|Amrando, Art, me and Lindsay practice swim|
|At practice swim|
I crossed the line in 2010 in 11:39 and Sunday with just a bit of daylight left I reached the threshold in 10:21. I can attribute that improvement to a combination of improved fitness and course and body management, maybe more plainly put--experience.
To offer some details, as I do try to give you something to take away from my post, my race strategy primarily involved heart rate management on the bike. Let me recount chronologically....
|Transition the day before|
|Paid for a haircut, first time in years,|
Glad I did with hot temps
After the frantic transition I was off on my bike. My strategy was to ride with a heart rate of about 130 beats per minute. I wanted to be in a heart rate zone that would minimize my lactic acid buildup but allow me to ride relatively fast. At about 150 beats is when my body makes more lactic acid than it can dissipate so I wanted to be well under it. The course is a three loop course and pretty flat. There is a short hill at the halfway point and on each lap I pushed it just a bit there. But I stayed in my zone and had a great ride. I averaged 22.8 mph for 112 miles and that included a pit stop at the port o potty. My overall bike time was 4:57. I usually pee on my bike to be honest, but with such a flat course and athletes not spreading out at all, I just couldn't bring myself to pee and potentially spray others. It didn't stop one dude in front me though--yuck! Like I said Ironmans bring out the crazy!
My run strategy was no different than my bike and after a really great transition, about 1:40, I was off in the ever warming Arizona sun. The first 8 miles were great, I kept a 8 minute mile pace and my heart rate was the same as on the bike. I thought I had it made to maybe even break 10 hours overall. Then it went to hell, my stomach started to bother me and my heart rate began to slow and I couldn't maintain the pace. My body was simply trying to slow and protect itself. An Ironman is about tricking your body. It doesn't know if you are dying or exercising, it just knows it's doing something that's not normal as you tax every ounce of it. I burned about 8,000 calories so obviously I was drawing energy from deep. But eventually the body says whoa, and starts to protect itself from damaging breakdown. At that point it's about pain management and knowing it will be ok but will hurt.
About 17 miles in, my calfs began to cramp here and there and I changed my gait to run more on my heels. The run felt long. It was getting hotter and I was becoming more frustrated. I began walking through aid stations hydrating and eating as much as my stomach would allow. As I made my way toward the finish my goal was to finish with sunshine. I kept pushing, my pace was in the mid 9 minute per mile area. When I rounded the last corner I saw the clock and was pleasantly surprised to see a 10 and a 20 and rushed through the final chute and crossed the line in 10 hours and 21 minutes. Not bad about six minutes slower than I thought I would do. I'll take it!
Ironman Arizona, like my other three Ironman's had memorable moments but not for what you might think. Yes I had a personal best time, but it was, as usual the people I met and got to know better that made it memorable and of course some random events. I spent a lot of time with Lindsay and it was great getting to know her even better. I also met two athletes she coaches, Art and Armando, from Bozeman and Houston respectively and it was fun to share part of the experience with them.
|A bit of the finish|
I went back at midnight with Art and Lindsay to watch the final people cross the line. That is incredible and so inspiring to see people who if you saw them you would never guess they could do an Ironman, you might not even think they could do a 5k run. I admire them so much. Much more than people who are fast or even the pro's. I marvel at fast finishers and wonder how they do it, but for people walking/running in the dark, almost at midnight after starting the swim 17 hours earlier, they are the true champs and I admire them the most for sticking with. Here is a video of the finish.