNF’d at the med tent after the swim.

Boy did I get hit at the start. No one swam over me, but had to do some karate fend-off moves in the water. Really! It took a minute to get going.

I think my eye-popping swim time is due to me not swimming close to the buoys. I was tracing a rectangle about 50 yards in every direction. Just didn’t plan it right. When I finally got out of the water, the volunteers were alert to signs of hypothermia. Of course, it is difficult to be coherent after a 2.4 mile swim. I did notice that my hands were frozen stiff. They gave me a mylar blanket to hide under on the way to T1.

T1: 12:44

I made great time even though I had trouble getting my fingers to do anything. A volunteer had to put my arm warmers and watch back on. Boy was I glad I had arm warmers!

Bike: 7:18:32, mph 15.27, 16.05, 14.73

First loop—maybe I was imagining it, but the wind was making fun of me. My muscles were still frozen from the water, and it took about 15 miles to get my speed up. Going out, I could only muster 15mph. Coming back I got 20mph. The winds behaved normally on the way back. If my speed noted doesn’t add up to the recorded mph—there is a reason. I stopped for a potty break at the turnaround. I liked their offerings so much that I stayed quite a bit longer than I should have. At least 15 minutes. But wait…

Second loop—now the winds were not fighting me going out, but was there on the way in. I finally was enjoying getting some speed back. I settled in to about 18mph going out and coming back. Disparity? Yup—stopped at the aid station again. Repeated the picnic. In these going out and coming back laps, I played catch-and-let-go-repeat with a number of athletes. I would pass them on the way out, they pass me while I was snacking, and then I would catch them on the way back. It was fun, but I’m sure it wasn’t amusing to them.

Third loop—now the winds were willy-nilly, putting up a fight in places. I repeated my 18mph going out, but may have gone a little slower on the way back. On the way back, talked to my teammate about the run. We were soon joined by a young guy from ASU. We completed the bike finish in sequence; it disturbed a few athletes that we were talking on the bike like it was a training ride. Oh well. Oh, and I did my aid station picnic again. I guess I was there so much that the volunteers knew me by my first name. I did see the double amputee guy on the bike in the second and third loops. I was happy to see him pass us so I knew he would make the bike cutoff.

Why did I add a 1:18 to my bike? After the eye-popping swim, I made up my mind to table my time goal and just enjoy the event. It didn’t matter to me at this point when I would finish. And it gets worse!!!

T2: 9:34

I got these transitions down now. I changed into my bike shirt mainly for the finish photo-op, and did quite a few time-wasters in that tent. I still got out in good time. I changed my socks, but left my arm warmers on.

Run: 6:38:40, pace 11:29, 12:44, 17:53, 17:01

First loop–I looked for Ben, the young guy from ASU, because he was interested in running with me. Nowhere to be found. I also looked for my teammate Kasia for the same reason. I guess they had bolted already. Talked to one of my teammates Elaine in the peanut gallery for 2 minutes, about one of our teammates not making the bike cutoff–bummer. Since my run buddies were nowhere to be found, I decided to run an easy 9-9:30 pace for the first few miles until I got over the food overindulgence-induced nausea. Remember, I was eating too much at the aid station. I’m glad I changed into my bike shirt, because it was really popular with the spectators; got my name called a lot in each loop! Around mile 5, I caught up with my teammate Kasia who was doing 12 pace. So I joined in at that point, and slowed my pace down.

Second loop—It got darker, but I had my little light with me. The spectators liked it and took some photos. It helped in places where it got really dark. I’m running with my teammate Kasia now and we are maintaining a 12-13 pace. I left it entirely to her to choose the pace. Since we both wore orange, the volunteers at one aid station started calling us twins. We passed a lot of people even at this pace. My teammate wanted to stop at each aid station, so we got whatever they had—Gatorade, plenty of chicken broth (so good), pretzels, cola, and etcetera. Only at this point, my tummy was getting the best of me. At the end of the second loop, I finally had to ask my teammate to keep going because I had to make a potty break. Told her that I’ll catch up with her somewhere in the third loop. She was bummed, but my tummy couldn’t wait. Stupid stuff, and now the whole world knows.

Third loop—Right around the arts center, I spied this young lady wrapped in a mylar blanket. It was getting cold now, and I envied her. I guess Gwelle noticed me looking, and she started to talk to me. She asked me if I was in my third loop; apparently she couldn’t run, because she found out just right before the IM that there was something wrong with her right leg. She was worried about not finishing, because she was falling asleep.

I don’t know what made the situation so comfortable, but we became friends out there on the course. Right then and there, I was recruited to her cause. Of course I didn’t have anything better to do! So we planned out risk assessments at each mile marker, and figured we could go 3 miles per hour and make it under 11:30. I think my ability to talk about nothing kept her awake in that third loop. It was great fun talking, and one guy even fell into our walking group. John was doing his third and last Ironman. Since he was 6’3, it helped our walking speed a bit. One recurring theme in our conversation was—could I achieve the goal of vexing my coach by getting a 16:59 finish? This one would be close!

