IRONMAN Arizona Race Report

IRONMAN Arizona was my third full IRONMAN distance race. I had originally planed to race in back in 2018, but deferred it to 2019 because we were moving into the new house. This entire season had it’s ups and downs and I was left feeling undertrained and not ready for a full IRONMAN. But this race did not disappoint.

Last December, as we were moving I rolled my ankle. It was pretty bad and took me out of the game for a while. Recover came quick, but I was unsure what I’d be capable of. I started off the season with the Colfax Marathon, and I was able to preform better than I thought I would. I was doing good with my races and making steady progress. But towards the middle of the season I started to plateau. Then life got in the way and I lost some important training. I gained weight and my fitness was not where it should have been. I even missed two races. This all left me very unsure going into IRONMAN Arizona.

It was time to focus, and I got myself back in shape, lost the extra weight and got my fitness to an acceptable level. It was lower than where I was with my previous two IRONMANs, but I had followed a training plane to get me though. Never the less I wanted good results to come from this race. If noting more than to get under 11 hours and crush my previous times.

IRONMAN Arizona race weekend was a whirlwind! We left for Arizona, late on Thursday night. Our flight was delayed and we didn’t arrive until early Friday morning. We got our rental car and headed strait to the hotel to crash. We started Friday at IRONMAN Village so I could check in and we signed Jacob up for the IRONKIDS race the next day.

Afterwords we grabbed a late breakfast at this great little restaurant near by call the Daily Jam. Then we headed south to visit my Aunt. We’d spend the night with her. She took us to an ostrich farm where we could feed many different types of animals. It was a good time, especially for Jacob. Then we went to dinner and crashed for the night. We had to leave early the next morning, to get to Jacob’s race.

The IRONKIDS was such a fun event. Jacob did the half mile and ran the whole way! He felt like a champion finishing! It was cool to see Mike Riley and Andy Potts dressed up as turkey’s help out.

After IRONKIDS, I had to get my bike set up in transition. The line was crazy long, but I got though it fairly quickly. I also prepared my run and bike gear bags, so we would be done at transition for the day. Someone else had racked their bike in my spot, which was an interesting experience. I had to find an official to help me move it into it’s correct spot. We left and went to visit some of Lauren’s family, then had a Mexican dinner.

We had planed to get ice cream, my way of carbbing up for the race, but it didn’t happen. We changed our minds and decided to get cookies delivered to our hotel. They told us that they couldn’t deliver them because of the football game. So I never got my sweet treat before bed and it kept me up an extra two hours longer than I would have liked to be up.

Race morning I woke up a little before 4:30am. I didn’t feel that I slept well, but I also didn’t feel tired. I was excited and nervous, really anxious to see how the day would turn out. There were two major factors that I had to contend with for the day. The weather and the distance.

The weather was favorable, however I knew it was going to be a cold morning. There was like 3 days of rain before we got to Arizona, which I figured would keep the water temperature cooler in Tempe Town Lake. The forecast was mostly sunny with a high just above 70. The overnight was in the low 50’s.

I wanted to let Lauren and Jacob sleep to I got a Lyft to the race start. I was a little worried about finding one, but it was no issue at all. It was a bit of a challenge getting to the start as many of the roads were closed. But I got there and got everything setup.

It was cool out but I didn’t feel too cold. I think it must have been around 52 or so. I walked down to the swim start in my wetsuit which was nice, kept me fairly warm. I got there and entered the start corral. I got lucky and found a spot right by the 1:10 mark, exactly where I wanted to be.

As the pro women started their race it was still dark out and the sun was just peaking out. The sunrise was colorful, but the air crisp and cool. We quickly moved down to the water’s edge and I felt more nervous than anything. There were 5 lines for athletes to filter into. People were hesitating, I wanted to as well, but I knew I had to start sometime, so I got into the shortest line. And just like that I started the swim.

The water was cold, but not the worst I’ve ever been in. And to be honest it didn’t feel so bad. Don’t get me wrong I was cold the entire swim, but not freezing.

So the swim was good and bad. I never felt too crowded and got hit a lot less than other swims. Sighting was good and I swam strait. There were a few moments that I wan’t very comfortable, but for the most part I was good. I had one calf cramp, that caught me a little by surprise. I was able to shake it off and keep going. I checked my watch as I headed for the end of the swim and I thought I saw 48 minutes. I thought there is now way I could be swimming that fast. I felt really good about myself at that point.

I got out of the water and started the long jog to transition. It was carpeted the whole way which was very nice. I took advantage of the wetsuit strippers and carried it all the way. There were several people passing along the way, but I told myself to keep the steady pace to regroup and get ready for the bike. I was starting to get cold.

A volunteer handed me my gear bag and I headed into the changing tent. It was warm in there and the guy sitting next to me said he never wanted to leave. I struggled to get my socks on and as I headed out of the tent I was shivering. Another volunteer took me over by a heater and I spent a moment there before I got out to my bike.

I was cold, but it didn’t last all that long. It was probably a couple hours before it got into the mind 60’s but I was comfortable enough to preform. I wasn’t so sure what to expect on the course, but it started out fast. I quickly realized there was a strong headwind and we were on a gradual climb. It was pretty tame but it was going to be some work.

The bike course was three laps, and it got steeper the closer you got to the turnaround. It wasn’t a Colorado climb, but with the wind it was a struggle. I felt strong though and could tell I was in a good position. I leap frogged with several people which is normally how things go.

As soon as I hit the fist turn around I could feel the wind shift to my back. I cruised all the way back! It was fast. As we headed back to the second turnaround near transition, the crowd started to build. The cheering was really motivating.

