IM Arizona is one of my favorite races and this year I was really excited to race close to home! After a broken collarbone in March derailed the first half of the year, I must say I felt very grateful to be healthy, strong and as fit as ever.
In the two months leading this race, I had three flat tires while racing and it would be a lie if said it wasn’t on my mind especially since I replaced the tubular tire on my disc a few day’s before the race(more on that later).
I made the mistake of lining up for the swim start all the way to the left. After the start I realized I was in no man’s land(every one else must have started all the way to the right). I saw the group way off to my right and I turned and swam as hard as I could in their direction. I made it to a group of guy’s(the second pack), and quickly found myself at the front with no one from the first pack in sight. I made the decision to go for it alone. I swam alone all the way to the turn around where I was able to catch a lone swimmer who must have been dropped by the front group. I was enjoying the draft created by my new friend as I started to notice the crazy zig zag pattern we were swimming. I decided to stay on his feet and we finished the swim together.
Coming out of the water someone said we were 6 minutes down on the leaders so I knew I had my work cut out for me! Last year I made the mistake of following the surges of the group I was with and I was not going to fall in that trap twice(turns out it was just me a one other guy). I was immediately shocked by the extremely gusty wind conditions, made worse by my choice of race wheels(90mm front and a disc). I had a good idea what kind of watts I was capable of riding so I settled into a good pace heading up the Beeline to the turn around. I made the turn and started back down to Tempe and as my speed increased I started to feel a pretty strong bumping/bouncing vibration from my back wheel. I thought something was stuck in my tire and it would soon be flat. To my surprise and relief it never went flat, it just bounced and vibrated all the way down to the flatter section of the course where my speed was lower, where I didn’t notice it as much. At this point I had dropped the guy who I swam with and was riding alone, pushing hard and doing my best to not get blown off my bike.
I started the run with the plan that I would go out fast and see what I am really capable of running. After a long pee break in a porta poty, I was off! The first 6 miles I was averaging around 6:20 pace and felt pretty good. The crazy wind conditions continued on the run and for the first time in a race I found myself struggling in the cross winds (ha! that’s kind of embarrassing!). I must say this run, other than the wind, was sort of uneventful. I passed a couple guy’s and a couple of guy’s passed me. I saw my pace drop a bit at different points through out the run, but overall I was happy with how things were going. In the end I managed to average 6:47 pace for an 8th place finish. I felt surprisingly fresh at the finish line and I immediately started thinking about racing IM Cozumel only 2 weeks away. Am I crazy, can I really recover in time, would it just be a waste of money? We will see!!
Swim 53:10 16th
Bike 4:25:17 8th
Run 2:57:52 8th
Total time 8:20:28