Ironman Arizona 2013

I decided I would spend the winter training in Tucson, so it made sense for me to race IM Arizona and not IM Florida(which I was planning on racing). We left Boulder 10 days before the race and arrived in Tucson 2 days later. My training had been going well and I felt very confident in my preparation for the race. In the last couple of months I had shifted my focus from swimming 25+ k a week with tons of intensity to around 12k a week with no intensity(choosing to focus on technique instead). I believe one of the best ways to improve on the swim is to swim a lot, but after two years of very hard high volume swimming I recognized that I needed that time and energy to focus on running, biking and strength training.

The swim was violent, as expected with 55 guys all trying to get out fast. I was able to quickly get into a rhythm and there were plenty of options for a good draft. The pace on the swim was very comfortable in the group I was with until the last 10 minutes or so when the intensity  cranked up in anticipation for the bike. I was some what worried about how my lack of swim training would impact my race but I was pleasantly surprised with how strong I felt and that I managed to come out of the water with a strong group of guys. Although my time was about a minute and a half slower than last year(53:52) I was excited to see what my body had to offer on the bike!!

From the start of the bike the pace was VERY high. I knew I had good form going into the race and I had decided I would not play it safe on the bike. I told myself if I came out of the water with Jordan Rapp or Trevor Wurtele I would try and ride with them. Jordan swam around a minute faster, so thankfully I didn’t have to try and ride with him (he would set a new bike course record – 4:14:55). Around five minutes in, Trevor came by me pushing hard to get away. I chose to match Trevor’s intensity and settled in for a thrashing. If you are unfamiliar with Ironman, the best way to ride the bike is at a consistent manageable effort level with as few surges as possible. We were breaking those rules BIG TIME!  I was shocked to see wattage numbers for the first 35 miles that I would be happy with in a half Ironman. We were really tearing up the road (and our legs) and it was clear it was going to be a test of who can take the most punishment and still be able to run. At around mile 80 I was no longer able to sustain the pace that was being set. Whether it was lack of hydration/nutrition or the cumulative effects of so many surges and such a high pace I watched the group I had been with ride away. From miles 80-100 I was shocked at how bad I felt. My watts had dropped to the range of an easy training ride but the effort level was higher than ever. I did my best to be positive, hoping that my legs would come around. To my surprise around mile 100 I actually started to feel a little better and I was able to push to T2. Even with the troubles from miles 80-100, I was still able to manage a time of 4:25:32 (12 minute bike PR), some of which could be explained by the fast conditions of the day.

The first few miles of the run were spent convincing myself that I wasn’t actually dying. I was delighted when that feeling began to subside and I realized that my legs felt decent considering the recent punishment they had received. I found good rhythm in miles 3-13, and it was nice to be running in cooler temps for a change. I know all the strength training and core work I have been doing is what allowed my body to absorb so much bike punishment and still maintain fairly good running form(at least until the last few miles). I was happy to cross the line with a run time of 3:01:01(6 minute PR).

Overall it was a good race to end the season with and I look forward to the opportunity to be stronger and race smarter in 2014.

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