As I climbed the second time, realized this was going to be work again, but new I had a fast break coming. I started to get a little uncomfortable on the bike. My neck was sore and I couldn’t find a good spot on the saddle.

Just before an aid station I saw a guy took a nasty fall. He was coming the other direction and had just grabbed something from an aid station. He tried to put it away and lost control of his bike. He veered into the center of the road and I saw him try to unclip. His legs went under the bike and it didn’t look good. He was behind me and that point so I never saw him hit the ground but I know he did. It was close the the aid station so I felt he should be taken care of, but as I passed an ambulance a ways up the road I let them know too. I don’t think they did anything as it was sitting there when I was headed back. But they guys was gone, so I hope he was okay.

The three loop corse was not my favorite as it felt long thinking about having to do it that many times. But till the time did go by fast. I was happy with my time, but was wanting to get under 5 hours. I think I have some work to do on the bike to get that to happen.

By the time I started the last loop I felt like I knew exactly what to expect. I went and pushed towards transition and if felt good. I hopped of my bike and they took it from me. I headed back into the change tent and got ready to run. I had a very helpful volunteer get me some water and take my bag. I visited the bathroom and then was off to start the run.

This was the leg I was most afraid of. A marathon is a long way.

As I started to run I felt good, my legs were toasty, but my feet felt good in the soft shoes. I had decided to use a fairly new pair of running shoes which was the best decision I had made.

Right as I came out of transition I saw Lauren and Jacob. They gave me the prefect motivation to start the run.

The fist section of the two loop course was hillier than I expected. The hills where short, and really not bad at all, but I didn’t like them. My watch freaked out and told me my first mile was at 5 minute pace, which I knew wan’t true. It was a little wile longer before I realized that I had settled into a 8:30 pace. That is right where I wanted to be. It would have been nice to have it a bit faster, but it was working for me.

I felt pretty strong on the run, I knew there were man people faster than me but I didn’t get passed all that much and I felt that I was passing people and a really good rate. I even passed some people who passed me at the beginning.

I told myself that I wouldn’t stop running, not even at aid stations until I got through half of the race. And even after I didn’t take that many walk breaks at aid stations. I think at mile 16 or so I started taking in coke. It was a wonderful treat and kept me going.

Just as I was about to finish the first loop of the run I looked over and there was Heather Jackson. She was in second place for the pro women and was at mile 26! It was pretty cool to see, but also made me feel slow. Although I was proud of the pace I kept, it reminded me how much more I can improve.

The second lap went by pretty quickly, or so it seemed. I got to see Lauren and Jacob again and little bit further down was the Team Zoot squad. I ran though them high-fiving everyone and got a surge of adrenalin.

When I got to the far run around I knew it was time to bring it home. As I crossed the 20 mile mark, I felt the fatigue but knew it was only 10k till the finish. The sun started to set and the beautiful colors filled the sky. What a way to finish a race.

As I came to the final mile, it seems to go on forever. I knew I was close, but it wasn’t coming fast enough. Where the course split I was so proud to be able to go in to the finish chute. Everyone else around headed for their second loop.

As I ran down the finish chute, I saw Lauren and Jacob. I stopped for a quick high-five and kiss, then it was time to cross that finish line and complete my third IRONMAN.

As my run pace slowed the second half of the run I knew that I was going to be close to getting under 4 hours on the marathon. And that was really my goal for the whole run. But ironically as I crossed the line I never looked up to see my time.

Mike Riley call my same, Jared… there was a long pause. Picune, you are and IRONMAN!

What a moment, I felt so good about that race! I knew I had just finished my fastest IRONMAN to date!

I looked at my watch and saw 10:47! I’ll be honest I wanted it to read 10:15, but I knew I gave it all I had, so I was happy. I broke 11 hours, I improved and given the lack of training I was very satisfied.

I learned a lot from this race. But the biggest thing I learned was that IRONMAN is not that scary. This distance is massive and so is the training, but I know that I can go and I know that I can improve. I’m looking forward to IRONMAN St. George in just six months. I can’t wait to see what I can pull off there.

In the days since complete IRONMAN Arizona, I’ve been more motivated than ever! I know know that I can push myself even further next race. Unfortunately, with all the travel and the sheer stress for racing IRONMAN, I’ve come down with a cold. This never happens! But it’s forcing me to take a little break, which is probably a good thing. I do have high hopes for IRONMAN St. George though, but the corse looks challenging so I’m not sure what to expect time wise yet.

My nutrition strategy worked very well for this race. The cooler temperatures definitely helped, but I feel that I had just there right amount of fuel. If it does get hotter I think I would take in a little bit more fluid though. I had one bottle of my special UCAN mixture before the swim and three on the bike. I tried to space them out, one for each loop. Then on the run I only took in water, until the miles got up there then I took in coke at ever other aid station. I also took 3 Vespa’s, one before each leg of the race.

I also doubled up on my AMP Human lotion before the race. This stuff is pretty cool and I feel a real difference. It’s also not bad under the wetsuit as it help lubricate it a bit so you can slide it off easier.



About

Growing up in Colorado you can't help but love the outdoors. Something magical happens with 300 days of sunshine and the Rocky Mountains in your back yard. My athletic endeavors started on the bike, I would get out and ride whenever I could. In 2011 I moved to Oxford, England for work. I missed the sunshine and mountains, but discovered my passion for running. When I moved back to Colorado I started combining cycling and running, so it was only natural that I started competing in triathlons. I took second place at my first sprint, and caught the bug. Today I'm training for my fourth Ironman.


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