Ironman Arizona 2011

March 27th, 2012 by

2011 has been a very different year to that of 2010, thats certainly for sure. Similarities in my Ironman racing during both those years can start and end in the simple fact that I ‘completed’ Ironmans in both years. – In Kona last year I did nothing more than toe  tread water) the start line and cross the finish line almost 9 hours later. In Arizona 2  weeks ago I did something similar – albeit taking roughly 4 minutes longer to complete the process. – This is of course all in reference to the fact that at Ironman UK in Bolton, last August I actually raced the distance – not what happened in Arizona! However, the good thing about such an experience, shall we call it, is that you have the potential to learn. Having mulled over the entire Ironman ‘process’ leading into the event in Tempe, I do believe I can look forward to my next Ironman adventure down the line. It has not deterred me, that I can say.

‘Racing’ around Town Lake on the 3 lap course in downtown Tempe – I believe about 15ks into it here…

Arizona was on my horizon for a long time – most of the summer in fact. Once I had managed to start racing again, I beleived I would want to do an Ironman again this year, and so I kept the concept at the back of my mind for the first part of my stint in Boulder. – By September I was definately racing the Ironman – I had heard plenty of good stories about the race regarding its multi loop course and spectator friendly areas of the bike and run routes. Add in also the fact that it was a ‘fast’ Ironman … I was keen to get the thing over and done with as soon as possible! All joking asides, I felt it would be nice to break the Scottish record and see how close I could get to the British one … all things going to plan of course.

The race unfortunately didnt go to ‘plan’. And for plenty good reasons! I was simply, in a nutshell, without going down the ‘excuses road’ – under done and ill prepared. I had not done the training required to do justice to the Ironman distance, and I certainly had not completed a lot of consistent training in the crucial 3-6 weeks period out from the race. At this level of racing you cannot even hope to compete in that state of preparedness … I was fooling myself. In any Ironman this would be the case – the distances involved ensure that, however Aroizona had a really deep field ready to race; which was exciting to be a part of but not without the engine to tag along.

My problem was trying to ‘hang’  with the boys for too long. I swam ok but not as well as I would have hoped; I exited with a group of guys I would normally expect to swim with – at just under 49 minutes, but nearly 2 minutes down on a lead group of 5. Onto the ride and I simply didnt feel fantastic. During the first of the 60k loops I wasnt enjoying the pace of our group as we pursued the 5 further up the road. We caught them by the start of lap 2 and I started to feel a little more able to deal with the pace, but still not exactly in a ‘comfort zone’. The smart thing would have been to drop off and ride at a more managable speed, for me. However, the racer insides me never wants to be away from the front of a race, and so I clung on, hoping for a reduction in vitesse!! None was readily forthcoming 🙁  Just when I let my guard down, and figured it had finally calmed – as the group had dwindled to the 6 of us in total – with the next guys nearly 10 minutes behind us, I hit the wall so to speak and basically lost all ability to drive the pedals. I got dropped. The remaining 35ks into T2 were slow and I knew I was losing time like it was going out of fashion … but I didn’t expect to hear “6 minutes” shouted as I dropped off my bike – thats a LOT of time to give away in such a short period of racing. Things didnt bode well for the marathon, as I am not the type of athlete who ‘comes good’ on a run after a poor ride.

Indeed, ‘come good’ I certainly didn’t, although I tried for the first of the 3 lap run – approximately 8 miles of it. I managed that in just on the hour, prompting me to think I could possibly salvage a repsectable run split from the race. Despite the very well stocked aid stations at each mile, I had reached the bottom of my barrel nutrition wise, which is not a pleasant realisation with 16 miles left to run!! From there on in my ‘race’ stategy was simply to complete, and to do so I walked though each of the reamining aid stations and tried to make the most of the large crowd support.

However, I would have absolutely struggled to finish had it not been for Gavin riding alongside me for much of the remainging race. – Not strictly within the rules, but given I was having more of a race in the girls race by this stage, I don’t think anyone was going to bother! Indeed, Leanda Cave did pass me by during the final 2 miles. I had been ‘chicked’! Gav and I both agreed that she was running really well even at that late stage! Big thanks to Gav for the friendly banter from atop his borrowed mtb 🙂

Nonetheless, I had a great few days in Arizona; it was a place I had never visited before, and a fantastic event to take part in – as I find all North American Ironman events tend to be.  A huge thanks to the Foster family for their lovely homestay as well. I hope to be back!