I know what you’re thinking—what about my teammate Kasia? At this point, I wasn’t worried about her because her forward progress would mean that she finishes in 15:30. She did finish, but in 15:20. We ran into her as she was into her 25th mile. She was doing a brisk walk at this point. Later on, as I passed one aid station the volunteers called out to me and told me that my twin passed there minutes ago. Too funny!

Right near the end, a few of my teammates (Whitney and Sal) in the peanut gallery came running and shouted my name. They looked so relieved that I would actually finish this Ironman, versus the idea that I was sitting at an aid station somewhere injured. I introduced them to Gwelle and they ran off to alert the rest of the group. John at this point had started running to finish ahead.

The finish:

In the corner right before the finish line chute, my teammates came out to celebrate and also to talk to Gwelle and me. My coach slapped me on the arm for almost giving him a heart attack (it’s a running joke between us). Tom, who didn’t make the bike cutoff, also congratulated me. We had to determine finish order and orchestrate a time lapse so that each will have a moment at the stage. And of course we had to worry about looking presentable. He he. Stupid stuff! We let a guy go past us, and when no one else was in sight, I signaled for Gwelle to go. Her finish was awesome! After she got her photos taken, I started in. I did some stupid moves prior to doing high-fives with at least 30 spectators. I lost count. Anyway, as before I stood for a few second by myself—repeating what I did at Kona.


I started out with a time goal of 11:59 but ended up with 16:18. I guess it was all or nothing, because after the swim it didn’t seem to make sense to go for another time goal. If a time goal really meant that much to me, I would have ended up with a sub-13 easily even after the swim. Subtract 1:18 from the bike, and easily 2:00 from the run. The time goal was to make my long-suffering coach happy, which was not to be. He he.

I think my outlook and sense of humor got the best of me on IMAZ Sunday. It felt like I was just there to hang out with the folks who were serious about finishing an Ironman. I basically repeated the mantra from Kona—If I make the swim cut-off, I would finish another Ironman; it’s just a matter of when. At no time was I ever in any risk not to finish. It’s a recipe that works for me.

I think getting a 16:18 is super-cool, especially if I helped somewhat in two other athletes getting their medals. As for Ben, he finished in 16:11. 20 years old and already an Ironman! He’s not even out of college yet.

My coach called it an “adventure” and it seemed appropriate. Again, I was just simply out there having fun after the swim. Maybe they should ban me from all 140.6 races if I don’t have my competition game face on.

One question that has popped into my mind after the Ironman was—how many Ironman races does it take for me to know what it is about? Right now—exactly 2. It will be that way for a few years until I get the urge to dissect it a bit more. Maybe I’ll be ready for a time goal then.

And so my IMAZ adventure ends. Back to reality.

Thanks for reading!!!

Finish line goodies

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The time has come. The goal is simple–anything better than my previous race finish. Which is to say–low-hanging fruit. It ain’t about the time.

I rigged my running cap with a Petzl e+Lite headlamp. It looks pretty cool, but dorky I suppose. Hope no one offers me two beers and a long straw to go along with it. I almost feel asleep on the run in Kona, and I’m determined I won’t have the same issue in Tempe.  I guess I could bike faster so I don’t have to run at night… He he.

Be back by Monday morning, hopefully with another Ironman next to my name. If not, no loss–really. Once you have one, everything else is icing on the cake.

MM cap with Petzl e+Lite headlamp

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Not too long ago, I jumped in the ocean without my wetsuit. I guess I’ve grown accustomed to my wetsuit and for whatever “other” reason, I decided to do a shorter workout. I felt so fatigued after 600 yards, that going much further would have put my ability to return at risk. Yup, don’t take your chances in the ocean.

I recently jumped into an olympic-size pool. Mentally, the difference between 25-yards and 50-yards registers with the brain somehow; it’s been hard to teach the head not to expect the end until 2-times the distance. He he. I was expecting that kind of discussion in my head, but going the full length and back felt natural this time.

I just decided to swim back-and-forth until I tire of the activity. Just messing with swim form, reach, body position, and overall efficiency. Also worked on a more natural and instinctive breathing position bilaterally. I think comfort in the water was tops in my mind–so much so that I checked my speed and form to allow for endless fish-like play.

Let’s just say I swam forever. A few people joined me in my lane and then completed their workouts. I was still going. I eventually had to settle for a set distance because my bladder was about to burst. He he. I think the lifeguard knew why I got out of the pool so quick.

For that swm, I covered 4400 yards continuous at steady pace. Nothing really for the speed department, but I think it does a lot for confidence. I ended up saying “See, you know how to swim without a wetsuit. Kona wasn’t a fluke!”. If you are wondering–4400 yards is 2.5 miles exactly, or slightly over the distance required for the Ironman swim! 1:30 of just peace and quiet.

Now I’ve decided I want to do more pool swims than ocean swims. Good too, because the ocean temps are 20 degrees colder (60s versus 80s at the pool).

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