Ironman Arizona 2013 Race Report

Ironman Arizona

Team Toby is the BEST!

Normally, in my race reports, I try to tell a story, to share something that I learned, to make it fun or entertaining, etc. Ironman Arizona just left me wrecked. I had high expectations going into the race and missed all my goals. By a long shot.

What can I say about Ironman Arizona? Some days, everything works. Other days, no matter what you do, nothing seems to work. My day was certainly somewhere in the middle but trended towards the nothing working side as it unfolded. While I would love to tell some masterful tale of wonder, triumph, and success, that didn’t happen. Sure, I finished and did so in eleven hours and thirty minutes but that was far, far away from my three goals (sub-10, sub-10:30, and sub-10:58). I can give some ideas as to what happened but the short is I just ran out of energy and my stomach, mind, and/or body wouldn’t let me remedy that fact.

So, rather than my usual “Here’s my story” report, I figured I would keep it short and simply share a few of the interesting or entertaining things that did happen. While I did miss my goal targets (by a wide margin), the day did leave me with a few moments to share.

Violence, violence everywhere…

Whether it was the number of people in the water, the fact that no one was allowed inside the buoy line, or some other factor, I have never had a swim that physical. I had contact for the entire first half. And, not just any contact, but nasty, aggressive contact. I am fine with “Rubbin is Racin” as a triathlon maxim but this was a whole different level. Nicely enough, given that there will be even more people in the water next year, it should be worse. Great.

Ironman Arizona BikeEver heard of “The Rules”???

Hey, we are racing. I get that. You want to beat me. Well, maybe not ME, but you want to beat someone. But, seriously you might as well make love to the cyclist in front of you, given how close you are. Oh, you are DRAFTING. My bad. I just thought you were attracted to that guy… (Translation: the blatant cheating, i.e., drafting, was off the charts. Women just as bad a men too. Hope they all went sub-10 and then choked on the stale pizza.)

Ironman Arizona RunThe new Run Course ROCKS.

Yeah, you read that right. Two loops instead of three and more favorable spectating means more people. Other than the misery of the last 2.5 miles of no one, nothing, and an industrial wasteland that would make James Cameron proud, the new run course is awesome.

5 Minutes can save your race!

Ok, this might be a little stretch, but my coach, the amazing Bill Wilson of Camelback Coaching (LINK) has repeatedly said to me that you can fix a bonk by sitting for five minutes and eating or drinking whatever looks good. I suspect that’s close but not entirely accurate.

Regardless, around Mile 19, I was spent. Totally and completely. I was giving it my all, which meant I was stumbling slowly, much like a walking cadaver. Reaching an aid station, I started pondering whether to try and pee before realizing I would probably pass out. Didn’t really want to do that in a Port-O-John. That seemed, ahem, unpleasant.

Ironman Arizona Run

In lieu of that filth, I decided I was going to sit for five minutes. But, I knew there was no way in hell that I should be in charge of the timer, lest that five minutes magically grow like Jack’s beanstalks. Approaching two spectators, I asked if one had a watch (one did) and then I asked if they would give me a five minute timer (she agreed). At that point, I lied down and was out cold. Literally. I fell immediately into a deep, dead sleep. A mere nanosecond later, I was jolted from the Gum Drop Fairy Land by an earthquake. Ok, they shook my shoulder to awaken me, saying that five minutes had passed. Of course, I knew they were lying, cheating bastards since only a blink of my eyes had passed. But, that’s what happens when you take a nap during an Ironman. Yes, I took a nap DURING the race. Hmmm, wonder if that accounted for my 22-minute Mile. I am guessing yes, yes it did.

Did it save my race? Umm, no. I was still tired but I wasn’t on death’s door any longer. So, I had that going for me, which is nice.

Take some time people! You are NOT that important (and neither am I)!

Mercifully, I reached the finishing chute many, many hours after starting my day. Since it was well after sunset, the volunteers had given everyone glowsticks to be seen plodding along slowly, cuz that’s what you want to have happen when you are at your worst.

Anyway, to set the stage, the finishing chute is about 200 yards, even divided between two sections. You enter, run 100 yards, make a 90 degree turn to your left, run another 100 yards, and you are at the finish line. Pretty simple.

Well, when I entered the chute, I noticed a little glowstick about 3-4 feet inside the barricades. I could also see this little arm using a second glowstick to try and “fish” it back under the barricade. Having two young kids, I could tell the little arm almost certainly belong to some 3-6 year old, who was failing in his/her attempt to reclaim this lost prize of luminosity. So, I ran up to it and slowly pushed the lost treasure back under the barricades before returning to victory march (read: slow walk).

Ironman Arizona RunAs soon as I began jogging though, I was greeted by loud and raucous applause! Not, the typical, “Hey, you, person I don’t know, congrats on finishing!” applause. But real, legitimate cheering. I kind of waved and smiled, realizing that I was probably one of a few people who would stop at Mile 140.59 out of 140.6 to give that kid his/her toy back.

Of course, that little miscreant cost me the chance to win Ironman Arizona! I mean, sure, my 11:30 wasn’t all that close to the winning time of 8:02:00 but I am pretty sure had I not stopped, I would have, you know, gone faster, or something.

Yeah right. I hope the strong, pungent odor of urine never leaves the running shoes of all the people who didn’t take, what, TWO TO THREE seconds, to help out some little kid! You are not that important and, frankly, neither am I!

That’s it. My day stunk other than those few things, here and there, that I found interesting or entertaining. I know not everyday is perfect so I am always appreciate of whatever I can take from any race, even if it some lesson to learn. Every athlete is dealt some unpleasant circumstances in Ironman racing. How you respond to them often determines the success of your day!

Thanks for reading and until next year, have fun out there!!!

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